Baseball and Joplin

You can thank the 1985 World Series, known as the I-70 Series, for this post.

Baseball aficionados will remember that the Kansas City Royals bested the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh and final game of the match-up.  For those unfamiliar with God’s game, having two teams from the same state play each other for the penultimate title in major league baseball is hysterically cool. 

For anyone unfamiliar with Missouri geography, a ribbon of interstate connects the two cities from west to east with roughly 200 miles in between.  It’s a sibling rivalry made more contentious because these two metropolitan areas are decidedly different in just about every way. 

Anyway, I went to Game Six that year, and watched as the World Series win not only cemented the Royals as the best team for that year, but also saw the birth of the annual mid-June tradition of recreating the I-70 Series during interleague play.

This year’s heated battle is more special than usual.  

You see, both ball clubs, along with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are united for a cause bigger than baseball:  helping in relief efforts for the victims and survivors of the May 22 EF5 (the deadliest) tornado that slammed through Joplin, MO.

The EF5 tornado numbers for this southwestern Missouri city of less than 43,000 are staggering:

  • 200 MPH winds, difficult to survive without the protection of an underground basement.
  • 6,953 homes and 800 businesses were completely destroyed.
  • 6 schools were destroyed – 2 High Schools, 2 Middle Schools and 2 Elementary Schools.
  • 141 people were killed; 1,300 were injured; 750 hospitalized; and 500 in shelters.
  • The estimated cost to rebuild Joplin is $1.9-$3 billion.

The Joplin tornado is considered to be the most deadly in modern record-keeping dating back to 1950 by the National Weather Service.

It is second only in the service’s records of an 1840 tornado in Natchez, Miss., when 317 people died on May 6. 

Dire health-related conditions

Now there are reports surfacing of additional deaths as tornado victims succumb to a nasty fungus called Zygomycosis which develops when soil or vegetative material becomes embedded under the skin.

“This fungus invades the underlying tissue and actually invades the underlying blood vessels and cuts off the circulation to the skin,” Dr. Uwe Schmidt, an infectious disease specialist at Freeman Health System in Joplin, told the Huffington Post.

So, please, keep praying for the good folks of Joplin, as well as for the hundreds of clean-up workers.

So much more than baseball

More than my love for baseball is love for my home state of Missouri.  I lived there 48 years of my life and there are two very special people living in Joplin who have not only been a part of my life for 44 of those 48 years, they played a significant role in my getting sober 20 years ago.

To say I love them is a grand understatement, as is saying I’m intensely relieved that they are, at least physically and materially, unharmed.  I can’t begin to imagine the everlasting damage to their psyches, however.

In the passing of our days, when we find ourselves taking what is right in front of us for granted, please pause, really look, really feel a connection with what you’re doing and with where you are because when we forget to be where we are today, we may just feel a sense of regret should it be quickly be ripped from us.

6 Reasons to Abandon Your Thinking

“This sort of thinking had to be abandoned.”    

–Alcoholics Anonymous, page 48

I’m told that my best thinking brought me to my here-and-now circumstances.  Sometimes that frightens the crap out of me because my mind field of thoughts is filled with sand traps, booby traps and every other kind of trap.

Yes it’s true.  That sort of thinking must be abandoned.  Before you ask how, which would be my first question, consider that the “how” isn’t as important as the “why.”

How to abandon your thinking is pretty easy . . . just think different thoughts.  (I didn’t say it would be simple.)  But why should you abandon those thoughts?  Because those erroneous thoughts we contemplate become the beliefs that evoke our attitudes that produce our actions.

Reason #1 to Abandon Your Thinking:  What we think about we bring about. 

I don’t know about you, but I have an obsessive and compulsive mind.  If I see it, I want it.  If I want it, I can’t stop thinking about it.  I must have it.  I have to have it.  If “it” is unattainable or at least difficult to obtain, I noodle my thoughts round and round the spoon until I find a way to get it. Then I generally hurt my arm patting myself on the back because I found a workaround.  Abandon that thinking!

What if I tried accepting that I can’t have the coveted thing, the decadent dessert, the newest electronic gadget, the desire for more?  What if I could be happy without?

There is every possibility that I would be happy without the latest, greatest whatever, or the most recent flavor of ice cream or the latest sequel to my favorite book or movie.  Yeah, but what if I’m not?

Reason #2 to Abandon Your Thinking:  You will no longer be plagued by those “yeah, buts.”

