Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bad Habits

I was ready to have a great day today – I really was – but then I had All Star practice and now I feel like my happy mood of early morning is nowhere to be found. I’m frustrated – very frustrated. The practice itself was great. My performance in it was not. I learned a lot today about how many bad habits I’ve accumulated (and in some cases perfected) over my derby years, and I feel like no matter how hard I try I just cannot break them.

I know they say quitting smoking is hard. It wasn’t for me. What is hard? Aside from my natural inclination to eat the portion size delegated to a family of five (I think I’ll always have to watch that – I like food), there are certain things I’ve always done in derby that are wrong. Not “differing in style”, but just plain wrong.

Part of me realizes I only have myself to blame. When we started our league we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, and we taught other girls to do things wrong, because we were either told by someone from another league who was also ignorant or we flat out made it up – not to hurt anyone, but because we didn’t know any better and we honestly thought what we were teaching made sense.

There’s another important and often overlooked aspect to the story here. Not only did we instruct and be instructed to do things wrong, but also there was a hell of a lot we just never considered and didn’t know we didn’t know. Shit, it was LAST YEAR that I learned to crossover in a way that maximized all my strength and speed. There were basics that I was never taught, that I never thought someone should have taught me, or that I never knew to teach anyone else. I feel responsible for not only playing a part in teaching the wrong things, but also for not knowing we weren’t training our ladies in a well-rounded manner.

Now, here I am – nearly 5 years later. I’m still doing (and in some cases NOT doing) shit that is not effective, not helpful to me, and worst of all, I can’t seem to get those basic reactions and movements to change. Today, I know FULL WELL what I SHOULD be doing, but it’s not natural and my body falls back into “we’ve always done this in response to that, so we’re doing it again” – a “fuck you” from my body to my brain. Great.

There is one bad habit that I’ve always had that was again present at today’s practice, but it wasn’t one that’s exclusive to roller derby. No, this is a problem I have throughout my life, so I should not be surprised it reared its head at the rink this morning. I get frustrated. Not just “gosh, darn it” frustrated. BLIND RAGE frustrated. Where if I can’t control the snowball effect of the frustration, I’m either gonna cry or flip out. Not to mention that it consumes my brain and body, and I cannot perform the simplest derby task you’ve asked me to do, because I’m so worked up. My body repeats its old mistakes because of this, I get even more frustrated because I can see this cycle happening, but that only continues to fuel the fire.

Today? An asthma attack. I can’t say that my frustration directly caused the attack, but I was pretty fucking frustrated when it happened. Maybe the frustration manifested itself in a part of my body that was already weak (still getting over the spring cold and it’s humid as all hell in Baltimore right now) – I wouldn’t be surprised.

I need to learn to control myself.

I know first hand that remaining calm and clear-headed in the pack does wonders for my performance. I’ve seen glimpses of this (it could be two jams a night), but they aren’t consistent.

It’s so hard to have such a strong desire to want to change and become better, only to sideline yourself with your own bad habits. If I can’t kick these things, I won’t play much with the All Stars. I wish I knew what I needed to do to break these physical bad habits quicker. I know I need to practice mental control to break perhaps the worst habit of all. I guess I’ll start there.

I remember when I was 17 – the first time my mom had me join Weight Watchers. At 17 I was naturally frustrated at the lack of perfection I saw in the mirror, but when the “plan” didn’t work as quickly as I thought it would, I got that same feeling of blind rage and utter failure that I had this morning. I had only lost 3 pounds. I don’t know how many I was thinking I would lose, but 3 was completely unacceptable in my mind.

I came home, kicked some shit, cried, and ate a whole hell of a lot to “show them” (the Weight Watcher’s women behind the scale). Productive, I know. Later that day, after I had calmed down, my dad brought me a plastic grocery bag filled with water and tied off at the top. It weighed 3 pounds. Having seen it put that way, 3 pounds didn’t seem as small as it did in my head earlier that day. It was heavier than I thought, and the volume was greater. Maybe all the hard work I did during the week had paid off in that 3 (measly) pounds.

If I had vacation time for each instance I allowed myself to get to the point of feeling utter failure and blind rage because of frustration, I could probably take a whole year off work. It’s a waste of time, and I’ve wasted a lot of time over the years. How much time have I wasted on the track? Just about an hour today.

