Some More Thoughts on Peer/Dependent Relationships

And now it’s time for Peerage Thoughts, with Andreas Blacwode.

Disclaimer — this is not about any of my Dependents, who are all exemplars in their own way, we’re all fine. It’s also not specifically about any of my past relationships with my Peers, although it’s certainly applicable to some of them. Lastly, this is my opinion, I don’t speak for my order or my kingdom, but only myself, blah blah blah.

Now that that’s out of the way:

There are two main aspects to Peerage in the SCA: the official, defined duties (the What), and the unofficial work that’s not regulated by Corpora or Kingdom law (the How). Each Kingdom is slightly different, but since Peers are Peers of the Society, not a Kingdom, the basics are the same:

Advise the Crown,
Increase our labors Nobly,
Instruct (of which there are a variety of methods) our Dependents (and anyone else who wants it).

Advising the Crown varies from Kingdom to Kingdom, but every Kingdom has polls, so there’s that.

Increasing our labors Nobly is just a fancy way of saying “keep doing what you’re doing”, which, you know, makes me want to go KABOOM, but it’s tradition, the same way drunken slap-fights at the Holiday Party between the CTO and CFO at my last company were — not everyone likes it, but it’s inevitably going to happen, so let’s just hope to get through it without anyone going to the pokey, so… whatever.

Instructing and teaching, though, is in my opinion, the least defined — and in some ways the most important — duty of a Peer. Every Peer does it a little bit differently; but in most cases, the relationship is defined as an agreement between a Peer and Dependent where the Peer is a teacher and advisor to the Dependent.

As a professional Coach and Mentor, it’s my job to help my clients see the path, the gaps and the potential issues they face as they work to progress towards their intended goals. That requires a level of trust between both parties — trust on my part that my clients are going to try to listen to me and not react defensively, and trust on the part of my clients that I’m going to provide helpful, actionable advice and be with them, every step of the way, as they work on following that advice.

It doesn’t matter if my client is twice my age, or a CEO, or if they’re 18 years old, or if they do a minimum wage job. Our mundane “ranks” have nothing to do with the specific relationship that we’re in; I’m the coach, they’re the student. Without both of us buying in to that framework, the engagement will be non-functional, and it’s very likely that it will fail.

It is the same with Peer/Dependent relationships in the SCA.

Now, while I’m not a fan of Peers being dependents of other Peers, it happens, just like Landed Baronages are sometimes dependents of Peers, or even Royalty. And while any pre-existing Fealty is set aside when becoming Royalty or Baronage (and possibly when being recognized as a Peer, since not every Peer swears fealty), the teaching relationship that both Peer and Dependent have agreed to must continue to be respected, either as is, amended to reflect the new station of the Dependent, or set aside entirely. The Peer is the mentor, the Dependent is the student. The relative ranks outside of that relationship don’t matter. And if you cannot respect the pre-existing framework, your relationship is going to fail — and it’s going to be your fault, no matter what you tell yourself, or anybody else.

This is one of the reasons why I have very specific, written agreements with my Dependents, with well defined progress review processes and conflict resolution parameters. I’ve been through more than one failed Peer/Dependent relationship, and it sucks on ice. I didn’t like going through it as a Dependent, and I don’t want to go through it as a Peer.

And none of this is to say that my clients — or my Dependents, for that matter — don’t have opportunities to push back. They’re all free to say “I don’t like that” or “This doesn’t work for me,” and then we can discuss it, and my Dependents even get to have a private group session where they review my performance.

But these discussions happen within the context of our framework, and there are moments where I will say (essentially) “I insist.”

That’s not “I’m your peer and I think I know best” — although in this case, I AM their peer and I DO think I know best. It’s “we are in this relationship where I am your mentor, and it’s my job, on rare occasions, to pull you up short and shake your worldview.”

When this happens, it’s the job of the Dependent to work very hard indeed to not respond defensively. It’s REALLY hard. IT’S REALLY REALLY HARD. It requires trust, it requires self-awareness, it requires humility, it requires honesty, not just with your Peer but also with yourself.

But it’s also worth it, because if your Peer is right (and they won’t always be), and if you trust them, when the dust settles, you’ll have taken a huge leap. The leap may be so large that all the furniture is in a different place, and you’ll have to take some time to learn how to navigate again, or it may be just small enough that you’re still in the same zip-code as before, but wow, these houses are nicer — but it will be a leap either way.

