When I was first learning to swim, my coach and I talked about the importance of core training.
By the end, she joked, I'd be able to take a punch.
But turns out, I can take a punch, so to speak. And it has nothing to do with the increased strength of my mid-section.
Over a 36-hour period negativity was knocking on my door -- wearing several different masks I might add.
It started with comments alluding to the fact that excitement over the Women's National Invitational Tournament and St. Bonaventure's run was misplaced a bit. It was, I was told, only the NIT after all.
Then came a series of random negative comments questioning my job performance.
Then came the group email from my coach which noted that "Seasons are not built from April to June. They are built in the months when the son doesn't shine."
Welcome to the recipe for sending Amy into a downward spiral of negativity, self-doubt and fear.
But something different happened over this span.
Instead of taking each hit personally, I absorbed the punch.
Not a boxing expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have still watched a few fights to know that often taking a punch pushes you back, but only slightly. At times, it puts you in a position of strength, either wearing out your opponent or giving you the ability to setup to counter punch.
The negativity I faced momentarily set me back, but didn't knock me down.
I took the punch. I kept standing. And I felt pretty darn good.
Prior to the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team's WNIT game against South Florida, I had the chance to talk with senior center Ashley Edwards. I don't believe I have ever heard anyone utter the phrase "personal challenge" more in a 10-minute conversation -- and with such conviction.
"It's not the change that affects you, it's how you react to it," Edwards said.
As negative comments came my way, I thought about that bit of wisdom.
There is a school of thought that believes everything we experience in life we create for ourselves, sometimes consciously sometimes unconsciously. Even the bad experiences -- pain, misery, negativity, trials -- are all brought to us because we attracted that situation for a reason. The tough experiences are what give us the opportunity to grow, the chance to see what we want, who we want to be and what we want to create in our lives.
Those difficult situations and those negative comments? I can take it as a personal challenge if I feel it's appropriate fuel. Or I can take it as a gentle push, a lightweight punch that after a year of training I've come to realize I can take standing up and easily brush it aside.
So why did I include my coach's comment about having built my season over the winter in my string of punches?
Certainly not because my coach is negative. She is exceedingly positive. The spirit of her remarks was to encourage her athletes that we have all done the hard work -- put in the hours during the darkness and kept plugging at it -- and that soon we would be reaping the benefits of that commitment.
Only to me, after taking a few punches of negativity, I heard that I have less than two months until the marathon. And I start to wonder if I've done enough.
This, of course, is a fiction created entirely in my head. The doubt was easily accessible to me after taking a few hits in the previous hours.
But I kept standing.
Because I still have two months. I have a plan. I have a coach I trust.
And most important, I trust myself.
In the face of negativity and doubt, I kept standing.
And soon, I might be in a position to throw a counter punch.