Martial Arts has long shown that it helps increase concentration, relaxation, focus and self-esteem.
Kelly Motley shares her experience with boxing before during and after breast cancer. She also shares her experience in her new book, The Fight for My Life: Boxing through Chemo.
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I invite you to listen to In the Rising Podcast- a show dedicated to helping others create change and a life that they really want.
"Living the life I want" was a phrase that I heard often while working with clients going through cancer, and so I created this podcast. I also saw that there is a gap in knowledge about cancer, lymphedema and how to manage recovery, so I created Fit after Breast Cancer.
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In Good Health!
Welcome to in the rising podcast. My name is Bettina, and this is the platform I've chosen to talk about living a life that's really in alignment with your hopes, your dreams, and your goals, and walking away from shame and blame and sadness, and really moving into possibility. And sometimes we feel, we don't have a lot of possibility, especially when we are facing major health crises. And my guest today is Kelly Motley and she is the author of the fight for my life boxing through chemo, where she talks about her journey through breast cancer and building a connection between the mind, body and soul. Why don't you start a little bit with, what's been going on for you? What, what, what inspired you to write this book?Kelly Motley:
Absolutely. So thank you Bettina. I'm glad to be here. There are three major themes to my story and what we'll talk about, and that is being stuck, physical and mental tools to give hope and considering always who's in your corner and who you give your energy to. So boxing not only gave me a life lesson, but it literally, and figuratively saved my life. And the summer of 2017, when I first discovered boxing, the universe was really kindly quietly giving me a gift and giving me the very best to equip myself. Um, as I was unknowingly getting ready for one of life's biggest duels , um, it was a stroke of luck for me to discover boxing and I would use these principles that I learned inside the ring to help me , uh , climb out of what would be a very hopeless and desperate situation. Um, once I discovered boxing , um, I really started looking to boxing to be a better version of myself every day to be physically, mentally and spiritually stronger. I started taking my PR business , which I is in the heart of Nashville , uh, working in this healthcare industry, which is a $92 billion industry in Nashville. I really started taking my business to a whole different level through this sport. And then I would really use this sport later to fight for my life. And , uh, when I first discovered , um, boxing, I was in a dull , hard resignation that I would forever be stuck and not just like stumbling or stumbling forward, really stuck. I , uh , have a 1924 home and it felt like everything in my home was breaking and we couldn't seem to get anything fixed. Um, I had a major client at the time and every day felt like about that was out outworking me. Um, I went from feeling anger and rage and frustration, you know, with the client, I would meditate and pray in the mornings. And then one day something just broke inside me and I felt compelled to just punch something that very day. And so I got in my car, I pulled my car out of a pea gravel driveway and went up the road a couple miles to a popular boxer size gym and joined a group class where I just started pounding away at a bag, you know, with raw angry aggression. I saw my client's face on the bag and I thought, wow, I'm really going to be good at this boxing thing. Not really understanding that that's the, that's not the state of mind that you're in when you're boxing at all. And at the time, you know, all I could throw were just kind of static , uh , wild punches at a bag, never really moving my hips or my torso, but just doing, you know, the very basics of a jab, a cross , uh, weave Bob. And , um, so I started taking these classes and it led , uh, led me to a martial arts called [inaudible] . And , uh, this is a Bruce Lee style fighting and , uh, I needed to get better at boxing. And so I started training with a professional, super middleweight boxer from Ghana Cenac Becko . And I trained with Sennett three days a week , um, on a dead end street, in a neighborhood in Nashville that I had never been on where I might've been the only white spot , uh, most days training. And , uh, I started to really get serious about boxing and started learning all the principles . And , um, and then , uh, I got a diagnosis and so I started to , um, I started to use the principles that I learned inside the ring to help me move through this unwanted circumstance that a team that I in a million years never saw myself on. And , um, and so I started using these principles and , um, boxing, there's so many similarities to boxing and cancer , um, uh, boxing, you know, really , uh, tests , uh , persons will encourage , um, boxing is a mindset. Healing is a mindset. Uh , when , um, when you're, when you're boxing, you know, you've got, you've got the similarities of , um, uh , vulnerability and feeling the seconds ticking down and the unpredictability. Um, you've got, you know, the, the physical aspects of being swollen and bleeding and bruised. And so I wanted for me to have the very best in game and I wanted to have , um, quick, quick turnaround after surgeries or after chemo. And I did not want to make this a year. I didn't want to die, but I also didn't want to make it a wasted year of my life. And so I use these principles and got myself really strong and , um, it really helped me move through this, this time in my life. I kept my business going and , um, and just, you know, move , move through this. Yeah .Bettina:
With, with that, I just wanted to , to figure out where you using boxing in addition to the martial arts, or like where you doing just one of them.Kelly Motley:
So at the time when I was going through, through the chemo, I was doing the boxing and I was doing strength training, and I was doing the strength training, u m, probably like three days a week. And so I was, u h, hitting the m itts. What I found is, when you do chemo to me, this was just my experience, but I treated, it, treated it as if, u h , w hen, you know, when you drink too much alcohol, sometimes exercises the best thing for your body and for your mind. And so I, after doing chemo, I would go to the Y and, u h , e ven if it's just getting on an elliptical, I would do that. But then I would gr ab, you know, th e, the following couple of d ays, I would start doing strength training and, u h , a nd then hitting the mi tts.Bettina:
Wow. When you said, you know, there are these basic principles with will and courage , um, w w did you realize these principles were very similar at the beginning of your journey through breast cancer? Or was it something like in hindsight or halfway through that you were like, oh, wow. Look at these principles that I've had incorporate for boxing. I can use them now.Kelly Motley:
That's such a great question. So when I said the universe really , um , gave me this gift, it really did because what I did as I was taking my, whereas I was training every single day. Um, after I trained my coaches would send me videos and I journaled and wrote down everything that I learned. And so when I got the diagnosis , uh, I felt very much compelled that the universe wanted me to somehow integrate this and not only write a book, but to really, really use these principles to guide me. And , um, so I felt, I, you know, those principles were , were really almost like , um, a dashboard for me. And I used the visual . So, you know, when I was getting chemo, I would, I would, and before I would go into surgeries, I had all of my videos. I had all my photos and I would just use those as my visuals when I was getting medical treatment as well.Bettina:
And that's a, that's a really good way to put that together because you were taking something that you were passionate about and instead of being fearful or angry, which I'm sure you had your own emotional process to go through, but you using something that was light for you, that was a way of being connected to who you are and not a current condition,Kelly Motley:
But absolutely. Wow.Bettina:
And with all of this, you also talked about healing being a mindset, not I'd like you to expand a little bit on your own personal journey with that.Kelly Motley:
Yeah. So with, with healing. So , um , so much of healing I think is , uh , is an, and I'm, I'm bringing in some, some analogies to boxing, but , um, is relaxation and breath is so critical to be relaxed and to, to feel your , you know, if, if someone , uh , one of my coaches has said, if somebody put your head in underwater , you and held your , your head underwater , you would really appreciate your breath. So that is, that is a really important piece. It also taught me , um, you know, so there was some PR there's if , when you're, when you're , um, when you're slipping and boxing, it's a really, or in trying to avoid a punch, it's really important that you lean into your opponent. This was counterintuitive to me, it , you know, I would always move away from a dangerous situation or a situation where I didn't feel comfortable, but when you lean away in boxing , uh , you're not well grounded , and you're putting yourself really more in the line of fire. So it's really important. Um, when you , um, when you're in that situation to lean forward, I also learned in hitting the speed bag , um, that you can make tough situations adjust to you. You're in a situation you control the situation, look for patterns , um, look for opportunities. Um, but, and, but really it's about adapting and making a situation adapt to you. Um, and so these were just some principles that I learned that I was going to take with me , um, through the process and , um, apply in a healing way and also in a management way.Bettina:
And that's, you know, I'm learning a lot just about boxing just from our conversation, but the way you said to mean into your situation , um , not , and the breath involved, because no matter who I'm talking to you about whatever, whether it's trauma, which is this as well, the importance of breathing and how that affects us chemically. And there's a reason why we have control over our breath as well. And part of it is to feel grounded, like you said, and , um, I really like your point about making these tough situations, adapt to you because we can feel so vulnerable and like a wet washcloth just thrown on the wall, like wherever someone throws us. Right. And adapting to, how did you now also change your PR business in the way with boxing? Has it also have these principles worked with this as well?Kelly Motley:
So , um, the boxing principles helped me immensely with my one client and it made me look more at myself and it helped me to take on, I grew my business in a way that I could never have imagined at the time. And , um, I have stepped away from my PR business now with my book and the journey that I'm on right now, but , uh, it helped me get to a place with my business that I could never have imagined. And let me stress that the, your corner is really important to , to any unexpected circumstance that you're in as well as for healing, because , uh, it's really important to think about who you give your energy to. And it's important , um , to think about the concept of pity and how pity can really sometimes put us in a really dark place. And so that was something that my coaches , um, who surrounded me, I didn't, I, they, weren't going to give me that. Um, and it kept me, it kept me moving forward and very strong, and they w instead of pity, they focused on visualization. And where do you see yourself from two years from now? Um, you know, where do you want to be? And , uh, it really, it really changes a person's mindset.Bettina:
