Saturday, August 28, 2010

God I love this sport!

You may be getting tired of hearing my expound on and on about Roller Derby but too damn bad! Once you're hooked, you are really hooked. Just ask any derby girl, they'll tell you. It's like that Cheerios commercial where the woman says, "I'll keep playing until I break a hip and then probably a few more years"! Last night The 'Paign played the Damaging Dames. I'm not even sure what the final score was but I know we lost. Congrats to the Dames for a fine show!!! Special thanks to the Hot Tamale fans who came to watch: Mike, Mom, Bert, Hannah, Megan, Sue, Todd, Steve, Deb, Countrell, Kim, Amanda, Anna, Leslie, Sven, Johnell, Karrie, Lori & Lori's friend (sorry didn't catch her name). Bert made the awesome poster there in the picture and she & Mom tossed boxes of Hot Tamales to those in the stands. I understand that even some of the Dames fans took some so I guess that means they've been converted and are now 'Paigniacs?!
For those still not sure what roller derby is, imagine a hockey game, but replace the ice with a roller rink. Swap out the baggy jerseys for fishnet hose and tank tops, and abandon ordinary names in favor of pseudonyms like Melissious Intent, Towanda Steel and of course, the ever popular Hot Tamale! That's women's roller derby. The scoring is completely different, but both sports are rowdy, raucous and may sometimes even be punctuated with fights between the players. I must tell you that the Twin City Derby Girls work hard to stay above that sort of craziness that will get you ejected from a Bout. Unlike professional hockey players, the vast majority of roller derby participants are unpaid. Most actually spend money on the sport -- they purchase their own equipment and pay monthly dues to support their leagues. Teams usually practice several times a week, and injuries are common. So why pay money to work, compete and possibly get hurt? Why take the time to re-learn to skate? What makes it fun?
Since every league is the product of its skaters' efforts, no two are exactly the same. But a few traits are common across the board. Skaters tend to wear uniforms that give their team a distinct identity. They also adopt a persona for their competitions, complete with a derby name. The blood is real. This is not the fake, scripted roller derby of the 60’s and 70’s, every hit is real. Nothing is staged. We’re all in it to win. I love the idea of being on skates, and competing. I remember all the fun I had on roller skates as a kid. I love the technical aspects of it, the costumes, the roller derby names. I am fascinated by it all. It becomes all consuming. It’s a passion; it’s a lifestyle. It's like I found my calling. I like the aggressiveness. It's like football on skates, without a ball. I always wanted to play a contact sport. I love it. I like hitting and I like getting hit. It’s fun! Derby’s awesome! It’s got speed and full contact, and a lot of really strong, athletic women. You meet interesting people from all walks of life. They’re the coolest women. We’re all different, but we all come together to share a passion and a sport that we love. That said, I can tell you that there is not a skater in the league I wouldn't love to be a teammate with or any coach I wouldn't want to play for and we have the most awesome officials around.
But I must show my love for The 'Paign. They are my team and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them. I have the privilege of skating with these most fabulous women who accept me for exactly who I am-one bad ass derby bitch with blue & black hair! Love ya all!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My support system

Once cancer therapy has been completed, the next phase of cancer
survivorship is recovery. Ok, so I started earlier than that! Cancer treatment left me more physically drained than I ever thought possible. Sometimes I had trouble getting out of bed! It made me feel horrible; it was a huge psychological blow. A program of regular exercise is a great way to improve overall fitness and sense of well-being. Studies also suggest physical activity may be important for reducing the risk of recurrence (cancer coming back) and helping some cancer survivors live longer. But it can be hard to find the best exercise routine during and after cancer. I credit Roller Derby as the secret to my strong and continued recovery. The best way to make an exercise plan is decide what kind of activities appeal to you—after all, you have to like it, or you won’t stick with it. Cancer survivors can generally do any exercise that makes them feel better, but need to know their potential limitations. Whether it’s walking, biking, or roller derby, it’s important to get out and do something at least 2-3 times per week. I also recommend the buddy system. Get a friend, a spouse, or a co-worker to go with you because a buddy makes it easier. I have over 70 "buddies" -- they are the Twin City Derby Girls!
Sometimes survivors provide their own emotional support by taking care of health issues and doing things in their own way. Others build emotional support systems of only a few people but some utilize many family members, friends, co-workers and new friends they make after diagnosis. There so many individuals in my life who help me in different ways on my cancer journey. I use a combination of support because I am doing it my own way through roller derby, which gives me an entire league of awesome women who let me be "Hot Tamale" and always have my back. It's rough and tumble because there's no crying in derby! Strapping on those skates makes me a "warrior woman"! As my teammate Holy SteamRoller says, "Just putting on my skates means I win." Right on! I also have my support group, the Young Survival Coalition where we can talk about things such as being fearful about getting cancer again or worrying about finances and affordable health insurance or even questioning existing relationships. We can cry together but we can also laugh together. I have former co-workers and friends with whom I can enjoy a carefree lunch or a lively discussion about my future. Most importantly though, I have family who understand my vulnerabilities, allow me to (sometimes) wallow in self-pity but kick me in the ass when I need it. I need each and everyone of you to help me with this journey. Thanks for being here!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Burning down the house again!

