Do What Made You Happy As a Kid

Just like everyone else, I’ve been glued to the Olympics the past week. (Did anyone else cry watching the women’s marathon finish today…or just me?)

I realized when I meant Dominique Dawes just how nostalgic watching the Olympics are for me.

Dominique Dawes

I met Dominique Dawes, have I mentioned that?

But seriously, as a teenager watching the Olympics in my basement, and practicing my own backbends and back walkovers, it felt like anything was possible, that if I just kept at it…

I clearly didn’t have that level of talent, but there’s two sports that brought me so much joy as a child/teenager: gymnastics and tennis.

And thanks to the wonder of the summer Olympics, I’ve been able to quench cravings for both of those.

I’ve also found myself drawn to books about these sports lately — the last two books I read:

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger: a book about a young tennis prodigy who changes coaches, to find her whole life changing.

You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott: this one was GOOD. It starts off focusing on the story of a young gymnastics phenom, but then it has a TWIST. I couldn’t put it down to the point that I was sitting waiting for a friend reading it and jumped when she walked into the bar, I was so engrossed. (OK fine, I’m also just really jumpy.)

A friend and I were discussing happiness this weekend, and what made us happy when we were younger, when life was simpler. For me, it was both tennis and gymnastics. I did gymnastics from about age 5 – 15. I was never great, but I really enjoyed it and was happy to have it as a fallback when I didn’t make the tennis team my freshman year.

Tennis, though. From the second I picked up a tennis racquet at age 10, I was HOOKED, and to this day, the rare times I play, I’m at total peace on the tennis court, thinking through my next shot, where to stand. I was crushed when I moved to a fancier district for high school and didn’t make the team, trying out against girls who’d been getting private lessons since they were in the womb, basically. And, hi, any sport where this girly girl gets to wear a skirt

Preppy Runner Tennis

For years, Meggie and I have discussed playing tennis together…and still haven’t.

I’m currently training for a marathon (honestly there haven’t been any/many posts on that recently because I’ve been sick half the time I’ve been training…), so I’m not ready to commit to any sort of formal tennis program, BUT I’m going to put it out there.

By the end of this year, I’d like to:

– Play tennis AT LEAST once. First step: buy a new racquet. I finally got rid of my old high school one (yup, graduated high school 15 years ago…) when I moved this year.

– Take an adult gymnastics class. This one might be a colossal disaster, but my friend Colleen and I have been discussing, and I think it sounds like fun!

If you’re in NYC and have any tennis/gymnastics recs, lay ‘em on me, please.

What activities did you do as a child that brought you joy? (Do those now! :))

Also, what are you reading?

12 comments on “Do What Made You Happy As a Kid

  1. Tracy

    Played tennis from 9-17 and loved it and still do to this day. Was just telling friends I need to get back on the court.

    As we’ll played indoor rec volleyball and loved beach as well. Hence why I am up so late watching Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross kill it again tonight!

    An adult gymnastic class sounds like fun! You could also try Brooklyn Ninja Gym.

  2. Kayla

    I’ve been wanting to take an adult gymnastics class. I have a few friends that used to go at Chelsea Piers. I would be a hot mess considering I can’t even do a cartwheel.

  3. katie

    Love it! I can’t wait till I’m done with the mba program and can sign up for random classes! For now I just run when I can and do random drop in yoga classes, with a tri or two to keep my heart rate up/nervous.

  4. Hilary

    I’ve been meaning to play more tennis as well even though I’m not very good. I noticed that there are a few tennis clinics on ClassPass and hope to try some of the outdoor ones post-heat wave. Maybe more normal court time next year when I’m not marathon training!

  5. Laura

    I was a really inactive kid. I was ill a lot, so I used to spend far more time playing with farm sets and My Little Ponies, reading books and writing stories than being outside or being active.
    I did go to one gymnastics lesson, but was scared of all the moves because the teacher kept emphasising how if you didn’t do them properly you could really hurt yourself. So I eventually ended up in ballet & jazz classes, but gave it up just before my teens when I started to become conscious that I was overweight.

    Maybe I should find an adult ballet class and try again!

  6. Jillian

    Did you hear Ashton Eaton (the “best athlete in the world”!!!) said tennis is the most athletic sport beyond decathlon? Way to be!

    I just read “Fragments of Isabella” — a memoir of Auschwitz. It’s a short, quick read, but so, so powerful. I can’t stop talking about it.

  7. Meggie


    Also, I used to go to Chelsea Piers adult gymnastic classes weekly (or twice weekly) circa 2007-2008. I LOVED them. So fun. They make it very approachable. Usually 90 min. And fun! I got so obsessed I took privates, too. Bc I tend to do that sort of thing. Related: never let me take up any new hobbies, ever.


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