Podcast Episode 11/Season 1: Listen here.
Julia: Hello Sally Greenwood and welcome to Radically Alive Women’s podcast.
Sally: Hello sister, thank you so much for having me. I’m so glad to be here.
Julia: I’ve seen you and experienced you as this fiery, fierce woman that really jumps full in, if you see something that needs to be done, you just jumped in; and even looking at you I see the fire in your red hair and your whole Being radiates that. I know that you’ve created the Combat Center in West Auckland, which is a martial arts, boxing and other physical outlets for anger space. Will you say something about that? What is it now, and my interest is how did that come to be, how did you get to create such a big powerful space?
Sally: Yes, originally I trained as a nurse, an intensive care nurse, where, you serve the world around you and adapt, and I’m really, really good at rescuing; so my conditioning as a child just grew me into this perfect nurse, following my mother and actually my elder sister to nursing and then I met my husband and he was a fighter, a kickboxing and boxing fighter. At the time I was playing semiprofessional netball until we met, and I was doing kickboxing for cross training, and then it came a point after kids – you know, I’ve got two kids and noticing: it’s not quite cutting it, and as a family business with made the decision to follow his dream and set that up and it’s just been this… universe has really worked some magic here because as I set up the business, I really found something that I have fire for, and it has really evolved into this really women focus… the part of the business that I run has just become this empowerment focus. We have all the things, we’ve got all the disciplines: Boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, and we’ve got the competitive thing, and you know that mainstream modern culture thing, but we’ve got this now this edge to the Combat Center over the last, probably year, and during this time in parallel I have had some huge healing, growth, transformation that has just really run parallel to the evolution of this woman space that’s now in the Combat Center, where we practice using our bodies, rediscover our feelings and, yeah use them to put an X on our map of where we are. And so for me that was, yeah, I had fallen quite far from the path that I wanted for myself in terms of physical health, and so it came from there, the growth and transformation and healing. There was a point …
Julia: So there was a physical illness or some physical symptoms that you had and that spiralled you into “Okay, I have to do something different here”?
Sally: Yes, so it was on the on the background… Okay, let me paint a picture for you, and for the listeners around the world: I got two kids, four step children, just taken on two foster children initially, and then another one, a little one, later, and starting a new business, and terrible health. So, I’m losing my hearing in my right ear, developed MEWS disease in my second pregnancy, but just continue to take on and rescue and trying to help the world around me, and eventually the MEWS disease got so bad that I was having these rotational dizzy spells that I couldn’t walk, and I would be vomiting for hours. And eventually I wasn’t able to look after my children or work, so I mean: rock bottom; I cannot function. I remember having one of these dizzy things on the floor in my living room and thinking “What is this? There’s got to be more. I’m doing all the right things: I’m giving myself, you know we’ve got foster children, my step babies, my children, setting up the business… I’m being such a good person, such a good wife, such a good girl.” Yeah. And I just had this knowing that “something else for me”, and that I wasn’t on my truth, because if I was living my truth, then why was I so damn sick? And… I feel sadness because it was such a desperate situation for me, where my conditioning… and it’s clear now: I can see how it’s all unfolded. My Good Girl conditioning, my rescuer of ‘must manage the world around me’ because I mustn’t feel my fear, because my fear is too scary; must do all these things because if I don’t do anything then I don’t have value.
Julia: Yeah, I get goosebumps hearing that because I really know that from myself and I think it’s a very, very common thought pattern in women that “I must do something for the world, otherwise I’m not valuable.” Can you say more about how the rescuing expressed in you? How exactly?
Sally: Yeah, oh I’m getting goosebumps myself,… rescuing showed itself through… I had no idea what my feelings were, so I was,.. I am and still am… and as a nurse it’s just the perfect storm, so fabulous at reading everybody. Reading body language. Sensing how they’re feeling. Navigating other people. Managing behaviours. Communicating and managing them and completely being shut off to what I’m feeling and it was, literally, I remember a dear friend, Janet Redmond, said to me “What are you afraid of?” and I was like “Nothing. Honestly, I’m just not one of those people.” And she laughed and she just went “Ooo-kaaay, right.”
Julia: “Where do we start?”
