Encouragement from the iGnite Archives: March 2012
Point to Ponder: Do you struggle with feeling “good enough”?
by Amy Younkman
Have you ever struggled with the feeling that you are not “good enough”?
I recall being in 3rd grade and feeling sadly disappointed with all A’s, and a B in Penmanship on my report card. I thought my handwriting was good, but it wasn’t “good enough.” As a teen I struggled with feelings of self-worth and self-acceptance. I was never “thin enough” or “confident enough.” Then, as a busy Mom of three, one of my favorite free-time activities was training for triathlons. One year, I placed 3rd (in my age group) in a sprint triathlon and decided I could do better, so I trained harder. The next year I came in 2nd place and elusive 1st place was never an option, as the triathlon series was discontinued. Equally elusive were my feelings of being “good enough.”
I now know why God graced me with my three children. They were pre-destined to be some of my greatest teachers. At age 16 and in a fit of frustration, I recall my oldest daughter blurting out “Nothing is ever good enough for you!” Taking the comment to heart, I began a long, slow journey of learning to let go of desired outcomes and needing to control what I perceived as the necessary end result. I passionately want the best for my kids and for myself, therefore I continually struggle to ease up on my expectations and instead, to learn the lessons the present has to offer.
Meanwhile, the little voice in my head continues to taunt me… “Are you really a good enough Mom, wife, friend, yoga teacher??” I have to stop, breathe and ask for help. I realize I am an imperfect human who, though flawed, does the best she can with a faith-filled heart. And then I offer the rest to God. Doing this frees me from the need to be perfect and in control. Divine design is constantly working through me, and I am only a small vessel amidst a fleet of God’s angels.
My yoga mat is a laboratory for my life. Every day offers new experiments and discoveries. I have found immense peace of mind through merely showing up on my mat, paying attention to my breath, and letting my body guide me as it opens and unfolds in it’s own time to receive grace. Learning to receive is a lesson unto itself. I don’t have to be a superstar on the mat; just showing up, willing to learn is “good enough.”
The beauty I have found in iGnite is that we don’t measure success by inches lost, pounds shed, or winning times; instead we focus on nurturing relationships, finding fun in the every day, and being fed in body, mind and spirit. If we can do that, it is most definitely “good enough.”
I challenge you to look at your own life vocation and ask yourself, “Am I good enough?” Today may be different from yesterday, or tomorrow. Accept yourself in the here and now, realizing you are a work in progress and God is not yet through with you.
Action Item: Accept yourself in the here and now, realizing you are a work in progress and God is not yet through with you.
Point to Ponder: Is your antenna up for signs that are around you?
by Neissa Brown Springmann
As you may know, in April 2015 my family learned that we would be moving from Austin to San Diego. My husband accepted a new job and although the thought of leaving Austin was devastating, once I embraced it, I became excited about the adventure and possibilities, such as expanding iGnite and inspiring, empowering and enriching the bodies, minds and spirits of the women in Southern California. Upon confirming that we would indeed be moving, I sent an email announcement to iGnite members, family and friends. In it I included my iGnite expansion hopes (ugh..my optimism and idealism got the best of me–why did I put that out there?!?!?). However, because I don’t know what I don’t know, once we moved I was overwhelmed and spun in so many different directions that it became obvious that my focus could only be on the needs of my family, remotely leading and supporting iGnite Austin…and finding the grocery store, a babysitter and a place to get a good hair cut, etc. etc. etc.
While I realized that my focus needed to be on supporting Russell in his job and getting our small children adjusted to our new life, I severely struggled with my purpose, relevance and a plan. For the first time in fifteen years I was broken, confused and lonely and I found myself in daily prayer — asking God to show me what He wanted me to do. Frustratingly but also thankfully, I heard crickets–SILENCE!!! On one hand this was a welcoming sign because I didn’t have the mental, spiritual or physical bandwidth to take on anything new, but on the other hand, I felt like one of the reasons He sent us to San Diego was so that I could share iGnite. I was feeling like a failure and fraud because I wasn’t doing what I said I would do.
As I wrote in a previous journal, How Well Do You Rest & Receive, I met a faith-filled and wise friend who encouraged me to use this time to pour into my family, to rest in God’s presence, receive His love and enjoy this unique time with my children. And so I did. I relinquished my self-imposed expectations and began appreciating our new and different life. I did, however, continue to pray and ask God to show me how He wanted me to use my time beyond what I was currently doing, and if it were to bring iGnite into San Diego, to please make it obvious. Until I heard Him or saw specific signs, I remained content and knew that He had me exactly where He wanted me.
