The Recovering Farmer

Friday, April 15, 2016

Recovering From Failure

As an avid golfer I tend to draw life lessons from golf, as some of you will have noticed over the years. In fact, some may argue, my life revolves around golf. Perhaps that is why my winters tend to be long, drawn out affairs because of the lack of golf. The Masters seems to be the start to my season of hope and recovery. It is the first “major” of the year. It heralds the beginning of my golf season. And as such my course has opened for the year, although it is still brown and dusty. I have not been out but have been to the driving range to see whether I actually have any muscle memory left.

For the record I did not watch all of the Masters. I do record it and then can watch the bits and pieces at my own pace. However I did switch on the TV on Sunday just to see where play was at. Earlier it had appeared that it would be another run away win by Jordan Spieth and as much as I like the guy I prefer to watch tournaments that are close and make for some excitement. I switched on just in time to watch Spieth have a meltdown. At the start of the back nine he was up by four strokes. The he bogeyed the tenth hole and the eleventh hole. Disaster struck on the par 3 twelfth. He had a quadruple bogey. In a tournament that he had led for seven consecutive rounds, going back to the start of last year’s Masters, he was suddenly four strokes behind. As much as he tried he could not regain the lead and ended up tied for second.

In the post-game festivities, where he had to stick around to put the green jacket on the winner, he looked shell shocked. His voice cracked in an interview viewed by millions around the world, viewers that were shocked by the turn of events. As someone suggested to me he was probably still angry when he deposited his cheque for $880,000, prize money for second place. My thought being that all my problems would go away if I could only get that kind of cash for four days of golf on a pristine golf course. Oh well, I can dream.

For Spieth it is not about the money. Monday morning I listened to a talk show that was focusing on the recovery from failure that Spieth would need to go through. All of us have failures in life. The list could be, and probably is, endless. Financial failures. Relational failures. Personal failures. Employment failures. Family failures. Health failures. And more. These can be quite significant. Other times it is relatively minor failures that seem to destroy our very being. We set goals, sometimes unrealistic, that we find difficult to meet. Some of us have a tendency to become consumed by failure. And when that happens we lose out on the opportunities of the future. We are so intent of looking in the rear view mirror that we run into obstacles that crop up in front of us.

So it needs to be a learning process, to educate and get better. We must be willing to dust ourselves off, stand up, and try again. Use the understanding and knowledge of the failure to build a foundation from which you can grow and flourish and maintain perspective. The key is not to be spooked by failure but rather to have a willingness to fail again, because if we don’t take risks, if we don’t step outside of our comfort zone, we will not become better. And, most important of all, forgive ourselves for the failure. Without forgiveness we will continue to beat ourselves up which inevitably will lead to more failures. Make it a good one.

“Forget past mistakes and forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now and do it.” William J. Durant

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Heebe Geebees

I used the term heebe geebees in my last posting. I had no idea whether this was actually part of the English language till I googled it. The Urban Dictionary (don’t know if it is legitimate) defines it as “something that gives a person a sense of dread and fear, also means it freaks the f@&k out of a person”. It perfectly describes what I was trying to portray.

The Masters is on this week. A golf tournament that many people enjoy watching, myself included, for various reasons. First off the golf course, located in Augusta, Georgia, is one of, if not the premier golf courses ever. From the drive down magnolia lane to the blooming azaleas to the lush green fairways and the undulating greens. The best of the best gather here on an annual basis to try to beat the odds. To win a coveted green jacket and the prestige that accompanies the win. And as golf goes it will show you incredible shots, mediocre attempts, and complete melt downs.

I found it rather ironic that just as I had done whining about my putting woes, particularly as it concerns the elimination of anchored putters, I witnessed a spectacle not often, if ever, seen. Ernie Els, a 46 year old, four time major champion, six putted a green. Not just any green but the first hole. Those six putts came from within five feet of the hole. Talk about the heebe geebees. If not then certainly those putts will linger in his thought patterns for numerous putts to come. I suspect as much as he would have liked to pack it in at that point he carried on. In a post-game interview he suggested that something like that mental lapse could well drive someone to quit the game. But he showed resilience and finished the round.

