Thursday, December 29, 2011

2 Stories About Injuries In Roller Derby

1) The first is actually a reoccurring story:

I'm coaching a training camp, it's scrimmage time. There's a skater who knows that she's injured. She comes up to me and asks if she can/should scrimmage with her injured knee/ankle/shoulder/insert body part here.

Me: All I can say is There's nothing you can do in a scrimmage to make that injury feel better. But there's a lot of things that could happen to make it worse!

Injuries are like magnets in a contact sport. They draw more contact to them! We like to pretend that we have enough control of our bodies to just avoid falling on whatever it is that's hurt. But the truth is, whatever you focus on... gets the most attention.

2) I coached at a camp last year, where a skater injured her shoulder during an exhibition bout.

Another Coach and I each had separated shoulders at one point, and happened to be talking to Injured Skater at the same time. Injured skater did not have health insurance. Neither did either of the coaches talking to her!

Me: I researched the healing process, got a brace at the drug store, wore it every minute of the day that I wasn't at work. I wore it to bed to make up for the hours when I was at work. And I wore it even after it stopped hurting to make sure I didn't use it before it was fully healed. It takes 6-8 weeks.
Other Coach: Yah, they say that. But you can just wear it for like 2 or 3 weeks and you'll be fine!
Me: Really? Does that shoulder ever bother you now?
Other Coach: Yah, sometimes, but you know... whatever!

Me: I DON'T EVEN REMEMBER WHICH SHOULDER I INJURED!!!

I'm not a doctor. In fact, I have a very real phobia of doctors. So I won't be someone who tells you that going to the doctor is always the best choice.

But I can say, no matter what your fears/beliefs/medical ideologies: Healing is better than pretending you're not injured.

For the long term, anyways. Even if it means missing a practice/bout/season. Yes, even if you have to take over a year off, it's still better to treat your body with respect than to not. Because the body can be a real cranky bitch when you don't respect her!!!

Again, take your time and think long term. This also applies to the Come Back. But that's another story! xoxo

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Over-Committed Committee and Urgency

You know that crazy feeling you have... like... everything that happens right now is the most important thing in the world and you can't miss anything because then you're missing EVERYTHING?

Does everyone in roller derby get that feeling?

I'm a known member of what I'll call the Over-Committed Committee. When I fell in love with roller derby, it was head over heels. There was no getting-to-know-you period, I went straight to bed with roller derby, and then never got out of that bed.

I meet new members of the Committee everywhere I go. The one crazy ass skater who HAS to be at every event and MUST watch every bout she can get to, and WOULD DIE if the internet grid system were to ever go out and prevent her from keeping up with what's going on in roller derby all over the world!

Yah, I see you OCC members... I know you from the minute I walk in the room!

As a founding member of the OCC, I acknowledge that my meter might be broken, in terms of gauging how the average member of the I Have Other Things I Do In Life Committee feels about roller derby.

So, I could be wrong in this. But I'm assuming that we all feel this same sense of roller derby mortality.  That there's only a finite amount of time we can be involved, which grows an undercurrent of urgency, doesn't it? Like, it all has to happen RIGHT NOW, or it will never happen, ever!

I believe it's this urgency that makes brand new skaters throw child-like temper tantrums about getting onto teams, has OCC members taking on 14 other committee jobs at a time, and sends injured skaters back into games before they're fully healed.

We're all so concerned with the passing of time, aren't we?

It's either "I'm too old, there's not much time left" or "I have to move on to having kids so there's not much time left," or "My partner is about to leave me if I don't leave roller derby so there's not much time left." Or something. Are there any skaters out there who *don't* feel this urgency? Those are the truly wise ones.

Let me tell you something that I can't emphasize enough how much it has helped me go another 4 years after I had my first roller derby melt down, due to this weird roller derby urgency vibe:

Take your time, and think long term.

Often, there's more time than you think! You're actually the one who's defining these terms of time, age, maturity, etc... And if you decide you want to adjust those life settings, there's always a way to do that. Often with one, honest conversation!

But even if there wasn't, and now is truly all you have... Try to really take in the savoring of this experience over the white-rabbit-rush of an experience. Relax a little. And then, once you figure that out, tell me how! xoxo


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Through Thick And Thin

Can I just say that I love seeing people like Nicki Minaj in the media? She's sometimes skinny, sometimes has a little chunk on her. This is a body that I can relate to.

I'm not someone who calls meatier women "real," as if thin people are somehow imaginary, or anything less than deserving of their own shape and self esteem. I love and appreciate that people come in all sizes.

It's just that my size is different all the time, and I don't see a lot of people like that in the media.

I lovelovelove roller derby, but sometimes I get stressed the fuck out. And you know what happens? I gain weight. My body really responds well to exercise, though. So when I get extra motivated, you know what happens? I get smaller!

The problem is, if you do the same exercises all the time, the body gets bored and stops registering stuff like... years of roller derby... as exercise!

So, in order to stay in shape, I have to mix up the exercise all the time. Always doing something different, which I don't always have the extra time or resources, or (let's be honest) motivation to do.

