Monday, December 30, 2013

2014: Chapter 1

I think New Year's resolutions are kind of dumb. Honestly, we shouldn't need a calendar change to do something that makes our lives better. But I don't think it can be argued that 2013 was a fairly shitty year for me. There were some wonderful highlights, but I'm not too sad to be seeing this year in my rear view mirror.

So, I'm making some goals for myself as we start 2014. We can call them resolutions, because I guess that is what they are. But what I really want them to be are things that I can be proud of one year from now. So, with that...

Pass my Derby minimums: I'm going to do it. Before the end of 2014. I'm going to go to every practice, accept every invitation to skate, and have wheels under me as often as I can. I'm going to work my ass off. And I am going to power through and overcome the fear that is making me hesitate. No more of that. It's time to put the fear behind me.

Read: I want to read real, honest-to-god literature. I want to hear the spine of a beautifully bound book crack as I open it. I want to smell the printing and dog-ear the pages. I want to check off titles from my growing list of suggestions. I'm going to resolve to read every day. I don't think this one will be too difficult for me. I just have to allow myself the time.

Move my bedroom downstairs: I'm going to create a great space downstairs in the rarely used basement of my split level house. I'm going to put up a wall in the hall to convert a larger bedroom, a tiny bedroom and a bathroom into a master suite. I'm going to buid an amazing walk-in closet, with a pink chandelier. I'm going to have a reading nook with a cozy chair and a place to put a cup of tea. I'm going to make myself a little retreat. Everyone needs a little retreat.

Work out 5 days a week: This really shouldn't be too hard if I get off my butt and do it. Two times are no-brainers--Derby practice Wednesday and Saturday. Two more times should be easy to accomplish--hit the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays while Kidlet is at karate. One time of climbing onto my stationary bike each week, then done and done. Of course, I want to be in better shape. Of course, I want to be fit. But the reason I need to do this is to make me a better skater. See also: Passing Minimiums  

Accept Kidlet's invitations: I need to go play video games with him. I need to break out a board game when he says there is nothing to do. When he wants to snuggle, I need to open my arms, even if that means I have to stop doing whatever I was doing. What the hell am I ever doing that can't be delayed for 20 minutes? There will be a day in the near future when he won't want to watch a movie with me. So I can't waste those opportunities now.

Eat better: This one goes hand-in-hand with the exercise and derby goals. I need to do a better job of fueling my body. I am going to make an effort to add all sorts of colors to my plate. I'm going to figure out the way I like brussel sprouts. I'm going to have heathy, but yummy snacks that are always on hand. I'm going to figure out the best way to power up before skating and to refuel after. Life is too short to skip dessert. But I'll try to mix in some cucumber salad first.

Visit someplace new: Like the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, my family loves to go back to the places they love. And I love going there with them. But this year--and every year, really--I am going to find a way to explore someplace new. I might take a road trip this year. Maybe I'll find a cheap flight to... wherever. I've got a list of places I want to see.

As an aside--I'm a list maker. Just in case you haven't figured that out.

Sleep: Again and again, I am reading that getting enough sleep is the best thing you can do for your overall health. I am going to commit it a firm (but sometimes negotiable) bedtime that allows me 8 hours of sleep. I think that is my magic number. I know it helps with my fatigue if I have a good night's sleep. But I am learning that enough sleep is vital to overall health. This seems like a fairly easy way to give myself a boost into awesomeness. 

Share special things with Kidlet: I'm going to make sure I teach him my favorite games, show him my favorite movies, and give him my favorite books. I already got him to watch Die Hard with me, as it is my favorite Christmas move. That made for a really special memory. For both of us.

Hydrate: This might be the most challenging one... No more Diet Coke. I love my DC. But, it is really not good for me. I need to drink more plain old ordinary water. I need to have a water bottle with me a all times. I need to be sipping on it all day. I need to learn to take my coffee black, and my tea unsweetened. Yeah. Wish me luck.

Acknowledge the Glad: Even in the shitty times, there are occasional moments of feeling glad. I'm not sure happiness is attainable, at least for me. But I do know that I can feel glad. I can feel that spark that makes me smile and feel gratitude for that. I am going to make sure I take a breath and appreciate that moment of glad. I am going to write them down on a notepad. I am going to revisit those moments when I need a little shot of gladness. I think I'll use my phone. I need an app for that.

