It is one thing to say that you are willing to die in the ring. That is a necessary must.
But are you willing to train for it?
Are you willing to eat for it and breathe for it?
Are you willing to LIVE for it?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then you my friend are a champion, win, lose or draw!
I wrote the above a few years ago.
At the time I was in a dark place, and was trying to motivate myself, but I didn’t believe I would ever again have the opportunity to box.
I am happy to say this is no longer the case and I will be boxing competitively in October, all being well.
I still have some weight to lose and I am concerned about the effect my nightmares have on me physically and mentally, but I am determined to try and give my all to my training over the next few months.
I have decided to share my worries here as a way of motivating myself.
I am doing this for myself and for all of us survivors out there who are fighting daily battles that no one sees or knows about. A victory for one of us is a victory for all of us.
I will have been victorious if I can make it to that first bell and say without doubt, that I have given my all to be there. No excuses.
To be honest, I don’t know if I will be capable of achieving my boxing dream and it scares me.
I don’t know if I have enough left in the tank.
But I am now ready and willing to find out, win, lose or draw!
Listen to your heart and ignore its requests, and you will experience unbearable suffering.
Listen to your heart and comply with its requests, and you will suffer, but you will not suffer unbearably.
Last night I had awful nightmares about the men who trafficked me when I was a child living in Denver house. The nightmares were so bad that I wasn’t quite sure where I was when I woke up, or even how old I was. I was physically sick and felt exhausted and emotionally drained. My body felt so heavy, and my heart so full of pain that I could barely walk.
As a result, I cancelled my morning training session with my coach and went back to bed. The last place I wanted to be was in my bed, but I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else. A few hours later, I managed to get myself up and dressed and went for a walk with the dog.
On the walk, I recognised that I was being unkind to myself in the way that I was talking to myself mentally. I was judging myself harshly for the way I was feeling. I was telling myself that I was a complete failure because I was not feeling happy.
And then I thought to myself, really? How ridiculous is that way of thinking in the grand scheme of things?
I had to remind myself that although I was feeling ‘bad’, I was actually doing really well.
Feeling bad is not the same as, ‘doing badly’.
I am so very grateful that I have been able to make this distinction today, on a day when I have been really struggling to function.
Over the past week or so I have ‘felt bad’ on a few occasions. My second yoga class left me wondering about suffering and my relationship with it. The nightmares I had last night made think about it again.
In one of the nightmares, I was trapped in a house, trying to find a way to escape from the men who had come to hurt me. I could hear the men slamming doors and up turning furniture, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before they found me.
I was in an upstairs bedroom wondering if I could escape through the window when I noticed a newborn baby, swaddled in blankets. She had been abandoned and I knew that if I abandoned her too, she would suffer the way I had done. I couldn’t let that happen so I took the baby in my arms and hid her amongst some cushions I had noticed.
I then took a deep breath, and went out to face the men, hoping that my actions would save the baby girl from being found. As the men hurt me as I knew they would, I prayed silently that the baby girl would keep quiet and not alert the men to her presence.
I have thought about that baby girl a lot today.
She was only a few days old and had absolutely no idea of the danger she was in, but I knew, that if that child started to feel hungry, anxious or even lonely, she would cry. Suffering is a natural part of life. What is not natural is the way we learn to attach ourselves to it.
I have endured such a lot of unnecessary suffering in my life because somewhere along the way, I ended up believing that my pain was who I was. It became my identity. But the truth is, I am so much more than what I feel.
Emotions pass and change all of the time but who I am, what resides at the core of me, is solid and unchanging.
When I think of myself, and recognise the unchanging part of me, any emotions I experience are just that, experiences. They do not define me. The same is true for physical experiences.
Do not let your emotions or physical experiences define you.
We are not our anxieties or fears. We are not our pain and suffering, we are not even our happiness and joy. We are an unchanging part of the universe.
No, I am not talking about how to safely cross the road, but what I am referring to can have just as dramatic an effect on your life as being hit by a car, if you do not practice it regularly.
Yesterday evening I attended my second yoga class. Although I have tried to incorporate some yoga into my boxing training routine, I have not always been successful. Having practiced it regularly ten years ago and experienced some of its healing benefits, I wanted to create some time and space in my life now, so that I could begin to experience those benefits again.
As luck would have it, I happened across an advert two weeks ago for a yoga class that was only a few miles away from my home. The advert said that the classes were for all levels and welcomed newcomers. It also said that the classes were held on the very evening, of the day that I discovered the advert.
I believe that the universe offers us opportunities, and not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately contacted the yoga instructor and before I knew it, I was sat on a yoga mat, reconnecting with my soul.
