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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, BotN, gastric bypass, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized, weightloss success

You can’t please everyone…

I had a long talk with my husband Greg yesterday, I simply asked him if I was enough.  His answers were pretty amazing, just like he is.  But one thing he said really stuck with me, “Baby, you are the Queen of Trying.  You try to please everybody, all the time.”

I realize he is right.  I do try to please people.  I can’t help it.  It’s simply part of my nature. But I also realize when I do that, it opens me up to accept a lot of stress and pressure (and sometimes abuse) that I probably don’t need when I can’t please everyone.

Whether I am trying to be the perfect wife, the perfect friend or the perfect lover, I will never win.  I can’t.  The game is rigged against me, because all I can do is try.  Yet, at times you feel like you can almost reach perfection…but you can also fall flat on your face.

At 49, you would think I would have already realized I am enough.  But evidently it takes a lot to let that sentiment sink into my not so thick skin.  People say things that hurt me, criticize me, accuse me, whatever, and I let that sink in just fine, but people praise me or tell me I am good enough and it takes forever to scratch the surface.

Well…I am enough.  I am perfect just the way I am, flaws and all.  I can’t be the perfect wife, I can’t be the perfect friend, fighter or lover either.  All I can do is be me…and whether I measure up to anyone else’s vision of me is something I need to quit worrying about.

The only person I need to be better than is the me I was yesterday, and even then I doubt I will always be better.  Some days are great and they can’t be topped…and that’s ok.

I did some longsword work last night and it suddenly occurred to me that no matter what I do, what I accomplish in my life, I will never please everyone.  Some people will be inspired by me, some people will feel the need to compete with me, some people will fall in love with me and there are even people who will want to do me harm, simply because of what I have in my life, and I can’t control any of that.

I love and adore my husband more than anything else on this planet, and his opinion of me matters more than anyone’s, so even if I don’t measure up to that…its still nothing I can control.

That’s the key…its nothing I can control.

I am enough for me.  Whether I am enough for you is beside the point.

Love me

Hate me

Kiss me

Fight me

It’s all up to you. Because I am enough.

I’m just a girl, figuring out her place in this world, one step at a time.

I will accept you just the way you are…hopefully you do the same.

 

 

 

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2008
Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, BotN, gastric bypass, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized, weightloss success

No Fear…and strange men

I often find myself perusing the Facebook feature that allows you to look back through the years at your timeline for that day in history.  Today I was struck by several things.

The first was 8 years ago I had just gotten my dragonfly tattoo that was designed for me by Derek, a wonderful tattoo artist out of Sacramento.  He designed it just for me and I have loved it from the moment I saw it.  It was ink to celebrate my 200 pound loss milestone. Derek has done 90% of my ink and I trust him like no other, and we met in a game called Everquest in 1999.  It’s crazy to think that I have known and loved this man for 17 years now and how strange just how much of an effect he has had in my life.

Derek was the first man I fell in love with due to words on a screen.

It would be years before I met him in person, but I knew I loved him.  Greg, my husband knew I loved him.  In fact, Derek was the person that led us into an open marriage, not by his guidance really, but by his willingness to be open with me, understand the fact that I was married and happy, and still be willing to love the person I was, no strings attached.  It wasn’t really a sexual bond, not in a traditional sense really, because simply put there’s only so far you can go with words, texts and phone conversations, but there was a bond between us…and our characters online.  Selor and Sorcha belonged to one another, and that bond carried us through many games and many characters through the years.  The last time we spent any time together in a game was World of Warcraft.  Hellfyre and Hellfury were the same as we had always been, devoted to one another, we were the hellions!

Through those 17 years we’ve seen each other off and on, I’ve gotten a lot more ink on my body because of him and he has even inked Greg now.  He gave us beautiful works of art for our 18th wedding anniversary when we stopped in to see him on our way up the coast.  He has gotten married, has a beautiful wife, adorable children and we have all ended up perfectly happy.  He is someone who will always be in my world, one way or another and 17 years ago I am not sure how I would have described the us that would exist today…but no matter what, I am sure the reality is much better now than anything I could have come up with at that point.

I love him dearly and he is one of the boxes in my heart, and always will be.

Second, I was also reminded of that same trip to California that I got my dragonfly.  After I saw Derek for ink, I traveled down the coast to visit other friends I had gamed with in WoW.  Caught and Hawkke, two men I had gamed with for several years and never met in person, yet there I was, going to spend an entire weekend with them, in their home.  Alone.

