I’ve been reading other people’s pastebins (on Twitter) reflecting on their experiences with SGDQ 2019 and I thought I would write up something too, as this year was particularly notable.
I feel connected to this event for many reasons, but there are 3 that have been the most significant and I’d like to take the time to get them out there.
First, my husband knew I liked to watch people play video games so he’s the one who introduced me to Awesome Games Done Quick in 2013. I was instantly hooked. I’d never seen anyone play games like that. The whole marathon format was set up as a means of showcasing speedrunning and their respective communities, but they presented it in an approachable way for newbies like me to follow along and understand what's happening.
The event is based around raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, which I had not heard of until I watched that stream. To clarify, Summer Games Done Quick is a charity drive for Doctors Without Borders, which is also a phenomenal charity that you should donate to if you can.
I started by auditioning to be a host and got my first glimpse behind the scenes of how the event was run. I was immediately impressed by the setup and how efficient everyone was in their roles. Everyone seemed solid in their position and communicated effectively.
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Because of my hosting experience at SGDQ I was inspired to become better at it and since then have taken gigs to host vaudeville/variety shows in my area, as well as become a host of several video features, including a live sing-along show for Children's MN called the Star Studio Sing-Along! That is my first example of how GDQ has impacted me. Being a part of it has changed my career goals and subsequently my path. I have no idea what direction I’m ultimately going in, but I’m out there trying new things that I might not have otherwise thought about.
Several people remarked over the week on how positive and optimistic I am. It was a relief to hear because, in all honesty, I’ve put in decades of hard work to be this way. It took a whole lot of self reflection for me to realize that being positive takes the same amount of energy as being negative. The only difference is being negative stinks for everyone. It’s been a bumpy road, just as any worthwhile journey is, but it feels so good to finally feel like I’m living my life as the kind of person I’ve always hoped I would be. GDQ events have a bumpy history, too, with all kinds of moments people wish they could erase from history, but that’s not how life works. We cannot change what has already been, but we can move forward and grow from our past mistakes. GDQ does this and improves a little, one step at a time. This is an empowering message to springboard off of and helps me remember that it’s not about avoiding mistakes, it’s learning how to handle the mistakes once they’re made.
I still battle with depression, but I somehow forget that's ever been a problem when I'm doing something that fills me with purpose, like being a goof and looking on the bright side with people at Children's, and now at GDQ. I get to combine all of the things I love at these places. Video games, making music and art, friendships, working toward a good cause and helping people, and spreading the good word about eating real food. When I'm free to be myself, I am the most content, and a billion and a half times more likely to share my extra energy to boost up others who need it.
I like to believe this feeling is due to finding an avenue where I belong. When I showed up at SGDQ last year, I knew I was going to have the opportunity to connect to new people and my third connection began to surface, my weight loss journey.
In college, I hit my highest weight which was somewhere between 260-300lbs. The reason I’m not totally sure is because there was no way in heckfire I was weighing myself at that time. I didn’t want to know.
Little by little, over the span of a decade of trial and error, I made some changes that ultimately lead me to my most dramatic decision. I decided to derail my train that was heading directly into Diabetes Town and instead try the one final weight-loss measure I had been resisting forever. Healthy diet.
My grandparents had made the shift into healthy eating by significantly reducing processed food products and had been trying to rope me in since the 90s. The resistance in me was real, folks.
Then I watched AGDQ 2013 and clicked the link to learn more about the Prevent Cancer Foundation, whose website basically said if I want to stop feeding cancer (and a plethora of other metabolic diseases) stop eating processed foods. The final inspiration was a documentary on Netflix called Fed Up, that I saw early 2015, which explained that to become healthier… surprise, surprise, you need to ditch the processed foods. OK! Message received! Sheesh.
March 2015 is when it all clicked and I was ready to do what had to be done. I stopped eating processed foods and dropped down below 160lbs (my healthy BMI range) in 6 months. I had not been under that weight since I was 11 years old. This was a BFD, made especially so because I did it without having to count calories. My mind is still blown that this was the solution both me and my husband had been looking for all along and didn't know it. We’ve been able to keep the weight off for over 4 years now with relative ease. The hard part now is keeping our mouths shut about it. Admittedly, we cannot stop spreading what we’ve learned to our friends and family, especially when someone makes a comment about wanting to lose weight and get healthier. We're more than happy to talk people's ears off about what we know, but in truth the information is already out there! For years GDQ has been raising millions of dollars to help Prevent Cancer Foundation spread the word about taking care of our bodies and minds with food. I feel that we as individuals can do a lot to help, too, and I strive to prove it's message through leading by example.
I had passing conversations with some of the staff who expressed interest in my salads, which I have spent the last 4 years perfecting to not require dressing and am very proud of.
When I brought salads for them and saw positive reactions, that was the first time I remember feeling like I was filling a need that no one had realized was there.
Running events is HARD WORK. Like I said, I’ve been through a lot of them, but never a marathon that lasts a week straight. These folks were running themselves ragged and then left with the sole option to eat at a restaurant which are notorious for primarily serving reheated and/or reconstituted processed food products. In my experience, sure, junk food will keep you alive, but the quality of that energy is significantly lower than eating fresh single-ingredient foods. Good people deserve to be cared for and their health and well-being is a genuine concern of mine, so I just went for it. When I returned this SGDQ, to my genuine surprise, people remembered me and my healthy message.
If I could put into words how much my heart repeatedly exploded over the past week… From my panel celebrating game music and subsequent jam sessions with fellow musicians to feeling glad to reconnect with the kind people who had welcomed me in previous years. I made new connections and strengthened old ones, and every time someone asked for fruit or salad I knew I had been heard. It's so freakin’ wonderful!
My final story that I’d like to share is when I met the lead artist, LLK. She not only graciously allowed me to fawn over her work and everything she contributes to the event, I also got the chance to talk a bit about my health journey which sparked the interest in trying my salads. I brought 8 total and she helped me distribute them to hungry staff/volunteers. Turns out that she enjoyed them so much last year that she and her husband helped promote them again this year. Even the event’s creator, Mike Uyama, was intrigued by LLK’s glowing review of them and so I made one for him too. I am happy to report that he also enjoyed it!
Additionally, last year LLK gifted me one of her hand sketched signs that was destined for the trashcan and now hangs in my studio. This year she arranged for me to inherit all of the leftover art supplies, which includes tons of colors for whiteboard markers and chalk as well as the 4 easels used throughout the event. Beyond being honored to receive these gifts, which I am wholeheartedly, I am inspired and have started a daily speed art challenge for the month of July.
Considering the contributions these people make to keep GDQ rolling, in my book this is a legitimate win. Mission accomplished. They allowed me to share the things that matter the most to me: my art, my health and my purpose,and for that I have no hesitation to continue to support the Games Done Quick community in any way that I can.