We had our annual gathering to ring in the new year, last night. We revisited a couple of traditions, and added in a couple of one-night-only rituals for the troubling year that was 2016, which included burning a cardboard effigy of 2016, and whacking a person dressed up as the evil spirit of 2016 with foam swords. My friends are kind of insane, but in a really good way.

Our longest-standing ritual is to write down things from the year that we wish to leave behind, and burn them in the fire pit. Last night had us commiserating over losses, struggles, and the bleak truths we've seen in our world. We stood around the fire as snow floated down around us, remembering that we have each other, as we consigned sadness to the flames.

This year, it took me a little while to think of things to burn, but I came up with:

  • Old Lady Back Problems - it's getting there, very slowly, but I want to get back to where I can do athletics and not have to think about it.

  • Anxiety and Fatigue - pretty self-explanatory, but after being sick twice in two weeks, I'm looking at some professional help for this.

  • Silencing Myself - I think that I internalized the idea, very early in life, that nobody is listening to what I say, except perhaps to judge or make fun of it. So, even now, I habitually stay pretty quiet. And there are times when I really shouldn't.

  • Racism and Bigotry - again, pretty self-explanatory.

A newer ritual is to reflect on the good things that happened, and stick it to the wall, so we can see and share in each other's good fortune. There are now new engagements, new homes, new jobs, new names, new experiences all over my dining room wall. People made strides towards the lives they wanted, even if those strides were difficult. 2016 was a hard year in a lot of ways, and it felt doubly important to treasure the good parts of it.

For me, I had a pretty good run. My faith was shaken in some parts of my life, but I found solid ground in other arenas. There were times when things seemed to click together in an almost uncanny way, as if they were meant to happen. I think the hardest part of this year, outside of the political/ideological sphere, has been actually internalizing the idea that no, not everything has to be a terrible struggle. I felt a lot of anxiety when I didn't have a reason to--I was waiting for a shoe to drop, when there wasn't a shoe there to begin with. The battle with anxiety is one that I still have to fight in this year to come, and likely in the years after that.

I don't necessarily expect better things from 2017. To do so would be naive. But, I still hope for it every day. I've heard it said that this coming year should be one about community, chosen family, blood family (if those relationships are healthy), and connection, and that's a mission I can wholeheartedly get on board with.

Happy new year, my dears. We've got this, together.

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(un)happy

Sep. 1st, 2016 03:37 pm
I like this.

I have never been the ebullient person, overflowing with volume and excitement. I enjoy things, but my expression of that isn't always pronounced. Anxiety, ADD, and Depression are words that loom in my history.

"You don't seem very excited," is something I heard a lot, growing up. As an adult, I sometimes find myself expressing more loudly, but probably more for the benefit of others than for my own sake.

If you ask me how I'm doing, I usually say, "I'm doing all right," or perhaps, "eh, hanging in there." If you were to ask me if I'm happy, I might shrug and say, "sure, I guess so." I'm not UNhappy, per se--I'm not sad on this day, and I haven't been depressed in quite a while. But am I overjoyed by the mere act of existing? Ehhh...?

I don't know if I'm happy. But, I have things and activities and people in my life that make me feel fulfilled, and that's pretty great. I feel a lot of gratitude about that.

An old and short-lived therapist of mine once suggested that my "set point" might simply be different than everyone else's--that I'm just naturally less happy, less excitable than other people. I felt vaguely ripped off, in that moment.

Don't get me wrong: therapy helped me cope. Therapy helped me understand what was happening to me, and learn how to manage it, and if I had it to do again, I absolutely would. Therapy helped me become a more fulfilled and more positive human being, and it made me aware of my own attitudes.

But, looking at this? This might be the first thing... maybe ever, which has made me feel that not being "happy" *doesn't* automatically mean that something is wrong with me.

I like this.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/unhappy
batskeets: (j)
GUYS GUYS I DID A CHIN-UP TODAY. Like a for-reals, unassisted one. They are generally easier than pull-ups (which I still can't do yet), but I HAVE NEVER DONE A CHIN-UP BEFORE AND I DID ONE TODAY.

Also, I hit 230 lbs. on my back squat. Back in my Fat Years, I topped out around 230 lbs. Also, boyfriend-at-the-time had, unbeknownst to me, started jumping up-and-down upon and generally trying to mess up the scale, because he didn't want me to keep weighing myself and feeling sad afterwards. So, it's possible I was even heavier than that, but I basically stopped looking or caring once I hit 230, until quite a few months months later when I decided to actually, really try and lose some weight.