I can vividly remember the moment I pulled up to their house they shared as roommates, and I knock on the door but there was no answer.  All of a sudden all those stories you hear (especially back in 2008) about never going to someone’s house you’ve only met on the internet.  How so many women end up murdered or tied up in the basement for years.  But there I was knocking…only to find out they had misjudged the timing of my arrival and were only minutes away.  I meet them, and was immediately put at ease.  I had talked online with them for hours on end for years, my husband (also a gamer) had met them on vent as well and we were ALL comfortable with my trip, albeit some of Greg’s friends thought we were all crazy, and we probably were.  But that’s not a negative in my book lol…

I look back at the photos of us (see below) and at that point in time I would have thought those two would be in my life forever, but now, 8 years later, I couldn’t even tell you their real names.  Hell I don’t even know which city I drove to from Derek’s tattoo shop to meet them!  Its so interesting the path that life takes us sometimes.  I honestly would have told you I was in love with those two as well.  In fact part of that weekend there was some true awkwardness because I really wanted to sleep with them both, and to be truthful, I couldn’t make up my mind, so NOTHING happened at all lol.

One of the TRUEST things in my life is this…

Rare people come into my life for a reason.

Whether its for me to help them or for them to help me is often unknown, but when I meet these people, I know.  I do find it interesting that most of the time those people are men, but I really have a hard time getting along with “normal” women.  They make me crazy and I simply prefer the company of men, which lends itself to that skewed ratio, but the women that are close to me in my life are truly phenomenal and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Today was an interesting day for introspection on my life with men who start out as complete strangers and who end up lovers.  But the converse can be just as true. Because I have no fear of men, or falling in love or even lust with them, it tends to open me up to some that can do more harm than good.  Like I said, people come into my life for a reason and sometimes that reason is to teach me a lesson, which isn’t necessarily a good one.

There have been people in my past that I’ve loved, cared about, treated with way more respect that they deserved and gave more chances to than I would have given to almost anyone else in my life.  I grew up in an abusive home and spent my childhood in fear and being psychologically manipulated, but I also had prime examples of what a great man can be like, so I realized early on how to shield myself.  My weight always allowed me some blatant honesty and in the end, I learned to defend myself against just about everything, but sometimes you still have to learn the hard way.

And I have.  Many times over.

I don’t draw a line in the sand on when my heart has to stop loving someone.  Or even whether or not I can or even should love someone.  It just simply happens.  Sometimes before I even know it.  At times that love is so bright I fear it overshadows everything else in its path…and I am the first to admit that sometimes that newness is what I needed, what I craved and so I forgive a lot of hurt because that rush I feel is worth it.  Then, its not nearly as bright and you start to see the hurt and pain that’s being heaped on you when you don’t even know it.  That’s when I have to walk away, even when I don’t really want to.

Sometimes I can put all those feelings and memories away in their own little box in my heart.

Its like I have a shelf, with all these various beautiful boxes.  Each box is different, and they hold the memories and thoughts about one person I love and care about but they are someone I can’t have in the forefront of my life any more.  Either they have moved on or I have, it doesn’t really matter,  but when I hear a song or see something that reminds me of them, I can move their box to the front, go through the memories and feelings and still feel good about them, about me loving them and I usually enjoy the moment, even if it tugs on my heartstrings.

Those boxes are precious and very few…but they will always be with me.  Derek is one of those boxes…his art is a part of my body, his love is a part of my soul.  Whether or not we ever see each other again, in game or out, doesn’t matter.  He will always be a happy place for me.

For a long time I held on to other boxes, filled with hate, anger and pain.  I thought it would help me remember to not let it happen again, but in truth, all it did was radiate self loathing and hurt.  It took me a long time to realize I could throw all those memories and pain away and not have them stuck in the back of my mind, growing strong in the darkness.  There was a certain comfort in them, because I could always feel right in my decision to be rid of whomever hurt me.

But in the end I realized I just had to clean house and get rid of all that pain.  No matter who caused it, or why.  Letting it sit inside me was no good for myself or anyone else that was around me.  Every so often I have to remember to clear those boxes out and get rid of all the lingering bad juju that can cloud my judgement and cause fear, even when there isn’t anything bad going on.

