Sunday, September 22, 2013

Be A Real Alpha

Last night was my last bout as a San Diego Derby Doll. Not sure if/when I'll ever play the game again, last time I "retired" it turned out to be temporary.

Anyways, whether I'm gonna pull a Jay Z and come back every time I retire or not, feels like a good time to impart some wisdom, so here's some of my favorite observations over the years:

1) Most seem to find roller derby in transitional periods. It's weird and wild and seems like everyone who ever needed to step out of their comfort zone (or never knew how to live in one to begin with) found this controlled chaos at just the right time. We ruin our bodies to save our souls, and for some reason that makes perfect sense.

2) There's much more heartbreak here than anyone ever expects. Many start out excited about the prospect of a good time, and flee the scene the first time they get their heart broken. Or the second time. Or, if you're especially masochistic like me, after 10 full years. But, if you have end goals to strive for and can keep your smile throughout, there's good reasons to power through all that. Especially if your goals are intangible things like self-confidence, leadership skills, and physical prowess. Stay until you get what you came for.

3) There's a huge misunderstanding of power in our culture. I'm the type of alpha that enjoys the company of other alphas. As many as I can get around. I love powerful people. But a lot of totally insecure alphas think the only way to be HBIC is to "shank the biggest kid on the playground." (One skater actually told me her mom taught her that... Guh...)

A real alpha knows that their personal power is not diminished by the presence of other alphas. It's increased. But you can't benefit from that which you shank... So... There's that.

4) There's two stories playing out simultaneously at all times in derby: a total shit show, and the most inspiring story ever told. It's a lot of people who don't honestly know what we're doing, all trying to figure this out as we go along. So it's just as much shit show as it is inspirational-tale-that-we'll-all-brag-about-when-we're-old. (That's the inherent beauty/chaos of creation.) Which side you choose to focus on will determine the quality of your experience.

5) This is a very temporary experience. Even if you manage to stretch it out for 10 years... It goes by in a blink. Get everything you can out of it and treat everyone exactly as you want to be remembered. Because for many... This will be the most exciting thing we ever experience in our lives.

And lastly... I'd like to share some quotes that I've always tried to live by, from a woman well worth admiring (if you don't already). And you can decide if this a post about just derby or applies to everything else in life as well... xoxo


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Never Underestimate A Big Butt and Smile.

I remember when I was a young barber, excited about getting started, and guys would just say the wildest/rudest shit to me. In a moment of desperation I asked another barber, "Why do people feel like they can say whatever the fuck they want to me??" And instead of answering, she drew the shape of a smile in the air with her index finger.

Oh, I thought, So I just need to be a crabby bitch like you and then people will respect me?
(I was a little feistier back then than I am now.) Well that can't be right. That's not how I want to live!

This has been a recurring theme over the years, in derby and whatever semblance of a life I've had outside of it. We have this weird cultural thing where people take the happy lightly and act like you're so much more sophisticated if you're cynical and condescending.

The early days of derby (circa 2003) were known for many things, but compassionate women wasn't one of them! It was a brutal time to be a happy idealist, young and excited about life. People were so shitty to me! I'm stoked to see the culture so much more evolved, but every once in a while I still see remnants of the whole mean girl thing.

Personally, I've worked really fucking hard to become someone who loves life, has a warm presence, feels good to be around. Anyone who underestimates that is truly weak, in my opinion.

It actually takes much more power to be awesome and light up a room than to suck all the energy from it. And to shine, smile and live a life full of happiness is actually grueling fucking work. Whether it's derby or somewhere else. Our culture at large would be smart to stop underestimating the happy person...

Cuz they're generally the most powerful one in the room, even if they're not aware of it yet, or are wise enough not to flex it on others all the time. And don't be afraid to become one! It takes more strength, maybe, but what's so bad about getting stronger? xoxo

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How To Become "Derby Famous"

Roller derby is a sport that pays us in ego boosts, isn't it?

Having done quite a bit of independent study on psychology and basic human needs... it's not hard to see that Significance is the one we get from roller derby. 

There just aren't too many other pursuits a woman can pick up randomly and automatically gain a greater respect from strangers. Just for doing it, you don't even have to be good at it! And have you noticed how people light up at the mere mention of the the words "roller derby," without even knowing anything about it? It's special, and we all need to feel special about something. 

I was never the cool kid in any of my younger years. Since my family moved to a new town every year, I was usually the New Kid, and pre-braces was the buck toothed kid as well. But I always had my eye on the cool kids. I wanted to be liked, but didn't have the confidence to know how. 

So, imagine my surprise when I got to be kind of "popular" in roller derby! I was like... Sally Fields giving an acceptance speech... And I still kind of am! I love love, so getting it makes me happy. I'm not gonna pretend I don't love it, what could be better than being well received? 

People get "Derby Famous" for various reasons, (not all of them positive) and I can't speak for anyone else. But I can say that for me, there's one word that says it all, and that word is: CONTRIBUTION.

