Things are coming along with the wedding stuff, and it's pretty great. Venue for ceremony is locked in, venue for reception is all-but-locked-down (the rep is working up the contract as of now), I've asked 2 of my 3 desired bridespeople to be my attendants, and I got a fantastic dress for way under budget. It fits so well that I may not even have to alter the thing, which is frankly amazing. My future sister-in-law has been eager to help out with things, I think I have a cool idea for a bridal shower, and perhaps most importantly, I am not freaking out about any of this. Things are moving along, and I feel in control and not overwhelmed in the slightest. Let's hope it stays that way. ;)

Derby continues apace. The first part of the season was hard, because we had a bout very literally every other week for our first several games. And, coaching my juniors team on top of that has made it pretty time-consuming. But, we have a nice several-week gap between this past weekend's game and our next one in April, and my juniors will be ending their season on April 1st. So, room to breathe is definitely coming soon.

Also, I won MVP blocker a couple weeks ago, which I'm pretty stoked about. I feel like I've been actually improving and playing better this season, and I've gotten really comfortable with the inside line and forward-facing blocking. It's pretty encouraging to finally see progress, because last season felt like one big plateau.

Work has been a slog, largely because small businesses have had a hard start to the year, and thusly, so have I. I've been in my own head a lot, and have been dealing with a couple of terrible, time-and-energy-sucking sub-contracting gigs that I seriously want to quit. But, there are also some really exciting projects that are close to launch, and some exciting potential projects in the pipeline, so hopefully my mood will improve.

Today, I also joined a local co-working space and "social club," as they describe it. While I chatted with the owner, I told her something that I hadn't entirely realized was true until I said it: I don't really have a community around my work, and I'm feeling a need for that.

I have wonderful people in my personal life. I have a great community surrounding my derby life. But, aside from the people I pay to work with me--who are both awesome, to be fair--I don't have the same sense of community with my work life that I do in other parts of my life.

Swapping business cards at networking events isn't doing the job. I haven't found a place where I felt there was space for my whole self at any job or networking group, since I moved to Portland. This, however, seems like a thing that's geared towards ambition, balance, and genuine connections. Hopefully, this will be a step in the right direction, or at least get me out of my own head more often.

And holy crap, I need Spring to get here soooooon. The day-and-a-half of sunshine we had over the weekend was a wonderful lift, and I want MOAR. Preferably without some stupid "spring forward", sleep-stealing time change attached to it. ;p
Today was something of a bummer. I woke up feeling sick, after a week that included five photoshoots, three birthday parties, another halloween-ish party, a scrimmage, a league meeting, and a visit to the Goodwill Bins. I was supposed to have my first derby practice back with my team since going on leave, and I was also supposed to coach my first practice with one of the league's juniors teams.

Instead, I squeezed out what little code I could muster in the morning, and then laid around in my pajamas, half-watching Quantum Leap in a haze, and dictating e-mails and marketing copy into my phone when my head felt clear enugh.

But, my housemates put together an amazing meal for all of us to share, and all I had to do was schlep down the stairs to make myself a plate. We enjoyed one of the best TNG episodes (Darmok) and a bit of British Baking Show while we ate, and I wrapped myself in a blanket and it was totally relaxed and restful and nourishing. I'm full of ham and gratitude right now.

And, there was also an interesting development after Saturday scrimmage--my first time putting skates on in two months--when I blocked a newer jammer pretty extensively. A more naturally boastful person might say that I dominated her, heh.

I'm told that her kid was watching and decided to draw that scene. So, the new Meat is the fearful-looking jammer (depicted as a literal jar of jam), and I'm apparently that feisty-looking jar of peanut butter on wheels that's coming after her.

Seeing this made me laugh out loud and it might be one of the better sports-related compliments I've ever gotten. ;)

14606540_10101763964957081_3175071394868345875_n
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 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, I can't say that playing the Season Opener with metric tons of Midol swimming through my veins was how I wanted to play it, but other than the lady-problems-induced brain fog, it was a good game. We came out very strong in the first bout of what could easily be called a "rebuilding season," so if we look this good now, we're going to look awesome in these next few games.