Sally: And since then, I have stellated my fear, and really gained access to this information, that I had made a decision a long time ago, and when I look back in my family, my ancestors my mother and my grandparents, you know, very proper patriarchal women, very concerned of how they look in managing the world around them, taking care of it, and giving themselves to their husbands, and the world and having no needs, Julia. Yeah, do not ask for anything because you know you’ve got to be strong, handle it,… yeah. So when you’re giving all your energy away, and unconsciously: I didn’t know that there was a thing, my energy; I didn’t realise that I had my own agency and my own power and I just gave it to everybody and it really seems obvious now that “no wonder you got so sick”. It’s no shock to anybody that I couldn’t look after my kids,..
Julia: Because… the energy needs to be… if it’s suppressed it’s internalised.
Sally: Yeah and physically manifests into all these weird and wonderful things and those are just the big ones. You know: Colds every second week, you know all those run down, just absolutely nothing left in the bucket to give. That’s what it looked like for me this rescuer, this just completely giving my energy away and the turning point, as I mentioned… it was actually, firstly before gaining some emotional… doing some feelings work was actually regaining my physical health. Another dear friend Robin Leaton at Leaton Performance, I was telling him about my health struggles and it was one of these moments the universe just gave me this gift, in a passing comment he said “Ah, I’ve done some reading” and he said “you should read this book, it’s really holistic, and you might gain something out of it”. And at this point I had been to probably eight different specialists, all middle-aged white men, all trying to get me out the door as fast as possible, all trying to prescribe drugs with really heavy side effects or surgical procedures that could leave me with paralysis. And at this point I’m 26. “There’s got to be another way. There’s got to be another way.” and so I had to really find some agency. “Okay, I need to research myself, I need to… like… no one…” and there was this futility that came with “Nobody else can do this for me. I’m relying on the people that say and get paid to care for me and they do not care. They do not give a shit actually and it’s up to me. Not even my family can do this for me. They want to. They want to rescue me, but I had to find it for myself and so regaining my physical health was really the first pillar that laid the foundations for this next road that was finding some spirituality and a greater, greater meaning, greater connection to the world, the universe, to each other, and then this emotional and feelings work is where I’m now at and where I’m still working on and developing.
Julia: Wow. So, just to get some more ideas of how did you… you know you hit rock bottom and then you knew “okay this doesn’t work, something’s.. I cannot be connected to my inner truth, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the state” and from there you were like “okay I’m going to do something about my physical health here” – is that how it went?
Sally: Yeah it was. It was from this futility of like “okay well everyone thinks I’m dying”. You know, nobody is saying it. They’re saying it to each other, no one is saying it to me, but I look like I’m dying. And heard some whispers like “maybe it is a brain tumor,” and these things cross through your mind and there is this futility of “If I don’t make some radical changes – not just try a different diet or…- I mean radical changes – that I might die, in this moment, the shift and me, in my Being, and this is where in PM language of the Earth Coincidence Control Office, or the universe, this shift just occurred in me that led to these discussions with Robin and then this book and then literally in the next year, getting on top of my health. It didn’t just happen. It was a slow gradual thing of having to detox and really regain my physical health. That was the first point in my evolution, in my transformation, is to gain my body back. I’m not talking about muscles or looks or anything, I’m talking about energy levels. Being able to wake up for my children and make their food. Take care of myself to care of them. That’s what I’m talking about: survival. And it just improved. So from there I was able to consider… and it was… it’s a layer thing. “Okay, I’m surviving now. Tick. Okay, I’m okay now. And this juts kind of allowed the next door to open in terms of “How did I get there?” and this is where with the work that I’m doing at the Combat Center is… it’s this re-connection to our bodies. It’s like this natural flow. I’m reconnected to my power, reconnected to my agency, and… what’s next? And for me it’s been to reconnect to my agency and to reconnect to my power, I needed to find anger.
Julia: It’s such a recurring theme and I’m not telling any woman in these episodes “please talk about anger”, but it’s every time, it comes up. So please share your experience. I’m glad
Sally: Yes. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I just had this openness to “Yeah it’s a yes from me, tell me what I gotta do. Also on this energetic level I felt like I was ready, and if you had asked me a month before, maybe, you know I may not have been ready, but I… it was a yes.
Julia: So that was a three hour workshop or training on reclaiming your warriorress, and it was held in your Combat Centre, bringing together this physical expression of anger that you knew already, and that you were holding space for, you know boxing bags and getting the gloves and going hard out, and then bringing that together with the emotional side of things so that was the setting, and I remember you there and then all these women that were there from your Combat Center, all these these clients, customers, there was just a real disconnect between “okay, I can be physically active, but then to really express my anger about something is like so scary.” Such a high fear level preventing that connection.
