Finding my happy place at a Spring Training game

Early in my newspaper leadership career my company sent me and other top executives to a development clinic for its top executives where I learned something memorable and profound. It helped me appreciate my true joy.

Every time the clinic psychologists and psychiatrists wanted us to deeply reflect on  important parts of our life, they told us to mentally go to the most peaceful, happy place we could imagine.  I remember some colleagues went  to their imaginary beaches, forests and parks.

I did not struggle at all. I closed my eyes and mentally went to a spring training game in Lakeland, Florida at Joker Marchant stadium. When I worked in Florida from 1977 to 1979,  I had spring season tickets to the team I had followed since I was little boy. When asked to think of my ideal happy place, it was easy to imagine myself in great seats, near the Tiger dugout with the Florida sun gently kissing the small, intimate field. Sure, some players were fighting for jobs, but the vibe of camaraderie and freshness was invigorating. Winners and losers don’t matter much in the spring. It’s all about kicking off the rust and getting sharp for the season.

In that beautiful setting, the stresses of my high pressure job melted away. When you say peaceful and happy to me, those scenes at the ball park almost 40 years ago flood my mind.

I have a friend who claims the three greatest words in the English language are “Pitchers, catchers report,” because that is such a harbinger of spring. I beg to differ with him. “Spring training game” are three much better words.

My fantastic journey, we call life, has brought me full circle back to a place where spring training thrives. A quiet, sunny afternoon at a spring training game in Scottsdale is still my perfectly peaceful, happy place. At practically every San Francisco Giants spring home game you can find me basking in the sun. I have owned season tickets for several years but this, the first year of retirement, has allowed me to see just about every game.

The magic and mysterious peace of the spring ballpark still thrills me. Sure, the setting is ideal, but I also deeply admire the game of baseball which can best be appreciated in person. The perfect measurements of the baseball field combined with the fluidity of movement fascinate me. I love to critique game strategy and decision-making. It is a game tailor-made for second-guessing.

I often sit at a game and jabber with a friend as I watch the action. Sometimes, I go to the game alone and just soak up the comforting vibes while admiring the artistry of hitting a small ball coming at a guy at 95 miles per hour. In moments like this I can let peace wash over me.

Spring training games are definitely about baseball, but for me they are also about going to my happy place, a peaceful refuge that allows me to reflect and find real peace.

And no matter the season, all I need to do to slow down and find equilibrium is to recall those magnificent images of spring baseball.  My happy place has given me peace and joy for many years and it keeps on giving.

Here’s to your happy place.

 

Relaunch of my blog and answering the question, why do it?

Anti-climax has its place I suppose. This post was originally going to serve as my reentry into the blogosphere. News events prompted me to change that plan with a well-received blog post about Meryl Streep and Donald Trump.

Before that, I last posted a regular blog entry in mid-May as I retired from the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University.

I promised in that last post that during a planned hiatus, I would decide if I was going to continue the blog and exactly what form it would take if I did continue. I also needed to sort out why and whether I might continue.

This blog was born as McGuire on Life, Disability and Grief in August of 2014 out of three needs. A) I needed a broader canvas for my thoughts and feelings than my blog McGuire on Media offered me. B) I wanted a forum on disability to discuss my book, “Some People Even Take Them Home.” C) I needed to bare my soul about my grief after my late wife, Jean Fannin McGuire died in June of 2014.

My hope was that my personal experiences might offer comfort at the same time I provoked people to think deeply about grief and disability. I am convinced personal stories intrigue, stimulate and educate.

Contemplating the relaunch of the blog forced me to confront why I should do it. The truth is writing the blog on any kind of a regular schedule is perilously close to work and I just retired from that practice.

Rumination led me to realize that writing is not really work for me. It’s how I think. I add flesh and blood to all the weird ramblings in my head by writing. I need to write.

I also need to touch people. Few things make me as happy as the realization that my writing touched someone. My book, “Some People Even Take Them Home”  did not sell near as many copies as I’d like. Yet, writing that book is one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. I know it affected some people profoundly. For a writer, all you really need is to affect one person.

I admit to a deep desire to encourage people to think through issues and prompt them see things in a new light. I completely understand my opinions are my  opinions and I am wrong a lot. Writing on a public blog allows the give and take from an audience that will make you painfully aware of your errors in judgment and will applaud your successes.

So that’s why I am relaunching the blog. I changed the name to McGuire on Life so that all the old subjects are fair game, but I can also broaden my canvas to include travel, retirement and the people I meet on those new adventures.

I am still disabled. I still have a disabled son. I still think a lot about illness and grief even though I have found a delightful new love. Those topics will remain a part of this blog.

After I retired, I needed new business cards. My new card says Tim J. McGuire, Life Enthusiast.

At root, that is who I am.  To the frequent consternation of the two women I have lived with, I wake up every morning bubbling and happy and usually stay that way all day.

We are at the point in American history where too many people are  struggling to be enthusiastic about their spirituality, their politics and their futures. I don’t propose a Pollyanna approach. If I were to redo those business cards I might make it  “Realistic Life Enthusiast.”

I hope you will find that describes these blog posts.

Tim J. McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I figured out a new definition of love

I was driving down the highway when I think I realized my own personal definition of love. I will be 67 years old in a week or so, but I don’t think my discovery has come too late.

As I drove, I thought of my bride of six months, Candace. And, I smiled. It was the kind of smile that started at my mouth, occupied my entire mind and then made my insides all gooey. It was a smile of gratitude, a smile of comfort. I was consumed by that smile of love. I suddenly wanted to write a love letter to her. I guess this is it.

Passion is great, affection with a great big hug rewards the heart, and concern and care are certainly essential elements of love. But in that flash, I realized that real love brings with it that satisfied, contented and all-absorbing smile. And, I happily realized that smile of love has been a constant in my life.

As I reflected, I realized that smile was always the greatest sign that my late wife Jean and I had something special too. I was able to recall great feelings of satisfaction that were always marked by that smile that grabbed my soul. Even when she is gone I get consumed by that great big smile of love. It happened last weekend when I saw something in our old neighborhood that would have amazed and tickled her. That great big smile of love captivated me.

My kids induce that big, all-encompassing smile. Incredible emotional connections with my daughter, Tracy, warm me with that sort of smile and so do the incredible bouts of repartee I have with my son, Jeff. And the simple thought of my son Jason, who has Down syndrome, grips me with a smile that envelops my entire being. Then there are my two delightful grandchildren, Collin and Kayley. I smile so much when I think of them that I fairly burst. That’s the gooey kind of love.

I sometimes think people look in all the wrong places and for all the wrong emotions for love. I always feel sorry for the young couples who seem to think they are going to hear bells or giant gongs when they fall in love. There are no bells.

Happiness comes when we bask in the comfort, content and satisfaction of loving and being loved. When we find that sweet spot, a great big smile seizes our soul and carries us off to a special place worth celebrating.

Tim McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome Son and Our Journey To Acceptance