I did it for the first time in 24 years. I picked up the tennis racket and showed up to my fear. The memory that haunted me since I was 16. The day I realised that I was being observed and that the people in the stadium would notice if I made a mistake. From that moment, my tennis game changed. I started to play safe. I could feel how the confidence weakened my grip, how my forehand lost its power, how the right side of my arm allowed the fears in my head to play the ball instead of letting my body do what it knows best. To meet life – to meet this ball, hit it when it is at its peak, and not wait a moment longer.

In the moment of hesitance, the ego takes control. The mind starts playing stories, and all the worries and fears begin to form an inner crowd that sacrifice my inner child even before she can play. Interestingly, in becoming aware of the external crowd, I unconsciously gave my inner crowd the power. And not the cheerleading squad inside but the critics – keeping score of “the rights and the wrongs”. I was playing into my good girl behaviour of wanting to do what is right to achieve and feel loved. Isn’t that the yearning deep inside? To experience love. To feel that deep connection?

This is precisely what I felt when I managed to hit the ball over the net. As my racket connected with the tennis ball – I sensed a deeper inner connection. A connection of saying yes to me. Yes, to a childhood passion. Yes, to a family passion of fond memories with grandparents and family members. Yes, to getting out and opening myself up to be observed again.

Doing this is symbolic of the stage that I’m in my life right now. Picking up my tennis racket and playing again as I knew I needed to do for five years. I knew instinctively that it would support integrated growth of mind, body, and spirit. The playful inner child with the matured, wiser woman. The one that knows it is okay to make mistakes. That a missed ball or an imperfect stroke isn’t the end of the world, it is just part of the world. That it too serves life. The learning to also make space for that. That there is no hiding away from the inner or outer crowds. There is only the opening to vulnerability, to my humanness, to bringing the shadow into the light. In doing that, I’m saying yes to all the elements of life and the teaching that this game wants to invite me into.

It felt so good. My whole body felt awakened. I could connect to the life energy again. I felt lighter for showing up to my fear. In facing the fear, I’m learning to play with it. The fear isn’t gone completely, but I know it is going to take time. Therefore, I knew I needed support.

Like in life, we sometimes need a coach. So, I got a tennis coach to support me on the journey. To remind me that I can do this and to encourage me when I want to quit. I’m aware there is still much practice needed and getting tennis fit again. My body does have a memory that wakes up, but it is rusty. It is also about drawing on the old memories and reconnecting them, integrating them and adjusting or refining were necessary to renew. The game that I’m going to play now at 40 will be different than at 16.

In my life, I’m ready to start playing for a bigger crowd, to expose myself more to show up even more to life and love. I feel called to do this to love more, to give more. Like in tennis, I’m open to receiving the ball to play it and enable those who play with me the opportunity also to receive a ball—giving and receiving. Tennis is not about just giving; you need a partner to play with. Co-creation is what makes the game. I’m opening myself up to co-create with others so that those that observed can also receive the gift that comes with witnessing. Like watching Wimbledon – it is not only the players that enjoy it, but also the crowd.

I’m ready to move from a local game in a small town to the Wimbledon of life. This is what I’m practising for – the abundance of life. Also knowing that the strawberries and cream at the main court don’t come without hard work and the possibility of disappointments. But I’m tired of playing small. It has served me to this point and now I’m ready to be in service to of others and share the gifts life wants to express through me on a larger scale. Bring on the sun cream, the water cooler, the sunshine, the sweat and tired muscles. Bring on 40 – love for life. This is where I start – at love.

Question to reflect on: What fears are holding you back to show up to your Wimbledon of life?

If ever you feel you need the support of a coach to face up to your fears – feel free to reach out to me.