I’m a huge golf fan.  I’ve been watching–and to some degree playing–golf since I was a kid.  My older brother is a lefty and plays religiously.  He used to love to watch the pro tournaments including the major championships on TV so I pretty much grew up with the sport (as well as football, basketball, hockey, and baseball).  Keeping with our theme of strength with grace and realizing the power of thoughts, let’s look at the Masters which is being played currently at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

Augusta National is the meca of golf.  I consider myself privileged to have been on this hallowed ground 3 times in my life.  Right now at the Masters one of the big story lines is Tiger Woods–as he has been THE STORY in the golf world for many years but the last 2-3 in particular.  Many of you know the scandal surrounding Tiger but most of you may not follow what has happened since his big sex scandal broke around 2-1/2 years ago.

Tiger has won an amazing 14 major golf championships in his professional career (the four majors are played each year beginning with the Masters in early April, then the US Open in June, the British Open in July, and the PGA Championship in August).  Tiger was on par (forgive the pun) to break Jack Nicklaus’ best ever achievement of 18 major wins in record time.  But, since his adulterous affairs began to surface over 2 years ago, Tiger hasn’t won a major even though he had been winning at least 1-2 a year for the last 10 years.  The last major he won was in 2008–the US Open at Torrey Pines in June.

Listening to broadcaster Nick Faldo today (a current commentator and former pro golfer who has won a number of majors), he commented that Tiger’s problem is “in his head.”  Nick said something like, “he was cruising along and then ‘life happened’ and Tiger’s ability to overcome the changes to his life has been difficult.  His confidence has left him.”  Even the great ones are impacted by life, by their choices, and by what life does to their confidence and their thoughts.

It’s our thoughts that lead to our feelings that lead to our behaviors.  I keep saying it because it impacts us every minute of every day.  We dwell on the past; we worry about the future; we have difficulty staying in the present.  We have difficulty forgiving ourselves and other people and it impacts the way we live every day.  Challenge yourself to reframe your thoughts.  The past is behind you–you cannot change it.  Learn from it and then let it go.

Easter (or Spring if you are not Christian) is a time of rebirth and renewal.  Our bad shots (Fore!) of the past are gone.  Shake them off, learn from them, and start fresh.  Give your best to the present.  We can do this!

Alanis Morissette recorded this poignant song.  Here’s a youtube version in case you don’t recognize it:  Alanis Morissette recording of You Learn

Oh, oh, oh

I, recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone, yeah
I, recommend walking around naked in your living room, yeah

Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles

[Chorus] You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

I, recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I, recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free

Throw it down (the caution blocks you from the wind)
Hold it up (to the rays)
You wait and see when the smoke clears

[Chorus] You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

I, I, oh, oh

Wear it out (the way a three-year-old would do)
Melt it down (you’re gonna have to eventually, anyway)
The fire trucks are coming up around the bend

[Chorus] You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

You grieve you learn, you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You live you learn

You learn, you grow, you get stronger.  I am moved by the following passage from the book, God Calling by A.J. Russell:

My servant Peter was not changed in a flash from a simple fisherman to a great leader and teacher, but through the very time of faithlessness–through the very time of denial–I was yet making him all that he should be.  Impetuous spokesman as he always was, ready to lead the other disciples, Peter could never have been the after power he was, had he not learned his weakness.  No man can save, unless he understands the sinner.

Wow!  You mean we can actually make mistakes, screw up, do dumb stuff and be a good person???  Amazing, isn’t it.  A failure is only a failure if we don’t learn from it.  And learning from it makes us stronger.

I get reinforcements for lessons out of the darndest places.  I was watching the animated movie, The Lion King the other day as I was busy packing boxes for yet another household move.  I’ve seen that movie at least a half dozen times.  I always cry at the same places and sing along with the same songs.  But, this time I particularly noticed the scene where Simba is confronted by the Monkey (Rafiki–the one who dedicates the little lion cubs when they’re born).  Rafiki clubs Simba over the head with his staff.  Simba, smarting from the hit says something like, “Hey, that hurt!” and Rafiki swings his staff again and Simba ducks out of the way.  Rafiki astutely says, “Yes, but you learned from it.”  And off Simba went to rule the pride.  Gotta love Walt Disney films don’t ya?  AND YES, I found the scene on youtube!  You gotta love youtube, too!  What a great age we live in.  Here’s the scene:  Simba Learns From the Past

What a great quote! We had our annual college reunion this year where 5 girlfriends make the annual pilgrimage to our university for a day of talking, laughter, tears and of course, eating. One of my friends told us an acquaintance of hers made this statement not long ago while reconciling herself to various hardships.

I say again–what a great quote. If we live any number of years on this earth we discover that life is not easy. But life–if we allow ourselves the proper perspective is rich–rich with experiences and opportunities to grow and to make a difference. Every day is a new chance to experience all that life offers–the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve decided that laughing AND crying and the stuff that causes both are really good. How else do you become strong? You need to experience something fully to feel the confidence and peace that you can do it. And the attitude you take into and out of both the good and the bad stuff is what creates wisdom and “grace.” More on what creates strength with grace and what detracts from it to come…

“I’ve decided to make friends with life.”