So there it is. My list of New Year's Resolutions. I'll keep you all posted on how I'm doing. And feel free to check in once in a while and give me a little nudge. Everyone can use a little nudge every now and then. 

Happy New Year! Here's to a great 2014.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Down and Derby

I have a big deadline at work that has forced me to neglect my blog for a few day. But I wanted to make time to share a couple quick things:

The lovely Jane Accostin' asked me a few weeks ago if she could use my blog stories as part of a presentation she was doing for work. She sent me the link to the talk she gave. It was a really interesting analysis of how we can take lessons from Derby and apply them in different places in our lives. Here is the video link. It is most certainly worth 20 minutes of your time.

And, I got my Derby headshot taken. Then I got it retaken. I finally found a picture of myself that I like.

Things around here are about to get crazy. I'll try to check in with you all before the holiday madness gets upgraded from Tropical Storm St. Nick to a full on hurricane. But, in case I don't, have a wonderful holiday.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All Apologies

My boss asked me this a few days ago: “Are you a Canadian?”

He asked me that because I apologize a lot. Too much. All the time. 

Canadian graffiti 
I apologize when someone bumps into me. I apologize if I get sick. I apologize when I ask to use vacation time. I apologize when I am right and someone else is wrong.

Over-apologizing is a manifestation of guilt. And I certainly suffer from guilt. When I am at work, I feel bad about not being able to be on mom duty. When I am getting an MRI, I feel guilty about missing work. When I can't make it to a school play, I feel guilty. When I do make it to the play, I feel guilty.

So, I apologize.
Last Saturday night, the Derby girls were having their end-of-year party. It was a costume party with a superhero theme. I've always been more partial to the super villains. They are just more interesting. So I put together an awesome, sexy Darth Vader costume.

I spent an hour getting ready. As I did, the snow started to fall. And it continued to fall. And it dropped about 3 more inches. And then froze to the road. I tried to drive to the party. My poor little car was sliding all over the road. And my poor little eyes couldn't see anything through the combination of wet roads and storm darkness. So I missed the party and stayed safely home.

Then I promptly posted an apology to Facebook. I said I was sorry that I was missing the party and unable to deliver the plates and napkins I had promised. What I should have posted is: It's too dangerous for me to drive. I'm staying safely at home. I hope you all drive carefully. But that isn't what I wrote.

Once, when I was skating with a group of Fresh Meat skaters, my toe stop came off, tripping me. I took down three other skaters on my fall to the floor, including Biz, the Fresh Meat Mama.

"Sorry, sorry. I'm so sorry," I said as I scrambled to retrieve my toe stop before it rolled into another skater's wheels.

"There's no sorry in Derby," said Biz. "Just don't be an asshole and you will never need to apologize."


People have taken notice that I apologize too much. That hurts me both socially and professionally. But, there is a much more important reason that I need to break this habit. My son is inheriting my apology disease. Kidlet is apologizing too much. And I don't want him saddled with this burden.

I will talk to him tonight. proposing that we work together to break this bad habit that we both have. Here is what I plan to tell him.

We need to stop mindlessly apologizing. It makes sincere apologies hollow and meaningless. We need to stop saying sorry. When we need to apologize, we need to say I'm sorry.

We should not apologize as a form of politeness. We should instead say what we actually feel: That is so sad. We should say what we actually need: I need to interrupt you to tell you that I need that immediately. We should acknowledge what actually happened: Oh, you startled me. I didn't see you there.

When someone does something considerate, we should say thank you instead of sorry. Thank you for helping me with that. Not Sorry you had to do that for me.

We need to protect the integrity of a true apology. There is no point to constantly saying sorry. When something isn't your fault, don't apologize. When it is your fault, fix it. It really should be as simple as that. 

Kidlet and I need to help each other by pointing out our habitual sorry statements when they occur. We should become aware of when we mindlessly toss out a sorry. When a true apology is necessary, we both need to work on saying I'm sorry. Once.

I am going to do my best to not have to apologize. I will try to stop mindlessly saying sorry. And when I do apologize, I will do it with deliberate thoughts and feelings. And I hope--with all my heart--that my son can do that too.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Game Plan

I think no one will be surprised to learn that I am struggling with skating right now. I am frustrated. I don't feel like I am improving. I'm not finding a lot of time for additional skating.

So there are several things I am going to do to help me move forward with my skating.

