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I’ve been offline, trying to catch my breath between wave sets and wipeouts.

The turbulence of job shifts (I’m now working from home rather than from an office in another city), training shifts (my trainer moved out of state, my fight is coming up in April), and other big and small events and financial re-arrangements have significantly changed the shape of my days for the past month, and I’m working to discern how I will fit into my own life for the next bit of the future.

Out of necessity I withdrew from nearly all of my social hubs and just tried to hang on. Now the first and biggest wave of the set has passed (that was the biggest one, right?), and I’ve wiped out but I’m upright, catching my breath and trying to figure out how to meet the next one, which I can already see coming. Hell, I can see ten of ’em from here.

I’m in transition, I know this feeling.

In boxing, we work to get good at transitions. The entire purpose of training with intervals, for example, is to get good at physically working hard (sprinting, punching, etc.) for a 3 minute period, then to recover well in 30 seconds or a minute in order to work extremely hard for another 3 minute space. During that recovery time you mentally shift into neutral and try to convince your body to slow down. Deep breaths, hands in the air if you have a stitch, slowing down the heart rate as much as possible. Standing straight, never bending double with hands on your knees. Straight and tall, breathing, looking forward.

I’ve rarely been aware of much outside my boxing corner during the periods between rounds. I don’t hear the perpetual thump of hip-hop over the sound system, the rapid-fire gunning of the speed bag, the shot calls of other trainers in the gym, or the thwack of leather meeting leather on the heavy bags. All those external stimuli are drowned out in the deafening roar of my blood and the heavy buzz of focus that narrows your vision to a 20×20 square of dirty canvas and the ropes that give it boundaries.

The one thing I can hear — and in fact what I am listening for — is a corner.

During the period between rounds, your corner is telling you that you performed well, that you can breathe, that you are okay. You stake everything on believing them.

After a few seconds your corner begins to set your course for the next interval. She outlines a strategy, notes what strengths you should employ, and points out the lapses in your opponent’s style or form and how you can take advantage of them. And in all of this, more than anything else, your corner communicates that she believes in you. I know few powers on earth more significant than that one.

When you are in transition, you need someone to believe in you.

Someone to remind you of the many things you already know, to point out the skills you have worked so hard to build, and the goals that brought you to this point.

As I write this I am one week into training for my next fight, without the trainer I’ve loved, learned from, and counted on for the past two years . Her life has undergone a series of changes as well, and now she’s in New York launching her next big thing.

I’m sporting a black eye just turning to green and nursing a severely strained shoulder. My normal training schedule is completely wonked because I’m no longer at my office, no longer enjoying the work perk of a fitness gym one block from our building. I’ve missed two weight sessions and am looking at a week of restricted activity because of this injury.

I can feel myself thinking, “Well, you aren’t off to a great start, are you?” I took my first round hard, and am having a hard time figuring out how to get through the next.

Listening for the voice of a corner.

And there has been a new voice — entirely unexpected, but there nonetheless.

When I called Terri “The Boss” Moss, promoter of the upcoming Atlanta Corporate Fight Night, to let her know my job had changed, my trainer had moved, and I’d been injured and might have trouble getting ready for my fight, I was expecting her to be polite as always, but privately frustrated and annoyed. After all, she has a lot riding on this event, a thousand details to oversee, and lots of boxers to coach.

What I got was a corner. The voice of an experienced boxer, a woman who knows how training can go awry, who understands the position I am finding myself in, and who immediately began the litany of “You’re doing fine. Breathe. Here’s what I want you to do.” It looks like I may be driving down to Atlanta for some serious corner time.

I have to say this about the women boxers I have met during this strange and beautiful journey: you are the most incredible women I’ve ever known. I can’t imagine how I would have made it without you. Thank you for the hard training, the indefatigable spirit, and most of all, the graceful cornering.

Here’s to the next round.

Image by akeg on Flickr.

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13 Responses to Transitioning

  1. Lisa Sullivan March 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Transitions bring new challenges but if you face every single one of them with a “can do” attitude, then believing in that attitude will become second nature and your Corner will become that extra added ounce of positivity BEYOND what s/he is already. I have faith that you, Lisa, will prevail at every challenge as you get ready for April. Go get ’em, Girl! Oh and don’t forget, I’m in your Corner too. 😉

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

      Thank you, darlin’. I’m actually pretty happy with many of my transitions — but the boxing training one has been a bitch, no two ways about it.

