It’s not often that I set goals for myself. I tend to float along through life much like a dandelion seed on the breeze…no specific direction or plan.
Last year, though, I got it into my head tha I wanted to try something different, something daring. I was determined that 2012 would see me skating on a roller derby team.
For the second half of 2011, I started working with a trainer at the gym three times a week, knowing that at forty-three, I could be competing against women half my age.
Try-outs/training for the new Cherries group were set for January, and I got new skates for Christmas.
And then, two days after Christmas, while trying out my new skates, I broke my elbow.
Suddenly, my goal of becoming a derby dame took on a new dimension. The very real possibility of getting hurt – seriously hurt – was not just some vague possibility. It was a reality, and I hadn’t even made it to the first practice.
For the next six weeks, I had to focus on healing and regaining the nerve that I knew that I’d need. The league organizer kept me on the email list, and when the next training session came up at the end of May, I was back on the Cherries roster.
I don’t think that I was prepared for how scared I’d actually be that first night. Sitting in orientation, filling out forms and signing waivers, the fact that I really had no idea what I was doing hit me hard. I had my first real panic attack.
It took most of the first half of practice that night for me to lace up my skates and get out onto the floor with the rest of the skaters. It took a couple more practices before I could relax enough to get my first fall out of the way. Once I did, and I realized that you wear all of those pads for a reason, I began to really have fun.
All through the summer, each practice gave me more confidence – on the floor and in my everyday life. You do have to carry yourself with a certain amount of swagger to pull off booty shorts and fishnets…especially when you have to stop for gas on the way to practice!
In August, we started preparing for the skills tests that each skater has to pass in order to be eligible to be drafted to a team. One of the tests is an endurance/speed test. You have to skate twenty-five laps in five minutes. We’d do timed tests about once a week, and each test would find me skating hard, but each time, I was hampered by what I thought were just foot cramps in my right foot.
After one test, I found that I couldn’t get a shoe on my foot the next morning. I ended up in urgent care, and x-rays showed that I had the beginnings of stress fracture in my foot. When asked what I could do to prevent it from getting worse, I was told to stop skating. The injury was actually aggravating an old fracture, and the motion and force required for the movements specific to derby would likely result in a complete break.
I had to withdraw from the league. I was encouraged to stay involved, even if it was in a non-skating capacity; but, somehow, that just wasn’t the same.
At first, my skate bag sitting in our closet was a painful reminder to me. I felt like I had failed. In my head, I could see myself blocking and jamming; but, my body couldn’t perform at the level I expected it to.
Its’ been several months since I’ve had skates on. I still have issues with pain in both my elbow and my foot. Now, though, rather than look at my attempt as a failure, I have come to view it as something to be proud of.
I may not be on a team, and my fishnets have been relegated to the back of a drawer; but, i tried something. Derby is hard. It is scary, and dangerous and probably one of the most exciting things that I have ever done. It took some time to recognize that by getting out there in the first place, risking looking stupid and trying something outside of my comfort zone, I have given myself a gift.
I’m proud of myself for getting out there and taking a chance. It’s opened doors for me in other areas, by showing me that even if I don’t succeed, the attempt is sometimes a better lesson.
I’m participating in cultivate2012. In the month of December, we are spending time looking at the ways that we can cultivate a meaningful life and create a nourishing community. Each day, prompts will be given, to guide this project. Join us, won’t you?