1) I'm going to put learning skating techniques on a hiatus while I work on stamina and endurance. I am going to skate lap after lap until I want to pass out, then I am going to skate two more laps. I'm going to do this for three months-ish. After that, there should be another Fresh Meat class, which I will join armed with the ability to skate for the entire hour.

I think, at the very root of the issue, my lack of endurance is inhibiting my ability to learn techniques. I get so tired out after two or three attempts at something that I have yet to master. This prevents me from trying something, falling, trying, botching it, trying, and trying, and trying until I get it.

Sara thinks--and she is my skating Yoda, so I have to listen to her--if I can build up my endurance, I will find myself naturally doing some of the things that have me stymied. Somewhere around lap 22, I might just find myself crossing over. 

2) I'm going to eat better and drink more water. Last night, I ordered a burrito for dinner after a super strenuous workout (see below). As I stood in line, it occurred to me that if I ordered my "regular," I would be undoing much of the work I just did. So I got chicken instead of steak. I got extra black beans and no rice. I skipped the sour cream and got the guacamole. And, you know what? It was good. And it was really easy to switch things around to make a meal that was better fuel for my body.

I am making sure I don't skip breakfast. I am trying to always have water near me to sip. I've cut out the Diet Coke. Yeah, that's the hardest one. I miss my DC. And to add insult to DC injury, there is a soda fountain at work about 50 feet from where I sit.

I am not dieting. I am just trying to fuel my body to help my energy and endurance. Which will help me accomplish goal 1.

3) I'm going to cross train. Now that winter is here, my skating time will be even more limited. I can't let that interfere with my level of activity.

I have vowed to myself that I would work out at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Two of those workouts will be skating. I have two options for the other workouts. One is the stationary bike in my basement. The plus side of that is I can watch 80s sitcoms while sweating, never having left the house.

But the other option is pretty damn fun. Doctor Sister and Sister Therapist joined a boxing gym. And they convinced me to try it out. And I loved it. Not only is it a killer workout, it's a lot of fun. It works muscles in my body that I never knew were there. And it's a place where I am making some new friends, learning how to wrap my wrists, and showing of my scuffed up knuckles.

Aside--When you are at a boxing class, and you drop to your knees to do a plank or burpee, it's good to remember that, unlike Derby, you are not wearing kneepads. Ouch.

Let's be real. I can vow to myself until my face turns blue. But I'm not accountable to anyone but Me. And Me can be kind of a flake when it comes to getting off my butt after a long day. I found the motivation that works for me. Money.

And there is an app for that. GymPact is an app for a social network where you decide how many workouts you are committing to for the week. Then you put your money where your virtual mouth is. Miss a workout that you pledged to do, and you get charged however much you set as your fine when making the pledge. This is real, live money we are talking about. Fulfill your pledge, and you earn the money of the people that didn't fulfill their pledge. It's pretty darn cool.

Is there anything my iPhone can't do? Oh yeah. It can't do crossovers. My iPhone might be my soulmate.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Going in Circles

I'm having a bad week. Not really a week, but at least I'm having a bad last couple days.

Skating on Saturday was difficult on several levels. I missed the team practice due to the birthday party of my favorite 6-year-old. I went to the Derby Depot after the cupcakes, but there were only a couple of us rookies there. And I was exhausted, quickly running out of gas.

I'm frustrated. I feel like I am not improving. At least not fast enough to be satisfied with myself. I think my biggest roadblock is my endurance. I get so tired that I cannot practice a drill until I successfully master it. I feel a bit... defeated.

It seems like there are forces at work that stand in the way of my success. Here is a prime example: I had my afternoon and evening planned yesterday. It began with loading some boxes in the car, installing a new light in my hall, going to work out at the gym, then heading to the Depot to help out with our fundraiser.

None of that happened. As I was loading my car, I somehow hit my head with the door. More specifically, I hit my glasses, which did not break (though it would have been better if they had). The glasses hit my nose and left eye. The pain was intense. Tears instantly spring to my eyes and I dropped to my knees. So now not only does my face look like I went 5 rounds in a title fight, my knee is good and skinned.

Aside--That settles it. I'm getting sports glasses before I ever scrimmage with the team. Luckily, I have some time to save up.

Another aside--Who wears the shiner better? Me or Luke up there? Feel free to let me know.

So, instead of going to work out, I sat on my couch with a bag of frozen peas over half my face and shoving a giant burrito into the other half of it. I topped it of with 3 mini ice cream cones. That is all kind of the opposite of going to the gym.

