Monday, April 30, 2018

The Mick To Her Rocky

It has been a pleasure watching the women I have been coaching advance way beyond my skills. Of course, there is that little shitty feeling, but it's easy to let go of - most of the time.

Recently, I had a little burst of energy and thought that maybe I could train harder to at least spar  more competitively with the women I have been training at Wildcard or Outlaws in Reseda.

I tend to find myself sparring again because there is another woman at the gym my size who needs it. I'm usually a little smaller than they are so they can gage how it would be fighting someone their size. I have learned to "play tag" in the beginning to show them where they are open. I'd rather them not risk a concussion with real sparring until their defense is much better.  I have become that boxer- the stepping stone.

Three weeks ago, I started running three miles a few times a week, incorporated weight training and more light sparring. The first thing I noticed was the bad habits coming back - Looking down when I was rolling or how sloppy I was in the ring when someone really challenged me - came at me with intention. As long as I was boxing, keeping my jab out and moving around with people who didn't want to hurt me or charge at me, I was fine.  My reflexes and defense are still there after three years of not being in the ring from training people to block and slip. But, the pressure. Oh the pressure throws me off - I should mention this was pressure from a person 20lbs heavier than me, but when properly trained and conditioned, this was pressure I taught myself to deal with when I was fighting. My punches, which used to be powerful for a 106lb fighter are now light tags and I can't legit keep people off me. Everyone is at least 10 to 20lbs heavier or 10 to 20 or even 30 years younger. My muscles have thinned and my energy is not what it was.

I recently turned 52 years old.  Besides trying to accept my face and body changing, (Not easy) I have bouts where I get physically exhausted if I try to train like I used to. One day running and sparring and doing mitts means the next day lying on the couch drained with regret for overdoing it. Since my primary focus these days is writing and developing creative projects, there is no room for days like that.

I always tell my friends to remind me not to train like that anymore and to not let me think I can fight again because it takes so much out of me, but for some reason there is still that fighter who gets encouraged that day when I'm sharp with my defense, hitting the mitts hard with good form. There is that little spark inside of me that wants to challenge myself, test my mettle. I get excited watching experienced boxers with beautiful technique get in the zone of slipping, countering, rolling, doing fancy footwork and putting together smart combinations. I want to get in there with them. Experience has shown me that if I really put in the work, I can get much better. But at this point, why put in the work? What do I have left to prove?  In 2015, at 49, I won the National Golden Gloves in the Masters division, my first time flying across the country to fight in a tournament.

But the bigger win was before that.  I had to overcome panic attacks in the ring from sparring. I used to shake and cry after rounds and had no idea why.  I learned I had PTSD and somehow was able to work past that in order to have 12 fights, winning 8 of them. What is it inside of me that wants to mix it up with the young guns?

Now I truly understand why boxers don't retire when they should. The regimen, comraderie, body conditioning, and focus gives you a purpose like no other. Having blind faith in yourself that eventually pays off is intoxicating.  But as I watch a woman I started training 3 years ago, move like a gazelle, holding her own with a pro boxer, I feel so full inside. Another woman I just started training 8 months ago, is hitting harder than ever and is finally slipping and rolling under big punches and coming back with her own combos. She has the fire that I don't have anymore and it's okay. It's time for me to be a proud mama. To be the Mick to her Rocky.

I'm about to start a new film project that is going to take every little ounce of energy out of me.  It's going to require the fighter in me as well as the filmmaker because I have to get justice for someone.

This will be a mental and emotional fight and I know I still have that in me.


Monday, November 13, 2017

#MeAt14

#MeAt14

Shy and self conscious.
Didn't even have my period yet.
Secret crushes on boys who did not know I existed.
Infatuated with Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson and Bjorn Borg.
More sporty than girly, but desperately wanted to catch up.
Just started to wear make-up that year.
Wanted to be considered attractive after homely tween years.
Loved to read alone in my room or listen to records with my dog.
Dreamt about moving to NYC and becoming an actress.
Not popular, but had good friends.
Late bloomer.
Never would have considered dating a 32 year old man.
Innocent.
Why is this a conversation?
Not going to write a think piece about this. I swear.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Never Too Old for Mono

They call mono "the kissing disease." You're supposed to get it when you're a teenager from making out.  You stay home from school for a few days while classmates gossip about who you got it from. You heal by watching soap operas, old TV shows and documentaries about serial killers.