Still, today I put the equivalent of an entire Me-In-2002 on my shoulders and squatted it. That feels significant.

Pretty damned stoked, I have to admit. :D
This is overdue, heh.

SUBTRACTING:

Working after dinner. This continues to be good. I've had these weird bursts of energy, since derby season ended, where I just feel like working, so I have occasionally taken advantage of that impulse.

Social media/e-mails before breakfast. I've been able to keep this down to a pretty manageable level. Having to go to the gym in the morning helps a lot, so it doesn't really get out-of-hand anymore unless I'm really sleep-deprived and just not wanting to do anything at all.

Some derby things. It's off-season! Woohoo! Everything dropped off pretty quickly after Champs. And then I got called up into the TT Reserve, heh. I'm not entirely sure what I'd do if they wanted to put me on the TT Roster, but as a Reserve skater, I only have to show up 50% of the time, and even if I were on the team, nothing in the summer schedule would cut into my weekend. So, it still feels like a break and doesn't feel like such an imposition on my personal life.

Working on weekends. Aside from the very occasional photoshoot, I've been doing really well at this. I've had a couple of occasions that are much like the after-dinner times, where I just felt like working on something, but usually a fun project.

Things/people that suck up my energy and give nothing in return. I'm trying to think of something that would fit into that category, and am so far coming up empty. So, I figure that's really good news. :)


ADDING:

A SMALL movie afternoon/night or other small-sized gathering. I just finally put a new one on the calendar! I'm looking forward to it, and actually even bothered to come up with a theme, of sorts. They've been working

A creative photoshoot every quarter. Q2 is definitely not going to happen, given that Q2 ends, uh, tomorrow. ^^; But, I've been throwing a lot of my energy towards another project that'll hopefully result in a successful crowdfunding campaign and some ongoing residual income. SO, that seems like a perfectly reasonable alternative. :D

Networking. My Derby Networking group has been going okay. Attendance hasn't been great on the face-to-face meetups, but we're going to try rotating dates, because there's apparently a fair amount of interest. And there's also been some discussion in the online group that isn't driven by me, so that's also a good sign!

Better eating. I have to admit, I haven't been the best about this. I dove back into doing social things more frequently, after Champs, and surprise, that's left me with less time to cook. Also, Joe's busy season is in full swing, which means he's not able to pitch in as much, either. But, I think things will calm down in the coming weeks, especially with my intern's 5-week stint ending in less than two weeks.

So, yeah. There's always something that can be better, but I can't complain much right now, either. :)
Well, our season didn't end the way it started. We slogged through our first two games only to be narrowly defeated, but then we came back to win our next five games. Our Championships win was not by a narrow margin, either--we won definitively.

I didn't personally skate my best game, but it didn't matter. Everything we'd built over the course of the season came together, we fought for every point, we worked together as a team, and we captured the win. Being a co-captain this season, and having drafted seven (!) new people to our ranks, I suppose you could say I had something to do with that.

To be completely honest, I think I both gained and lost confidence this season. I lost confidence as a skater, and that got into my head more than once. I'd been an anchor on this team for two seasons, but this season, suddenly, I wasn't. I had no real idea what to do about it, and I wasn't getting much in the way of feedback from our lineups coach--all I knew is that she wasn't giving me as much playtime. It sort of worked out in some ways, because I wound up working on jamming for a while, and wound up jamming my first full game and winning MVP for it. But, as a blocker, I feel plateaued and shitty, and I still don't really know how to communicate that to anyone on my team in a way that doesn't sound whiny and entitled.

I'm really starting to question whether I *can* improve without sacrificing more of my time for derby, and that isn't something I can or want to do right now--or possibly ever again. Getting into Crossfit also has me thinking about retirement, and while I'm not done just yet, it's no longer hard for me to imagine life without derby. My teammates are either young people who can make roller derby the center of their worlds, or they've already had children and planted family roots. I have Life Stuff I still want to do, like having kids, traveling, building my business and my home. I will likely have to stop playing derby, at least temporarily, in order to do at least some of that Life Stuff. That's still a bit hard to swallow.


