Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tennis Lessons - Final Thoughts

Okay, I took lessons.

Final thoughts: They suck!

The first two lessons in the beginner's class were good because I learned the right way to smack the ball around. But after that, it was just a bust. The second week of lessons were nothing but practicing what we already learned. I was willing to overlook that though because I was excited to learn how to keep score and play doubles in the advanced beginner course.

Here's how the advanced beginner course went: I arrived to the first lesson and saw 4 of the same 6 people from the beginner course and the same instructor. Of course, I was feeling a little apprehensive at that moment because of the potential for an adolescent rodeo. Well, the instructor decided that we all needed more practice before we could move on to learn any advanced techniques. Instructor: "Single file line everyone, I said SINGLE FILE LINE, at the starting line please". The response of the class went like this: Me (the good student) at the starting line in tennis ready form of course, adolescent rodeo begins behind me where the siblings start playing some tiny tennis and chasing each other around the empty court next to ours, the Wife from last class is leaning on the fence and twirling her racket around in circles, the invisible wierd kid is sitting cross legged on the ground bouncing a tennis ball while probably day dreaming about what superpower he would like to have. After another louder and more direct bark from the instructor, everyone fell in line behind me. First, two forehands in a row. Then, two backhands in a row. Followed by two overhands. Finally, all line up along the starting line to practice serves. That was the first class of the advanced beginner course. The second one went pretty much the same but with the addition of practicing volleys too. Then when the second class was over, the instructor announced that we probably wouldn't be covering any new material next week either. Well, that was a problem for me because I PAID FOR LESSONS. I didn't pay for practice. I can practice for free. See, this is the problem when teachers have to teach to the lowest common denominator. The idiots get to just be idiots while the rest of us get ripped off. I did not return for the second week of "lessons". Instead, I chose to meet up with my husband and one of my workout buddies to play tennis elsewhere. Since then, I've played 2-3 times every week. Wish I could say I'm getting better. Unfortunately, I'm not. I blame my racket. And after my husband decided to play a bit with my racket, he agrees. I'm sure I'll keep playing. Not because I want to be the next McEnroe or anything even if I do identify with some of his court side etiquette. It's just fun and being the perfectionist that I am, I want to improve. I highly doubt I'll ever take lessons through a community center again though. If lessons are ever in my future again, I'll make sure to do some research and get private lessons.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tennis - Week 2

A little disappointed in the second week at tennis lessons. I was all excited about learning new things but quickly found out that what was learned in week 1 was simply repeated and practiced in week 2. I didn't need to pay for that. I thought I was going to learn new techniques or scoring or something. But paying $11/session to practice felt like a rip off. So now I have the next session starting next week. It's going to be the advanced beginner class. Oh boy. Look out. I wonder if we'll just practice everything from the beginner class. No, wait. We already did that. Oh, I know. They'll teach us how to practice on our own. No, that's too simple to be the advanced beginner class. Okay, okay, maybe I should give them a chance. My understanding is that I will learn to play doubles in the advanced beginner class. Well, all I can do is go and see.

I really do feel like I'm getting better though. Perhaps it's all the practice. Or is it the Wii Tennis I've been playing. Hmmm... That's a tough call. The past few days, I've been drugging myself up with muscle relaxers. I don't know what I did to myself. If it was tennis or yoga or sleeping wrong or whatever, I have no idea. But I have had the stiffest neck and shoulders and back ever. My poor little body doesn't like all the jerking around. Perhaps it's because of my legendary dinosaur racket. Time for a new racket? Hey now, that's a good reason to go buy one. The one I have now is horrible. I've been using my husband's actually. But when we play together, I have to use my dinosaur so I'm sure it's all his fault.

Writing: Some days you're feeling it and others you're not. Today is one of those days that I'm just not feeling it. I need an attitude adjustment today. Any suggestions for wiping the shit from my eyes so I can view the world with hope and excitement again?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tennis - Week 1

This was my first week for tennis lessons. Lessons are being held at a middle school just down the street from my house and they are open to people 13 and up. So I was expecting that there were going to be twenty 13 year-olds jumping around everywhere and I would be the only adult in the bunch. That image in my head alone was enough to make me second guess this tennis lesson idea of mine. But, I took a deep breath and told myself I was going to go through with it all the way to the end no matter what. If there were going to be a gaggle of tweens taking over the tennis courts then so be it. A little patience and acceptance and understanding and patience and patience and more patience never hurt anyone. Besides, I've been trying to be a nicer person anyway. So bring on the challenge.

