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 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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Dad called me yesterday morning from the hospital.  Not only was his pancreatitis acting up, but his heart was beating super fast.  Turns out he has heart arrhythmia.  He is stable now and asking the nurses to show him how to take selfies.

I had lunch with him on Monday before he took me to the airport.  I was going to Uber if he was drunk, but he seemed okay and drove us to his favorite Portuguese restaurant in Newark, The Spanish Tavern.  There were signs on the Turnpike directing us.  My dad said the restaurant probably paid off the city in order to have those signs posted.  When we got there, I pulled my ridiculously heavy camera bag out of the car because my video camera was in there and...we were in Newark.  Almost brought my suitcase too, but dad said the parking lot was safe.

It was a large, high end, restaurant with cloth napkins folded uniformly on the plates – not what you would expect to see in Newark.  Darkly lit and old school New Jersey, it looked like a place Tony Soprano would dine.

On our walk to the table, my dad gave a flashlight pen to the Maitre'D.   Right off the bat, Dad told him he sold them and that they were good for writing down orders in low light.  Our waiter jokingly asked for one and my father sent me to the car to get “a half dozen” more.  When I came back, Dad ordered a sangria and I stayed with water.  I had just completed a week long trip in New York which included going out with friends almost every night, staying up way too late, and drinking red wine.  Not my usual lifestyle, but I don’t regret it.

When the waiter took our order, my father asked to see the manager.  I suddenly got uncomfortable and shifted in my seat.  I knew he was going to try and sell the guy flashlight pens.  I know the drill.

The manager, dark, fit and handsome, came over and my dad told him about how great the pens are and how he could have “Spanish Tavern” printed on the side.  He flicked the light on and off and urged him to go ahead and try it. 

Proudly, Dad declared, “It actually writes.” Not only that, Dad explained, “In a pen’s lifetime, it gets passed around at least 10 times, so that’s 10 people who see your business.”

I have heard this 1000 times.

The manager looked at him and then, at me.  I could tell he wasn’t sure what to make of us.  Then, he asked what kind of battery the pen took. 

My dad said, “I don’t know. I’m not very technical.  I’m just a bullshit artist.”

The manager smiled and looked at me.  I shook my head and shrugged and said, “That’s my dad.”  He warmed up to us a little more.  Maybe his father was a character too. I told him to just use the pen until the battery ran out.  My dad was giving him a tremendous deal – 200 pens for 79 cents each.  Dad buys them for 69 cents each.  Or at least that is what he told us.  Who really knows?

We slowly finished our delicious lunch of branzino and lamb chops.  After another sangria, my dad talked to the manager about how the area is changing and how he had been going to the Spanish Tavern for decades.  The manager said his family owned the restaurant since 1971.  Then, the manager asked my dad to call him on Wednesday.  He wanted to buy 200 pens.  He walked away.  My dad looked at me and winked with a little glint in his eye.  He’s still got it.  Maybe it’s even better now that he is older.  He can get away with a lot more. 

Then, my dad, a former marine and boxer, commented on what good shape the manager was in.  While I was struggling with my camera bag at the table, dad was on his way out the door.  He told the manager, “You’re in good shape.  Keep it up.”

At this point, the manager was sitting across from another guy dressed in a suit and they looked at each other.  Dad didn’t know how gay this sounded.   I laughed out loud and they caught me.  I apologized and thanked him for being so nice to my dad.  He said it was his pleasure.

I thought back to when I was a small child and dad would bring me with him on sales calls to sell checkbooks.  He said people were more likely to buy when I was with him. If the small business had kids, my dad would do yo-yo tricks – around the world, walk the dog, rock the cradle and more.  He always had at least one yo-yo in the car.  He became the best salesman in the country for his business and won awards.  I was always super proud of him for doing so well with only a high school education... and the Morley charm.

This isn’t dad’s first date in the hospital with pancreatitis.  He has been there a few times before.  However, he still chooses to drink.  Every day.  Wine in the morning, afternoon and evening.  I know I go on Facebook and write down all the #shitmydadsays, but as funny as it is, it’s also sad.  I’m sad he is choosing to go this way.  The truth is, he is in his mid seventies and for the amount of damage he has done to his body, he has lived long.

I am not looking forward to the day I won’t have any more shit my dad says.