Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mojo Mom and the Zen of Tennis

Last week I wrote about the difficult time I am going through, and the facts have not changed, but today I finally found the true release I was looking for. I played the first tennis match of the season with my new team and I won a hard-fought singles battle, which helped contribute to a team win.

I used to feel rather sheepish about waxing rhapsodic abut my love for tennis, as it can sound like a "ladies who lunch" indulgence. I realize it's a privilege to be able to plan my work day to include a long tennis match, but tennis has become really meaningful in my life and I am letting that flag fly.

First of all, it's the best meditation I have found. Instead of observing my breath, I observe the ball (and run around and breathe hard in the process). I get feedback with every stroke that tells me whether my mind is really on the ball. I never find time to sit still and meditate, so I take my focused concentration wherever I can find it!

The mental game of tennis just keeps getting more interesting as I get older. Today I won by reminding myself to just be me, that if I could settle into my center I would do fine. That's a refreshing change from earlier years when I'd try to anxiously psych myself up or get mad at myself if I wasn't doing well. Believe me, some days I still go there in my mind, and ebb and flow mentally within a match, but today I stayed really focused. I am so tired of self-improvement messages and it felt great to think, "Just be myself, that's good enough." I found the acceptance that has eluded me so much lately--now I am hoping that feeling will spill over into other areas of my life.

So, getting my mental mojo back, untethering myself from my computer to get outside to exercise, and hanging out with some excellent friends on a beautiful spring day--that's what I need more in my life right now. But there's one more really important thing.

Tennis is something my Mom and I love to do together, as doubles partners or singles opponents. I've played with her since I was 16. It took me until I was 34 and she was 60 to be able to beat her on a regular basis, and at age 67 she's still a force to be reckoned with. She's a singles specialist, which is rare for someone who could be playing in a Senior league.

And she's continued to play through rounds of cancer treatments. She's the kind of woman who will play in a weekend Breast-cancer-research fundraiser tournament and never tell anyone she's been through that, too.

Last fall, she and I played a couple of times on a doubles team together, right up until the evening before I got my appendix out (we won, go figure, that's how suddenly the appendix trouble materialized the next day). At our first practice for that team, Mom wasn't there, but when my new teammates learned that I was "Ann's daughter," they told so many stories about how Mom had helped them improve their games. She'd take each of them out to hit as she developed her team. I had not realized what an awesome mentor she'd been to so many different players. It was a spontaneous tribute to her that I'll always remember.

So if you ever see us out there, burning up the courts, you'll know you are getting a glimpse of Mojo Mom and Mojo Grannie together in our element.

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