EP002 Friday Nights

Gratitude is the foundation of great joy!

Hello, welcome to my podcast. My name is Dee and I am The Introverted Advocate. The mission of my podcast is simply this – to create a kinder, more compassionate world through advocacy. I began advocating back in 2014 and I have a few stories I’d like to share. Advocating is like an adventure and it can be done from the comfort of your keyboard at home, or it could be an adventure of meeting new people, learning new skills, or finding out that the world is full of caring individuals who are ready to lend a hand or their heart when they see a need. I invite you to look around in your world and see who might need a little support and kindness. It could be one individual, it could be a group or a cause, it could be a community. Are you ready? All right, let’s get to it.

Every Friday night for 8 years, I played outfield for an adult co-ed softball team.  It began when a friend called me up, out of the blue, to say they needed a woman to equalize the number of male and female players on the field.

He said, “I recall you were a pretty good ball player. Would you like to play?”

My response was quick and to the point: “Yes, I would love to play!”

And so I did. Every Friday night year-round (autumn, winter, spring and summer).

Every game night, we met at the dugout to lace up our cleats, put on our baseball hats, and warm up our gloves with a bit of back-in-forth catch.

Then we took to the field for the first inning.

It was then that I felt joy. Pure joy as I jogged through the infield toward my destination of the outfield.

The beautiful green outfield.  The fresh air. The stars above in the sky.

While looking up at the sky, I would say out loud: “Thank you for letting me play ball again.”

Every game. Every Friday. For eight years.

Never missed the chance to feel my immense gratitude.  Never missed the chance to express to the Universe my appreciation for this gift to play ball once again.

You may know that feeling, some of us develop rituals or specific preparations before a game, a performance, a dance recital, or any activity that we thoroughly enjoy on a regular basis.

But this was different.

This was personal. This came deep from within my soul. It was so strong that I felt obligated to “give thanks” every Friday. It would have been wrong not to express it.

Now, if I may, I’ll share “why” I felt such deep gratitude.

This goes back to the summer before kindergarten when mom noticed my limp. She took me to a doctor and the diagnosis was Legg-Perthes disease. My left femur (the ball at the top where it fits into the hip socket) was diseased and partially dying from lack of blood flow.

The treatments were few back in 1966. My parents opted for the treatment of living on two crutches. This would be a non-weight bearing lifestyle.  Two tiny crutches and one good leg. No walking on the hurt left leg. No standing on the hurt leg. No running, no biking, no skating, no hopping, no jumping.   You get the picture. From Kindergarten through half of second grade, I was the “the kid with crutches.”

Now I share this not to garner sympathy – I share this as a statement of fact.  It was my reality.

With two parents and four grandparents, I hit the jackpot of love and attention. While I was by no means spoiled, I was surrounded by six adults who showed me the glory of living.

It apparently worked because looking back on my childhood, the memories are wonderful and sweet.

Yes, there were times when I tripped and fell during my 3-legged days. Sort of like a cartoon character who had forward momentum which ended in an ungraceful and pain-inducing face plant. Yeah, that was fun.

I’m also not making light of the pain and disruption my bone disease had on my life. This diagnosis was tough on me and my entire family. The disease was like perpetual broke bone until it eventually healed.

However, during this time, I was learning the importance of “‘life values.”

Themes such as gratitude and humility. Words like appreciation, value, and optimism.

Lessons of being a good citizen of the world and looking out for one another. Insights into loving our neighbor and respecting our friends. Seeing the value in patience and having a firm belief that I could find my own way in the world.

While I was a five, then six, then seven years old, these life lessons kept me busy and full of optimism. The value of life was totally clear to me. My life’s value and the valuable lives of others shone bright.

So fast forward to third grade:

In my mind, when I think of myself as that 8-year old child on the school playground – no crutches, two good legs and lots of running and laughter. Well, it is my honest appraisal that my 8-year old self had tremendous gratitude in my heart. It may be that no one around me knew it. But trust me, it was not lost on me.

Being able-bodied was not lost on me. Not lost on me one bit. I am certain this is the primary reason I do not take any of my good fortune for granted. I’ve never taken friendships for granted, nor family. I cherish them in the moment.

When we value who we are, this gives us gratitude. And that gratitude enables us to conquer and overcome setbacks.

Creating my new podcast has been enlightening in a way.  I’m discovering bits and pieces of my soul that were tucked away.  My ritual from softball Friday nights has never been shared with anyone – until now. It was between me and the Universe.

And you can be sure that was not the last time we had that little talk.

When true gratitude lives in your heart, it cannot be silenced.