Aches and Pains, Breaks and Sprains

We keep playing despite the risk of injury. Maybe the real problem is here.
We keep playing despite the risk of injury. Maybe the real problem is here.

This week, one of my favorite skaters fell hard during a drill. She’s just coming back from a long illness, and I know it’s discouraging to take a fall like that just as you’re getting your strength back. There was an audible pop as she went down, and she seemed to be in a lot of pain, but after some rest, she was able to get out on the track again. I was glad she came back out, yet worried about her safety. This got me wondering about pain, how we deal with it in derby and elsewhere in life.

“No pain, no gain” was a major reason I avoided the gym and any form of strenuous exercise for most of my life up to this point. Yoga was the first form of exercise I encountered where the motto was, “No pain? Great!” I believe pain is your body’s alarm system, a way of telling you where your limits are. If you learn to respect those boundaries and work with them gradually, you end up with a rich practice and a healthy relationship with your body. That’s why I prefer a slow and mindful practice and also why yogis emphasize the importance of good alignment to avoid potentially painful situations.

But it’s not quite the same in sports, especially derby. We talk a lot about safety, wear pads and helmets, and learn how to fall safely. Still, every time we put skates on, we take a pretty big risk. Great skaters fall all the time, and despite all their conditioning, good form, and constant practice, sometimes injury is a matter of chance. But we keep taking that chance practice after practice, game after game, because we gain something from the sport that outweighs our fear of pain.

On the other hand, there are the everyday pains of derby. Personally, my feet hurt. My low back and hips are sore pretty much all the time. My hamstrings are tight, and even my neck and shoulders get cranky sometimes. I’m trying to improve this situation by (a) skating better, (b) practicing more, and (c) doing at least a little yoga every day. I think this pain is temporary, and if I treat it right, it’s just a stepping stone on my derby journey. Again, I gain something from the sport that outweighs not just the threat of pain but the reality of it.

And finally, there are the bruises. If you’ve ever hung out with derby players, you’ve probably taken part in a conversation about bruises. There’s always a bit of pride involved, and usually a story about how we acquired said bruise. I currently have a nasty one on my shoulder from my first scrimmage. It’s two weeks old and still makes people ask, “Holy cow, what did you do to yourself?” Getting it hurt, but I’m proud of it because it’s proof that I went out and did something scary and survived.

I still don’t like pain, but I no longer believe it’s to be avoided at all costs. A certain amount of pain on a day-to-day basis is acceptable to me as long as I feel I’m gaining something from it. As for those unpredictable injuries, broken bones, dislocated joints, and even concussions are risks I accept while simply hoping I can dodge them. It’s hard for me to say why I’m willing to take those risks for derby. I still don’t believe in the “no pain, no gain” slogan, but I’m starting to understand that without a certain amount of risk involved, life just isn’t nearly as fun.

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Do you know how hard it is to take a selfie in roller skates?


It’s time for another derby update! I finally got my outdoor wheels and put them on … just in time for a snow/ice storm to keep me from actually skating outside. The place I ordered them from put the bearings in for me, but two of them are in kinda crooked, so they wobble,so I can’t use them till I fix that. It’s easy to do, but I didn’t order the bearing puller. Delays delays delays, and it’s all my own fault. I’m now adding a bearing puller to my Christmas wish list in case someone in my family wants to get me a cheap but very happy-making gift. Luckily, I can still use the indoor wheels to practice at home and at the rink.


Jenn and I now have friends at our regular rink, including the manager who helped me fix a slow wheel, the skate guard who used to play derby and gives us tips, and a handful of frequent skaters who just like to chat. There’s a dad who skates every Tuesday with his kid and just seems happy not to be the only adult on the floor. He tried to get me to do the Macarena with him, which was so not happening. I did, however, manage to do a little jump, even if my wheels only came about an inch off the floor. This week, there was also a mom and daughter pair who seem to be into figure skating. The daughter skated around gracefully, making grand gestures with her arms and balancing on one foot. The mom danced and bopped along at a steady pace. When I commented on how much fun she seemed to be having, she said, “I used to do this in a bathing suit, in New York, carrying a martini.” Does that not sound like a fun job?

As you can probably imagine, the rink was a little empty on the Tuesday night after Thanksgiving, so they were indulging a lot of requests. We skated backwards for the entirety of “Rock Lobster,” which is a lot longer than I realized. That was actually great for me as skating backwards is something I’m just getting the hang of. I was SLOW, but I did make it around twice before deciding my thighs had had enough. The backwards skate was when I got the most advice from strangers, though. It was a little sad that people could tell I needed advice so much. Even a little 8-year-old girl came up and started telling me what to do with my feet.

After that experience, I have spent most of the week practicing skating backwards. It’s not that hard to get started, but building up the confidence to move quickly and turn without stopping takes practice. I did find these two videos really helpful though:

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Yoga Sutra 1.14: Are we there yet?

by nomad_sw18 on Flickr

Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.