The only thing I feel sort-of-bad about was that I wanted some of the newer folks on our roster to have more play time, but the game was too close for comfort on that front. It makes me wish I had played better. :/ But, the new folks that did get a fair amount of play time did SO incredibly well, and I'm proud of all of us. It's going to be a great season with a lot of opportunities for our people to shine. :D

On a semi-related note, I really ought to follow up on the hormonal birth control thing, now that I actually have a primary care doctor that I've visited in the past year. (did I mention that the November Death Bug was bad enough to actually make me go to the doctor? Because, yeah, that.) I quit the pill quite intentionally, but I've been hearing about other methods that could help make The Monthlies less debilitating and awful, without involving such a high dose of hormones.

Anyhoo, a mid-month check-myself-before-I-wreck-myself about how things are going:

SUBTRACTING:

  • Working after dinner. I've been pretty conscious about this one, in particular, and am doing well at it so far.

  • Social media/e-mails before breakfast. It's not perfect, but it's getting there. I still poke at social media on my phone while brushing my teeth, but it's a lot harder to get sucked into things.

  • Some derby things. I asked our Volunteer Coordinator about handling our practice signups for Fresh Meat, so while I haven't handed it off yet, it'll be off my plate before February!

  • Working on weekends. Ehhh, hit-or-miss. I wound up working for a couple hours the Sunday-before-last, but that was mainly because I'd given up a couple hours on that Friday to do volunteering. Still, it'd have been nicer to just have that free day, and I feel the difference.

  • Things/people that suck up my energy and give nothing in return. Doing pretty great here, I think? It's a bit harder to tell what the return is on something when you're not very far into it. But, there are at least a couple of things/people that I'm wasting less of my life on.

ADDING:

  • A SMALL movie afternoon/night or other small-sized gathering. It just happened yesterday! I was tempted to cancel, because I was still having horrible cramps, but I sucked it up and pushed through. People came over and watched a great movie and ate bread that I made, and I wore pajama pants the whole time, because that's the true test of friendship, really. XD

  • A creative photoshoot every quarter. I have started assembling a team for the Q1 shoot, which will probably drop in February. All are excited. I am excited, too.

  • Networking. I unfortunately screwed myself out of attending a new group this month, because my dentist appointment conflicts with their next meetup. :/ But, I ended up being booked for a gig later that day, so I guess it wasn't meant to be. On the up side, I've been dutifully polling my seed group of Derby Networkers about what we want out of the group, and will likely be putting our first face-to-face meetup on the calendar this week.

  • Better eating. First freezer meal is in the freezer! The Joe and I have been eating more breakfasts at home, too--the fact that his tour schedule is so reduced right now helps with that.

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.

Heh, I didn't write anything here at all in November! I can't remember the last time I've done that in like a decade. Not that there was much to talk about anyway, because most of it was just, "HAY GUYZ, I'm sick and exhausted and I barely have any energy for work or roller derby or anything." The cold I had hung on for long enough that I actually went to the doctor about it... only to have them give me Sudafed and tell me to wait it out. ::sigh:: That was the case for most of the people I know who caught it, though, so I guess this season's crud is just a particularly brutal one.

My car also has decided to be a turd twice in the past month-or-so: the first time, the alternator was going out, so the car crapped out rather suddenly on the way home from derby. Fortunately, [livejournal.com profile] matrixleap helped me replace the battery, and another professional mechanic buddy of ours was able to come over straightaway and put in a new alternator.

The second time was apparently the new alternator being defective, so it started to crap out, too. Fortunately, I caught that problem early and recognized it from last time, so I didn't get stuck anywhere. And, the part was still under warranty, so that replacement was free. I had a dentist appointment in Beaverton less than two hours after it started acting up, though, so it was a pretty annoying inconvenience, but an inexpensive one, at least.