And then, one day in May, I met a mom in my son’s karate class who also had just moved to San Diego from Northern California. Because we were both with our children, our conversation was chaotic, however once she found out what I did, she instantly encouraged me and told me that iGnite would be a hit in our neighborhood. “Hmmm,” I thought, “That’s interesting. She just met me and she’s encouraging me to start iGnite.”
Then, summer came and went and I put the idea of expanding in the back corners of my heart. Honestly, I pretty much wrote it off (for the time being, at least). I hadn’t received any real signs (except from the karate mom) and it didn’t feel organic or like it fit….until mid August. While playing at one of our parks, a woman who lives across the street from the park came outside to let us know about rattlesnakes that had been spotted close by. As we talked, we realized that our children were classmates and as one thing led to another, we learned about one another’s professions. She asked if I was going to lead classes in our neighborhood and I told her that while I had considered it, right now the answer was “no.” She then let me know that she and seven of her friends were going to be having their babies in December and in January they were going to want to get back in shape. Her request to me was to “let the idea of providing a class for her and her friends, marinate.” I thanked her for the encouragement and promised her that I would think about leading the class. Meanwhile, I ran the class idea past a few friends in our neighborhood and they encouraged me to go for it. More signs…..
A few weeks later I made three consecutive trips to Austin, and I was asked many times of my plans to expand iGnite to San Diego and again was encouraged to do so. Pretty quickly I realized that God was speaking through all of these people, my angels, and they were delivering the answers and signs that I had been asking for.
All of this took place during iGnite’s 10th birthday celebration as well as during our Fall Body Re-Boot, and due to October being iGnite’s 10th birthday month, upon arriving back to San Diego with the abundance of signs, I decided that as an extension of our birthday celebration I would use October to test the waters for our new community as well as for myself and family by offering twelve complimentary iGnite classes.
With the help and support of angel friends, we have had an super fun month and starting this week, a 6-week iGnite session will be held in our San Diego neighborhood-yahoo!!!
Of course I am thrilled to make this announcement, as this means a new iGnite community is being formed where friendship can be developed and women’s health can be nurtured, but more than anything, I’m sharing this story to encourage you to patiently wait and watch for the answers and signs that you are asking for, as they are being delivered everyday and in a variety of ways. Even if the sign is silence, the answer isn’t “no,” it’s instead “I’ve got something much better for you” or “not now.” And, as we have all experienced, God speaks through music, people and even random billboards. Our job is to ask, diligently pray, wait and watch. The answers will always come and then we have to boldly walk out in faith and go for it! In addition, never underestimate the power of your words and encouragement. While you may not realize it, you are someone’s angel and your words can be the difference between them stepping out and pursuing their dreams and making an incredible impact in the lives of others.
There are more layers to this story, so it will be continued. Until then, I invite you to be someone’s angel while also watching for, listening to and acknowledging all of the signs that you are being given, including your own intuition, as that’s your best message deliverer!
Be someone’s angel while also watching for, listening to and acknowledging all of the signs that you are being given, including your own intuition.
Point to Ponder: When it comes to your body, are your thoughts, words and actions routinely critical and destructive or do you operate from a place of gratitude and give thanks for your health and everything your body allows you to do?
by Neissa Brown Springmann
Like all iGnite Escapes, they are filled with unplanned and unexpected unique moments that make for the best memories. Some are laughable and life-changing, while others–well, not-so-much. For example, during this summer’s Escape in Banff, Canada, there were a few moments that landed in the “not-so-much” category. The first involved a mouse that invaded one of our condo’s kitchens during the night, while the other was out-of-control and irresponsible downstairs tenants who thought it was a good idea to leave their condo at 4:00 in the morning, after they lit a fire in the fireplace. Without going into too much detail, the short of the story is that at 2:00 a.m. they began their rambunctious party and at 4:00 a.m the fire alarm went off, which meant it was a sleepless night for three of our members.
Despite the inconveniences, there were many more inspiring and contemplative experiences, all of which I’ll eventually detail in future journals. However, for the purpose of today’s journal, one of the most memorable moments that spontaneously occurred was in the hot tub (pictured above), where we relaxed, soaked our tired bodies and reminisced about the day’s adventures. This is where, on the final evening of our trip, we met The Rubyz, an all girls Christian pop band from Nashville.
Their names are Addy, Tanner and Jessica and their ages range from fourteen to seventeen, but despite their youth, they were incredibly mature and bold. We engaged in great conversation and they even serenaded us (a cappella!), and shared their newest song, Breathtakingly Beautiful, which was breathtakingly beautiful!
As we spent more time with them we learned that their record label is iShine. This is when we knew it was not coincidence that we met. These girls were iGnite kind of girls!