Sally: This very moment I remember, just thinking… because I had the same disconnect, like “Anger? What? I’m afraid of that. That’s what men do, and that’s what my dad does, and I have to be more… lady-like.” And from that point reconnecting to my, no not even reconnecting at that point, it was practicing that anger is for information, it’s for clarity, and that was the first layer of the feelings work and then came sadness, and then fear was a really sticky one for me, and I find myself, and I say this with so much joy that I’m back practising accessing my anger and it’s in a whole different way. I’ve been experimenting with the 333…
Julia: So that’s three months, for three minutes, three times a week.
Sally: Yes. I have been noticing the patriarchy that exists everywhere and me, just noticing its impact and really feeling some rage about that. And so I’ve been using this 333 to take the edge off my rage, because obviously I can’t go raging at every customer that walks through my door, but it’s also been so amazing as a businesswoman, Julia. Ladies! For those around the world: To get clarity, to say yes, and to say no, to make decisions we must access our anger. As a businesswoman, as a mother; if we’re saying no to our children, and it’s not from our bodies, they’re confused. They don’t know what we’re saying. So it’s just bubbling inside me right now. It’s just this real joy with finding this again because, as I worked through sadness and fear and all the mixes in between, having this clean anger to be present with you right now and have clarity about what’s alive in me, is just… it makes me feel alive.
Julia: I can see that, I can feel it, and it’s really inspiring. Will you say something about how do you bring that to women in your in your program? I think you’re still running the Power Up program, the women’s empowerment program at the Combat Center?
Sally: Yes, okay, so we come as we are. We don’t have to do anything different. The Power Up program it is around rediscovering who we are, and we do it primarily through using our bodies to start with. Start feeling good, gaining some confidence through handling ourselves. So, yeah, this thing of gaining some agency, reconnecting to ourselves and a lot of the women that come through our doors they are like “What? Punching pads?”. You know when you’re punching pads, practicing kickboxing you’re punching pads. And you hold the pad and it’s like the body part, so that we say aim for the face and the pad catches it. And it’s “Oh, no, I can’t do that. I don’t want to be violent.” No, we’re not talking about violence. And this is the misconception with martial arts that people use it to power over, and yes that is the case when it’s used unconsciously with violent crimes against women, against humans full stop. But in the space, we’re using it to gain confidence to handle ourselves. That we walk down the road differently. We give off a different energetic imprint when you walk down the road, knowing you can handle yourself. And then that energetic imprint that you give off, it’s a deterrent, it’s self-defence without doing anything. It’s because you can handle yourself. So the Power Up program is connecting to ourselves physically, and also, allowing all of what is there all the pressures of being everything as a woman in modern culture, bringing all of that anger and frustration and sadness, and fear, and for us to provide some space for that to be there as well and move through some of this energy that’s been stuck for not just our lifetime, sister. Yeah, so what’s something else I do want to say is the village that has… the village of women. And call it coincidence, call it alignment, call it whatever you want, but when I started my own personal empowerment journey, when I started to really try things differently and experiment, the universe provided me with women. Some in similar circumstances, some on the other side and and just… all of a sudden there was women all around me, having my back, in the trenches with me, and we we’re in this discovery space together, and I couldn’t have planned that if I tried. So I just wanted to put that in the space because I hadn’t valued in such a masculine and male environment, and as a sports woman as well we’re a lot in our masculine energy and it’s competition against each other, so I hadn’t… like I’m one of four girls, as I’ve got three sisters, so I understand female connection, but I never had that in terms of friends and I was very competitive and I didn’t have this being to being connection with a woman group, and as I started to rediscover and find my agency, women appeared, and now at the Combat Center we have this village of women in all different stages of the game, all wanting something different. All knowing that modern culture, it’s not serving us. What I see myself as, at the Combat Center, doing this work with women, is a doorway from modern culture to the possibility of something else, and I think that sums up the work that I’m doing. To let people know where they’re at in modern culture and provide another possibility that something else is there.
Julia: I feel very glad about that, and this is really the place from which next women’s culture starts and next culture because none of us have been there. This has to be invented from that not knowing, yeah really glad you’re doing this work thank you Sally.
Sally: Thank you Julia. Thank you for inviting me and continuing to do this work.