I also have a new bike now, which is pretty excellent. I got it on a huge, hundreds-of-dollars markdown thanks to a Black Friday sale, so all I had to do was head to their pop-up showroom, take a test ride to see if I liked the thing, and they ordered it and had it shipped to my house for free. I finally got it and took it on its maiden voyage around the neighborhood a couple of days ago, and it rides so much smoother, and it'll be lighter on hills, too. Now, if only it we weren't having the rainiest week ever right now, so I could actually ride it!

Tonight is another home team draft, and it is once again a thing of controversy. The only truly melodramatic part dropped late last night, and my co-captain got really fired up about it, but our coaches and I were able to calm things down. It sounds like other team captains are feeling similar about the aforementioned melodrama, too, so that's a comfort. In any case, I'm confident that we'll be fine and will get rad draft picks, and it's nowhere NEAR as stressful as last time around. (I slept straight through the night last night, which is a far cry from the night before our previous draft, heh)

In other completely random news, I think I leveled up my karaoke game yesterday: I did Juke Box Hero at a holiday party, and then afterward, a lady came up to me and asked if she could talk me into doing backing vocals on her band's next album. Haaaaahahaha. I'll be shocked if they actually contact me about it, but it's a cute story, anyway.

I've also been watching a lot of 80's music videos recently (or rather, putting them on in the background while I work), and they're completely bananas and also making me want to do photoshoots based on them. It's been a while since I've had any headspace available to feel inspired, so it's a nice feeling to have.

I mean, really. LOOK AT THIS STUFF.

replay-america-the-warrior-screenshot

Yeah, something like this might have to happen soon. XD
Here's how October is shaping up:

Oct 1st: Client photoshoot
Oct 2nd: Draft Night
Oct 4th: Other, Different Client photoshoot
Oct 5th: First Home Team practice of the season
Oct 9th: Shoot at fashion show
Oct 10th: Team Fundraiser Party
Oct 14th-15th: Move to New Studio
Oct 16th: Get on a plane to Austin to skate with Travel Team (?!)

And that's just the first half of the month. And it also doesn't factor in design/coding deadlines.

Sweet jesus, I'm going to die. XD
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.
batskeets: (j)
And, I'm on Travel Team again.

Well, if I want to be, anyway. Leadership's goal is to treat all 30 of us as one team, even though only 20 at a time can be on our A-Team charter. The charter isn't being submitted for at least another week or so, and I'm not sure that I expect to be on it. But, they've said that if we made the Top 30, then we're on the A-Team, and should go ahead and tell people that's who we skate for. So, I guess I sort of made the A-Team?

But eh, you never know. I was the quietest mouse last season, because I knew I was at the very bottom of the roster, and I constantly felt outclassed. This year, I went in feeling like I'd make it, and I did. I actually said useful words and worked well with my blockers and played like I belonged there. Because, oh yeah, I AM good enough to be there, and I know what I'm doing. Maybe now that I've found my voice, I'll get noticed more.

So, I suppose fate has said its piece, and all the decision-making is mine, now.
...but, yeah, I can certainly see why people enjoy it. ;)

This bout felt like the biggest hurdle we'd have to face this season--of the other home teams, theirs had a stacked roster, and some of the most high-profile jammers in the world. Last season, they went undefeated. Still, our dedication and teamwork got us through, and it was an exciting and non-blowout-y game, but rather than snatching victory in the last minutes of the game, we held down a solid lead for most of the second half.

I now have an unhappy groin muscle, which doesn't exactly thrill me. I stretch all the time, and have gotten my share of awed and/or sassy commentary about my post-practice splits stretches, so the irony of this isn't lost on me. But, even if I have to sit out for more than a few days, I'm glad I was there for my team during this bout. I wasn't sure how well I was going to play, going in--Aunt Flo does not exactly contribute to my energy levels or mental focus--but I played really well, and I was there to support my teammates and build crazy-awesome walls with them.

