Posts Tagged ‘Daily Something

18
Aug
18

Stamina

I’ve noticed it all summer long—small minute observations of not being on my game. Whether it’s slowing down in the ring as the rounds add up or the feeling that I’m going to run out of breath when I walk from home to my writing room or from my office at work towards the subway.

These are things I take for granted: having the pep and vigor to work hard through my 16 rounds of training at Gleason’s or walking at my fast pace wherever I go, in fact hating when I amble as some sort of flaw in the process of how I move through space

And yep, it’s been hot and humid, even at 6:15 in the morning. And as for Gleason’s – well it’s a boxing gym! Air conditioning is for the winter when cold air barrels through because there’s very little heat—and summer, well, the heat and mugginess is just part of the “allure,” not to mention a sure fired way to loosen up tight muscles.

In contemplating why my stamina is off, and why there have been times this summer when I’ve had to stop in the middle of running pads with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore, sit for a while under one of the overhead fans with a wet towel on my head before picking it up again on the double-end bag or the speed bag, I’ve wondered if it’s just the heat, or something else.

Is it turning 64? Is it the process of the body inevitably slowing down even when one does the same thing repetitively? Is it mental? A sense of not being in the moment, my thoughts wandering off somewhere, stealing glances at CNN’s early morning news show as I shadow box around the ring—feeling my guts tighten and cringe at whatever the latest outrage is about children being separated from their parents or yet more cuts to things like food stamps and healthcare?

In thinking about stamina—that ability to work at something long and hard whether it’s something physical or mental or both for that matter—I’ve been thinking through the processes that gives one the feeling of invincibility as one works through the problem, whether it’s running five miles in a set amount of time, boxing a set number of rounds, or putting in the hours to write a book; efforts that require focus, attention, and a sense of being present with what one is trying to accomplish.

I’m hoping that my being “off” in the gym—is some combination of heat and mental focus, and in thinking it through even further I do have to own up to the fact that I’ve not been resting as I should and have been letting the day-to-day stuff we all live with “get” to me.

And so in trying to tease out stamina—I can see it as a “trifecta” of sorts: one part being in shape, one part being focused, and one part being present enough to let it all happen. And sure, it can be physical too—but the truth is, I just don’t buy, at least not yet, and so off I’ll go on Monday to work it out on the bag again.

16
Aug
18

If not now, when

I set my alarm to wake up at 5:15 AM today.

Now up and making my way through our quiet apartment, I am aware that it is dark again. A quick check shows the sunrise today will be at 6:07 AM, a sign, even in mid-August, that the sun is well into its descent from the northern latitudes towards its winter digs. If I measure life as a cycle of comings and goings from sunrise to sunset and sunset to sunrise, it’s also a reminder that it all keeps moving whether we are conscious of it or not.

Where did the brightness of the morning go at 5:15 AM? Wasn’t it just there when I woke up ahead of the alarm to make my way to the gym?

Writing this, I am aware that it’s the very consciousness of things that is beginning to concern me.

Where does the time “go”?

I ask having spent a lovely couple of hours yesterday evening with my daughter wandering through the Ikea in Red Hook as we grabbed stuff for her college dorm room. Could it really be that she goes back to college in a week and a half? Or that it is her second year?

That collapse of time, accompanied by the sense of its moving on without being aware of it is why I set my alarm for 5:15 AM today. Yes, it’s a weekday, so I have to go to work, but no, it’s not a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, so my day will not start with my hour’s workout at Gleason’s Gym. This hour will have another purpose—it marks a beginning of sorts; a reminder that each day should bring its daily something; some moment where I take the time to remind myself to smell the roses.

Today’s moment is this: It is the act of waking up early and becoming conscious that the sun hasn’t risen yet—and then contemplating why I didn’t notice it yesterday or the day before or the day before that.

It’s when I ask myself if not now, when in a life that is otherwise fast-paced and so punctuated by a constant bombardment of information that it’s no wonder I haven’t looked out the window to be conscious of the darkness of the sky—or of how as I have written these words the pre-dawn light has begun to glow with a grayish blue tinged by pink and little bits of yellow.

08
Jun
18

A few things I know

Sometimes speaking in platitudes is a way of getting at the truth of things. One of them that I’ve been mulling over lately is about not cheating at solitaire. That might seem fairly straightforward—I mean really, how silly is that—but ultimately it is something we do all the time. That old game takes many guises, but mostly has to do with not leveling with oneself about what one is truly doing.

In the game of boxing, as in life, getting the fundamentals right, and building upon them through repetition—those 10,000 hours of repetition to gain mastery—is the best way I know of to approach the process. In life, that can be translated into owning up to who and what we are, including those pesky faults we carry along with us as so much extra baggage we inevitably pay for as if we’d checked it in for a long haul flight.

