I made a quick video for y'all. It's 2am here in Austin, and my husband is asleep in the next room, so you'll notice I'm real quiet. Yes, 2am. I'm studying Accounting. If you've ever studied Accounting, you'll understand. I've been asked about how I fixed my Bont heel slip before, and I am always so busy that I forget to make a video. But, here it is! It really is way too much to explain via text post, so you'll have to listen to my voice for 5 minutes if you want to find out about it. Here is some info to go along with the video:
When I got my Bonts, they were mostly amazing, but I had tons of heel-slip issues, and lots of space around my ankles. I know others have this issue with their various boots, too, so I figured I'd share my solution. My husband is a snow boarder, and via general snow boarding awareness I found out that snow board boot/ski boot padding exists, and it worked perfectly to snug up my Bonts. Enjoy, and I hope this helps!
Link to foam pads
Link to moleskin I used
They are $4.95 for a pair, so I paid $9.90 for both boots, and I paid about $6 in shipping (I had also bought the padding sheet and the other pads to try, your shipping may be less. But, whatever. WORTH IT.) Moleskin, $7 for a long roll. BAM! I had my heel snug strap put on by a shoe repair place. I had to buy the nylon webbing first and bring it to him to attach, using pictures to explain. I drove to REI to get the webbing, and it's extremely cheap. Having it attached was also super cheap, less than $20. Here is the webbing I used.
I am NOT endorsed by any companies here, just sharing what worked for me and what brands I bought.
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
Here's the thing. Derby is really hard. It's, like, stupidly dangerous. It's not something people choose to do casually, like, "Oh, yeah... I thought I'd just strap wheels to my feet and ask other people to tackle me while skating around a track, sometimes at high speed, with moderate protective gear." Even football and rugby are played on turf for goodness sake. So, knowing all of this, why in the world would you attempt to play even recreational roller derby without being physically fit, or even trying to be fit?
Doesn't make sense, does it?
The number 1 question, complaint, and general grumble I hear from new derby girls like me goes something like this: "I've been fresh meat for so long." That's it. Whatever else is a part of it, the main thing is wanting to pass minimum skills tests and get to the game. It's the complaint I had a million times over. I'm not good enough. And when asked what they're doing outside of derby to improve, these noobs usually say either a) "Nothing, honestly (This was my answer when I complained!)," or b) "Well, I kinda walk, and I try to go to the gym, but I hate it." Let me tell you why I understand this frustration. I know I've said this in previous posts, but before derby, I was a POTATO. A fucking potato! I didn't do a damn bit of physical work, exercise, or even physical recreation. You can picture a potato, right? Right. Ok then.
So, I was sedentary. Then I found this sport that I absolutely loved, and I wanted to be good at it. I could skate! I could skate backwards, even! This was gonna be great.
But it wasn't. It was really freaking hard, and I couldn't keep up as well as I'd like. I huffed and puffed. I pulled muscle after muscle, sprained joint after joint. Then, about 4 months in, I fell and hit my head so hard that I lost my place in the world for several months. I have video of the fall, and as I watched myself later, I spotted my weakness. I saw how wobbly I looked, and how unskilled. Being unskilled was something I'd have to just work at every day on the track, but the wobbly part... now, that was something I would have to handle. I had a moment re-watching that video where time stopped, and I felt really foolish. "I'm so damn weak," I thought to myself. I felt my arms and legs. They weren't huge, but they were just squishy, pillowy, fleshy. A lightbulb lit up in my brain like in a cartoon, and Gravy immediately came to mind. Who do I know who's strong? Gravy. Who do I know who is skilled? Gravy. How did gravy get skilled? She skated for years. How did Gravy get strong?
Gravy lifts weights. She even wrote a blog post about it, which I read, but on which I did not act. I re-read her post. I read through the posts she linked in the first section (omg! why didn't I read them before?). I thought about all my other friends who are athletic. I began to ask around and see if anyone had advice for me. I joined fitness Facebook groups. I asked about other derby girls who looked rock solid on the track, and visited the websites of skaters I admire, like Steph Mainey. Stephanie's Facebook cover photo was of her at the top of a deadlift, or some similar lift. Ok, so I had no clue at that time what a deadlift was, but she was holding a barbell loaded with weights, and her muscles were bulging. A theme was building, folks. All of these skaters I loved had one thing in common. They all cross-trained, and most of them ate like athletes. Why wasn't I cross-training? Was training and eating right only for the super-serious olympic athletes?