I've occasionally and quietly thought to myself that, hey, we're looking pretty good, and maybe we even have a shot at winning League Championships this year. After this bout, it feels like we're over the hump, and going from Worst to First looks more possible than ever.

Gaaahhhh. I'm so proud of us. <3

10952486_10152793975558347_4183969542484848556_o
Some things in life merit a bit of profanity. So, believe me when I say, OH HOLY SHIT I love so many things about this:

tumblr_n7sk1ajWer1rvk1q8o1_250

Seriously, I felt like David taking down Goliath, in that moment. Except that in this scenario, Goliath would then grin and say, "nice shot, buddy!" (seriously? The high-five is the best part. Not even joking.)

Sportsmanship is RAD.

Heroes

Jun. 13th, 2014 10:12 pm
(cross-post from the derby blog)

Tomorrow is the last game of the season with my beloved home team. It’s been a long season of bouting, and we’ve had our share of challenges, self-doubt, and games where we didn’t win at scoring the most points. Right now, however? The only thing I can feel is excitement and optimism.

When I look at the people I skate with every week, I can’t help but be amazed. There were some very large skates to fill at the beginning of our season. We may have felt scattered, unsure, and quiet then. We may not have been sure what our role would be on this team, or even what kind of skaters we were yet. I know I had all of those feelings.

Still, as the season has worn on, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds–not just as individuals with skills and strategies, but as a team that works together. More and more often, I go to practices and scrimmages, and see my teammates have moments of brilliance they’ve never had before. I get to have moments with my teammates where everything clicks, and we’re perfectly complementing each other’s actions.

We’ve come together and combined our powers for awesome. We’ve found leadership within our own voices, to fill those empty, quiet spaces. We’ve become stronger, harder-hitting, and more controlled. We’ve gotten smarter, more aware, more focused, and more connected with each other. We’ve found confidence in realizing that, hey, we’re actually really good at roller derby. We’ve made world-class players struggle and sweat and fight for every single point they try to score against us.

I remember being completely blindsided when I got drafted to this team, but those wise captains knew what they were doing–I look around at your faces, and I know that this is exactly where I should be. The soul and the spirit of this team strengthens and inspires me, and it’s what makes us as strong as we are. “Family” was a word that came up at the beginning of the season, and it rings true. Support means trusting each other on the track, and caring about each other’s well-being off the track. We challenge each other and we lift each other’s spirits. We never stop fighting, and we do it with grace.

I always used to dread being asked who my personal hero was, growing up, because I always wanted to find my own path, rather than emulating someone else’s. I never had a good answer for that question.

Now? It looks like I have not just one personal hero, but 18 of them. I see how hard we work, how much we care, how much of our hearts we pour in, and how much we sacrifice to make ourselves better in this sport. When I look at what each of you do to make this team great, that’s nothing short of heroic. The beautiful thing about it? We don’t just do this to improve or fulfill ourselves–we do it because we want to be better support for each other.

Because of you, I understand what being a part of a team truly means, more than I ever have in my life.

Look how far we’ve come. Look at all the things we can do now, that we couldn’t have done a few months, or even a scant few weeks ago. Look how much more we’re going to do, whether it’s tomorrow night, or in the Fall, or in the 2015 season.

Together, we are heroes, and there’s no limit to what heroes can do.
batskeets: (yan!)
Things have been pretty excellent, as of recent.