Having just come back from ten days in Paris with my daughter, I’ve reminded myself about what it means to travel light—aside from bypassing baggage claim, where I admit to having some of my epic hissy fits across a lifetime, traveling light can also mean getting to the heart of things. When it came to my luggage—actually only half filled—I got down to the basics of bringing along only what I truly loved, including I’ll add a pair of hand wraps, just in case, and even then, I could have pared further.

Finding a convenient Laundromat, meant an hour and a half foray into the life of an average Parisian without a washing machine in their apartment, which in and of itself was a fun excursion, but it also meant that the clothes I wore were ones I felt most comfortable in—plus the bonus of maybe a little capricious shopping for something that tickled my fancy with plenty of room left over.

Okay, I get it, the clothing analogy in a suitcase is not necessarily what I’m after when I talk about cheating at solitaire, but the point of it is, we do carry a load of crap about who and what we are, and what our relationships mean, that bogs us down and sometimes keeps us from getting to the essential meaning of our lives.

In a boxing context that can mean going through an awful lots of motions without getting back to the fundamentals that brought us there in the first place—or saw us to begin to develop the skills necessary for ring survival and mastery. The training is the thing in terms of stripping down because it is that mastery that brings us the room for artistry. And while my half empty suitcase may not be the exact analogy to drive home the point—those shoes I bought were pure poetry, and having the room for them has certainly brought a spring to my steps as I walk about my beloved Brooklyn.

 

27
Jan
14

Sometimes only a chocolate cupcake with mocha icing will do …

Sometimes only a chocolate cupcake with mocha icing will do …

Chocolate Cupcake with Mocha Icing

Or sometimes two, along with a really good cup of coffee and the sense that whatever ails will pass.

I’m recuperating from the sneezing, running nose, sore throat, coughing and general malaise that goes with the territory of a winter cold.

The Tardis - Dr. WhoA box of tissues, a package of cherry-flavored sugar-free cough drops, countless draining with the netty pot and several episodes of Dr. Who later (finished series six and halfway through seven), I’m beginning to bounce back, albeit having missed two of my three gym days for the week, and what with the snow, no running.

I know, I know, cup cakes are the LAST thing I need having not worked out since last Monday, however, the calls to the soul of a perfectly formed chocolate cupcake (or two–GERD be damned) sometimes just overrules all possible objections.

And tomorrow is another day.

One thing good that came out of my Dr. Who binge (not to mention having watched The Expendables 2, Red Dawn (the remake), and Olympus Has Fallen — yep serious B-movie trashy, action-packed, shoot-em-ups), was the realization that I’d truly over done it, which prompted me to actually write last night. Well not exactly write, but edit and think through material I’d written a year ago (dare I say on the way towards a novel?) — along with an insight or two that gave me a new sense of the work as well as a few added paragraphs.

Olivetti Underwood TypewriterI guess it’s all a long way of saying that while not exactly a new project, I may well have tapped into a fresh perspective, that will see me “bend-it-like-Beckham” into something with a bit of wow for myself because it screams out into new territory layered on top of stuff I’ve written about off and on for years.

Not too sound mysterious, but in the scheme of things, writers tend to revisit the questions over and over (at least this writer does), and to find a new angle for those questions opens up all sorts of possibilities.

The coming weeks will tell as I begin to settle into some sort of writing schedule for the work — and also tease out how to better plan out the blog with days for pure reportage and other days for the general stream of freely written thoughts.

I’d also like to thank everyone for hanging in with me! It seems I’ve hit 400,246 all time views–an extraordinary feat in my estimation with all of you to thank for it, because let me tell you, when I started back in October 2010, I never thought I’d see a 1,000 visits!

It really has been an incredible honor to write about women’s boxing from every angle I can think of–and then to have folks stop by to read what I’ve been up to just adds to how joyous this all makes me feel.

So kudos to all of you for sharing in my daily something — even when I can’t make the daily part of it all!

26
Jan
12

Smelling the roses!

Smelling the roses!

“Where has the day gone?” seems to be a popular mantra lately.  Just replace the word “day” with “week” or “month” or “year” and one sees a snapshot of how most of us interact with our daily lives.  We perceive of ourselves as working too hard with too much to do and have a language that reflects our sense of how so much of our days are spent in unwanted toil.

The classic example is the expression “hump day.”  For the nine-to-five office workers that means Wednesday, an otherwise stalwart of elevator conversation as in “well at least it’s hump day.”  This presumes a sort of misery in the world of work that carries over into the too tired, too grumpy, not enough time mindset of after-five, when one’s world seems to revolve around commuting, grocery shopping, making dinner, engaging with children at varying levels — and oh yeah, interacting with one’s significant other who is often in the same place.

I guess I’m on this theme because I find myself fighting the trend. I’m literally trying to smell roses when I find them — and if they’re not there, the memory of when they are in bloom.  My favorite spot is about two blocks from my house.  In the summer and well into the autumn they form a lovely banister of color as I make my way to Gleason’s on Saturday mornings.  I’ll walk along past the Farmer’s Market and there they’ll be, dozens and dozens of pink roses with deep pink tinges in varying states of bloom, some tiny and forming, others full, and still more languidly open drawing in the last drops of sunshine till they fade and fall.