It’s hard being an adult and being responsible for yourself. I no longer have someone to hand me that bag full of water – I have to do it on my own, which I haven’t fully learned to do yet. Oddly enough, I don’t think I would have “gotten it” – the fact that I need to learn to self-regulate myself to conserve time – if I hadn’t went through the process of writing this entry.

Writing this blog has held me accountable. Usually I shame myself into being accountable by telling you all publically what I need to do, and then I know I’ll look like an asshole if I don’t follow through, so I do it. This is different. This entry is more a connection that has allowed me to access some of the knowledge I learned at a different time, and I’m thankful for that.

Today’s takeaways: self-control, practice, and patience. It’s unrealistic for me to think I can unlearn so many bad habits RIGHT NOW. I just need to take the time to repetitively practice the new skills and recognize that over time they will replace the older, incorrect ones. Time’s not necessarily on my side, but I only push my final realization of making the new skills automatic further away when I allow myself to lose control. This is true for so much of life, not just those portions of it I spend on 8 wheels.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Think I Can: Carolina & Pushing On

As I stood on the rink last night awaiting instruction on what I’d have to do to re-tryout for the All Stars (we all must tryout each quarter), Dolly Rocket says to me, “So, what position do you wanna play?” I explained how the All Star captains decided to put me up front at either Pivot or what we call Blocker 2. I went on to explain that in the Carolina game, I played Blocker 2, but immediately following, I played Pivot with Female Trouble (our B team) against the Carolina Bootleggers. “This,” I said, “was perfect, because after playing B2, I got to play Pivot and immediately see what I wanted out of a B2.” And that was my biggest take away from the Carolina bout.

Prepping for Carolina, I did a lot of running the week beforehand, and although that prepared my endurance, nothing could have prepared me for the heat down south. After a minute of doing laps in full gear (just 1!), my head was fully drenched in sweat and I had already accidentally wiped all the eye makeup off my left eye. Carolina’s venue is a sauna, and I’m a happy lady that Eastern Regionals are in the fall instead of the spring or summer. It was so hot in there I was sweating someone else’s balls off.

Carolina was my first bout with the All Stars, and along with that came a lot of anxiety on my part. The biggest question in my mind leading up to the Carolina bout was the following: would I choke?

Choking is something I’ve done well ever since my dad passed away. I’d never had this problem before, but it was a pattern I’d come to recognize and had not yet broken. Would I choke? Would I get out there in a jam and be completely ineffective? Would I be so scared that I would fuck up that I would be paralyzed with fear? Would I be detrimental to our team?

The best I could do to prepare was to go over the scenarios of what I should be doing in what position and when and bond with my team. During the van ride to Carolina the day of the bout, convincing myself that I could break the cycle and not choke, I realized for the very first time that not only would this be my first All Star bout back, but this also would be my first bout since the double shoulder injuries over a year ago! Talk about pressure.

I guess I felt like I had been bouting all this time (okay, since January), because we scrimmage so much. I had never thought about this being my first bout back PERIOD before. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Game time was near, and a mishap during structured warm-ups caused me to tweak my back – not the best way to go into a game. Taking a hard hit from (guess who) Joy Collision (because I swear I’m ALWAYS her punching bag in this one drill), I fell on a skate wheel on my lower back, causing an instant cramp at the location of the impact. All my good mojo quickly went south, and it took everything I had to complete the warm-up and not cry right there. The “you can do this” self talk turned into “what are you thinking – you can’t even make it through warm-ups!” Somehow I managed to pull myself together and get focused on the game in which I mainly played B2 (I may have played Pivot once or twice with Dolly or Holly in the box).

The first game where I’ve ever gotten positive feedback, I felt fairly ineffective, but this is becoming a very common problem of mine – I cannot accurately assess my own performance. AT ALL.

I came out of the Carolina game and went right into the doubleheader, playing Pivot almost every other jam against the Bootleggers (we beat Carolina in case you didn’t know). Holy, crap, was that hard! Female Trouble doesn’t really practice together, and we got slaughtered. With no real strategy, my B2 was almost always missing from where I wanted her to be, which taught me a very valuable lesson about what is needed out of a B2. What did I want from a B2? Well, after that game I thought about that long and hard and am now trying to be that person for my Pivot on the All Stars, which brings me back to last night’s re-try-out for the All Stars. I hate tests. Did I mention I hate tests?