I can well imagine the shame and embarrassment he felt, playing in front of all the fans that attend the Masters and the millions that watch the tournament on TV. Never mind the fact that his debacle on that first green will be part of the highlight reel for days to come. I can well imagine his inner critic having a heyday with this. Mocking him. Swearing at him. Telling him what an idiot he is. It will take immense effort on his part to quiet the demons, to regain some sense of sanity after those short minutes of insanity.

All of us have those lapses where everything considered to be normal becomes anything but. All of us have inner critics. And all of us, some more than others, beat ourselves up when we screw up and even when we don’t. Often times we are our own worst judge. Always second guessing, wondering what went wrong. I have alluded to moments where I have a memory from the past that makes me literally swear at myself. Happened just this week when I remembered something from 1978. Go figure.

How can we quiet that inner critic, that judgemental self that seems to be perched on our shoulder? Perhaps we need to take a step back and reassess. Re-configure this “judge” that seems to make us think less of ourselves. Me thinks if I had an opportunity to talk to Ernie Els today I would not be telling him the same things he is telling himself. I imagine the conversation would include snippets of the numerous wins he has had on tour. It would include a piece on self-compassion. It would include a challenge to get up, dust himself off, and be proud of all he has accomplished and will accomplish in the days, weeks, and years to come. Is that not the way we should treat ourselves? I think so. Make it a good one.

“If you talked to others the way you talk to yourself, would you have any friends?”
Rick Warren

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Cruel Joke

Perhaps that is overstating it. This weather we are having is not conducive to anything except complaining about. Friday, it being April Fool’s Day, prompted one weather “expert” to suggest that the weather we were having was the “big guy’s” way of playing a joke on us. If that is the case I would suggest that the joke is over. Not funny anymore.

A mere week ago we had balmy temperatures. The guys at the golf course were getting ready to open up. I had visions of swinging the clubs. Looking forward to a brand new year. Visions of parring the course. Even the flags were put in. It looked promising. Now all I can do is look out the window and ruminate about what might have been.

And I was reminded of an old wives tale. I was once told that the weather we have on Good Friday will be the weather we have for the next forty days. I suppose that is happening now. Cold, miserable weather. Not sure I want to believe that. But looking out the window it does not look like Spring. In fact it looks and feels like November.

I did take my golf clubs out of storage last week. After all, as mentioned, the weather looked promising. As I longingly looked at my clubs I realized I had another cruel joke to deal with. I never have won a golf game with my putting abilities. However a few years ago I did invest in a belly putter. One that I can anchor in my belly. My putting did improve. You see, I have what some call the Friesen shakes. Meaning my hands are not steady and you can well imagine what that does to my putting. Anchoring the putter helped. Now they have been outlawed. After all these years. That is simply cruel. So with tears in my eyes I took a hack saw to the putter. Now I have to deal with the hee bee jeebies again. May be a long year.

The weather is also creating another problem. When I went through my mid-life crisis a number of years ago resources did not allow for me to deal with it properly. You hear of guys buying motorcycles, or muscle cars, or any other expensive toys. I bought a guitar. Did not seem to help much. Perhaps that is why I have issues in my life. I need to blame it on something. Best leave that one for another day.

What happened is that my wife and I had talked about buying a convertible for some time now. One of the items on our bucket list. Something we both agreed on. So we had started looking online for what might work. A few weeks ago we started another painting project in our house. That meant we needed to make a trip to Home Depot for painting supplies. Long story short we went for paint and came home with a convertible. Best shopping trip I have ever made. However, because of the weather, it has sat in our garage since we bought it. That is not working out either.

So what’s left? In just over two months the days start getting shorter. I can’t golf. I can’t go cruising in my convertible. I can’t do yard work. You would hardly think that April would be the time to take a winter vacation. Perhaps I should reconsider. Wait a minute. Spent my money on a car. Based on the forecast there are weather warnings out for Southwestern Manitoba. Another snowfall enroute. We are supposed to get a few inches as well. It seems hopeless. I guess I might as well paint. It could be worse. Make it a good one.

“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”
Theodore I. Rubin