A few months ago I read a book by one of my favorite authors, Leeanna Tankersley. I saw her speak many years ago at a Writer’s Conference I attended and when she appeared again years later at my MOPS (Mothers of Preschool Children) group, I truly enjoyed listening to her stories and soaking in any advice that spoke to me. So, when she was about to release her newest book, Begin Again, I convinced my bible study group that we had to choose her book.
New Beginnings. Even just saying that conjures up a lot of imagery and emotion. Sometimes new beginnings are exciting and energizing. Other times they are scary and stressful- and everything in between.
I am in the midst of a new beginning in my life right now that is extremely exciting and totally unexpected. Imagine if college or high school was one of the best times in your life, and now you somehow had the opportunity to do it again, but in this stage of your life. Ok, maybe that sounds confusing, but that’s exactly what it felt like for me.
In the mid 2000’s, my sister and I discovered a new sport called Beach Tennis and we began to compete on the pro tour. It was amazing how it all happened. It was a whirlwind few years as we traveled around the best beaches in the US, made an appearance on the Today Show, and even competed as the first American team at the World Championships in Italy.
We had a ball, but it seemed like that era was over. The organization that was putting it on in the US stopped holding tournaments, so we just counted our blessings for the time we had and moved on to other adventures, like getting married and having kids.
Then in October 2018 my husband and I went to Pacific Beach to celebrate our 9-year anniversary and we stumbled across the PB Beach Fest (which is funny because we often go to a neighborhood and end up there on their festival day even though we’d often prefer to be there with less crowds!) But in this case, it was a serendipitous occurrence, because as we strolled down the boardwalk, I peered down at the sand and saw it! A beach tennis tournament was going on, just like the ones we had played in so many years ago!
My heart started racing and we went down to check it out. Not only was the tournament going on, but a lot of old faces of people I knew from LA where there. An old friend was MC’ing the event, just like old times! My former mixed doubles partner was playing a match and another old friend was there to greet me! I took in the scene with such déjà vu and raw excitement. I was introduced to the two ladies who are running the effort to grow Beach Tennis in San Diego. I learned that in October 2019 San Diego will be hosting the ANOC World Beach Games and Beach Tennis will be a featured event. I was stunned!
Now I have the opportunity to help grow Beach Tennis in San Diego and bring the fun and excitement of this worldwide sport to my community. I also have people to play with and I am planning on competing again!
This new beginning is very exciting and also a little bit scary. I am in a totally different phase of my life than I was last time I was in this world. I have two little children, a husband, and lots of responsibilities and considerably less free time. I want to help bring this game to San Diego and more of the US, but I am pretty full already!
But that is how it is with new beginnings. There is an unknown that sometimes is hard to sit with. It is especially hard for me because I consider myself a planner. I want to know how it will go. I want to be able to accomplish all of my dreams. But what if I have too many dreams? Then what?
Maybe I am just a perfectionist and I have to relax and release what I think it should all look like. Wouldn’t that be great to just let it all go and take life as it comes, one day at a time, one moment at a time, totally present? I want to recapture the freedom I felt in my younger days when there was so much possibility in my future. Just because I am married and a mom, that doesn’t mean my adventure is over, right? Of course, it’s not. My adventure is even bigger now because it includes my whole family too. But I need to stay on track and be present and stop worrying about the future or living in the past.
I need to listen to Tankersley when she writes, “Every day, we begin again.” She shares such inspiring and entertaining stories in all of her books. In Begin Again, she says years ago the words of a Benedictine monk stuck with her, “always we begin again.” She was living in the Middle East on base with her husband when they had their first children, boy girl twins. I can only imagine what that must’ve felt like. I remember feeling confused and undone after the emergency C-section birth of my firstborn, but I was living in the US and only had one baby to tend to! None-the-less, those words stuck with her and she was drawn to them years later as she wrote this book.
You have to read it for yourself, but a few things stood out to me. The first is that every new beginning happens after an ending. And endings can hurt. I’ve been a mom for 6 years now, but sometimes I still miss all the free time I had before having kids. I always wanted kids and adore having them as they bring a whole new level of love and joy to my life. But it still marks the end of an era (and so far, sleeping through the night consistently too!) So, if a new beginning comes after an end, it is important to grieve the end. You can appreciate it for what it provided you and then embrace the new gifts your present offers.
Another thing that stood out was when Tankersley said that walls are doors. How awesome a context is that? You come to something that feels like a wall… You butt up right against it and feel stuck, trapped even. But you can transform that wall into a door. You can open it up and begin again. You can create something new. To me that sounds like a freedom and a treasure, to be able to get beyond whatever troubles are trapping you. Sure, there will be grief over the ending and perhaps trepidation about the new beginning, but there will also be a new found ability to create and start fresh.
Taking on new beginnings can be scary and sometimes we cling to what we have even though we know it’s not right. She tells the best story of how her landscaper wanted to remove one tree from the entrance to her house. Originally she had two trees flanking the sides of the entrance to her home, a pair. But this one is dead, he told her. Yet she still wanted to hold onto it. She says often we’d rather hold on to the known than step into the unknown. But in doing so we can miss out on the beauty. In her case with the dead tree, once it was removed, it highlighted the beautiful gazebo in the background. What beauty is awaiting us when we have the courage to take the next step?
A couple weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend an event that was all about new beginnings and it featured Leeanna Tankersely live on video chat. She was awesome as usual. She said she had recently discovered that scared easily changes to sacred and in doing so it invites God into her life. She also said that you’ll know when you need to know. I really like that as an opportunity to slow down and have faith in the process. New beginnings are just that, new. Taking moment by moment and enjoying the journey is the best way to do life. Sure, you can plan and work hard, but to experience the current moment in all its glory or pain is to be alive.
This week I will be off to my first beach tennis tournament in 10 years. I cannot wait to officially begin this next chapter. What new beginning are you creating in your life?
For more info on Beach Tennis:
Like Us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/themaloneysisters/
Beach Tennis San Diego: https://www.facebook.com/beachtennis.sandiego.3
International Beach Tennis (ITF): https://www.itftennis.com/beachtennis/home.aspx
For more info on Leeana Tankersley:
Tankersely, Leeanna. Begin Again. Revell, 2018.