While I have always been a late bloomer when it came to my physical development, my first kiss, and first husband, I never thought I would contract mono at such a late stage of my life: a stage where another woman might be marrying off her kids, winning a Nobel prize, be established in a career of her choice or getting ready to retire.  I have mono.

Fortunately, I work from home so the two naps a day thing doesn't get in my way too much as long as I don't leave the house.

The dogs don't like when I go back to bed in the afternoon, so I have to crash on the couch. That way they can sleep in rectangles of warm sunlight. Otherwise, they bark at me, sending waves of guilt through my weak body.  Then, I stumble to the couch and we all peacefully pass out.

Apparently, I have had mono for several months, but pushed through it -  which got me sicker.  I'm used to having a boxer's mindset of just forging through whatever difficulty you are facing.  That doesn't work with Mono.

It's part of the reason why it's been so draining for me to work out hard or stay focused when I am writing.  In a way, this is a relief.  I thought I was just getting "old."  I know some women can keep grinding it out for longer, but others run out of energy sooner.  There comes a point where no matter how hard you push yourself, you don't get stronger and better, you just go further downhill. So you have to listen to your body.  At least now, I believe I can get strong again. I just have to go at a different pace.

In the past several months, I have spent more time outside the boxing ring coaching, than inside battling it out. The idea of getting my cardio up to "fight ready" is daunting and doesn't even seem possible in this moment. The good news is that the two girls I'm training are getting closer to that, have eight times as much energy as I do, and more pop and explosiveness in their punches and footwork.  It's a different kind of pride knowing I helped guide them. Also, I discovered a protectiveness I never had for myself.

Since I never had kids, I am a bit delayed developmentally. (There are other reasons.) I didn't have a reason to grow up or a way to mark time besides the death of my dog. But even then, Gary and I started over again with puppies so we basically became new parents.  Being dog parents is like the movie,"Groundhog's Day."

Gary is the same way. He is a grown man with a light saber.  So we feed into each other's delusion of being 28. Or,in his case, 12.

Coaching these girls is giving me the feeling of a "life cycle."  I can remember when I first learned to box and the way I looked at my coaches and the girls I trained with. I remember the intense hunger to learn and get better.  While I still have that to a degree, I enjoy watching the progression of my fighters- watching them go from that stage to where they are now and eventually to teaching. I look forward to the day they get in the ring and fight.

Being in their corner during a fight will be my version of going to my daughter's wedding.

As Gary and I get ready to move, I have to practice the "Power of Now" and all the other self help shit I read.  We are moving into another stage of life - one with a yard in a grown ups neighborhood;  one where young girls are trusting me with their training, where I am doing more writing and editing and less working out.

As we cross each dimension of life, it's difficult to accept the next one.  But, you really have no choice.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Finding Peace

I purposefully didn't post much about the election. But I did march against hate. And I will march again.

I'm not continually posting anti-Trump articles (although that is easy to do...considering) But I am signing petitions and trying to stay aware of what else I can do to protect the right to be diverse in a country that was founded upon it.

I'm not in South Dakota, protesting against Standing Rock, but I did make a donation, sign whatever petition I could, and pray.


The dreaded Christmas season is upon us, which is stressful as it is. But on top of that, we have so much unrest in the world, fear of hateful ideologies becoming the new "normal," fear of ....so much more, I don't even want to list them because we are bombarded with it every day.

The question is, how do we stay positive and productive without "living in a bubble?" Obviously, there is a balance, but I am finding we are living in a time where I must consciously create that balance. If we live in fear and bitterness, we won't be in a place to make a change. If we completely ignore what is going on in the world, we are becoming a part of the problem.

