By Meghan Bailey
Just like a bottle of fine wine, former athletes are coming off the dusty shelf where society stocked them away, and for good reason.
Do you remember when you were 10 years old? You were fearless, playful, imaginative and determined to have fun. Even if you failed on your first, second or third try, you dusted yourself off and went right back to it. Where did that person go? Better yet, where did those stress-free days go?
More and more people are suffering from the everyday work grind and finding that daily stressors are taking a toll on their mental health. That was me, and that is what was happening every day until a wise person asked me to help build a Lego castle. Those brief four minutes with my 3-year-old son, who has the attention span of, well, a 3-year-old, were pure bliss. It got me thinking about what made me happy. Until now, I had to be an adult every day, work to pay bills and put the weight of the world on my shoulders. For me the answer was simple. I loved gymnastics.
It started when I was 4 years old and trying to flip off my mom’s couch. One black eye later, there I was standing in heaven—or at least, that is what it felt like at the time. Over the years, I gained confidence, balance and strength—but that wasn’t all that I learned. I also developed time management, patience, perseverance and true grit.
“…I had to be an adult every day, work to pay bills and put the weight of the world on my shoulders. For me the answer was simple.
I loved gymnastics.”
Society told me that I couldn’t be a gymnast anymore once I cleared puberty, and I listened to them. So my stress outlet was taken away, but I began coaching because the passion for the sport was deeply rooted in my soul, and that helped. However, after having my little boy, I knew it was time to let that passion go so I could spend more time with my son and create the life I wanted for him.
As months rolled on, I started to become more successful in my career. I was getting the hang of being a mom, but I was also beginning to let the stress of hard work, insecurity and guilt compile. I tried everything that society told me that I needed to do to relieve stress at my age—yoga, Pilates, running, weight lifting, meditation and wine (OK, the wine may have helped)—but honestly, nothing was helping me relieve stress, until the day I was asked to play with those Legos. And that was my “aha” moment. What was holding me back from still continuing with what I loved to do? I’m almost in my 30s, and I can still do a back handspring, so why did I have to stop gymnastics?
It took some research. There are not many places that allow for adult tumbling, but I wasn’t taking no for an answer. The very next week, I walked back into my heaven, to the place that gave me the foundation for my life, which is the gym. Being able to twist, flip and crash a few times was exhilarating. I forgot about everything and everyone except for one important person—me.
Happiness doesn’t have to come with the status quo. Maybe, just maybe, happiness can come from the soul. So tell me, what did you like to do when you were 10?