I'm frustrated. I'm sore. I'm mad at myself for my failing willpower. I am a little worried because I can't quite understand how I hit my face with the car door. And my back is that weird, kind-of-awful-but-not-quite-painful burning sensation.

But, I've got to pick myself up. I need to reset and move forward. Today is a new day. Today I will brave a snowstorm to go to the gym. I will wear my skates around the house, just to feel their wheels under me. I will have a healthy-ish dinner. And I will eat one of the holiday cookies a co-worker has brought in. And I will savor and enjoy it. And I might go back for seconds. Because it is the holidays and Carpe Diem! (Which is old-school YOLO for people who have read more than three books.)

I understand why we need holidays like Thanksgiving. I won't speak for all of us, but I know that sometimes I forget to be thankful. There are many things I am thankful for. My inside-the-house family. My outside-the-house family. My relatively good health. My doctors that are keeping it that way. My shared-parents sisters. My nose-piercing sister. My derby sisters. My son, who tells me that he loves to hear me laugh. And my son for making me laugh.

After all of it, I realize that I am incredibly lucky. And I am beginning to suspect that things may actually happen for a reason. I guess time will tell... For now, I will embrace the random and scale the roadblocks.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rockin' and Rollin'

This week is Thanksgivukkah. These two holidays will never collide again, at least not in our lifetime. I had a couple other once-in-a-lifetime things happened last week*:

Sara (the one who made me try out for derby) and I got pierced to celebrate her birthday. OK, I've been pierced before. OK, many times. But this was the first time I went with a friend to celebrate a milestone. These are mile-marker nose studs.

League pictures were take up at the State Capitol building in the bitter cold (which was still warmer than the Derby Depot.) I really, really, really hope they turn out well. Because I organized the shoot. I wanted to find a location other than the Depot. The Capitol building offered many cool staging areas. Steps, columns, and statues were all incorporated into the shoot. The pictures should be great with all of those fabulous women starring in them.

Then there was this. I was was asked to appear on an internet radio talk show. Host Tim Manson asked me about my MS diagnosis and how it took me to roller derby. I was so nervous! But it was fun, and I think it turned out well.

I'm in the second segment, if you want to take a listen. Let me know what you think. Unless, of course, you think I sound like a dork. Then just lie and tell me it was great.

I was also interviewed for an article published on  Bodybuilder and fellow MS-er David Lyons writes a column for them called MS Fitness Challenge: Overcoming MS challenges on the road to fitness. And last week, he wrote about me.

Don't be all jealous about how hot I look in that picture. I just can't help myself.

One more interesting thing happened. I was at the gym (by itself a rare occurrence, I know), and the man on the treadmill next to me asked what I was listening to on my iPod Shuffle. We started talking about our workout playlists. And I thought I would share a couple of my go-to lady jams.

Aside--I'm sorry, what? You haven't seen Pitch Perfect? Stop reading this now and go watch it.

Oh, you're back. Wasn't that acca-awesome?

Anyway, here are a few highlights from my workout playlist, which is cleverly titled Workout. What can I say? I'm a wordsmith. A poet.

The song with the top number of plays is Know How by Young MC. I have loved this song since I was in college working at a record store. Remember when there were record stores? Remember when there were records? This song brilliantly uses a sample of the Shaft theme, creating a great beat. But it has super bonus points: it was used in the movie Whip It.

Next on the list is AC/DC's Thunderstruck. This is the ultimate crank-it-up, skate-your-jam tune. I believe that there is a law in 27 states making it illegal to listen to it below a volume of 11.

And now there are three movies you have to watch this weekend. This Is Spinal Tap is the Best. Musical. Ever.

I bring a little Girl Power into the mix, of course. Raise Your Glass by P!nk will have you singing out loud, which will annoy the other gym patrons. But you won't give a shit. If my little nieces grow up to be like P!nk--strong, tough, talented, fun--my work will be done.

I am not usually a big fan of song covers. But there are a couple of songs that, when covered, make you forget all about the original version. Among those are Ring of Fire by Social Distortion and Hurt by Johnny Cash. But when you take a song made famous by the royalty of rock and make it your own, it is going to be epic. Karen O and Trent Reznor took the Immigrant Song away from Led Zeppelin. You may have heard it during the opening credits of the American version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (You don't need to see that one, but check out the Swedish original.) Put this song on your MP3 player. It will make you kick it up a notch.