Past history does count, and while I will never forget the pain someone has caused me, I can at least let it go and not carry it around with me any longer.  I don’t usually care about revenge (I can’t say never because truly there are some people on a list that will some day pay for their mistakes) but generally, its just easier to let go of it all and toss those big crappy boxes away.

So while I love the “looking back” feature of Facebook, sometimes those little reminders can be a little painful.  All you can do is look to the future and be happy.  I have so many people I love and adore in my life.  Many of them are people I can only interact with as “words on a screen” due to the distance between us, but that never stops me from loving them or enjoying them for who they are.  If we are lucky, we see one another once a year and if I am VERY lucky…we get to hit one another with swords too.

I am not really sure why all this came out of me today, but I knew when I saw the pictures that it needed to be said.  And maybe it was as simple as I had to clear out some old boxes that I’d let sit for too long…or maybe I had to start making some new boxes for good memories.

Either way, it feels good to have it all out…and I know that whatever comes my way I will be ready…to love, to feel, and to enjoy…the strangers that cross my path.

No Fear…and strange men

It’s just simply how I roll…

 

 

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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, BotN, gastric bypass, Hockey, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday & a little Dorian Gray…

Throwback Thursday to July 28, 2008

The 2008 me on the left versus Me today sitting at my desk trying to do the same looks.

Its funny the things you forget, like how happy yet unhappy I was with both of the photos back in 2008, which would have been just over a year post-op for me. Greg and I had gone out to brunch with Johnny Hunter and sent him on his way in the top photo. The lower photo I was sitting on Vent listening to my guild bitch about Black Temple in WoW.

I hadn’t hit my lowest weight yet, that wouldn’t come for a few months, and my boobs hadn’t really started shrinking yet. But I’d dropped my first 150 pounds at least, probably close to 175 by these photos and while I was putting together this comparison it just struck me the differences in the way I feel, the way I look and the way I enjoy my life now.

The girl in the 2008 photos never thought of herself as an athlete. I never thought I would be good at anything really. I’d given up my dreams of becoming a musician, I’d been sucked into the world of online gaming and was still struggling to break free of that monkey on my back. I looked at my pictures back then and while I was happy with the weight loss, I hated how old I looked. I was torn by being happy to get skinnier but despised the way my face sagged and I wasn’t seeing any resilience in my skin, and up til then I had hoped it would bounce back a little bit. It didn’t.

I was 41 years old. I was on the verge of being the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Yet I had put my body through hell and it was starting to show. My hair, my bones, my boobs, even my teeth were paying the price for the war I had waged on my body with so much weight for my entire life.

It was shortly after these pictures that I started figuring out I couldn’t sit back and let life pass me by. That I couldn’t sit in the basement and hope the weight stayed off. I had to get out and keep moving, and get active. Constantly and consistently. There was no ‘magic potion’ that was going to do it for me, other than getting off my ass and working for what I wanted.

Its funny, I look back at the ‘transition’ photos and think yea, actually there was some magic happening…because I compare then to now and I look younger, I feel younger and my entire perception of life has changed. So some where in that mix, my world magically changed for the better and I have never stopped pushing forward.

But its hard some days, looking backwards.

Its not the 450+ pound Amy photos that bother me the most, its the ones where I look my age, I can see how hard this whole thing was on my body and I know at some point that all will come back again and I don’t want it to. I know I’ve cheated Death, and I am so thankful for the second chance at living, that I can never regret a second of what I have now.

But when I get glimpses of what that transition period was like, I begin to feel like Dorian Gray and I wonder when it will all come back to haunt me again. My 50th birthday is December 13th. A mere 137 days away. I feel amazing, I am happier than I have ever been in my life, and I my body & health are more balanced than they’ve ever been, so why worry right? But I do…and I will get through it.

The things I constantly forget about are those bits of wisdom I gained through the struggles I hated, that push me through to the next level, the next wall, the next obstacle life gives me.

I weighed over 450 pounds and I got through it. I lost half my body weight and I got through it. I lost most of my hair and I got through it. I lost friends, lovers and family and I got through it. And yes, I’ve looked old…and some how I got through it.

Who knows, 8 years from today I may look back and think damn I looked old and wrinkled at 49, who the fuck cared…because honestly, 8 years ago from today I looked old and wrinkled at 41 and no one cared. But me.

