Tag Archives: hope

Anissa’s Story: Boxing My Way from Self-Destruction to World Champion

Roots… 
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

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

image2It 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.

image5I 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 title and retired with the WIBA flyweight world title.

image7My 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 completely wearing 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

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 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:

image6I 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.

– – –

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 hello@igniteyourlifenow.com

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Forever Forward, Never Back

iGnite - go forward, never back

Point to Ponder:
Do you ever find yourself living in the past?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

From September 3 through last Tuesday, September 15, I’ve had company staying with my family. Knowing that I was in a new city with children while my husband Russell was traveling, my father, stepmom, mother and sister all made special plans to come out and be with me on and around my birthday. And, unbeknownst to me, my dad, who is a total worker-bee and can’t sit still unless he’s quickly eating or watching a sporting event, had a specific agenda: to help get us out of boxes and settled into our new house. A.k.a. WORK!

It was wonderful to see my family, and I was so thankful to have them, but by Tuesday I was eager to get the kids and I back to a routine (a.k.a. CONTROL!). The time for exercise, uninterrupted time, responding to thirteen days worth of email and an opportunity to tackle my ever-growing personal and professional to-do list had finally come, and after dropping my children Durant and Malaine off at pre-school on Tuesday, it was MY time!

I planned to take a quick walk around the neighborhood near the kids’ preschool and then go to a yoga class. It was sprinkling outside, but the idea of walking in a light rain sounded delicious. Just before heading off, a dear friend called so I grabbed my phone to walk and talk.

The friend asked how I was doing with our recent move, and I told him I was struggling. I expressed that I was not questioning God’s plan, however the greatest challenge has been adjusting to no longer having an amazing community of family, friends, and support (CONTROL). And, having felt so purpose-filled in Austin, I was struggling with finding my purpose in San Diego, which was why I was clinging to my life in Austin. He listened intently and having moved a lot himself, he validated my feelings and gave me some helpful advice: take baby steps forward, take care of me, and don’t compare my life in San Diego to my life in Austin. It was a new time and I needed to work on slowing my brain down and releasing my expectations. I agreed with everything he suggested, and I proudly told him that today was the day that I was going to focus on Neissa — hence the walk and yoga class.

During my walk, the sprinkle turned into a solid rain—so much so that my eyes burned from the little bit of eyeliner I was wearing. I was totally fine with this because I had clothes to change into, it was MY DAY, and San Diego needs the rain. So, within twenty-five minutes I was back at my car to grab my yoga mat and a change of clothes when I realized my worst nightmare — my purse, wallet, and work bag with computer, day planner, mail, and work notebooks were all gone. They had been stolen! My driver’s license, expired passport, credit cards, check books….gone. It was ALL gone, including MY DAY! “My day” quickly turned into the misery of filing police reports, canceling bank accounts and credit cards, calling pawn shops and driving around with the hope of finding my things lying around the area.

As you would expect, “the day of me” and getting anything on my to-do list accomplished was no longer an option. I won’t bore you with the un-fun details of trying to get an California driver’s license when you have no form of ID except a paper copy of an expired driver’s license, a paper copy of your birth certificate and a Costco card, but what I do want to share is what I learned through the process, as I think it can be universally applied. I’ve had to find reason and some glimpse of positivity in this incredibly frustrating experience. Ultimately, I think it relates to our ability to shine throughout life, as I wrote about a couple weeks ago in It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine.

4 Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way:

  1. For starters, my work, technology and to-do lists have been and are my idols. They give me purpose and security and keep me distracted. Upon realizing that all of my things were taken, it became absolutely clear that God was telling me to let go, trust in Him and let Him take over. Do I think He made this happen? Of course not. Bad things happen to good people every single second of the day, but He knows that I am feeling completely out of control and have been clinging to every thing that makes me feel safe and secure. I shine when I find comfort, hope and security in God rather than things.
  2. Second, while it is a terrible and sad inconvenience, it’s actually nice to have my to-do list stolen! For the first time ever, I’m not busying myself with it and frantically trying to find time on my computer so I can respond to emails. And, you know what? Life is going on! I actually thought I was that important! Yes, I am skimming email on my phone, but I’m not checking email on my phone and computer. It’s actually liberating! Will I get another computer? Of course, and I pray I can recover everything I lost. But for the first time, I am giving myself a real break– because I don’t have any other choice. My poor kids actually get a focused mom. I shine when I am a present mom, wife, friend and person.
  3. Third, you must keep moving to survive. Always go forward, never back. I actually wrote down this quote weeks ago in a notebook…that was of course stolen from my work bag. I heard the words from the goofy kid movie “Shark Boy,” and for weeks I’ve thought about how perfect the advice is for our move from Austin to San Diego, and most recently, how I’ll deal with recovering my stolen items…and really for any of us who struggle with living in the past or comparing our present to our past! As for my recent move, it’s critical that I stop looking back and comparing my life in Austin to my life in San Diego. My spirit will not survive if I continue to do this. I have to move forward every day. Regarding my stolen possessions, I so badly want to live in the past and cry over what happened, dwell on it and talk about how unfair it is, but again, I won’t survive by doing that. I have to move forward, take baby steps and make progress in the recovery process. What’s done is done. I can’t change it and there’s no looking back. Just as with life in general, our past does not define us! Thank goodness we have evolved and aren’t the same people we once were. Most importantly, we will not survive nor thrive unless we focus on our future and on becoming who we need to become and are created to become. Our past has been given to us for memory’s sake and to give us wisdom — but not to live in. Sometimes our past can motivate us, but too often we get stuck in it and are unable to move forward and appreciate what we have right now. For women specifically, we are usually desperate to be the same weight as we were pre-children, on our wedding day or at some point when we were younger. I get that, but that’s no way to live and thrive. I think we would be better served and our bodies would respond in the ways we are hoping for if we treated it with more appreciation and gratitude. We beat ourselves up — thinking we need to look how we used to look. That is torture, and the antidote is to always look forward. We shine when we give thanks and appreciate what we have.
  4. Last, within one hour of the theft, iGnite leaders and dear friends Kathleen Parker and Catherine Sanderson randomly called. It was so comforting and calming to hear their voices. Then, I immediately texted the iGnite Team, informed them of what happened and asked for their love and prayers. Knowing they were praying and sending me love made a significant difference in my attitude and spirit. I knew this before, and I continue to be reminded of the importance of community. You can’t have enough community and supportive friends. We shine in community and are #strongertogetHER!

Action Item:
Remind yourself that your past has been given to your for memory’s sake and to give you wisdom — but not to live in. Look forward only. Appreciate and be present in the now.

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It’s Never Too Late

The Wisdom Share Continued
Living in Community, Part III

Embrace change

Point to Ponder:
Do you ever find yourself thinking it’s ‘too late’ to make something happen in your life?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

While in the middle of our wisdom sharing, a dear friend of mine from out of town sent me an inspiring story about a 91 year-old women by the name of Barbara Beskind who is working her dream job in Silicon Valley. Yep, you read it correctly. She is working her dream job at 91 years old. Pretty amazing, right?!

Upon reading Barbara’s story, I had just spoken to a small group of business students and told them that as an entrepreneur I have yet to arrive, which is very frustrating because I really want to arrive! I realize that this is just life and me always wanting to be better and “get it right,” but Barbara’s words were timely and reminded me to never lose hopedream big, always persevere and that there is continual purpose and meaning behind everything that happens in our lives.  Barbara said this: “I arrived! As a ten year-old I wanted to be an inventor, but it took me 80 years.”

Scott Stump’s article about Barbara is bursting with her spry and sharp wisdom resulting from having grown up during the depression. Here, a few of Barbara’s pieces of advice I enjoyed most:

  1. Get Rid of Your Devices: “I’m one of the wealthiest people in the world. I’m as wealthy as Warren Buffett because I measure my wealth by having uninterrupted time. I have no cell phone except one to use for emergency. I have no laptop. I have no smartphone, no iPod, because I can’t see them. I have uninterrupted time to think.”
  2. Expect the unexpected: “I think the beauty of being 91 is that you can look back and see how the little pieces fit into the big pieces of life, and life is a complete puzzle. Only when you get to be this age can you see it, and that’s the joy and the excitement of it.”
  3. Don’t let age get in your way: “Age is not a barrier to performance. Live life as an adventure, and expect change and endorse it, embrace it. Because as you age, every day you will be making changes. You will be adapting to changes in the way you have to do things whether they’re physical or they’re visual.
  4. Don’t let “old” become your identity: “Everybody has untapped resources. You just have to find them. They may be in music, they may be in childcare, they may be in volunteering at the hospital or at the library. I think with the aging, you so often lose your identity, and I think this is what IDEO gives to me, the opportunity to explore what my identity is.”

Here’s to an awesome Spring Break, living in community, sharing your life experiences & wisdom and enjoying this rich video about Barbara!

VideoOnToday

Action Item:
Embrace your life as an adventure, open to the idea that things you thought you’ll never get to do or become, are still a possibility.

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