Having caught a cold in Carolina, I’ve been fighting phleghm ever since. Last Saturday’s bout worked the gunk further into my lungs, and I spent most of my Memorial Day weekend in old sweatpants on the couch. Last night? Frequent trips to the rink door to expel the lung butter disturbed by all the heavy breathing. Then came assessments.

Coming off a high from last Saturday’s inaugural home bout (I had a 15+-point jam in my 1st jam of the night, despite DNN reports saying it was only 10), I felt like “the shit” while also feeling “like shit”, which resulted in what I thought was a horrible assessment performance. I wanted to cry afterwards, but I sucked it in (yeah, yeah, I cry a lot, so maybe I need to change the title of this blog). Again with the “unable to assess my own performance”, I felt terrible and I wouldn’t have put it past the captains and coaches to leave me off the next charter. Luckily, most of my problems seem to be lying in the fact that I cannot assess myself, not that I cannot skate, because I have successfully secured my spot on our roster for another quarter. Yay!

Today was a lunch full of stuffing my face with sushi and drawing out plays with packets of sugar and sweet-n-low with my derby nomalizer, Chairman Meow. Chairman helps me accurately put things in perspective. He’s my derby Mr. Katz. We went over some plays from last night and discussed our typical derby in general, which is what I needed after a night like last night.

Looking back (something Chairman recommended I do), I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot in the short time since I decided I’d try out for the All Star team – It hasn’t even been 4 months! I did what I said I was going to do: I pulled back from all outside “derby work” distractions, and I’ve allowed myself to be selfish for once and focus on me – my skills, my performance, my personal derby growth.

I said 4 months ago that I want to play at Nationals, and by god, I’m still working toward that goal every single day. It’s a vertical climb, it feels like (which is even harder for us big girls), but I’m gonna keep taking steps upward until I reach that top. I told Chairman that today, “I want to play at Nationals.” Which was immediately followed by, “And then I want to take a fucking vacation… The day after Nationals!”

Make no mistake, this shit is HARD, but the reward will be being able to play those top games with my teammates. It’s time to kick things into high gear (which I feel like I increase every other week). My mantra for the next month is run, run, run. I’ve never said something like this before on this blog, but if I could lose another 10 pounds, it would be a heck of a lot easier for me to compete. I’m not stressing about it, and I’m sure as hell not starving myself to get there (not with the bag full of Moon Pies I came back from Carolina with), but now is the time to “trim the fat” so to speak. Clean eating. Organic, nonprocessed foods. I need the best fuel I can get for my body, which is my instrument in derby. Eliminate stress. Stress wreaks havoc on anyone at anytime – I need to keep stress at bay so my body can function optimally. It’s zen all the way, baby. These things ain’t easy, but neither is being the newest team member playing in a bout against a top-5 team. If anyone can do it, I can. It’s full steam ahead! Toot! Toot!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cramming for Carolina

I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself as a skater since January, but what I’ve learned in just the past few weeks leading up to this first bout of mine back with the All Stars is somewhat mind boggling. Also leading up to this game, I’ve had an array of emotional responses that make me think I may be derby schizophrenic. This caused me to ask myself why these two things were happening – what’s different now? I think the answer is that my mind is fully in the game, I’m able to assess my strengths and weaknesses in a fairly accurate manner, and I care much more about my performance now than I ever have before.

Two weeks ago when I realized Carolina was two weeks away, I panicked. My first thought was, “I’m not ready – I should tell someone to keep me out of the game.” Luckily I didn’t act on that thought, because the immediate fear quickly passed and I was able to convince myself that I would use this game as a learning experience. Still not all that comfortable with my new teammates in my new positions, I went into the next scrimmage practice and did what I’ve always done come game day – choke. Being so worried about doing something “wrong”, I didn’t attempt to do anything definitively right. I was there, I was in the pack, but I wasn’t doing anything.

Feeling incapacitated by conflicting thoughts of what I should be doing right now and orders being barked at me by the Pivot, I got confused and couldn’t do anything at all until it was already too late. A long lunch over Indian food with Chairman Meow, who’s been watching me from the sidelines and giving me feedback after each jam, helped talk me through the confusion, as we mapped out several different scenarios I’d be facing in my new positions with my new teammates. That night I went into scrimmage practice poised to make quick decisions and act on them, communicating them when possible. The result was a pretty damn good night of scrimmaging and a newfound confidence. Not only do I think this game against Carolina will be a good learning experience, but I also think I might be able to kick ass in it as well.

