Monday, July 18, 2011

Bold Adventuress

Affirmation:  I am a Bold Adventuress.

“Do something every day that takes you outside of your comfort zone.”  I’ve heard this many times and I make an effort to abide by the advice.  One day I went to play golf with the “big girls.”  These are the ladies who play golf often and for the most part, quite well.  I was way outside of my comfort zone.

“It’s just a game”, I’ve been told.  I have never considered myself a golfer but I have played golf for over forty years, ever since I married my husband, Sandy.  Sandy is a golfer.  He’s amazing to watch.  Even at an age when most men can’t hit the ball as far as they’d like, he belts it way down the fairway.  Truly, his game is superb and it's such fun to watch him play.

I use to resent his dedication to this past time.  I know I’ve mentioned this before.  When I had three young children, the time away from the family required by golf and desired by my husband was onerous for me.  But, now with the children grown and on their own, I can see the sport in a different light.  Actually, over the last few summers, I might even occasionally refer to myself as a “golfer.” 

Golf, yoga, and tennis are the three main physical activities in which I’ve participated.  I think there’s so much to learn about myself and sometimes others from watching the behavior that is exhibited during the event, the match, the practice.  Concentration, perseverance, balance, forgiveness, humor, humility and graciousness are required of the civil player and many times, more than one aspect at a time is required.
When I went to play golf with the better players, I actually requested a “kind and gentle group.”  Since my handicap of 45 can easily be viewed by real golfers as representative of someone who is a duffer, very inexperienced, I was quite concerned with whom I was partnered.  I was put with another woman who was kind and gracious, a very pleasant, encouraging woman.  She and I, along with two others made up the foursome. 
When I participated in an Outward Bound in 2002, we had an exercise where we needed to figure out a way to get ten people through a complicated ropes course.  I stood back and watched.  Almost everyone had a plan, even those who had never done this before.  I decided to let the “experts” figure it out and then join in.  I realized through this exercise that I didn’t always need to be a chief.  I could also be an Indian.  It was very liberating.  I didn’t need to or want to be in charge.  I can be in charge if necessary but it wasn’t necessary and there was freedom in that.  This knowledge has served me well over the years. 
As soon as the women began playing golf on the day of my golf adventure, it was obvious who the chief was.  She was a good chief.  She knew the rules, she led by example, she knew the etiquette and she generously helped those of us who needed extra guidance.  It helped the day go smoothly and it was pleasant.
Yes, I thought, playing golf is like a microcosm of life.  Isn’t it true, every time you enter into a group situation, there’s someone who steps up to be in charge?  Of course, sometimes more than one person wants to lead but even then, someone comes out being the chief; the others must follow, support or get out of the way. 
The psychology of 18 holes of golf is again a microcosm of our lives.  How do we interact with others?  Are we kind, considerate, deferential, polite, encouraging?  And, how do we treat ourselves?  Do we berate ourselves when we hit a bad shot?  Are we annoyed when someone else does better?  Can we focus regardless of what else is going on?  What are we thinking about; is it lunch or dinner, or are we present to the experience?  Do we notice not only the condition of the course but the topography, the fresh air and the beautiful vistas?
Whatever we are doing on the golf course, we are repeating in our daily lives.  Our behavior both towards others, ourselves and the experience reflects our behavior and attitude about our lives.
Yes, it’s the same in many sports.  Golf is different because there is so much time between each shot.  It’s slower; it takes longer than many sports.  If you watch carefully, you’ll see all your faults surface but keep watching, be aware, and you’ll be able to notice your strengths too.  Perhaps, it will be as simple as being able to share time with your loved ones, your buddies, a kind partner and when asked how you played, even if the game didn’t go as you had hoped, even though you didn’t feel you played your best game, you answer, “Wow!  I had a great time!” 
Yes, just like life.  When my life is almost over, if it hasn’t’ gone the way I’d hoped, if I haven’t played my “best” game, I hope I find myself saying, “Wow!  I had a great time!” 
And, just in case you’re curious, I played ok on that outing with the “big girls.”  I would even say, on that day, I looked like a “golfer.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Creating Community

Affirmation:  I am an integral part of a community of likeminded individuals. 
Because I am open and accepting, I am invited by friends and family to share in fun experiences. 
I find that several of my affirmations revolve around my relationships with family and friends.  I like people but I like some people more when I see them less.  Do you ever feel that way?  When I take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I fall half way between the introvert and the extrovert; meaning that I gain energy both from being alone and from being with people.  So, I need to balance that.  I need quiet time and I need time with others.  Of course, all the research shows that health depends a great deal on having an extended support system.  There has been research showing that how well we cope in our older age, depends on our social system.  Being a breast cancer survivor, I’ve read and experienced, how effective support groups are in one’s recovery process. 
There are times when I can feel isolated.  I’m not sure why because between my hubby, children, grandchildren, mother and several close friends, all who live nearby, you’d think I’d be overwhelmed with personal interaction.  But, if I get caught up in comparing myself to others I know, those people who are very popular, you know the ones.  They are the people who are always being asked to every party, every gathering, every fun trip, and every social event.  When I find myself looking at their lives and then examining mine, I wonder if I’ve missed the boat somewhere.  It’s funny because I always tell people and myself to avoid comparisons. I know we compare our worst to everyone else’s best.  We compare our inside to the other’s outside and no one ever wins from such a thought process.  I know this.  But, periodically I still get caught.  This topic is one of those times.  I have several friends who I must admit are amazing at creating personal relationships.  They are the ones who are always heading off to visit or travel with other friends.  I often leave their presence wondering what I’m doing wrong or simply wondering if I really am that different from them. 
So, I decided to remind myself that, I am an integral part of a community of likeminded individuals.  I also decided to affirm that: Because I am open and accepting, I am invited by friends and family to share in fun experiences. 
I truly am a part of a community of likeminded individuals.  They may not all be right around the corner, or even in my town but I know they are out there.  They are all the people who sent me notes and cards and mementos when I was going through cancer treatments.  They are the people I don’t hesitate to contact when I want to be remembered in prayer or need a loved one remembered in prayer.  They are the people who love talk to with me about how to improve the quality of their lives, the people who love to discuss concepts and ideas.  They are the people I know who are always excited about learning, the generous people who donate every year to the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat so that women, who can’t afford to attend, get to come for free.  If I focus on all the wonderful people in my community I stop thinking about what I don’t have and instead focus on what I do.  As to the affirmation about being open and accepting, well, that one means, I always say yes.  Yes, I’ll join you.  Yes, I’m ready to go.  Yes, I want to spend time with you.  Isn’t that the secret to strong relationships, sharing experiences and spending time together?