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Changing My Lens

Much of my professional time is spent coaching athletes not only on the court, but in helping them grow their mental skills. I teach them about concepts like overcoming adversity, how to focus on the next right thing that is within their control, and maintaining positive self-talk even when times are tough.

Well....times are tough...and if I’m being honest, I am the one who needs this coaching.

All of us are experiencing a collection of challenges, changes, emotions and feelings of uncertainty both in the present moment and as we wait to learn more about our future.

I realize that my family is fortunate to be in a safe and stable position during this ever-changing time in life. My heart and thoughts often go to those who now find themselves without a paycheck or worrying about the necessary basic needs to support themselves and their families.

I also think about family, friends, and even those I don’t know in the medical field who are courageously stepping up in this time of crisis to serve others in dire need.

As human beings, we are hard wired to go negative, and the negative self-talk is the easier pathway for our brain to take. I found myself in this position last week. Like many of you, my professional identity and daily positive routines for self-improvement have taken a backseat to major overtime work as a parent of young children in a quarantine. The outlets and physical support from our community, school and extended family are unavailable, and although we know this is temporary, the unknowns of the future and timeline can really take their toll.

As a small business owner, this time of year is normally filled with the excitement of getting outdoors with my tennis groups after a long winter. We’re all putting the greater good ahead of our personal desires, yet I have been longing for some peaceful time to myself to take a breath and map out some kind of plan for this unprecedented time away from on-court coaching and youth development programs. As Mom to a 2.5 year old daughter and 6-month-old son (who don’t love to coordinate their naps!), I haven’t been finding that time. I love my children, and I also miss being in the flow of my career.

I was having a particularly hard time being present the other morning. In a tug-of-war between being Mom and business owner, I wanted to feel “productive;” wanted to get after the goals on my to-do list for the day and make progress professionally. My beautiful, fun, curious daughter, however, wanted to make a fort. So we made a fort.

As we gathered the blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, books, and other random items she requested to be in the fort with us, I could feel myself getting impatient, distracted, and not present. As I settled in with my daughter - who had set up an array of books for us to read to her little brother underneath our amateur structure - she turned to me with beaming eyes and said, “we’re having so much fun!”

In that moment, I paused, and my eyes teared up a bit. I snapped back into the present moment, and actually took a second to use my senses to see, feel, hear what was going on around me. The sweet, playful, joyful expression from my daughter - who is too young to truly grasp the gravity of our current world - made me realize that a big part of my job right now is to keep her safe; ensure she feels loved; and encourage her to learn and explore in the amazingly creative ways she always does. Helping her practice letter sounds and how to zip up a coat are now on my to-do list. Teaching her that she can do hard things even if it doesn’t go right at first will help her build confidence. I’m taking my own notes on this one as well.

Professionally, I have the best, most loyal clients I could ever ask for, and I am confident we will reconnect with more excitement and gratitude for the ability to play/coach our sport than ever before. For now, I will seek to look through a lens of gratitude for what I do have right in front of me; for what I can do today; and the hope of what will be in the future.

Be well and stay safe at home, everyone.

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