Back then I was the happiest & skinniest I’d ever been in my life. In those pictures and even with time marching right across my face, I was fine. 8 years from now, I can only hope to be even better and who knows what the hell I will be doing with my life then. I can only hope I am as thankful as I am today.

I always need to remember to be happy with the NOW (and the then), live every day with as much verve and gusto as I can muster and be the best me possible. There are no guarantees in this life, we get whatever we can make of it. If you’re unhappy with something, change it.

Time is not on our side…so get off your ass

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Always be true to yourself…

Dr. Seuss has said many things that have meant a lot to me over the years.  He was a wise man who had a wild imagination and a wonderful gift.  In today’s world, I think we could all use a little less judgement and a lot more Seuss!

I have noticed, far too much recently, that people are becoming so much less tolerant of uniqueness and originality.  They seem easily offended and demand to be catered to, far more now than I have ever seen in our past.  It is becoming harder and harder to stand out from the crowd than it is to just conform to the norm.  Its so much easier to hate something because everyone else is, than it is to do your own research and figure out where you, as an individual, stand on any particular subject.

Forming your own opinions is part of living, part of growing up, part of making a meaningful contribution to society.  Yet so many rely on what social media tells them, they just quit thinking for themselves, and its becoming increasingly alarming.

We live in an age of technology that both overwhelmingly enables us and yet also hinders us from making informed decisions.  An age where simple participation out weighs outstanding performance.  Where logic and original thinking are bypassed for likes and shares.  Where actionable contributions to society are whittled down to mere ‘thoughts and prayers’.

Am I a perpetrator of some of these atrocities?  I am, I whole heartily admit it.  But I also feel like that outsider looking in, wondering why no one else is waking up, bewildered at some of the statements my friends make and appalled at some of the decisions made by people who supposedly represent MY interests.

How did we get so lost in the sea of sameness?

There are a lot of things in this world that I can not control.  Yet there are so many more that I can control and I try my best to be an example of.  Some good, some bad, all me.  Whether you like me, follow me, respect me, ignore me or feel I’m a loud mouth cunt who thinks too highly of herself…you are all correct, because at the very least you have an opinion, one that I hope is formed by your own interaction with me, not one that was given to you by someone else.

I am a lot of things to a lot of people.  Wife, lover, opponent, guide, fool, teacher, coach, student, sister, brother, idealist, intolerable, insatiable, indestructible…just to name a few.  I am all of these things and more, because I choose to be.

I speak my mind.  I talk about things some people find inappropriate.  I love sex, and being married, yet know I could never be monogamous.  I enjoy the word cunt and hate the word average, I would rather be called one over the other and if you know me at all, you know which one.  I embrace violence like a warm blanket, yet hate that the world turns to it before trying to logically work things out.  I would rather fight with a sword than with a gun, I think it takes a lot more will to run someone through, than it does to simply pull a trigger, yet I don’t feel guns are the problem in this world. Have them or don’t, but if you do, know how to use them properly.

I am a fat girl.  I used to be a fatter girl.  Now, not so much, yet people judge me on my weight, my weight loss and my body all the fucking time.  So be it.  I judge myself by it all the time too.  Yet it is not everything that I am.   I am an American Indian, a bastard, a fighter, a geek, a gamer and an athlete.  All of which combined, form the basis of the woman I am, yet once people find out that I used to be over 450 pounds…that is usually what I become in their head.   It happens.  I can’t control that.  Your opinion of me is truly none of my business.

All I can do is be Me.

If that helps motivate someone in some small way I am so completely happy, you have no idea.  If my existence erodes the very earth on which you stand…so be it.  We all have people in our lives we enjoy hating.  Hell, I have an irrational hatred for an entire country simply because of one single person…I wish I didn’t, but I do, for now.  The point is, you will feel how you feel about people and that’s ok…as long as its YOUR feelings and not feelings based on a meme, or politics or for fuck sake…religion.  Don’t foist your feelings onto other people…again, their opinion of you, or me, is none of your business.

Society tells us a lot of things, how to live, who to love, what to wear, how to act, the list goes on and on.  But when you truly understand that you can “be who you are and say what  you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” then you are above the curve.  Standing out, being original and making your own damn decisions is virtuous in and of itself.

Do it…and don’t feel guilty about it.

Because society tries to tell us how to be…we feel guilty about far too many things, simply because we are taught they are bad, and believe me that list is growing hand over fist, when it should be shrinking!

