May 31, 2013

Giving Back - Spending a Day with Habitat for Humanity

This past weekend our league had the pleasure of participating in a build day with Habitat for Humanity.  We worked on the landscaping for a home that is nearly complete.  We even got to meet one of the people who will eventually live in the house we were working on!

I feel as though I got to know the women I skate with so much better throughout this experience.  For example, I learned that Mary Poppin' Caps is extraordinarily pale, Dyer's Eve is new to the concept of hats :) and in the event of the zombie apocalypse I want to be on whatever team Fink is on; the girl can swing a pick-ax in a way that surely means survival for her allies.  Spending time together outside of derby really gave me a new appreciation for the ladies I sweat with every week.

One thing that really stood out to me was how much I learned the strength of my teammates; not their physical strength, I observe that often enough on the track, but the strength of their characters.  This spring has been jam-packed with bouts, tournaments, and other such derby activities, not to mention the regular practices we all attend.  To commit another full day of hard physical labor, one beginning at 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday is admirable.

I am so proud to be a part of a league that is committed to giving back to the community even when it feels like there might not be much of ourselves to give.  FoCo Girls Gone Derby has made philanthropy a priority and these women enthusiastically showed up to prove it.

May 23, 2013

Dr. BadAdvice or How I Learned to Stop Eating Gluten and Love my Life

Several years ago, I joined legions of fad dieters, hippies, and conspiracy theorists by going gluten free. Yes, I did lose about 40lbs, and yes, I will be eating this way for the rest of my life, but no, I do not yet believe that gluten has been genetically modified to mollify the masses into subservience. I do it because it makes my body feel good. Digestive issues, depression, and constant pain are (mostly) a thing of the past for me and it's all because I gave up that jerk-faced little protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, and malt.

When I think about the things that have forever changed me, would you be surprised to know that going gluten free was one of them? Doing study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, and joining roller derby round out the top 3 "bestest, most life-changing-est experiences EVAR" list for me. But it is the lack of gluten in my life that makes everything possible. Being that May is "Celiac Awareness Month," I thought it would nice for me to actually talk about the mysterious illness that I have alluded to plaguing my pre-derby years. So here is my gluten free story.

When I was 8 years old I experienced heartburn for the first time. I was camping with my family and couldn't fall asleep because my stomach was upset but it was too... high. It was upset in my esophagus but being 8 years old, I didn't know how to say that. Many years, and many minty Rolaids later, I discovered Priolosec and things we're looking up. Soon, I knew I couldn't even think about drinking the amounts of beer that I wanted to without them. When I told the doctor at my college health center (the provider of my student health insurance) that I had taken Prilosec every day for more than 5 years, she didn't blink and said "Well, if that is working for you, then great!" Which it was and it wasn't. It was fixing a symptom but not the problem. Also, Prilosec is only meant to be taken in 2 week increments not for 5+ years at a time.

Fast forward to my very first adult style job with real health insurance and everything. I got a real doctor and when I told her that I was taking that much Prilosec, she suggested that might be an issue. She asked me to try going gluten free. I thought "NO BEER?! What is this evil sorcery you speak of?" but I went along with it. I did it for a whole month and I didn't really notice a change. When the month was up, it was cake day at my work AND they had ordered pizza. I ate these things and smirked that the world didn't end and went happily about my day, confident that "The Great Gluten Experiment of 2010" had failed.

This might as well be a self portrait
of how I feel when I "get glutined"
About 8 hours later, I was rocking myself in the fetal position sitting on the bathroom floor with heartburn so bad I couldn't lay down. Over the next days I continued to try and prove my doctor wrong by eating a festival of gluten and the situation continued to escalate. My energy levels plummeted. My joints got all achy. The hideous smells came back. I thought that everything was in my head and I would ALWAYS feel like that. When I finally came to terms with the fact that these were the same things that my body had been dealing with for 27 years, minus the last month, I was elated. It had taken me a few days to accept that ALL OF THIS was gluten's fault. I felt so happy that life didn't have to be like that anymore. I didn't have to be "the gassy girl who made her bestie dry heave in the car" (much to everyone's relief). Once I realized that life didn't have to be like that, giving up gluten was easy.

