Real Talk

Pickleball & Marriage: Real Talk

Pickleball Wife Life

The last few years took a turn that I didn’t see coming. Did I think when I married my husband that I would eventually spend all of my vacation days and most of my free time devoted to a sport called Pickleball? Not exactly. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was, and even after I learned about it I actually thought it was a game my husband and his friend made up themselves. I was more then a little confused the first time he told me he was going to a tournament, “a tournament? for that game you and Bobby made up?” turns out I had some of the details wrong.

If you don’t know what Pickleball is, join the club. I’m often met with confused faces when I talk about it to friends. It’s sort of like badminton, sort of like giant pingpong, sort of like the loudest version of tennis you can imagine. The smacking sound of a small wiffle ball against paddles sometimes haunts my sleep. If you want to see it played out here’s a video!

Most of my summer weekends are dedicated to watching my husband compete in tournaments. Most people you find at the events are there to play, so I have the somewhat unique experience of looking from the outside in. I don’t play, except on the rare occasion my husband helps me get a workout in and runs me around the court playing singles (my highest score against him is 4-11 in case you’re curious, although I have a sneaking suspicion he gave me most of those points). A lot of my time at tournaments is spent screaming from the sidelines (sorry, not sorry, other pickleballers), refilling water bottles, offering him food thirty times a day until he’s completely annoyed, and occasionally cat napping if I come across a good sun spot and we’re in a lull between matches.

I wasn’t always involved with tournaments, or Pickleball at all, when he started. When he first caught the bug I wasn’t only working full time, I had a hefty commute and I was really trying to build a career for myself, so even my limited free time was spent working. By the time things finally slowed down a little for me, Frank was already deeply entrenched in the Pickleball world. He was already going to tournaments on his own, and Pickleball felt like it was very clearly his thing (at least to me). Most weekends and a lot of week nights he was spending playing, so to say I wasn’t initially the biggest fan of Pickleball may be an understatement.

In long term relationships it’s easy to let life sweep you along and not realize where you’re headed before you end up right in the middle of it. At one point we looked up and realized we were barely spending any time together, and we needed to change something if anything was going to work. Pickleball was definitely not the reason we had issues, but it had become such a huge part of Frank’s life without being a part of mine at all that it became a clear disconnect between us. So we decided I’d start coming to tournaments and be more involved with Pickleball.

It was an awkward transition, to put it nicely. I knew no one, and Pickleball is one of those esoteric worlds that can make you feel like an extraterrestrial that was just dropped into the middle of a square dance. I’m sure it was more than a little frustrating on Frank’s end too. Do you want the truth? It sucked for a while. We’re coming up on eight years of marriage this week and that time period sticks out in my mind as one of the hardest to get through. Even at the time it felt like a make or break situation for our relationship. It took time and a hell of a lot of perseverance. We fought, we struggled, and eventually it started to suck less. I made friends, I found a rhythm for myself at tournaments, and slowly but surely I found myself truly loving watching my boy run around the court, unable to restrain my cheering.

So here I am, making spread sheets of tournament schedules and counting down the days until the next one. Despite the negative feelings it brought initially it’s become a huge positive in our relationship. It’s easy to let changes eat your relationship from the inside out, but if Pickleball has taught me anything, it’s that getting through those changes can be painful and frustrating, but they can also be the absolute best thing to happen.

Minset Master Social // Event Recap!

Mindset Master Social Event Recap on the Josie Feather Blog

On a rainy Sunday morning I found myself squeezing into a crowded little hall. I quickly got myself checked into the Mindset Mast Social. The beautiful woman at the desk greeted me with a warm smile and gave me my goody bag. I’m not sure if they technically call them goody bags, but anytime I’m handed a bag filled with snacks I count it as a one.

I stood on the edge of the doorway for a few minutes, watching other little groups chat and laugh together. I don’t typically go to events alone. I mean, who wants to, right? No one wants to be the one person without a group safety net to catch them if they blunder through an odd encounter, or the event ends up royally sucking.

This year I’ve challenged myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I’ve changed so much in the past few years I’ve found it can be hard to find people already in my circle who are as passionate about the same things I am, so I’ve given myself a little goal to be brave and venture to events and meet-ups based around some of the things that have become so important to me. When I came across The Positivity Charge, I was so excited to see a group of women with such a great mission, and when I saw that they’re doing a few events in Philly this year I made myself sign up without letting myself overthink it.

That’s how I found myself on Sunday at the Mindset Master Social. I really didn’t know what to expect, but when we were lead upstairs I was more than happy to help myself to a mimosa and find a seat. I was immediately grateful to be sitting next to someone else who happened to come alone. A sweet and lovely lady from Lancaster. Bonus points to her for telling me about her dog, that’s the quickest way to my heart.

After everyone settled there were some quick introductions and then we jumped into…

wait for itttttt….