I seem to have entered the land of strange dreams again! Last night I dreamed my sister was burning down our house. We were standing in her bedroom, which is where she was starting the fire. For some unknown reason, I didn't try to stop her or put the fire out. I just stood there watching it burn. To see a house in your dream, represents your own soul and self. Specific rooms in the house indicate a specific aspect of your psyche. To dream that you are in the bedroom, signifies aspects of yourself that you keep private. To see your sister in your dream, symbolizes some aspect of your relationship with her, whether it one of sibling rivalry, nurturance, protectiveness, etc. Your sister may draw attention to your family role. Or the dream may also serve to remind you that someone in your waking life has characteristics similar to your sister. Alternatively, your sister may be a metaphor for a nun. In this case, she may represent some spiritual issues.
Fire in your dream can symbolize destruction, passion, desire, illumination, purification, transformation, enlightenment, or anger. It may suggest that something old is passing and something new is entering into your life. Your thoughts and views are changing. In particular, if the fire is under control or contained in one area, then it is a metaphor of your own internal fire and inner transformation. The dream may be a metaphor for someone who is "fiery". It represents your drive, motivation, and creative energy. To dream that a house is on fire, indicates that you need to undergo some transformation. To see something burning in your dream, indicates that you are experiencing some intense emotions and/or passionate sexual feelings. There is some situation or issue that you can no longer avoid and ignore. Alternatively, it may suggest that you need to take time off for yourself and relax. Perhaps you are you feeling "burned out" or "burned up".
I did have a job interview today. It was for a management position with Road Ranger Travel Centers. I didn't think they'd be interested because I don't have any truck stop experience but it went amazingly well. We'll have to see if I get a follow-up interview. I've been thinking that maybe it's time to get out of the non-profit sector and into the for-profit sector. So does this dream mean that is about to happen? Is something old leaving my life allowing something new to enter? I forgot just what a job interview entails. For many people, job interviews rank right up there with dental work and taxes. They can be stressful, unpleasant and even mysterious, not great adjectives to describe an experience that is a crucial gateway between you and your career development. But all and all I didn't really stress over it. I figure that if they don't want me, it's their loss! It feels good to be back in the game again even if we are "burning down the house" trying to get there!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are "should haves" different from regrets?

I've said before that I do not want to live my life with regrets. But are the things I think should have done but didn't just a lesser degree of regret? Like the idea that I should have attended college in Oregon to study environmental issues but for whatever reason didn't? It's hard to regret that choice because then my life would have gone in a completely different direction and the world would've never had the pleasure of knowing Hannah Elizabeth Tunnell. What about "the one that got away"? If I had married him, where would I be now? But that's his loss, not mine. If he was too stupid to realize what he had, he didn't deserve me! Absolutely no regret there! But how do we live with no regrets?

1. Acknowledge a mistake has been made - It is easy to play the blame game, pointing fingers at someone else or cirmcumstances as to why I have stumbled or why my life sucks. Taking personal ownership of my past actions that resulted in bringing about my current reality has been the first step to moving past regrets and moving toward a brighter future. I can now say that the failure of my first marriage was not all my ex-husband's fault, I played a part in it too.

2. Make amends - If my past actions or words have harmed others, apologies may be in order. Or not, as apologies can be tricky. I have to judge for myself if an apology will help matters or only drudge up old wounds better left alone. But, I definitely have to forgive myself! Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, righting a wrong is not always feasible. There may be some past action that cannot be righted; so if there are, I must forgive myself, and let it go.
3. Do-overs - Sometimes feelings of regret arise not from our past actions, but from our non-actions. Do I regret not seeing Montana when we were in Sturgis in 2004? Sure, but while it may be too late to reverse that decision, I still have options. I can plan that trip to Montana, save money to pay for it and enjoy white water rafting when I get there.

