Spring has finally arrived here in Seattle! As the cherry trees blossoms awash the area in whitish-pinkish color, there are many signs of spring has finally here! The tulips are starting to come out of their slumber, and the yellow heads of daffodils are shining brightly through the gray days of spring. Finally after a roller coaster ride of a winter season, spring has come.
While large crowds crammed themselves into the University of Washington’s quad full of cherry trees, the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden’s cherry trees where in bloom minus the large crowds. For four hours I walked the winding paths through the different gardens soaking in the spring sunshine with the cherry trees and dogwood trees in full bloom.
Unexpected find in the rhododendron garden! These beauties are Camellias. They are a broad leaf evergreen shrub with pink, white and red large showy flowers. I want to have these in my garden one day!
Back when I was a student at Northwest University, a professor of Christian Thought had the class read an excerpt from John Sexton’s book Baseball As a Road to God to understand how sports can and at times lead people to God. The game of baseball has deep-rooted features associated with life and the journey many Christians take on the road to God. Yet two years later I would pick this book up again after reading Lou Piniella’s autobiography.
Baseball As a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game grew out of John Sexton’s courses tough at New York University. It all started when a fellow student told him how silly people are for thinking baseball is life. This sparked a challenge to see what makes baseball so true to life and how the game is one of the roads to God. Little did Sexton knew, it would become one of the most popular courses among students.
In this four part series I will go through what I learned about the game of baseball as a road to God, and how it has made me look at baseball differently all because of John Sexton’s book.
The Knothole Gang:
The knothole gangs came about as professional ballparks were first being built with wooden fences. Kids without the price of a seat would find that the wooden fences surrounding the parks provided spy holes to watch the games for free. These holes were created when knots in the wood popped out. Naturally, gangs of kids gathered around the knotholes.
Baseball evokes in the life of it’s faithful features associated with life; faith, doubt, conversion, blessing, curses, miracles, saints and sinners, and community. In Sextion’s book, baseball is really the physical representation of the road to God played out before an audience.
How is this sport closest to the road of God you ask? It is a superficial similarity between baseball and religion. Sextion spells it out:
Ballpark is a church
Ballgame is a mass (Sextion is Catholic)
Three strikes to an out
Three outs to an inning
Three holy trinities (baseball diamonds)
Nine positions on a field
Nine innings to a game
Nine muses in Greek mythology.
To the outsider peeking through the knothole of a ballpark fence they see a game, but if look closely, there is a complex sacred dance playing out in all corners of the ballpark.
1st Inning: Sacred Space & Sacred Time
Unity in time and space in the nature of the show.
John Updike (Unity In Life
Sexton starts off the road to God at the first inning, the inning where baseball moves beyond ordinary space, time, in the flow of feelings and images. Baseball in full context is “constructed stage beast three folds of Dante’s rose (heaven, hell, and purgatory).” Remember the knothole? Looking through it, does it look like a game of chess or ballet or both? Baseball is a combination of both. When looks like nothing is going on choose a player and watch the reaction. The game ebbs and flows like water. A sacred water flow coming from within the deepest recess of a player.
The sacred space of the ballpark is similar to a sacred place like a church. Sexton notes that a day at a ballpark summons an inner self-conjured as one moves through the entrance to the park. Crossing the threshold separates the profane world outside the sacred world lies inside the gates. Most people find a state of being, a transformation evoking a deep and meaningful connection to something within the ballpark. A stadium a church. The bleachers are the pews. The intersection between our world and the transcendent world, the connection between ordinary from spiritual dimensions.
Baseball operates out of ordinary time-timeless in it’s essence. Sitting in the seats, what do you notice?
Length of an inning or game is not set by a clock.
Time is not linear (simple: past, present, and future)
Time is cyclical building towards certain quintessential moments in baseball game according to Sexton. This same cyclical building mirrors religious times: liturgical. The time marked by ritual and ceremony. The liturgical time of baseball is the season from opening day to World Series. But it goes further than this. According to Sexton, it all starts before opening day with Easter/Passover (spring training) where there is a sense of renewal and the “wait until next year”, the prolong replaced with hope. Opening day with pomp and circumstance of something wonderful can and will happen (the beginning). The great time of the season (midseason), and the holy of holy days in baseball, the World Series. The World Series according to baseball lore, is the holiest of days where baseball stories become memories passed down to the next generation.
Yet Sexton notes, during this time overwhelming occurs throughout the ballpark. As you sit in the seat watching the game, notice the crowd around you. The cheering crowd wells up and carries you along as a powerful wave. In this wave, there is a solid foundation supported, and riding this wave carries you along. There is meaning to life in this powerful feeling of waves, just as this powerful wave moves through worshipers during Sunday morning service. Baseball creates and lives the cyclical repetitive liturgy and sacramental time of religion.
Over millennia such sacramental moments have been a part of human’s efforts to touch the deepest place of existence.
This time exists within the realm of baseball fields, parks and stadiums. Each field holds the greatest show, the greatest game, a journey, a road each person takes in life, all within nine innings.
Baseball is more than a game. It’s like life played out on a field.
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!
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?
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.
KonMari method has been making the rounds in the first months of 2019. Everywhere I turn another person is telling me how the Netflix show starring Marie Kondo has changed their life. I would like to call myself an organized person. Even my desk and lab bench at work are organized in an OCD way. Yet when watching the show I realized what I thought organized stuff was really just organizing chaos into bins. The Bowl Full of Lemons organization method was no longer working anymore! But my desire for the organization did not begin after watching Netflix, it began after a whirlwind summer and college graduation this past year.
With every new stage/level/etc in life, there is some degree of needing to purge, organize and update one’s life. The whole process took more than a weekend, but months as I did a deep cleaning of both my physical space and mental space.
Konmari The Shit Out Of The House:
Starting from the attic to the basement was the approach and one room at a time. Since I was unemployed for two of the months, I had time to take one room and deep cleaned the area out. One room I do not hear people talk about in the KonMari method is the attic or basement. Cleaning out the attic was a walk down memory lane.
I am a book nerd by default and the number of books I have acquired over the years is a testament to this. When in college a second time, I rented most of my textbooks instead of buying them. This helped in keeping the cost down and not being stuck with outdated textbooks. Still, there were a lot of books to purge I no longer found interesting, outgrew and no longer relevant to my life. Most of the book went to second-hand booksellers, Goodwill, and Amazon Market Place. I made rougly $30 selling the books!
Organizing filing cabinet is going down the proverbial black hole. Clearing out old paper work from years ago and shredding them takes time. One organizational tip I have employed in the past is using a manila envelope to hold all my tax documents and accompaned filing paperwork together. Each envelope roughly with the tax year (came in handy during college FASA submissions) and when you need to reference a year, you just pull out the envelope.
Moving to other areas of the home was cleaning out old tattered kitchen towels, bath towels, nasty Tupperware containers, broken electronics, chargers without a mate, all the Bath and Body free samples, and just throwing stuff out no longer being used. Even the contents of the car had to pass does it spark joy test or things just had to go.
Cleaning Out The Closet
After three half years of being a poor college student, I noticed my clothing looked old tired, ratty, and outright inappropriate for career clothing. Even the work clothes I use to wear before college looked dated and age-inappropriate. Purging my closet started with doing all the laundry, then putting all my clothes in a pile and sorted them out. First going through sorting out all clothes with holes, rips, and stains-trashed. Then started sorting clothing by type, and then started getting to nitty gritty of the Konmari method. By the time I had finished the process, it came apparent I needed to do a complete wardrobe overhaul for the next stages of life. Over the months I have slowly rebuilt my wardrobe both for work and non-work items.
Little by little bags full of clothing made its way to the local Goodwill, and a few items in good condition went to friends or family. The whole purging and organizing my closet gave insight into how much clothing came from fast fashion brands where low quality clothing fell a part fast. Since the purging I have been spending a little more on clothing I buy for the quality of the item, and taking much better care of the clothing I have.
Saying Buh-Bye: Decluttering Relationships
At this point in my life, if I put all the effort in a friendship or relationship and it does not seem like the other person shares the same values, morels, or not putting in the effort, it wont work out. I no longer hold on to relationships just because. Toxic relationships do not spark joy, but take joy. I read another fellow blogger’s take on KonMari method to toxic relationships, their method is to throw everything onto a pile, every man, every financial burden, every negative person influencing your vibe or taking up unnecessary space or time. Just like physical objects, go piece by piece asking yourself “does this spark joy? Do I need this in my future?” This meant taking the physical things given in the relationship I had been holding on to and letting them go. Not only purging the physical things, but also the mental and spiritual things cluttering my life due to those relationships.
Purging & Balancing Social Media
How do you KonMari method the shit out of your social media? Being honest with yourself on what you want in social media expereince. I purged a few things on this blog. Archiving old posts, cleaning up old posts, updating popular post for the most updated information. Instagram feed needed to be purged of a few followers (I realized some “followers” are porn accounts! Does anyone have/had this problem? Even when your is is private?) and unfollowed a few accounts I no longer want to see anymore. Cleaning up Pinterest boards for better organization of pins. I love the feature of having subcatagories within a board to further organize pins into. Lately have been disenchanted with Facebook. Purging or unfollow people I no longer keep in contact with (very old co-workers) or have not met in real life (yep have a few of those).
The Konmari process did not take a weekend to do, but a few months. The best advice for sparking joy is to trust the process. Trust your own process in decluttering your life, your space, and the people you no longer need that once upon a time brought you joy, but is now taking up space. Konmari method is about trusting the process in cleaning out to be healthy again.
I came across the first blog post I wrote for this blog (Life Must Moving On-2012) while cleaning up a few blog posts. Last year I celebrated six years with WordPress and little by little this blog post was pushed in a dark corner of my blog’s filing cabinet not seen daylight for five years. A dark place really for a post full of hurt and pain. Moving on from any relationship is hard, let alone a dark sinister one filled with violence. Dating violence, domestic violence, and any form of violence have a lasting impact on someone’s life for years. Sometimes it takes a long time to fully heal from the damage someone inflicts upon you.
In the past few years, I have started to tell bits and pieces of my story, a story when played out in spoken words has an impact I never expected. See some of us who have been through it really don’t talk about it, instead choose to move forward to what the future holds for us and one day when we have an unguarded moment, we talk. I find myself only talking when I am confronted with it from another person’s life story I either read, heard or saw first hand. All the while keeping from deflecting my experiences on to the other person. It takes a lot of strength to not fall apart when helping a fellow person who is going through abuse. This strength could only come from forgiveness of my own experience.
It does take a lot to forgive someone who has done an unspeakable thing to you. Especially when they have moved on with their lives knowing well what they had done. Yet, in order for anyone to move on, you do have to forgive the person, not say it never happened, but more for yourself to move on into the future you want for yourself. By allowing forgiveness to lead you to the person(s) who would never dream of hurting you like the other person did, you start the process of healing fully.
For me, it took a long road to fully heal and to finally say I forgive them fully. It took a trip to Tanzania with Northwest University/Convoy of Hope, two positions in biotech, going back to school to finish what I started before them, finding the real true friends and family who would walk every painful step towards healing. In six years I have rebuilt my life, what it took one person to destroy in two years. In those six years, Jesus and many people along the road came through many times to get me to where I am today. Most of all to the men I dated after who even when the relationship did not work out, taught me love does not destroy another person but strengthens them to a better person than before.
Valentine’s day is about love, but for some, the day is about love through forgiveness of one’s self and forgiveness for another person’s false love. To me, Valentine’s day is about freeing myself from abuse disguising as love, and the ultimate act of love, forgiveness.
I have said this countless time to people before,
I was a victim, then a survivor, now I am thriving!
I no longer am a victim to the pain of someone’s actions long ago anymore!
Thought I’d end up with Dennis, but he wasn’t a match. Wrote some songs about John, now I listen and laugh. Even almost got married and for Andrew, I’m so thankful. Wish I could say “thank you” to Michael cause he was an angel.
One Taught Me Love
One Taught Me Patience
One Taught Me Pain
Now I’m so amazing. I’ve loved and I’ve lost, but that is not what I see.
So Look What I Got
Finished a bachelors degree in biology
Traveled to amazing places around the world
Gained amazing and wonderful friends in the process
Made my way back to Jesus.
Grew from the drama
Accomplished dreams and goals
Look What You Taught Me
To be stronger with the healing
Love is a verb
I have dreams worth pursuing
Some people come into your life to teach you to let go.
There is nothing wrong with who I am
Still loveable even if broken by someone else
Let of the fear of striking out – the game of baseball
New hobbies I never knew I enjoy.
How to be single and love it.
And for that, I say thank you, next. I’m so grateful for my exes.
I spend more time with my friends, I ain’t worried about nothing. Plus I met someone, we have better discussions, but this is going to last. He taught me love, he taught me patience, and how he handles pain, that sh!t is amazing. But that is not what I see, cause look what I’ve found. No need to search for love the old ways.
I’m grateful for my exes, thank you next.
One day I’ll walk down the aisle holding hands with my Dad. I’ll be thankful my Dad for helping me grow from all the drama. Only want to do it once real bad. Going to make it last. God forbid something should happen. Going to last.
I have so much love, have so much patience. I’ve learned from the pain. I turned out amazing because of it. I’ve loved and I’ve lost, but that’s not what I see. Cause look what I have found.
For that, I say thank you, next. Thank you to my exes for letting me go to find something better.
When this song came out I felt the validation in what I have been telling myself over the years. Every heartbreak, every moment I accomplished something I have dreamt of finally coming to reality. But mostly the song shows how far I have come in finding the one who one day come along and stay my life. To those who are still searching for love or yet to find love, the journey is full of heartbreak, beauty and unexpected moments that will shape you into who you are meant to be. In the end the one person who is meant to stay in your life may it be a guy or a girl, will be thankful for all your exes because this person will have the best you. Love is a verb. Love happens when you love others as well as yourself.
Thank You, Next by Ariana Grande. Original song lyrics by Ariana Grande with altered lyrics by me.