Fast forward again to present day and I can't believe that I lived that way for as long as I did. I can't believe that when I was 14 and the doctor pulled my father aside saying that he thought I was depressed and making up illnesses (à la hypochondria) they didn't think anything else was going on. I can't believe that I missed out on so many things because I learned not to trust my body when all the medical professionals told me that I was wrong about about my symptoms. I can't believe that my life is different because of gluten. All because of a single protein that feels like a war raging in my body. The next time you meet someone who doesn't eat gluten, know that it might not be a cute diet they're doing for bikini season.

I have mourned over not eating strawberry rhubarb pie at summer BBQs and even now (3 years later) I still look wistfully at my friend's pizza slices. Sometimes, I even make people hand me their delicious gluten treats just so I can smell them. And, I am not kidding, I POKED the beautiful angel food cake we had at our family's mother's day picnic this year. However, I know everyday that it was the right choice for me. Why? Because today is another day that I get to live without pain. I don't have face the feeling of slow decay in my body; of my joints betraying me every time reach for a water glass from the top shelf, or knees wanting to give out if I walk to heavily down the stairs, or, dare I say, wildly inappropriate flatulence in social situations. That's not me anymore. Moral of the story? Trust your body. Derby reminds me every week that I know what my body can do and I make smart decisions about how to deal with it. And I lived happily ever after. Let's get on the track!

 Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire

May 16, 2013

Mayday Mayhem!!!

The Mayday Mayhem Tournament was exactly how it sounds- utter mayhem.  Eight teams from around the country laced up their skates and made their way to Greeley, CO to battle it out on the track for the chance to win it all; glory, bragging rights, and a nice trophy.  We all faced lack of sleep, hunger, muscle fatigue, stress, and mental exhaustion, but the Foco MicroBruisers were ready to bring it, and bring it we did.

Our first bout of the tournament was against the Pueblo Derby Devil Dollz on Friday night, a hard hitting team that doesn't take no for an answer.  The girls were hungry to win and we could feel it.  Farm Fresh, a great blocker on their team, delivers heavy hits and doesn't mess around, and the rest of their is just as intimidating.  These ladies were some of the sweetest you'll ever meet, but they fought hard and really gave us a run for our money.  We kept it together, and ended up winning our first bout by over 100 points.

Next was Central Coast the very next morning.  We had played them just a few months before and had lost, so we were ready for the rematch.  Pinball, one of their lead jammers, delivered some hefty points for their team.  We had to fight to keep power jams to a minimum, and we stuck together like glue on our walls.  These ladies were confident and had a real desire for the trophy, but we managed to pull ahead and win.

This meant that we continued moving up, and we knew that it meant playing Junction City.  If you've ever seen Junction City, they have an incredible offense and some great hitters.  Killa Patra, (pretty much everyone's derby crush) is a strong and collected jammer, Vixen can block backwards like a pro, and pickle is the cutest button of a jammer you've ever seen!  That girl has mad hops.  Keeping cool on the track is pivotal when playing a great game; unfortunately we had become flustered and lost our cool.  Junction City is great at messing with your mind, and sadly it had worked on us.  We ended up losing to Junction City, but learned some great lessons in the process.  Bench attitude and togetherness is so important in keeping our game on the track.

Now it was time for a "come to Jesus meeting."  What had happened to us?  Why did we let our attitudes drop?  Why did we have so many penalties?  We all met outside and decided we needed to reset ourselves. Instead of talking about what we did wrong, we talked about what we did right.  This helped us focus on positive aspects of the last bout instead of being sucked down by the negative.

Next we were scheduled to play our third bout of the day against the Cheyenne Capidolls.  These classy ladies are super nice, but make no mistake, they were fighting to win.  They're a smart team that works hard and had drastically improved since the last time we had played.  We won 221 to 123, but the victory didn't come from points; we had fallen apart with Junction City, and had brought it back together with Cheyenne.  We got back to our game of playing it cool and listening to each other. We had kept our level heads and played a fantastic game.

