“I may not know the secret to life, but I know what it’s not.” Barry Zito
Made you look!
Most people who follow Major League Baseball will say January is typically a very long drawn out period. The regular baseball season is over, the playoffs are completed, the holidays have passed and now we wait! People who follow a particular team can probably tell you the day pitchers and catchers report in February. (It’s a baseball reference.) The following week, the position players report, then it’s Spring Training (pre-season) and the regular season starts at the beginning of April. We have season tickets to Stanford Baseball because college games begin in February. Is that great? My post for this month is called “Secret to Life” . It’s the title of a song by Barry Zito (https://youtu.be/Ux5ogOeD3Uc). I am using it as my New Year’s resolution. I actually think there are multiple secrets to life. Barry Zito was a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants from 2006 to 2013. He came from the Oakland A’s (American League) and won two Cy Young awards while he was there. He went back to the A’s organization after his stint with the Giants. He was left off the roster for the 2010 World Series. He had a huge hit in the 2014 World Series. A big difference between the American League and the National League is the Designated Hitter Rule. The rule means that the pitcher doesn’t bat as he has a designated hitter when it is his turn to bat. The manager/coach strategy changes. In the National League, the manager has to figure a way to move existing runners over when it is the pitchers turn to bat. This concept is a big deal to me. As a stroke survivor, I often think about using everything I have in the journey. The pitcher in the National League typically does a sacrifice bunt to move another team member along when someone is on base. As a general rule, I like it a lot. I think it’s a huge deal to use everything including what we usually see as our weaknesses as part of strategy. (Starting pitchers pitch every fifth day or so, so they do not have the repetition or the regular practice of batting.) I summarize it simply as working with what you have. Barry Zito’s talent was an ok addition to the Giants pitching staff as far as I’m concerned. But he proved to us that professional baseball players bring a lot more to the mix. I think people are surprised by what Zito is doing now. This is a country song and I don’t know if people are more surprised by the fact that he has reinvented himself as a singer or that it is a country song. I love it. Zito had a great curve ball. It’s fitting that he is still throwing those curve balls. I imagine most people are thinking — of course she has figured a way to make the resolution about baseball!
Matt and I have a saying that it’s easier to dress down than dress up. We don’t mean it literally but rather as a metaphor. It’s about thinking what could happen. We can’t always anticipate what’s going to happen, but we can think about the future and plan for it. It’s a mindset. Some friends recently invited us to an evening in San Francisco. She called it “Speakeasy Fun.” It’s difficult to explain the evening but we went to dinner first and then to the event. We knew very little about the activities. We basically knew about the advent of speakeasies (why they became popular). We knew about Prohibition and the Great Depression (U.S. history) and so we dressed accordingly — how we thought people dressed in the 20’s and 30’s. We parked in a garage a couple of blocks from the restaurant and as we walked over there, we were surprised by how many people commented on Matt’s hat. He wore a top hat and spats with his tuxedo! I always say “act like you belong” and that also means “dress like you belong”! Now the reason I point it out is this — as a stroke survivor it may be difficult to dress the part, but we can have a mindset consistent with the activities. So we can involve our minds in the process along with what we wear. I’m going to give a post-stroke example of this idea. It’s a simplified version and I’ve talked about it before. It’s about my ataxia. I’ve said that with the stroke, I have ataxia which is worse on my right side than my left. Consequently, I’ve had to learn to do pretty much everything with my left hand rather than my right. Yes, I was right-handed before the stroke. Things I did automatically with my right hand, now I have to think about. I’ve said before even when we go out to eat at a restaurant, I have to think about what seat to chose so I can eat with my left hand. I always hold the cane in my left hand (I don’t know which side needs it more) because it doesn’t make sense to me that it would be helpful in a shaking hand! Something as basic as which hand to use to hold the phone, becomes something to think about. That is an important aspect for me as a stroke survivor who has ataxia.
One of my favorite lines from the movie “The Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood” is when Necie (Shirley Knight) says “I hope this isn’t a real emergency, I only brought one bottle of vodka.” I loved the book, also. Vodka was one of the first words I could say after the stroke. (I lost all ability of speaking when I had the stroke.) Needless to say, I’m partial to anything having to do with vodka. It’s a staple in our house. I’ve told the story before. I remember very little (almost nothing) about being in the first hospital after the stroke. One of the things I remember was when I had stared speaking and a Speech Therapist came to my room and said that she had several sentences that she wanted me to complete. She went on to say that there were no right or wrong answers. So because it fit and I could say the word, I answered “vodka” to every sentence or question she asked. (She said there were no wrong answers.) Thanks for always keeping the vodka filled, Matt. One really never knows what’s in store, so it’s important to always be prepared. It’s the little things that make a big difference (and that just might be one of the secrets to/of life)!