Now here I am today, writing about this experience, for you.
After my first class I went home feeling elated. Even my food tasted better! A week later I was looking forward to my next class, but hours before I was due to attend I experienced some distressing symptoms related to PTSD. I put this down to an unpleasant nightmare I had the night before, about the abuse I endured as a child.
Although I was feeling anxious, and disconnected from everything and everyone around me, I was determined to attend my second class, and I did, however, I did not find it easy.
I tried my best to focus and relax, but the more I tried the harder it became. It was only towards the end of the class that I found myself able to give my attention to my breath and let my body release the tension I was carrying.
As my body relaxed I began to experience some surprisingly intense emotions, that were as uplifting as they were upsetting, and as I lay on the yoga mat I cried. Who knew that you could cry with your eyes closed! The yoga teacher was very good about it but I found myself automatically apologising to her for showing my emotions, when what I really wanted to say was thank you.
I could not find the words to describe what I was experiencing at the time. In my mind I had an image of myself emerging from a dark wood, only to be faced by a mountain. The mountain was imposing and just as impressive. I stood at the foot of it, admiring the sparkling, snow-capped peak that was surrounded by a clear blue sky, and I knew that I was not lost anymore.
I realised that I hadn’t been able to ‘see the wood for the trees’, but the real surprise was that actually, none of that mattered anyway. I had been lost in the wood and it was only now that I was being introduced to the truth of my situation. And although I knew I had a mountain to climb, I felt a huge sense of relief because I had seen the truth. I had felt it in my heart and I knew that by acknowledging it, I could find the peace I was looking for.
The tears I cried on the yoga mat were tears of sadness and tears of joy. Although it grieved me to think about all of the unnecessary suffering I have experienced, I was also immensely grateful to have been shown the truth of my situation. As I lay on the yoga mat, I felt at ease and completely supported by the universe. I had never felt more supported in my life and it was a revelation to know that I had that power to connect to the universe, within me all this time, and that I didn’t have to be feeling good to experience it.
The yoga class finished with the sound of three chimes, and as had happened at my first class, the sounds made me uniquely aware of my heart beat and the life force within me. I recognised that what I was experiencing was the result of a conscious effort on my part, to stop, look to, and listen to my heart.
I would encourage everyone to take the time to stop and listen to their heart as often as possible.
Switching off from all distractions, both the external and the internal, take the time to sit with yourself; get to know yourself, and then just be yourself.
Make being yourself your primary goal in life; you are unique, and whatever you decide to do in life whilst you are truly being you, will most likely be what is best for you.
And when you seek what is best for you from the inside out, you will attract what is best for you from the outside in, thus making the tiny area you occupy on this planet a happy one, and succeeding in making the world a better place, in a way that only you ever could!
I am writing today in response to a comment I recently received from a reader.
Sheree Garner, you are right, and this post is inspired by you.
I am not a girl afraid of her emotions, but a girl afraid of not being understood because of them. One of my mothers greatest wishes for me was that I, ‘ be bullied and not fit in’.
For the majority of my life I believed that there was something terribly wrong with me. I always felt like the odd one out and didn’t feel like I ‘fitted in’ anywhere. It is only recently I realised that the feelings I had were normal. After all, I was surrounded by people who were nothing like me when I was growing up, so it was perfectly natural to feel like the odd one out.
What I didn’t understand then, was that just because I was unfortunate enough to not have any like minded individuals in my life, that did not mean that there was something wrong with me.
However, I am still left with a lingering sense of loneliness and fear of ‘not fitting in’.
Yesterday, I noticed a man walking down the street. He didn’t seem particularly happy or sad. I guess you could say he was pretty poker faced. Then, the driver of a car peeped his horn and waved to the man on the street as he drove by.
This all happened in a matter of seconds but I was struck by the reaction of the man on the street. His whole face lit up with joy. His joy was contagious and I felt it with him. I wondered if recognition and acceptance is something that we all crave and need, and I believe that it is.
Not the recognition and acceptance of our skills and talents, but the recognition and acceptance of who we are; recognition and acceptance of the fact that we actually exist.
To be seen and to be known is a joyous thing.
I am still learning to be myself, but I know that living in this way will attract the right kind of people into my life, and any loneliness experienced when I am truly being myself isn’t quite as painful.
So…to be or not to be?
Definitely ‘be’, because although being true to you isn’t always easy, it is always worth it!
Thank you to everyone who has been in touch recently. I enjoy reading your comments and if I am ever indeed of uplifting or motivating, I reread them.