Since meeting The Rubyz, I have sent them our iGnite Shine Bright tanks and even though their target market are tweens and teens, I have listened to Breathtakingly Beautiful over and over again. While I am not necessarily their audience of choice, the song’s uplifting message is powerful. And, even though at some point in our lives we have all preached confidence, value or self-worth to another female or have been preached to, this is a song that every woman, at every age and stage of her life should listen to every day. I think that even the most self-assured woman is fighting an uphill confidence battle, which is why it is imperative that we counter all of the destructive falsehoods that surround us with only positive messages and encouraging affirmations.
As it relates to our health, our confidence, self-worth and value is connected to our health, because they are what drive our behaviors and decisions. Health is much broader than the numbers on the scale and the size of our clothes. Sure, numbers are important because they provide valuable information, however health is also claiming your worth and loving yourself more than the numbers on the scale. Health is multidimensional too. It’s a delicate balance and dance between our body, mind and spirit. If we are fixated on exercise, obsessed with our weight, how we look and every calorie that we consume, we will never be satisfied or reach our goals because we are operating from a place of deprivation and judgement rather than gratitude. One way to counter the hyper-focus on the physical is to start each day by saying, “I am a breathtakingly beautiful creation by God!”
I can speak to this because I have lived this life. Looking back, I was miserably focused on the way I looked. I was always asking or wondering, “Do I look fat?, do I look skinny?, how do I look?” Any chance to catch a glance of myself in a reflection or mirror was the perfect opportunity to give myself either an A or an F. Ugh! That is all so gross! And, because I was working in the health and fitness industry, I quickly realized that I was a first rate fraud. I was not representing health and I dang sure wasn’t a good role model. All I did was look the part but I didn’t love myself. My confidence was wrapped up in my physique and I was instead representing the worst of the fitness world, which is the lie that our physical appearance defines us and gives us our value. I believe this is also what keeps women in a perpetual tailspin. It wasn’t until I stopped judging myself, gave myself a break from being perfect and began appreciating my body for allowing me to live a full life that my body started responding better than ever.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I do think being at a healthy weight is important, but it cannot control your life. A healthy diet and regular exercise is critical to living your best life, but it cannot control your thoughts, your worth or your life. Eating perfect, looking perfect and exercising perfectly can never be the goal because it’s unachievable. Instead, the vital action is waking up everyday and saying “thank you for my breathtakingly beautiful body and life”. The second step is to exercise and eat well because you love yourself and you want to honor the body and life that has been given to you.
Finally, because valuing your mind and spirit as much as your body is the key to having the greatest health and most satisfying life, I also encourage you to commit to protecting your mind and heart by not reading or listening to things that don’t serve your life or are not in alignment with how you want to think or live your life. I may sound like a prude, but last January I gave up E!, the Entertainment channel. I chose this because even though my values do not align with E!, my excuse was that at end of the day I needed brainless television. There’s do doubt that it was indeed brainless, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t absorbing what I saw, which was unconsciously impacting my thoughts about myself and my life. It makes me think of Proverbs 22: “Above all else, guard your heart because everything you do flows through it”. The things we read, listen to and watch are all absorbed by our heart which effects our overall health.
Curves, no curves, long torso, short torso, long legs or short legs, you are His masterpiece, you are breathtakingly beautiful, part of His perfect plan and created to do great things! Listen to Breathtakingly Beautiful (shown below) now and throughout the week. Wake up every morning and give thanks for your health and being breathtakingly beautiful!
Action Item: Listen to Breathtakingly Beautiful now and throughout the week. Wake up every morning and give thanks for your health and being breathtakingly beautiful!
How to Stay Energized, Renewed and Balanced Throughout Your Summer, Part III
Point to Ponder: How often do you practice being a beginner?
by Neissa Brown Springmann
This weekend I attended a portion of the Yoga Journal Conference in San Diego with iGnite Leader and friend, Amy Younkman. Amy leads our yoga and Power Pilates classes, has attended the Yoga Journal Conference for many years and always returns with excellent information. While we attended different classes, the one class that we took together was led by Bo Forbes and titled “Body Maps: The Road to Healthy Aging, Pain Modulation and Emotional Balance.” Bo teaches yoga throughout the world, and, interestingly, she is also a psychologist. She is a yogi-brainiac, and she specializes in integrating yoga, mindfulness, neuroscience, psychology and movement studies and she has worked with professional sports teams, corporations, healthcare professionals worldwide. Obviously, she is a wealth of fascinating knowledge, all of which I am so eager to share with you because as Amy and I did, you are going to love it!
First, in regard to the physical aging portion of her class, what science is finding out is that unlike what we may have once thought or been told, aging is NOT what causes the loss of muscle mass or connective tissue. Instead, the loss of connective tissue and muscle mass is what causes aging! EUREKA!