CHOCOLATE MEDITATION

You heard me right. Well, technically it’s called “Cacao Sound Meditation” which sounds a lot fancier. Even as someone who’s not some crazy chocolate lover I was super intrigued. I’ve been trying out some meditation techniques lately to help focus my ever jam-packed brain, so I was excited to participate a led meditation.

It was lead by Jalpa Dhaduk, who started us off with some basic meditation, and then we slowly ate little bits of chocolate, really taking our time and focusing on all of the different senses. She pointed out how usually when we have chocolate we just shove it in our mouths and are quickly looking for more, but slowling down and really savoring the entire experience helped to focus my mind on the moment. Although mine was melting in my hand a little, so I won’t lie, my brain was also going “GET A NAPKIN NOW YOU WEIRDO”. You win some, you lose some.

KEYNOTE

After that we moved onto the keynote talk with Doctor Colleen Reichmann. Holy moley, is she a woman after my own heart. I honestly wasn’t expecting to hear a talk that was so on point with things running around my own head recently. She started by opening up about her own struggles with an eating disorder. Then she so eloquently explained how we all live somewhere on the mental health spectrum, even though not everyone crosses the border into actual disorders. She did such a great job explaining how some of us are born with some predispositions to mental health problems that start us off farther down the spectrum towards disorders, and things like stressors and environment can push us over that border.

Her main point revolved around how common mental health problems are and how important it is to learn to treat them just like we would regular health issues, ditching the stigma, and learning to embrace proactive care. I actually have a whole page of notes on my phone from the talk!

JOURNALING

Like I mentioned before, I didn’t want to overthink going to the event, so I didn’t spend much time even looking at the event list, so by this point in the morning I was thinking “did they really just go inside my brain and steal all these ideas?!”. I finally started journaling again this year after not doing any for over ten years. I absolutely loved it as a teenager, but quickly ditched it when I was paranoid that someone was reading it. This year I dove back in, and have been really loving it.

The co-founders of The Positivity Charge, Parisha and Dr. Rubina led the journaling workshop and went over the benefits of journaling, and gave us tons of useful prompts and idea of how to really take full advantage of journaling.

TAKE AWAYS

Like I mentioned, going to events alone is generally not my jam, but this was so worth it. Even though I felt some low-key social anxiety almost all morning, getting to hear from and talk to people about things that have been so close to my heart lately was refreshing and exciting. I’m actually really excited for The Positivity Charge Conference in August to get a little more out of my shell, meet some new people, and really connect!

You Can't Steal Happiness

You Can't Steal Happiness - Josie Feather Blog

A month or two ago I came across this article written by one of my favorite podcasters, Mallory O'Meara. She’s mostly talking about social media and how easy it is to get swept up in comparison and turn into an evil nasty little online troll without meaning to, but she made so many good points that relate to all of life that have been rolling around in my head gathering friends ever since.

We’ve all heard the phrases “you can’t buy happiness” and “comparison is the their of joy” so much that any meaning they’ve had is hard to pull out of them at this point. Yeah, I get it, comparing myself to other people won’t actually make me happy, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing it time and time again in my head. Then Mallory struck my over the head with the point that “you can’t steal happiness”. You can be mean in your head, online, or in real life to someone who has something you want, but no matter what you do, even if you bring them down, you can’t actually take any happiness they have.

Most people don’t know this about me, but I actually have body dysmorphia. It’s more complicated than this, but basically, I tend to be more than a little obsessive about my perceived flaws. I lock in and it’s hard to let go. I’m quite sure that I’m the most unattractive person alive and anyone telling my otherwise is just trying to be nice and make me feel better. It’s easy to get caught up in if I’m not careful, and even more easy to catch myself constantly comparing my own looks to other girls. I know it’s certainly not something exclusive to having body dysmorphia, but especially when I’m having an extra rough day, my brain jumps on that comparison train faster then I can catch it. It’s terrible, and absolutely something I don’t want to do, but often my mind runs straight for it, trying to find some way to tear them down to comfort myself.

Here’s the thing though, tearing other people down (even if I’m only doing it in my head) does not allow me to steal their looks, success, or happiness. I don’t get to have those things no matter how mean or nasty I am. In fact, I only end up feeling worse by letting my brain run wild with comparing, and by letting myself judge others I’m just keeping the door wide open for me to judge myself too.

You can’t buy, steal, or borrow happiness. You can’t beat it into submission. You can’t shame it into coming to you or judge it until it backs down and gives up. These last few months I’ve really come to accept that there’s only one way to get it, you have to create it. It’s something that no one can do for you, you have to get out there and get your hands dirty. It’s such a simple, and really incredibly obvious idea, but I’ve found that when my mind jumps on that comparison train and I tell it “hey, you won’t actually get that persons looks or happiness going that way” my brain is a little more willing to jump off.