It is hard to make new connections. Life tends to get in the way. There are salaries to earn, children to care for, and a million and one expectations to manage. Weeks slam into each other. Months storm by. Days are filled with the mundane and ordinary. Now and then, we turn so far inwards we forget about looking after ourselves, engaging with others, or taking part in things that make us feel centered, valued, or explosive.
Geneviève is someone who reminds me all the time, through her actions, how important it is to live deeply, madly, and fully. Like several other phenomenal women I know, she came to combat sports at an “advanced” age. Towards the end of last year, the onetime dancer, cross-fitter, and runner had been so bogged down by work and personal commitments she sought a distraction that would feel good physically and stimulate her mentally.
Tell me, Jo,” she asked one September evening, “What’s this whole boxing thing about?”
Having just come from the gym and still doused in my workout sheen (most call it a sweaty glow) I, under a cloudless night sky in Manhattan, shared my thoughts on the sport to which I’d become obsessively tethered. As I did, I took care to dispel myths about boxing being too intense, difficult or brutal. I told her I didn’t think boxing was too “manly” for women to master. Instead, I focused on how much strength, speed, and confidence I’d gained.
“I might have been an ‘athlete’ in my 20s, G, but I’m now in the best shape of my life…and I only seem to get better.”
Geneviève bought a pair of gloves shortly after our discussion, and the rest is history. In the beginning, she went to the gym once a week but now hits it up twice or more. Occasionally, we train together—our sessions filled with cackling and groaning, verbal barbs, and the exchange of knowing glances behind Coach’s back. I may have liked this woman before she started boxing but now I can easily say: I completely adore her.
That’s because I’ve gotten to know Geneviève much better through our shared interest in boxing,and she is precisely the type of person I want in my corner. A force to be reckoned with, when she puts on her gloves it seems to amplify her best traits. I get additional insight into her ferocious and complex character with every jab she lands and conditioning circuit she finishes.
I think my admiration, however, stems from witnessing the changes she goes through and tenacity she displays in handling ups and downs. Seeing her progress is inspiring. Geneviève has no qualms about charging headfirst into whatever intense torture Coach throws her way.
My heart swells when I catch women churn like furies and bear down like hurricanes.
Witnessing Geneviève knock down her fears also drives the following home: it’s never, ever, too late. We often forget this life is tremendously short. Only when crisis and heartbreak knock us to the ground do we reevaluate priorities or reset our internal compasses. But, without fail, this woman inspires me to reboot every goddamned day and crash like lightning.
Roll like thunder.
Because there isn’t a second to waste doing anything else.