And there is one song that has been released this year that I can listen to over and over. If you haven't heard Harlem by New Politics, download it, plug it into your car's stereo system, and crank up the volume. It will make you happy, I guarantee.*

Happy Thanksgivukkah everyone! Have a safe and happy holiday.

* Well, maybe they will happen more than once in my life, but these were the first times they happened.
** Happiness is not guaranteed. But I'm willing to bet you are smiling.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Labels Are for Cans

So… this happened today. I was asked to be a guest on an internet radio talk show called Life’s Journey with Tim Manson on It was a really fun experience. I talked about the way my MS took me to Roller Derby. I don’t think I sounded too idiotic. But I will never know because I can’t stand listening to recordings of my own voice.

It’s never nice to point out a flaw that cannot be fixed. Only tell a woman that there is a run in her stockings if she is at home and can change them. If she is nowhere that she can fix the problem, don’t mention the problem. Remember that advice as I give you this:

You can only listen if you promise you won’t tell me if I sounded like a total dork.

Something occurred to me as I was having this interview. I wear a lot of labels. I’m not talking about fashion designer labels. My very favorite shoes are a $30 pair of Chuck Taylors.

Listening to Tim introducing my segment, I thought about all the different roles I have in my life. The most important are mother, daughter, and sister. A very close second is friend. Coming in for a solid third place is writer (a subset of which should probably be blogger). We should probably throw nerd into the label list.

But there are a couple new labels I am wearing as of the last few months. The first being patient. I had an MRI yesterday that made me feel like such a patient. This wasn’t my first time getting an MRI. It wasn’t even my fifth time. I am coming up quickly on 10. Ten times I have been slid into that tube armed with only earplugs and a meditation mantra. And in all those times, no one thought to scan my brain stem and neck. So, once more unto the breach, dear friends.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that the MRI room was being renovated. Not to worry. They have a mobile MRI unit in the truck in the parking lot. You read that right. I had to walk in my hospital gown and non-slip socks through the halls of the hospital and out a side entrance, where I then had to climb the painfully sharp metal stairs.

The actual MRI experience was pretty close to the ones on terra firma. Maybe a tad more… bouncy? But afterwards, as I stood there while my not-so-speedy tech was doing something that apparently needed to happen with me standing there, the door opens. Nice view of the cars coming and going about their health care business. I’m sure they had a nice view of me. The tech that opened the door was waiting for his turn to scan some other patient. It was cold, and a little bit mortifying.

So I tugged my hospital johnny and looked at Tech 2. “It’s cold,” I said. He agreed. “Close the door,” I said.

The apology came quickly with the door closure soon after. But it made me feel like a patient. Tech 2 had seen this scene hundreds of times. I was just one of many patients to him. I am starting to hate that particular label.

I’ve also been recently labeled as a skater. I love that label. But sometimes, in moments of frustration, I feel like a poser. I feel like I haven’t earned that label yet. Yes, I own skates. Yes, I can cross a room with wheels on my feet. Does that make me a skater? I’ve got to be a skater if I want to be a Derby Girl. And I so want to be a Derby Girl, but calling myself a DG does not make me a DG.

Am I a DG? Maybe? One in her infancy? One with all the desire to grow up and be a full-fledged Derby Queen? In fact, let’s go with this label: Baby Derby Princess.

Uh... I'm gonna need that shirt...

Here is one more label that I am wearing since the diagnosis. Ambassador. I am Ambassador Derby Princess and Ambassador MS Chick. I am strangely comfortable in this label. As my friends are finding out, I will try to convince you to try derby with religious zeal. I will talk your ear off about how much fun it is. I will explain the subtle nuance of the game that I am just starting to understand.

As Ambassador MS Chick, I will tell you to make sure that you are getting your Vitamin D. I will encourage you to make sure your kids take a daily multivitamin. I can tell you all about my symptoms and reassure you that you are most likely OK.

I can show you that I am OK. Better than that, I’m great. Mostly.

Friday, November 15, 2013

There’s No “I” in Quit

Oh, wait… I guess there is... But you get the point.

Stephen King is an amazing writer. I am in awe of his talent. I am drawn to his stories. One reason I love reading King's scary tales is because the characters in them are (usually) worse off than me. I never get stalked by killer clowns, and I have yet to see an actual ghost. It isn’t schadenfreude. I’m not secretly pleased that Danny Torrence sees hedge animals trying to kill him. But I am glad that I don’t have THAT problem. 