NO. If you think that, get it the HELL out of your skull. If you're healthy enough to skate laps, then you're able to train off-skates. And you're an athlete. Own that, and respect derby as the sport it is. Training makes you stronger. Stronger people get injured less. Follow me?
Eventually I asked around enough, researched enough, and really invested myself in learning about lifting weights, and I was ready. I started going to my friend Joanna's house twice a week to learn about lifting and do other cross-training workouts with a group of girls. Joanna is the shit, and so are the other girls. They're new to lifting, just like me. I revamped my daily diet, focusing more on getting enough protein and eating mostly unprocessed stuff. It's only been 4 weeks, but the changes have been incredible. I'm more stable, and that's saying something considering the slam to the head I took. I'm more confident, too. I don't feel as much fear when someone is coming toward me to knock me down. I just know my body is strong. Stronger. And it will be even stronger before the summer. I mean, if this is how 4 weeks feels, how will 12 feel? Oh, and I have ABS, y'all. They are in there! I feel them and see them! MOTHER FREAKING ABS. Potatoes don't have abs, so you can imagine that this was a shock.
Last weekend I scrimmaged for the first time since my concussion. I was shaky still, but it wasn't my muscles. It was nerves. My muscles felt ready, almost excited. During our warm-up, Venom had us doing walking lunges and sprints. Sprints! On dry land! And I liked them. Imagine skating in a scrimmage and feeling physically stoked about pushing your muscles and doing hard work. When the game was over, I had all kinds of flashbacks to my first scrimmage. I remember, about 10 minutes until the end, asking Chile, "What time is it...? I am so tired, I.. is it almost over?" It was sweltering, and she very sweetly told me we couldn't have more than a few jams left, and I just had to hang in there. WHAT A SQUISHY BABY I WAS! In comparison to now, of course. But, still. It was a fantastic measure of my progression. Everyone wants proof that they're improving, and that was mine.
Not only did we win that scrimmage, but I skated without a single penalty. I didn't think that was possible. I still stopped dead on the track any time a whistle was blown, and must have looked super confused at times, but I was way more aware of the game, so... good news! Track confusion DOES get better! What a relief. And, lately there has been another odd development. I find myself wanting to run. I know. It's crazy. I want to run fast and far, and I want to time myself. Who am I?!
I didn't write this blog post to school anyone, because I'm not a coach. I'm a noob like everyone else. I'm sharing all of this so that maybe just one person can learn from my mistake and make a good decision. What I'm really trying to say is, If you're not improving, AND you're not training outside of derby, then you better re-think some things. Nothing comes from nothing, my friend. Skill comes with practice (and, yeah, you should be practicing skills outside of practice time), but where does strength come from? You're not gonna get by on derby squats alone. Get to it. If you feel lost on how to get there, go read Gravy's post, and try asking girls you skate with if anyone lifts. Reach out on Facebook. Maybe a casual friend lifts at an awesome gym and you'd never know it. We have several personal trainers within the Texas Rollergirls group, and many fitness folks besides. I'll bet you know someone, even if they don't skate, who does something related to fitness. Start asking around. And lifting isn't the only form of cross-training. Take your pick!
Why is lifting with free weights mentioned specifically? Why not machines? If you have a gym full of machines only, then maybe that's what you'll be forced to work with, but the case for free weights, like barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells, is enormous. When you use a machine it stabilizes for you. You don't have to worry about the weight shifting backwards, forwards, or side-to-side. That means you aren't building stabilization muscles as well as you would with a free weight, and you're not lifting with proper form because the machine is forcing you in one direction only, which is usually not natural. You know when a blocker smashes into you, and you have to keep steady so you can stand your ground and not let her hit you out? In that smashing moment, a bunch of stabilization muscles are working to keep you upright and in place, the same muscles you neglect to train with a machine. The same muscles that keep you skating strong when you're leaning into a turn. Food for thought.
And, finally, a piece of advice from my own experience: if you find yourself wanting to complain to people that you're not progressing in derby, make sure you're actually trying. If you're not cross-training, then you're not doing all that you're actually capable of doing to improve. Someone is bound to call you out on it. Call yourself out first, and be real honest. Are you trying?
