I'm not 12 and I don't play baseball.
I’m 41 and I’m a mom.
You boys all know what I went through two years ago because you were right there with me. You may have been confused and scared just like me.
When I waited to find out whether I had cancer, it was the worse time of my life. I was so scared. Terrified. Riley was about to be a senior in high school and Natalie was 13 and Papi was just 11. When you’re a mom, your biggest worry is taking care of your kids. I knew they needed me. Can you imagine how hard life would be without your mom? I kept putting myself in their place and it was a terrible place for my mind to go. The constant thoughts of leaving them behind to go through life without their mom were sometimes more than I could handle.
The voices in my head during those times were playing out the worst possible scenarios. I spent a lot of time hiding and crying because I was so scared but I didn’t want everybody to know I was scared.
Life was tough during that time. That was the toughest opponent I’ve ever been up against. And I let it intimidate me in the beginning—maybe a little like you all did when you saw what appeared to be half-grown men step in the diamond in Cooperstown? Sometimes it’s easy to let the doubt and the fear take over.
What if this guy jacks one over the fence while I’m pitching?
What if my cancer has spread?
What if this guy hits a line drive so hard that it knocks my glove off?
What if my cancer comes back?
I don’t know if you all have those things that run through your heads, but I sure did.
And I still do sometimes.
I wanted to tell you about the day that everything changed for me. And who knows? Maybe it can help you also.
Back when I had found out about the big C, I spent a week or two engulfed in fear and uncertainty about the future. I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own thoughts.
So you know what I did?
I sat down with a marker and a stack of paper and I started writing down things that would strengthen and empower me and I posted them all over my house. For me, they were statements that would quiet my fears. It was scripture and it was positive affirmations.
Do you know what an affirmation is? If any of you are Methodists or Presbyterians, you may pull out your hymnals and recite an “Affirmation of Faith.” That’s just a few lines that remind us what we believe in.
An affirmation is simply a statement.
A positive affirmation is a positive statement.
If my fears were telling me that I wasn’t going to be around to see my kids grow up, my affirmation would say things like “I am beating cancer because I have important things to do on earth!”
See how saying that or reading it silences the other negative things?
If your fears are telling you that you are going to strike out, maybe you can try out a positive affirmation when you’re on deck. Maybe you can say to yourself “I’m strong and I’m in shape and I’ve trained for this.” Maybe you can say “I will see the ball, swing through and drive it.”
You know what else this works on?
Tests. SOLs. Exams.
I took a really hard math class a while back. I’m talking REALLY hard. It’s called Statistics and it’s awful. I used to drive to college in my grocery-getting mom wagon and I used to cry in the parking lot before I even went in that class. Then I usually cried in the parking lot after I came out. You see, I needed to pass this class to get my degree and it was so hard for me! I would practice and do my homework, but then when it was time for a quiz or a test, I’d get so nervous! After getting super nervous and failing a couple of tests, I decided that instead of crying or working myself up, I would get out my notebook before the test and I would write a few sentences. And so I did. And those sentences would remind me that I am smart and capable and prepared for this test, but no matter whether I pass or fail, it was still going to be ok! It was not going to be the end of the world.
Baseball is teaching you life lessons with each practice swing, each at bat, each first inning, each last inning, and each relationship made with teammates, opponents, coaches and umpires.
The cool thing about the mental game is what it brings to you after you’ve overcome it. It brings confidence. Cancer sucked, but I am so much more confident than I used to be. And you will be too.
Baseball is serious. Life is serious.
But baseball and life are also so much fun! Don’t ever lose sight of the reason you’re on the field and the reason you’re on planet earth.
Have fun, play ball and enjoy this life!