Travel Team went down to Eugene for a three-day tournament, and I got my first taste of international roller derby, when team came all the way from Scotland for tournament, and scrimmaged me and the B Team the Wednesday prior! I had an awesome time playing, watching, and talking about derby with my teammates, my wifey, my main squeeze, and all the awesome leaguemates who came down to support us. Three days of derby is a LOT of derby, but I wound up feeling far more excited about it, and more secure in my place on the team, at the end of the weekend than I did at the beginning. Talk about giving burnout a good swift kick in the ass. ;)

I'm making an effort to get out and about a bit more, both to spend time with neat people, and to try and engage more with not-derby communities. Because, as fun as derby often is, it's also not who I am. I've been interviewed by a couple of folks who are doing a deep-dive into the local fashion community, which is weird to me, because I've generally been so much on the fringes of it, but getting more involved in those events will, if nothing else, help me ascertain what's realistic for my business in terms of working with local makers. And, keeping up with what's happening in the world of pretty things, whether it's fashion, web, or visual design, is good for inspiration.

I recently got to nerd out about 3-D printing and design concepts. I've been introduced to new stories in a variety of media. I've gotten to catch up with some longtime friends, after weeks, even months of trying to get our schedules lined up. I've had some wonderful, quiet moments. Comfortable silence with another human being continues to be one of my absolute favorite things. And, even though I was awake in the morning, I didn't get out of bed until 1pm last Saturday, and that was nothing short of amazing, for multiple reasons. :)

And there are SO MANY THINGS I want to be working on. Thanks to my tap dancing adventures and my Halloween costume, I'm going to be performing twice in one day, at the end of this month. I have designs and costumes to make, pies to bake, photos to take. It's one of those periods where I feel like I'm exploding with inspiration, and just need the time to make it happen. Which, yeah, the "time" part isn't exactly coming easily, but when something matters enough, you make the time. And hey, Championships--and a summertime break from Home Team practices--is in less than a month, and sunny days are ahead.

So, yeah, I'm just going to gloss over the fact that, just after hiring a new project manager (whom I'm legitimately excited about), my assistant gave notice. And then, I hired the other gal that I wanted for project manager, because she'd actually be much better at my assistant's job. But just yesterday, when we were set to start training her, she learned that her other job wants her to go full-time. So, I'm back at the drawing board again. When will this hiring nightmare end? WHEEEEEENNNN?

Right. Glossing over aggravating things. I was going to do that. So, in closing: remember that time when I was briefly famous on the internet for blowing up a Texas jammer who tried to jump the apex?



Also note my awesome teammate, who successfully jumped the apex a second or two later, and ALL of us in white-and-purple grinning like idiots over this chain of events. It was one of the more perfect moments of the weekend, heh.
Uggghhhh. I think this is the worst I've felt after a game all season. I guess that's not saying much, because I haven't really felt bad at all after any of our games, even when we lost by a wider margin. I don't feel super-awful, or anything, and I know I didn't play badly last night.

I'm mostly just mad at my uterus, because I could have been better if my head was clearer and I'd had a little more energy, instead of fake Midol-induce energy. I'm usually super-mellow and positive during bouts, and I make an effort to be that way--I feel that I play better coming from a calm and uplifting perspective. Last night definitely came from a more emotional place, however, most likely thanks to Aunt Flo. I think I worked harder when I was on the track, but I don't know that I played any better. So, I just have this vague, shitty feeling of wanting to be better for my team, and knowing that I did a lot, but also that I probably could have done more on a different day.

There also was a moment early in the game last night, when I was apparently in a good place to do offense for our jammer, but I didn't see it at the time, so I didn't do it. So, we came off the track, and she immediately went, "right there, you could have hit [so-and-so] out of the way and I could have gotten through, and I was like calling out to you, so you really should just watch out for that," and so on.

The way this teammate gives me feedback usually rubs me a little wrong in general, but in that moment, that was pretty much The Last thing I needed to hear in the middle of a bout. I need to stay positive and think about the good things I'm going to do next, not dwell on little mistakes. Our entire bench needs to, in fact, and our captains even said as much.

So, I basically blew it off and walked away, because if I hadn't, I'd have just stewed on it and feel crappy about it, and there was no time to feel bad about myself or anything I did during that game.

