Most of my mornings start with movement. Over the years it’s become a ritual, like coffee or brushing my teeth. And while my routine has contributed to my overall health and happiness, the communities and relationships that have come from the places I’ve showed up have been an equal gift. Whether it was and the crunch of leaves with my neighbors for morning runs, the smell of chlorine and steam rising off the pool, the feel of sand under my feet, or a hot yoga room that was dearly missed over the past year, the people that choose to ‘play’ with me have shaped my life and gotten me through the down days. Whether it was the hugs I got on the pool deck the Wednesday morning after we almost lost Matthew in a near drowning or the focus I found on the court after my nervous system began to decompress after my divorce, sports and the communities that are created by them have created a deeper understanding about the experiences of life and others. These places and people are my home away from home, the backbone of the lessons I’ve learned in life, an incredible gift to my outlook on parenting, and a place where my own compassion for the stories of others has grown.
Within our teams and sports communities, even if we all look like athletes showing up to compete, the happenings of life that go on outside the court are often what bring us together if we take the time to listen. Whether the game gives us a chance to forget our worries, pound out our frustration or feel the elation of flow that disconnects us from our thinking mind for a period of time, there are so many psychological benefits to competition.
I never would have thought that spending almost a year working to get Stanford sports reinstated would introduce me to people that I may otherwise never have met. I wouldn’t have found Mollie Reinhart and the Befriend Movement - connecting people by forging new relationships through compassion, and healing racial divides in Richmond, Virginia, and using sports as a common ground to understand each other better. We have common visions on opposite coasts - and an almost tragedy turned to triumph in sports brought us together.
The energy and understanding in the world changes when we tell our story and open our eyes and ears to the experiences of others. The worst thing we can do is assume anything, because we shut out the possibility of what we can learn when we take the time to drop our guard and listen. Ironically, it’s the work we do on ourselves that allows us to listen with more compassion to others. The better we know ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and dreams, we create more space in the world for other people to do the same. We drop our guard only when we are comfortable in our own skin. It’s a maturity process that I hope for for everyone, with all of our bumps and bruises, we are all capable of this experience. The opportunities that sports have created for me to know myself better and connect my body to my mind and spirit have opened me up to a world of questions that I wouldn’t have had the courage to ask without the coaching, competition, success and failure I’ve experienced and I see that same spirit in so many other athletes when we connect. After last year, and as we get ready for Wimbledon and the Olympics, I’ll still be looking to uncover the story behind the story and root for the underdog every time, because the comeback is always greater than the set back.
With Love & Optimism,