As a refresher, the reason why connective tissue is important is because it connects, supports, binds, or separates all other tissues. And, muscles are necessary because muscles are the only tissue in the body that have the ability to contract and therefore move the other parts of the body. The muscular system’s second function is the maintenance of posture and body composition. Healthy connective tissue and muscle mass is what keeps us moving and physically thriving.
Next, as it relates to mental aging, emotional balance, memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety and depression–neuroplasticity is the key. According to Dr. David Hellerstein in Psychology Today, neuroplasticity is the ongoing remodeling of brain structure (or the re-wiring of our brain map) and function that occurs throughout life. And, our day to day behavior and activity can have measurable effects on brain structure, function and health.
The key ingredient to healthy connective tissue is daily stretching and movement in every and all directions. The main ingredient for having muscle mass is strength, body weight and resistance training; and the primary ingredient for neuroplasticity is becoming an “expert beginner” and striving to participate in new movements and new experiences every day. As Bo reminded us, “The body and brain do not learn and grow from repetitive movement. Instead, they learn and grow from new experiences.” Therefore, the more we participate in life as a novice, feel incompetent and even engage in awkward and uncomfortable experiences, the healthier we are mentally and physically. BRILLIANT!
So, why is this the best and most exciting news ever?! You can access all of this goodness through iGnite! As it relates to our summer theme of staying energized, renewed and balanced, when constantly re-wiring and expanding our brain map by means of being a beginner and trying new things, the scientific proven outcome is that we are energized and experience a boost in mood. Therefore, our emotional capacity is expanded and our spirit stays uplifted!
With July 1st only a few days away, the timing of our fun summer contest to Give It a Try In July, could not be more perfect. Throughout the entire month of July, we encourage you to try all of our 28 weekly classes led by our passionate, talented and amazing Leaders. This is the ideal opportunity to re-wire your brain and body map by mixing up your exercise routine, which includes driving to new areas of town, iGniting with new members and creating new relationships.
There has never been a better time to stretch beyond your comfort zones and get good at becoming a beginner. After all, it’s in the spirit of anti-aging and health, which is TOTALLY WORTH IT!
Point to Ponder: What physical attributes of yours do you regularly wish were different?
by Kathleen Parker
A couple of months ago I went to lunch with a group of friends that I have known for a very long time. All of our kids grew up together and we gather for birthdays and other celebratory events. One of our interesting topics landed on plastic surgery, which drifted to that despite our efforts to keep our faces looking youthful, our hands show our true age. At that moment I looked down at my hands and smiled. I noticed that they were larger than most women my size, and my fingers are long with maybe more “knuckle wrinkles” than most too. I also have a sunspot on my right hand that looks like a huge freckle.
As I was driving home, I continued to look at my hands on the steering wheel. I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude as I was reminded of all the amazing things my hands have done and continue to do. They held, loved, and raised our four babies. They may not be delicate and beautiful, but they are strong! They can grip and hold a ski rope behind any boat (which is when I am my happiest!). They even won the “grip test” at the Austin’s Fittest Competition and they were great to have at the pull-up station, too. They enable me to live my dream job everyday! They are holding my husband’s hands.
Realizing that one of the least aesthetically pleasing parts of my body is actually one of my best assets has made me appreciate my big, long-fingered and sun-spotted hands.
Through our critical eyes we may see some of our greatest blessings as unattractive, too big, too small, or not good enough, but they are actually allowing us to walk, run, hold, clap, see, hear, hug and so much more. We are all perfectly made, and we are all given different gifts. So, rather than wishing we had less, more or were created differently, let’s focus on being grateful for everything we do have.
Action Item: Practice appreciating your so called “flaws” by saying “thank you” and making a list of all of things that body part allows you do.
Roots: I am born and raised in Austin. I have left to live in D.C. and Telluride, CO, but I always come back to Austin. This is home.
Family Life: My partner, Jo, and I have two kids. River is 4 years old and Townes is 2 years old.
Work Life: I am the founder of Hot Dang Grain Burgers, a company I started in 2011 and am President of Hat Creek Provisions, a fermented food company. I am on a personal mission to empower people with food!
My favorite quote:“You can be scared and brave at the exact same time.” -Brene Brown
People so often speak of “fearless leaders” and that never resonated for me. When I read the quote, it put words to that feeling. Leadership for me is scary sometimes, but trusting myself and the people I surround myself with and doing it anyway.
I’m most inspired by…my kids. I am constantly amazed by their curiosity and joy and resilience. They have such pure, sweet spirits, I can’t get enough of them.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten…Every time I left the house when I was a kid, my mom told me “Be sweet and have fun.” Somewhere along the way those words really soaked in and have shaped me.
Something people may not know about me…I have dreams of being on Broadway!
My guilty pleasure…The Real Housewives of Atlanta
What I’m looking forward to right now…A trip to Tulum next week with Jo.
