Bowling News USA - October 1, 2014 The Foul Line: Jason Belmonte
THERE’S ALWAYS A SILVER LINING, IF YOU LOOK FOR IT.
Everyone has a mum or motherly figure in their lives. Someone who will go without to make sure you don’t. Someone to Band-Aid you – either physically or emotionally – support or love you, no matter your end destination or which way you take to get there.
When my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, the fear of losing her brought about a cascade of thoughts. I tried to approach it positively, “She’ll beat it. We got it early, so she will be fine”. But human nature crept in, and along with that came the possibility that she may not survive and that I could lose one of the most significant people in my life. As fear typically does, it made me stop, reflect upon and appreciate the impact she’s has on my life.
My mum’s legacy comes through in the life lessons I teach my children, the ones she taught me as a child. Here are a few of her countless – and universal – truths.
1) BE YOURSELF.
When I was first getting started, I got a lot of grief and criticism for my style. I was 6 at the time…and impressionable. The pressure from every direction, and particularly from a few older kids in my league, to switch to a more ‘normal’ delivery. And when I took their advice, the end result was not nearly as successful as my natural style.
Their encouragements to stick with it and not give up felt like sincere support, and so my 6-year-old mind had trouble distinguishing the best course of action. I loved the older boys support and I wanted so badly to be in their circle of friends – they were 5 and 6 years older than me. I thought that if I bowled like them, they would like me more, but ultimately, it left me feeling like my left shoe was on my right foot.
When I asked my mum if I bowled wrong or if I should change she reminded me - “You bowl how you want to bowl. Not how others want you to bowl.” I didn’t understand it then, but her message has become central to who I am today. I am who I am, and in order to be my most successful self, I need to allow myself to be that person. Trying to be something I’m not makes me feel uncomfortable and ultimately leads to unhappiness.
2) SMALL THINGS CAN HAVE A BIG IMPACT.
Both sets of grandparents of mine are immigrants from Italy. While they’ve learned and embraced the Australian way of life, there has always been a strong Italian influence, frequently represented by a love of food and most importantly family.
Family love is unconditional, and it goes both ways. My parents always leaned on the support of aunties and uncles, cousins and grandparents when my sister and I were growing up. That kiss, like our family currency, was far more than a courtesy or a greeting. It was thanks, respect and an important display of love.
3) THERE’S ALWAYS A SILVER LINING, IF YOU LOOK FOR IT.
While there is some glamour in being a professional athlete, I’ve faced challenges along the way. I spend months away from home (and my family). While I’ve enjoyed a great deal of success, I’ve had far more loses, some of which were emotionally drowning. Through each of those, my mum always asked me to take a positive out of a bad experience.
This attribute was front and center when she revealed her cancer diagnosis. My sister’s immediate reaction was to break out in tears. I remember feeling confusion and shock. Mum hugged us both. She then explained that the doctors found it early and her treatment would start immediately in Sydney, 4 hours away from home.
During her treatments, and the associated travel, Sydney must have been so hard for her and for dad. I know I personally HATE that drive when I fly internationally for a tournament. So I asked her if she hated it too. Her reply, “It’s annoying to have to go so far, but it gives me more chances to visit with family and friends in Sydney.” The purpose of her travels was cancer treatment, and yet she still found a ray of sunshine during a time that most would characterize as dark. I will always look for a silver lining because my mum does.
Mum is an inspiration to me, and hopefully her insights will inspire you as well. She doesn’t let others define her reality. Instead, she writes her own story and creates love and happiness along the way.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.
For Breast Cancer Facts visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, nationalbreastcancer.org
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