Rid the Bad Ju-Ju
Whether it is on a professional level or a personal one, I believe women tend to get caught up in comparisons with other women. I would like to say I’ve never been a part of it, but every single one of us has experienced some emotional trauma at the hand of another woman. Some of us have even caused it. We are nurturers and caregivers and yet, we regress to our high school mean girl selves as though survival of the fittest was at stake.
I don’t know why it happens, but oddly, the larger the gathering of women, the larger the emotional commotion. Thus, I have largely avoided the company of women for the greater part of my forty years. I chose a career in a predominately man’s world, and I have avoided all manner of social gatherings where women outnumber men.
Then I joined Roller Derby.
I don’t know what is conjured up in your mind when someone says roller derby. Perhaps it is a multitude of images ranging from hardened biker babes in cut-off tee’s and fishnets skating fast and throwing elbows, to ample-breasted beauties climbing over bodies glistening with sweat in order to come up with the win. Either way, you’re sort of right. What you can’t possibly know (until you join, wink-wink) is the warmth that comes from being embraced (read: knocked on your ass) by this many women at once.
We all know the skill and finesse required to break in to an existing group of women. Being the new girl in a sea of veteran derby girls is no different. In fact, it’s frightening. Not because the women themselves are scary, but because the insecurity level skyrockets. Even for those of us with fairly solid self-esteem and self-confidence, entering a new world where four-wheeled, high-speed, physical contact is required is the equivalent of sitting at the lunch table all alone. As such, there is no shortage of emotional disturbance.
When our insecurities get the best of us, the drama ensues. Here is where we are faced with a choice. Either we will choose to allow our negative thoughts to consume and control us in a way that separates us from living joyfully in the company of other women, or we can choose to affect one another positively and spurn the clichéd cruelty brought about by women for women.
Recently, I was overwhelmed by the way this beautiful group of women that I now have the extreme honor of being a part of, handled a situation where ‘bad ju-ju’ threatened their strong community.
They had a party. A party called Rid the Bad Ju-Ju. We played games, and we sang songs, and we had smores. No, that was summer camp. In truth, we did most of those things, only with a little more alcohol. (*Ahem*) All of this in an effort to reclaim our oneness, our sisterhood. And by damn, it worked.
During the evening’s festivities, I found myself quietly watching and listening. I do this more often than not, because I think you can learn so much by doing so. After several team-building type activities, we sat around that campfire, and we threw our “grumps” in the fire, and we freed ourselves of the negative energy that had crept in to our camp.
In the afternoon previous to the party, I had spent considerable time preparing sincere derby-related compliments for each one of my derby sisters. I downloaded KOM’s Compliment Poster, and had written Derby above the word compliment. (see photo) I took the posters with me in case the moment presented itself in a way wherein I might feel comfortable sharing them.
When it did, I stood with trembling voice and suggested that on the back of our decision to release negative energy, we should now replace it with positive. I explained how I came to the Kind Over Matter site one day by sheer serendipity, and how it had forever changed my life. I explained how Amanda was ever so simply sharing kindness and love with the world and how I've been privileged enough to be a part of it. (I admit I was a little fearful of how I may sound to this group of tough-as-nails women).
I passed around several posters and instructed the girls to take only what they needed. They all clamored to get their hands on the tear-always. Each of them tore a compliment from the sheet with such eagerness that any fear I had about how this love and kindness speech was going to go, blew away like the ashes of our grumps in the wind.
Later in the evening, I was approached by several of my sisters who showed me the compliment they had taken for themselves. Amazed and more than humbled, I realized they had torn away their OWN compliment. The one I had written with them specifically in mind. What an incredibly powerful moment it was! In that moment, they hadn’t let insecurities settle in, they weren’t comparing themselves to anyone else, and they were basking in the positive energy they had created for themselves. As simply as that, they were able to see the compliment they wanted and deserved in an instant.
Derby girls or not, we each know what we need. Why are we waiting for someone else to give it to us? If we choose to affect others, and allow ourselves to be affected in a positive manner, it will surely radiate. I testify of the importance of kindness starting from within.
Photo Credit: Jason Santii
|For the love of all things Derby, Laura Summers straps on protective gear and quad-skates every Thursday and pushes her body to do stuff it's never done before. She learns more about herself and the world every week in the company of the beautiful Red Rockettes. Sometimes she even writes about it. |