You know what I mean.  Think of a time when you’ve been depressed or a little down and a well-meaning friend has offered a myriad of solutions in hopes of getting you out of your doldrums.  With every offer of a helpful suggestion from your friend, you find yourself responding with “Yeah but, . . . ”

Our own thoughts can produce the same response.  We can usually think of at least three options to pull our minds out of the quicksand, but we don’t follow-through because:

Reason #3 to Abandon Your Thinking:   We sit in our own sh@t because it’s warm.

We’re comfortable with circumstances as they are because they’ve been this way for five, 10, 20 years or more.  Things may not be the way I like them, but hey, there are millions of people worse off than me.  I’m doing alright.  Sure, I’m a little down and things could always be improved, but it’s not as if I’m suicidal or anything.  There is someone worse off than me who needs help worse than I do.  So I’ll just suck it up and be grateful for what I have.

Let’s be clear:  We’re not here to suggest that anyone who changes her or his present circumstances is ungrateful for what they’ve been given.  Our concern here is how those present circumstances are treated, whether with respect and integrity or with a “what the hell” cavalier attitude.

Reason #4 to Abandon Your Thinking:  You’re getting bloody and bruised from beating on yourself. 

For the first few years of my sobriety, I saw a counselor who said to me many times over, “Beth, eliminate all those “o-u” words from your vocabulary.  No more should have, could have, would have or ought to.

I was a new woman when I took this advice to heart.

Reason #5 to Abandon Your Thinking:  Much, if not all, of our thinking is erroneous.

Let’s be honest.  The percentage of our thoughts that are pure and true is far less than our thoughts that masquarade as judgments and false conclusions.  Erroneous thoughts create a vicious cycle of limited sight and crippling perceptions.  

Reason #6 to Abandon Your Thinking:  Our thinking is based on conclusions of people who lived in another time and place.

Have you ever uttered the words “that is just the way it is” or “because we’ve always done it that way?”  Where is the growth, the challenge, the adventure in those phrases? Abandon them!

There you have it.  Six of 12 reasons to abandon your thinking. Just let go . . . create a vacuum of emptiness where fresh, creative and beautiful thoughts can begat themselves.  Yes, it’s difficult to undo years and decades of same-0ld, but I have faith in you.  Let’s do it together!  And don’t forget to check back for the remaining six nuggets of reasons to abandon your thinking.

See you in the fresh mind fields.

(photo courtesy of wadem) 

Grace Bay Beach, So Aptly Named

I’m back in the writing saddle after a couple of weeks away from blogging and I have to tell you that I’ve missed the connecting, and yes, even the accountability of my self-imposed deadlines.

I took a break from most everything and skipped the country, spending six glorious days in the tropical paradise of Turks & Caicos, British West Indies.  I passed my 50thbirthday there in fact, bookending the day with walks on Grace Bay Beach, on the island of Providenciales, enjoying a magnificent  sunrise and an equally mag sunset.

Relaxed and waiting

The vacation was a complete unplugging from all electronics and I returned calm and revitalized.  And now I’m waiting because something is about to happen.

Have you ever felt like you’re on the verge of something big in your life?  Like the Power That Charges the Universe is about to unleash a monumental event in the backyard where your soul calls home? 

As I stand on the precipice of my third decade in sobriety, I’d like to think I’m open to change, that I’ve mastered the “Okay, God, whatever” prayer of surrender.  But I have to tell you that I am a little fearful that the unleashed backyard dog might be a Doberman when I’m praying for a Chihuahua.

Since the SBE (Something Big Event) is about me, would it be too much to ask for a say in the matter?

After all, in a short 21 months, I’ve experienced nearly every major stressor in the books.  There was a time a few months back when strangled with tension and stress, my therapist gave me a written stress test.  She said people who are highly stressed score in the three hundreds.  I topped out at nearly 700.  

Time to do something different

I made some adjustments, some changes, altered some outlooks and perceptions and went to a ton of meetings.  I’m happy to report that I’m a much calmer person than I was when I took that test.  Of course, I realize that six days of nirvana could be a blissful contributor. 

I am in a better place except for this niggling thought of the SBE.  Could be good stuff, probably is good stuff, but I still question God’s motives sometimes. 

No, third-decade sobriety doesn’t render one white with mystical life answers. 

However, I am making sure that while I patiently wait on God’s decision (wink, wink), I keep that connection as open as I can.  The current is only as strong as the soundness of the wiring.  And while I practice patience, which everyone knows I am so very good at, which is why I keep practicing, I can recapture the sensations of the islands by enjoying my vacation photos.

I have memories to share—and I will—but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the photos too.  And let me know if you’ve experienced similar feelings like the ones I described here.  I would love for you to share your experience, strength and hope about waiting on God’s timing and what you do.