(Time and resources somehow magically rearrange themselves when you're seriously motivated, don't they?)

It's the motivation that comes and goes. Which, intellectually, I consider natural. If every other element of the natural world moves in seasons and cycles, why would human motivation be any different?

I'm learning to ride those tides and be ok with the fact that sometimes I'll be thick, and sometimes I'll be thin. And that doesn't have to change what an awesome person I am, how well I can do what I can do, or whether I've earned my self esteem or not.

I've met very few honest people who can say that their size doesn't effect their self image. Those I have met, I totally admire for this quality.

I'm not totally there yet. But I'm learning! xoxo

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Not Bad For A Loser!

Sometimes I'm asked how it feels to be the first full time traveling roller derby coach. Physically, it's exhausting! But personally, it feels like a huge, validating year of winning. Only because I had to wrestle with a subversive loser complex for so long.

As mentioned in the previous post, I'd been a barber, by trade, for about 10 years.

Right around the time I started getting really into roller derby, the barbering business in my area completely tanked. It was because we relied heavily on military clientele, and The War In Iraq had just begun.

I was faced with a choice, as my income had just literally been cut in half. Pick up twice as many shifts, maybe even a another job... or pursue roller derby.

Now, this was at a very different time and place in the world. I'm fuzzy with dates, but let's call it 2004. There were no roller derby books, movies, or subculture semi-known about by mainstream as there is today. There was just a hand full of cities that had some crazy chicks doing crazy things on skates in front of audiences of 300. On a sold out day.

So, for me to make this choice meant having my brand new truck repossessed, defaulting on credit cards and going about $20,000 in debt overnight. At 23 years old, I went from having the approval of everyone around me to dealing with downcast eyes and half smiles on the regular.

Just as, I'm sure, every person with well meaning friends, family and co-workers would. 

This was definitely a bigger blow to everyone's plans for me than the day I announced I was dropping out of college. I went from being mildly disappointing to a straight up LOSER in status.

I haven't talked about this with many people, because you would not believe how obnoxious people can be when they're trying to be helpful because they're concerned about your financial well being. When you make a choice like that, even people who think they love you unconditionally will show how judgmental they can be.

It takes a special person to hear the passion in your voice, see the emotional hunger in your eyes, and feel the vibration of every cell in your being needing to pursue what you love in life, no matter the cost or consequences; and nurture that inclination.

The way I see it, it's amazing good fortune to have access to even one person that supportive in life.

I get a lot of support for being a person who follows their dreams, now. I know a lot of people admire that about me, now. But I can still sometimes feel the sting of being called a loser, back when I made this choice. Whether it was verbally or vibrationally, I could still feel it when it wasn't said out loud.

Most people don't know how to be happy for someone whose truck just got repossessed. Or to be proud of someone who's not even opening her credit card bills anymore. That's pretty radical and flagrant in most people's eyes.

Which I now understand.

Because I believe that, secretly, everyone wants to stop giving a fuck and start pursuing a life of passion. Even if they don't know what to be passionate about, we all have the seeds of an inner (almost primal) desire to just fucking go for it!

But... we don't all have the courage to live with the consequences of doing so.

The consequences of a choice like that can be pretty harsh, at times. It's not glamorous. It's a person just stripping away all the fancy comforts and certainties of life and living like a starving artist.

I know that there are ways to accomplish great things in life without giving up any of your comforts. There must be people out there who have circumstances that allow that. But those benefits usually come with strings attached, don't they?

Needing a life of freedom, I had only what I could earn myself. And once that was gone, I guess you could say I had nothing to lose!

In 2011 I've traveled to nearly every continent in the world, coaching roller derby. It was an exciting, exhausting, and often incredibly validating year! I don't feel like a loser anymore. I feel like an awesome person! Most days.

I always accomplish what I set out to do in life, this is something I know. People close to me, now, know it too. I've been called everything from "magical" to "witchy."

From that decision until today, all of my accomplishments have been centered around roller derby. My current goals are, as well. I'm sure that if I turned all that magic making mojo towards money making and stability alone, I AM SURE I could have been insanely rich by now, financially.

But, I haven't made traditional investments in life. And I don't expect traditional returns. For now I'm rich with experience, with goal achievement, with personal fulfillment.

I'm too enthralled with concepts like roller derby strategy, sharing information about the sport with as many people as possible, being the best coach any sport has ever seen, and working towards the goal of creating a professional sport to think about... much of anything else. For now.

I know that not everyone who plays is this dedicated to roller derby! And I don't think everyone has to be, or should be anything other than is right for them.

But for those of us who need to lose ourselves in a dream, no matter what the sacrifices, based on faith and intuition and passionate drive alone, for no justifiable, rational or logical reason but the fact that we HAVE TO.... Hear this:

Nobody who plays the game of life with heart is a loser.

It's totally possible to lose, and win, at the same time. The differentiation is in how you feel about yourself and your own efforts, integrity, and your own worth, at the end of the day. Every day.