      Thanks, deep thanks, for your words of encouragement. It’s wonderful to have such good friends in my corner, truly. <3

  2. Girlboxing March 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for this beautiful post. Transitions are never easy, but you seem to be managing it with grace and the kind of fortitude that comes from a very deep place. As for your training — your ability to adapt and find a new road is courageous and full of the kind of heart that will see through anything the ring can throw at you!

    Wishing you all the very best!!!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 8, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks, Girlboxing. Fortitude, yep — looking for a double dose of that right now. And, like the Beatles say, I seem to be getting by with a little help from my friends. Thanks for being a part of that.

  3. Laura March 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Wow, Lisa! I had no idea things were getting so crazy. I’m really sorry to hear that. I’m really, really sorry to hear that Bonnie left. That’s really disappointing. But you’ve got amazing strength, motivation and skill. I trust that to get you through.

    Terri is a perpetual force of strength and I’m glad you reached out to her.

    I hope you can make it down often. And please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime you feel the need. Us boxing chicks gotta stick together!

  4. Margaret Reyes Dempsey March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I know nothing about transitions in boxing, but it all sounds very similar to the transition stage of labor. “When you are in transition, you need someone to believe in you.” Ain’t it the truth!

  5. Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 9, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Laura, you will be hearing from me again soon. I definitely plan on coming to your town, and can’t imagine not seeing you while I’m there. Meanwhile, I can’t tell you (and everyone on this thread) how very much I appreciate the cheers of support.

    Margaret, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this, having had three babies myself, but you’re completely right. Except… that baby’s gonna come, regardless of whether you decide to bail out or not!! I guess with other transitions we have to be (grumble, grumble) adult about it and move on through with what grace we can muster. Or not, as the case may be.

    And speaking of things I didn’t consider earlier, I meant to ask everyone: what is your particular need, hope, or secret, when you’re going through a major change? Would love to hear, if you have a thought on the idea.

  6. Bonnie Mann March 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Hey Lisa,

    Transition is always difficult but with all that you have leaned with and because of boxing I am positive that you will make it through this period with flying colors. I wish I could be there with you and you know that! I love where I am at with my life don’t get me wrong but I do miss seeing you train and watching the progression.

    Keep up the good work and yes Terri will never steer you wrong. She is a Champion both in boxing and in life! Listen and learn!


    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      Thanks, Coach, your encouragement means a lot to me. I can’t imagine anyone training me like you did, although I’m deeply honored and very excited to be doing a little bit of work with Terri. She reminds me of you in some ways; fierce, tough, and incredibly talented. I’m so glad you found a wonderful place to be back home in NY. Meanwhile, I hope to see you down here on a fight card soon!

      • Sine Botchen March 13, 2011 at 11:46 am #

        I know what you are going through. This time last year I quit my job and took the summer off. Everyone thought I was crazy for leaving a job I had for 10 years in the middle of a recession without having another job secured. By the time the “advice” (admonitions) started rolling in it was too late. I had already refinanced, paid off all my credit card debt, cashed in a big chunk of stock and was walking barefoot on a beach somewhere. I didn’t care, I just needed out. I needed some downtime. One year later I’m so glad I did what I did. For me the big transition was uncertainty and learning to embrace that uncertainty (is that even a word?) and that it’s okay to accept change. Coming from someone who has only changed employment three times in his life (7 years retail grocery, 10 years non-profit management, 10 years mortgage industry) that’s a profound statement. Now I make 20k less, work outside in the sun all day (and fresh air!), do physical labor, and yet my bank account is healthier and I’m a whole lot happier. Good luck!

  7. niamh March 15, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    Transition, change, upheaval – it’s never easy. But like you say, once you keep upright you never know what can happen. I love the idea of having all those women in your corner to get you though, knowing when to reach out and say “help!” is the key to getting in to shore. Take care of that eye!

  8. Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 15, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Guess what, y’all? I’m heading to Atlanta tomorrow to train with Terri and her crew for a few days! I’m hoping to head out in the morning and be in the ring in the evening, getting some quality sparring in.

    Also, they hooked me up with a guy in Raleigh who used to train and work at the Decatur Boxing Gym (that’s Terri and Biggs’s gym) for about six years. He and I trained together yesterday in a gravel parking lot near where he works. It was awesome.

    This is working out, y’all! xoxox

    • Laura March 15, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Awww yay!! I’m sad, I won’t be at the gym tomorrow. Day 30 for the Senate means late, late night. Hopefully, I’ll see you there on Thursday evening, though!

      If you happen to be bored during the day and felt like taking a trip to the State Capitol you can always come by and say hi! 🙂

      Nice! I’m glad you’ve got someone up there to help you train (and training in a gravel parking lot is pretty bad ass-just saying).

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