I bring all of this up because I feel that many of us forget that there is beauty in the little things.  Perhaps even in the things one sees everyday:  the way the light hits the array of plants in someone’s office window, a co-worker’s twinkle at regaling a story of her infant son’s smile, the triumph in someone’s eyes after completing 300 sit-ups.

All of these things are reminders that life is made up of moments: some are lovely and some are admittedly hard to grapple with or even sad, but still, they make up the textured interlacing of experiences that form our days.  Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that they are there even when we can’t see them. I for one am trying to live that way again.

23
Jan
12

Getting back in the swing!

Getting back in the swing!

Whether it’s perfecting your left hook or flexing your mind (as in keeping a “daily” blog) – getting back to a regular regimen is tough going when you’ve been away from it for a while!

Having stepped into the gym on Saturday for the first time in three weeks was a case in point.  I’m nursing sore abs, a creaky shoulder and a mindset that is less focused on perfecting the minute shifts of tuned-up training, than just getting to the gym at all.

So my job is to push my momentum, meaning, getting myself back on a weekly gym schedule that *builds* rather than maintains!  I’m also trying to talk myself out of the neat excuses for not going such as, “I’ll be out of town on Saturday” or “I’m tired” or “it’s raining out” … you know the drill!

I can say the same for writing!  When I don’t write every day I get out of the habit — so, starting today, I am bound and determined to get back on the writing stick!  And yes, I’ll even give myself some slack for having finished up my degree, et alia, but a daily blog is just that, a daily blog.  That means putting fingers to the keyboard with a mindset that can get past the range of reasons *not* to do something.

Meanwhile, it’s 2012 and I’m already over three weeks behind in getting my resolutions in order for the year!  So here goes!

1.  Write a daily entry for Girlboxing!

2.  Gain more strength, endurance and flexibility. Being in my late 50s means I need resistance training and a lot of it to keep my bones strong.  I also need to do more aerobic training, and yoga.  That means getting back to a training schedule that has me doing at least one thing a day and on some days all three!

3.  Eating better!  Yikes.  This one is tough.  Having been diagnosed with LPR (Laryngeal Pharyngeal Reflux) and GERD (Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease) PLUS having Barrett’s Esophagus (the cells in the esophagus near the gastric junction actually CHANGE due to acid erosion), I’ve been living a low-acid/low-fat life!  What I have to get to, however, is better balance in selecting meals and foods and how they are combined.  This one is a tough to sort out – and I’ll actually do a column on it sometime soon, suffice to say that I’m getting there.  I’ve lost nearly 25 pounds since the change in my eating regimen in July 2011, now the trick is to go the rest of the way (another 10 pounds), while continuing to build muscle (which has suffered as late) so that when I eventually meet my goal, I’ll be a healthy and toned – rather than depleted and weak.

4.  The next project:  now this is the tough one!  I’m thinking book and just have to move into the space by DOING rather than angsting about it.  And therein lies the sticky problem: getting to the DOING part.  Again, it’s a matter of starting and once in the habit continuing the process until it is concluded.  Easier said than done?  No, probably not ‘cause we all have goals that we set and follow.  It’s that pesky issue of getting started!

What it all comes down to for the year:  Doing!

So, day one in my reforecast New Year means putting the fingers to the keyboard to say thanks so much to my Girlboxing friends for listening and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And how nice that it happens to coincide with the Chinese celebration of the Year of the Dragon!

GONG XI FA CAI

11
Apr
11

Good morning from Brooklyn!

Good morning from Brooklyn!


It is way too early, and yet with books from my latest grad school paper strewn about me on the couch, the noise of buses beginning their early runs and the thought of a Starbuck’s morning bun to get me going, I’m feeling rather privileged to be able to write a blog piece.

Plus I’m feeling quite joyous at the realization that today marks my 200th post!

I’ll admit it, I’m wowed!

And having put one foot in front of the other since starting this blog on October 7th — (is that really just a little over six months ago) I’m doubly wowed at how much writing Girlboxing has meant to me not the least of which because it’s brought me into two intersecting communities of things I love: writing and boxing. 

Thank you all for being the audience for my musings!

And for the chance to wake up at ridiculous hours in the morning to do my daily something which has grown to include writing, morning yoga and the occasional shadow boxing foray around the living room.

It’s also gotten me back in the gym on a regular basis and most importantly, a renewed appreciation for the sweet science and overwhelming respect for the men and women who practice the art.

On the more personal side, writing Girlboxing has been my own private Kaddish.  A way to honor memory and loss as a daily act of positive intent by exalting the best in life.  Some days are better than others, but I always, always write with a sense of wanting to have each day be that much better than the last.

Thank you all again for your generosity in listening!

 




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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