I got to the court and the instructor looked like he's about 13. He’s not of course. I would guess mid to late twenties. There were two teenagers there already, siblings. So I introduced myself and shook everyone's hands. Right off the bat, the instructor took a look at my ancient tennis racket and started making fun of it. I got this racket when I was 10 years old for Christmas. It was my pride and joy as a kid. I even slept with the thing for about a week after I got it. And I've managed to hang onto it for 22 years. Not only is it three times heavier than any racket made in the past decade but it is also a junior racket so the surface area is severely lacking compared to what I should be playing with. Oh well, I sucked it up and was ready to move on with lesson #1. Another very shy boy walks on the courts, followed by a middle-aged couple. There were now six of us present and ready for our very first beginner's tennis lesson. I was pleasantly surprised by the small class size and the diversity.

Day one consisted of basic grip and tennis ready stance. We learned and practiced forehand, backhand, and volleys...oh boy. Alex, our instructor stood on one side of the net to feed us balls while the six of us stood in a single-file line on the opposite side. One at a time, he gently served each of us two balls to practice each move. We ran through the hopper of balls practicing our forehand then it was time to gather them all up and back to attention to move on to the backhand. And on and on it went for an hour. It was no military line mind you. The siblings were competing on everything and bopping around our half of the court while everyone else took their turns. For each ball that was hit, they took turns running after it only to hit it back over toward the instructor. That got old fast. But they were having fun. Eventually, Alex had to tell them they were being annoying and they stopped. I respect someone who just tells it like it is. Then there was the shy kid. He’s the kid that sits in the corner of a room avoiding eye contact with anyone and seems to just hope he can disappear completely. He was doing really well with all the shots but stood in the back of the line with his head down and his shaggy hair hanging in his eyes. I always find myself wondering what kind of adults these people are going to become. Will he snap out of it and be the next Bill Gates or will he be on the 11 0’clock news? I can only hope for the former. I also hope his parents don’t keep guns in the house. Oh, that wasn’t nice. See, I try but every once in a while they slip out. Damn!

Lesson number two was interesting. I got there on time and was the only one for the first ten minutes so I got a little private instruction until the siblings showed up. My husband and I smacked a few balls around the day before so I felt practiced and ready to go. It was me and the siblings for another 20 minutes or so, then the wife from the middle-aged couple arrived. She was alone. No husband. The shy kid was nowhere to be seen either. That’s probably not surprising though. Now that I think of it, he might have been there and I just didn’t see him. Oh well. For lesson #2, we learned overhead shots and serves. I’ve never had any trouble with serves. I have always done the traditional overhead serve and am pretty good at it actually. Well, as good as you can be without really knowing what you’re doing. So I wasn’t worried about these two new items on the agenda. Afterall, how hard can an overhead shot be when you’re use to doing the traditional serve anyway? Um…ya! I hit a couple overhead shots over the bathrooms and into the baseball field. I missed a few completely. I did manage to get one or two under control though. You know how everyone has their own weird things they do when they’re learning new things. In learning to play the guitar, I made all kinds of faces, still do actually. Now that I think about it, I do the full body flex on my guitar too. In learning to golf, I swore like a trucker on crack. Every other word out of my mouth was four letters. If I were to be bleeped my first few times on a golf course, you would have only heard “mother, piece of, god, wholly, for….sake, rammer, face, etc.” And that would be without taking a breath in between. Well, in learning to play tennis, I’ve apparently decided to start twirling. I take a swing (whether I hit it or not is another story) and promptly proceed to finish my follow through with a little spin move. Perhaps I should put a tutu on for my next lesson.

So now that I have two lessons under my belt, I’m feeling much better about everything. Well, that is except for the soreness in my left forearm (I'm left handed). I think I’m going to have to take a day off of tennis practice so I know that I will be able to hold my dinosaur racket next week for lesson #3. So far, the kids aren’t that bad and the instructor is someone I can respect. I’m having fun. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next week. Scoring? Playing an actual game? Who knows.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


If you want a thing bad enough
To go out and fight for it,
Work day and night for it,
Give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it,
If only desire of it
Makes you quite mad enough
Never to tire of it,
Makes you hold all other things tawdry and cheap for it,
If life seems all empty and useless without it
And all that you scheme and you dream is about it,
If gladly you’ll sweat for it,
Fret for it,
Plan for it,
Lose all your terror of God or man for it,
If you’ll simply go after that thing that you want,
With all your capacity,
Strength and sagacity,
Faith, hope and confidence, stern pertinacity,
If neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt,
Nor sickness nor pain
Of body or brain
Can turn you away from the thing that you want,
If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,
You’ll get it!

