Just Keep Going…

This past week has been one of the hardest weeks I have had to endure in quite a while.  Not only did I have a rough week breathing due to horrible air conditions over the past weekend, I also had to put my puppy down this past Monday.  Macho has been with Greg & I for over 17 years.  We got him at 6 weeks old, right after we were married. It was the hardest visit to the vet ever, but we got through it together, and in the end it was the right thing to do for our little guy.

Part of the mental fortitude that gets me through many rough times are 3 simple words.

Just…Keep…Going.

When my legs hurt and I want to stop running…I just keep going.

When I don’t think I have any more fight left in me…I just keep going.

When my fat girl voice tells me to give up…I just keep going.

When I need support but I don’t want to go to practice…I just keep going.

When I want to stop & go into that bakery for an iced sugar cookie…I just keep going.

No matter what…having that as a mantra has helped me in so many ways.  I have a much easier time now, remembering to use my power words.  Its when I stop having those words roll around in my head, I forget my fortitude, then my confidence slips…and negativity creeps in.

This past weekend at Sport of Kings, I couldn’t breath.  The air quality was so bad, the smoke so thick, I couldn’t run.  I couldn’t even walk my miles, so in the midst of my “5k Every Day” Challenge, I lost 5 days to inactivity.  I had already lost a day due to Macho’s first brush with the possibility of having to put him to sleep on the 14th.  I accepted that day because mentally, I was exhausted and emotionally drained.  I had nothing else to give.

One day out of 31 was OK, I could still reach my goal of 100 miles in a month, as long as I just keep going.

Then forest fires happened from Salt Lake to Portland.  Red & Purple Air Quality Index alerts popped up across the board.  Me being outside for extended periods of time was not ideal already, me running or exerting myself in these conditions would have put me in the hospital.  So I went to classes, learned what I could and tried to just keep going.

But in my head, all I could think about was 5 days of not getting my miles in.  No running, no walking, no adding my miles.  Therefore, I failed my challenge, and in my head, I was a complete and utter failure all around.  This is how my mind works.  It isn’t correct thinking by any means, but its where my head was.  One day after another, I couldn’t add my miles, and every day another failure.  It got to me.  Big time.

I had a great time at Sport of Kings, which is a weekend camping event where some of the most elite fighters within the Society of Creative Anacronism (SCA) come together to teach those of us who wish to learn.  I had some wonderful Ah-Ha moments, but I also had some not-so-wonderful moments as well, all due to my lack of experience/confidence/mental fortitude.  Had I been able to just keep going, I probably would have gotten more out of the weekend.

In almost every aspect of my life, I put my whole heart into it, jump in head first, and sometimes that bites me in the ass.  I get to way-points on my path, sometimes by sheer luck, other times, that path is planned.  But mostly I fly by the seat of my pants in pretty much everything I do.  I live, laugh and love freely, without regret but sometimes I falter.  And when I do, that little negative voice inside me comes out, and rubs it in.

To that negative voice, it doesn’t matter that I have ran 72.5 miles this month so far, or that I beat my previous record of 63 miles (from June 2013) already and I still have 4 more days to run.  I couldn’t get the fact that I failed to get 100 miles in a month and I didn’t do a ‘5k Every Day‘ out of my head.  Does it matter to anyone else but me?  No.  But it still gets to me and all I can do is…just keep going and try to push the negative out of my head space.

Its hard, but living in the negative is harder.  Sometimes we need reminders of what helps to push us past our limits, of what gets us where we need to be, because even now, there are times I still forget.

Now for the issue I am still having trouble with…

My best friend Kelli and I had a very long discussion in the car on the way home and she made some really great points about some of the ways I view myself and she was pretty dead on in many of her observations.

To preface the issue I am having, let me just say that steel sword fighting and rattan sword fighting are very different sports.  The mechanics, the rules, even the armor can be different.  You can cross over gear, skill, knowledge, etc but most of the time, you have to vastly change things up.  While on the surface, they seem very similar, they are indeed very different on so many levels.  Many of the USA steel fighters come from an SCA background.  There are a few that only had martial arts backgrounds and some who had never picked up a sword in their lives.  All varying degrees of prowess (skill) but they all possess a love of fighting.  I am one of those fighters, I truly do love to fight.

I didn’t have a solid SCA background when I took up steel fighting.  I have been a member of the SCA for 20 years now, and while I put on armor and lumbered around the battlefield early on, I really didn’t start truly fighting until 4-5 years ago.  I was still learning the basics as a squire when I found steel and because I jumped in head first, I returned my belt & put rattan fighting on hold 3 years ago so I could focus as much of my training on steel weapons as possible.  It consumed me, and while I don’t regret that decision at all, I do wish I had tried to just keep going with rattan as I could.

I am a brawler.  I  love melee fighting, whatever the scenario, it doesn’t matter to me.  Rattan or steel pole weapons…I am comfortable.  I fail shots, I get killed & I lose fights, but I always learn, and I always enjoy it. That style of fighting, being in the thick of all the chaos, is my happy place.  Even when I am face down in the dirt, surrounded by men twice my size, physically trying to force me to submit by every violent means possible,  that kind of chaos soothes my soul in ways I can not describe with words.