Where I gained, however, is when I figured out that my way of being a leader has value. Early in the season, I quickly came to realize that I'm not the leader who makes inspirational speeches, or grabs for the steering wheel. I'm never the most outspoken person in the room, but I have my eye on the details, and I work to take care of my people and give them what they need to do better. There was a brief period when I felt like maybe I was an incredible failure, because I'm not a more archetypal leader-y person, but you know what? I like me. I know what I'm good at, and I don't do what I do for glory--I can hang with being an unsung hero, and making a difference in a quieter and more personal way.

Once I figured that out, I felt pretty great in general. Quiet confidence isn't something that often translates well, especially when there are louder voices in the room, but I don't need to be the center of attention, and that's what gives me power. I like myself and feel secure in my own awesomeness without that external praise.

But, in the end, nothing compares to this team, and I can't imagine that it would ever be easy to leave. We've gone through some heavy turnover and a lot of changes, but the heart of this team has never wavered. If anything I've done as a captain over these past few months has helped us continue the tradition, then I've succeeded in the most important way possible.

I also read a Muhammad Ali quote to my teammates, before the game. I happened to see it the night before, in a flurry of posts about Muhammad Ali's death, and although I don't idolize him the way some people do, this felt relevant enough to share:

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them--a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."



It's been a tough few weeks. Not in a terrible sort of way, so much as in an overwhelming and draining sort of way. I've been working a challenging (but surprisingly enjoyable) part-time coding gig at an office downtown, juggling the workload coming through my own studio, doing my best to be a good captain and a dependable athlete for my team, working towards being a more present friend, and trying to squeeze self-care somewhere in there.

The self-care part, well, hasn't exactly been on-point. Shoehorning an extra 10-20 hours of work into my week has been overwhelming, to say the least, and there's been Life Stuff that's been happening, on top of that. There've been more days than I care to admit where I can barely muster the energy sit and watch television, at the end of the day. I've been allowing myself to rest when I don't feel well, and actually delegating the occasional task, but I also haven't been eating or sleeping particularly well. I physically showed up to everything I could, but only mentally showed up to... maybe half of those things? That's probably being generous.

Last Wednesday, I went to scrimmage, and I showed up. Maybe it was finally catching up on lost sleep, maybe it was the extra cup of coffee in the afternoon, but I felt fully present and excited to play. I'd almost forgotten what that was like, heh. In the following days, I started feeling more energized about a lot of things, and was ready to jump into my Monday, refreshed and ready to tackle everything that comes my way.

Then, my dear old friend Insomnia decided to show up. I laid awake for hours, slept fitfully, and woke up yesterday feeling like garbage. Again.

I looked at my calendar, and it was mostly empty, except for a little lunchtime music show that I'd written down. I was so tempted to just not go, because I felt so exhausted. I was so sure that nobody would miss me, if I didn't show. But, then I thought, "who knows when this will happen again?" And at that point, I decided that I didn't want to make another excuse to not do something. Not today.

So, I went. I brought my camera. I mainly just listened, because I wanted to enjoy the moment, but
I did snap a few photos. It reminded me that I really love watching creative people work. One of my favorite things about taking photos at random events is the opportunity to take a longer look at the expression, the intensity, the love and attention that goes into what they do. Sometimes, you see a flash of bashfulness or disbelief in their face--they're so mentally and emotionally invested in this THING, but they're never quite certain that it will be loved by others, and it feels like a wonderful surprise when it is. It's a moment of honesty and bravery. Seeing that always renews my faith in humanity, at least a little bit.

I cried for a little while, after I left. The sleeplessness, the overwhelm, all of the feelings that I'd been trying to process during the in-between moments finally piled up high enough to break the dam, I guess. I suppose I like to think of myself as the calm center of a given storm--even when things get crazy, I keep that cool exterior, and hope that being calm will let those around me relax, too. I don't often feel moved to tears, but if ever there was a trigger, music is certainly it. I never stop being surprised at how easily music can influence our emotions, if we let it.

I guess this is a note to myself that a big piece of Kindness Without Excuses is to choose those No Excuses moments mindfully. And, perhaps another piece is to remember that I don't have to be cool with everything all the time. My emotions are worthy of space, and sometimes I'll have to make a bit of extra room for them.


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It's been a pretty up-and-down couple of weeks, but I think (hope?) things are falling into place.

I went in for two interviews last week, and ended up with two new contract gigs. One hasn't started yet (and will probably be fairly easy once it does), but the other is predicted to be 10-20 hours/week through the end of April, and they had me come into their office to start working on things the day after our phone interview.

