In the swing of things

I am thrilled to be a guest columnist for Joyency.

In this climate of quick to judge with polarizing opinions on social media that are meant to fracture positive attitudes, the yearning for more joy in the world has never been at such a premium.

At a business gathering recently, a friend of mine mentioned she had a “vision board” with career goals.  I was so impressed and intrigued by the concept, I am going to try my best to send forth more positive vibes into the online space and Joyency is a perfect partner for this goal. 

One of my hobbies is to closely follow sports.  My teams are Nebraska football, Creighton Basketball, Pirates baseball and Steelers football.  I am somewhat embarrasses to say how much time and energy I commit to watch games, listen to podcasts on the teams and read stories in the newspaper.  Yes, I love newspapers.  Not the digital kind.  The actual paper that puts newsprint on your hand while sipping coffee on my veranda.  Oh wait, that’s the yuppie couple I’m watching on HGTV.  I go out on my front porch in my boxers and my neighbors desperately avert their eyes from this scene.  You never see that on HGTV.

Growing up, my loving parents would try to find a sport I could play competitively and not get my heart broken by being cut from the team.  So, baseball, basketball, track and golf were all not options.  I did make the make the boys’ volleyball team in high school.  Probably because there were no cuts in that sport.  This is like a “Welcome to Holland” tale for the sports dreams of my parents.  They really wanted baseball, they ended up watching me play in an empty gym wearing shorts that were way too tight.  The shorts did NOT help my vertical leap.

One of the sports flirtations I had was with tennis.  In second grade, my mother signed me up for tennis lessons at the city park.  I was more interested in hitting the ball outside the caged court that acing a wicked serve.  But, the sport is perfectly aligned with that HGTV yuppie couple sipping Kona coffee on the veranda in Hawaii and I have matured to the point where I can appreciate the beauty of a long volley back and forth.  So, I extended my sports fandom and settled down to watch the women’s Wimbledon Final of Serena Williams and Simona Halep.

Halep’s play was mesmerizing.  She looked ready from the start and played some of the best tennis I’ve seen.  She flew around the court with style and effort besting Serena in just 56 minutes.  She played every point without conceding a shot to Williams.  I couldn’t help but compare it caring for a near adult son who is very involved with his autism.  (Yup.  I stole that line from Josh.)  I am heavily involved with my thievery of Josh lingo.

It was during the broadcast, the announcers mentioned this was Halep’s “chill year”.  She still plans on competing hard on the court, but she “wanted to relax as a person, not as a player”.  This statement really resonated with me…like a racquet to the head.

Doing the very best you can to provide the best life possible for a loved one with special needs is not for the weak spirit.  It’s very much like chasing a tennis ball that you are not sure you have what it takes to backhand that baby over the net.  You chase anyway.  It’s what you do.  You do your very best.  There’s no relaxation in that pursuit.  Can’t be.

However, it’s also important to identify the beauty in life and the struggle.  A little more chill would benefit me.  Give myself a break a little.  Look around and cherish.

There are plenty of great moments that happen EVERY SINGE DAY.  If you are so focused on the fight, you miss the blessings.  There are days when I watched my son and he is truly happy.  Many days, he is happier that the average 16 year old who has more cognitive abilities and spoken words.

In many ways, I am trying to find that best life for him like my parents tried to match me to a sport.  Yup.  I was pretty sure I was going to be the starting shortstop for the Pirates.  When that baseball dream ended, it was heart-breaking….much like when my oldest son was diagnosed with autism.  However, I ended up playing a sport I loved in an empty gym while the cool kids in high school looked down from their verandas sipping the “cool kid Kool-Aid”.  I found a happy path on the volleyball court diving for every powerful spike from an outside hitter.

Turns out, you can see a lot of beauty from the front porch, you don’t need a veranda or accolades from the cool kids.  Right now, I am watching Trey giggle and smile ear to ear.   Joy is a pretty good aspiration if you take the time to notice and embrace.

Starting today, I am taking a “cherish” year. 

~ Tony Michalski

Tony “Michaels” Michalski is an on-air personality for KSUX radio in Sioux City.  He also serves as an adjunct professor at Morningside College.  He’s married to his lovely wife Shana and has two sons, Trey (16) and Beau (13).   You can contact him at KSUXTonyM on Twitter.  He’s also amazing at sand volleyball.  You can often find him on his porch.

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