Things as they are 1916
Berton Braley

Prelesson Thoughts

It's funny. I'm a little nervous. Excited and nervous. Today is the big day. Today is my first tennis lesson. It's silly that I'm nervous actually because I've played tennis before. I took a summer of lessons when I was a kid growing up in eastern Washington. I can honestly say that I don't remember a thing I learned all those years ago. I just remember the ball machine spitting balls at me one after the other. Probably a good thing that I start with something I'm relatively familiar with so I don't run away screaming.

I called the community center yesterday to register for all the beginner and advanced beginner lessons for the month of August. As the woman was registering me she confirmed the advanced class. At that moment, I got a picture in my head of people running around the tennis court with their cute little white skirts on hitting the ball back and forth with elegance and grace while I sit in the middle of the court pouting because I don't know what I got myself into. Good thing we caught the error and hopefully registered me with all the beginners instead. Crossing my fingers that the 13 year olds don't point and laugh at me.

The other thing I found interesting when registering for the second term of lessons was that she didn't believe that I wanted to preregister all at once. She actually tried to talk me out of it. She said I might want to wait to register for the second term until after I know I like the first term.

I've been much more aware of my own thought processes lately and I guess it's making me more aware of other's as well. I've always had a "I am woman hear me roar" kind of attitude and presence about me. I don't think I'm annoying about it though. It's more of a "I can conquer anything if I want it bad enough" belief. Well, lately I have been accutely aware of people's uncanny ability to limit themselves with their thoughts and unfortunately, those that limit themselves also tend to share it freely with whoever will listen. I'm not suggesting that the woman on the other end of the line was intentionally trying to limit me but rather because that was her first thought, her first response, perhaps she limits herself. Some people might just say she was being helpful and/or cautious. She WAS very nice. To me, words of warning (when danger is not involved) sounds limiting. If you're going to limit yourself or others for that matter, then...what's the point of even trying? I say make a decision and go for it. There's no need to determine how far you can go before you even start. Just go!

1. Make a decision
2. Act!

I don't think it needs to be more complicated than that. There is a poem that I think puts it much better than I ever could. I'll post it separately for all to read.

Wish me luck. :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Kickoff - Tennis

Deep breath in...deep breath out...

I've struggled with this active lifestyle thing for quite a while. I have dedicated myself to change only to eventually stumble and fall. I've always managed to pick myself back up and mend my wounds. Although I never give up, I also never quite maintain the level of dedication that I know I am capable of and that I desire so deeply.

Of course, I have had many reasons (aka excuses) for my failings. My husband isn't as supportive as I'd like. Afterall, he's the one that craves the sweets and has no problem getting up and running to the store for a late night ice cream fix. Never mind the fact that I take his spoon and dig in. And what about the friends that have come and gone in my life. Now I love my friends, past, present, and future but they haven't all been the most active people. Most of them have been more interested in meeting for lunch or drinks than in heading to the gym or a yoga class with me. I love lunching and drinks just as much as the next person but sometimes getting off my ass is what is necessary. Today, I'm blessed with a group of friends that understand this concept and we have been able to strike what I consider a healthy balance.

The truth of the matter is that I have struggled with the sticktoitivness. I can run on the treadmill like a mad woman. I can show that elyptical machine who is boss. I can swim lap after lap. I can hang with the muscle heads in the weight room and feel perfectly comfortable. I can make some very healthful and yummy foods. I enjoy all of these things and more. I love the healthy and active lifestyle. Then something happens, whether it's that time of the month or trouble in marital paradise or family drama or allergies. Something happens that takes the wind out of my sails and I lose momentum. I'll be kicking some serious ass for a month or two then I have a week or two of deflated motivation which seemingly negates the progress I just made. Essentially, I run around in circles chacing my own tail.

I think having goals is a positive thing and I encourage everyone to think about what they want for themselves and their lives. I do it all the time. I also judge myself very critically if I don't meet my own expectations. So, instead of reaching for that specific waist size or number on the scale, I'm dedicating myself...committing to just changing my lifestyle for good, one activity at a time, one month at a time.

My life, my body, my heath, my attitude today is not a result of who I am at this moment. It is a result of the choices I made yesterday and the day before yesterday. Tomorrow will be a result of today's choices. So I'm choosing to be active. I define myself as an active person. I am Living Active.

The activity for the month of August is tennis. I will take tennis lessons twice each week and share my experiences. The good, the bad, the horrible disasters, and the lessons I learn about myself along the way. Although this is a personal journey, I absolutely welcome anyone and everyone who may like to join me wheter in person or in spirit, you are all invited.

Ready, set, GO!