Hard Stuff

I cannot tell you how many posts I have started over the year and how many remain unfinished. It is quite a bit. More recently I was having a conversation with a friend who is really starting to grow into their own path in the SCA. It hurt to hear them tell me that it sounded like I had been burned out.

Burn out is something I think we all face at some point, even if we promise ourselves that we’d never let it happen. More recently, I have found myself discovering once more, why I do what I do. Why I chose to be on this path.

It happened just a few days ago as I sat at my computer working on the hours of stuff that has yet to get done for my office when I decided to poke Artemisia (My Deputy for Dean of Page School.) about where she was at. We started talking about the things were are excited to see come from Page School. Which reminded me of why my office is important.

The next day I was looking through Facebook, like you do, and came across a video of Princess Diana. Her words were quiet and calm and certainly spoken from her heart in such a way that showed just how amazing she really was.

So I had posted it in a couple places that I felt others could benefit from her words.

Mistress Giovanna has a group on facebook for her proteges. (Did I tell you in the last year or so that I have a “little” brother and sister? So now there are 4 of us!) In a moment of inspiration, I shared Princess Diana’s words to my Protege Siblings.

“Why is she strong?
Where does she get it from?
Where is she taking it?
Where is she going to use it?
Why do the public still support her?”
-Princess Diana during an interview “on why she didn’t think she’d be queen”.

These were questions that Princess Diana spoke in an interview. I had paused a moment to think about them in many ways in my own life and then thought that perhaps it also seemed like good questions that we should ask ourselves in our SCA paths!

Lately, I have felt like I have fallen off the path a bit. Talking to a couple friends, they seemed to have felt along similar lines. One friend even told me that it sounded like the past couple of months I was feeling burnt out.  It’s not something I’d like to admit. I don’t think I’m quite fully there but it certainly made me question why they would speak those words.

After watching this video, I reminded myself, of why I was on this path in the first place. I will answer the questions below. I would invite my brothers and sister, and especially Mistress Giovanna to join me!

After posting this, I did take the the few minutes to really answer all the questions.

I am strong because I believe that I can do good in the SCA. I am strong because I have great people who believe in me. And I am strong, because I love the people and the space given to express myself in a way that normal society cannot give me.

I get my strength from those same people who want to see me grow and succeed. My strength comes from the kingdom I swear my fealty to. And my strength comes from those closest who don’t give up on me, when I feel that I have given up on myself.

I will take this strength to show those who doubt me that it can be done. In this case, the youth office. I will rise above the doubts and fears and I will show people that the youth office is not just an office that plays with the youth. That by supporting all the other offices in the Kingdom, the youth office can not only make families and their children feel welcome, but that we can create functioning members of our society under the age of 18. That our offices and events will thrive because if we don’t, we may find that our member base suffers greatly and that the people that make our kingdom so great, will becomes less and less, seeing our resources drop. I will use this strength to show that others can find strength in themselves.

So where am I going to use it? Every chance I get. At events I will be the person making the event that I want it to be to the best of my ability. If I see a problem, I will ask myself what I can do to change it or make it better rather than just complaining about it. I will find a way to share this with others so that when we go out to dinner or after parties, we say “The most amazing thing was _____!”

Why does the public believe in me? Well, they did when I took my office. People were excited. I can’t say for sure how people feel about this now. But it’s up to me to change this. I want them to believe in me because they see that I have the ability to make the changes happen that need to happen. That I can solve the problems that seem too hard to face. I want the public to believe in me because I am worthy of the office. The public should believe in me, because I believe that I can do this.

I have to admit that posting this is a bit hard. I never want people to see that in the SCA, things can get hard. I want to share all the joy I have experienced from it. All the Life lessons I have learned. The SCA isn’t just a “thing I do”. The people and experiences, all the hard, easy, crazy, and amazing have shaped me to be who I am today. If you know me, you understand when I say I wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t have the job I have. And I would be the same me, had I not found this group 6 years ago.

But it is all the lessons that I have come to learn in the SCA that has brought me to the place I am in and out of the SCA today. I’m in a place today that I never thought I’d ever have in my life.

Three years ago, I started this journey as Mistress Giovanna’s Protege. She had told me that I was already doing everything a protege would do. Which felt awesome at the time! And I’m sure she was right. But what I didn’t know is how much I would come to learn and grow over these last few years.