Because we had lost to Junction City, we were scheduled again to play at 8:30am the next morning against Sioux City, the top team in the tournament.  So we played a bout, went to bed, woke up, then played again. Needless to say, we were utterly exhausted, but instead of hanging up the towel against a team that was obviously better than us, we came ready to rock.  We put up a great fight and although we lost, we lost by less than what Junction City lost to them by at the championship game.

The last bout for us was 2 hours later against the Pueblo Derby Devil Dollz in the battle for third place.  We started off strong but by halftime it was neck and neck- 71 to 70.  The Dollz had come for blood.  They wanted the third place trophy just as bad as we did, but by the last 15 minutes we had surged ahead.  We played smart, listened to each other, and won the 3rd place trophy.  It was a sweet victory and we all left the weekend proud of our team.  After 6 bouts in 3 days we knew that we had left stronger and closer than before.

The most important thing I learned about this weekend is managing emotions.  In a tournament or any bout situation, we all wish to play our best, which means emotions are running high.  It's so easy to get caught up in thinking "I didn't play my best," "that power-jam was my fault," or  "I gave up my point."  These failures cannot overcome us.  We need to play 2 minutes at a time.  You did great on that last jam?  Relish it, and then come back and kill it again.  You messed up and feel like you let your team down?  Let it go.  All that matters is the next 2 minutes.  Being able to compartmentalize your emotions will help you become a great derby player, and someone who will be able to calm others down.  Alright, I've taken up enough of your time!


The Original Skankster

May 9, 2013

My Family of Choice

Families of Choice are intimate social circles that are formed by people. The term, which is largely used by members of the GLBT community, was coined because they often experience discrimination or rejection by their own family (Family of Origin). The term and existence of these social circles, however, has become increasingly popular with younger generations who face their own family struggles or are simply looking to widen their circle with those that they relate well or spend the majority of their time with.

Although I have not  had a perfect life, my family of origin has generally been supportive  of me and most of my life decisions (you  can ask my mom about my bad life decisions and  she’ll readily share with you I’m sure). While I love my family of origin and share with them almost every facet of my life (admittedly sometimes too much), when the going gets rough I often turn to my family of choice.

In my life, I have been fortunate enough to have several families of choice, starting in college with the brothers in my fraternity (which was more dysfunctional than functional at times). Even though my undergraduate years in my fraternity were tumultuous, I am still very involved with my national fraternity as a volunteer and donor. I turn to my “brothers” for many things and relish the time we spend together at conventions and conferences.

Shortly after college I found my next family of choice as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT). You see, in EMS, you spend a lot of time together, both on and off the clock, and you develop relationships that stem much deeper than the profession. I spent 15 years in EMS as a volunteer, working my way up to Assistant Chief before letting my certifications lapse and officially “retiring” last year because, quite frankly, I was tired. I loved my EMS family and spent most of my free time with them on vacations, celebrating weddings, and just kvetching about life. They were my rock and I still keep in touch with many of them, even though many (including myself) have moved on to new places, gotten married and in some instances have (or are having) children.

When I moved to Colorado in July 2012, it was the first time in the last 17 years when I didn’t have a family of choice that I could readily turn to for support, love and just general good times. Then I discovered roller derby. To be fair, when I lived in North Carolina I watched derby on a semi-regular basis, but didn’t have the time to be an active participant.

Enter Suzy Muffin Crusher, my next door neighbor. One day over a casual conversation on our front porch while sporting my Appalachian Roller Girls beer koozie, we began discussing derby. I shared with her my interest, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to get involved. She kindly invited me to a FoCo Girls Gone Derby bout in September 2012 and I was hooked. I started volunteering/training a week later as an NSO (non-skating official) and shortly thereafter I began working on my skating skills with new skaters. Two weeks ago, after months of studying rules, participating in practices/scrimmages and countless falls, I officiated my first roller derby tournament at the Colorado Cup in Denver

I share this history because; although I love roller derby and work very hard to be a good official, roller derby is more than a sport. Sure it’s competitive, fun, noisy and filled with both outrageous personalities and costumes. At the end of each bout there is always a winner and loser, but in the end we’re all winners because we’ve chosen each other as our family.  FoCo Girls Gone Derby has given me the opportunity to create a new family of choice. I have been fortunate enough to meet skaters, officials and volunteers from all over the US and from around the world. The majority of people I am now closest to in my life and would turn to for help are my roller derby comrades, and vice versa.

