Dawn Klemann

Dawn Klemann

My high school yearbook proves it. I used to be a softball pitcher.

The way I remember it, I was pretty good too. was able to throw fast, powerful strikes … most of the time. But gifts are made to be given and shared. So, as my kids have grown and developed, throwing the ball around has been part of what we do.

I can recall one weekend when the family and I headed out to the park. We gathered up our gear—bats, gloves, and ball. Naturally, I was the pitcher. We were ready to go. I was on the mound (that’s pitcher talk), two were in the field, and one was up to bat. The tension was high. Play ball!

I delivered the pitch.

OK, so yes, it was over the plate. Actually, it was over the backstop. And into the creek. Game over. Just like that. So, we packed up our gear—bats, gloves, but no ball. It was gone. I don’t know how it happened.

At the time, my son was 5 or 6 years old. He was the one to break it to me. He just put it out there. He suggested that maybe I’m not good at pitching anymore. Or as he saw it, another possibility might be that I was secretly right-handed instead of the lefty I had known myself to be.

I don’t know but I can tell you one thing, this getting older is more than a notion. So many things that used to come easy are no longer as manageable. But my son’s old advice comes to mind now, as I see myself and my loved ones struggling with new limitations and challenges.

A kid’s mind is so open. They are not limited by their past or by their fears. They only see the possibility. That is what imagination is all about. That was what was lost for me in that moment as I stood on the mound trying to convince them of how good I used to be. If I had only had another ball, I would have shown them. But to my son’s mind, it didn’t matter what was. It was about what comes next.

My son’s suggestion was an invitation to see my situation differently. Instead of my focus on what I could no longer do, he helped me to imagine a new way to play the game. Acknowledging that a change had occurred was hard. Grieving that loss was necessary for me to consider another way of being and doing.

In some cultures, aging is considered a rebirth rather than a time of fading and withering. As positive psychology suggests, aging is a time to redefine ourselves and to find our purpose even and especially in the midst of so many losses and changes.

To imagine myself as a righty instead of a lefty was hard. I like being a lefty. It’s a part of me and is something that I like about myself. But since then, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be a righty all the time. It is now an option when being a lefty is no longer working for me.

Learning to pitch right-handed has continued to be a process. Instead of giving up my game, it has required me to play more and try harder. There is new meaning and purpose in that.

These new “righty times” have been all about what’s possible. A chance for me to admit what I can’t do and allow help from others so I can discover what I can.

Let’s play ball! Game on!

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Dawn Klemann, a doctor of psychology, owns PsyD Clinical Solutions in Culpeper. A licensed clinical psychologist and a coaching psychologist, she can be reached at dawn@psydsolutions.com.

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