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…
- Become a student
- Get a job
- Get a raise
- Be promoted
- New Home
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.