I started this blog because I wanted to show others who are thinking about this path, a glimpse into my own. And I certainly have not done well over the past year. (Update: I had become Regional Youth Officer and am now Kingdom Youth Officer!)

I have found in this journey, there are sometimes moments that are hard to put into words. But the journey, is truly worth it. All the crazy that you’ll meet for the good or bad will make you grow, will help you to understand, will show you that you can do more than you could ever dream of.

There will be times when it will be hard; where you’ll be angry, sad, mad and other emotions you probably can’t put words to. Times when you’ll cry because something touches you, because you’ll have accomplished what you never thought could be done, or simply that you realize why you decided to take this path in the first place.
It is the better half of that that will make all the hard stuff worth it. It will be in the simple thank you of a new comer, or a favor from a peer or royalty. It will be in the expression of the people who are affected by your work. And it will be there when you feel that you are simply at your wits end. It’s that moment when you remember, “This is why what I am doing is worth it. This is why I am here. ”

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Seven words or less / Bell Quest: A Story From A Pelican

This is definitely a night where I write six paragraphs and erase them just to start over again… And again. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. It’s just that there is too much. More often then not, what i’m writing become a draft that is unfinished. The whole purpose of this blog is to share my journey as a protege. But sometimes that’s hard because picking one thing to focus on can be hard.

I want to tell you so much. But sometimes, telling what matters now, is what’s going to be the best.

I was recently speaking with someone in the SCA and they had said something to the effect of “We don’t level up in the SCA”. I stopped and thought about this for a moment then turned to them and said, “actually, that’s not entirely true.”

Before you put too much thought about it, please note that it’s not just the SCA. We do it in our everyday lives too…

You know,

  1. Become a student
  2. Graduate
  3. Get a job
  4. Get a raise
  5. Be promoted

or

  1. Dating
  2. Engagement
  3. Marriage
  4. New Home
  5. Kids

I could go on. These are things that make us feel like we’re moving forward, getting to the next point, the next stage, next level, or whatever you choose to call it.

When I first started the SCA, our Baronial Herald and Baroness held a class on precedence. It was the first time I was really introduced to the awards structure. I knew people received them, I did not know how they were different or even that they mattered so much. They were awarded. I had received awards before. Awards are fun.

At this workshop, I heard about Kings and Queens, and Peers and all other sorts of positions. I remember getting in line with people in order of precedence and standing only one or two from the end. I had no award at this time. I was new comer and was still trying to remember what activities were happening on what day. I also vaguely remember trying to think about ever receiving an award. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

I really just wanted to be involved. I served at the first feast I ever saw, I became a deputy to the Chronicler before my first year was over, I learned what illumination was. I had fun.

The first 12th night I attended was kind of crazy. I had made some friends at this point but was insanely afraid to drive far. And this was an event an hour and a half away in the winter. I was hanging out with friends and we were in the back of court when I heard my name and felt my heart leap into my throat. I kept going over in my head what Lord (at the time) Ermenrich had told me to do when walking up into court.

AOA

Stop, bow, move closer, bow, kneel. Only this time I was trying to tell myself not to trip on the stairs. I made there just fine. And they read the words to my AoA into court. It was such an honor and I was so excited but so new and so excited! Yes, i know i said that twice! I felt like I was belonging. That it was so great to be there and then to have my friends congratulate me. Suddenly awards had meaning. Suddenly I was no longer just “Ceara” but “Lady Ceara”. I had made it to the next “level.”

about a year later I had taken on the Youth Office in Cynnabar and was working on figuring out policies while still doing all the other things I was involved in. Duke Dag and Duchess AnneMarie from our Barony had their Coronation local to our group. I had just figured out my full name and was sitting in court and after about four or so times of them calling my name did I realize they meant me. I wasn’t sure why they would be calling me.

APF

It was really awesome. I had received my purple Fret and while extremely honored, I concerned that I did not deserve it. At the time I had only been in the SCA for for a year and a half. But I had done a lot of volunteering. Looking back now, I get it better than I did then. Even at that, I’m only getting recently why that award seemed appropriate. At the time, I was really too new.

In the next three years I found myself a part of a lot of award conversations. We would talk about why awards are important and why they aren’t. I’ve heard solid arguments about why we shouldn’t have them. I’ve heard strong arguments about why we should have more. More often than not I’ve heard discussion on what we can do to bridge the gaps in between as members of the populace.

Some of the greatest thanks I received didn’t come in the form of an award but rather in a trinket being a strand of beads, a special token, or even beautiful candles.