Embrace the You that you want to be.  Don’t be afraid to live outside the lines that box us into a certain category.  Don’t let society define who you are…some of the most genuine people I know are complete and utter assholes and they don’t try to hide that fact, they embrace it…and it works for them.  Define yourself and be true to your own ideals.

So whether you love me or hate me is perfectly fine…it doesn’t define who I am.  I’m going to be person I need to be to please me, not the world.  I will find ways to help make changes in this world as I can, regardless of likes, shares, thumbs up, thumbs down, swipe rights, swipe lefts or plain old kicks in the ass.

Always remember “You’ll never be bored when you try something new.  There’s really no limit to what you can do!”

The Bad Ass Valkyrie

 

 

 

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Armored Combat, BotN, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized

Dealing with NORMAL…

“Assuming I was like most women was your first mistake…”

It’s been exactly a month since I returned home from Battle of the Nations in Prague and my trip to Denmark.  As always, it has been difficult adapting back to a ‘normal’ life…one that does not revolve around fighting, adrenaline and extremely high cortisol levels.

Coming down off the high of a Fighting Campaign is like weening yourself off a drug addiction.  You spend months preparing, pushing your body to its limits and beyond and then you are there, surrounded by like minded individuals who ‘get’ everything you are saying, who understand your need for violence, who accept you as a fighter, as a brother, as a friend, simply because you are part of their tribe.  You instantly bond, you find family in places you never expected and make friends that truly span continents and will last for years.

Then you come home, trinkets, gifts and pictures galore, only to find yourself missing the chaos, the comradery, the kinship that you can only get going on campaign.  It is surprisingly hard to go back to a normal, everyday job, even one that you love, at first.  You will feel ‘off’ and anxious.  Not quite knowing where your place in the ‘normal world’ really is any more.  You have people around you, just like you did before, but now it all seems boring or useless, even though it never changed…only You did.

Thankfully I have wonderful support from my husband and he gives me the leeway and time I need to re-adapt but that is partially because this is the 3rd time around for this whole scenario and he pretty much knows what to expect, as do I.  Now I realize what it is, why it’s happening and there is no mystery illness that is causing me to feel melancholy, it’s simply lack of proper stimulus and abnormal chemicals still being released in my body.  It happens to first responders, military and police personnel when they come home from being deployed or having long, drawn out shifts with high and low extremes for long periods of time.

It causes you to feel blue, be down, crave carbs, sweets & junk food and basically reverse everything you did to get yourself ready to go overseas in the first place.  The best solution for us is to fight it out and burn it off.  Do what it takes to bring your cortisol levels down and your body will level out eventually. Eat properly, get more than enough sleep and realize this too will pass.

It is interesting the conversations you have with other fighters.  We all seem to go through the same things, mostly.  But there are significant differences being female lol, or maybe it’s just me.

I always find myself torn between being one of the guys and remembering that I am still a girl.  And if I’m torn…holy hell what must it be like being one of my brothers at times when they are around me?!?

I do not like being treated differently on the field, and it makes me crazy if any of my fighting brothers pulls shots or doesn’t hit me as hard as he hits another guy.  I am not a china doll, I can take a hit.  Hell, men who threaten to punch me in the face and do a take-down on me have a higher chance of turning me on…than actually offending me.  It is just my nature to be violent. I enjoy it.  I crave it…

Yet…

Today, something ‘normal’ happened that has not happened in a very long, long time.  I was asked out on a date and it shocked me at first.  I was giddy like a school girl, I didn’t know how to react at first and I was stunned into silence.  Not because I am married, I can go on as many dates as I like, see who I want, sleep with who I want, that has never been an issue with Greg or I.  No, it was because I hadn’t been treated like a ‘normal girl’ for so long, it felt odd to me.

My normal is being treated like one of the guys.  From the way I talk, to the way I respond to the way I initiate a flirt even.  I respond in kind to what I get, and usually, it’s bawdy & loud or its hushed & secret.  Rarely is it anything different.  I am who I am and let’s face it, I would rather flirt, fight & fuck than almost anything else.  Especially when I am surrounded by alpha male fighters.  That switch gets flipped on and I am hard pressed to figure out how to turn it off until I am no longer around that stimuli.