I'm probably going to have a conversation with her today or tomorrow that amounts to, "please don't do that with me during a game, especially when we need to be keeping our bench positive," so she at least knows why I blew it off, and that it wasn't about her so much as it was bad timing. I don't know if she'll understand it, and I'm kind of expecting her to get defensive, so I'm not exactly looking forward to it. This gal and I are pretty fundamentally different people, and having been teammates with her for close to a year, I suspect we may not ever completely understand each other.

One of the neat things about being in a team sport is being exposed to people whom you'd probably never have cause to be around under normal circumstances. A lot of the time, you get to know them, and they surprise you in a really neat and positive way. But, sometimes, there's the down side.
I've been off-skates since Sunday with a very deep bruise in my right glute. This probably sounds ridiculous--or at least, it does to me--but apparently, Major League Soccer dudes get put on the Disabled List with contusions on a regular basis, so it's not completely absurd.

After repeatedly falling on it, it's become a repeating cycle of: fall on it, feel horrible pain whenever I so much as sit on or roll over it, feel fine after 2-3 days, fall on it, repeat. The bruise is so deep that the blood clotting never reaches the surface and leaves that familiar purplish bruising mark, but the "horrible pain" part worsens after each fall. So, after checking in with the sports doctor, I'm working out and skating endurance, but not doing anything that's likely result in uncontrolled falling, which means no scrimmage.

Oddly, taking the better part of a week-or-so off has been kind of a welcome reprieve. I was feeling burnt out on, well, basically everything in my life, but, even though I was still at every practice soaking up strategy, the time off has reminded me that, hey, I like this derby thing and I want to keep doing it. So, I'll get back in the mix on Monday, my bruise should be a fair sight better, and I'll have a renewed sense of purpose to go with it.

In better news, over the past week-or-so, I conquered a logo design that I've been struggling with for what seems like ages, I got a few exciting and potentially-big work leads, and I've started the hunt to find a new project manager who's going to be amazing at her job. I'm settling into my increased work/derby schedule and starting to feel at least vaguely comfortable and less overwhelmed. My beloved home team drafted three awesome people to our roster, and [livejournal.com profile] marykae is back in town and trying out for Fresh Meat as I write this. AND, we're finally getting to have a wifey date later today, after being derby wives for over a year. Better late than never.

April can definitely continue being nice to me. I won't mind. ;)

Greeeeat.

Mar. 14th, 2014 12:07 pm
(side note: "AEV" is a former TT skater who opted not to try out this year)

ME: ...because I'm going out of town this weekend.
AEV: Oh, cool. Where are you going?
ME: Oh, it's the travel team retreat.
AEV: Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting about that! Are you excited?
ME: Yeah. I think I'll be more excited once I get there. I'm just waiting for the moment when I stop feeling like I'm going to have a nervous breakdown, heh.
AEV: Yeeeeah, that never really goes away.

--

I do know that the vast majority of my current anxiety is about the time commitment, and the fact that other new demands on my time have cropped up recently, so I probably wouldn't be freaking out as much if I were adjusting to just the extra couple of practice hours for TT. But TT obligations, plus starting a new part-time job maybe a week before tryouts, and then getting sick during the week following, has me feeling like I'm scrambling to catch up on things, much less catch a moment for myself.

Also, on the other end of the spectrum, one of my other skate buddies who is on TT this year said that things are usually bonkers at first, but then everything smooths out in June when home teams go on break. So, it's definitely not going to be like this for the entire season. I'm just hoping that this initial adjustment period calms down after the retreat this weekend. I feel like I'm not having as much fun with TT as I could be, so far. It hasn't even been two weeks, though, so, again, adjusting.

I also need to keep reminding myself that, no, I do not need to have 100% attendance for both my home team and TT. It takes 80% to get rostered, and that buffer exists for a reason. I'm allowed to take a day off. That's good advice for life, really. ;p

And, there's a small amount of anxiety about the fact that I've effectively put myself out there as one of the best skaters in the league. I haven't historically been a super-competitive person, and while I do know that there are things I'm good at, or even expert-level at, I've never really been brave enough to try to claim that I'm the best at something. There's been a lot of talk at practice about trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone, and I know that they're referring to skills and techniques, when they say that. But, when I think about it, merely trying for and getting onto TT is a huge step out of my comfort zone.