And if you can’t trust your peer, and you’re not self-aware, and you’re not humble, and you’re not honest with yourself… you’re probably not getting anything out of the relationship anyway. And that helps no one, especially yourself.

If you decide that this is where you are — you aren’t comfortable with these kinds of discussions with your Peer — then it’s on YOU to have that conversation with your Peer. Do not pass go, do not collect your Pennsic Medallion. Do not wait. Do not quibble. Go take care of business, eat your Wheaties, take your lumps, and get on with your life. Most of all, do not air your grievances publicly. (Nota Bene: I am not talking about things like bigotry, prejudice, or criminal behavior; I am talking about interpersonal difficulties that stem from disagreements over how to do things in the SCA. If you encounter these kinds of behaviors, go straight to the appropriate authorities.)

Because otherwise, all you’re doing is creating gossip, and the Order is gonna Take Note. And if I think you’re all toast and no peanut butter, my counsel to the Crown and the Order will reflect that.

This has been Peerage Thoughts, with Andreas Blacwode.

Fortunate One

Originally published August 5, 2019.

At this time last year, I was not in a great place. I was very unhappy with some things that had happened SCA-wise, I was feeling uncomfortable with my job as it was undergoing some substantial changes, Laura was about to leave for Kansas, and I was about to get very very sick as my intestinal issues came to a head. So while Pennsic was going on last year, I wasn’t much in a mood to care; I wasn’t even sure I was going to stay in the SCA.

This year, it’s a world of difference — my job is great, my medical issues are (mostly) under control, and I’m able to look back at nearly 30 years of SCA involvement with satisfaction, and I’m looking forward to 30 years more. Heck, maybe even 40, because in 30 years, I’ll only be 78.

And I can’t even begin to express how having Laura in my life makes it better and makes me a better person and father.

So, ironically, that means I’m really missing Pennsic this time around, and I’m never great on my own when Laura takes the boys to see her mother.

Which is why I’m so thankful I have friends like Patrick, Mary, Dayle, and more. Dayle and I went to Fairborn, OH over the weekend just to hang out, and it was really really good. Dayle and I had good conversations in the car. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Mary better. And Patrick has been one of my best friends and mentors for years, although I couldn’t tell you how it happened. He’s just always been there for me, from my worst lows, to my greatest heights.

When we’re together, we’re usually up till 3am, but staying up till 5am one night and 4am the next was a new personal best.
We even spent so much time telling stories, I didn’t ever get the microphone out to record any. 

I’ve made my mistakes, and I’ve had my frustrations, but I really am a very, very fortunate person. 

Showcase: The Court Barony of Sophie the Orange

Sophie the Orange.  I mean, what can I say about Sophie the Orange?   She’s a force of nature.  She’s stands up for justice.  She’s mindful and introspective.  She’s funny.  She’s awesome.  And it was a loss for the MidRealm when she left to live in Atlantia.

So I was overjoyed to discover that William and Isolde wanted to give her something for that awesomeness, both at the SCA 50 Year Event, where she took a really difficult job and made it look easy, and in her tireless support of Commedia across the Known World.

Continue reading “Showcase: The Court Barony of Sophie the Orange”

Showcase: Writing Scroll Texts and Other Things – Samii Muskovich’s Willow

I’m still going.  Heck, we’re not even halfway through!

So, here’s a funny thing.  When you don’t make all the details clear to the scribe, sometimes things end up looking awesome — but differently awesome from the way you were envisioning.

Continue reading “Showcase: Writing Scroll Texts and Other Things – Samii Muskovich’s Willow”

Showcase: Writing Scroll Texts and Other Things – Marie la Fauconierre Sapphire

I have lived in the Midlands for nearly 20 years, but prior to last year, I cannot remember attending a single Ragnarok Rampage.  This is the first of the four scroll texts that I wrote for this event.  This was also the first Regency Court that I ran for William and Isolde, even though there had already been several across the kingdom.

Continue reading “Showcase: Writing Scroll Texts and Other Things – Marie la Fauconierre Sapphire”

It Didn’t Seem Like That Much At the Time.