Being in an office after freelancing for the past 4 years is WEEEIRD, y'all. Even though my recruiter said suggested dress was, "casual," I spent half an hour debating what to wear for my first day, heh. I'm also slowly getting over being anxious about screwing up or being incompetent, heh. Woooo, impostor syndrome! They've asked me if I've worked with various utilities in the past--a couple of which I have, but a couple of others which I haven't. Still, when I do have to say, "No," they seem happy to help me get set up, and they just say, "cool, well, you'll get to learn about that, then."

That's one of two encouraging things about this gig: I'm getting to learn and become more comfortable with coding-related things that I'm less familiar with. (related: the more I work with SASS, the more I reeeeally like it) But, it's learning in a context that lets me also use skills I already have, so I don't feel completely out of my depth. The other cool thing is that they mentioned having some design work that they'd like to hand off, if I'm interested, and of COURSE I'm interested in that.

In other news, Travel Team tryouts are tonight, and I'm not doing it. I was on the list until a couple of days ago, and I had a lot of anxiety about it. Part of me wanted to go all-in and do it again, and another part of me was panicking, wondering if the only way for me to get consistent play time again was to get back on TT.

But, another part of me didn't want to make the sacrifices in all of the other parts of my life in order to do it, and that part was apparently the loudest. Getting the new in-office contract pretty much sealed it, and work in general has been pretty fruitful so far this year. I feel more in control of that, and of my time in general, than I have in probably years, and that feels important.

Anyway, TT Wait List will be there, if I get towards the end of my contract and have enough time and headspace for MOAR DERBY.

Also, in the several months since I joined my crossfit gym, I've front-squatted over 200 lbs., and I'm already being peer-pressured about A) doing the in-house competition, and B) competitive lifting, heh. It's something I've enjoyed a lot, though, so it's pretty much inevitable that I'll do it eventually, haha. At bare minimum, I've found myself a post-derby-retirement plan. ;)

SO, yeah. Doing Life Stuff. It's working for me.
Well, someone I sort of know (but haven't physically seen in probably a couple of years now) seems to be quite convinced that both they, and I, have Asperger's.

...this is not to say I've never suspected that of myself. Because, I did once, quite a few years ago. But, I can't help but assume that, if I did have it, then my super-awesome now-former therapist would've picked up on it after seeing me for 2 years? And, it was most certainly not a thing I expected to hear out of the blue via the internet. XD

Still, I'm glad they at least have answers for themselves, at least. Simply having an answer or an explanation for such things can do so much for a person's mindset and ability to cope.
So, the theme that's emerging for 2016 is what I'm calling, "Kindness Without Excuses." Self-acceptance and forgiveness has been an important thing for me to build up--punishing myself and becoming an anxiety ball over every little thing was only going to wear me down to nothing, in the long run. In the process of adjusting my mindset, I've done a lot of things that I never thought I'd be able to do.

But, while that self-kindness has been wonderful to me, it's also becoming a reason to make excuses--an excuse to not do things. Or perhaps, to do the things I do, but without the capacity to be fully present for them, or to enjoy them very much. The fact is, to really grow as a person, you do have to push yourself out of your comfort zone every so often.

So, I'm looking to find the balance between pushing myself and being kind to myself. Moderation in all things, after all. That means being more focused and strategic about how and when I stretch myself, and how and when I give myself a break.

SUBTRACTING FROM MY LIFE:

  • Working after dinner. Working through the evenings has been a tempting thing to do, because I work well in the afternoons and evenings, but that also means feeling like I'm getting less down time. The reality is that I'll get that down time elsewhere, whether I like it or not--usually by accidentally frittering away time through social media or some other dumb thing. That's not really what you'd call high-quality down time And speaking of which...

  • Social media/e-mails before breakfast. I have gotten so incredibly bad at mornings that it's embarassing, and I know the Internet pit is 95% of it. I KNOW I can do better, because I did it when I had a day job. I just focused on getting ready, and worked once I got to work. I exercised and usually cooked breakfast and got there on time and everything. I mean, I wasn't *happy* when I was at my day job, but it's not really fair to say that mornings were the source of the misery.

  • Some derby things. I already started this (go me!) when I quit Travel Team, and again more recently by not re-applying for Officiating Committee, and I'm seriously considering breaking up with Web Team, as well. All of these were things that I felt passionate about when I started, but now enough time has passed that I'm burned out by them. Also, I think about the internet way too much already, so do I really need to dump volunteer hours into that? It'd be great to just focus on Captaining this season.