It was difficult to have a "Happy" Thanksgiving, knowing the people, whose land we have taken, are peacefully protesting their right to have clean water in an area we "designated" them to.  It's difficult to accept that WE are the assholes doing it. But, I am grateful for the life I have created- my family, my friends, the people around me, my health. We have to be grateful every day for what we have; grateful that we live in a country where there are small things we can do to make a change- even if it's just making our voices heard.  I felt some guilt even just writing that. Guilt that I have that choice and others don't.

I don't want to be negative, feed negativity or feel overwhelmed by a situation that I can only do a little about - and that little bit, might not even be doing anything. When I put it out there,  yes, it's annoying to some, but that's not why I don't. I'm used to putting myself out there in ridiculously vulnerable situations and accepting the criticism that comes with it.  I just don't want to feed the fear.

There must be a system to live your life in a way that is not hardened to others suffering, but also where you can find some peace in your daily life.  I guess the key is having faith.
But is that too passive?


That's the challenge. What is the balance?

Perhaps I'm not saying anything unique, but I thought it was worth putting out there. As the Christmas season rushes upon us like a freight train, how do we manage finding peace?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When the Thrill is Gone...

It's a personal thing, knowing when your fight time is up. For me, I think that time has finally come.

No one wants to be the punch drunk boxer that climbs between the ropes only to get their head knocked off and have everyone feel sorry for them because their time was up a while ago and they never got the memo.  Or the fighter who is no longer in their prime and has to take mediocre fights to look good in the ring.

Mind you, I don't think I'm at that stage.  I just don't want it badly enough, and it's showing.

Even though it will make my parents happy that I am finally not going to compete, that is definitely not why I'm doing it.  Still rebellious at my age, that would be the only reason I wished my heart was still into it.

I felt this day coming.  When I really wanted to fight, even when I was tired, I would push so hard to fight back and work every day to get better conditioning.  I wanted it so badly that I would push beyond my limits just to go three or four - three minute rounds in the ring.  That seemed to be my limit.  This is an exhausting process, by the way.  People with natural energy can do a lot more than that, but I'm not one of those people.  I have to work a little harder. I only have to fight three or four two minute rounds in my division and I could always get to that point.

Even though I started boxing at 40 and just turned 50 last month, I don't think it's an age thing.  It's a desire thing.  I'm grateful for the journey fighting gave me.  I went from freezing and crying in a corner, getting pummeled on to....well, let's just say yesterday, I rested in the corner, but I was relaxed and blocking punches.  I didn't have the desire or the energy to pivot out, throw back, etc.  I don't feel like I have anything to prove anymore.  Is it embarrassing to get that tired during sparring with a twenty-something?  Yes.  Not embarrassing enough to try and make myself the victor.  I don't really need that anymore.  That's when you know the thrill is gone.

Last July, I won the National Golden Gloves in the masters division at 106lbs.  I  traveled across the country, dealt with jet lag, cut weight in the most humid state of America, and fought a worthy opponent.  Was I dying to do that?  No.  I heard this woman, Angela, wanted a fight.  While she did some unsanctioned fights, she wanted to do a sanctioned one against a woman of a similar age.  Planning on being there to film the Women's Boxing Hall of Fame and to possibly work the corner for my friend, Traci, I had the time to train - so I agreed to fight her.  She had more energy, but I had more ring experience and was able to use my boxing to beat her.  Once I was in the ring, I knew I wanted to win badly.

Yesterday, after a long time off, I decided to get in the ring and spar with someone new.  She was a bit bigger than me, maybe 10 - 15lbs; a young muscled MMA fighter.  I knew our coach, Wayne, would make sure that we were not going to war and trusted my defense was good enough that I wouldn't get hurt.  When I arrived, my old friend, Kaiyana Rain, was there.   Four or five years ago, we trained in boxing together.  She went on to be a pro MMA fighter, Mauy Thai fighter and boxer.  I help manage her.  Very athletic, she does all of these things very well.  My first round was to be with her.  I know Kaiyana and she knows she can bully me and beat me easily that way.  She is bigger and stronger and I just gas out at the end of the round so my boxing skills go out the window.

