From the helmet of: Tesla
I've got to share something. I've been a little quiet, and I've been a little tired, but I'm beginning to feel a shift. I wanted to write about the importance of friendship, and the impact that derby relationships have had on me lately. Derby saves our souls, we say that all the time, but I'm beginning to realize that it isn't the sport or the self-challenge, or the growth even. Not all the time. Sometimes (a lot of the time) it's the people that facilitate the growth.
Derby brings all different kinds of people together, and everyone has something in them that can help someone else, even if both people don't know it. I've met some people that I have really disliked, but even they have taught me something. The girl that knocked me down over and over when I was brand new really got a lot of my ire for a while, but once I began to feel more comfortable on the track, I realized that I owed her a lot. She didn't go easy on me, and I needed it. It was tough derby love. Some of the girls I immediately disliked ended up being super toxic and awful, and they taught me the most, maybe. I learned how not to act. They taught me how not to handle criticism, defeat, and challenge. The ability to learn from other peoples' mistakes is a blessing.
Then there are the undercover angels, the ones that teach you compassion and drop little nuggets of wisdom, even if they don't mean to. The girl that always checks on me after I fall. The girl that always tells me how great I'm doing, especially when I'm really beat up. The girl that struggles in scrimmage but never, ever gives up. The girl that is always willing to try a new move, even if she might fall. You are my derby heroes and heroines. You make this sport the greatest in the world to me, and even if you never realize it, even if I never work up the courage to tell you, you've saved my soul.
I came home from a really rough pick-up game one night and ate myself sick. I felt I'd done so poorly in the scrimmage that I cried into a bag of potato chips. I don't even eat potato chips! I was a sad sight. I messaged Gravy and off-loaded all of my woes over the night's failures. She reminded me that I'd just played a game with men and women who had years and years of experience on me. She assured me that the only way to improve is to play up, and she said something that I've been holding in my mind ever since: "You're better now than you were before." Something clicked. I had this sudden realization that the MOMENT practice is done, I'm better than I was before it started. I may be beat down. I may be tired and sad. I may cry. Whatever I do or feel, I'm better than I was before.
Every time I feel down now I think about that and it motivates me. Every walk, jog, weight lifting session, yoga hour, or derby practice, I think about that. Every opportunity to skate, even if I know it will be really hard, I now take. I don't talk myself out of things the way I used to, and I accept the bad with the reward. Last Sunday I assessed up to the Advanced level of our rec league. I'm pretty sure I just barely made that cut, and I'm really ready for the challenges the next level will bring. One of the upper level skaters mentioned that the Rec A Team was holding tryouts, and that I should give it a go. Realistically, I have a ton of work ahead of me before I am at that level, but who the crap cares? What a good opportunity to get feedback on my weak points and skate with some higher level girls! Am I terrified? Yep. Have I been throwing up a little every time I think about it? Yep. It's tomorrow. I worked out super hard yesterday and my legs are destroyed. I have a lot of fear coursing through me right now (and advil), but I'm 100% pumped. Bring it on, A Team! Tesla's ready for her beat down.
From the helmet of: Tesla
Oh, Tesla. When we are unhappy, we usually know how to become happy. We know which direction we need to travel, which mountains to climb, which floors to sweep, and which closets to purge. We know the effort we will have to make, and how to accomplish the tasks. Yet, it is at these moments when we often feel the most lost and desperate. Why should we feel this way when we know the answer? Because, the answer is hard. The tasks are tiresome, grueling, and uncomfortable. Because sitting idle is easier! It's so hard to start something when the task is large and you feel so small, but it's hard to finish something you aren't willing to start.
This is why you need to go to practice. You need to get up off the sofa, put down your smart phone, and go to practice. You need to shake the idleness from your bones and awaken your will. Being quiet and still is wonderful, but it is not productive. Sometimes you need to get your head straight and your space organized so that you can enjoy the quiet stillness. You have to wake up! You have to move. You need energy and drive to be the person you want to be, to live the life you want to live. How can you not feel alive on the track? How can you not feel life's heartbeat when you're pressed against the racing heartbeat of the pack? You'll remember your strength when you brace for impact, when you push yourself forward and inhale deeply. Your sofa may be nice, the voices and echos of your home may be comforting, but you need to go to practice.
Inspiration isn't found lying around the house. You can't find it on the bathroom counter, or in the refrigerator. You can't earn it in hours of seeking it out. Inspiration is born of experience and reflection. It hides just outside your narrow comfort zone, waiting for you to feel something, even if that something is apprehension or pain. We need inspiration to keep going, to keep creating, to keep giving, and we need all of those things in order to thrive. We need the cold eye of a stranger, and we need the warm smile of new friend. Sometimes we need those two things from the same person, to remind us of the good there is still in the world, and that we are still able to find it. You won't find anything if you don't look for it. You won't earn anything for which you don't work.