After what is still a hellish work schedule (and a project launch date that’s been moved from May 15 to sometime in June) prevented me from getting in my runs (wow, that sounds like an intestinal issue), I made running a priority this past week and have ran four times outside practice. I can’t tell you how much regular running makes a difference for me. Having learned about how running impacts my body isn’t the only factor about which I’ve recently become acutely aware. Perhaps it’s because I really want to maximize my athletic ability, but I’ve been able to pay more attention to and learn those little thing that help and hurt me.

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I just learned this about myself, but hey, better late than never, right? I am the type of player who needs to be really warmed up before playing a bout. I mean REALLY warmed up. This is difficult on the road. You’re in an unfamiliar venue, the bout timeline may be different than you’re used to, etc. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to get myself warm and ready to play. I think it’s going to be a 10-15 minute run outside the arena tomorrow before we have warm-up time on the track.

I’ve also learned what I should and shouldn’t eat before a game, which I’ll enact tonight and tomorrow. Carbs and protein tonight (burger and fries), followed by water, water, and more water. Tomorrow, I’ll get up early and hit the diner with my sweetie for some QT and a breakfast of champions: a fried egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich with a huge side of hash browns. It will keep me full until 2 hours before the game, at which time I will eat some granola and cereal with soy milk. Can I tell you, for comparison, that my theory behind nutrition and care for myself before my first bout ever was: “Do what you would normally do, and you’ll be fine.” That meant I went on a drinking binge the night before and didn’t get to sleep until 4am! Surprise, I played like shit!

Although I still feel like there’s a lot for me personally riding on this game, I’m much more calm than I have been, and I’m really excited to be able to play with my teammates against another league! Coincidentally, I found out several days ago that I’m on the roster to skate against Detroit at ECE, which makes me squeal with pleasure.

Tomorrow, following the Carolina/Charm City All Stars bout is the Carolina/Charm City B-team bout, in which I’ll also be playing. I’m excited to be able to get in a double header, since that’s something my teammates have been doing for this entire season so far. I’m curious how my endurance will be affected, but I predict that I’ll do better in the second game if only because I’ll be fully warmed up, with a mind fully immersed in derby. I swear to you that I’m most prepared to play a game after a 3-hour scrimmage practice – gotta work on that.

Tomorrow on the van I plan on sewing my patches on my jersey, going over our strategy packet, and writing out some possible game scenarios, so I’ll be reminded of what I should be doing in both positions and when.

It’s been a long road, but it’s also been a really short time frame when you consider that I’ve only been playing with the All Stars since February and back on the track in full swing since January, a mere four-and-a-half months ago. I’ve had tons of help from coaches (Dolly Rocket, Holly Go Hardly) and bench coaches (Chairman Meow & Mr. Pistol) during that time, and I hope I can make them proud with my performance tomorrow!

You can check out the bout preview on DNN here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learning through Failure

Yesterday morning we got word via email that the roster for our game against Texas in Boston in June would be posted by the end of the day. Instantly, I got butterflies in my stomach and became incredibly nervous, which ultimately lasted right up until I read the roster before I left work. Anxiety was quickly replaced by that feeling you get when you get dumped and you REALLY liked the person. I was sad and I felt like a fool for even thinking I had a chance to be placed on that roster.

We’ve reorganized how we’re positioning some of our players in an effort to really delve in and train them for one or two specific positions that they would play in games. I’ve been placed in the front of the pack, as either the pivot or other front blocker. The reasoning was that I know the game well and I theoretically know how a pack should be controlled in response to certain instances. My game play up there last night certainly wasn’t reflective of me knowing the game or even really knowing where I was most of the time – it was a bad night for me.

Because of my recent front-of-pack designation (which not many other players are assigned to) and because I was told to go ahead and order myself both a home and an away jersey, I had some false hope that I might be placed on the Texas roster. As the day went on, my confidence grew, so you’ll understand the initial shock, pain, and sorrow I felt when I didn’t see my name on that list yesterday evening. I had opened my email one last time before I left the office, and that’s when I saw it.

