Reflection, Baseball, and Goals

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Ahhhh mid-February. Snow and snow days, love and chocolate, baseball signups and Major League Spring Training! I absolutely love this time of year. Being an English teacher, I am as glued to the weather report as any kid in school hoping to get a small breather from the classroom. As a married man, Valentine’s Day is a chance to rekindle the flame that the long, cold holidays may have blown out. And as a long-time baseball player and fan, it’s time for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training.
This is when I get happy.
Although the ground may be covered in a white blanket of snow, I can smell the fresh cut grass of a well-kept ball field, and feel the warm breeze carrying the dirt that’s been kicked up by a Pete Rose-like head first dive into third base. I can hardly contain the urge to go out and buy a pouch of chewing tobacco. A habit I have only from now through May. And to keep the feeling alive through the bad weather, I have Bull Durham streaming constantly throughout the month. Yes, being a catcher myself, I do wish I could’ve been Crash Davis. He might actually be on my list of all-time greats that I’ve ever watched play the position. I know what you’re thinking: “He never played in the pros?” Well, my answer to you is yes he did. He clearly states that “it was the greatest 21 days of his life.”

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I’m just playing. He obviously is a character in a movie and not the player Johnny Bench was, or Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Roy Campanella. That is not a list of my top five…well at least not in that order…sort of.
For some reason in my excitement of the new season coming, I find myself reflecting. This year more than any other, I feel the need to look closely at who I am, what I have done over the last year and what can I do to better myself as a father, husband, teacher, and overall person. Just like all the teams in the game have a chance to start over every year, I feel I should be able to reset the win/loss column too.
I recently read an excerpt from a book, “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind,” about learning through reflection. Although this is a book on education, it can easily be used in life. It states that, “reflecting on experiences encourages insight and complex learning.” Through reflecting we can apply what we learned from prior experiences to things we have yet to do and possibly avoid making the same mistakes over again. We must “mentally wander through where we have been and to try to make some sense out of it.” Find positives that happened in the past year and build on their enjoyment. Don’t focus on the negatives unless you can learn from them and better yourself. Set goals that can be accomplished quickly and build on those accomplishments to help succeed in longer term goals.
Through my reflecting, I created a list of goals this year for the first time. It’s not because I have nothing to do on my snow days. Believe me, as a teacher I have more than enough. It’s because I know that, though it’s gloomy outside, spring is right around the corner. And not because the yankee groundhog said it was, but because baseball is close. Youth baseball signups are going on all over right now. In another couple weeks they will be practicing and the pros will be playing games, and hot dogs and cracker jacks will be wanted like never before. All the teams will be equal until the first pitch is thrown. Just like through reflecting my record is 0-0, and I am setting my line up and putting my best pitcher on the mound. Who knows, maybe by the all-star break I will have knocked out some non-believers and accomplished some of those goals.

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