4. Be grateful - The most valuable lessons learned in life often come from the mistakes we make. It may take a walk down a dark, scary alley to see clearly. So, I embrace my foolish actions, feel gratitude for making it out alive and eventually finding my way along a less-cluttered path.

5. Be careful not to repeat the same mistake - If I am repeatedly faced with similar difficulties over and over again, this is a sure bet that I have not learned the lessons these situations are trying to teach. Opportunity will surface once I take responsibility for faulty actions and change my current and future behaviors accordingly.

6. Be watchful of future knee-jerk reactions - This is probably the toughest step, not reacting negatively to situations or the people who tend to push your buttons. We don't always have control over the things life tosses in front of us, but we do control our reactions. I can tell you that I have been quite successful practicing this step. Don't sweat the small stuff!

7. Looking deeper inside - Birthdays make me thoughtful so I am re-evaluating the direction my life has taken. I have accepted that my past mistakes are just that --- in the past. I try to focus on today. But what are my future goals and desires? Setting clear intentions will help clear the path so that my life progresses with a freer heart and increased happiness. I have to believe that the best is yet to come!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Star and the Ace

Can I tell you how much I hate being unemployed? It makes me feel very useless and unmotivated. But apparently the Universe has been watching. Yesterday's tarot card was The Star card. Whenever all hope seems lost, the Star will reappear to prove that you have really lost nothing, except perhaps your sight of the path to enlightenment. And in the absence of that sight, the Star will light your way. Its light is not a blinding flash like the lightning bolt of the Tower, but a soft radiating glow that warms and comforts, rather than burning and destroying. You must remember that both of these energies ultimately come from the same place in the sky - from Heaven. After the light of the Tower destroys the false path you were following, the kinder and gentler light of the Star will lead you back to the right path. The Star is a card of faith, both in your own power, and in powers greater than your own. When the Tower sweeps away all the negativity in your life, you once again need something to fill the void, and faith is a good place to start. What exactly is faith? It could be said that faith is a conscious belief in an unconscious experience, of which we may not be directly aware, but of which we can still feel the effects. This definition fits both belief in a deity and belief in your own abilities. Having faith in any power will allow that power to manifest in your life. Beleiving that something will happen is as sure a way as any to make it happen.
There are few cards more positive than the Star, because when it appears in your life it is nothing less than a beacon of hope and inspiration. In times of darkness it shows that there is a way out, and tells you not to worry, for illumination and freedom are at hand. All you need is something in which to place your faith. So trust in yourself, and in whatever powers you believe control the universe, to help you through difficult times. Let the infinite energy of the Star warm you and rejuvenate your soul, to provide the strength and the clarity of purpose you need to continue on your journey. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the Star is never a card that shows the final solution to any problem. It simply shows the hope and faith to get to wherever you're going; without hope we can accomplish nothing, but hope is only a beginning. Now that you have been inspired, you still have much work to do in order to bring your vision into manifestation. You must combine the solidity of material existence with the waters of your emotions and of your spirit. This is a time when miracles can happen, so kick off your shoes and wade into the pool, confident that the water will support you until you reach the other side.
Then today's card was the Ace of Pentacles. The appearance of this card is usually the sign of a turn for the better in terms of fortune and wealth, and sometimes it can even indicate gifts of money, or inheritance from unexpected sources. This gift does not have to be money of course; any kind of gift that has value to both the giver and the receiver can be indicated by the Ace of Pentacles. The Ace also represents the fertile soil in which ideas can be planted to grow and mature. This will be a slow growth, as the Pentacles never move at a fast pace, but the success of the harvest is practically assured. The only caveat is that the Pentacles suit demands a realistic outlook. If you want to succeed, start now - it is not the time to dream and fantasize when there is work to be done! Forget flourish and dramatics, because hard work is the only thing that is going to produce results when the Ace of Pentacles is afoot. Keep your feet firmly planted in the Earth and let your common sense (and your intuition) guide you to success. Sounds like things are looking up!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Fool