My friend Duke Darius of the East posts these Skeletor memes, and one he posted today really hit home for me.  William and Isolde just stepped down yesterday, and thus my work for them is essentially over (just a few lingering things to deal with.)

So here’s a list of things.  It looks overwhelming when viewed all together, but at the time, it was mostly good, with a few moments of struggle and strain here and there.  But the thing I have been thinking on, and will continue to think on, is the crux of the meme: who and what have I become from this work?

Work for William and Isolde

Things written (total of 57 scroll texts and assorted other things)

Coronation of William and Isolde (May 6)

  • Coronation Ceremony co-writer and editor
  • Processional Boast for William and Isolde
  • Kingdom Augmentation for Edmund and Kateryn
  • Royal Augmentation for Sorcha
  • Silver Oak for Rudiger
  • Court Barony for Flan
  • Pelican scroll text and ceremony text for Roana

Battle of the Inland Seas (May 20)

  • Dragon’s Heart for Beline

Ragnarok Rampage (May 20)

  • Sapphire for Marie
  • Willow for Sammi
  • Evergreen for Saraswati
  • Fret for Siobhan

Crown Tournament (May 27/28)

  • Processional Boasts for William and Isolde (Saturday and Sunday)
  • Knighting scroll text and ceremomy text for Ulrich

Northern Oaken War Maneuvers (June 10)

  • Evergreen for Corrie
  • Red Company and Gold Mace combo for Dirk of Frisia
  • Court Barony for Sophie the Orange

Baron Wars (June 24)

  • Evergreen for Malla
  • Cavendish Knot for Serena (not given till Pferdestadt)
  • Gold Mace for Sigenandus
  • Red Company for Zygmunt
  • Investiture boast for Konrad and Isibel of Red Spears

Simple Day (July 1)

  • Willow for Cecily
  • Gold Mace for Johan
  • Dragon’s Heart for Ronan Keith
  • Master of Defence scroll text and ceremony for Lizabetta

Day of Play (July 7)

  • AOA for Astridr

Push for Pennsic (July 7)

  • Evergreen for Chaya-Simcha
  • Purple Fret for Siobhan of Flaming Gryphon

Swine and Roses (July 15)

  • Willow for Gunnar
  • Oak for Fergus
  • Laurel scroll text and ceremony for Lucretia
  • Laurel scroll text and ceremony for Jadwiga

Tyger Hunt (July 15)

  • Fret for Fish

Pennsic (August 5-9)

  • Court Barony for Nickolas of Windreach
  • Pelican scroll text and ceremony for Valharic

Baroness Wars (August 27)

  • Pelican scroll text and ceremony for Gareth
  • Pelican scroll text and ceremony for Epona
  • Court Barony for Acelina
  • Greenwood for Adella
  • Purple Fret for Gailen
  • Evergreen for Gillian
  • Evergreen for Gwendolyn
  • Greenwood for Renzokuken
  • Dragon’s Heart for Saraswati
  • Dragon’s Heart for Terion

Mounted War Game (September 2)

  • Fret for Diana
  • Fret for Sebastian
  • Pelican scroll text and ceremony for Maggie

Harvest Days (September 9)

  • Royal Vanguard for various Champions

Coronation of Cellach and Vukasin (September 23)

  • County for William
  • County for Isolde
  • Rose for Isolde
  • Court Barony for Phl
  • Court Barony for Fiadnata
  • Vanguard for Hengist
  • King’s Chalice for Gavin
  • Willow for [REDACTED]
  • Fretty for Mei Li’s Brigade
  • Fretty for Pennsic 46 MidRealm Court Bar Staff
  • Royal Augmentation for all scribes who contributed during the reign

Herald In Charge:

  • Ragnarok Rampage
  • Border Skirmish
  • Day of Play

Other:

  • A&S Tally Room Staff for the Kingdom A&S Competition
  • Co-Event Steward for The Crown Tournament of William and Isolde
  • Awards Secretary for 34 Courts (17 held by TRM, 17 regency, over 800 awards total.)

Just Raise Your Hand Already

Originally posted September 7, 2017.

Not only is this still relevant, but I’ve realized that it applies to compliments and congratulations just as much as it does to aspersions and criticism.

Everyone who has a problem saying “thank you” when told you done good, raise your hand. Yes, even you in the back.

Image from HealingWell.com