So when someone actually asks me out to dinner on a date, it’s not my ‘normal’, even though it’s perfectly normal to civilized folks.  I can be marginally civilized…but usually only because work deems it necessary.  Otherwise, again, I fall back to the 3 F’s.

So here’s me, an eternal Lost Boy…trying to figure out how to be ‘Normal’ again, how to be civilized again…and figure out how to act naturally on a date again.  We will see how it goes.

Somehow I manage to find Neverland every year and this year it was the best trip ever…but the pixie dust never quite lasts long enough.

Until next year…

Bangerang my brothers…Bangerang!

 

 

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Armored Combat, BotN, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized

2016 BoTN Campaign-Prague 2

As I sit here, on my long flight home from Europe, eating the last of my snacks purchased in the open medieval market, a blog strikes me for many reasons. 

Mostly, mental exhaustion.

I have been on campaign for two weeks of fighting, of adrenaline highs and lows, of extreme physical activity and of never truly being able to relax and unwind like you can at home.  I know most of you will not think its a very big deal but when you are out of your norm, experiencing the highest of highs, it is inevitable that you will also experience lower lows.  That roller coaster can take its toll on a person in the best conditions, add to it that you are there, by yourself, away from your family, and competing in an extreme sport, it’s compounded greatly.  So bare with me while I try to put some semblance of order to the chaos that was this past two weeks…

Battle of the Nations, Prague CZ  

It’s a hard event to describe in general when you are not a fighter but I will do my best.

This is my second year participating in the World Championships and from all accounts, it has only continued to get better.  This event is a culmination of hard work, training and achievements many fighters experience over the season and in many countries, the competition to be on their national team is fierce.  

This year, a fifth day was added to help spread out all the categories.  You have Men and Women’s triathlon duels, which consist of fights with sword & shield, sword & buckler, then longsword.  You also have Pole Arm duels, which are their own category.   

BOTN is based off the Olympic model and in official competition, women do not compete with men.  In my personal opinion, I feel we should be allowed to if we want to, but that process happens in baby steps.  

For bohurts, which is what Europeans call melee fights, the female category is 3 vs. 3 and all vs. all.  In the Men’s bohurt category there is 5 vs. 5 and 21 vs. 21.  All bohurts allow for legionaries or as some call them, mercenaries, which is how I was able to fight for the Netherlands Team.

I would love to see them add a 10 vs. 10 category as well someday, but that is yet to come.  Women had two of our categories listed as experimental this year, pole arm duels and 3 vs. 3, but last I heard, these are now officially part of the championship.  

When you first arrive in camp, most of the teams have large tents set up.  Some teams sleep there.  Others, like the American team, use it as their base camp for the week.  The air is filled with excitement, adrenalin and testosterone. 

This year we had almost 800 fighters descend upon Prague’s Petrín Tower, mostly men whose age ranges from 18 to 35.  You do find older fighters in most teams but it is by far, not the norm.  Female fighters are plentiful this year, we fielded 8 teams of 3 to 5 women each and that is phenomenal. You also find merchants, ground crew and support for the teams.  The logistics alone of bringing a national team to the World Championships can be harrowing.  

Before any fighting begins you see friends finding one another, opponents and friendly rivals getting reacquainted and many new friendships forming.  Overall, this sport still continues to bring chivalry and honor to the field of battle and you see it constantly in almost every camp you visit.

It has been interesting to be a veteran Knight on campaign with “the new guys”.  To see how they interact, how they blend and how they mesh with those of us who have been through this year after year.  I’ve found that some men were born to this life, and some still need to figure out how to navigate it, both socially and mentally. 

When so many alpha males and alpha females are thrust together in a small area, an interesting dynamic occurs and its not really something you can prepare for if you don’t even know its happening.  I was talking to a woman who had not really experienced her partner being possessive, yet he was decidedly protective of her and she noticed many things about him changed when that happened.  I told her that he may not even be aware of the change, its simply a matter of male posturing that is part of their genetic make up.  

The males of our species are the hunters, the protectors, the fighters.  You put so many of them together and the roles start to sort out.  Just like in a pride of lions, you have one dominate male lion, the rest fight for the few slots allowed to other males, others fall away to other prides. Within teams you tend to find that hierarchy as well.  There are distinct Alphas then the other male fighters.  It is a dynamic I have observed for many years and I always have a few surprises as to who strives for leadership roles and who tend to let others lead the way.  