I've given a lot to the community, and will give even more in the future. And if you did that, people would want to read your blog, watch your videos, and hear what you have to say on various topics, too! 

Basically: what you give is what you get. So if you want more, give more. It's a simple formula, I don't know why more people don't use it. But it's never too late to start making your mark on the derby world, or even just your own league, or any place in the world, really. Just give people something that they need.

Here's some things we all need: skate skills, fitness knowledge, inspiration, laughter, love, nutrition information, quality products, fun gifts and cool clothes, sincere praise and good stories. 

If you look at some of the more successful blogs/people/businesses in roller derby... You'll see that they're not just taking, they're giving something really valuable, too. That's what makes them popular, and that's a big part of what defines your level of awesome, I believe. 

My personal and LiveLoveDerby business decisions about who to partner with are largely decided on by the other party's level of sincere contribution. How about you? What's your contribution? xoxo

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Swearing In Front Of Juniors?

This is a blog post I hope I can get a lot of feedback on, especially from parents of Junior Skaters!

So... one thing I struggle with frequently is my words when coaching Juniors. They know I swear, I know they swear, but there's a social norm that says we're not supposed to do it around each other, or I'm a terrible role model.

But... THEY KNOW I SWEAR ALL THE TIME, just not around them.

This isn't like... a new thing for me. It's who I am! I got kicked out of the Girl Scouts and a church group for young women for swearing. And there were kids in the neighborhood who couldn't play with me because their parents heard me swearing.

Some people think swearing is for the ignorant: not me. I entered college as an English Major with 12 scholarships for writing essays in 1999. (Tied for most scholarships in my graduating class.) I'm educated, I'm articulate, and "fuck" has always been my favorite word.

So, my question is: which is MORE irresponsible:

A) Being less than genuine around the future generation: essentially treating them like they don't need to see the full-on real me.

B) Potentially setting a standard that says: say whatever the fuck you want, even if some people don't like it, potentially disrespecting parents of Juniors.

I'm not giving advice here, I'm asking for help! I need insight. Because the truth is that I consider coaching impressionable young women a great responsibility, that I do want to honor to the fullest. But I also want to be who I am: which is an example of a generally happy person, ambitious, sporty and... expressive! Some of them need that example. But is it disrespectful to their parents?

It's a subject I'll have to reflect on quite a bit in the coming months. Send me your thoughts at   xoxo

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MP3 Seminars Of Isabelle Ringer

One of my best friends in the world is Isabelle Ringer. Because Ringer and I are such good friends, people think we're alike, but honestly: we think totally differently.

Ringer's very logical and pragmatic (whereas my approach often has metaphysical leanings) and as much as I love my own perspective: I surround myself w/inspiring people who have much to offer and are fun to learn from on purpose.

What we both have in common is that we are studious as shit. And we swear a lot. So if you like my MP3s, you'll love hers! Educated, and totally real. Honest stories and cited sources. Here's previews of the 3 new MP3s:

1) Becoming A Great Leader. Ringer's an amazing leader, from Pivoting, to Team Captain, to GM of SDDD: she knocks it out the park with hard work, study, and true dedication.

2) Deliberate Practice.  She was voted SDDD's 2012 Coach Of The Year for a reason! Ringer (and I) are huge proponents of Deliberate Practice: a phrase every Athlete and Coach would be wise to learn and love!

3) It's About More Than Skating. This features both of us, and the kind of stuff we talk about privately: what derby means... and could mean, when we decide to make about more than skating.

If you're hungry to always grow and learn more about this sport and evolve your own role in it, my guess is that you'll enjoy these very much! xoxo

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Non Derby Related? A Story From Home

Everything to me, is roller derby related. But this is mostly just story time, I guess. It's the story of me flipping the fuck out over a teenaged girl holding a sign outside of Rite Aid, yesterday.

I must warn you in advance: this is an emo blog post! 

So I'm riding my beach cruiser to Rite Aid and there's a sweet faced girl, curly red hair, bright blue eyes, freckles, and dressed like a nor-cal-bro huddled on the ground, holding a sign that says "Bet you $1 you'll read this sign." 

You've seen those before, right?

Well, I didn't even know what was happening before I was asking this girl a thousand questions.
How old are you? Why are you here? You're young and healthy, why don't you have a job?

And before I could let her think I was another concerned adult trying to make her feel bad:
I'm not judging you, I'm really just trying to understand.

She just looked like a Junior Doll to me. Someone's daughter. Full of youth and promise, what the fuck was she doing here, begging for money??? It fucked me up, and while she told me her story (15, kicked out, sleeping under a bush), I just started crying, which seemed to confuse both of us.

For the record: I don't believe anything a desperate person says. I've been in survival mode before, when I was her age. You'll say anything and do anything to get your needs met. So it wasn't her story I was upset by, because I was pretty sure she was making it all up.