When I’m not working, you can find me…Playing with my kids, cooking, on the back porch with Jo or riding a bike
My Story: Discovering Self-Love in Order to Shine in Life
My life-changing experience have come in stages. Each one has allowed me to be the most authentic version of myself.
I have changed careers and cities and houses and come-out and had adventures and big belly laughs and plenty of heartbreak and therapy and some of the best friends in the world and found the love of my life. All of these experiences have showed me the way back to my authentic self, held up the mirror for me and helped me sometimes gently and sometimes not so gently get back to myself.
Martha with Jo, her kids and her dad
No single thing has changed me more than becoming a parent. There was all of the sudden this little being (River) in our world and he became the ultimate mirror. I started thinking differently about life and about how Jo and I could raise a kid that is sweet and confident and safe in his own skin. I wanted him to feel the license to be himself.
There was something unsettled in me that I knew needed light. In this time I started meditating, reading Brene Brown and Debbie Ford and I could feel the light shifting in me. One day I was reading Brene Brown’s Parenting Manifesto, probably for the 15th time, but this time it hit a different nerve. In that moment I understood that my kids would never be able to be sweet, confident and safe in their own skin as long as I wasn’t able to give that to myself. That day I stopped drinking and smoking, my favorite coping mechanisms. I started actually liking myself and even loving who I am.
I’ll never forget the moment I was standing by our grill on the back porch and I had an experience where I could feel all of the love people had been giving to me for years that I hadn’t been able to feel. I had known intellectually that I was loved, but I had never been able to hold it. I always felt like I had something to apologize for, something to be ashamed of that made me somehow unworthy. Until this moment and the right relationship and set of circumstances, spiritual guides and tiny humans to care for taught me how to love myself.
Since that day I have been truly free. I don’t wear dresses any more. I don’t hold my tongue when I believe in something. I love my wife-to- be and our kids and the work that I get to do and the people I spend my days with. This lesson in parenting and self-love has pulled all of the parts of me together and I have given myself permission to love every bit of this journey and permission to go out and live the life of my dreams.
The effects of my “self-love” revolution left no stone unimproved. I had already started my company, Hot Dang, at this point, but I was plagued by self-doubt and insecurity in the early days. I didn’t feel like I knew enough about business to be successful, and the truth is…I didn’t, but no-one does when they start something and are immersed in learning. The shift that happened for me in business was profound. I went from a mind-set of who am I to try this, to who am I not to. I have a vision for a healthier place to live and eat and my regret would be NOT doing anything about it.This shift allowed me to boldly do and learn and unapologetically pursue my vision. The trick of living the life of your dreams is not to judge what exists in you or others and go bravely (remember, it is okay to be scared here) forward and live the life that you are meant to live. Whether that is becoming an artist, a therapist, raising kids, starting a company, being the best friend in the world, you are entitled to live YOUR dreams.Who are you not to show us your shine?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson
iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.
Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born in San Angelo, Texas. My family moved to Austin when I was 6, so when people ask where I’m from, I always say Austin. I’ve pretty much been here my whole life!
My parents split up when I was 8 years old, and I have two older brothers and an older sister from my dad’s previous marriage. My brothers and I are very close and hang out often.
I have never married or had any children. To be honest, I was never one of those little girls who dreamed about the perfect wedding or my knight in shining armor riding off into the sunset. I did play with barbies and had a barbie dream house –just in my mind Barbie had bought the house and went on a lot of dates with Ken. My favorite quote…
It would have to be “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare” by Juma Ikangaa. I saw this quote in my early years of boxing on my coach’s wall on a yellow 3M sticky note buried in the collage chaos of boxing posters and photos. I saw it and it stuck. I didn’t always follow it, but I understood it and I try to apply it to other goals I have and want to achieve.
The best advice I’ve ever received… The best advice was something somebody told me when I was young. I had a crush on a cute boy who did not like me the same way. I was really upset that he only wanted to be friends, and my mentor at the time told me that just because you can’t have someone the way you want them doesn’t mean you can’t have them at all. I think people have a tendency to get mad and try to forget about people just because they don’t feel the same way that they do. Really, you could be throwing away a good friendship, but you’ll never know if you kick them to the curb.
My dog Rocco
For fun… When I’m not at work, you can find me hanging out with my dog Rocco, fencing at the fencing club or hanging out with friends. I began fencing at the Texas Fencing Academy because my body wasn’t able to keep up with boxing on a regular basis because of my injuries.
My guilty pleasures…
Pizza, burgers, wine and chocolate.
I’m looking forward to…
I’m looking forward to someday competing in fencing. But that will be a while 🙂
Current Work Life…
I am currently a Receptionist at Sports Performance International with Dr. Ted Spears. We specialize in orthopedics and sports medicine.