That aside, the fighting on the field, regardless of the numbers, is always fierce.  You will see teams completely decimate other teams and come back to help them off the field or afterwards see them congratulate the victors or losers on fights well done.  Being in the crowd watching is one thing, being in the holding area with the fighters before and after fights is an entirely different event, and one that I am always thankful to be a part of.  When I am not fighting, I am there to support my male counterparts.  I help keep them healthy, fed, hydrated and geared.  I don’t think I could stay away if I had to, not being there to help my team is something that is incomprehensible to me.  You are part of something larger, and you make sacrifices to help the team…its just what you do.  

When my pole arm fights were scheduled at the same time as USA 1 5-man fights so many of our guys were truly distraught that they couldn’t be there for me, but I knew I would have someone there to help and that’s all I needed.  The rest of the team needed it more and that’s OK!  In the end, it all worked out for everyone and I was able to go help after I fought and that meant the world to me.  And when I fought with in the Women’s bohurts, looking up and seeing the team cheering for me, screaming out my name…absolutely made me cry on the field. Something I never thought I would do…but emotion takes you at the weirdest times lol.  

When Team USA takes that field, it is largely by the grace and help of ground support, which is most often wives, girlfriends and family members of the fighters.  This year we were very lucky to have our own photographer, our own armorer and our own team doctor.  I hope in future years we are able to support these positions so we can always have them available because they are paramount to our team’s success.  

BOTN is a great event and I look forward to going in 2017 with a full team of USA Women to fight with.  While I loved every moment of fighting with the Netherlands Lionesses Team this year, I want to face Russia 1 as USA, not as a mercenary.  With the number of women stating they want to fight in 2017, we may well be able to make USA 1 and USA 2 Womens teams, but I will be happy with anything.  

I want to kick some ass this coming year and I know we have the women to do it!  

I had friends and fans come up to me throughout the event and talk to me, support me, exchange gifts with me and best of all, make me smile, cry, laugh and feel amazing.

There were some hard times this trip, I can’t lie, but being surrounded by people who love me, and care about me helped a ton.  Sometimes support comes in strange packages, and I will never look at some people the same way again but there are some that opened my eyes to so much more…and for that I am thankful.  I am truly a blessed woman.

Now, on to phase 2 of our trip!

KMM.dk is a Medieval Market in Copenhagen, Denmark and it was the 2nd stop on this wild adventure for me.  I traveled by bus with most of the Iron Phoenix team and while it was arduous at best, it was still fun.  Aussies have a way of making everything fun…and this event was no exception.  We got some great fighting in, I did a little bit of shopping and made some amazing new friends, while visiting with old friends from championships past.  It may seem odd having friends all over the world that you only see once a year, but honestly, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Getting to see these people when I can, makes it all worthwhile for me.  And while its hard being away from my home, my husband and my furbabies, knowing that I get to spend time with people I love half way across the world is worth it.  Every. Single. Time.  

So whether you are a fan, a friend, a lover or a fighter, being on campaign is an amazing way to spend two weeks of your life.  

Life is an adventure just waiting to happen…take the first step and the rest will fall into place.    

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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, BotN, gastric bypass, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized, weightloss success

“I will not take off my lipstick…”

As a woman who has found running to be mildly habit forming and since I just competed in my 2nd half marathon (see photo) my news feed is filled with runner info.  I found a bit of history that I’d not known before recently.

49 years ago Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.

1967!  That was 49 years ago…not a century ago but within my lifetime women were barred from running!

I am 49 years old and to see such HUGE changes in what female athletes are able to do now is astounding. Today, telling a woman you can’t run long distances because “your uterus would fall out” sounds crazy, and you might think that discrimination against female athletes is gone but it’s not.

To this day, I STILL have men who refuse to fight me because I am female.

In reading exerpts from her memoir “Marathon Woman” Kathrine talks about what happened that day during her race.

“As we jogged over to the start, Tom said, “God, you’re wearing lipstick!”  

“I always wear lipstick.  What’s wrong with that?”

“Somebody might see you are a girl and not let you run.  Take it off.”

“I will not take off my lipstick.”

I love that attitude!  I have fought in eyeliner, mascara, full belly dance make-up, even wearing a bindi from dancing the night before.  If someone EVER tried to tell me to take it off before a fight, they’d get the same reply “I will not take off my lipstick.”

