If you fall down – fall forward! There are known ways to mitigate injury when you do fall and they go something like this ...
1. Grab an object on your way down
2. Try to break your fall into parts
3. Relax your body
4. Bend your knees
5. Land feet-first
6. Try to fall to the side
7. Protect your head for when you bounce
8. Get medical help immediately
That’s a perfectly reasonable list. But what if added to the end was – if you do this right, then you are good to go – are you ready to fall down again?
What if falling down, knowing and accepting you were going to get a bit knocked around physically, mentally and emotionally was part of the process of living a life. And rather than teaching ourselves to avoid pain at all costs, we taught ourselves how to handle the knocks?
Danni was a girlie girl. Unlike her sister, who was happy to catapult her body out of aeroplanes, she preferred her feet firmly on terra-firma, cheerleading from a position of safety. She did play some hockey in high school – those sticks are potentially lethal, but Danni was never in any great danger.
When we think of Danni, we think curled up on the sofa, with a book and the cat and a good glass of red. The day she told me she had joined the Ricter City Roller Derby league, I nearly fell over.
Roller Derby is a full contact sport, played on a flat oval concrete surface, on roller skates, in teams of 14 made up of Jammers and Blockers. New Derby inductees are called Freshmeat – matches are Bouts, they wear Boutfits and take on names like Gael Force, Melpractice and Princess Slayer. Danni sought suggestions from family and friends for her new Derby name – we thought Dan Bambam but she settled on Lethally Blonde #580. A nod to her love of the legal profession (think Reece Witherspoon in Legally Blonde).
Despite being one of the fastest growing women’s sports in the world, its fair to say its a little radical, a little outside the mainstream. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons she was so passionate about it, she liked things not to be ordinary. Danni loved her team, the Comic Slams, and the colourful community of women. Derby players are not stereotypical, they really are all sorts of people. They comment that they appreciate that it doesn’t matter what you do, or what you look like – it’s a judgement free zone. In a world where women are not supposed to be strong or even slightly aggressive Danni loved the idea that women could be Bad Ass!
I asked Danni why Roller Derby, what was she looking fo? Her sentiment was this. Life is tough, life can be hard and I have been frightened of getting hurt. I needed to toughen up, and to learn that it was okay to get hit hard and fall down – that it would be okay – bruises heal! I wanted to not be frightened of hard things coming at me.
And more importantly I learned that – “when you do fall – fall forward”. Don’t let the fall set you back. Don’t let the fall put you back in the corner or stop you from doing what you want. Do not let the fear of getting hurt stop you from trying and forward is better than backwards, or standing still.
She was 24 years old when she made this decision. I wonder sometimes if she was putting herself into training, because somehow she knew she was going to face enormous challenges. And face them she did, with dignity and courage.
“You get hit to the floor, you get back up, no matter how sore and you get moving”
“When you fall – fall forward”