Yeah. It seems like you had a lot of wisdom in your corner that helped you envision yourself in the future. And with this, you said you were journaling and all of this came about with writing this book. Did you know, from the beginning, this would turn into a book, or how did this kind of, how did this, how did you give birth to this beautiful book that you have?Kelly Motley:
So I'm as a learner, I just need to write everything down. It's just how my brain processes information. And when I, when I , um, I started the boxing was sent to ag Beko just so I could get better at G condo . I was doing [inaudible] with my son, my 13 year old son at the time. And I held onto those lessons, like, like my life depended on these lessons and I really, really wanted to get better. And so for me, I took it very seriously writing everything down in my journal, just because I started falling in love with the boxing and with my martial arts. And , um, uh, I also , um, received a gift from , uh , my trainer sent a ag Beko , um, where he gave me after, you know, four months, he gave me a pair of his own gloves that he fought in, in a professional match. And so, because he gave me those gloves, I started taking things more seriously and felt that maybe I was worthy of this. And so I just wrote, I just, I literally wrote everything down just because I wanted to be better. And I saw how it was making me stronger as a person. Um, you know, before I started boxing, my defenses were down. Um, I felt a sense of powerlessness in my life. And , um, I started to wake up and just feel so much stronger as a person.Bettina:
And that's, you know , something that I can, and I'm sure other people can hear through your tone and your voice, but, you know, for our interview, I get to see you right now. And that definitely comes across that there is a lot of inner strength and inner glowing from you with your knowledge of who you are and what you represent and what you want to represent to the world as amazing. You said, you want this book to be available to people because you didn't have it available. Where, where are you , what's your vision with this book? Like, what, what are you, what are you working on achieving with this?Kelly Motley:
So what I would like to do is , um, there are people who have faced an unexpected circumstance. It might be cancer. It might be a health issue. It might be a divorce or cancer or a bankruptcy or whatever, but it's for that person at 3:00 AM who wakes up and they feel like they're in a hopeless, desperate situation. And I, I was blindsided by my diagnosis and felt , uh, pushed to the brink at times where I felt like my life was threatened with defeat. And ultimately I was dragged into a fight , uh , that I was not prepared for. But , um, what I would like to do is help people who feel that , um, that they're in an unexpected circumstance and they might wake up at three in the morning. They might not know how they're going to move through it. And I want people to know that if I can do it, they can do it. And I want to give people a sense of hope. Um, I want people to know that if they have insurance issues, if they have medical issues, this is in my book, how you navigate that and how to walk away , um, from a doctor that maybe might not be present and engaged with your healthcare the way they need to be. So , um, how you move through some challenges and , um, and really , um, you know, horrific situations at times. Uh , and I go into that in my book.Bettina:
And I like the fact that you talk about navigation, because there are actually breast nurse navigators to help people, but it's still , um , from my experience, my, my feedback is I've heard so often. I've never been through this before. I don't, I don't even know it's overwhelming. You know, I'm looking at the big picture. I don't know the next step is, is that the right question to ask, and should I ask, you know, Che , Zig , or should I zag and, and just that confusion. So I think just that , that just that alone is such a huge piece to help others when they're waking and , and, you know, going through their mind, what is the next step? Right,Kelly Motley:
Right. Yeah. So when, when I was navigating the process, I used a visual that was really important when I first started training , um, with Senna ag Beko , uh , who was this professional middleweight , super mental weight boxer. He said to me, in our first one of our first lessons, imagine that I'm strapping a tool belt around your waist. We're stocking it with tools you can count on using, you're going to have more options. If, if , uh, you know, if you don't have anything in your toolbox, there's nothing to reach for your tool belt. There's nothing to reach for. So I started really thinking about the mental and the physical tools that I was given from boxing and how I could use those to move through this, this diagnosis.Bettina:
And you're a trainer, and the way you're described, there's a lot of visualization. And , uh, because we are very visual beings where you, before this , um, boxing, were you visualizing as much, or are you like really active in visualizing and creating with your mind now more than before?Kelly Motley:
So , um, I wasn't visualizing before, before my boxing and my strength trainer , uh , Royce Fentress , who was an all American football player. Um, he taught me when I first started training with him, the power of visualization. So in the gym, there was a basketball goal. And he asked, he said, she got your eyes, and I want you to make a basket. And I thought, this is the craziest thing I'd ever heard of. He said, visualize it first and then do it. And I did it. And then he would tell me, I would say, yeah, I , I I'm, I'm supposed to get, you know , a contract signed with a new client. I don't think they're going to go with me. I think I blew it in the presentation. He said, no, you haven't, it's going to happen, start visual. And then , so I would visualize it and things would happen. Um, I had a chance to , um, this is before Lizzo became a big artist and , uh, to meet Lizzo. And he said, oh, it's going to happen. You've just put it out in the universe. And it happened like, so he, he was really important to me , uh, in terms of the visualization piece and really seeing that. And , um, how you , um, um, you know, it's almost like coloring, you know, you draw the lines out and now, you know, you're just, you know, actually you've seen yourself win and now you're just there. You're showing up. If that makes any sense. It does.Bettina:
And there are, there's more research being done to back up. What we are already can see that, you know, even on a cellular level, that the DNA responds differently and heals itself differently. When we have visualization, when we are having different brainwaves that there that's that component that we don't often talk about through a breast cancer or any kind of cancer diagnosis , uh, the Wu parts that some people will call it. I've, I've met physicians that way, but that is such an important part to someone's healing. And I'm so glad that you touched upon that with this because you you've lived it.Kelly Motley:
Absolutely. And like I mentioned, the visualization, the intention replaced the pity piece. It was we're moving, you know, I got the news now, what are we going to do? And what the next steps look like, and where, where are you going to be in a year where you're going to be in two years?Bettina:
Yeah. Well, where are you going to be in a year? Where are you going to be two years? What are you visualizing that you feel comfortable sharing?Kelly Motley:
So I would really love to get my book into as many people's hands who feel like they are in this unexpected circumstance, and it's not it , you know, it's not necessarily cancer it's might be that just whatever their desperate situation is getting that book in their hands so that they can start to, you know, think about their life, their scenario, and what next steps look like. Yeah.Bettina:
And I think the more hands you get them in the bigger impact, your story and your trainer, like, you know, that that life and his experience is bigger than himself, and it's bigger than you together, that you can multiply exponentially basically, instead of just a basic addition , I think that's a huge message that you're coming out with your book as well.Kelly Motley:
Well, and , and I do want to mention, so Senna was one of my trainers and Kristi ho Halbert, who is a former Olympic boxing coach for the U S women's team. She's here in Nashville. And so she was one of my coaches as well. And my husband, my husband , uh, was Al was like my cut man. Um, he was with me and, you know , helped me up , um, during this whole period as well, along with my two sons.Bettina:
And you said when you have people in your corner and your had your family in your corner, was there any moment , um, that you felt kind of in awe of the people that you have in your corner? Like, was there one moment that happened? You're like, wow, this is, I'm so blessed to have this corner that I have.Kelly Motley:
Absolutely. So as, as horrible as breast cancer can be that as , I mean, it was, it's , it's, it's as horrible as it can be. I experienced the most profound love from my husband. Um , and I write about this in the book and it's , uh, having someone who doesn't judge you , um, he, you know, just taking care of all of my scars and never, ever having like any level of judgment. Um, I did not think I was going to lose my hair. And I talk about the reasons why in my book, and I lost my hair and my husband, the way he managed that situation and helped me move through that. I just had never experienced in my life that kind of love. And so , um, that was a , a quiet kind of hidden gift, you know, for me at the time.Bettina:
Well that's, and that's really special because that is something that, especially women I've talked to that the hair and the loss of identity, but just to hear someone see you throughout those levers deep, not that we ever think the person we love only sees our hair or anything, but to see that the real soul to connect on that level is, is an amazing experience.Kelly Motley:
Yes, yes. And that was, that was one of the more powerful experiences I've ever had in my life is just how my husband showed up. And , um, you know, it doesn't have to be a husband, you know, it can be a friend or an aunt or a grandmother in someone's life, but, you know, having that unconditional love and support , um, you know, definitely was really critical , uh , to my corner.Bettina:
So love and a vision will give you a purpose and you will be able to heal on so many levels, mentally, physically, and spiritually. And so thank you so much, Kelly, for sharing this , um, experience. It's, it's the personal experience, but you're turning it around to honor your, your, your family, your corner, yourself, your journey, and honor all of the other people that are going through some major life shifts. And so congratulations to you besides your book. Is there any other way that you'd like people to know how to stay , um , kind of watch you or you on Facebook or anything else that you can tell the listeners?Kelly Motley:
Absolutely. So , um, my book is firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can also get my book at Parnassus bookstore, which is a local, a bookstore in Nashville, and , um, would love to connect with people on Facebook and Instagram. Um, it's at , you know, Kelley Motley,Bettina:
Thank you so much for listening to Kelly's conversation with me about her book and about her experience. There are so many important aspects to her journey that she's shared, including breath work and having a corner, knowing that you have a corner and that it is important that you realize you're your best advocate. So if you feel this episode was beneficial to you , I absolutely encourage you to leave it a five-star review. It helps put this episode and this podcast into the hands and ears of those that may need it the most. And until next time let's keep building one another.