From the helmet of: Tesla
Skaters make comebacks from injuries all the time. Every person is different, and every injury is different. Here's my comeback story. I bet it's the first of many, but my fingers are crossed that it's my ONLY.
I was terrified of the uncertainty. The what-ifs had a real good hold. It had been ::counts on fingers:: about 10 weeks since my concussion, and I was heading back to derby. How I fared during my recovery is a tale for another time, but I'll definitely want to tell it later. "What if I can't do stuff and I fall? What if my endurance is shot? What if people have forgotten me?" Fears are usually pretty irrational, right? But we know they are. I figured, some of my fears may be silly, but there is no use trying to talk sense into yourself when you're having a panic attack, it all just sounds scary.
I'll cut to the chase: I did just freaking fine. Some things felt stiff and shaky, but all the skills were still there. Everything I could do pre-concussion, I could still do. My strength and endurance needed a little work, but I was not dying, not huffing and puffing. Skills are half muscle memory, half mental memory, and I seemed to have remembered everything. So, that fear was soothed. Quick movements were jerky at first, but things returned to my version of normal within a couple of hours.
My biggest fear was hitting my head again. I pep-talked myself, saying, "Listen, kid, you're gonna hit your head again at some point. It's gonna happen. Either you play derby or you don't. Some things just come with the territory, so you better make sure you're ready." Well, I got to find out how ready I was in week 2. I skated on brand new wheels (Radar Presto 95As) without skating off the coating, and totally ate shit twice on hockey stops, smacking my head both times. It jarred me, got me a little scared, but did not hurt any more than a normal head bump with a helmet would. After an injury, everything little ache or pain feels like it could be because of the injury. I kept asking myself, "Is this ache in my head because I just bumped it, or because I just re-scrambled my grey matter?!" Time would tell. And it was fine. No lasting headache. WHEW.
Another fear was social. I'd been gone long enough that there were new girls, and some of the girls I'd skated with were now in a higher level, and I'd not be skating with them. I worried that I'd be in some kind of new girl bubble again. I needn't have been nervous. The new girls were wonderful, and most of my friends welcomed me back. There were some wrinkles in that arena, though, and ironing was needed. If you've had a head injury, you may know what I mean.
It turns out that when you hit your head and the world goes dark, you just kinda check-out for a while. You stop being YOU. You stop participating in life fully... or at all. To someone who is going through it, or is very close to the person going through it, this is understandable. My husband watched me struggle. He watched me drop everything, not be able to type, stumble as I walked, and fumble for words. He put up with mood swings, depression, anxiety, anger, and lethargy. He held my face in his hands, stared into my eyes, and said, "I want my wife back." I was in there. I was just broken.
But he got it. How could he not? He could see it happening. Friends who were less-close didn't quite get it, though. Some mates checked in on me, some gave advice. Some had been through it before and kinda said, "It's gonna be ok. See you on the other side!" But some really gave me up for gone. When I came back, I was treated coldly by more than a few. "Well, you stopped talking to me, so..." It pained me to think my seclusion had hurt someone's feelings. I got more than a few pushes, like, "You need to just push and get back out there. You didn't need to take 10 weeks just feeling sorry for yourself." I clammed up a bit and let things ride. Two friends, after pushing, came back to me and said, "I'm sorry I pushed. I read up on concussions, and I didn't realize they were so bad." Let it ride.
So, all of the above sounds crappy, but there were some unexpected bonuses to taking a long break-
Am I ready to scrimmage again? Nope. Practice hasn't included real scrimmages yet this session, and it's been so many weeks that I feel I need a refresher first, but I'm excited. And terrified. And I think that's ok. Let it ride.
From the helmet of: Telsa
Merriam-Webster defines the word resolution 5 ways, with lots of finer definitions beyond that. It's a word that can mean so many things, but they all boil down to... boiling down, making something complex simple, making something fuzzy sharp. It is the act of determining. What are you determined to do? And why do so many people this time of year hate on resolutions? Resolution is such a wonderful word!
Scroll through your Facebook feed real quick, you'll see the jaded statuses, I'm sure. "Resolutions are stupid. They don't work." "Strive to be good all the time, not just on January 1st!" You might also see some folks making huge resolution lists full of unattainable goals (yikes), and some making comical resolutions, like, "My New Year's resolution is to take a bath at least once a week! Hardy har har!" Why all the hate? Maybe people are bitter because they've seen the truth. They've seen the gym, full to bursting on January 1st, and nearly empty by January 3rd. Maybe they've failed to keep past resolutions themselves. We all have.
