Tai Chi Helps My Tennis!

Cross training as a tennis player is important, but many people never realize how important tai chi is for their tennis practice. About 5 years ago I discovered the importance of tai chi, and I have seen my tennis strokes improve. I am more grounded, because there is so much balance and a proper stance required in tai chi; as a result my strokes are solid when hitting the tennis ball and I am rotating around the vertical axis of my body. I think it also relaxes my body and mind when in the stressful moment of a ball being fired at me. Somehow I am ready to strike back!

In the past year I have been practicing my tai chi with a woman originally from China. She is also trying to teach class participants how to say some words in Chinese. I am not doing well with that part of the program, but I am slowly learning the 24 Tai Chi form! During the tai chi lesson she also explains how this internal martial art (tai chi) has actual defensive moves used in martial arts. So watch out if I swing my elbow at you!

Every so often our instructor will demonstrate a sword or fan dance for the class. She is amazing, and despite the fact I know the photos will not capture her grace, I will provide the photos.

Shuping, our instructor, demonstrates a fan dance.
Shuping, our instructor, demonstrates a fan dance.
Perfect form!
Perfect form!

Tennis…a Lifetime Sport!

I love tennis! I play tennis on 18+, 40+ and 55+ teams and love every aspect of the sport…or maybe not when I am playing singles. Wow, I need to remember to hit within the singles lines on the court, realize no partner is there to get the beautifully angled shots coming back on my side of the court, no one to help collect the stray balls, and no one to talk with or calm down with after a loss of point or game. I do love doubles though, especially when playing with a partner who seems to have good court sense while we both construct a point together! And sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose, but it is all good while we remind ourselves of the great opportunity we have in even playing the game!

I also love seeing people of all ages playing. It is truly a lifetime sport and we find people to play with who are usually at our playing level. In a tennis town that is easy to accomplish. Children can now play with racquets, tennis balls and courts more in lie with what’s appropriate for their age and skill level. I think that will motivate the children to continue with tennis as they move on to larger racquets, different balls, and larger courts.

I also love watching high caliber players on television. The Australian Open had so many fantastic matches that I was glued to the tv watching them…thankfully I could DVR them and not be up at the very early morning hours to watch them live.  Wasn’t it wonderful seeing Serena and Venus competing against each other again? Both have done so much for women tennis. Then too to watch Rafa and Roger! While we may wonder how much longer they each will be playing on the BIG stages of these grand slams, their reality I believe is that they will play long after the big slams…it is that type of sport…for a lifetime! Will I see you on the court? Hope so!

Roger won the Australian Open!
Roger won the Australian Open!
There had to be a winner, yet both Rafa and Roger played so well!
There had to be a winner, yet both Rafa and Roger played so well!

Team Spirit and Wine!

I spend many minutes, maybe I should say hours, on the tennis court playing with various people; however, we truly spend little time getting to know each other. So when the opportunity came to have a group wine tasting trip to an area south of Tucson, I was in! I will be the first to admit I have not met an Arizona wine I like… and my opinion does remain the same. But I had a good time with team members; that was the important part to get to know them better and have fun.

Photos below are brought to you by a team member, thank you! Looking forward to a good season on the court! Sonoran Tasting Tours was great in providing transportation, lunch and getting us to the three wineries safely.

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Retirement, This Year? OK!

First chapter of my life was growing up through those adolescent formative years and college. Then for many years I worked as an educator: science teacher, high school principal, and my last ten years as a middle school principal. I count those years  as my second chapter in life; with my third chapter as personal trainer, USPTA teaching pro, outdoor hiking guide, substitute teacher, and educator reviewing underperforming schools. Now comes my fourth chapter…retirement, I believe! Yes, yes, I can do it!

It’s 2017 and I have time to play tennis, bike ride, develop my photography skills and complete some international travel. My goal this year within this blog is to share those activities with you, along with some cerebral moments as I read books, watch television, spend time outdoors in my backyard and around the world, and wonder about life, death, and the pursuit of happiness.

Today, I had a women doubles tennis match and I was reminded of the importance of taking moment by moment, or as they say in tennis, point by point. We were horribly down in the first set score, 1-6. My partner and I discussed what was happening, what to do differently, and played point by point in the next set with a new determination. We won the second set, 6-4. Now the deciding tiebreak…first to 10 by 2 points.  It’s been said many times, do not give up! Remarkably we did not and won by 10-8! Nice!

More challenges, on and off the tennis court, and fun to come. Retirement may just truly happen this year! I’m okay with that!

With a goal to knock the crap out of a tennis ball again!

Knocked the crap out of that tennis ball!
Knocked the crap out of that tennis ball!

A Letter to Leaders….

Dear Leaders,

Yes, you as the leader of a family, team, environmental group, political group, school, church, or whatever organization you are a part of and designated leader, please read on. I simply want you as a leader to meet your responsibilities in a timely fashion, within budget, with concern for the people who look to you as their leader, and with justice.

I am tired, unimpressed, worried that our institutions are becoming out-dated, old, bankrupt, and with no concern for fellow man and woman. Our world needs leaders motivating others to operate at their fullest potential. Are you doing that?

Money is not the answer. Leaders need to create a work space that is healthy, supportive, fair, and with a vision so all know why it is important to support the organization you are leading. Happiness and inner fulfillment reap big dividends.

Leaders, go to work and work! Leaders, make decisions that will keep your organization fiscally responsible. Leaders, care for your people as though they are family…in a broad sense they really are! Leaders, be fair to all and when you seem to find it difficult, imagine you are walking in that person’s shoes!

Leaders, I applaud those who do the work at the highest level it can be done. Thank you!

Sincerely,

A member of some wonderful teams with super leaders.

Four Minutes of Stillness! How to Achieve It…

I have heard it said many times, slow down. Or, rest is as important as exercise. And I have even participated in 21 day meditations where each meditative time is about 20 minutes… and they were a challenge! So why can I not turn my brain off? Why can I not be still for a few minutes? What can I do to solve this so I have the health benefits touted with meditative practice … although I actually would not mind going to a mountain top!

The years I backpacked alone in the Adirondack Mountains, or jogged/ran long miles during my 5km, 10km training days, or cross country skied on fresh snow at golf courses before others arrived, or whacked the crap out of a golf ball on Sunday mornings during my high school principalship years… those were the times my mind was still! Now, I am loving every minute of tennis, bicycling and volunteering, but I am not having moments where I can turn my brain off. And I decided that I really do need to solve this personal dilemma….so….here’s my plan……

Each morning I use my Mr Coffee maker and brew a cup of coffee. Simple. So, during the time the coffee brews I will focus on my breathing, and only my breathing until my coffee is brewed…I think the brew time is about 4 minutes…. What do I have to lose, nothing! And I always gain my cup of coffee, so it seems like it could be a win-win. Does this mean I actually have to do it for 21 consecutive days before it is considered a meditative success? or a crazy start to a habit? or simply 4 minutes of silence in the kitchen?

I hope I have success for 4 days; now that would be a start! Yet I will brew on and can always come back to the morning coffee/meditative challenge…or maybe I will take up running again?

New Year, New Start!

I am fully retired from working, but not retired from life!

My “work” now will be fun on a tennis court, riding a bicycle, learning how to use my camera, and volunteering for special projects around the world. And once again, understanding how to blog with informative written pieces about the environment, a photograph where I challenge myself to learn a new technique, or to just write a commentary about whatever because a thought possesses me and I want to share.

I like new years; I like new starts. It allows me to start fresh and so it will go with this blog! With my right effort, I hope to enjoy it all!