So go out and find your “family of choice”, whatever that looks like for you, because when your life falls apart, like mine recently did, there’s never a shortage of companionship, love and support to help get you through. May each of you be as fortunate as I have with finding your own family of choice.

See you on the track…   

Whistle Blower

May 2, 2013

Rock Your Body Right

Just once in my life, I would like to fall asleep like the people in a mattress commercial. I would like to lay my little head on the pillow, smile sweetly, and then drift peacefully into a restful 8 hours of dream-time. But I wont. I have a mind that is usually juggling about 19 different things and when I lay down at night my brain seems to want to go at top speeds until I pass out from exhaustion. To combat this, I have discovered pinterest. Things I have searched for on pinterest in the last week: roller derby, roller derby wedding, Aquarius, sports inspiration, skating warm up, shin stretches, octopus art, Prague, Ryan Gosling, Suzy Hotrod, life hack, quinoa, grilled cheese. You get the gist. My point here is that I cover a lot of ground on any given night, and I would like to talk about my continual disappointment in a particular area of pinterest searches. Workout Inspiration.

Despite my best efforts, I am not easily motivated to workout. I am regularly searching for the holy grail of workout motivation, the thing that will make me LOVE it. In my wide and varying, sometimes rambling, pinteresting journeys I have found there are a ton of really helpful and inspiring quotes and ideas that get me through the toughest of practices. So the natural next step was to look for "workout inspiration" in the darkness of night, right? WRONG. This yields a whole bunch of over-tan skinny women showing off bikini bodies while wedding dress shopping with tiny purse dogs. OK, that is a slight exaggeration. I am not against tans, wedding dresses, or adorable tiny dogs because first of all they're all pretty awesome and second, people have free will and all that. What annoyed me about this particular key-word search was the abundance of stuff about appearance and a lack of stuff about health or athletics to balance it out.

Every woman gets to make a decision for herself regarding why she works out; why she is in the gym when she could doing anything else in the world rather than sweating like a beast on the treadmill or grunting out another set of squats. For some women, the reason is a rocking bikini body, but not for all of us so why is that the main thing that comes up? It was just disappointing when I was looking at things like "I am not strong for a woman, I am just strong" and "I may not be there yet, but I am closer today than yesterday" and then transitioned all too quickly to "Shrink your waist" and "Imagine the outfits you'll wear". It was a shock to the system. I got a little mad at our culture for a moment about it.

I have been rolling this around in my head now for a while and I am still not sure how it makes me feel. On one hand, I think that whatever gets a person off the couch is GREAT inspiration. Do whatever works for you because your health is important. Even if your goal isn't to have better health, that is at least part of the result of working your ass off (literally). Your heart will be healthier, your blood pressure will decrease, and, most likely, your mood will improve as a result of endorphins (and looking HAWT). These are all good things, right? Yes... but... why does it still irk me? Why was my gut reaction to get pissy about it and think "There they go again, making it ALL ABOUT IMAGE. Ignorant jerks. As if a woman can't workout FOR HERSELF" and so on (and on and on). It's a good thing that Mr. Maguire wasn't awake because he would have gotten an earful about it. And doesn't every man just LOVE when his partner wakes him up in the dead of night to lecture them about feminist principles poorly thought out between waves of exhaustion?

I think those pins irritate me because I am a self centered jerk and think my reasons for doing things are superior to everyone else's. And, they are superior, but mostly for me. My reasons and my motivations work for ME. And though its TOTALLY BAFFLING that sometimes they don't work for other people, that is just how it is. So I guess I will have to tolerate that other people find inspiration in other ways. But I don't have to like it. Accepting that other people care a lot about having a bikini body might actually make me sleep better at night. Or maybe that is my next pinterest topic...

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire