Personality Speaking

Funny the things that pass through your mind when you are simply minding your own business, just having that first cup of coffee in the quiet pre-dawn hours.

This morning my mind decided to take to me to the far away place of my birth, and it asked me, “Would I be a different person if my parents had chosen a different name for me?”

Man, did my mind go wandering off along all the merry little byways upon thinking that thought.

My given name is Patricia, although I have only been called Patricia if I was in trouble. For all of my memories, I have just been Trish, which is a good thing because I am definitely not a Patricia. Patricia is ladylike and proper. Patricia is delicate, refined, calm. I am none of those things.

And this is where my mind went wandering. Had I been called Patricia, instead of Trish, would I be those things? Or if Patti ( most definitely with an i) had been my nickname, would I be a Patti – bubbly, outgoing, outrageous, a hugger? Would a Rose by any other name still be like our not so bright Golden Girl?

Originally my parents thought to name me Elizabeth. Who would I be with that name? Probably more like a Liz than Lizzie, but most certainly not a Betty.

I sometimes think that we are partly who we are because of our names. Certain names hold certain qualities within them and when those names are given, the person so named just has to have those qualities within them.

Take the name Debbie. I have never met a Debbie that I did not like. Debbie is sweet, a good friend, caring and fun. Debbie understands. Or Robert. Never met a Robert I didn’t like either. Robert is a joker who knows when to be serious. Robert is emotionally strong and sees below the surface of things. Bob? Different guy. Bob is still a joker, fun loving, friendly, warm. He’s a beer and BBQ guy.

Is my Will going to grow up and carry the strength of William? Or because we call him anything but William, will he grow up to be friendly, consistent, steady, the comic relief?

Then there is the family name influence. Is there a weight to that on our personalities? William is a family name – goes back generations on my side. Does having a family name put pressure on you? Is there an obligatory sense hiding deep down that says you must live up to the family name?

My middle is a family name. I never really cared for the name, though I loved the woman so much I gave the same middle name to my daughter to honor her. I’m not sure I ever felt a need to live up to grandma’s standards or even to be like her. But I will say that I do have her hardworking nature and I hope I’m as brave as she was.

Celebrities often like to name their children quite unusual names. Their names have no qualities associated with them, so how do they know who to be? Who will Apple and North and Blu Ivy grow up to be? I always feel sorry for these kids anyway. The uniqueness of their name alone tells you who they are – a child of the rich and famous – and forever they are trapped into being someone’s child instead of their own person. If you were to meet Moon Unit, you would immediately think, “oh yeah, Zappa’s kid”.

Names from the past are becoming popular again. Girls names like Grace, Emma, and Lily are filling up the kindergartens. All while Tiffany, Brittany, and Taylor are past being soccer moms and are soon to be grandparents. I’m guessing they won’t be called me-maw.

At the end of all these musings upon names, I have to say that I do believe the name you are given does somewhat define who you are. Maybe it’s because the people who chose your name have certain expectations for you and your life, or maybe it’s just one of those unexplainable phenomenon in the world. I also know that while being named John, Mary, Cecil, Dorothy, or Seven may contribute to who you are, it also doesn’t keep you from being who you want to be.

Grown-ups Need Villages, Too

The quote that “It takes a Village to Raise a Child”, popped into my mind today as I was thinking about my friends, my support people, and my family members. The people who are holding me up and holding me together in this time of separation and fear.

Thru all of this social distancing, I am clearly seeing the people in my life who are showing themselves to be my village. I am seeing them in those terms.  The people who have formed around me, to build and grow. The ones who are raising me up – teaching me to be a better, stronger person. A kinder person. A more positive person. They are showing me who they really are and who I hope to be more like.

My sister. My sister, the Textile Ranger*,  has always been a strong force in my village. The one who has been with me since the beginning, who made up bedtime stories for me and played paper dolls with me. A smart and talented woman, she is generous and funny and she always has a shoulder for me to cry on. We enjoy each other’s company and we share a common background, a history, so we understand each other. We have inside jokes. We appreciate each others creativity. She is still the one I turn to for advice and wisdom. She is still the one who listens to me and hears what I am saying. I respect and admire her. I am sometimes in awe of her. There is a peacefulness when I am with her.

My work posse. A varied lot, these three women who have come to mean so much to me. Each with their own unique character and attitude and style.  We started chatting thru texts every morning during this pandemic.  We joke, we laugh, we bitch …we check in with one another.  The truth is, we all had things going on before Covid-19 flipped our world upside down. Not just business stuff, but life stuff.  So we awaken each day to our new little pattern. Coffee, tea, and texting.  It’s something I look forward to – their perspectives, their humor, their positivity in this time when so much out there is just plain scary. I see something in each one of them that I would like to better emulate. Strength, energy, generosity, perseverance, joy. These are the types of women who unexpectedly walk into your life and just make you feel so blessed because they have.

Then of course, there is my BFF Jill**. Only her name isn’t really Jill – her name is Mama Jo. Friends for years, thru thick and thin. Since she moved out of Texas, we definitely don’t get to see each other very often. She is part of my long distance village.  Long phone calls, Facebook sightings…. Jo is the girl who teaches me how to be a friend. The one who is there at 3 in the morning, who goes out of her way to rescue you, who sits for hours in a hospital waiting room with you or in a hospital room for you because you live 1200 miles away and your dad is really sick.  I wish that everyone could have a friend like her.

Teachers.  The real ones, who under normal circumstances would be suffering my kid’s inattentiveness and charming attempts to not do his work in a regular school building.  This year, this thing that we are all trying to do online, these teachers are a huge part of my village.  And not just because of what they are doing for the kids, but because of the support they are giving to me and other frustrated parents everywhere.  We have three teachers here in the land of 6th grade.  They call me.  They email me.  They check on me. Am I doing ok? How is it going for me? Do we need anything? Is there anything they can do to help? I know very well that they are working harder than ever to keep us going, to keep teaching. I know they have their own families and are as equally affected by this quarantine as anyone.  But they have inserted themselves into my village and I could not be more appreciative.

We do not lose the need to learn and grow and be supported because we become adults.  We still need people to pick us up when we fall down, to help us become better as individuals,  to remind us of the good that is already within us.  Here and now, in the world we are living in, we need our villages more than ever. We need these people in our lives – the ones who listen and laugh and love and live through the daily ups and downs with us. 

Maybe we can’t be physically with them right now, but knowing they are right there makes getting through this time so much easier. 

*Deep in the Heart of Textiles, Textile Ranger’s Blog

**In case you want to see that commercial.

Finding Joy in the Little Things

This morning I was thinking about joy. I remembered hearing Marie Kondo, expert organizer, saying that you should keep only the things that bring you joy. That may not always be the practical thing to do; my dish set does not give me joy, but I really need my dishes. But the idea of having things in our lives, in our homes, that bring joy, that I love.

Right now we have so much need for joy in our lives. The days run together as we try to just get through another day of schooling at home, working at home, cooking every 10 minutes…. It’s stressful. It wears on your soul.

But also, we have that awesome set of towels in the linen closet or guest bathroom, just sitting there waiting to be used and admired.  Great grandma’s beautiful china, put safely away in a hutch. A bottle of wine we are saving for a special occasion. A lucky t-shirt in the drawer. Things that bring us joy.

Isn’t it time to use those things? Just think of getting out of a nice, hot shower and folding yourself into your best towels. Put on your lucky t-shirt and think about today as a special occasion and open that wine. Serve your mac’n’cheese in grandma’s china bowls. Then savor it. Savor the moment and the time and let it bring you joy today.

The truth is, as this virus continues to spread, we really don’t know if the perfect time will come to use the things we cherish. Sheltering in place, quarantining, has been extended across the nation. While we look forward to returning to a place where we can move about more and hug our friends and family tightly, we have today to make a place for some joy.

I have a friend who is really great at creating joy around her. For Easter, she donned her very best Wal-mart housecoat and sent greetings out to everyone.

Photo used by Permission

Maybe we can’t do the things we are used to doing. Maybe we have to do some things differently. But we can add joy to the things we do just by changing our attitudes about it.

Whether it’s using the things we hold on to and treasure, or creating a new way to do something traditional – joy is there for us to find. So go pull that feather boa out of your closet and dance in the living room. Turn on some twinkly fairy lights. Make a birthday cake even if it isn’t anyone’s birthday. Go outside and sit in the sunshine for 15 minutes and just breathe. Find your joy. It’s in the little things we do and we need it now more than ever.