So, get up and go. Put on your sneakers, gather your gear, and go. Do something that scares you. Do it with all your heart and don't look at your feet.
From the helmet of: Tesla
Did tears roll down your cheeks? My eyes got misty and I had to wipe away a few salty drops. Now, this may be because lately I've been told more than once, by more than a few people, to "be realistic," "be sensible," and "be responsible." I was told it wasn't a solid idea to start a roller derby blog or print roller derby shirts "because no one really plays roller derby" and my target audience would be too small to matter. Sometimes I played the part of the naysayer: I'm too new to derby. I don't belong yet. No one knows who I am, or cares what I have to say. What if they don't like my writing? What if I get made fun of or ridiculed for something I say? What if no one buys what I design? What if I fall out of love with derby and give up?
I'm not saying that watching an inspirational video will cure you of all laziness and lack of will, but I do think that sometimes we need to hear someone tell us to GO for it. So, GO FOR IT. That thing you've been wanting to do? Go try it. Maybe you're reading this blog because you're standing on the outside of the derby circle wondering if you could possibly do it, too. You can. You are roller derby. Maybe you're fresh meat like me, or a seasoned skater like Gravy, and you're wondering if you could ever possibly play on a travel team someday, or be an international derby dreamboat like Fifi or Stef Mainey. We all know that line in Whip It, right? "Put some skates on- be your own hero." I think that translates into "Just do it. Why not you?" Why not? Why not start a derby blog? (Because so many already exist! It's been done!) Why not finish that damn painting? (I'm not even a great painter. There are way better illustrators out there.) Why not finish editing those photos? (It's not like I'll win a contest or the hearts of america with these photos, they're just head shots.)
Allow me to be my own Shoulder Angel a la Emperor's New Groove's Kronk: That derby blog you start could save your sanity, and people might just LIKE IT. Who cares if they don't? Write it anyway! That painting could lead to other paintings. It could lead to a worthwhile venture into illustration if you'd let it. It might make someone's day. Those photos stuck on your laptop might contain a gem, someone's very favorite photo of themselves. Maybe a few of those pictures will end up in frames on a mantle, and someone will smile every time they look at them. Maybe you'll never be famous or rich, or anyone's hero, but you'll never be ANYTHING if you don't get off this damn sofa. Be your own hero. And if you haven't watched The Emperor's New Groove, remedy that situation immediately. Just saying.
After watching the video, I stood up and went upstairs. I had a small fire in my heart, and I didn't want it to go out, so I began to write. I guess that's the key, isn't it? Find something to kindle that little fire in you and then don't let it go out. Fan it, care for it. Don't let anyone stomp it out, and if they do? Find a match. I hope, if you were sitting still like I was, that you're not sitting now.
From the helmet of: Tesla
Ok, more like toe stop dust in the spandex shorts, but whatever. I want to talk about skirts. I never used to wear them. I didn't wear sleeveless shirts or sandals, either. I didn't even own shorts before 2014. A little over a year ago, I made the decision to lose weight. I went on Weight Watchers and took a year to slowly slough off 40 pounds. It was nuts, and a total head trip, but I did it! I wanted to buy a skirt, maybe. And a dress. Just to try them. I bought them, wore them with tights for a few weeks, then put them away. I still wasn't completely sold.
I'd hated my legs ever since 8th grade when a girl named Kyle told me I had sausage legs. I wore pants every day after that. For the next 14 or so years my sausage stems stayed hidden beneath khaki and denim, too sausagy for polite company. I even wore pants to gym class in high school, and any time my legs just HAD to show, I wore the thickest hose I could find. How sad. Looking back, I wish I'd punched Kyle in the nose and moved on with my day. Instead, I let that wound fester into a body image so warped and bizarre that I loathed every inch of skin beneath my waist. Not even shedding 40 pounds had changed my mind. They looked different, sure, but they were still my stupid sausages.
Then, derby happened. It waltzed into my life, swept me off my feet, and taught me to love everything about my body. Every day I began to gaze a little longer at myself in the mirror, marveling at these legs and feet and hips that did such amazing things... things I never knew I could do! Jumping, spinning, stopping, hitting. I began to write daily love letters to my legs:
And you know what? I wore dresses 4 out of 5 days last week. I only wore jeans on Friday because it was Friday, and who says no to jeans? Not this girl. I've never been a girly-girl, I usually forget to shave and I don't do pink, but I'll tell you what... I'm a legs girl now. Look at them. My sausages ROCK.
Tesla and Gravy
Just two rollergirls trying to share the rollerlove from Austin, TX to the world.