Generally speaking the purpose of this blog is to give insightful responses to people's questions about their league's business and to offer helpful tips and tricks for running your league. I am going to break with that today because there are some things that I want you to know about me and where I am at. I'd like us to connect.
2016 was hard
2016 was hard for a lot of people, I know, and I am no exception. My wife and I had to move out of our house unexpectedly and ended up moving five times culminating in buying our first house in the fall. I started grad school, which is totally awesome because I am able to get all academic about what really turns me on, organizational development. It's also impacted my life in all the ways you'd expect grad school too, especially considering I am still working full time. Last year I continued to deal with a derby-related back injury that has caused me to miss work, visit the urgent care, ER, PT, and chiropractor more times than I can count. This 2 1/2 year old injury has impacted my quality of life greatly and changed my relationship with the sport.
The last few months of the year, leading up to the election here in the US and following it, were particularly stressful. I'll admit that in many ways I did not cope with that stress in a healthy manner. I will also admit that I still am not OK. I don't think that I am going to be OK for some time because I don't think that my country, the place I live, my community, is OK. The state of my country, and the world, has also caused me to reevaluate my priorities and think hard about where I am putting my energy. I feel like I have been, like many people, asleep on the job for some time. I am putting more real time and energy (read: not just sharing s#@& on Facebook) into fighting for social justice. I am attempting to build community around activism in my life. I am trying to connect with the people that are near to me and cultivate energy to make an impact.
Towards the end of the year Prime, Brawly and I had some tough conversations about where RDS is at and where each of us is at. Brawly and Prime decided they no longer wanted to be primary consultants for RDS. Prime is busy with her awesome training business Iron Octopus Fitness and of course, her life which includes a toddler and her own derby league. Brawly is being her awesome self and exploring new derby horizons. She's also enjoying "not being in charge". Prime and Brawly are still my two best roller derby friends and I imagine they always will be. We continue to bounce ideas of each other, I use both of them as a resource, and they will still contribute to to RDS from time to time as guest consultants. I decided that I still really want RDS to exists and I am OK if that means it is a slow moving animal. I love roller derby and I am passionate about organizational development, so RDS is the perfect side project for me. I never expected to be able to devote my energy to RDS full time; I never expected RDS to pay my bills. We only charge for some of our products because it wouldn't be sustainable for the associated costs of running a business to come out of pocket ('cause grad school). But I find myself with more and more side projects and less and less time for this one.
With all of this in mind, I've been doing a lot of soul searching. I've been coming up with answers to questions like, 'Is roller derby still a significant part of my life?', 'Is this a 'good' place to put my energy?'.
The answer to those questions is 'yes'. I still believe in roller derby. Aside from the actual game itself (which of course I love), I still believe that roller derby, as a whole, is doing good in the world. I don't say that with rose colored glasses. I know roller derby isn't a utopia. I know that in every league there are issues, there are cliques and power struggles. I know that body shaming happens. I know that racism exists in roller derby. I know that misogyny still exists in derby (you'd hope it would be the one place you'd be safe from mansplaining). I know that there are serious flaws with WFTDA (and I assume MRDA, but I don't have any experience with the organization). I know that transphobia exists in derby. I know that roller derby has not been, and is not still, a safe place for everyone. And I do believe that the community that has been built around this sport is having the tough conversations around these topics that need to be had. I believe that the DIY and punk rock roots of the current wave have lead to inspiring models of those involved in sport being self-governed. I believe that our organizations are a powerful challenge to the idea of sport as a money making machine. I believe that roller derby is contributing to athletes being elevated from the status of commodity to that of empowered decision makers in their sport. I believe that roller derby is helping to pave the way for inclusion of nonbinary genders. I believe that we are contributing to the movement that is changing the way the women's bodies are considered. I believe that roller derby has created a rare place where women can be front and center and in charge. Now, our work is not done. But I do believe the work we are doing is good.
And so, I am still here. And this is where I am at. While I propel this ship mostly alone and put more of my limited personal resources into involvement in other organizations and activities you will see less content coming from RDS. The blog posts that rattle around in my head will take longer to get typed (I've been meaning to write this one for like three weeks), public webinars will remain infrequent, new products will take a long time to develop. But, I am still here. Please email me with your struggles and I promise to still devote the same attention to helping you find a way through. Please anonymously submit your questions to the blog. Please contact me to run your annual goal workshop and provide leadership skills training, if I can't make the trip in person we can do it virtually. I'm still here, working to help leagues be successful and sustainable so that this amazing sport and community can thrive and continue to do good work. I will just be a little quieter.