Now excuse me while I go pour some coffee in my favorite cup and find my own joy today.

The Lost Season of Baseball

Since I post as Baseball Gal, I decided I really should step up to the plate, so to speak, and put down some thoughts on the season that isn’t.

Isn’t it just amazing how the world has come to a screeching stop? How did we get to this place where America’s National Pastime has no opening day in Spring? Stadiums around the country just sitting there, empty. No cheering fans. No hot dogs! No one robbed of a homerun by some amazing catch at the wall. No razzle-dazzle on the mound. No batters going through a five minute ritual at the plate. (Okay, that one we can live without.) But no baseball – not anywhere?!?

For the fan it is unthinkable. It is heartbreaking. Not hearing the beautiful sound of the ball connecting to the bat and watching it sail through the air to meet it’s destination…not seeing our heroes on the field. Baseball is where our passion meets our hopes. And now in the midst of this terrible pandemic, baseball, like so many other things, is lost to us.

And certainly the fans understand the reasoning behind the loss of what may be an entire season of baseball. We understand the need for so much of our world to be shut down right now. We know that for the greater good, we all must be patient about so many things and baseball is one of those things.

My team, the Texas Rangers, was to open a brand new stadium this spring. It’s not that pretty, kind of looks like a big ol’ metal barn from the outside. And the front is way-too-modern glass and orange? To the creative minds behind this building, let me just say the Astros play a bit further south. Oh, and it’s turf. On the plus side for many here in the 100° plus Texas summers, it is air conditioned with a roof that closes. So, no rain delays.

Personally, I love the brick beauty that is known as the Ballpark. We made so many memories there over $1 hot dogs and $2 t-shirts. We had all of our favorite players: Moreland, Hamilton, Kinsler, Young, Pudge, Elvis, Joe Nathan, Darvish, Cruz (and his boom stick), Choo, and of course, my man Beltre. It’s where we witnessed Sammy hit his 600th homerun and Beltre making his 3000th hit.

And maybe this year there is no season at all. I cannot imagine life so quickly returning to normal when, even as I write, stricter guidelines for staying at home are being put in place and across the country we are beginning to put on masks. When in America did you ever expect that to happen?

Maybe this year, no one hears the roar of the home crowd. Maybe the vendors won’t be calling out “hot dogs here”. No foul balls going home with a proud kid, no autographs of a favorite player. And players may not have that great season we know they are destined for. We may not see our team make a run for the pennant this year. There may not be any stars in October.

As a fan of the game, I truly hope that we will get whatever shortened season we can get, with boldly asterisked numbers filling up the record books at the end of it. I truly hope that after this period of isolation and anxiety, fans will have the chance to ” root, root, root for the home team”. I hope we get to pay $10 for a lukewarm beer while wearing our team logo and that we get to see one of our guys diving for a catch that will save the game. I hope we get to stand shoulder to shoulder and sing our National Anthem as a huge American flag is unfurled on the field. And wouldn’t that be an amazing thing?

School and the New Normal

I really am not fond of the term “new normal”. And yet it is what it is and indeed, we are all having to adapt and make changes to what was our normal.

For me, the biggest challenge has been adjusting to schooling at home. Less than a week in and I have already determined that this is going to kill me. I am frustrated. The child is frustrated. A war that I am not prepared to fight has erupted right here in my dining room.

To begin with, I must be able to navigate an iPad. I am not. I am perfectly comfortable on my smart phone, but just figuring out how to connect to wifi on this vile piece of technology took me over an hour and the intelligence of someone much younger than I. Then this morning, I could not even get it to cooperate long enough to turn it on.

The teacher has said that the child should be leading this experiment in education. She tells me that he knows how to operate the system and maneuver his way through it. The teacher says that the child has been using this exact iPad at school and understands how to use it. The teacher, a wonderful source of support and therapy, who immediately responds to every email and phone call, is not here.

The child said that part of his problem in school was not understanding how to navigate through things like turning assignments in. The child says he needs help. The child says that he doesn’t know.

And here I am just wanting to get from point A to point B. I want the iPad turned on and ready for 9:00 Zoom meetings (something else that’s new) and I want the child to be able to complete the work assigned to him. I want for there to not be a daily battle as we struggle through schooling at home. I want peace to drink my coffee, like I had when he went to school. I want the arguing and yelling and the general onslaught of frustration to cease.

I already knew that I was not called to be a teacher and what almost every parent/grandparent/caregiver knows by now is that you should never have to teach your own child.  There is an entirely different attitude that your child presents to you than to their teacher. At home, their self-doubts and fears realize into anger and blame. I have already been told that I am not very smart about this iPad  – something I know he would never say to his teacher. Also, it is my fault that I need clarification on the questions that he haphazardly throws my way. In the very best of circumstances, I will never be smarter than a 6th grader is about technology.

We are having to learn and adapt very quickly to the changes happening all around us. And by we, I mean students, parents, teachers and administrators. I am more than sure that the people who work in my school district are having many more sleepless nights than I. The planning and support required to convert an entire system of normal to something new in a matter of days is unimaginable. I thank my lucky stars that I do not have to be part of that process as well.

A new normal. It isn’t something that we will achieve while pretending that everything is ok. It will be hard. It may be brutal. But I am sure that we will get through it. Things being what they are, we don’t really have a choice. If the 6th grader and I are still speaking to one another at the end of each school day, I will have to consider it a success.

Note: I say schooling at home because we are not homeschooling. That is a whole different basket of eggs.

Anxiety Meet The Coronavirus

So much anxiety out there in the world today. This pandemic has caused even the calmest to freak out a little bit. I get it – it’s scary. Everyone should be concerned. Someone you know, a parent, a child, a friend, will probably contract this virus. And the unknowns of it make it all the more worrisome.

Never in my lifetime has government across the country asked us to “shelter in place”. Nor have I ever had to send my children to school on-line to keep them safe. I never before thought my job in the restaurant business as one that would be defined as essential. So many things from our normal world have changed so quickly. It is unnerving. It is anxiety causing.

By nature, I am an introvert, not very social, somewhat hermitty. I like time by myself and after dealing with the public or social gatherings, I need time by myself. Social distancing is not something I fear. But even for me, someone who works only part time and is self- capable, the disruptive force of the coronavirus on my limited contact with people is more than maddening. In full, I don’t know what I feel. Some loneliness? Some alone-ness? I am not worried about the virus as much as I am worried about the people being shut away from one another. At a time when we as people most need a comforting hug, it is not safe to give each other one. There are people who feel alone or lonely when the world is not turning on an axis of quickly spreading infection. How do they feel now? Do they have people to help them thru this? Do they feel as safe as they can feel? Is there someone who is reaching out? This is my anxiety. Is everyone being looked after? And the answer is no, not everyone.

I know that what I can do is to purposefully stay in contact with my friends and family thru phone calls, texts and emails. I can reach out to the anxious and try to lessen their fears or make them laugh or just listen. I can support them with my love. And doing that takes away the extreme-ness of our distancing for me as well. We are all still here. We are together. We are just not in the same room.

Esther’s Face

I am starting to look more like my grandmother every day. Just a quick glimpse of myself in a mirror tells me this. This is not the person I want to look like. Not the grandmother I was close to and felt warmly loved by.

But there they are, the sagging jowels, the heavily lidded eyes. Yep, definitely my dad’s mom in that mirror. And aside from the skillful use of a medical scalpel, there isn’t much I can do to stop it. I have always favored that side of the family. I just wish more of my me was showing through those dominant family genetics.

It’s funny how we turn into other people overnight. We reach a certain number of years and the mirror no longer reflects the face we have always seen. Suddenly, you are your own grand-ma. Your face, the one from your 20’s and 30’s, maybe your 40’s, is surely somewhere behind this one. It’s just not visible to your own eyes. All you see now is grandma.

Maybe it would feel better if it were my other grandmother’s face. The one I loved and adored – the one whose hands I have. Oh yes, these are very certainly Jean’s hands. I love these hands.

And yet, this face…Esther’s face. There is something there. Something recognizable and strong. It is a link to my heritage and to the women who came before me. Women with stories who travelled far from their homelands to come here to America, who lived through world wars, the great depression and decades of changes in industry and technologies. Women who raised families on farms and in cities. And who cooked and baked amazing foods and did beautiful needlework. All of these things, I can see in this face in my mirror.

It’s the face that will continue on with me for the rest of my journey. And in the end it will tell my story.

Hope & Faith

It’s been a rough season. One of those times in life when everything is wrong and out of place and sad. And you have days where its just plain hard to get up.

I was sure that everyone went through times like this, but maybe not. Because as I sat in between my rock and my hard place, I heard voices that didn’t understand. I know I wasn’t pleasant. I cried – a lot. I slept. I withdrew into my pain. I couldn’t understand myself how I could look at things I needed to do, like dishes or laundry, and just not do them. I felt unable to move.

A few reached out. Told me it wasn’t good for me to hermit myself away. Tried to get me out of my self-imposed hiding place. Mostly they failed, because I couldn’t put myself out in their world of normal. My life wasn’t normal. My life hurt. My sense of purpose was gone – so why do the dishes?

Some days were ok. Some days, I didn’t just sit watching Criminal Minds. I took a shower and cooked a meal. Some days I could talk about things without crying. Some days I had hope.

To be fair, I didn’t share my story with everyone. I didn’t want everyone to know. It would have made people look at me differently, I think. I know it would have made people see others in my life differently; given people a reason to judge and that’s not what I wanted to see happen.

After 9 long months, the darkness has lifted. Although there is joy again in Muddville, there is still a struggle. I have work to do to regain my place in the flow of life. I believe that all will be well again and these past months will soon be only a distant memory. I have hope.

If you are sitting between your rock and hard place, I have hope for you, too. And I have faith that it will only last for a season.

What the Game Has Taught My Ballplayer

There is a little boy living in my house.  Very soon he will be 9 years old.  Not really such a little boy anymore.  He’s quite a kid, though.  And he’s an awesome ballplayer. In fact, he is my favorite ballplayer.

We started him playing at about 3. Backyard stuff.  Throwing and catching with his great-grandma.  Batting with a plastic bat.  Learning the basics of baseball.  We pitched to him because he never did like a tee.

Baseball Cleats

At 4, he got his first pair of baseball cleats from his Tia and I took him to his first Rangers game – a game where he sat and watched the action on the field. In the backyard, he was making up baselines and pretending he was Ian Kinsler or Josh Hamilton or Michael Young.  He began to understand that not every swing he made was going to go over the fence.

When he turned 5, we put him on a rec league team – coach pitch.  In his first game, he let a pitch go by.  It was a ball and he knew it.  The crowd was dumbfounded.  The umpire called a strike.  He learned that not all calls go your way.

Age 4 – First Rangers’ Game

In between games, he was watching the Rangers on TV; studying the double plays and imitating the batting stances.  He discovered Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and other great players from our opposing teams.  (There was joy in Dallas the day that Prince came to play.) He saw that though someone may not be on your team, they add value to the experience.

In the fall season of first grade, they brought out the pitch machine.  It was a tricky adjustment for the boys.  Pitches were faster and not always over the center of the plate. He had to learn to make adjustments.   He did and was the lead-off batter.  When he got on base, he casually handed his batting gloves to the first base coach just as he had seen the pros do.

Spring and fall, spring and fall. Baseball.  Second base, short stop, pitcher position, a game or two at catcher.  Catching pop-ups.  Fielding grounders.  Throwing in to first. Making outs.  He made his own first double play at 6 when he caught a pop-up and then tagged the runner heading to third. I couldn’t have been more proud, but he knew that he was just doing his job, helping his team.

In January of this year, he moved up to a select team.  This season, he is playing center field – hustling and leaping and diving to snag a ball.  This season, he is doing some of the pitching – finding the strike zone, learning control.  This season, he finally gets to take a lead-off and steal bases.  He’s been waiting to do this because the boy lives to slide – down and dirty every time.  (Yes, that’s him sliding in my header picture.)  And this season, he is struggling to connect the bat with the ball. He has a mental block about a 9 or 10 year old pitching to him.  Sometimes in life, we have to think about our problems differently in order to overcome them.

The spring season will be over in less than a month.  We have just three more games and one more tournament.  The summer will find us loyally cheering on the Rangers. He will spend hours tossing the ball up in the air and running to catch it, or throwing it against a pitchback net. He will play The Show on his PlayStation® .  We will read books* about our heroes and the legends of the game.  We will watch The Sandlot and A League of Their Own.

