I get two responses when people realize I’m nearly obsessed with boxing. Either I am an undercover psycho with a lot of anger issues, or, they laugh. Dee? Hitting heavy bags? They laugh, literally.

The first time I spent with a trainer on pads, he would stop often and say, “Dee stop smiling. It’s creepy.” I’d laugh and then realize he was serious, so I’d press my lips together as best as I could and focus on that jab-jab-cross again, even though everything in me said, “you suck at this.”

I started boxing near the end of last year after writing a profile on the ringleader of a new studio in town, and became nearly obsessive immediately. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but I was in love with boxing. Since then however, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the reason I box. Mostly, it turns out I’m a lover and a fighter, but let me explain.

At first it was to help me win a bet. Cousin Jordan and I had a bet going on to help us get back into the gym, but after that was done (and I won), I wasn’t about to leave that little studio. I had realized it wasn’t about getting sweet abs, though that would be cool. And it certainly wasn’t to work out my silent anger issues.

It was about me – just, me. While some people might think that’s a little self-indulgent, let me share with you the real reasons I’m obsessed. Hopefully by the end of this, you’ll find your own form of boxing.

FOCUS ON THAT BREATHING//

The first thing you learn in boxing is your stance and how to throw a punch properly. The next thing you learn is that you have no idea how to breathe, and, you might die. During a high intensity class, the only thing you hear is music and the trainer, who is often saying “focus on that breathing, in the nose, out the mouth …” I’m not kidding you, this lesson has followed me in my life. As soon as life starts feeling a little ‘high intensity’, you’ll find me reminding myself to focus on that breathing.

DEFINING THE OPPONENT//

Most people ask me who I picture when I’m smashing punches on the bag. And honestly, my answer is, “Negative Dee.” I could focus on everything and everyone else around me, but I actually end up losing focus, and lose sight of the real opponent. So, when I’m smashing that bag, I’m thinking about who I am, and what I’m capable of. When fear, doubt, insecurity, absentmindedness, or inability whispers to me during class, I remind myself of who I am. Boxing is a mental sport as much as it is physical, and I think life is pretty similar. Whenever I’m tempted to start thinking about external things or people to blame, I can see myself fighting the negativity inside of me instead.

RISING ABOVE//

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say doubt and insecurity so easily make their way into our life on a daily basis. It’s annoying. But for 50 minutes a day, I don’t have time to give to those thoughts, because I’ve got another five seconds to work out a few more combos. It’s a lot like every day, you know? I’ve got this option every single time I am faced with doubt or insecurity to give it the time of day, or, I could crush some goals instead. And every time I chose it, I learn to fight for me.

A lot of my life is focused on other people, which I really love. Between full time school and a handful of part-time jobs, my life gets busy. But for 50 minutes a day I get to focus on me, which I believe is necessary to be able to focus on other people well.

After coffee with a pastor I adore, he reminded me boxing can be my source of rest, if I wanted. It made me think about how I view myself, and what is important to me because ‘rest’ has never sounded optimal to me. I realized through this that oftentimes, I am not important to myself. Much like me laughing and smiling without the ability to focus during my early days boxing, I didn’t have confidence in just me. But now you’ll find me sweaty in the corner of a studio focusing on me. Breathing, letting go, learning, sometimes even smiling or laughing, and being me – just me.

(And of course, it feels pretty good to hit shit sometimes.)

Honestly, I hope you can find your form of boxing – whatever makes you passionate, thoughtful, and cognizant of you – just you.

I adored the oak but was drawn by the sounds of the playful sea. And so I find myself stuck neither here nor there because those waves always move me but I should know by now they wouldn’t keep me.

It’s always this impression of freedom – the wild thrill of those waves in the wide open – crashing, lulling and bubbling around my toes, ankles, fingers and hips, and I should leave but it moves me. It pulls me until I am covered, dripping, floating, thirsty, happy, searching, giggling, surrendering, held and left, and held, and … Read the rest of this entry »

It was a winding road and cool spring breeze. I was sitting tall behind a good man on a motorcycle, weaving through the mountains with matted hair and wanting of nothing.

“I don’t think about anything when I ride,” he said with a silly grin on his face, smitten by a piece of machinery he calls his Girl.

But I was thinking, and, it was good too. Read the rest of this entry »

A long time ago, we sat at her table – she with creamy tea, me with her watered-down coffee – looking at photos from her life. There she was with grandpa, young and in love, laughing beside an old car while Gramps held her tight. There were pictures of her as a new wife, a nurse, a mom, and as a kid too, laughing beside her brother at 12-years-old.

She told me while we were looking through those old black and white photos that her mother turned to her often to say, “Joyce, you laugh at the strangest times!”

And that, is the legacy of my grandma. This is the legacy of Joyce. Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t often give stuff up for lent. Maybe I shouldn’t write this because I’m not giving something up this year for lent either.

The thing about lent though, is that its meant to be a sacrifice or fast – replicating that of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. I’ve heard people talk about giving up candy, coffee, potato chips or Netflix, Tinder, non-Christian music or porn, but I’ve also heard people giving up stuff like complaining, and I think we should talk about the difference between the two. Read the rest of this entry »

My hair is sopping wet but I can’t be bothered to leave my bed and dry it. I have to work early in the morning, and should try to get some sleep, but I can’t be bothered. I mean, I’ll be bothered by morning when I wake up with wild kinks and an impossible-to-work-with mane, but for now, I can’t be bothered to move.

Life is busy, hey? I am not sure where half of my world is; they’re all saturated in work and family or school and love … or something between love and much less. And it’s my fault for not keeping up with them all, but it’s so busy.

Busy is such a distraction, and I despise the word for its existence. Read the rest of this entry »

I was fresh at university, nineteen years old, when I had to get a surgery. It’s a weird surgery my mom is convinced is for those who hang out on their computers too long, called a Ganglionectomy. Basically they removed a cyst from my wrist that was making my fingers move on their own in a painful kind of way. Anyhow, not the point.

So I had this surgery, and then, everything sucked.

At the same time of this surgery, I was dating this guy I’d say was my first real boyfriend. He was obviously handsome, and hilarious. But I had this surgery and after puking up all the anesthetic, I got a call from him on my navy blue Nokia cell phone.

“I can’t see you anymore. You’re marriage material and I can’t do that right now,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »