Baseball As A Road To God|Part 4

Whew this has been one long stretch to write this series on this blog. In the last installment of this series I will be going though the last three innings to the final destination, the clubhouse. The place where baseball legends never die.

7th Inning: Saints and Sinners:

When I think of saints and sinners in baseball, the movie Sandlot comes to mind. There are references to Babe Ruth littered throughout the whole movie, and yet one scene that comes perfectly clear of saints is the chewing tobacco scene before the fair ride. “Chaw-saving for a good time.” Well you know exactly what happens after they chew it.

the sandlot chewing tobacco GIF
Chew Scene
The Sandlot

So how does it play into saints and sinners? Think about how the group of boys look up to the ballplayers of the day (1950s) and doing the same things as they do. Perspective is often central to how a fan feels about a ball player. The very definition of sainthood serves to make human beings whom we other humans can relate. Its an induction into a honor society of those who are the best of what we can be. Baseball celebrates its heroes, the legends, and immortalize them into what is called the Hall of Fame. Same goes for religion where Christians have a number of ordinary humans who managed to before immortalized as saints (Mother Theresa).

Yet what fans think players are saints, could be in fact a sinner. Yes I went there! If ballplayers are judge on their performance on the field, they would look like saints of the sport. But when you think of it, they are simply sinners or worst, nasty people at times. Now not all are nasty, but when you hold someone up to the highest, the not so great things are swept aside. See reputations do in fact follow on and off the field as most major athletes can attests to. Baseball shines a spotlight on each player on the field and in some capacity the player is fighting their own demons or moral dilemmas. Professional baseball is played by humans, surprising-if hardly- the sport reveals the human propensity to cut moral corners. Even as far as cheat. Baseball like in religion, judging others is a flawed endeavor whether in professions or in athletics because it is done by fallible humans. Still baseball celebrates both flawed heroes and it’s saints in equal measure.

7th Inning Stretch

Anyone who has been to an intense ballgame or religious service is well aware of the intermission. At the church I attend there is an intermission between praise worship singing and the preaching in the form of going around shaking hands in fellowship. The same can be said of baseball, where as a community of fans and players go through the age old tradition of a rousing version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” No announcement, no request, just rise from the seat as a congregation and break from the intensity of action on the field. Just as different faith denominations, baseball does not have an uniform version of the seventh inning stretch. Each team, each stadium has traditions in which the all moving parts come together in unity. Really the seventh inning stretch is moment of prayer, a reflection, a pause of self awareness, and setting stage for the next moments of the last two innings. A moment of stillness before the storm.

With the stretch completed…. the ball, sacred symbol and reality, remains in play for all, and the game of life.. I mean baseball game continues.

8th Inning: Community:

The community of baseball has a power to bring people together in expanding levels of relationship: parents and child, neighbor and friend, community and city, state and the nation. Think of those summer days watching a game, all assembled as one in a park sharing in the awesomeness of the moment together with like minded people. Community made up of many different groups of people in one common shared belief. Collection of rituals, tall tales, homespun charm, carefully passed down from one person to the next. Same goes for religious faith where the belief is not confined to sect, class or race. A common faith of mankind. The community of rooting for one’s own team is accessible to anyone who simply revels in the beauty and gifts of the game. As of date the game reaches not only the American people, but around the world. Japan’s love affair with Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees runs deep. The community of baseball fans in Japan would lead the Mariners to play their first game of 2019 season in Tokyo against the Oakland A’s.

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Ichiro signing for fans in Tokyo Japan
Seattle Times

The best thing about baseball is the last attraction flows from the game’s ability to bring people together to create community to foster bonds of lasting power based on shared memories and experiences. Not only from a fan base, but also from a players base as well. Think about all the players in little league, middle school, high school, and college who build a community or are a part of a everlasting community for the rest of their life. Religious communities are more than the congregations that gather for services, but a community that shares a same belief and lasting bond. Baseball communities large or small is where the spirit lives beyond what appears to eyes and mind.

9th Inning: Nostalgia:

Baseball, almost alone among our sports, traffics unashamedly and gloriously in nostalgia, for only baseball understands time and treats it with respect.

Stanley Cohen

This inning is really about the myth of the eternal return. The throwback journey from baseball’s present to its past and back again. Nostalgia is one of baseball’s defining attributes according to John Sexton. The game’s past shadows its present, and there is conjured for instruction, to prod memories, and revive dormant emotions. On the road to God, Christians pay tribute to the past while in the present. The same rituals done over millennium still being done today, each paying respect to those who have come before in form of memorials. In baseball there is one important respect to the originals, the numbers stitched to the present player’s back. Today numbers memorialized a great player, each one retired for all time on a that team or in the case of Jackie Robinson, on all teams. These numbers are plaques marking a person’s life in baseball, as plaques are laid where a love one has been called home to the Lord. The practice of retired numbers started when Gehrig courageous revelation he was suffering from the disease (Gehrig Disease) that killed him and Babe Ruth’s in 1948 when dying of cancer. Old uniforms and numbers in baseball, as is in religion, are venerated and treated with respect.

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Retired Yankees Numbers
INSC

How can this be similar to religion you ask? Mircea Eliade wrote “nostalgia for origins is equivalent to a religious nostalgia.” We as humans desire to recover the active presence of the gods; we desire to live in a world as it came from the Creator’s hands. The pure, fresh, and strong aspects of the world. See the journey home (as it is in baseball’s ultimate goal) is what Eliade called the myth of eternal return; going beyond marking an event to reliving it. A ceremony (liturgy), a memory celebrated, and religious man attempts to approach the gods to participate in being. The past and present are more clearly linked, one enhancing, informing the other. The dialog between the past and present causes us to touch a spot deep within ourselves-to thank God for what has been.

Clubhouse

Baseball is defined by wonder and amazement; it is defined by elements of faith, doubt, conversion, accursedness, blessings-all associated with religious experience-the spirituality of the game. Baseball is as in religion is a deep faith that cannot exist inless there is doubt, its handmaiden as John Sexton points out, confronting doubt is a central challenge on both religion and life from the earliest Christian theologians to the Seattle Mariners journey to a Wold Series game.

1st base is temptation, 2nd base is sin, 3rd base is tribulation. Jesus is standing at the home plate, he’s waiting for you there. Pitcher is Satan, Solomon is the umpire and the lead off man is Daniel, who gets the first hit. The game’s home run is hit by Job, wielding the ‘strong bat’ of prayer. The chorus ends with a rousing “Life is a ball game,” but you’ve got to play it fair.

Sister Wynona Carr “Life Is A Baseball Game”
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Good o’ Babe Ruth
The Sandlot

Baseball through in through is a game of life and one of the many roads to God. Each inning in a person’s life is played out in one game, whether loose or win, you have to play if fair.

After all…”you are killing me smalls!” 😉

For the whole series:
Parts: 1, 2,3

Baseball As A Road To God: Seeing Beyond the Game, by John Sexton

Commit To Being Healthy|120 Days Becoming Healthy

There are only three to four months a year where people are not celebrating something with food. So technically you have to navigate through the rest of eight to nine months trying to avoid going over board. April isn’t one of those months, especially when you come off forty days of giving up something in the food category called Lent. No wonder when Easter/Passover comes around you are shoving hot cross buns in your mouth while taking out the chocolate Easter bunnies like Mr. Mc. Gregor in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

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BUT…. I manage to contain myself when it came to those oh so wonderful little chocolate bunnies. I only had one and it was Cadbury.

How Was I Successful?

At the beginning of the month I had to move desk space at work again (cue eye roll, really??), but this meant moving far away from the candy dish full of mini Kit Kats and M&M (maybe a Snickers bar in there too) to a whole new section where the green juice and Raisin Bran cereal people hang out . Yep I’m counting this as a successful point in the month-don’t judge me! Also having a desk faraway from the the break room meant those left over lunch meeting stuff was never seen by me until the end of the day.

On the fitness side of things I started to get really into training for the 5k I will be running in July. Just walking during lunch along the trail behind the building and getting a good run in early in the morning has helped to bring back the running stamina needed to get through 3.1 miles around the stadium. I will admit it has been a few years since I last trained for a 5K let alone a half marathon. In the process of the last month I have seen a significant loss of weight compare to the first two months of the year. You can call it motivation when another 4lbs comes off. Along with walk/run training part, I have been back to weight lifting to help in the process of building muscle to replace the fat I am loosing.

Last month I talked about eating at my desk most days due to having so much work to slog through. Instead I take my lunch and a book to read when no one in the break room wants to talk to me (a common thing really. Is that healthy?) to the break room to get away. At one point I drove to Woodenville to get lunch at Shake n’ Go to get away for awhile. Not taking my work home with me and allowing myself time to unwind from a stressful day has helped so much. Just setting those boundaries has helped with having a weekend I can now call “me time.” Commit to being healthy is not all about diet and exercise, but also being healthy mentally. I wrote a post a week ago regarding me trying to be everything to everyone.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

With Easter comes BREAD!! I grew up as a bread kid. I would hide pieces of bread in my room to consume later. At one point my parents had to hid the bread from me or lock the bread box! Just as Oprah has said many times, I love bread and I could eat nothing but bread everyday if it meant I could not get fat (chocolate too!). I’m with you Oprah! The fact is every Easter comes hot cross buns, resurrection rolls, and anything with yeast in it. I may have over indulged in the baked goods at work, home and even church. Easter Sunday the church had pancake breakfast before both services. Yep I had a helping of two pancakes and shame on me because I knew better.

What Motivates Me?

Motivation is to establish healthy habits, and get myself ready for the 3.1 miles in July. But lets be real, its the fact I’m loosing “extra” weight that is motivating me to keep going. Having coworkers and friends saying I look more healthy than before helps during the moments when I almost want to give up on bad days.

What Can I do Differently next month?

The first few months this year I was on Whole30 for 90 days and in April I decided to take a month off from doing the program. In May I will be going back on Whole30 again to reset after Easter indulgences. With the local farmers markets starting to open around the area, getting fresh produce for my Whole30 will be easier and keeping with my goals of getting as much healthy fresh food as possible.

On the fitness side of doing things differently, I will be continuing with the couch to 5k training plan for July. If the weather becomes more sunny, maybe getting off the treadmill in the morning for a run in the morning would be great.

I Give Myself 4/5   Stars for this month!

Commit To Being Healthy|90 days In

Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.


Henry David Thoreau

Lent began in the month of March and for forty days before Easter (April) it all about finding the balance between exercise and being healthy. Which would have been lovely if I did not start the season of Lent off sick! In the spirit of being healthy, well… some times the cold virus finds you, and takes you down for a few days. I am thankful every year I do not get the flu virus and with being vaccinated every year, this is the reason why I bounce back from a cold as well. It meant having to put my 5k training plan on the back burner for a week and half to make sure I was healthy enough to start back on it.

Being sick sucks! Having a hot toddy tea and reading the latest book on the royals made it better!

This month had been one of those going from two extremes; stress and peace. After enduring one extreme after another in the month of February, March started out with an extreme of snow still falling, to ending with spring sun. Gave the whole meaning of March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. Also another month of food with St. Patrick’s day full of the most unhealthy versions of Irish food and cheap green beer at restaurants. I some how made it through this month. Staying ninety days committed to making healthy choices is not a sprint, but a marathon at times. So here is the questions and answers to how the March- 90 days in all went down.

How Was I Successful?

With spring coming early in March, there were days when the sun was shinning and getting outside for a few hours helped with getting in the necessary exercise needed. With starting to train for my 5k this July, I started to go walking at least a few times a week after work.

Real authentic Irish food was made and consumed on St. Partick’s day instead the over hyped unhealthy food people associate the day with. This year I decided to make an Irish boxy with brown gravy to make my English Great-Nana proud, and Irish soda bread made with Guinness. May come across not even close to Whole30, but the ingredients are as wholesome as it get.

What Went So Well?

The fact there was a stretch of days of sunny warm weather in Seattle right before spring. After a few days of snow showers coming down, and the other crazy weather happening, just have a warm sunny day helped in getting outside for a few hours. With days becoming more spring like later in the month, the farm stands along the road started popping up selling fresh produce. Having a farm stand on my way to work and back home helped with those days when you need something healthy, but don’t want to drive to the grocery store.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

As I mentioned above, getting sick at the beginning of the month did not go so well. Getting older being struck down for a few days with a cold or flu just takes a whole lot out of you. Research as suggested when someone starts changing some of their unhealthy eating habits and looses weight, the immune system

Sick-in-office

I started to find myself keeping up with Whole30 plan slipping. When I came down with a cold, all I wanted was garlic bread, orange juice, and chicken noodle soup. Each of those are not completely Whole30 compliant, and feeling unwell I did not care! This I did not care went on for two weeks where I was fasting by not eating breakfast or lunch in order to speed up my weight loss. Great if you have a fast metabolism, but as we age or metabolism slows down.

What Can I do Differently?

Figure out how to balance all the stress happening all of sudden from work, and life. I am known to be a stress eater, so when times of stress happen it can derail me fast. With stress comes unhealthy sleeping habits and putting your immune system at risk of catching the latest virus circulating around. I realized taking my work home every night is not a solution to the mass amount of work needing to be done, and I need to set boundaries for myself to follow through on. With the days becoming longer and sunny, I should take a real lunch break and get outside for awhile instead of sitting eating my lunch at my desk while doing work.

Yep I maybe turning into a workaholic-please send help soon!

I believe this could be what I do differently next month. Stop stressing over not getting everything done in one day, and set boundaries in eating away from my desk. My mental health and sanity will thank me later for doing this.

What Motivates Me?

After the bought of sickness from a cold spreading around work, I decided to go through all my workout cloths and start fresh again. During a store closing sale, I picked up new workout bottoms to start training for my 5k run in July. Just putting these bottoms on gave the motivation to get out there an kick some butt! With three months to go before running 3.1 mile around the T-Mobile Park for a non-profit, and the fact summer is fast approaching, I need to be fit for all the hikes I want to take.

How Do I Feel?

I’m feeling the spring fever of a fresh start again. I noticed a little of weight has come off this past thirty days, but not nearly as much as last month. I feel better after being knocked down for a few days by a cold, and now with sun coming out, my goal of healthy habits started to really ramp up.

I Give Myself  4/5  Stars

Commit To Being Healthy|60 Days On Whole30

February is a short month, but judging by all the craziness happening in the short twenty-eight days, it seemed to drag on longer than expected. No, it was not getting bored with Whole30 meals, but the weather here in Seattle. What made February a crazy month was the two three winter snow storms that hounded the Seattle area. If you saw the post on the snowpocalypse you would understand why it was called an apocalypse. Sticking to Whole30 is hard when you really want to indulge in hot chocolate- real creamy hot chocolate- without falling off the wagon. Thank goodness someone figured out how to make hot chocolate Whole30 compliant. Other than shoveling snow constantly (hey exercise!), February was a month of dodging all that Valentines Days candy on sale or at work (and girl scout cookies too, ugh double whammy!). I somehow made it through without having the damn sugar dragon going on all-out war. Here is a recap of what commit to being healthy!

Progress Snapshot:

After all the snow shoveling I should have lost some weight. After stepping back on the scale after another thirty days, I had managed to loose 4.5lbs! Some of it had to do with starting to train for a 5k in July. Right now I have managed to average 10lb weight loss in two months.

How Was I Successful?

Have you ever struggled to drink enough water? I have! I came across an Instagram story by Brittney Aldean (Jason Aldean’s wife) talking about how she struggled with drinking enough water during her pregnancy. She recommended Liquid I.V. electrolyte drink mix as a way for the body to get more hydrated. Being the scientist I am, I did a little research and tried the stuff out for a whole week. I found it did help keep me hydrated during the day (science lab air can be very drying during the winter months) and did help in drinking an equivalent of three glasses with a single packet. The difference I found with Liquid I.V. does not taste like a sports drink, but more towards what Pedialyte taste like. After a month drinking the stuff I started to make a habit of drinking more water or tea to reach the eight glasses a day of water.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

All those Valentines Day candies on sale because of the snow storm. Yep, almost too a nose dives into a bowl of Hersey’s kisses and hugs because I need a hug after driving in the winter storms.

Also I noticed (TMI alert) I’m passing gas more frequently (not the stinky stuff) then before. This could be a side effect of my gut health being restored back to normal working order, and the rest of my body is still trying to catch up with the new changes. Who knows!

What Can I Do Differently?

One thing I could do differently is not stress about all the things I cannot eat! There has been times where the stress went through the roof when trying to find something to eat that was Whole30 compliant. I have to remember this is elimination diet of foods that are potential issues, and not eliminate natural flavor of the foods itself.

How Do I Feeling?

Feeling like I am slowly managing the sugar dragon, and making a dent into making a habit of eating healthy clean food.

What Motivates Me?

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I signed up for my first 5k run in a few years for July. Now $40 into this, I might as well get serious on being committed to being healthy if I want to run majority of this race.

I Give Myself  3/5  Stars

Commit To Being Healthy|30 Days On Whole30

For some of you reader may remember my failed attempt at committing to being healthy back in 2017. Then tried it again at the first part of 2018 and fell off the wagon after a stressful month in college. I bet you rolled those eyes when you read the title of this post! Alas! I have completed my fourth Whole30 (30 days total) and rocked it.

So here I am again posting about being committed to being healthy as a goal for 2019 instead as a New Year’s resolution (why? b/c goals are easier to obtain mentally). Also being in my early thirties means I no longer can eat all the crap my brain still thinks I can! Still, after meeting Melissa Hartwig two times at book signings (own all four cookbooks now with signatures!) I should put all those books to use). After all, I needed to put my old college lab coat to use, why not as an apron?

With my lab coat, and the Whole30 Slow Cooker Cookbook in hand, I started my Whole30 on January second (January 1st is just too hard after being sleep deprived) and went all the way to thirty days January 31st. Here is the rundown of all happened in a month.

A Partial Fasting For One Week:

You can say Whole30 is a partial fast because, in partial fasting, you generally omit a specific meal or refraining from certain foods in your diet. If you want to go further, you can work the Whole30 plan into a regular spiritual or prayer fasting routine. For one week during the thirty days, I decided to try my hand at fasting from intake of food between 8pm to 6am (you can say intermitting fasting as well).

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

How Was I Successful?

Success for the thirty days was due to a little phone app by Samsung. If it was not for Samsung Health tracking my food intake, how many steps I took, how much sleep, weight, heart rate and oxygen saturation, it probably would have made the process harder.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

Well… recipe wise, there was one recipe that was a major flop. The Shrimp Boil recipe (p. 228) for the Instant Pot in Slow Cooker Cookbook turned out to be a lesson in why they call them New England Shrimp Boils for a reason. Maybe the slow cooker would be better, but this PNW girl will leave shrimp boils to New Englanders or the local seafood restaurant. Also trying to recreate Old Bay seasoning may contribute to the problem as well (I have no idea what Old Bay seasoning taste like).

Male First World Problems meme

I caught myself almost shoving pizza in my face about five times after work started ordering pizza to use up their pizza subscription service with the local pizza place. I resisted in the end! It has been hard trying to stay on track with food around the office at some point. Even the salad bar was not completely Whole30 approved!

What Can I do Differently?

Besides sniffing the pizza fumes, I could be more consistent in logging exercise. It has been hit and misses with logging in how much exercise I am doing a day. At work, it is hard to bring my phone into the lab to record all the steps I take for fear of having something nasty happen to the phone in my lab coat pocket. Next month I hope I will be more consistant in logging my excersise.

What Motivates Me?

The days getting longer as the days march closer to spring. Even in January there were days of sunshine here in Seattle! Getting out for a short walk during lunch at work motivated me to continue to on my journey of being committed to healthy habits.

How Do I Feel:

How I feel is a little better. I am starting to take back control of what I eat, and how it is effecting my overall health. I haven’t reached the “tiger blood” stage after thirty days, but it could be subtle compare to first time Whole30ers.

Progress Snap Shot:

I started the thirty days at 160lbs with a goal to get back down to 130lbs. By the end of the thirty days, I was down 5lbs. Now in the past Whole30s, I was averaging almost 7-8lbs. This time it was different. Thou 5lbs may not seem much from the past, it a whole lot more when the body composition showed inches lost around the waist.

I Give Myself  3/5 Stars

I’m still continuing onward on the journey of commit to being more healthy. I will continue to be doing another Whole30 (Whole60) in the coming month.

Tanzanian Adventures|Unexpected Hike

Updated 12/2017

Hiking in Tanzania was an unexpected adventure with a whole lot of people. I was talked into going on this hike with a whole bunch of people because we could have a view of Mount Meru from the top of a hill just behind the hotel. The said hike was to hike to the top of Suye hill before sunset. We did all make it up just as the sun was setting, and we all got a great view of Mount Meru and the rest of Arusha valley below.

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It all started with crossing the busy road full of crazy motorcycles and cars. Not something for the faint of heart in this country! The beginning part of the trail started up a steep muddy rock step between a cluster of houses along the slope of the lower part of the hill. Once in the tree line, it was climbing up the steep embankments with slippery mud clinging to our shoes, getting almost lost in the brush when the group was split up, and finding out the cobblestone path was not complete enough to take anyone to the top. It took around an hour to hike up this trail to the top to see the sunset over the valley and to see an unobstructed view of Mount Meru. The guide from the hotel said Mount Kilimanjaro could be seen from the top as well, but it was hidden by cloud cover and this was true for the whole time I was in Tanzania. Most interesting part of this hike was seeing two people living in the shack on top of the hill. Remind me of people living deep in the jungles of South America.

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Mt. Meru

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Now going down the hill was an adventure in the dark. I have never hiked in the dark, and hiking down this hill in the dark was not an easy task. What made it easier for me and those around me in the group was the headlamp I had packed just in case. Going down the side of the hill was a challenge with all the slippery mud on the steep parts, and the vegetation that liked to reach out to catch us as we passed by. People were slipping and falling at times. I even when down hard after I had told the people behind me to watch out for a slippery part. Slowly we all made if safely to the bottom with a few scraps, scratches, mud caked on clothing and shoes. It was worth it in the end! I earned the dinner back at the hotel, and it was one adventure worth going on.

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