  • Working on weekends. I definitely want to be more vigilant about having full days off regularly, which means no work and no derby. Maybe even no social obligations, if Introvert Brain demands it. I already had the opportunity to do this last weekend, and it did put me in a much better headspace and made me more energetic about going back to work, and doing better work.

  • Things/people that suck up my energy and give nothing in return. It seems to be part of my narrative that I throw myself at things, whether they be projects or relationships, that just end up being one-way time-and-energy sinkholes, and yield little-to-no reward or fulfillment for me. If nobody cares what I'm doing, then I don't need to be spending my time on it. And if anyone DOES care what I'm doing, then they can do me the courtesy of showing it and making a contribution.



ADDING SOME THINGS:

  • A SMALL movie afternoon/night or other small-sized gathering, hopefully each month. Big parties are fun, sometimes, but smaller gatherings are what I need. It's too easy to float on the surface of loud, drinky gatherings, and make only tangential contact. And, I don't plan a lot of things, anyway, so if I'm going to ask others to put effort into our relationships, then I should try harder at it, too. My first movie night will be the day after the Season Opener, so it'll be awesome to lay around being sore and hang out with my bros and decompress!

  • A creative photoshoot every quarter. I don't want to say every month, because I want to pull together ideas that are more in-depth, and not just be phoning it in every month just so I can check off a box. I already have one in the planning stages, and I hope it'll be really neat.

  • Networking. It's been a struggle for me to find a networking group that isn't just elevator pitches and business card swapping, and that also has like-minded people in it. I don't like to be judge-y about what people believe, but I'm also reeeeally tired of pretending to be interested in numerology and DoTerra oils and other fluffy woo-woo things of that sort. SO, it seems that I've given myself the project of starting a networking group for derby people. There are a lot of people in derby who know each other on-the-track, but don't know each other's professional lives well (or at all). And, I know we already have a terrific culture of support in our nature, because that's a big part of what the derby community is about. I think this has a lot of potential!

  • Better eating. I wasn't exactly BAD at this in 2015, per se--my body composition has been pretty much the same, aside from getting more ripped when I started doing Crossfit. But, I did fall off the wagon in the Fall, in the sense that while I was eating a healthy amount of food, it was often eaten out and eaten in haste. I've started on a Freezer Meals project of sorts, where I use whatever bit of food budget I have at the end of a given week to pick up ingredients that I can bag up together and freeze, so when I get busy, I can just pull one out of the freezer and toss it in the crockpot before I leave the house in the morning--minimal thought and energy in those too-busy times that will inevitably happen. :)

  • Some kind of skill-building or online course. This may not happen until the off-season, but all the free evenings I had last summer were really nice, and I did good business in those months, so I think there'd be room for it. It'll likely be something in web development or web-specific design, because I'm fairly certain that any permanent job I'd have a shot at would be web-related.

IT LIVES

Sep. 9th, 2015 11:26 pm
There is something immensely satisfying about having a bunch of wacky ideas, seeing them through, and having them be even better than you envisioned when it all finally comes together.



That's a test print from earlier today. I'll be using this template on my photobooth this weekend, and with any luck, we'll sell a grip of these 4x6" trading card prints and make a nice pile of cash. And even if we don't, at least I know now that the setup works, and can be used for other projects.

It's probably worth noting that I haven't been able to fall asleep at anything resembling a decent hour for the past several nights--and not for lack of trying, either. There's a definite sweet spot as far as the number of things I can focus on. Too few things means not being able to switch gears, and eventually burning out. Too many things means not being able to settle on one focus point for long enough to make any headway.

And, after having fallen into a (relatively brief, thankfully) depression not long ago, it's nice to feel excited about something. Hell, just being anxious was a welcome change--at least it was enough to get my butt in gear.

I guess it's a good thing that deadlines seem to shove aside a lot of the other negative and counterproductive stuff that happens in my brain, right?
This graphic (from here**) feels especially accurate in recent times:



I have too many ideas and not enough energy or mental bandwidth for them all. Just yesterday, I got an idea for a photo project that I'm feeling very serious about, and that could be the most important work I've ever done... but I'm preparing for a big event photobooth on September 12th, and I just got pulled in on a 48-hour coding project, and I just don't even know if I can spare a thimblefull of brain juice for this new idea.

But, UGH. It's so important, and it's about something I want the world to understand. It's about a thing that the world NEEDS to understand, if we're ever going to learn how to treat each other like real humans who deserve happiness.