MY STORY: Boxing My Way from Self-Destruction to World Champion
When I was very young, I was really shy. When my family moved to Austin things were great until my parents starting fighting a lot and eventually split up. From that moment on, I started acting out. I was getting into trouble in school and having angry outbursts, throwing chairs — the whole bit. I also became very self-destructive and started cutting myself at around age eleven. My behavior got so out of control that I was expelled from school and was sent to a mental hospital.
I was in and out of short-term facilities until I was fifteen, and then was sent to a long-term treatment hospital in Dallas. I spent about 2 & 1/2 years there being pretty self-destructive and very suicidal. I spent a lot of time in restraints… actually, most of my stay was spent in restraints.
At the time I didn’t think anybody would understand what I was going through because I had never heard of anybody doing the kinds of things that I was doing to myself. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t ask for help. I knew it was wrong and messed up, but I couldn’t stop.
When I look back on that time, I don’t even know that person. I just don’t identify with that person anymore. It was me…I was there…it’s just very hard to believe.
I eventually got out when I was seventeen, but my troubles didn’t stop there. My mom kicked me out, and I moved in with my father back in San Angelo. It was then and there that I made up my mind to do something with my life. I didn’t want to be angry anymore. It was killing me… literally, killing me. That’s not to say that I still didn’t have setbacks, but I did continue to move forward.
Saved by Boxing
It wasn’t until I stepped into the boxing gym that I really started to heal and figure things out. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and had a lot of energy. And even though I would be training to fight, at the same time I was also learning how to control myself and to channel all of my energy and hostility into a direction that was positive and constructive for me.
I walked into the boxing gym in January of 1993, after a hard night of partying and bringing in the New Year. I had decided that is was time to get back in shape and maybe not party so much. I could lose a few pounds as well. The previous year I had torn my ACL in my left knee in Tae kwon Do, and had pretty much partied my way through my recovery, had not made the best decisions and I wasn’t really turning into the person I wanted to be.
I had no idea if there would be any women in the boxing gym when I first walked in, but I was completely surprised to see Lori Lord and Amy Simmons (the owner of Austin’s famous Amy’s Ice Cream) finishing their workout. I felt comfortable right off the bat there. I walked into my future coach Richard Lord’s office, signed up and told him I wanted to compete.
In the beginning as an amateur, I couldn’t get any fights. There weren’t a lot of women fighters, especially in my weight class of junior flyweight or flyweight. Women’s fighting wasn’t really accepted and promoters didn’t want anything to do with women fighters. I can remember a lot of the fire behind my training came from wanting them to show that women could do it and we could do it well. It was pretty frustrating back then — training so hard all the time and not being able to compete. In 1995 I actually walked into Richard Lord’s office and told him that if I didn’t get a fight soon that I was going to quit.
Well, be careful for what you ask for, because within a week Richard got a phone call from a promoter in New York who wanted to put on the very first sanctioned women’s boxing match in the state of New York. So, off I went to New York to make my Pro debut and to be a part of the first women’s boxing match in the state of New York. I won that fight and kicked off my professional boxing career with a bang. My boxing was up and down — wins and losses, but I eventually earned the WIBF Junior flyweight world titleand retired with the WIBA flyweight world title.
My boxing career taught me a lot about myself and what makes me tick. I not only learned how to use physical fitness to deal with some of my self-confidence and self-esteem issues, but also how to work through things as they come up in life. I learned that when I’m struggling with something in my personal life, sometimes it takes completelywearing myself out in a workout and after I work out I’ll either have a solution or it just doesn’t seem like the end of the world anymore. That’s not to say that sometimes I didn’t just have to go to bed and wake up the next day and hope it would be a better day, but I guess I learned how to live life.Things are going to happen — they’re gonna happen everyday and you’re gonna have to deal with it, because that’s life. That’s everybody’s life.
Always Moving Forward
What I have learned the most on my journey is how important fitness is. Whether it’s just going for walks or boxing or whatever — it’s important to keep moving.
Fencing with coach Mike at Texas Fencing Academy
Now, I am retired from the fighting world. I suffered a few injuries from boxing that don’t allow me to box all the time, so I have picked up fencing. It’s tough and difficult and has its similarities to boxing, but at the same time is very different.
My fencing coach Mike and I
My outlook on life is pretty positive at this point. I’m still learning and figuring things out. I started a new sport. I’m enjoying meeting new people and really being comfortable in my own skin and feeling good about myself. I don’t compare myself to other people — don’t do that, it will drive you crazy!
I appreciate my life now. Even the not-so-good stuff. It’s made me who I am… and I’m good with that.
Becoming an Author
My book Boxing Shadows came out In 2009. I wanted to help people — I didn’t want anybody to ever feel alone like I did when I was going through my self-destructive phase.