Trying not to cry at work, I just kept telling myself that I just had to make it out the door and I could cry in the car if I wanted to. Choking back my emotions, I packed up my things and said goodbye to my assistant, almost not physically getting the words out: “Have a good night.”

My instant thought was “Fuck it – I’m not going to practice tonight.” I was already good on attendance for Carolina, and I wasn’t in the mood to face anything or anyone derby related. Those thoughts were immediately met with, “There’s only two scrimmages left before Carolina, and I really should practice with my team” and then, “But I don’t want to.” Knowing I had to go, and telling myself that after tonight I would have at least three derby-free days to sulk, I went immediately home and got dressed for fear that if I sat down in my work clothes first, I wouldn’t get up.

As I was getting dressed, I knew the night ahead of me was going to be hard for me mentally. I grabbed a bandana to wear around my neck, not for sweat, but in case I started crying. To me, it meant that I was allowing myself to cry if I needed to. “Tonight surely won’t be my best night,” I thought, “but at least I’ll be there participating.”

I made it through practice without spontaneously combusting from my emotions, scrimmaging first with my home team, Speed Regime, and then with the All Stars. I jammed a fair amount for Speed Regime. I didn’t get lead jammer but maybe half the number of jams I was in, but I don’t think I lost any of those jams either. One was a draw – zero to zero; Joy’s ass was glued to my stomach and I didn’t get through once, but neither did her jammer.

I wish I could say I had as good of a performance blocking as I did jamming. My head was not in the game last night. I was not working with my teammates, not looking behind me like I should, and not remembering a lick of strategy. I was frantic instead of calm. I was wobbly on my feet instead of secure. It was bad. Finally that last whistle blew in the All Stars scrimmage and I was done. Having taken off the bandana from my neck because I was too hot with it on (I swear I had beads of sweat forming at my neck and running clear down into my ass crack all night), I had tied the bandana to my water bottle, not needing it after all.

As I was driving home I thought about that Texas roster and how I really could not argue with it at all. I’m not there yet, and let’s face it, we’ll likely face Texas at Nationals so the people who would be in that game to play Texas need to experience playing them now. I felt dumb for thinking I had a chance, but I’m a hopeful person (who also lacks patience).

Pulling up to my house, I looked down at my water bottle and the bandana tied around it – a bandana that used to be my dad’s that I have no clue how I wound up with – and I started to cry. My dad, and incredibly fair man, was the kind of person who felt that while good actions should be praised, constructive criticism should also be given when it was needed. I remember my mom telling my dad to “let her win” when we were playing a marathon game of checkers once. I must have been 7, but although I was frustrated I knew that winning because I was “let” win wouldn’t feel as good as really winning. My dad told my mom that most certainly not would he let me win! And he never did. At anything. I didn’t deserve to win, just because I was his daughter, but in a way my perpetual losses to him have made me a winner in life.

If you’re constantly told only good things about yourself, you can become disillusioned with who you really are – thinking you’re better than you really are. By losing I’ve learned what I should have done to win, and after I lose enough to be able to put that learning into practice, I do win.

When I thought about it last night, I realized that I don’t have that many people in my life who give me an accurate depiction of “how it is” – my friends and family rarely tell me how they see me falter. My dad used to, and although it sometimes hurt, I respected him for it. Those times that he did dish out praise, I knew the praise was really warranted and that I had done something to earn it.

There are a lot of theories about how derby leagues should be run – should they be all about winning or should they be about equality and fun? Well, I’ve always believed that derby’s a place that helps women grow, and I’m proud that my league has allowed our All Star team to be competitive and to go for the win, because like it or not, you learn something from it.

I haven’t “won” at derby yet, but that’s okay. I’ll continue to try and give it my all, and when I do secure a regular spot on the roster and play well in games, that praise I hear will be so much sweeter, because I know it will be true. Until then, I’ll keep an open mind and learn from my mistakes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learning More About Me

As I stood at the kitchen sink this evening washing dishes, I began to wonder why I don’t do them more often. Don’t get me wrong, there’s about a million and one ways to answer that question. From “I’m too busy” to “If I’m the only person in the house doing them, fuck it – I’ll let them sit”, I’ve got more excuses than a bottle’s got songs. My tiny kitchen has a door, and lately I’ve grown accustomed to just closing it, so I can’t see the piles or smell whatever’s collecting at the bottom of the drain. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

As I was scrubbing a plate that contained steak and potato residue, I thought to myself how much easier it is to scrub that plate right after I ate the steak and potatoes than it is to scrub it after that same plate has sat for a week (oh, who am I kidding, two or three weeks!). Same is true for running and derby for me.

