29 April 2015


I have a feeling those that know me well may have spat their morning cuppa all over their laptop screens when I announced this month's prompt. You see, sport and I have never really got along. You know those people that are a 'natural'? That can be good at any sport within five minutes of picking up a bat, ball or surfboard? Well, I'm the exact opposite of that. (Annoyingly my husband is a natural, just to highlight how very not a natural I am). 

I am terrible, at everything sports related. I have the hand eye coordination of a drunken mole-rat. At school I was always that awkward kid who got picked last for the team. (What kind of sadist invented that whole team picking system, by the way? I would very much like to have some words with them.). PE was torture, plain and simple. 

The school consistently forced me to play team sports, under some misguided notion that it was 'good for me'. But all it did was give me a lifetime of trauma. No really - I just had a horrendous flashback to me playing netball. I'd blocked that out until now. Excuse me while I go into the foetal position for a little while. Ugh.

Netball, softball, soccer, cricket, hockey, swimming, athletics, footy - it was all a humiliating disaster. Well...maybe not all of it. I do have two fond memories of sport at school. 

The first was around year ten, when we decided to start a girls soccer team. We had never played before so we had no expectation of winning. It really was just for fun. I remember playing a round robin, a full day of matches. We lost every game; I think maybe we only scored one goal! It was pouring with rain, which sounds awful but it was wonderful; all that mud to slip and slide about in, on our knees, Elvis style. We had a ball.

A bit later, a few of my friends decided to take over the school hall some lunch times so we could play indoor hockey. We took over the sound system too, and always had something a little bit retro, a little bit rock and roll playing, very loudly. Led Zeppelin was on high rotation at the time, from memory. I was still terrible, I had no skills, but I did have fun. It made me realise sport didn't have to be scary, frightening, humiliating. 

Actually there is one sport I am good at, with thanks to my Austrian step-dad, Erwin - skiing. Erwin loves the mountains, the cold and snow. So from a very young age every winter we'd head to Mount Buller or Falls Creek and spend a week or so skiing. We had lessons up until I was about sixteen, so I learnt proper technique, unlike my husband who is self taught. It's the one thing I can do slightly better than him. Not that I cling to that like a limpet to a rock. Not at all.

I adore skiing. I adore the brisk mountain air, the breathtaking views, the village feel of ski resorts, all the weird equipment and rituals and traditions (the queue jumping dares, the hot chocolates, the games of 500). And that feeling of freedom, being right on the edge of control and danger - pushing yourself, just enough, as you swoosh down the slope. One whiff of diesel fuel and I get excited; I immediately think of the ski lifts. 

Unfortunately you can't just pop your runners on and go for a ski. Especially in Australia it's an expensive and logistically tricky hobby. We don't ski very often these days, but when we do I still love it.

Outside of skiing, my husband goes through phases where he decides we need to do a family activity. When we were living in Hong Kong, that was squash. Since being back in Australia it's been tennis. We haven't played much lately, but for awhile we were playing semi-regular doubles matches with the step-sons as partners. Yes, I'm terrible, but that's okay. And yes, surprisingly, I do actually enjoy it. 

I guess in spite of all those traumatic school sport memories - the ones that make me shiver and sweat in fear - exercise and movement have become a really important part of my life. I discovered yoga about seven years ago and loved it - the feeling of progression and accomplishment, building your strength and flexibility week on week. I love doing hand weights and pilates and a weird mix of other exercises I've pulled off the internet. And, of course, I could walk for days and days. When I don't move, when I don't exercise, I feel terrible - emotionally and physically. Maybe school sport was good for me after all? 


ps. In all honesty I did not feel like writing this post today. It's been such a sad, grim, heart breaking week. But I made a commitment to do one of these My... posts a month, and to write more, and sometimes writing is just about focussing on the task at hand and getting it done, even when you're feeling bereft of hope. Kindness and compassion and gentleness - that's what I'm seeking out right now, that's what I'm looking for in my corner of the world. I hope you are finding it in yours. x

The My... posts are a way to get me writing more throughout 2015. There'll be one a month, each with a different My... prompt. You can play along as well, whenever and wherever you want. This month's prompt (April) is My Sport. Next month's prompt (May) is My Travel. Interpret each prompt however you like - a story or a jumble of thoughts, fact or fiction, personal or not. Don't feel too constrained by the months either, if you like a prompt then have a go. And make sure to let me know if you do join in!


  1. Oh Em now I feel guilty at the trauma you were exposed to! Interesting isn't it that school sports are so very much about teams, rather than letting kids just find some activity they like doing and allowing that. Yes kindness and compassion is what we all need at the moment.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Don't feel guilty! It was very safe, mild trauma! And I kind of get what you're saying but I actually wouldn't change anything. It taught me - in a very safe environment - that I could do something I didn't enjoy at all, and found stressful, and get through the other side a-ok. And yes, even possibly enjoy it sometimes too. I think if we don't push kids to do something they don't like occasionally they don't get the chance to try out different coping strategies, they don't learn resilience. It can create brittle fragile adults...

      School isn't about making kids always happy right now, today - it's about helping them to be happy in five, ten, twenty years... Besides if we changed the syllabus to cater for my teenage needs I would've spent years in a semi-darkened room, listening to The Cure albums and scribbling madly in my diary! And I definitely wouldn't have had the strength to do half of what I've done because of it!

      Long answer, it's something I think about a lot! x


Your comments make me happier than you could possibly imagine. Really! Thank you.