The GGA Project -- Day #43 "40-Love"

Today I had another GGA play date, this time with Cheryl, a heretofore acquaintance-type friend, whom I met through my friend Kelsi.  I think she's super cool, even from the little time I'd spent with her, so I decided to include her when I was inviting friends into my project.  And I was very happy when she accepted.  The coolest thing was that she didn't tell me ahead of time what we were doing, which was great because I looooove surprises!

She told me to be dressed for doing a physical activity, but not to worry because she wouldn't be dragging me to a gym.  She also told me to bring some flip flops along.  Unfortunately, I misinterpreted this to mean only flip flops (I figured maybe we'd be doing yoga or something)...most unfortunately because we ended up going to play tennis! (Shoes always beats no shoes in tennis, for the record)  Cheryl is a devoted tennis player, playing in two different leagues of mixed doubles.

Today's New Activity: Surprise Tennis Lesson

Now, tennis is not completely new to me (though I haven't played since middle school), but I've never had any kind of lesson in playing and I definitely suck at it about as much as a person can.  But Cheryl was kind and patient enough to guide me through the basics of forehand and backhand swings, then camp out oh-so-patiently on the other side of the net, sending perfect little meatballs my way so I could practice the techniques.   She was a sweet and very helpful teacher, and I was able to make a little bit of improvement during the time we spent there as a result.  I only sent *one* tennis ball flying over the net and into the abyss.

The greatest thing about today's activity was that it completely embodied the spirit of the project.  You can't get much more open than you are when you agree to spend time with somebody without knowing what you'll be doing.  I sort of think we don't have enough surprises in our lives, most of us anyway.  And the part that was most inline with the project was that, after spending a while dabbling with tennis, I knew I'd want to do it again, and soon (this would be a good time to confess that I also found myself thinking about the World of Warcraft a few days after playing and thinking that I might want to run my little gnome around for another afternoon).

I was talking with Cheryl about this.  You know, up until shortly before I started this project, I was definitely at a point in my life where I felt like I just pretty much knew what I liked, and that's what I did.  I didn't think to even join in on stuff that I didn't already do, and I certainly didn't seek out new things just to see if I'd end up liking them.  How incredibly sad.  I mean, it's only been 43 days and already I'm overwhelmed with the thought of how much I've been missing out on.  Tennis was fun!  And if Cheryl hadn't been game to join in on my GGA project, I might have gone the rest of my life without ever again picking up a racket.  And that, while not tragic, would still have been a shame.

Kelsi asked me last week whether or not part of what I was discovering in the course of doing all these new activities was that I already knew myself pretty well, and that the things I was already doing were the things I most enjoyed after all.  I could easily have imagined that to be the result as well, but I told her that I was pretty much finding the opposite to be the case.  What I was really learning was that, if given the choice between what I'd always done and something completely new that I *could* be doing, I was now having a hard time imagining any good reason not to take the new path.  I've been having a lot of fun with all the new stuff.

There will be plenty of time in our lives to do the things we know and love...but opening ourselves up to the unfamiliar always has the potential to bring unexpected joy, and a new beloved hobby to our worlds.  I swear I must have seen an afterschool special on this topic somewhere along the line. But then, somewhere further along the line, the message got lost.  I'm grateful for the chance to be to be re-learning the lesson now.

I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with Cheryl and am so thankful to her for helping me discover a new way to get some exercise, one much more fun than half and hour on a machine at the gym.  I only wished I'd had the chance to watch her play against somebody on her level, because I could tell she's a very good player.  But I do look forward to next time, when I'll be wearing the proper shoes and I can get my ass properly kicked as well  :)

After tennis, we went to Kelsi's, where she was hosting the monthly meeting of a Women's Group she started recently.  There are about 7 of us who get together, have a little snack, talk, and then do some kind of creative activity, led by a different woman each time.  So far we've journaled to a writing prompt, and today Nicole led us through a mixed-media collage project.  Nicole taught art to children and adults for years, so she's a great teacher and has loads of supplies, which she's very generous with.  We took turns holding Kelsi's newborn son, Max


...ensuring each of us, including the new Mama, would have the chance to transform something like this

into something like this

Tee hee.  The collages aren't finished yet.  There are a few more steps Nicole will be showing us next time to blend everything more organically, etc.  But one woman, Christina, mastered the thing outright and made a beautiful piece of art already fit for framing and even selling (wish I had a picture of it...maybe I'll get one next time, when the rest of us finish ours).  She kept talking about how great this outlet was for her (she's not only the mother of two but also a daycare provider to two other children, so time to herself is incredibly rare and precious).  I was so happy to see that somebody with true artistic talent had this opportunity to express it in a way she wouldn't have taken the time to do on her own.  And the group is such a supportive and non-judgmental one...a good place to get one's art on without the ugly critic monster coming along to squish down all the good times.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.  :)

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