Monday, February 28, 2011

Where Seldom is Heard a Discouraging Word

My senior women’s softball team, The Stingers, scored another victory over the weekend. I was especially happy because it was the first time my daughter, Alicia, and my two granddaughters, Rosannah and Briannah, watched me play.

Rosannah, who is three years old, seemed thrilled to see so many women wear the same shirt they have seen grandma wear. It’s bright yellow and has a bee with a softball bat in its hands. Rosannah knows the bug is a bee. Little Briannah, who is 20 months, insists the bee is a flower. Disagreeing with her is like arguing with an umpire, so I just nod and smile when she points to the little buzzer and says “flower.” I know for sure she doesn’t think I smell like a flower, particularly after a game. But I digress.

Rosannah is a very good mimic. I encouraged her to say “Go Jo!” when our third baseman went out to the field. She gave a shyer “Yeah Sue” to another teammate and “Hit it hard Betty” when Betty, our 82-year-old right fielder was up to bat. After a great defensive inning, I ran in from left field and heard Rosannah say, “Go Stingers!”

I think it was one of the best games our team has played. Our infield managed two double plays. The pitching and catching combo performed like a well-oiled machine, and the outfielders made some terrific catches. Even when our opponents hit the ball so hard that this old grandma had to chase the ball to the fence, I managed to get the ball to our rover, Karen, who made a fantastic throw and threw the batter out at home plate. Everyone, and I mean everyone, played an awesome game.

We don’t get a lot of fans at our games and it is always fun when we do. I can’t say that we won because my family was there, but it didn’t hurt. I think it is especially nice to hear someone sing our praises, even if it’s shouted by a tyke who still wears a diaper.

The Stingers have some of the most supportive women in the league. Our star players not only help their own teammates, they coach players for the Senior Olympics. Many of the women who receive this sage advice play on opposing teams. More than once a formerly weak batter has gained knowledge from a Stinger, then went on to use their new skills and sting us with a well hit ball over our heads! However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that we love to see all the women succeed and improve.

Which brings me back to the point I’m going to make, which, of course, has to be a plug for my book. This is MY blog after all. In my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, we put a lot of emphasis on erasing negative thoughts, speech and actions and replacing it with more empowering alternatives. For instance, rather than self-punishing thoughts such as “I’m too fat,” when you gain a little extra weight, why not say, “I love how I feel when I make healthy choices?” Eventually the brain gets the message and our behavior will match our kinder thoughts and words.

That is not to say that there aren’t times when we have to give, or swallow, constructive criticism. If we want to improve, we have to be open to helpful advice. When you are the one offering suggestions, it is best to come from a place of compassion, not arrogance. When you are on the receiving end, it is best to remember the advice is meant to help, not hurt. If the person IS trying to hurt you, it is best to remember that their cruel intent is a reflection of their insecurity, and let it fall away like water off a duck’s back.

While criticism is sometimes necessary, words of praise and support are always welcome. Whether it’s an encouraging word from a seasoned ballplayer, or a toddler who likes to parrot her grandma’s suggestions, people blossom with praise. Wait a minute, I just had a thought. People BLOSSOM with praise. Little Briannah always points to the bee on my uniform and insists it’s a flower. A flower is a type of blossom. Maybe she has been trying to deliver a deeper message than I previously thought.

Whether my granddaughter is a wise philosopher, or just fueled an interesting idea, here is my parting lyrics you can sing to the tune from Home on the Range.

“Oh give me a home, where the old ladies roam, and the Stingers and another team play. Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, cuz our hearing aids aren’t turned up all the way. Home, home on the field. Where strong bats and good thoughts anneal. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, cuz praise makes us happy all day.”

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