Put a steel sword and shield in my hand, I am a little less comfortable, but I get through it.  I have no choice.  If I want to compete internationally, I have to be able to fight that style, because melee (bohurts) is not always a given option for women, and I hope to help change that some day.  I picked up steel sword and shield because I had to in Battle of the Nations (B0TN), and it was pretty much baptism by fire in Prague.

Now, put a rattan sword and shield in my hand and I feel like a complete failure.  I was never really required to fight that weapons style but I know on my path to Knighthood within the SCA, I need to do it. I have very little experience with it and while I know how to use it, I am not good at it, nor am I confident in myself fighting it.

In fact, until recently, the last time I picked up a rattan sword and shield, I was put into a situation where I lost all faith in the fighter I trusted most and that may possibly be where some of my issues stem from.  I have a mental block when it comes to rattan sword & shield.  I know that.  What I didn’t realize is just how much of a block it had become, because I DIDN’T just keep going.  The deeper I buried it, the bigger block it became.

Watching the Sport of Kings Tournament was awesome, but the thought of actually fighting in it terrified me.  It is what we call a meat grinder type tournament.  You fight 10 rounds with different fighters and then go report whether you won or lost after each fight.  The thought of walking to the list table and reporting 10 losses in a row makes me, even now, want to break down and cry (which also makes me crazy because I hate feeling that weak).

The other terrifying thought I have is walking into an eric and doing pick up fights with someone who follows me as a steel fighter and wants to fight me rattan.   I have so many fighters come up to me and want to fight me one on one, from non-belts to Super-Dukes, I get asked to fight ALL THE TIME.

Here is where Kelli flat out calls the Spade, a Spade and my soul gets laid open like a casket.  “You don’t want to fight them because you feel like a fraud”.  And that, ladies and gentlemen is where my biggest fear to enter an SCA tournament lies. One on one fighting with rattan scares the fucking beejezus out of me, because I am not good at it.  And I am not good at it because losing fight, after fight, after fight, after fight is something that has killed my will in the past.

Regardless of whether there is any sort of expectation about how good a fighter I am doesn’t matter,  she is exactly right.  I feel like a fraud.  Even though these are two very different sports, I feel like I should be able to hold my own…and I can’t (although honestly, I’m not sure if I can or not, because fear paralyzes me so much, I haven’t really tried with anyone but those closest to me that I know I can trust).

The other issue I have wrapped up into this whole mental fiasco is, because of a couple of situations that happened to me in the past, I have a hard time fighting a hand full of people one on one because of my willful pride. I REFUSE to give them the opportunity to beat me.  I know right now I am not good enough to win, thus, walking into that eric with them, knowing I will lose, is something I can not bring myself to do.  Willful submission is still MY choice!

So…there you have it, the whole big ugly truth.

Its like that terrifying clown that hides under the bed in Poltergeist, that reaches out and tries to grab the kid every time he wants to get out of bed.  But for me, the evil thing is in the eric, wielding a sword and shield and taunting me that I will fail, that I will lose.  That I will disappoint every fighter I know that has ever been proud of me, and that I can’t possibly be worthy enough of a fight…every single time single combat is brought up.

So yea, when that look of panic comes over me when you ask for a pick up fight after the melee fights…that’s what is going through my head.

And you thought sloppy stick mechanics was a big deal…HA!

The one of many great points Kelli brought up in our very soul searching discussion is this.  I have to get this out of my head and out in the open first and foremost.  Because keeping it inside has let it manifest itself to a point that it literally paralyzes me.   By blogging about it, I can get it out of my head and hopefully start dealing with it. By admitting what it is that is holding me back, I can Just Keep Going…forward, instead of hiding it deeper down until I just quit altogether.

I get that I can’t always be the Bad Ass Valkyrie, even in my own head, and I am sometimes the worst at taking my own advice.  After listening to me talk, Kelli looked at me and without missing a beat said “What would you tell someone else who came to you with this problem?”  I said, “I would tell them losing doesn’t matter and they should keep fighting, no matter what.  Because giving up will get them no where.  Trying, at the very least, gets them somewhere”.

Her reply…”Exactly”

Thus, I need to take my own advice some times and its not always the easiest thing to do.  Just like keeping yourself going is not always gonna be easy.

There is a part of me that doesn’t want to hit publish on this particular blog.  It is easier to talk about my weight loss, because I have already been through it, my fighting is something I am still learning, still working through and not something I have even the slightest bit of expertise in at all really, I just have my experiences.  I had wanted to talk to a couple of fighters I have great respect for before I posted this, but honestly, I know what I have to do.  I know how to fix it.  I just have to figure out how to get past the fear, and learn to ignore the giant evil clown and walk into the eric, over and over and over again until I can’t see him any more.

I’ve gotta just keep fighting!

I swear that whole #HardentheFuckUp thing rings so true right now…

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