Good Day, Old Sport
It hadn’t been long, but I could already feel my body changing–almost melting. At 31 years old, I was shifting into a form I could no longer recognize. My mind was atrophying too–Losing its sharp edges, rounding out. It was clear what was happening.
I was becoming a sofa.
Not just any sofa, a specific one. Grey. I was becoming the IKEA sectional in my living room. Slowly becoming one with the furniture as I wallowed in overwork, overstress and injury.
I am, to be clear, being dramatic. It was just an elbow injury and it only required a sling for 3 days, but I was out of gymnastics for over a month, and I hated every minute of it.
“Gymnastics you say? Aren’t you a little old for that?”
Well, yes, of course I am, hence the injury. But I do it anyway.
As a kid, I was a competitive gymnast. My bones were made of rubber. My ligaments stretched like silly putty, and, predictably, snapped right back into place. I was (felt) indestructible. Now as an adult, I am forcing my body to do things that it no longer naturally wants to do.
Every part of me creaks and aches and threatens to break, but still, I fly. I bounce and turn head over feet. I stretch, I roll, I flip. Two decades after I quit competing, Gymnastics is a lot different for me. It’s painful, and scary. I’m acutely aware of the risk I take every time I fling myself through the air–Of the people who would suffer if I hurt myself. Of how serious an injury could be. Things you don’t think about when you’re 10.NOW, IN MY THIRTIES, I HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO RELY ON ME.
I own a business. I am someone’s wife. I am the mother of two tiny, beautiful humans. My days are long, and, somehow, too short, all at the same time. There are never enough hours in the day for the work, and the housekeeping. For the car maintenance and the kid’s activities. The grocery shopping. The bedtimes. And in between, somehow, the self-care.
I realize that what I just described sounds like a perfectly ordinary life, and in a lot of ways, it really is. But they don’t tell you how overwhelming ordinary can be. How easy it is to lose yourself in ordinary. How much you’ll want to do for your family. How much you’ll want to do for your business. And how guilty you will feel about doing anything for yourself.
Gymnastics is the only time in my life when there isn’t sometime asking me to stop doing what I’m doing and go do what they need me to do. I love being that person for so many people, but I learned, over time, that it was important to be that person for myself too. To carve out time when I could be whollyjustme. Mind, body and spirit. And after two years of adult gymnastics, it still teaches me every time I go. It teaches me discipline, perseverance and courage. It gives me confidence, strength and friendship.
The Nashville Gymnastics Training Center is my sanctuary. My clubhouse. The people there are my people. We’ve seen each other’s successes and failures. We’ve witnessed each other’s frustrations and countless falls. And we’re always there to cheer when someonefinallysticks the landing. Many of them I never see outside of the gym, but they know a version of me that most people never see. This version leaves her stress at the door. She’s not so concerned about her appearance, or deadlines. She’s capable, and athletic, and fun. She’s a version of me that I like very much. The other ones are good too–Mom, Wife, Boss–but I’m glad my elbow injury finally healed and I get to see Gymnast Anna three times a week again. It’s better for everyone.
I won’t be able to do it forever, I know that. I feel that after every class, in every aching joint. But for now, I’m going to keep going as long as I can.
ICYMI: Check out the others in our SHEs in Sports: Lauren Cox!