When I started fighting with rattan in the SCA several years before I started steel fighting, I tried very hard to hide the fact that I was a female fighter and just blend in with the guys.  I thought that was what you had to do to get Knighted.  When you have 3000+ male Knights and less than 50 female Knights, it sort of lends to that (incorrect) thought process.

When I started steel fighting in 2013, I met female fans and hordes of little girls who wanted to be Knights, it was then that I realized this was entirely incorrect thinking on my part.  In the SCA you create a personae, you have a medieval name and its somewhat separate from the mundane you.  So in a way, you are a little bit shielded from bias.  In steel fighting, you are yourself in every way.  I use my real name, I fight with real weapons and everything about the fights is…real.

Including prejudice…

“Women can’t hit as hard as men”

“Women aren’t as violent as men”

“There are no real Female Knights in history”

“Armor doesn’t fit women correctly”

And my absolute favorite “I won’t hit a girl”

All of these statements are incorrect, yet I have heard each and every one of them, multiple times.  And while there are still some men out there who “won’t hit a girl”…this girl hits men, so if you don’t want to hit me, it’s going to be a very easy victory for me.

I am lucky, I have so many wonderful steel fighting brothers who support me, teach me, train me and mentor me without any qualms that I am a girl.  They treat me just like one of the guys, putting my face in the dirt time and time again, because that’s how you learn in this sport.  No amount of “walk through” training will prepare you for the real deal, except getting in there, learning from the best and fighting til you can’t lift your arms anymore.  Respect is earned in our sport, not given and until you’ve been hit with a pole axe and grappled to the ground by 3 or 4 men at a time, you don’t know what its really like.

I started fighting in this sport the very first year it was allowed for women.  I was the Captain of the very first Women’s Melee Team the United States of America ever had and we brought home the gold.  I have competed every year since then, sometimes as the only female fighter from the USA, but I still competed and still do today because I never want there to be a time in history we don’t have a female fighter representing us.  To me that feels like losing, and I don’t lose well.

This year there have been great strides made in both the Battle of the Nations and in IMCF World Championships.  There are more opportunities than ever for women to fight and I hope that in 2017 we grow beyond ‘experimental’ categories and special days for Female Fighters.  All we want is to be treated equally as fighters.

Another exerpt from Kathrine’s book struck a cord with me:

“My thinking rolled on: The reason there are no intercollegiate sports for women at big universities, no scholarships, prize money, or any races longer than 800 meters is because women don’t have the opportunities to prove they want those things.  If they could just take part, they’d feel the power and accomplishment and the situation would change.  After what happened today, I felt responsible to create those opportunities.  I felt elated, like I’d made a great discovery.  In fact, I had.”

Women can fight.  Women can hit hard.  Women are just as violent as men.  There are many Female Knights throughout history and my armor fits me just fine!  We just need opportunities to prove the world wrong.

Many of us learn, train and fight with our male counterparts in our given countries.  I have competed internationally as the only female on a male team and that team won the gold.  This year at a competition in Denmark the weekend after Battle of the Nations, women who choose to, will be allowed to fight in mixed teams for 5 vs. 5.  This is a huge change in Europe, where the segregation is most prominent.  Here in the USA, women can fight with the men in both leagues (AMCF & ACL) if they choose to, or you can choose to only fight women.  It’s up to the competitor, and that is how it should be in my opinion.

As I write this, I am 5 days away from boarding a plane to Prague, CZ to compete in Battle of the Nations as the USA Female Polearm Champion.  I will also compete as a mercenary fighter for Team Netherlands (fighters that do not have enough to make a full team from their country can compete as mercenaries to fill out other countries teams and in fact, several Canadian men are filling out the USA Men’s 21 team) as I am the only female competitor to take the field in USA colors in this World Championship.  Next year I have high hopes of taking a full Women’s team across the pond again.

The IMCF Championship is at the end of May and I am happy to see a full team of USA women competing.  I wish them luck and I am sad I was not able to make that trip due to work restrictions, but I am sure they are going to kick ass.

Women like Kathrine Switzer paved the way for us to fight, and I am hopeful for the future of female athletes in EVERY sport, especially fighting.  If you find what you love, and are able to do it, that is a gift.

If you get told you can’t do what you love because you are female, never take off your lipstick and remember my mantra,

ALWAYS FIGHT LIKE A GIRL…

because that is exactly what we were born to do!

 

The Bad Ass Valkyrie

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