I do what I do in the SCA because I enjoy it. At times, it can be frustrating and might have me screaming or/and yelling, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. During my latest project I sometimes wished I hadn’t started but when it was through I felt like celebrating. My point is, that we work hard and sometimes don’t see recognition until we are through. And sometimes it is so frustrating when you feel you’re working hard and getting no where. And it’s as if no one cares. I admit to having gotten lost to this earlier this year but still trying to keep going. It get hard.

And I didn’t realize it so much until my friend was recently elevated.

In the past I have helped with vigils. I’ve talked with people who are on vigil. I just hadn’t attended one. What does a person say? I heard you are supposed to give advice. But I am not a peer. I really felt I had just really started to build my foundation that I’m working off of in the SCA. I had even styled Mistress Giovanna’s hair while she sat her vigil. Still, I didn’t come in to speak with her during her vigil, because I didn’t know what to do or say. I didn’t have advice and she had my support for her elevation all along. Many vigils passed and I congratulated those who stood one, but never attended.

The Honorable Lady Elizabethe had been charged to stand her vigil at Pennsic. A year after I became Minister of Youth, I told her I wanted to be part of researching the laws and policies. I found it fun, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding all at the same time. She was the Kingdom Minister of Youth at the time and I was honored to be working along side her. I learned more about the ins and outs of the office from her than anyone. She was there for me when ever there was a problem and we sometimes spent hours in Emails, instant messages, and even video chats to solve what seemed impossible. All the while, I was just happy to be part of it.

I hoped she would get recognized for it. I also talked to many to make sure they were aware of how awesome she was and what she was doing. In a short amount of time, she had become a valued friend.

She decided to hold her vigil and elevation at Crown Tournament this fall. I was going to make it there no matter what. I was honored that she had asked me to do her hair for her as well. So that morning I revealed that I had never attended a vigil and that I was so nervous! Which was really silly because here we were hanging out talking about meeting later so I could attend her vigil. She then gave me advice on how to attend her vigil. I actually thought it was sort of ironic and awesome all at once.

It was later that afternoon before I decided I just needed to do it. So I went up, put my name on the list, and wrote in her book while waiting. Naturally Duke Dag would be fighting and so I ran down stairs, asking for my place to be held as I was next. The next couple fights were awesome and seemed to last forever while being over far too soon. I was back up stairs and THL Elizabethe was ready.

We started off by talking about the tournament and out come. She offered me chocolate. We finally got to talking. I did congratulate her. But then I had to tell her my story.

Many times I had heard that “You have to be a Pelican before you can become one.” I got the concept in theory but how can you be something before you become something? It wasn’t until she was put on vigil did I really understand. Because in the end, you can’t give an award to someone if they haven’t earned said award.

So she told me a story in return after I told her that I had been hoping this would come for the last year or so for her. Of course by this time, I was getting all teary.

She had said that she was happy that this didn’t happen sooner. That if it was any earlier, she wouldn’t have been ready for it. It was over the course of the last year that she started thinking more about it. It wasn’t a why-haven’t-I-gotten-there-yet sort of thing. It was a how-would-I-expect-a-Pelican-to-handle-this or a What-would-a-pelican-do? kind of thing. This made much more sense to me as well. Perhaps it is because of this that I saw it in her more so over the last year. Because she was right. She was taking that into consideration and I had wondered why she wasn’t there. The thing was is that while I wondering, she was getting there. To that point of being worthy of such an honor. Listening to her tell me this, you could see just how true it was. And I understood, or at least I thought I did. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

The thing about this moment that shocked me more than anything, was that she had taken a moment out of everything going on this day to speak with people one on one. To really listen to what people had to say be it advice or thanks. I never expected to receive such an amazing gift from her.

After this short discussion about being ready, stopped and told me that she couldn’t have done it without me.

If you read those words, it’s so easy to just glance over them. But those 7 words meant more than any award or token I have ever been given in the SCA. In that short amount of time she managed to thank me but also say how much she really appreciated my help. I cried. I was so honored and shocked that it seemed to be the only emotion that would come out at the moment. 7 small words were so much more than I can express. She then asked me if I would carry her personal banner in the procession. Of which only made that moment, that much more. And in that short moment, I realized completely why it was now instead of then that this was happening. Because as she said, this was the right time. Because now she was a Pelican.

eLIZABETH'S ELEVATION

On a side note.