However, it's more of a challenge for her to try and outbox me.  Years ago, this wasn't happening.  Now - it's happening!  But, it's okay.  I want her to be the best fighter she can be.  This is what she does.  Does it sting a little in the ego department? Yeah. But, if I acted out of ego, I would be one hurt puppy.  Besides keeping in mind that this is all she does, while I balance writing, making films and editing, I also know she is just more gifted.  It's just the way it is.   If I REALLY wanted to be the best boxer I could be, I probably wouldn't believe that.  Or, I would just work harder.  Never give up.  That's what has been my saving grace all these years.

After 10 years (on and off) of boxing, I am lucky to have no lasting injuries.  My memory is failing, but it was failing anyway.  I got into the best shape of my life at 40 and continue to keep reasonably fit.  Now, I just want to write a damn good screenplay.

Where is the joy in boxing?


The joy these days comes from teaching others.  It comes from seeing the spark in a young girl's eye when her glove cracks the mitt for the very first time.  It comes from watching my students who used to constantly get tagged in sparring, block and move and counter, using moves they learned in my class.  It comes from working with domestic abuse survivors and seeing the joy that fills their hearts when they realize, they have the power to change their bodies, their minds and their lives.  It comes from the bond with these women that originally drew me to the sport.  We are a bunch of weirdos. Weird, subversive, knock-around women who understand how much we can grow, improve, balance our ups and downs, change our lives and help each other in a sport that is still not embraced by most people.  It's a sisterhood that cannot be explained.  That's what I love now. Time to move on.





I still wish I could like yoga...but I don't.





Tuesday, November 10, 2015

FIRED

For the first time in 27 years, I got fired. It was a part time job, that I was doing for “fun.”

I attempted to teach boxing at a new gym. It was a crossfit kind of place with energetic instructors who wear headsets and bark in sing songy voices over speakers to get people excited.  They teach boxing off an app.  Yes, an app. 1 minute on airbikes, 1 minute, combos on the bag.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, yeah, once you figure out what group goes on the bike and what group goes on the bag, it is easy. But, not easy for me.

I was told I was not energetic enough.  Even after they coached me extensively about how to make my voice change octaves, talk louder, softer, faster, slower.  They taught me how to “walk with purpose” when approaching a client; to kneel down next to him to show how determined I was.  They showed me how clapping your hands next to a person gets them to move faster. 

However, I was unable to generate genuine excitement during the class. I couldn’t yell at them like Richard Simmons to do their combos faster.  I guess that’s what happens when you put a depressive in a high energy job.  To my credit, I told them this when I first saw the class. 

Matt, the instructor, was a pretty blonde man with pretty muscles and pretty sparkly blue eyes.  He was over the top exuberant when teaching combinations and danced to the music playing in the background while he blasted out commands on the speakers.  He liked to high five people as they made their way from the bikes to the bags.  He seemed like a nice happy guy.  Next to him, I was Wednesday Adams.

I took Matt’s class and when I saw his energy, I knew I would never be able to teach that way.  I’m quiet.  Low energy, unless I’m drunk.  Or angry.  I am unable to get so excited about encouraging a bunch of people that I will try to high five every single one of them.  When I train, I don’t get high fived, and I’m going to high five these people for their shitty boxing?

I told the manager that I am not a cheerleader type and would never be able to teach like that. He said maybe there was something else I could bring to it.  He liked the fact that I was a real boxer.   A female.  A Golden Gloves winner. 

What I do offer is a good knowledge of proper technique, fight experience, nurturing, and compassion.  I’m repulsed by seeing terrible technique and will make it my business to work with people until they get it right.  The reality is, seeing a room full of 20 people who don’t know how to box, whaling on the bags wildly, was going to drive me bitchcakes. 

So the bigger question here is, why did I even try to do this?  Don’t I know my skillset?  I’m a grown ass woman.

As a struggling actress in New York, I had the romantic notion of waiting tables.  After getting fired three times, I realized it wasn’t for me.  It’s too fast paced; too many moving parts. I get overwhelmed. I was “in the weeds” most of the time.  I’m forgetful.  I don’t remember the onion rings or the dressing on the side. And I don’t think it’s okay for people to talk down to me.  I’m also not ... perky.  Not that you have to be, but I hear it helps with tips.