Yoga practice is like climbing a huge mountain. You can’t even see the top, nor do you know if or when you will reach it. Knowing that, you can choose to set up camp on the mountain side and be happy where you are, which is a completely legit decision. Most people don’t do that because humans feel compelled to make progress all the time, so we climb. We pick our path up the mountain based on what seems right for us. Some people like to go up the steep rock face because they enjoy the challenge. Some people prefer a leisurely hike up the verdant side. That’s why we have so many styles of yoga practice to choose from. But whatever path you pick, you have to stick to it. When your practice becomes consistent, then you start to see real results in your life.

How long do you have to commit to the practice? As long as it takes. If after every step you look up to the top of the mountain and complain about not being there yet, it’s going to take a whole lot longer. If you keep taking one step after another and maybe even learn to enjoy the journey, then before you know it, you’re really getting somewhere.

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If You’re Afraid of Disappointing People

A Prism of Shadows: Self-portrait in Front of A Brick Wall

If you’re afraid of disappointing people
come here.
It’s not your job to make them happy.
If they can’t be happy, it’s not your fault.
And by “they” I mean your parents.
And your priest.
And God.
Because if God can’t be happy then who the fuck can?
You don’t need to worry about disappointing God or anyone.
You’re not the only one who ever failed.
In fact, you are just like everyone else.
We all fuck up.
We are all lost.
We are all on a very big adventure.
Decide your life is something you’d like to enjoy.
Decide that you have the right to enjoy it.
Take the appropriate actions.
Go to a fucking yoga class.
Go to therapy if you’re too uptight to do yoga.
Do not drown your sorrows.
They need air.
Catch your breath.
Get grounded.
Imagine growing roots through your feet.
Stand like you believe
you are someone.

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MissDirt’s Unofficial Guide to Being Awesome

Since When Are Manners Sufficient Contribution to Conversation?

This is a response to the Goldman Sachs Unofficial Guide, which some folks seem to have mistaken for actual life advice.

  1. Shower, bathe, brush your teeth. Just do it. 
  2. Mind your Ps and Qs. Say please and thank you, etc.
  3. Listen to public radio.
  4. Read the instructions. Ask for directions.
  5. Do not apologize for your opinions, feelings or beliefs, but do be open to changing them when presented with good reason.
  6. Learn to disagree without having to “win” every conversation. People will be more willing to discuss interesting ideas with you if they’re not afraid of being shouted down.
  7. Smile and say hello when you see someone you’d like to talk to. If they don’t respond, leave them alone.
  8. Relax your face. Soften your jaw. Un-furrow your eyebrows.
  9. Smile.
  10. Put away your phone.
  11. Acknowledge when you’ve been wrong.
  12. Don’t waste time on revenge — it only deepens your own wounds.
  13. Expensive clothes aren’t important. Just take care of whatever you’ve got.
  14. Wear things that make you feel good.
  15. If someone tells you you’re too drunk, they’re probably right.
  16. If someone decides they don’t like you, don’t argue with them. You won’t win.
  17. Read at least one Jane Austen novel in your life.
  18. Never gossip.
  19. Skinny is not a compliment. Fat is not an insult.
  20. When someone speaks to you, give them your full attention.
  21. Wear comfortable shoes.
  22. Don’t wear clothing that’s too tight to eat a meal in.
  23. Cake is a gift from the gods. Eat it with joyful reverence.
  24. Learn to love your veggies.
  25. Split the chores with your roomie or significant other, but don’t make a huge deal if they miss a day.
  26. If you have to check around the room before telling a joke, it’s not funny.
  27. Respecting others never makes you look like an asshole.
  28. Use your blinkers.
  29. Learn to throw a punch, but avoid having to fight.
  30. Travel overseas at least once.
  31. Stop seeing others as competition. Befriend them and learn from them.
  32. Make dates with your friends.
  33. Do the fucking laundry.
  34. Have a hobby.
  35. Do not buy supplies for a new project before finishing the last one.
  36. Having children does not earn you any special privileges.
  37. Meditate.
  38. Go outside at least once every day.
  39. Try new foods and music whenever you get a chance.
  40. Do not blindly follow advice from strangers on the internet.
  41. Indulge in strange thoughts. They make you more interesting.
  42. Ask for help in times of turmoil.
  43. Never assume you understand someone else’s struggle. Just listen and show that you care.
  44. Masturbate. It’s not a sin.
  45. If there is a God, it wants you to be happy.
  46. Be nice to animals.
  47. Figure out your personal ethics, and stick by them.
  48. Don’t lie. It makes you ugly.
  49. Properly used curse words are fucking brilliant.
  50. Conflict is sometimes a sign of growth.
  51. If you’re fighting, make damn sure you know why.
  52. Tell people you love them.
  53. Make your home a place where friends feel welcome.
  54. Your parents are just human.
  55. Go to the beach sometimes. Even a bad one.
  56. Tip generously when you can.
  57. Try things you might fail at. Do it for the adventure.
  58. Make friends with people who are different from you. They have things to teach you.

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