But here is the thing about Stephen King characters. They hardly ever give up. For better or worse, they continue the journey all the way through to the epilogue.

I am not very good about handling things when they get hard. There is a secret corner in the back of my mind that is constantly whispering to me, telling me to quit when things get difficult or if I’m not immediately good at something.

A couple things happened yesterday to help me quiet those voices. At least for now.

Aside—Seriously, MS leaves holes all over my brain, but it can't take out the self-doubt chunk? Thanks a lot, MS.

The first thing that happened was that I had a good skate. It has been a few weeks since I was out really working on a rink. Life had just gotten in the way. But I got out there and could feel that I was improving. I was actually told I was improving, so that helps too.

The other thing that happened was that I figured out some of the things that I really want in my life. And I think I started to figure out how to go about getting them. As hard as it will be, I want them badly enough to power through. Things have seriously changed for me in the last couple months. I was turned ass over teakettle. Up was down. Right was… not so right. And it has been hard. Very, very hard. Which must mean it’s worth it.

I think for people like me—over-thinkers, over-planners, over-sensitive—that life supposed to be hard. Maybe for people who are like me and can never quiet the thoughts bouncing around, there has to be some obstacles thrown up in order to slow us down. So we can catch our breath. So we can regroup.

I may look like I’ve got my shit together. But, deep down, I’m terrified. I am scared. I’m scared to fall. One thing that I finally figured out this week is that this fear is holding me down, keeping me from succeeding. When all I can think about is falling, I will fall. If I am afraid of getting hurt, I make myself much more vulnerable to pain.

Things in my life are difficult. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. All it means is that I have to work harder to get what you want.  It also means that success will not look like what I thought it should.

Forget the risks. Take the fall. You will be stronger for getting up again. It’s not going to be easy for me. But it is going to be worth it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seeing Scars

Tyler Durden said, “ Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.” Who is Tyler Durden, you ask? I would tell you but the first rule of Fight Club is…  Oh, wait. I might have given too much away already.

I am battling pain on several fronts right now.

My heart hurts. It sucks when you know that you need to let go. You have to stop waiting for the impossible to happen. But it doesn’t make it hurt less. Is better to keep silent than to tell someone what you feel? Because it hurts badly when that someone hears you but does not understand you. And even though I saw this pain coming, it still hurts.

But a hurting heart has brought me clarity on certain things. I can’t afford to wait for happiness, contentment, and peace. No one can. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. But I know what tomorrow will NOT bring me: a complete brain, regrown myelin, a drug-free life.

My time is now. I think, more than most, I am hyper-aware that my clock is ticking. Time we waste wishing for things to happen is time we can never get back. I don’t have time to waste. I’ve got to figure out how to get what I want. Right now.

My brain hurts. Well, not really. Brains don’t feel pain. Or so they say. I think brains do hurt. Thoughts can hurt, especially when they will not allow your brain to be still. Anxiety and stress can hurt. When your brain is not at peace, you do not sleep. You cannot be still. You cannot be focused. And that hurts.

I think the worst feeling in the world is knowing that you did your very best, but your best wasn’t good enough. That is when my brain hurts.

My body hurts. My back is really bothering me. I filled a prescription for a cream that I put along the back of my shoulders and neck. It smells vaguely like BenGay and feels weirdly cold. My hand hurts. Because the pain in my hand stems not from my joints or tendons but from my nervous system, it can’t be managed by Advil. MS hurts. This disease is--quite literally--all in my head. OK, technically it is in my spine too.

Derby hurts. And it is so, so worth it. My legs are so sore, I can barely make it up stairs. My arms are aching due to push-ups and planks. My ankles were screaming at me that they can’t do another lap, then thanking me after that lap is completed. Up for one more lap, body?

I know pain brings strength. And I know that the absolute best thing I can do for myself is get strong. Pain also brings clarity. It makes you recognize that certain things are worth the sacrifice. Like me. I am worth the sacrifice.

We started with Tyler Durden. Let’s end with Finnick Odair. Who is that? I would tell you but the first rule of the Hunger Games… wait, no. There are no rules in the Hunger Games. Maybe that is better. No rules means no rules ever get broken.

“It takes 10 times longer to put yourself together as it does to fall apart.” Finnick tells Katniss.

I think that the goal is to get yourself to a place where the time it takes to fall apart gets longer and longer. Maybe someday, I’ll get there.