Having come into the Youth Office where it hadn’t existed before I took it was hard. And Mistress Elizabethe had been the Kingdom MoY at the time. She was and is someone I look up to in the SCA. I hope to someday fulfill the Kingdom Youth Office and be at least half the Youth Officer she was.

So, later that day I watched and listened closely as the Peers of the Kingdom spoke of her good deeds and nature. I watched as she became the pelican she already was.

After this day, I promised I would get myself together. That I would work harder. That I wanted to do great things in the Youth Office. I had gotten a bit crispy because I had hit a plateau. Nothing seemed to be moving and so I found myself slowing down as well. But speaking with Elizabethe reminded me that it wasn’t about the award. While yes, receiving one would be awesome, I don’t need. And I had decided this just a week or so ago after putting more thought into it.

All I want to do is make things clearer and easier for Youth Officers and develop the program that already exists. I know it can grow. I know it will be hard. But as Master Midair recently told me, “Of course it’s hard. If it wasn’t hard then someone would already be doing it or it would already be done.” Receiving an award won’t change the outcome of my level of work. It’s nice, but it won’t change how I’m doing my job.  So I set out to figure out what needs to change.

At A Grand Day of Tournaments I looked back on the first youth activities I did for this event only 3 years ago. There had been a total of 4 children there. One was a baby. This year as I ran gate, I was able to see how that had changed. 34 children showed up and I couldn’t have been happier. The more children, the higher the attendance as well. Which means more people are involved too. It is something I have worked hard for in our area.

At court that evening I watched as our Excellencies called up the Princess Royal and thanked her for her assistance at the tavern. I watched Her Majesty tear as Baroness Kasha passed along a broach from her dress in thanks to her daughter. And later Cassandra, a youth in our local group, earned an award for teaching dances, learning dances and playing music for dances. Which was amazing to me because I remember a time when she hadn’t really been interested at all.

A member of our barony was put in Vigil. I have heard such great things about Baron Jasen over the years that it was exciting to be there as well as watch the knight of my household beg the boon. Shortly after that and being teary eyed (The last couple events were kind of emotional!), my name was called into court.

I went up, much like the first time, only three years later. I had forgotten how nervous I can be! I knelt before their majesties while listening to the words of the award I would be receiving. When I heard the words “Order of the Dragon’s Heart” I felt my own heart leap because I never would have expected that. There was an exchange of words with the King who handed me my scroll and the Queen who placed a representative of the award around my neck. Once again I was teary eyed. I made it back to my seat with my heart pounding and some part of me wondering if I was over reacting. Mistress Giovanna congratulated me, calling me “Your Ladyship”. It was different and shocking. Though at this moment I truly understood What Elizabeth had been telling me. That she wasn’t ready and that it happened at the right time. While this isn’t as big as getting elevated, it still meant a lot to me. And I realized, as she did, that it was the right time and was really not too early. Though I hadn’t been expecting it at all. It was an honor and one I plan to continue to be worthy of.

ODH

It was after this that the “leveling up” conversation came in. While it’s not a “Game” so to say, I do feel that I’ve made it to the next level. One of which I’m happy to work harder at. But now, while I’m happy to have been made a member of the Order of the Dragon’s Heart, that What I have to do has to be because it is important to me and because what I want to do will make a difference somewhere along the way. I want to someone who can someday pass along the magic so that others can continue to experience it the way we all should.

I can’t say what the future hold or how much current thinking will change. Heaven knows I have as a whole in General over the last five years. One of the best parts of this blog will be able to look back and remember.

Award are important, but sometimes, seven words or less can mean more than than anything.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Pennsic 44: Bell Quest Update

8 hours of service to the SCA marshal community at Pennsic

This quest was given to me by Sir Gregoire, the knight of my household. He is also the kingdom Earl Marshal as well. To be honest, I wasn’t really optimistic about this one. I understand that he gave it to me as a way to be more well-rounded in the SCA but when you only have a week, it seems that eight hours is a lot.

Four days before I was to leave for Pennsic, I had everything planned and if I could stick to that plan then I could finish this quest I was given. Unfortunately, the universe thought differently. I ended up with allergies and congestion. The day I was supposed to leave for Pennsic, I had gone through an entire box of tissues with no hope of having enough energy to pack the car. I ended up leaving nearly 24 hours later than planned. When I arrived I was still sniffling and coughing. I was exhausted just from helping put up my tent. I say helping because there were at least three other people who helped me, and normally it isn’t such a task for me.

