It’s been about a week since Cactus Cup wrapped up and I’m just getting the time to sit down and have any sort of freedom to write, clean my house or do anything remotely related to self-care. It seems like I hit the ground after these tournaments without a second to breathe or catch up and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong or how to improve on that, because honestly, it’s burning me to the ground.

This is what a derby migraine looks like

Regardless, let’s talk about Cactus Cup.

I chose this tournament, again, because I trusted the leadership. That’s the underlying theme for my tournament choices so far this year. I have selected tournaments that where I know the leadership and trust them to push me just enough to improve without setting me up for failure. So when I was asked to pencil the dates in for this and another Phoenix event in last fall, I did. In addition to leadership, the host league, AZRD, went out of their way to prove they wanted to host us in the best way possible. We were given a group housing stipend, food throughout the day, we were consistently checked on. The event was two days long with games starting late enough on Saturday and ending early enough Sunday to accommodate driving to and from the event with little time off work. They repeated and added to all of these efforts for Cactus Cup. It really goes further than leagues know when they do this for us. We put out significant portions of cash and time to get to derby, because we love it, and we love to be appreciated for the effort in return.

Look at all the goodies

I worked a lot of higher level games and was pushed outside my comfort zone by more than a little. I’m not often offered (nor do I take) roles on the inside of the track at tournaments. I was offered the Head Ref position for two games, Inside Pack Ref for another two and got to be all comfy cozy as an OPR for another. The THR staffed really great mentors in the opposite IPR positions with me and I felt like I learned more than a fair share. I need to get over this idea that I don’t know what I’m doing. I HR a lot at home, all last year, it’s what I did more consistently than not. I’m letting the words and actions of a former abusive co-worker undermine my confidence in what I know. I can hear the phrases run through my head every time a question arises and I end up letting someone else talk over me. I can work on that between now and my next opportunity. It’s time to put that past behind me.

We stayed in a huge, if odd, house with a good, if cold, pool. I love staying with people when there’s enough room to spread out. Each morning, insomnia knocked me out of bed earlier than just about everyone else, but there was another official who seemed to keep a similar schedule and being able to hang out and whisper about life over coffee in the kitchen made each day a little bit more relaxed and special. The bonds we share as crews are so important and the ability to spend time together outside our games is something I can’t stress enough when you’re starting out. Make connections with the humans of derby. Derby wont’ always be around; those people will.

Monday my flight didn’t leave until late afternoon and I had the pleasure of visiting the Phoenix Gardens with a new friend from Australia. I love desert plant life. It just seems so improbable that things can survive the 120 degree Phoenix heat and yet the abundance of plants and animals doing just that was everywhere. It was also one of the only times I’ve purposely done something touristy at a tournament. That was a huge goal for me this year and I didn’t get to do it at Clover Cup. I think I’ll get to do something before Big O though, fingers crossed.

Takeaway, before I get started today on some Big O thoughts; I spent way more time with friends, was pushed and allowed myself room to grow, and felt more included, relaxed and welcome (like I did at Clover Cup) than I did at things last year. I think the thing that’s changed is me. I think I’m finally moving past what the abusive humans in my life said and did to me for the first years of my reffing career and learning to embrace that if I trust these people around me, if I admire their skill and leadership and their praising me, I have to own it. I can’t believe they’re great officials and then question their judgment about me. It isn’t a good look.

Today I have a surprise day off because of some emergency dental stuff and I’m going to use the spare time to finish packing for Big O and to print out all my confirmations for hotels and flights. I’m just going to be me on this trip. I am going to be weird and anxious and relax into the strange and different and let changes happen when they need to. Let’s see how that goes. Again, if you like reading about what I do, feel free to drop a dollar in my Paypal, the link is in the menu. I appreciate the continued support. I’ll be doing a financial break down of my trips after I get back from my last tournament in June, per the request of some of you on Twitter, a little terrifying, but why not? Happy Monday, and for those traveling for Eugene already, safe travels.

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