Field Hockey Days

Back at Hereford High School in Maryland, back in the day, I played softball and field hockey. I played other sports with friends, but these were my two “letter” sports.

Though softball was the sport I played best from a young age, in field hockey I recall the incredible, heart pounding, pulmonary exploding sprints. I played both defense and offence but mainly defense. I was pretty good, and I was aggressive without being mean…yet with a last name of Greene, I was nicknamed the Mean Greene Machine by my coach; Mean Greene for short.

In one game, I was hit hard in the forehead by an opponent’s stick and, starstruck for a second, I waved everyone off to return to play. That is, until I saw the horrified looks of the players watching the blood suddenly pour profusely into my eyes and down my face. I had to be pulled and bandaged. I was out for the game.

Most games went smoothly. We had a good record. The memories coming back to me most in these days of my cancer journey are the ones where I was sprinting up and down the field, to the point I knew I’d drop. I couldn’t keep going, I thought many times to myself. And then — the ball rushed right up to me in a pass, or alongside me by chance, and I felt the afterburners kick on, connecting with the ball, dribbling or flicking or driving it, following it until it was in play elsewhere. Where the energy, the oxygen came from, I do not know. But it was an incredible feeling.

I’m not feeling incredible at all these days, but when called on to do just one more thing, when my body is crying in pain, when nauseated, when chemo-brained…if it is truly important, I follow it like those hockey balls of old. It simply must be done.

Perhaps I should ignore some balls. I feel I am passing so many to my husband and kids. Sometimes the ball has only my name on it and there is no choice. I think God gives me strength in these instances and I rest later.

In fact, we had a nice weekend at a lake and I’ll close with a photo. Restoration is important for each and every one of us. It looks different to each person, but we must find the code to what works best for us. Prayer helps. I had much down time for prayer and relaxation and I was indeed restored to fight the third round of chemo this week.

Power in Choice

Humanity has weathered difficult and tragic times throughout history. During each period of unrest the word unprecedented could have been used. What can we learn about endurance from those past events?

My husband has used the phrase “This, too, shall pass.” He does not mean to discount the suffering involved (it is usually in response to a lament of mine); rather, he implies that there is hope ahead. These times will pass. What many are afraid of is how the future will be affected.

I know good people who are so caught up in one theory or another that hints of conspiracy–or is rife with it. There are many theories out there, but do they actually offer help, or do they simply present a narrative by which to interpret or make sense of what is going on? Preppers are prepping and reclusives are reclusing. Social media is blowing up with nastiness. There seems more an epidemic of fear than a pandemic of virus. And where does it get us?

I do believe in educating oneself and in ferreting out truth. It must be taken into account that facts will change according to research, time, and increased data, and thus a flexible outlook is wise. I explain to my children that each person on a proverbial bus may have a different map or smart device to determine which way to go, but this may or may not influence the bus driver. There are more civil ways to convince him of a better route than belittling him, yelling, running up to the front of the bus and grabbing the wheel. The latter causes more potential damage and a possibly crashed bus, than a wrong turn might.

How do we deal with the fear?

In college we learned about Erickson’s psychosocial stages of development . There are stages in life through which we progress and a key developmental task ideally attained in each. That task is named with its alternative as “x versus y.” In infancy the task is “trust vs mistrust,” and in adolescence the task is “identity vs role confusion.” I look at what we are experiencing in the world through the eyes of an adult, and the current task I face is “generativity vs stagnation.” When I am elderly, the task will become “integrity vs despair.” Of course this is all psychological theory, meant to be a framework for describing and understanding behavior; but I believe it can point the way for healthy behavior in this time of social distancing and changing policies.

In order to work through this time of isolation and avoid fear, it may be healthy to back off of social media that only serves to upset oneself. Certain sites or upsetting people can be “snoozed” or blocked. News can be learned from alternative sources. The flow of information can become more reasonable. Instead, phone calls, emails or even snail-mail letters can be written in order to stay connected.

Generativity means that we create, generate, or accomplish something. Many who are unable to work or do what normally occupies their time must reflect on what they can apply themselves to here and now. One friend of mine has painted her house, another refinished furniture, and other has embroidered artwork for her relations. An elderly friend has enjoyed going through boxes of old letters and has, little by little, organized her garage. Still other friends who own cows or horses have continued feeding, caring for and exercising their animals. Some have found ways to donate time and money to charitable organizations. I have planted so many flowers in our garden that my husband who lovingly waters them has asked me to stop. Though actors have been unable to act and produce plays and movies, I will wager that authors and screenwriters are prolific with all of this time. Each of us has desires and talents and so these activities will look different from one to another.

Reflection, writing, journaling, meditating, painting, praying…these keep us positively generating and maintaining integrity. Ruminating, complaining, lashing out…these do the opposite and stagnate us, causing despair.

These times will indeed pass. We will either be fortified or we will be weakened. In this we have the power of choice.