Well, I'm here to tell you why you SHOULD make a resolution. Not a list of resolutions, and not a dire, complicated resolution. Just one simple change. And January 1st is a nice, convenient date. It lends itself to tracking and progression. It's the beginning of something, a big, huge something that we call a year. Yes, yes, time is an unending thing, but we measure it for a reason. We're kinda obsessed as a species with measuring it. Here's what I'm saying: change begins with a decision. A decision is a resolution. So you waited until January 1st. Cool. The OCD in me loves that. Week 1, Day 1. It's so clean and nice. Let's use it. On day 1 we don't have to run a mile. We don't have to eat 1300 calories. We don't even have to turn off the TV and read a book. We just have to make a decision.
OK! Enough with the heavy stuff. ONE DECISION! You can do that, right? One year I resolved to learn how to paint my nails. Yep. That happened. And I did it! I painted them a ton, and I got super great at it. I documented it all, too. That resolution didn't rock the Earth, and it wasn't heroic, I just kinda decided I wanted to learn how to paint my nails. I decided. Even if it was dumb, who cares? I did it. I also lost a ton of weight that year. There was something about setting an attainable goal that really got me motivated to set other goals. I did way more than learn how to paint my nails. I changed my life. With all that weight gone, my resolution for 2014 was to get stronger. I did floppy push-ups and sit-ups until I could do real ones. I didn't do them all the time, and I didn't go to the gym. I started derby in the summer, and really learned my own potential and strength, I learned mental strength and toughness. I got a concussion in October and learned how to be strong in other ways. Despite sickness and struggle, I can look back at 2014 and say that I did it. I got stronger.
So, what about this year? Why not take today, January 1st, to make a decision? Just one! Make one you don't have a problem keeping. Resolve to make dinner at home more. Resolve to read a few books. As you begin to reach those attainable goals, you might just realize how empowering it is, and you might want to make more resolutions. They won't be your "New Year's Resolution," but they will be decisions. What are you determined to do?
This year, because I now have derby in my life, I will make two resolutions. WOO! TWO! One for my derby life, and one for my regular life. But, you know what? I'm not gonna tell you what they are. I think that's where some folks fall down. Don't promise the world you're going to run a marathon by December, promise yourself. Pick something you can do, a goal you know you can reach, and start walking toward it. And don't be afraid to change your mind. No one else knows your determination, so who cares if you switch it up? Journey's aren't easy, and no one is judging you (because you don't have to tell anyone, remember? If you look at your path in February and realize it was off-course, then change it. The destination is growth. It doesn't matter much how you get there. A resolution simply means picking a direction in which to travel instead of wandering aimlessly. See how big I wrote that part? It's important.
Do you have a resolution in mind? Good! Now boil it down. Make it simpler. Break it into its parts and find a common denominator. Here is an example of how to break down a decision into an attainable resolution: "I resolve to lose 50 pounds!" Ok, great! You want to lose 50 pounds. Sounds a little daunting. Losing weight = getting your health in check. Getting your health in check has a lot of parts. Pick a few parts on which to work earnestly. How about education, awareness, and food? Three simple parts. Your resolution, instead of losing 50 pounds, could be to read a book about nutrition. I bet reading that book on nutrition will open your eyes a little bit. It might inspire you to get moving, go for walks, maybe buy a fitbit and start tracking steps. It might change the way you see food, what you buy at the grocery store, and how much you eat. It might even lead to you losing some weight. Don't focus on the number on the scale, focus on the journey toward health. At the end of the year, don't ask yourself if you lost 50 pounds. Ask yourself if you experienced growth.
I can imagine someone getting to the end of this article and wondering what the DEUCE it had to do with roller derby. Everything. It has everything to do with derby. Set some goals this year. Bite-sized, attainable, helpful goals. Can't do stops with your left foot? Resolve to try left-footed stops equally with right-footed. Feel super winded in the fourth minute of your 25 in 5? Resolve to skate for 7 minutes instead of 5 each time you try. Feel sluggish, or need to improve your form? Resolve to take a speed skating class. Resolved to try some weight-lifting or cross-training. We can always improve, all of us, but we all need to see progress to stay motivated. Resolve to do something that you know will help you make positive changes. And quit hating on resolutions! Being determined isn't a bad thing.