Until derby, (and excluding organized sports) exercise was always just the means to an end, and the end that I wanted was to “get skinny”. I remember my first gym membership; I joined the YMCA while in my senior year of high school. Thinking I was “fat” then, I joined the gym and made a pact with my friend April to not eat another Reese’s cup until I had lost 50 pounds – FIFTY POUNDS!!! Well, I don’t need to tell you that THAT didn’t happen. The result? I became discouraged and hated going to the gym.

Today, things are different. Today, I run because it makes playing derby easier. Sadly, though, these past few weeks have been dedicated to work, work, and more work, and I’ve been lucky to get two runs in per week – last week I only got one. The result here is a noticeably more sluggish body while playing derby – here, two weeks prior to my first game with the All Stars and three weeks prior to my debut as a jammer for my home team. Fuck.

My goal for the next two weeks is to attend all practices that are offered and to run two-to-three times per week. I got a little motivation today in the form of the arrival of my All Star jerseys. Having those jerseys sitting in my dresser makes it real. For some reason even though I’ve been told I’m playing against Carolina it’s not real yet. I’m still the one person on the roster who hasn’t played with my team in a game against another league. Sure, we play against our B team all the time, and I’ve scrimmaged with the All Stars against both Carolina and Philly, but I wasn’t put in all that much, which scares the hell out of me. Please pardon this mid-entry freak out…

I realized something about myself this week in addition to the fact that I feel like Grimace on skates if I don’t run regularly: I play my best when I’m really warmed up – and I mean REALLY warmed up. After a 2 hour endurance practice – that’s when I’m ready to play derby. What does that mean for a 30-minute warm-up at an away game? I guess it means I’m gonna have to keep moving for a good hour leading up the bout.

As weird as this sounds, I really like doing the dishes. That time I spend while I’m standing there washing is some of the only alone time I have to myself where I have a chance to clear my mind and allow it to wander, which usually results in unexpected problem solving among other great things. I hate doing dishes when I feel doing dishes is “expected” of me, and if I feel that way and do them anyhow, I don’t enjoy that time to myself. I do derby because it’s fun and I run because it’s fun too, so like the dishes, I hate when derby and exercise become things I feel like I have to do. Luckily with derby and running, I don’t feel like I “have to do” them as often as I do with the dishes. “After all,” I tell myself, “playing derby’s my hobby and I’m not going to be able to do it forever, so have fun now, don’t let yourself resent it, and have no regrets.” Some days are harder than others.

Today I feel strong. I feel like my abs and core are really supporting the rest of my body, I feel like my legs are strong and muscles have grown, and I feel like I go about my day with my head held higher, not only because my shoulder blades are retracted and my posture is better but because I feel good about what I’ve been doing lately – even if I’ve missed a few runs.

Sometimes you’re truly too busy to wash the dishes, and perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned this week is to not let short-term imperfections bring my progress to a grinding halt. This isn’t all or nothing. Life isn’t all or nothing – in fact, 90% of it is everywhere in between. I’ve had a horrible habit in the past of holding myself up to perfection, and if I falter I allow myself to come crashing down (and in some cases stay down) instead of forgiving myself and getting back in the game, whatever it may be.

In the past at practices if I took an especially hard fall, I might stay down, sit out the rest of the drill, or even leave. On Sunday I took an especially hard (and weird) fall, but without even thinking about it, in one movement, I got right back up and sprinted back to my group! It wasn’t until I heard Mr. Pistol yelling at me, “That’s it, Cindy! You’re working so hard – getting up faster than you went down. You guys are the hardest working group out here today! That’s awesome – keep it up! You are awesome!” Hearing those words and realizing my new natural inclination to keep going almost slowed me down right then and there because it was such an “a-ha” moment. I’m not the same person I used to be, and I did that. Along the way I might not have always been perfect, but look what I’ve done – I’ve kept going and it’s paid off.

Now, if only I could apply the dedication I have to derby to the dishes. Tomorrow I’ll start by opening the kitchen door, and I’ll try not completely give up on my homemaking skills if my hands don’t see the dish soap for the next few days. Palmolive, take me away!