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Pickleball, Presence and Presents

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

-Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn,

I was a little bit like Roy Kent this morning on the pickleball court: I was here, I was there, I was every f***ing where! I was running off the court for out of bound shots, then racing to the “kitchen” only to miss an easy shot. And it wasn’t just physically running here, there, and everywhere… my thoughts were all over the place like a ping pong ball. It was so frustrating, and it was stressing me out. The problem, of course, was that I wasn’t fully present in my game. I was thinking about Christmas plans and the presents I have yet to buy.

In between games, I took a deep breath, opened my notes app and made a quick edit on my “to-do” list, then reminded myself to be fully present. Research tells us that being present lowers your cortisol levels and helps you perform better in stressful situations. Although pickleball doesn’t usually come to mind when I think of stressful situations, it certainly takes the fun out of it when frustration takes over.

I’ve been working on presence a lot lately; reminding myself to be fully present with my family, my friends, my clients, and most of all myself. I’m a work in progress, but I’ve taken some big intentional steps in the right direction. Daily walks in nature, short meditations and yoga seem to be the practices that my soul craves… and the occasional game of pickleball.

My beautiful, wise mother was always encouraging me to slow down and just BE. I’ve been practicing yoga on her mat for the past several months. I feel her the most during Savasana, which was by far her favorite pose. I feel her love and I can almost hear her saying… “This is what I’ve been telling you all of your life.” And I think I am finally beginning to understand.

As I write this, my precious granddaughters are sleeping peacefully in the next room, worn out from adventures of sledding, snowman making and cookie baking. There’s something about playing in the snow with a two- and three-year-old that is pure joy. They embody the gift of presence. I once read that the idea of being present is really about becoming aware of joy. When we simply appreciate the joy that is already present in every moment, we give ourselves a beautiful gift.

My intention is to take these beautiful opportunities to practice presence with me throughout my life and be fully present for my family, my friends, and my clients. But most of all to be fully present for myself and allow myself time to just be. Who knows… it just might improve my pickleball game!

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