From the helmet of: Tesla
Ok, folks, it's the end of November. The Holiday Season is drawing near, and while we're all groaning over Christmas commercials that have been airing on TV since Halloween, you have to admit it... it's time to start shopping. This year I encourage you to support our amazing derby community by shopping at derby-owned stores. Derby folks don't just make arm bands and helmet panties, though. You'll find all kinds of amazing stuff out there with a derbier at the helm. I'd like to share a few with you today, and I hope you'll ask around at your local leagues and find out who is a business owner. If your team has a Facebook group, make a post asking all business owners to comment with links to their websites. Here are some to get you started! Hover over each photo for a quick description, and click to view each shop. Enjoy, and happy shopping, whatever you happen to celebrate <3
Please feel free to add a link to your derby-owned shop in the comments!
From the helmet of: Tesla
Excuses: I'm fabulous at them. If they were a minimum skill, I'd pass that portion with flying colors and extra credit. If you've ever skipped practice due to anxiety, not worked out because reasons, not gone to bed or woken up on time, or eaten a whole pizza without a second thought, then you're likely a whiz with excuses, too. Excuses go hand in hand with honesty and responsibility. When you make them, and tell yourself you believe them, you're not taking responsibility OR being honest (with yourself and others).
Excuses are sly. They comfort and coddle you. They slip soft fingers into your cold hands and fill you with that warm whiskey-drink called rationalization...
"It's too hot outside to exercise. You can't go out there, you'll pass out! Oh, it's kinda nice out? Well, you're out of Nuun."
"You'll do better tomorrow." What a wonderful promise of hope and renewal. Tomorrow is a new day! Tomorrow is also the day most people quit smoking, start their diet, and clean the house. Tomorrow is convenient. I mean, it's always there, as long as you live to see it. Some people don't know if they will live to see it, and it is from those people that I think we need to take a cue. We are not promised a tomorrow. We don't deserve it. We're not entitled to it. Live today like you might not get one.
How does this apply to derby? Well, it may not apply to you. Maybe you're a rockstar that eats whole, healthy foods, commits 100% on the track, works out 5 days a week, sleeps 8 hours a night, and stays away from alcohol and tobacco. More than likely, though, you're a little on the excuse-y side, at least once in a while. You've read this far, so you must have a reason for sticking around. I'd like to admit something: I am terribly unfair to myself. I don't give myself a fair shot. Every single day, EVERY SINGLE FLIPPING DAY, I have the chance to make good choices and make progress. I have the chance to go for a walk, do 20 push-ups, jump rope in the driveway, pull out the yoga mat. I have the chance to drive to the grocery store and buy fresh greens and proteins instead of heading to grab to-go food. I have the chance to sit down and draw up meal plans, workout agendas, and goals. No one is holding me back. I choose not to do all of these things. I even get a great discount at the gym right down the road, and I don't choose to utilize it. I mean, that gym has a HOT TUB! But there are people at the gym. People! Does any of that sound familiar?
Lately I've been pulled aside by a few fellow skaters and told I have tons of potential, but I'm holding myself back. They are always so encouraging and nice, and it makes me feel really great, but also a little sad. They see me not applying myself. They hear me laughing and saying I'm only in derby for the fun, and it frustrates them a little because they think that if I only wanted it more and pushed myself, I could be really great. That is a stellar vote of confidence from some strong ladies I admire, right? So, why does it feel so awful? I am only doing derby casually, for fun, right?
Doubt creeps in. When I watch the Texas Rollergirls skate, do I feel only admiration, or do I feel aspiration? ::looks around innocently:: Me? Do I want to be a Texas Rollergirl? Do I want to be on a world class team like the Texies and skate at that level? I can't bring myself to speak the words "Yes, of course I do," because I don't think I'm capable of making it that far. I watch girls try out and and fail, and their failure is so much more skillful and spectacular than my greatest tries. I would never compare my beginning to their middle, that's just ridiculous, but I do compare my drive, focus, and determination to theirs, and I wonder if I'll ever get there. I see determination as something that comes on later, way after you've struggled. I don't seem to understand that I could be determined now if I wanted. I see how long they've been skating and how hard they've worked for their sport. Do I have what it takes to do that? Do you?