The whole thing is a lot like throwing myself into the deep end, and seeing if I can swim. I'm usually pretty good at rising to occasions, though, so it'll be okay if I work hard, be smart, and stick it out. It's worked for me in the past. I just hope it involves less crying and crippling self-doubt than the first few months of Fresh Meat in 2011 did, heh.
It's kind of funny how much your mindset can affect the things you do. I have to admit that I approached this past weekend with a fair amount of dread, at first: on Saturday, I had a photoshoot, a birthday get-together to go to, and then Day 1 of Travel Team tryouts (ack!), and then what could have potentially been two MORE birthday parties. Then, Sunday kicked off with Day 2 of TT tryouts, followed by a 5-hour shift at the shop I'm now working for. It all sounded very intimidating and exhausting, especially after what was a pretty high-pressure workweek.

But, I turned in nice and early on Friday, and when I woke up on Saturday, I thought, "you know what, I'll go and do all the things, and everything will be fine. I can make it through the weekend, no matter what."

The photoshoot turned out much lower-key than I built it up to be in my head, and involved one of my favorite makeup artists, and I really enjoyed working with our subject for the afternoon. On the way to Birthday #1, I realized that I'd be watching Star Trek and eating grilled cheese sandwiches with my best bros, and honestly, you can't get a much more comforting activity than that, for me. I wish I could've stayed longer, but it was just the thing.

I got to TT tryouts, and wanted to throw up a little, at first. Then I remembered that, hey, we'd done all of these drills at Thursday practice, and I did just fine at them, so I should just calm down and do the thing, and let the chips call where they may. Some skills didn't click quite as well as I wanted them to, but others went better than I expected.

Then, I went to the lower-key of the two birthday party options (well, if you can call karaoke "low-key," but believe you me, it was definitely the lesser of the two evils), had a couple of drinks to unwind, had a hell of a lot of fun singing my head off, and wound up staying out very late. I fell asleep thinking that I'd probably regret staying up so late when I had to get up for Day 2 of tryouts, but I told myself it'd be fine. I've played roller derby with a hangover, and I've played derby on not-much sleep before. I know what I'm doing.

So, I got up this morning, dragged myself away from bed, put coffee and a breakfast sandwich into my face, and scrimmaged with some of the best skaters in the world. It was not perfect, but it never is. But, I communicated a lot (which I'm normally not-so-great at, being a quieter person in genera), and had some great teamwork moments.

And then I got to my shift at the shop, did a stellar job of being extra-nice to people and keeping things tidy for the first 90-or-so minutes, and then my phone blew up with congratulatory texts, because I MADE TRAVEL TEAM. ACK! :D!!!!! I'm on the B-Team, but when that puts you among the Top 30 skaters in one of the top-ranked leagues in the world, the B-Team is definitely no small potatoes.

I may or may not have, quite literally, jumped up and down in the middle of the (fortunately, empty, at the time) shop, when that happened. XD

Anyhoo, I'm closing up shop now, and I'm basically feeling like I won the entire weekend. Granted, I'm bloody exhausted, but I can only imagine how things might've gone if I hadn't shouted down the anxiety demons with calmness and positivity.

Can't complain. Not even a little. :)
YAY I FINALLY LOOK LEGIT IN A DERBY PHOTO.

_MG_2645-XL

We didn't win our bout--in fact, we got pretty soundly crushed--but we had some amazing moments together, and I can't feel bad about how the game went. Penalties were the major problem, and there were some pretty ridiculous calls, and things that didn't get called by the refs.

We're essentially a completely new team this season, but we have a crapton of potential, and I'm excited to see it all unfold. I know it will, we just need more time together to become the well-oiled machine that other teams have had more time to develop.

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