What are you doing to get inspired, to push your boundaries, or tap into that spark that moves you forward? If you’ve ever felt like you just need a little jolt to jump start your own momentum, try something new.

For Christmas last year, my husband gave me a package of tennis lessons. For me. Just me. Not for our kids. Not for himself. For me. Yikes. Now, if you know us, you’re well aware that he’s an avid tennis player (and I’ll boast a little bit – he’s pretty good, too!). My kids also love to pick up anything with a ball, bat, or racquet. It’s a joy to watch them. Yet despite the years and years of my own time playing soccer, basketball, swimming, lacrosse, skiing, and more, these days I’m pretty much just the mini-van driver who gets them to all their games, practices, matches, lessons, and more. I show up with snacks, cheer like a super proud mama, and even jump in as interim coach when the head coach is out of town. Basically, I know my role in this joyous season of life!

I haven’t played competitively since club and intramural sports in college. Sadly, I went down with an ACL tear in a sorority flag football league my junior year (please don’t judge, y’all; we had so much fun!). After that encounter and the 2-year recovery period it took to get back to almost normal, I pretty much called it quits on anything that required contact on a field or a court. Since that moment, something has been missing for me. Growing up, team sports fueled me deep inside. They’re truly ingrained in my DNA, which is pretty much how I fell in love with group fitness as time moved on.

As an adult, I’ve been a true fitness professional, teaching group fitness classes in all my free time for over 15 years. The group effect of working out with others has been a driving force to keep me going. Let’s be honest, though – that means riding stationary bikes, doing yoga on a mat, and getting my heart rate up in about a 40-square foot studio space for 15 years. So, when my husband surprised me with tennis lessons over the holidays, I got excited, and pretty nervous at the same time. Could I do it? Was I ready? Who in the world has time for this? I freaked out a bit. No joke.

I was anxious, scared, and worried. I had a huge fear that people would silently judge me for being an almost 40-something trying to jump into a game I had no business playing. I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough time to make reasonable progress and would probably just flounder through this lesson 5-pack and be ready to call it quits. Thanks, but no thanks on the Christmas gift, honey. I was pretty much petrified on all levels, even though this should have totally been in my wheelhouse. Sports, movement, activity, competition, and teamwork. It was everything that should make sense to me and drive me, but I was scared.

In a funny way, I think my husband knew all of that. He knew I would be nervous, pressed for time to commit, and I would never truly dive into the sport if he didn’t push me toward the court. So, he did it. He presented me with the lesson package on Christmas morning (artfully disguised in an empty jewelry gift box, I might add), and after a month of the paper certificate sitting on my nightstand waiting to be redeemed, he finally made me sign up for those lessons. Why? Because he knew I needed to do something just for me. He knew I needed something that would spark my interest, push me to accomplish something new, and get me out of my comfort zone to the place I used to thrive. He knew all of that was just what I needed – and he was right.

I’m trying not to get hung up on the whole “I told you so” concept, but he deserves all the credit on this one. He was spot-on with what would propel me forward. This was exactly what I needed. I needed fire, I needed something to strive for, and I needed to feel engaged in something just for me again. He saw how motivated I was when my friends convinced me to train for and run my first half marathon last year, and how the energy, commitment, and mental game behind the preparation for that event truly transformed me. He knows me well. So, when the training was over, the race was run, and the winter months set in, he knew I needed more. Dang. He’s always right!

So, here’s the moral of the story: push yourself, and don’t hold back. Try something new. Find what fuels you and do something that will get you into your own fire tunnel. I was lucky to have friends and family who challenged me to take a leap and become a better version of me, and I’m so glad I listened. That said, they won’t always be there to tell you or me exactly what to do, so own your next shot. Groundstroke, volley, overhead, or serve – it doesn’t matter which shot you take – just own it. You get to make the call, and go for it.

But wait: You’re busy. You don’t have time. Your family comes first. You have a full-time job that needs so much focus right now. Trust me – I’m with you. I have that job, that family, and none of the extra time. I’ve heard it all, right in my own head. I’ve said all those things to myself day after day after day and made zero progress at life. So how did I fix it? I pushed through it. I said yes to those tennis lessons and I ignored the chatter. I let myself unleash into something new, something different, something hard. By the way, this tennis thing is hard, but I love it. The fact that I have to work hard at it while I continue to show up and try harder is what keeps me going.

Challenge yourself to do something for you. It will, without a doubt, make you better at all that you do – at home, at work, at school, and wherever else you’re called to play. I promise you that. Find something that pushes you, something that grows you, something that makes you a stronger version of you. When you do, you’ll find the time you need. You’ll make it work. You may have to set down one thing to pick up another, but you’ll get back to it. It will be there waiting for you when you’re ready. In the meantime, you’ll become your best you, and all the other things that keep you busy, pressured, and tight on time will work themselves out. They’ll fit into each and every week because you’re more driven, more focused, and more passionate about life. You’re more YOU. Go be you. You need this, and I want to see you shine too, on and off the court.

 

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