Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Dream Comes True

It was a cool, bright, morning. The Goodyear Blimp was flying overhead making its way toward the Waste Management Open Golf Tournament in Phoenix. Little did the pilot know that another monumental sports feat was about to happen at the Valle de Oro ball field in East Mesa, Arizona.

On February 26, 2010, Sally Marks, at the ripe ole age of 55, hit her first home run for the Stingers. I had just posted a blog the day before, so my loyal readers will have to wait a few days to learn about this feat. However, all my close friends and family were told as quickly as I could get the word out. In fact if I had the money to have the blimp fly a banner behind it to celebrate the occasion, I certainly would have done so.

Hitting a home run in softball has been on my Bucket List of things I wanted to do before I die, for many years. I’ve been playing senior women’s softball for five years, and the closest I’ve come to a homer was when I hit two triples in one game, four years ago. I played ball when I was in junior high and high school, and I never hit a home run in the six years I played. In fact, I don’t even think I hit a homer when I played in the front yard with my brother and neighborhood chums. But, let’s get this story back to the current century.

Lately, I have had poopy little hits that never see the green grass of the outfield. In fact, I have not hit anything better than a single all season long. But today was different.

I began my day much as I have in other games. I hit a ground ball to short stop – twice. Once I beat it out for a single, the other time they nailed me. However, when I went up to bat the next time, I recalled a dream I had the night before. I can’t remember the details, but the crux of it was to use anger as fuel to hit the ball. Since I’m a pretty good-natured person, this isn’t always easy for me. But this time I decided to put my nocturnal messages to good use.

There were two outs and no one on base. I stood at the plate and thought of a scenario that made me angry – real angry. As I waited for the right pitch, I growled under my breath. I am not sure if the catcher or umpire could hear me, but I did this loud enough that I could hear myself. I swung hard and connected with the ball. It sailed into center field. I ran hard to first base. The fielder missed the ball and it rolled past her. I had to keep going. I rounded second and Shirley, the third base coach, motioned for me to keep going. I ran toward her, fully expecting her to have me stop with a triple. But she didn’t. She waved for me to keep going. Not one to argue, I picked up the pace and crossed the plate with time to spare.

Everyone on the team came out to congratulate me. I jumped up and down with delight. Everyone joked that the Goodyear Blimp was there to witness this historical occasion. My homer sparked a two-out rally and more runs were scored, although I can’t tell you how many. The next time I was up to bat, I saw something I had never witnessed before. The fielders saw me and backed up a few feet. I was in heaven. I hit another good hit, as did several of our players. We played our best game ever and won 15-0.

Ironically, two days ago in our game before the tournament, the Stingers were stinkers. We couldn’t hit, we bobbled the ball and made errors that looked like they came straight out of a Three Stooges movie. But, just as in life, we put it behind us and moved forward.

After our first victory in the tournament, we played a second game against our arch rivals, The Desert Stars. We won again! That puts us 2 and 0 for the tournament. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, we will be at it again. We just might win our first tournament.

Okay, you may ask. What is the morale of this story?

I thought about writing about using anger in a positive way. I also thought about a little ditty on friendship or the power of perseverance. Any of these topics would work. But somehow I don’t want to elaborate on that.

I just want to tell everyone that I hit a home run today and I’m one happy ball player. It may have taken five and a half decades, but I did it. And I just wanted to celebrate this moment with all of you. And also to let you know that it is never too late to achieve your dreams. So never, ever, pull yourself out of the game. Hang in there and keep on swinging – no matter what.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Victim or Victory?

My friend, Chloe sailed through medical school almost effortlessly, much like she had through most of her academic life. A facile mind, love of medicine and compassionate nature seemed like the ideal qualities for the naturopathic physician to begin a successful practice. She passed her boards, gained experience through an externship and set out to make her way as a healer.

However, rather than dive into her profession, Chloe sputtered and hemmed and hawed and found every excuse imaginable to fail. Chloe recognized she had self defeating behavior, but felt she couldn’t control it. Her list of who to blame was long, as were her excuses.