Well, I made it to another birthday so life can't be all bad, can it? That is now my new milestone. Each birthday I celebrate is a triumph over cancer! Today's tarot card is The Fool. The Fool is an essential part of the Tarot because he is the spark that sets everything else into motion, the divine breath that gives life and inspires the first step towards fulfillment and completion. Though the first step down a long path may often seem small in comparison to the journey, that first step is vital because without it there would be no journey at all! The Fool is the cause behind all effects, the power behind all manifestations and the seeds of the end sown in every beginning. The Fool is unmoulded potential, pure and innocent, neither positive nor negative yet containing the possibility of both. He is the unconditioned soul about to come into manifestation for the first time to start learning the lessons of the world. Though everyone calls him a Fool, he does not pay them any attention, and he simply goes on his way. Certainly what they say can be justified, since his ignorance of the world can lead him to do things that more experienced people would never imagine. But in these things he can find knowledge and enlightenment. He does not care what others think or say about him, because he knows that what he is doing is right for him.
His approach to life is a strange, unconventional one, because he does what is comfortable to him. This is a viewpoint not often supported in our modern world, in which "do as I say" is the commandment most followed. To those who have lived their life under this philosophy, the approach of the Fool may be extravagant, shocking, even frightening. But this approach is all that the Fool knows, and because the only approval he requires is his own, he will continue to live this way, despite what all others think of him. He has total faith in himself. Perhaps he is not such a fool after all. The Fool does not hide himself from the light, because he is the light - the wonderful light that shines out of every child before they see the world and are forced to build so many walls and barriers to protect themselves. The innocence of a child, sadly, is something rarely found outside of children, even though a lot of people could use it these days. With this innocence comes perfect trust, fearlessness in others, and total self-reliance. It allows you to see the world with new eyes and learn new things every day of your life. Think of how much better the world would be if everybody acted this way! It's a shame that only children, and the Fool, see this light.
The Fool almost always stands for new beginnings, new experiences and new choices; the first steps along a new path and the first words written onto a blank page. The Fool himself - neither positive nor negative, has the potential to turn into either, depending on the choices you make and the path you follow. But this must not be your concern, because when a journey begins no one can know (or should know) what will happen on the way to the destination. Never let another person control your life. Live in the present and trust in your own abilities - this is the way of the Fool. With any new experience there is always the risk of failure and the certainty of change; it is the degree of change, and how that change will appear, that are undeterminable. But the Fool has no qualms about taking chances, so why should you? It is through the first steps that we learn how to walk, and it is through changes that we learn how to live our lives in harmony and peace. So jump head first into the abyss of the unknown, and know that even if you eventually fall to the ground, for a while you will soar.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unemployment or Cancer, which is worse?

I still don't know how to be unemployed! This is an extremely unsettling and uncomfortable time for me. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a sleepwalking-like state of shock", still not fully aware of this new state of existence, but at least I have not fallen into a deep depression, unable to get out of bed, which I hear is can sometimes happen when faced with unemployment. A constant sea of thoughts races through my mind and I just keep asking myself over and over, “What in the world do I do now?” I think my pal, Tess, nailed it she said I"m dealing the loss of my identity. After all, I've been in the domestic violence field for almost 25 years. Yes, it has been a big part of my identity. When we become unemployed, we lose the security that we normally take for granted. Having a job gives us a sense of belonging, a place to go, something to be a part of, and meaning in our lives, as well as providing means to live. In our culture, personal identity and employment are tightly coupled. More often than not, the first question you get asked at a party is “What do you do?”. In the absence of a job, that question produces stutters, mumbles and embarrassment. I'm definitely feeling useless, unwanted and adrift!
When I learned I had cancer, I knew that the tumor could be cut out. It was a tangible thing. I could "learn" how to deal with cancer and fight death. I'm not sure how to "find" myself. I feel hollow. There's a shell here, for the outside world to see. Everyone sees the shell, and they talk to it and they act like it's me, but I no longer feel like me. It's just a cover, a mask. My carefully honed defense mechanism that I have tweaked over the years. My antennae is razor-sharp, reading the signals, ready to react, ready to duck for cover if needed. Yet inside, nothing. A great big, empty, gaping, hollow space. A chasm if you will; a vortex, a bottomless pit. And if I look too closely at the vortex, I will spin out of control until I separate into a million little pieces, mixing invisibly with the matter of the universe. So I cling to the side and I don't look. I know where my real self is. She's off there, to the left and a little in front of me. But I can't reach her.
One of the things experts suggest is to figure out if you can (and should) reinvent yourself. Writer Robert Brault says, "Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be". I like that! Maybe it's time to let the "old" Tami go and spin-off in a new direction?!