It was that fucking sign. Who's been influencing this girl, or not, to believe that she can get more from other people than she can make happen for herself??? I just felt so awful that no one ever empowered her to want more for herself than that.

By the time our interaction was done, she had 20 of my dollars, 3 of my hugs, a copy of Living the Law Of Attraction, and 30 minutes of my undivided attention. I asked if I could sit with her and chat for a bit?

I had a question for her that she seemed to be answering for the first time: What are your dreams?
She has a beautiful dream: to be an artist. To ride around in an RV with a dog and paint supplies, traveling and painting. I cried again when she shared this with me. She's probably never met such a big, tattooed cry baby.

Why was this so emotional for me?

It's real the reason I quit playing sports when I was her age: because I'd left home, was already working a job and paying rent, and bending over backwards to please my friend's family so they wouldn't kick me out. And then, when I moved to California, it's because my Aunt Susan was taking me in. What would have happened to me if she didn't?

Where would I be without the power of my own self-reliance and self-convictions, in addition to this outside help? Where would I be if my destiny relied entirely on the generosity of others?? Or completely without the benefit of it??

These are the kinds of things we talked about. I get being a purist, I get loving what you love so much that you don't want to do anything that isn't love. I believe that's how people are supposed to live! You're supposed to do what you love! But here was a young idealist: willing to do nothing else.

And I found myself saying something I probably needed to hear as much as she did:

If you work full time at a job, part time on your passion, eventually you'll get to work full time on your passion, part time on your job. (Jim Rohn quote, and then I heard myself adding) And when you've reached the point of mastery, you'll be a full time artist. But you have to master it first, before you get to live the lifestyle of a master. And for that, you've gotta work!

I bargained with her, I've given you 20 times what that sign was asking. What am I asking for in return? Not for me, I may never see you again. What am I asking you to do for yourself?

She knew I wanted her to tear that sign up, get a fucking job and take care of herself like she deserved. 

I have never, and will never tell a homeless person to "Get a job." That's abhorrent behavior. I don't tell adults what to do. But this wasn't an adult, this was the future. I felt like how I handled this situation was very important. When I left, I hugged her again, got on my bike, as I rode off, called back:

I'm not trying to save you, because I don't believe you're lost. I just really hope I've been able to inspire you. Have an amazing day, and an amazing life!

And when she called to me, "Thank you, Merry Christmas!" I cried again. Because I think I really reached her. And if everything I ever went through in my life was just leading up to that one moment of inspiring that one girl, then I'd say all the pain of my past was more than worth it.

It made me realize that I have totally become the kind of person my teenaged self would be inspired by. It made me realize that by hustling, working, AND pursuing my passion doggedly, I am my own hero.

So, I'm not sure if she did more for me, by gifting me that realization, or if I did more for her, by being someone an idealistic, rebel teenager can look up to and relate to. (something I never had.) Either way it's a gift. A gift that I am honored, and humbled and yes, crying at the thought of, receiving. So I share that gift with you, along with the wish that you're doing the work to live your dreams, too. Whatever they may be.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review of Agility For Roller Derby DVD

I don't usually post reviews on my blog, I'm more of an article-writing kind of gal. But this review comes from Australia. I asked the first round of people to purchase Agility For Roller Derby via digital download to send me their honest reviews.

The thing about asking for feedback is... I always do it, and I always cringe a little bit, ready for anything! But the truth is, all the reviews that have come back have been pretty epic.

From Shell Bent, Sydney Australia:

"The roller derby community worldwide is first and foremost ever richer and more blessed to have Bonnie D. Stroir, as this groundbreaking instructional DVD (alongside all her other instructional gems) consistently demonstrates. Bonnie's talent for clear, effective, succinct, accessible instruction is the best I've observed in any industry, let alone roller derby. As a professional information designer myself, with a masters degree in making complex information accessible and educational, I am broadly exposed to the rife lower standards out there, in any field, when it comes to 

a) instruction and 
b) ACTION on that instruction/information... 

Action that can be successfully internalized and literally accessed/repeated by the empowered learner.The reach and effectiveness of it is priceless - it just keeps on giving, every time I watch it. 

Derby is intimidating to someone at my early stage of progression, and I have such fear, awe and respect for those simply awesome A-league stars who make it all seem so easy when they're out there on the track - but Bonnie goes one step beyond that, and skillfully breaks down the foundations of those 'rad skills', to a point where one's goals become more realistic, practical, navigable and less scary. I feel so positive and inspired each time I watch it, and just so energized to be on this roller derby journey even more as a result (more patient with where I'm at, and more confident I can incrementally get to the level I want). Thanks to Bonnie, it's become that extra bit doable. Thank you so much Bonnie - you ROCK!"

This is how I always hoped it felt to be coached by me, but you never really know until it's put so plainly in print like that! It was kind of crazy to see all of my intentions for the DVD spelled out in one review. I hope you get a copy of your own and also love it. xoxo