If you are just in derby for the fun, I want you to ask yourself the same questions. You might have to admit to yourself that you DO want it. You want it so bad you could just make yourself sick, but you give up before you've begun because you know you don't have a chance. You're just being realistic (that's an excuse). You are defeated before you've even tried. We all deserve a fair shake, right? A chance at a dream. If your secret, innermost dream is to be a pro-level skater, listen up: You have all the power to try. You have this one life and this one body. Don't watch everyone else skate by and not give yourself a fair chance. Those rockstar skaters didn't get where they are by whining about their life from the sofa. You know what you have to do, and so do I. If you don't want it, that's fine. But if you do... what are you waiting for? You think we have to skate for years in order to find our reason to strive for greatness? We could start right now.
So, here I am. I have a decision to make. I can continue to have a fun, flirty relationship with roller derby, or I can be a fucking committed derby skater in the greatest derby town in the world (yeah, I said it). I can eat potato chips, or I can do core exercises. I just have to decide what I want out of life and where I want to go, and then I have to take action. You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. I don't know who said that, but I like it. Let's do this. Greatness starts here.
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
You know how other peoples' cars and other peoples' houses smell really funny to you? That's the smell of being uncomfortable. It's the smell of the feeling you get when you're around people you don't know. It's the confusion of not knowing what to do with your hands in a photo. And I bet it's the way it feels to start in a new league because your husband wanted to move to Colorado (I'll explain that in a minute). It's got to feel really funny, like putting on a shoe that's the wrong size, and then running a marathon in it. Or, more accurately, skating a bout in a boot that's four sizes too big. Just... a struggle. I've read posts from girls on Freshie boards that make me ache inside. They talk about fear and doubt after changing leagues, about that feeling of not being accepted and everything being so off, and I always thank my lucky stars I'm not going anywhere. I've only been with these girls for 4 months, but it's taken me this long to even settle in a bit and stop panicking. Changing leagues has got to be rough, but for some of us just starting derby was an enormous hurdle. I'm here to tell you that jumping that hurdle is worth it.
I have some pretty ridiculous social anxiety issues. I avoid crowds like the plague, and stay home as much as humanly possible. I won't even go to the grocery store. My husband does all the grocery shopping, and I just deal with it when he buys weird stuff and can't figure out what kale is. Anyone with social anxiety will tell you that THE HARDEST part is getting out the door. Getting to the place. Getting in the door. I struggle with it every day I go to practice, still, but after some trial and error I've found a few things that have really helped me stick with derby and even branch out a little. Since I started derby I've become so much bolder. I mean, I went to a SHOW. A concert type thing! Then I drove home in the dark! These may sound stupid to you, but those were colossal hurdles for me, and I leapt them because of derby.
I want to share the things that really helped me get through the anxiety, but first I'll explain that Colorado thing: My husband wants to move. We've been in Austin for three years, and he's missing snow. I'm from San Antonio, Tejas, baby, and I just don't know about this snow business. I didn't see snow until Christmas Day the year I turned 24. Yeah, it doesn't snow in San Antonio, and only rich folks take vacations. Anyway, I'd kinda been dreaming of seeing snow my whole life, and when I finally got to see it... it gave me a massive panic attack. I'm talking crying, hyperventilating, screaming. I had a meltdown. Snow TERRIFIED ME. Great. Add that to the list of irrational fears. She'll pick up a spider in her bare hands, but show her a cricket and she loses her effing mind. If fears were rational we wouldn't have them at all. For now I've pacified my husband with the promise of a snow trip this winter, but goodness. What would I do if I had to start this derby thing all over? I'm amazed I've made it this far without a therapist. Let's talk about how I managed that. I hope some of these can help you, too.
So, maybe those things helped. Maybe they didn't. Maybe everyone else is a total badass that never needs help. Maybe I'm the only rollergirl with anxiety issues...?
Nah. I'm not. If you EVER need a pep talk, email me, or find me on Instagram (I'm @Libbybot). Friend me on Facebook and we'll chat it up. I'm not kidding even a little bit, and I won't judge your neurosis. When I was 14 my grandmother forced me to go to a youth event at her church "because she needs to socialize!" I was so completely overwhelmed that I threw up on the linoleum of the fellowship hall and then passed out. I woke up in some weird back room with people staring at me, vomit crusting on my face. Now you know stuff.
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.
Tesla and Gravy
Just two rollergirls trying to share the rollerlove from Austin, TX to the world.