Chloe’s reasoning is not unique. Adopting a victim mentality is common place. Unfortunately, it is not an effective tool for achieving your dreams or improving your health. Most of us want to improve our lives. Sadly, many times we do not because we cannot break free from our own self-defeating shackles of victimhood.

In my new book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, one chapter is devoted to overcoming a victim mentality. Here is a sneak peak at some advice to help erase the victim in your life and embrace victory instead:

• Don’t blame others for your problems.
Lose the victim mentality and take responsibility for your life – bumps and all. Life is not something that is handed to you, it is something you create. Adopt a proactive approach that shifts from “What can I get?” to “What can I contribute?”
• Align yourself with people, situations or organizations that can help put you on a successful path.

Ask yourself, “What am I focusing on?” If it’s not positive, redirect your thoughts.

Focusing on negative thoughts and situations is like counting your neighbors money. Sure, you can do it (if they allow it) but what good will come of it? It’s not going to increase your bank account one bit, no matter how much time you put into it.

• Take responsibility and find ways to succeed.

If people put more energy into solving problems instead of whining about them, all of our lives would be easier. When Thomas Alva Edison was experimenting with the correct filament for his light bulb, he was unsuccessful more than 1,000 times. Rather than becoming discouraged he is quoted as saying, “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb”. What an enlightened concept!

• Forgive.

Victims are often shackled by their inability, or unwillingness to forgive others or themselves. Harboring resentments, even those that seem justified, do not help the situation. In fact, it makes it worse. Corrie Ten Boom said, "Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, only to find out that the prisoner was me.” We cannot change the past. Forgive others, or yourself, and move on. Your heart will be lighter and you will be able to pursue happier endeavors.

So if you are guilty of having a victim mentality (and I did for many years) give the “victim” the boot and embrace a victorious life instead.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As Good As They Can Be

In my last blog I covered an interview with Maryrose Forsyth, author of The Real Estate of Relationships: Unveiling Practical Dating Solutions for the 21st Century. For those who are looking for love, you may want to check out the interview for this helpful primer on sensible dating.
However, a side benefit (and an unintentional one on the author’s part) is this book can also be a helpful guide in other relationships as well. Maryrose explains that many relationships end because the couples weren’t looking for the same thing. If you both aren’t on the same page, then the relationship is doomed to fail. The same is true of friendships, work relationships etc. It boils down to our expectations of the person we are involved with.
For instance, my brother, Terry, is an extremely loyal friend. He has friends that have been a part of his life since he was five years old. Many of his childhood friendships stemmed from playing sports. However, as time went on, although Terry is still healthy and active, many of his friends became sick, old and feeble. In one case, his best friend for many years, Les, died. Yet, before Les passed away, Terry visited him in the hospital every day, and he still visits Les’s mom on a regular basis.
In my brother’s case, the dynamics of the friendship may have changed but not his loyalty. It is also interesting to note that Terry has no real expectations that his friends reciprocate with the same dedication that he demonstrates.
As a boy, and later as a man, I remember my mother chastising Terry that his friends did not reciprocate in the same fashion that he did. This tit for tat calculating system was very important to my mother. My mother had a lot of friends, but it was as though she kept a running total of favors exchanged. She was a very loyal friend, but if she didn’t receive what she felt was an even exchange, her friendship was withdrawn. Maybe not completely, but at least to a level that was suitable to my mother’s tastes.
This was not so important to Terry. He was not motivated by my mother’s system. He did what he wanted to do, regardless of any exchange of favors. I’m a beneficiary of my brother’s good nature and sense of loyalty. He helps me with my taxes every year, as he does with my siblings. Yet, there is nothing I am able to do in return for him (and yes, I do try).
However, most people are not as accepting as my brother. Most of us want a friend who gives as much as they receive in the friendship. This is very much like Maryrose’s book. Just as you want to date someone in the same commitment category as you are, the same holds true for other relationships, including friendships.
In the case of family dynamics, this isn’t always possible. People have their own level of commitment and we can’t force them to behave the way we would act. One way is not necessarily better than another, it is just what that person has adopted to be the level that works the best for them.
That is not to say that if you are a loyal person that you must give 100% in your relationships and expect nothing in return. It is more a matter of understanding what category, or type of friendship, the other person is offering. From there, you can make a choice about whether or not this level of commitment is something you are comfortable with.
Throughout our lives we are going to have a variety of friends. Some friendships will evolve in sync with our lives, others will not. Sometimes time is the enemy. The relationship is still there, but priorities are given to other matters.
The important thing is to understand what you want, what you are comfortable giving and what (if anything) you expect in return. For some, like my brother, if you are his friend, he will be there for you. He doesn’t need for you to be in his same “friendship category”. For some, like my mother, the give and take must be pretty close to a 50/50 exchange and the category needs to be a tight fit.
The bottom line is that before you invest a lot of time, emotion and care in any relationship, understand your needs, the needs of others, and make sure that the two are in agreement. We do not have to have committed friendships with everyone. Sometimes it is in our best interest not to.
But remember, the choice is still yours. And remember, although people may not live up to our expectations, they are as good as they can be for that particular time in their life.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finding Love in all the Right Places

I was listening to my friend and client, Maryrose Forsyth, author of The Real Estate of Relationships: Unveiling Practical Dating Solutions for the 21st Century, on Power Women Magazine, blogspot radio

Maryrose’s book is a primer on modern dating with a unique twist: She was telling the listeners of the program how to successfully date and even fall in love in a fast-paced world by linking mate-hunting with house-hunting.

I had the opportunity to ask Maryrose my own questions and would like to share a few with the readers of blog. So here goes:

Give us a brief summary of your book.
The Real Estate of Relationships, presents a complete overhaul of the quaint notions of dating and relationships and takes the unique point of view that modern romance has everything in common with finding your dream house.

Are you saying that finding a mate is like buying a house?
Exactly. When you buy a house, you ask questions about closets, location and history. The same needs to be true for dating. What do potential partners want? Do they like being alone? Are they ready to commit? You wouldn’t buy a house if you didn’t want one, and you shouldn’t enter into a serious relationship with someone who has no intention to “buy,” if ownership is what you want. Ask questions up front.

How is your book different from other relationship books?
This is a totally new approach to dating- one that has never been tried before. But if works. It’s the most common-sense and practical approach to dating anyone can have, especially in a world of 30-second dating interviews and Internet match making.

What is the most common mistake people make in relationships?
Many relationships end because the couples weren’t looking for the same thing. If you both aren’t on the same page, then the relationship is doomed to fail. Fortunately, my book will make sure that you both are on the same page and that you know who you really are, who the other person really is and what you both are really in the market for.

How can your book help people avoid initial mistakes?
With my book, dating is broken down into a simple, real estate-oriented approach. People who use it will have a wealth of information about whom they should be searching for, as well as whom to avoid and keep in the “friends-only zone.”

What is the overarching message of your book?
Readers will understand that they are investing in relationships when they date, and that only sound decision-making will lead to happiness with their choices. And the easiest way to avoid making bad relationship choices is to avoid the traps they fell into in previous relationships.

Is your book for women only?
Not at all. Dating is not a man or woman issue; it’s a universal one. Everyone wants to find that certain someone. If you are single and frustrated with the dating life, read this book. My questionnaire will put dating into an easy-to-follow formula. Both men and women will find the right person after reading my book.

Your book does seem to have been written from firsthand experience.
Yes, it contains a lot of personal knowledge. However, I researched my book thoroughly as well as conducted hundreds of interviews on dating relationships, wants, needs and desires…anything and everything under the sun. In my hometown of Phoenix that is usually a bright and hot topic!

In my next blog I will expand on this topic and discuss how this same approach can be used in other relationships such as with friendships, family, coworkers etc. But for now, listen to Maryrose’s fascinating interview and please consider buying her book as a Valentine’s Day gift for someone you care about.

You can reach purchase your own copy of the book online at If you are in a committed relationship, be sure to read my next blog, as you can read the book and use it as a guide for other relationships in your life as well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sloppy Hero

Ever since I was a little girl playing baseball (and later softball) I had a reoccurring fantasy of hitting a game-winning, home run. My imagination created the ideal scenario. Two outs, at least one runner on base, and my team would be behind by one run. Sometimes the number of runs needed to win would vary, but the basic scenario was the same. My team needed me and I had to pull something off to win the game.

