Poor Dennis. He taught me how to play pickleball almost a year ago and then he had to go ahead and beat me four games in a row today. Or maybe it was five. I lost count.

As I packed up to go, he threw a ball in my bag. It wasn’t my ball. It was one that had gotten stepped on in our last game. “Here’s a souvenir!” he chuckled.

I’ve been playing pickleball for nearly 12 months and I am still always the worst one on the court. Truly. This isn’t Nicole throwing a pity party hoping people will disagree with her. This is truth. But it doesn’t matter. Because I love playing pickleball.

Pickleball reminds me that I don’t have to be good at everything. I can fail and fail and fail again and still be okay with it.

A met a new friend on the court today. She said she’s only been a few times and she’s not sure she likes it because she’s so bad (for the record, she is still better than me). She’s frustrated with herself for not being instantly good at the game.

It made me sad.

It reminded me of all the things I want to like, but instead get down about. I want to like my body, but I don’t fit into my old jeans. I want to like my writing, but my books never made the best-seller list. I want to like crossword puzzles, but anyone looking over my shoulder would think I’m an idiot.

What if we just decided to cut the buts?

Could we finally say I like my body, I like my writing, I like crossword puzzles and just leave it at that?

What “but” do you need to get rid of? Are there areas you could be kinder to yourself? More accepting?

I’m keeping that pickleball. Not as a reminder of all the games I’ve lost. I’m keeping it as a reminder to cut myself some slack. It’s okay to be a 5 instead of a perfect 10. Or a 1 or a 2 or a 3. Who cares?

Not me. And hopefully, not you too.