I also wanted to give people hope — hope that you can always change and that things can get better. That it just takes a lot of hard work and you having the want to get better. I went into great detail in my book about some pretty horrific things that I had done to myself, and some people have asked if I really needed to go into that much detail. I felt that it was necessary so that whoever was reading the book could picture how bad things were, and then see that I was able to work through it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to want it like you have never wanted anything in your life…and you have to do the work.
Using My Past Struggles to Help Others:
I started speaking to groups about three or four years ago. Professor Anne Martinez’s Mexican American History class at the University of Texas studied my book, and afterwards I would come in and speak to the class.
I was nervous at first and had no idea what to expect, but there is a need for it. Some of the students reached out to me after my talk to let me know that they could relate to my story or that they had a family member that could.
I was always worried about what people would think of me after I had told my story, but each time I hear that I have helped someone by sharing it with them, it makes it all worth it. I would hate for someone to feel alone and think that they’re the only one in their situation, because it’s just not true. People go through many different things, whether it’s cutting, depression or suicidal thoughts — they just don’t talk about it. I’m trying to change that.
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iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.
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Photo from this summer’s iGnite Escape in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Point to Ponder: What have you had “enough” of? What are you wasting your time and life on? What keeps you running on the treadmill to nowhere and is keeping you from living your life, being fully present and feeling great?
by Neissa Brown Springmann
Recently I ran across a motivating radio show series called “Enough is Enough,” and as I listened, I became more inspired to also declare what I had had enough of in my life.
In last week’s journal I shared my realization that my current purpose/mission changed from what I originally thought it would be at this time. Prior to this, I was running myself ragged and trying to live up to the ridiculous expectations I placed on myself, which led me to declaring that ‘enough was enough!’ of letting my ego be my north star. ‘Enough was enough!’ of giving into the lie that my controlling ways were better than turning everything over to God in prayer. ‘Enough was enough!” of screaming at my kids and not being a present mom because I was stressed out of my mind due to believing that I needed to do more and was not enough unless I was multi-tasking and focused on accomplishing a million things.
So, what have you had “enough” of? What types of things are consuming your time and energy? What keeps you running on a treadmill to nowhere and is keeping you from living your best life, being fully present and feeling great? Because women share similar heartbeats and the human experience is not unique, here are some ‘enoughs’ that instantly came to my mind and might resonate with you too:
Do you struggle with living up to the expectations of others and are too hard on yourself? Are the people you are spending the majority of your time with life-suckers rather than life-givers? Do you live on an emotional roller-coaster because you are too involved in your children’s lives, care too much about the opinions of others, make too many assumptions and take everything personally? Have you neglected your needs and are not getting enough sleep, healthy food, adequate hydration and exercise? Have you busied yourself, are completely stressed-out and therefore your words, interactions and body language are negative, cold and argumentative? Do you no longer attend church or have a day off for faith, family and rest because your children’s extra-curricular activities have taken over or you’ve replaced it with more work? Do you wrestle with control and worry too much? Is your financial situation and spending out of balance? Have you placed a higher value on work and outside commitments and as a result neglected the needs of your spouse or the people you love? Have you bought into the lie that God didn’t create you “enough,” and therefore you have low confidence? Do the destructive emotions of shame, fear and doubt control your life? Do you reject the love of others or can’t trust others because someone didn’t love you back or violated your trust? Do you procrastinate or keep putting off what is necessary and important in your life?
With only a little over two months left in 2015 (EEK!), I want us to be intentional with the way we spend the remainder of our year by declaring and writing down the “enoughs” in our lives on this printable worksheet. By doing this, your spirit will give you valuable knowledge and information about what you are willing to accept in your life. This level of awareness and information will minimize the chances of transferring negative actions and emotional garbage into 2016 and will promote healthy progress by adding what’s necessary, rich and wonderful into your new year and life!
Action Item: Be intentional with the way you spend the remainder of your year by declaring and writing down the ‘enoughs’ in your life on this printable worksheet.
I’ve always been of the mindset that children have it figured out. It stinks that we have to grow up and often times become jaded, cynical, insecure and obsess over our perceived pudgy legs and numbers on a scale. Children don’t worry about how many steps they take in a day or how many hours they spend exercising. Instead, they simply play — run, jump, spin and dance. They ride their bikes for hours, climb on the monkey bars and enjoy a high-calorie treat without feeling guilt. They stop eating when they are full, don’t talk about others, and without fear or doubt of what others think, they proudly proclaim what they want to be when they grow up, just as my five-year old nephew Cole did at his pre-school graduation when he announced that when he grew up he wanted to own a doughnut shop. Awesome!