In my childhood fantasy I envisioned that the pitcher would throw a smoker over the plate, I’d swing with all my might and smack the ball over the fence! The crowd would cheer, my teammates would carry me off the field on their shoulders, and a scout from the Chicago Cubs would sign me up to be the first female professional baseball player. That was my dream.

Everyone knows I was never recruited by the Cubs, so don’t look for my name on the roster of players. Those of you who regularly read my blog know that I have never hit a home run either. But of course I’m still hopeful that I can make that happen in my women’s senior league playing second base for The Stingers. Given my power (or lack thereof) the likely scenario of my getting a homerun would probably consist of an infielder and an outfielder missing the ball, tripping on the grass, followed by a bad throw. Think Three Stooges on The Diamond. But it could happen. In fact, in senior women’s softball, it frequently does.

Anyway, last week, our team played the Gems in the Viewpoint Softball Tournament. We had lost our previous three games and our mood was low. But this game was different. We were the home team. It was our last time at bat. The game was tied 7 to 7. The bottom of our order caught fire and got key hits when we needed it. There were runners on second and third base. No one was on first, so there was no force. It was a do or die situation. I was up to bat.

I’m the lead off hitter. I’m no powerhouse, but I can usually get on base. But lately, my hitting smelled worse than a dead skunk on a windless night. During this particular game against the Gems I had two decent singles, but my batting prior to that in the tournament had been a disappointing 0 for 6 times at bat. Some of the problem was I injured my hamstring and wasn’t running fast enough to beat the throw to first base. I have a tendency to hit right to the short stop, or a low fly ball to shallow centerfield. I wasn’t exactly feeling confident, but I had prayed that day that I would play better and none of my teammates would be hurt. Side note: next time I’ll include no injuries for the other team too, because a batter on the other team got beaned in the head from a hard throw to first base. But I digress.

I’m standing at the plate. I took a strike, resisted swinging at an inside pitch, and hit a foul ball (which counts as a strike). The count was one ball (possibly two, I can’t remember) but I definitely had two strikes on me. My chances of walking were slim, so I knew I had to hit the ball. In senior slow pitch, if the ball hits anywhere on the plate (and an extended mat that is used in the league) it’s a strike. Sometimes the pitch can seem down right awful, and still be a strike. So I knew I’d be swinging unless the pitcher lobbed it over the backstop.

The pitcher made her delivery and I swung. It felt like I hit it hard, but not far. I resisted the urge to see where the ball went and ran as fast as I could. I crossed first base. I was safe. The Stingers were cheering, but I didn’t know why. Carol, the first base coach, said we won the game. The base runner scored on my hit. Huzzah! I was a hero.

Apparently it was not a pristine play. I hit the ball in my usual short stop location, but the gal bumbled the ball a bit. One of our players, Connie, told me it was because I hit it harder than they thought, but I’m not sure if that is correct or not. Connie is a nice gal and might have said it to make me feel good. Maybe the short stop just screwed up. But it doesn’t really matter. The runner on third ran home. The throw was late and the winning run scored. That was the end of the game. For the first time in my life I hit a game-winning run.

The point is (and yes there is a point) sometimes our victories in life are not exactly the way we envision. I didn’t hit a home run. In fact, it wasn’t even that great of a hit. But it worked. I tried, I ran my hardest, and my team caught a break on an error. It wasn’t our strongest players that were in scoring position. It was the gals in the bottom of the batting order that came through when we needed them.

Life is like that sometimes. We can’t all be the powerful ball players, CEOs of large corporations, or rich and famous. But we all have the potential to do something that can make a difference. We can use the analogy of softball. We may not always hit a homerun. Even the greatest players strike out. But if we stay in there, keep trying, and keep our eye on our dream, we can reach our goals, one little step at a time.

So don’t just stand there reading this. Go out there and take some action toward achieving your heart’s desire. You never know what you can do unless you try. It’s your turn now. “Batter up!”