This is our life – my grandson and mine.  Baseball.  No matter what else we do, it always comes back to baseball.  It is the thing that bonds us together and gives us hope.  We may strike out in the moment, but there is always another ball coming our way.  As long as we keep swinging, we will get through it.




*There is a series of books about baseball legends  (Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Jackie Robinson and others) for young readers by Dan Gutman known as The Baseball Card Adventure Series.  I highly recommend them for any young baseball fan.

A Girl Should Have Some Fantasy

I am a baseball fan. I love everything about the game including ridiculous and extremely trivial statistics, jokes about pitchers, and hating the guy who left your team just for more money.  I love the Cinderella teams and the just called-up rookie who hits his first ever major league home run.  I love dollar hot dog night and I love how the game of baseball relates to life.

For years there has been this Fantasy Baseball thing. Guys I knew who loved baseball, but frequently took it way too seriously and too personally, would talk about it.   They would discuss their drafts and their aces and their injured players. They would wear me out with the talk of their fake teams.  When I wondered if Yu Darvish would recover from his Tommy John surgery and play again for real for my beloved Texas Rangers, they were worried about his draft position when he did return.  When Prince Fielder re-injured his neck and was forced to retire from baseball, I cried a little bit. My friends in Fantasy, worried who they could find to replace him on their “team”.  I really didn’t understand the whole thing.

Until now.

This year, I decided it was time for a little fantasy of my own.  I got together with my grown son, who was also a first time player.  Together, with the help of the ESPN app, we figured out how to draft our teams.  It was SO MUCH FUN!  Well, it was fun when we got the player we were going for and not getting him stolen out from under us by some unknown, and therefore hideous, player-thief.

After drafting our first teams, the adrenaline was rushing.  But wait…we didn’t get Elvis on that team.  Oh, I really wanted Elvis.  And what about Kershaw?  Some player-thief got him.  It would be nice to draft Kershaw.  I wish we had known more about drafting.  I wish we had had the first pick.  Hey, why don’t we both get one more team? I think we could do two teams.

Cut to 7 weeks into the season. The grown child has 25 teams.  That’s the limit for free play teams.  In my rookie season, I am managing 20 teams of my own.  Elvis Andrus is on about 6 of them and I managed to sneak in and get Clayton Kershaw on 2. Every day I check out my teams.  Which ones are winning, which ones are not.  Can I find a better hitting 2nd baseman?

My loyalty to my favorite players has gone to the wayside in this game.  With only 25 active players allowed on your team, the ballplayers you love for their heart and hustle, get dropped when their batting averages drop.  If a pitcher isn’t throwing strikes and getting me points, I search for someone who can.  I found this guy Jose Berrios.  He pitches for the Minnesota Twins.  I like him a lot.  He has gotten me points.

When your favorites are doing well, hitting home runs and adding up RBI’s, it’s awesome! When pitchers are hurling K’s and maintaining that low ERA, it’s awesome.  Until you get that alert.  Alert: Cole Hamels placed on the 10 day disabled list (DL) with oblique strain.  What?!?!  He can’t play for 10 days?  The reality is he will be out for 8 weeks or more.  Aaaaccckk!  You cannot find someone to replace him.  Oh, you will find someone to fill in his slot while he rehabs, but it won’t be the same.  Your fantasy team, your ALL star team, won’t be the same.  They didn’t tell me this would happen.  They didn’t tell me about DTD (day-to-day) listings either – when your very best starter may or may not start because he may or may not have a minor injury.  And Mondays!  They didn’t tell me about Mondays, when NObody plays because in Major League Baseball almost everybody has off on Monday.  Or they have Thursday off.  Mondays and Thursdays – terrible days for fantasy.

But here is the great thing about Fantasy Baseball.  You can draft the leagues best players, the future hall of famers, the hot new rookie (Aaron Judge), the latest call-up from the minors.  You can check your team every day and make adjustments to your daily line-ups or you can leave it alone and just believe your team, the one you hand selected, will come out ahead.  You can follow your favorites and keep up with their stats.  You can add to the conversation around the water cooler or at your local bar.  And you can take your love of the game with you wherever you go.  It’s not just a “guy” thing.  If you are a girl who loves baseball, then you should have some Fantasy.