Last week while finishing a hike and walking along the beach, I noticed a man, probably in his forties, standing alone in shin-deep water and jumping over every wave that came his way. Like a six year-old would do, each time a wave rolled in, he’d hop over it! It was the most playful, inspiring and refreshing sight. I watched him for several minutes and it was a great reminder that nature gives us everything we need to calm, invigorate and feed our body, mind and spirit. And what I loved so much about this guy was that while he was playing, he wasn’t worried or fearful about what those of us around him thought. In my opinion, the enormity and magnificence of the Pacific Ocean made his fears of what others might think insignificant, while also putting troubles and life stressors in perspective. At least that is what nature does for me. It swallows my doubt and fear and allows me to shine!
Robin Roberts, the always shining and inspiring co-anchor of Good Morning America, has a great line about doubt and fear in her book Everybody’s Got Something. She says:
“We all have doubts and fears. The thing about fear is that it only needs the tiniest space, the size of an eye of a needle, to get through and wreak havoc. Maddening, but true. So, when I was struggling in doubt, I would simply take the next small step. I would stop and think: No, life is not tied up with a beautiful bow all the time, but it’s still a gift. I’m going to tear away the wrapping paper like a kid at Christmas.”
What I love so much about Robin’s wisdom is that instead of running from her fear and doubt or dreading it, she sees it as a gift and looks forward to tearing into it to see what it is, just as a child would and just as Kayla Montgomery, the eighteen year old in the video below, who, despite being diagnosed with Multiple Sclorosis and losing feeling in her legs when she runs and when her body heats up, was determined to not only run, but win! It’s their child-like perspective that has kept them curious, eager and willing to conquer their fear, doubt, and SHINE! What a great example for all of us!
Action Item: This week, try facing situations with the fearlessness, playfulness and confidence of a child.
Point to Ponder: Do you realize you are here to do something great?
by Neissa Brown Springmann
As I’ve written about in past journals, my favorite magazine is SUCCESS. SUCCESS provides countless stories and tips for anyone striving for personal and professional success and wanting to become better. Darren Hardy is the publisher and founding editor and he also provides a free and daily motivational message called Darren Daily, which I love. His quick, interesting and inspiring message is sent every morning via text and email. Because I’m a motivation junky and don’t think you can ever have enough positive messaging in your life, I subscribe to his service. I don’t always listen to it, but when I do, the impact is far greater than the three minutes I spend listening to it. Most recently I was inspired and encouraged by Darren’s terrific message on the power of believing in yourself.
I wish I could say that I never lack belief in my abilities, both personally and professionally, but I definitely do at times. As a whole, I would venture to say that self-doubt, a lack of self-confidence and belief in ourselves is what prevents us from getting exactly what we want in and out of life. Whether it be the career we desire, a mutually respectful and loving relationship, or simply trying something that we’ve always wanted to try, it all starts with belief in oneself.
This certainly trickles down to our children, marriages, and really all of our relationships. Where, when, and if we doubt someone’s abilities, even if we don’t speak it, has a negative energy and can be physically felt. Belief or lack of believe has infinite effects. Can you imagine if from the day you were born you heard the words, “I believe in you!” Can you imagine the compound and staggering effects!? And what if we added the words, “I believe in you and I love you? You were created to do something great!” Can.you.imagine?! To speak in terms of last week’s journal, ‘It’s Time to Turn on Your Shine’, our shine would be on all of the time!
You may be thinking, “I never tell myself I don’t believe in myself,” but do you ever tell yourself that you do believe in yourself and that you were created to do something great? The heart knows what the brain is thinking, and vice versa. We can’t hide from our doubt or disbelief.
The words “I believe in you. You were created to do something great!” cannot be heard or told enough, and we must always speak them out loud and to ourselves everyday, in every circumstance, and in all situations. Then, we should also speak those words to everyone else — our spouses, people we are in relationship with, colleagues, children, friends, family members and strangers. My mind gets blown just thinking about the progress we would make and how much happier, healthier and satisfied our lives would be if we did this on a regular basis. To believe that a divine source, whom I believe is God, not only believes in us but also created every.single.one.of.us to do something great, would forever change the negative and limiting thoughts that we can have about ourselves and others.
Small children are fearless inspirations. They will try anything and they believe they can do everything. The picture above is of my four-year-old son, Durant, at Solona Beach on his boogie board. While his boogie board is sitting on the sand and not floating on the water, he believes he is surfing. I didn’t tell him otherwise, I just cheered him on.
This child-like and child-proof sense of belief is what we can never lose and can never stop instilling in others.
Regardless of the lies that someone in your childhood may have told you, you must always remember that you were created for greatness. The lies were about that person, not you, and the unfortunate lies that someone once told them. Don’t let someone else’s lies define you, your future or your family’s future. Instead, let the truth — that you were created to do something great & that you were created to shine — define you and your family’s future.