Does that make me a complete fuckup? Hardly, but that feeling is familiar.  The fuckup feeling.  It’s more distant now, but I remember when I got fired from my third waitressing job. It was in Gramercy Park in a place that had high ceilings and a jazz brunch and I immediately befriended the first gay waiter I saw, which was... immediately.  I felt bad for him because I knew I wasn’t fast enough in my section and he had to take over some of my tables.  I messed up too many times, so I was canned. 

For some reason, this destroyed me.  Why couldn’t I do a simple waitressing job? Even though I wasn’t “trying” to be a waitress, it attacked my self esteem. It was like a solid punch to the solar plexus. There must be something deeply wrong with me, I would think. 

I tried to become a temp soon after that, but when I couldn’t type fast enough to pass the test, I did the only sensible thing.  I became a stripper.  Fuck waitressing. 

After my meeting with the gym manager, reverberations of that insecurity resonated deep down inside me. But it was a very faint feeling. My biggest feeling was of relief.  Being a drill instructor is not my dharma.

I have success in other jobs that require patience, thoughtfulness, being good with people, one on one and overseeing others in a quiet commanding way.  I know I bring a sincerity to everything I do and I just can’t sincerely yell at people, who are not professional athletes, to train like their lives depend on it. 

The manager and people who work at the place were uber nice and welcoming and cannot be faulted with anything; except trying to get me to be something I’m not, without knowing that I’m not cut of that cloth.  My cloth is darker, a little rough, and fraying at the edges.

The bright side: It’s still normal for me to push myself out of my comfort zone to try to have different experiences.  I’ve failed so many times in life that it’s not a big deal anymore; especially doing something I would prefer not to.  The best thing that came out of this experience is that what I used to equate with self-esteem, is now self-realization; a story to be told, and later, become a memory. 




Thursday, September 3, 2015

Backwards and in High Heels

This saying always makes me smile because it is relevant to women on so many levels.  For those of you who don't know the saying and may be too young to know who Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were; they were amazing dancers in old Hollywood films.  Fred Astaire would constantly be praised for his dancing.  Finally, it was brought up that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did except backwards and in high heels.  Why weren't we praising the woman who was equally as mesmerizing?  It's just how it goes sometimes.

I don't mean this in a bitter way.  I actually find it amusing and accept it on some levels.  Am I an angry feminist?  Sometimes.  But in reality, I just want everyone to be treated equally.  I guess I am an angry humanist.

I was talking with a famous MMA fighter recently and we bonded over how difficult it can be to train with our periods.  She said she would get overly emotional and not be able to control it.  I would get fatigue so badly, I would walk into punches and my sparring partners would ask if I was hungover.  I try not to spar during that time of the month because not a lot of good will come of it.  There might be a day or two before, when the hormonal anger can push me further, but for the most part, I get dizzy and tired and weak pretty quickly which frustrates me.  I start telling myself that I am too old or not good enough and will never be able to compete again.  Perhaps I won't, but these feelings pass and eventually I get back into the groove.  It's a constant struggle not to believe the negative thoughts during these times.

Fortunately, even though my last two fights were about a week before my period, I didn't experience the symptoms as badly.  I think it could be the adrenaline in my body knowing that it had to be prepared to fight.  Or maybe I was lucky.  Either way, I realized that not many people talk about this because it is hard enough to be a female fighter, without whining about your period.  We just try to tough it out.  Let the sparring sessions suck and the new moves we are trying to learn not stick.  We hope the next week it gets better and it usually does.

My recent cycle knocked me for a loop.  In sparring, it was as if I thought my head was supposed to aim for the glove. I had to convince the guys in my group that I wasn't drinking whiskey the night before.  They were all men so I don't know if they completely understand this feeling.  When I told them I had my period, they were grossed out.  Sorry, it's just the truth!

Anyway guys, please remember we are doing everything you are doing, except backwards and in high heels!