The next day I told Mistress Giovanna that I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to complete my quest. That in order to do so, I’d have to show up to everything I had planned. Unfortunately, trying to deal and work with children sounded exhausting and really was going to make up for four hours of time. Thankfully she had the idea to help her with the Pennsic Signal Corps. It would be on Friday, so I had some time to recover.

In the mean time, I was able to work as a MoL. This essentially meant that after a fighter had gone through inspection that I checked his authorization card for an expiration date, checked a photo ID of said person to make sure it was him, placed the number of the marshal who inspected him as well as his number (numbers came from the medallion given at gate upon arrival) on a sticker then place the sticker on the right side of the helm.

In passing I got to meet people from all over the known world, which was awesome. I also learned some about the armor. I got to see many different styles that people wore. I learned a bit about why it was important. And I got to hear lots of interesting conversation from people who are very knowledgeable about the marshaled activities that occur in the SCA. It was also a treat and interesting experience to show up and work with people I hadn’t really ever met before.

Sometime in the evening, back at camp, Sir Gregoire asked if I liked doing this work. I responded enthusiastically that I very much did. He told me that he wasn’t surprised and actually, that surprised me. Though I’m not sure it was that or that he really knows me better than I thought. I do really like administrative work and so he figured that I would enjoy this. He was right. And I learned a lot. This took about 5 hours over three days of my time at Pennsic. I liked it so much that I’m looking forward to helping out next year!

On Friday I met Mistress Giovanna at the battle field. I don’t think she expected to love the signal corps as much as she did. I was happy to see her excited about it though. She got right to work as soon as she could, pulling ladders and flags, tabards and radios. Her enthusiasm was catching!

We got to take the golf cart (yay!) up to the castle where we would be doing the flags. Though this was only after all the radios were passed out to all the marshals and ladders were placed on my lap. That made for an interesting ride. It’s a good thing that I trust Mistress Giovanna, because it could have been a scary ride otherwise!

At the top we set up the ladders. For the first and second battle I handed the flags to be displayed to her and then to Nicholas for the second battle. Nicholas has been doing this for TWENTY YEARS! What an amazing service and how awesome he has been able to do so! He’s really got a good system down and it’s fantastic. I’m happy to have met him and look forward to working with him in the future!

So, for the second and third battle, Mistress Giovanna did most of the communications with the Marshals as well as kept time in the battle. During the third one, I got to do the flags!!! I had been learning a bit about this having started to dive into the interest of palio, which is essentially flag movements that were used in time of war, a few months ago. So this really was something that while outside I may have been calm and collective, inside I was leaping for joy to try and do. I did and felt the excitement build up as we dropped flags for ten minutes, five minutes, two minutes, one minute, 30 seconds, fifteen seconds then dropping them to lay-on. and being part of what called the war into battle was pretty thrilling. There were holds called a few times so I got to experience this a couple times.

By the end my feet were crazy swollen and I was probably fairly sunburned but it felt amazing to really be a part of the action and to have one of the best possible seats to see all of the action. There was talk about next year here too! This would be fantastic!

Upon returning, Sir Gregoire thanked us for our service, explaining that he could not do what they do without our service we gave that day. It was something that made me excited to hear and added fuel to the fire to be more a part of it next year.

Later that night, after hours of drinking several bottles of water, many games of cards and backgammon, it was time for Eat It, Drink It, Burn It night (which is exactly how it sounds!). While eating some food and resting under a friends tent, My household gathered around and before everyone in camp. They called attention to the quests and then called my name. Mistress Giovanna stood by while Sir Gregoire spoke of my service at this pennsic. Not only did I do 8 hours but achieved about one more!

I learned about how fighters prepared and the process they go through. I learned about marshaling and a bit of what it takes to make the field battle successful and safe. I learned that there is so much more than I have seen that happens. And it happens right in front of us and some people never know what that is. But I have much more respect and appreciation for those who go over and beyond for the Marshal community. Those who we see standing in bright yellow against black who are doing so much more than just standing. For those sitting for hours at a table checking in fighter after fighter to make sure that things are ready to go before battles begin.

It is my honor to have been a part of such things this year.

It was more of a learning experience, and even self discovery, than I could have ever expected.

Thank you, Sir Gregoire and Mistress Giovanna.

NOTE: For more information on what the Pennsic Signal Corps is, 
please see this article from The Pennsic Independent!
Pennsic Signal Corps
Categories: Protege, Quest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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