The event photobooth could end up being a pretty excellent proof of concept, though. And all the setup energies going into this first one will lay groundwork for making future photobooths easier.

And, well, it's good to be busy. So there's that...?

** Can I just say? So many parts of my life and my history made more sense after my old therapist screened me for ADD. Even though I don't see myself ever considering medication for it, just knowing more about how my brain works allows me to better plan for it, and to be kinder to myself when things don't go exactly right.
Sometimes, you have moments when you know you'd be brilliant at something, but the words to convince everyone else of that simply won't come.

I think I have those moments more often than not. I'm too honest, too humble, too self-aware, and too grounded. I'm turned off by people with braggadocio and overinflated egos, and god forbid I should ever give the impression that I *am* one of those people. I've never enjoyed hard-selling things, and selling myself comes even less naturally.

I know I *am* capable of being that person who knows the right answers, makes the amusing quips, and speaks with confidence. What I haven't figured out is how to replicate that. And, part of it is certainly chemistry--I have enough of an instinct about people to know when I will or won't fit in with them. But, I also know that I *can* adapt and get along with a goodly variety of people... once I've had some time to figure out how they tick, anyway.

Still, it'd be nice if my brain would cooperate when I need it to, instead of being a stream of 10000+ racing thoughts that I can't quite grab onto.

Oh well. That possible dream may have escaped today, but the status quo isn't desperate. There could be a future here, too.

Onto the next thing, whatever it is.
batskeets: (j)
I don't speak on this often at any length, because I can only truly speak to my own experience... which isn't exactly extensive, given that I'm a ciswoman. And, as with many things, I'd rather listen and understand, than try to speculate.

In short: I've been the years-long partner to someone who began transitioning after our relationship ended. I've also been the (long-distance) support system during a good friend's transition, when they had nowhere else to turn. None of this is to say that I haven't made mistakes--I certainly made some of the most hurtful mistakes of my life with the former--but I endeavor to be an ally to the best of my ability. I understand so much more now than I did when I first encountered a transperson.

I've also seen more than one friend, since then, be absolutely transformed by their transition. It's not because of what's on the outside, but because of how it makes them feel. However they choose to present, they are now more themselves than they've ever been, and they absolutely radiate because of it. I can't think of a single person who would dare describe transitioning as "easy," but when I see the brightness in their spirits that comes with it, I know why it's worth the struggle.

Things like what John Oliver discusses below are just part of what make it such a struggle, and it's heartening to see someone at this level of prominence trying to educate the world at large about this. It's a big freaking deal. There are too many people who are more interested in satisfying their own curiosity, or labeling and shaming those around them, instead of simply trying to understand.

I know there are those who'll say that it's not "normal," or that it's a mental condition, or that god or whoever planned things to be this way, but guess what? I DON'T CARE. No matter how different a group of people may be from you, none of these things give you license to be cruel to them, or to take away their right to happiness. You cannot possibly know someone else's experience--the environments we're born into are vastly different, and we don't all have the same resources. The influences surrounding us are varying and, early in our lives, are not even something we can control. The way our brains are wired is unique for every. Single. PERSON. on this godforsaken rock. You can't know what they feel, or what they've experienced. And you, Mr.-or-Ms. The-Lord-Works-In-Mysterious-Ways, definitely can't know what God's Supposed Plan is.

Humans have a hard time admitting it when they don't know something, but in this one instance, let's at least try to accept that we have a lot left to learn. And then, keep listening.

Last night, I took the track with my home team, and we had a great game. We're now going into the Championship game undefeated, we had a ton of fun, and we played together as a team. I even got to jam a couple of times, and pulled down 35 points in a single jam.

Then, I went into the green room, took off my gear, came back out to the track where my travel team-mates were warming up, and told my travel team captain that I would be stepping down from the team.

I went to hang out with a gaggle of other skaters after that, and when a few of them commented that I wasn't at TT practice, I finally started saying it. And, every time I explained why, I felt more secure in my choice. People were remarkably understanding, and said things like, "good for you," or that they respected me for making that choice, or that they admired my self-awareness.

The right kind of support means so very much, in times like these.

There are times when you realize that, as much as you want to do all the things, and give them your absolute best, you find that you simply can't make it work--not right now, and not the way you want it to. And it kills you to know that you can't realistically give all of those things the passion and the energy that you wish you could. It's the kind of thing you lose sleep over.

Being world champions is a dream that deserves more than a half-assed effort. Everyone on this team deserves more than that. When I think about how the past two months have been, and I realize that I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be the person who just phones it in, who's too bedraggled to play at her best. I don't want to be the person who sleepwalks through drills, because her mind is a million miles away. I don't want to be anxious and guilt-ridden about all the things I'm not doing. And ultimately, if I can't give this mission my absolute best right now, then I just don't feel right about continuing to do it.

I am beyond grateful to the people closest to me, who listened patiently as I yammered on and mentally wrestled my way through this. And, I feel lucky to have already received so much support and understanding, in the mere 15-or-so hours since I made it official.

So, hey, it's going to be okay. I'm focusing more energy on fewer things, so I can do those things better. I sincerely hope that my life will settle down in the months to come. I'm kicking ass in my work, I super-love my home team and will keep having a wonderful time with them, and I'm going to be more present in every moment from here on out.

I'm looking forward to a hopefully-near-future, where I can do everything I love with my whole heart, AND my whole ass. ;)
batskeets: (j)
Well, it's March 31st, and I haven't done a monthly t-shirt design. Given how jam-packed my calendar has been, as of recent, that's probably no coincidence.

Not unrelated: I seem to have had a lot of very similar conversations, as of late. They're conversations about saying no to things, about prioritizing a smaller set of things, about doing what you need to do to care for yourself, about getting to a place where you just feel good about your life and what each day has to offer you.

Just last night, my teammate who hired me to design a logo for her finally confessed why she hadn't gotten back to me about the designs: she closed her small business. She wanted to prioritize a smaller set of things, and is really in love with her day job and with roller derby. So, she decided to stop stressing out about all the things she wasn't doing for her business, and just set it aside. (for now, anyway)

This, like other conversations I've had over the past month or two, have pointed my thinking towards the same question. I think I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to accept the answer. (and no, it's not the same answer as my teammate's. But it's an important one, nonetheless)

I realize how silly it seems that I'm about to throw down a sitcom quote while talking about Important Life Decisions, but hell, it applies: Ron Swanson once said, "never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."

Y'all, I'm beyond tired of half-assing too many things.
I learned a lot from Spock, growing up. About being an outsider, about listening and observing, about using your intelligence as a tool and not as a weapon, about knowing when to choose reason even when your heart may try to get in the way. And, when called for, he could drop a foe with a subtle word and a deft turn of his hand.

I might have also peed myself a little, when I first learned that Nimoy was also a photographer. He understood how much value there is in looking for the small moments, to take notice of what others often miss. He presented images that challenged our ideas of what it means to be a person.

RIP, good sir. I will always feel privileged to have Spock's name on my jersey, even if my methods are nowhere near as refined as his. I'm only human, after all.
And now, a few things I intend to do in 2015, in no particular order:

  • Creating Space. So, that note that I wrote for myself at the start of the year? I think that's my theme, right now. There was just too much clutter in my life, in my obligations, in my brain, by the end of 2014. I've been cleaning my physical spaces, over the past couple of days, and there is certainly space that I could create in my life, too. Spaces that I can then fill with fulfilling work, fulfilling relationships, much-needed down time, and the occasional flight of fancy.

  • Asking for help. I am likely going to need help to knit all of these pieces of my existence back together, and I'm never good about asking for help. So, if things get tough, I'll do the vulnerable thing and just ASK. Who knows? Someone might even answer the call. ;)

  • Oh my god SAYING NO TO THINGS. Okay, so, maybe that's a little unfair to Past Me--I've actually gotten a LOT better about saying No to things. But, I skipped out on a lot of potentially-fruitful things last year, because I was too wiped out from other obligations. It's good that I said No in those moments, and honored and recognized my limits. SO, I think being more strategic about what I say No to might be the next step.

  • Not having roommates. I count my blessings every day, because I'm lucky enough to have roommates who are awesome humans, good friends, and who are reasonable and understanding of my various quirks. But, I intend to have the means to make a home of my own this year, and I will do so, absurdly-competitive PDX rental market or no.

  • T-shirt of the month. I got bored and designed a t-shirt for funsies, while I was on the plane to LA. I think I'd like to design a fun t-shirt every month. The tiny goal is making enough from sales that I can actually buy one of my own damned shirts, heh. I already have a couple ideas in the queue, so, fingers crossed.

  • Less hustling, more living. Something I've said to a few people, including my dad, is that you know? Freelancing has been a whole damned lot of hustle for not very much payoff. So, there'll be some new strategies, more openness to contract gigs, and applications for full-time jobs. If I get the right full-time job offer, I'll take it. If new strategies work out, hey, great. If I can get a decent stream of contract work through recruiters, then hey, also great. Whatever it is, I intend to have a better lifestyle with less hustle.

  • More of my friends and loved ones. I had a hard 2014, and I retreated into myself for extended periods, at multiple points. Aside from maybe... two exceptions, I feel like the relationships between myself and my people became wider and more distant, and it feels awful. I didn't leave enough room for us, and we paid for it. So, with that space I'm creating, maybe this can be one of the things that fills it.

  • Find a mentor. You could probably file this under Asking For Help, but wherever my worklife ends up going, some outside perspective, from somebody who actually knows their shit, is something I think I need to seek out. Whether that ends up being a business mentor, or a new boss at a fancy creative design job, it'll help me be more focused in how I improve what I do.

I'm sure there'll be more to come, the more I think on it, but it's a good start. :)
Things that I burned in the fire pit, in the last hour of 2014:

People senselessly breaking my things
Feeling disconnected from people I like
Not accepting my own awesomeness
Drama *
Being flat broke
[--REDACTED--] **
Cancer

* I didn't actually write-and-burn that one--I fully intended to, but then promptly forgot, because Hosting Duties + ADD + Booze. Fortunately, someone else did write-and-burn it, so I mentally did the same as they burned theirs.

** I know, I'm being a tease. I didn't read it the night-of, either, but listing it helps me remember that it was there.

The last moments of 2014 were about as good as they could've been, with how heavy my heart has felt. It was friends, chatter, hugs, shared joys and woes. There were a few faces that I was sad to not see, when the clock struck Midnight, but that doesn't make me any less grateful for those who were there.

I imbibed more than I should have, but I had my camera on hand at random intervals during our get-together, and I do, fortunately, remember taking most of the shots on that card. There were some pretty damned lovely moments of people I like caught in those frames. Apparently, even when I drink to forget, I still shoot to remember. :)

-----

I know it's a fairly arbitrary marker of time and transition, but things do feel somehow better in 2015. It's as if the whole world has been hibernating--nobody wants to make any serious commitments or big changes, when the year is about to end. But now, we're all coming out of the fog, and starting to take those steps towards better things.

The first text I received, after waking on January 1st, was a friend thanking me for kind things I'd said to him the night before. Something about that just made me feel unreasonably good about things to come.

I'm making plans, taking care of myself, and preparing to make some hard choices. I even have the occasional happy, potentially-useful idea floating to the surface again. I'm doing my best to keep momentum. I try not to let myself linger for too long on the things I can't control, because, yeah, weeping uncontrollably isn't going to solve anything.

Yesterday, I wrote a note to myself on my little whiteboard that said, "Create space for the things you want." Today, I cleaned the studio. There's something very satisfying about throwing things away, and creating physical space. I kind of wish I could do that with my mind, too, but even if I can't clean out the brain meats so easily, I'm making at least a little more sense of that particular mess.

It's a new year. It's going to be okay. Maybe even better than that.
batskeets: (finger)
I think that, for most of my life, I've prided myself on having the ability to be discreet, to keep information in confidence when asked, and to take secrets to the grave when necessary. I listen well, I don't air out other people's dirty laundry, and I don't like to pry into things when they aren't my business.

I realize that maybe I'm not so great at it when it comes to keeping my own secrets, however. See, I don't tend to hide things about myself--if I ever do, it's certainly not with the intention of keeping things hidden. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to think of anything about myself that I *wouldn't* talk about, if I were asked about it. I don't have anything to hide, or anything to prove. I think I'd only really hesitate if someone else's privacy was coming into play.

So, the fact that I'm ostensibly having to keep a secret about myself right now, to spare someone else potential hurt feelings? Kiiiiind of terrible. I know it's already affecting my behavior when certain combinations of people are in the room. And this all could have been avoided, if said Someone had just put on their big-kid panties and faced up to the reality of the situation.

Yeah, I'm a little bit bitter. But, I'll get over it. And it's not going to stay secret forever--I'm closely adjacent to the situation, and taking this one to the grave is too much to ask, even for me.

Woooo, VagueJournal!
I find it funny that, after writing something quite similar here a mere two days ago, I find this while randomly wandering the intertubes:

tumblr_myc8naS6RG1rr4zq1o1_500

I've felt that a lot of times when I look at some of the people around me.

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