What provides us strength with grace and what takes it away?  We’ve started to explore one theme that takes away strength with grace and that’s “worrying.”  Another theme I would like to explore soon is inferiority that can manifest itself in insecurity, pride and anger.  Some things that bolster us and give us strength with grace are: gratitude, forgiveness and faith.

Here’s another thought provoking quote from the book, “God Calling” by A.J. Russell

…When climbing a steep hill, a man is more often conscious of the weakness of his stumbling feet than of the view, the grandeur, or even of his upward progress.  Persevere, persevere.  Love and laugh.  Rejoice.

I found this message on a beautiful piece of art at a local arts festival a few years ago.  It’s attributed to Mother Teresa…

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway.

I couldn’t let this day go by without saying something about my Mom.  If you read my “About SWOG Blog” you realize her name was Grace and I lost her 3 years ago.  Actually 3 years ago today–today is the anniversary of her death.  And while she wasn’t always good about practicing what she preached, she used to say to her hyperactive daughter who never met an issue she couldn’t worry about, “You musn’t let those little things bother you.”  I used to hate it when she said that.  But, as moms often speak wisdom from their years of experience–there was a lot of truth in that phrase.  Joan & Pam’s comments about worrying help to reinforce Mom’s words.

A few folks have asked me to be more specific–to give an example of what I mean by reframing your thoughts.  Here’s a relatively recent one for me:  As I mentioned, I had to sell my house last year as a part of my divorce settlement.  With the current housing market I thought it may take a long time to sell, but it sold quickly–within a month.  When it happened, I had no place to move to (I had not identified a new residence).  I quickly called a Realtor and looked at a couple townhomes that were in my monthly price range for rent.  They were awful.  I really started to fret; I was tremendously depressed about leaving my beautiful house—I just kept lamenting my situation and how could my now ex-husband do this to me.  Finally, I stopped myself and realized this line of thinking wasn’t moving me to where I needed to be.  My circular thoughts were not getting me any closer to a nice place to live and they weren’t answering any questions about the divorce.  When I finally interrupted that train of thinking, I started focusing on what I would ideally like in a place to live.  I created in my mind the vision of what I would enjoy, what I would feel comfortable in—I thought about wood floors and a fireplace; I thought about painted walls; I thought about a nice soaking bathtub, and so on.  I found myself getting excited–I could create my own space.  I could decorate it the way I wanted.  Positive energy started to flow from me and I went out on the Internet to Craig’s List.  And then, at about 11:30 that night after only looking for about an hour, I clicked on a listing and there it was–a 2 year old home that the owners couldn’t sell so they decided to rent it.  It had hardwood floors, a gas fireplace, a beautiful kitchen–everything I wanted.  I emailed the Realtor immediately and she answered at 6:30 the next morning saying she was showing it to 3 people that day.  Undaunted, I asked if I could be the fourth and she agreed.  I secured the place that day and it gave me a comfortable place to “land” after having to sell the home I had designed, built and lived in with my family for 17 years.  But most importantly, it has provided me a haven over this last year, and I am so grateful.

I’m convinced that reframing those negative thoughts into a positive vision for a successful outcome led me to a comfortable home.  Even now, when I find myself thinking about what I lost in the last few years, I stop myself (because I recognize I’m starting to feel anxious or melancholy) and I remember all the wonderful things I’ve gained–the new friends I’ve met, the deepening of friendships I had but never seemed to have much time for before, the wisdom gained about chasing material things versus chasing peace and joy through faith, a vacation adventure I would have never experienced, and so on.

You’re right, Mom.  We mustn’t let those little things bother us.

My dear friends–thank you for your kind and thought provoking comments!  I’m so appreciative of your words of encouragement and your thoughts.  Betsy–great question about “worrying!”  I had another friend email me this excerpt in response to my “No Worries” post:  “I found the discussion on fear and trepidation quite interesting. I am so predictable: Sunday I worry, Monday thru Thursday I do my best to ‘act,’ and Friday/Saturday I celebrate. The question is, is the ‘acting’ the best I can possibly offer, or a reaction to the worry. Bruce Springsteen, who I elect to view as a poet and philosopher who happens to entertain, really helped me in a recent Rolling Stone article. He uses the metaphor of getting into a car (life) and moving forward (time). This particular car you can’t get out of, but more and more people (situations/challenges) get in to influence your views/actions/engagement. The key is to keep the car moving forward, there is really no reason to park it (retire/disengage). Bruce says the E Street Band will not have a farewell tour, they’ll just keep going till it stops.”

Leave it to Bruce to guide us!   Thanks for sharing Bruce’s words of wisdom, my friend!

Given everything I’ve read and listened to so far, I think one of the keys to your question, Betsy, is to recognize when you are feeling “bad” feelings (anxious, discomfort, etc.).  Then trace the thoughts that are causing the anxiety.  Reframe the thoughts.  Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors which become habits and habits form character (or so Sam Maitz says).  The Secret also explores this in depth and has been a source of inspiration for me.  Much more on this to come. 


OK, if we stay with the same theme that these two phenomenons previously described cause so many of our woes or lead to our triumphs–that is, Phenomenon #1:  Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to our behaviors which lead to others reactions, and Phenomenon #2:  Between stimulus and response there is a space; in that space lies the power to choose our response–then let’s look at something that we as women do incessantly (although men can be good at this, too).  We worry.  We worry about everything.  We worry about how we look.  We worry about how others perceive us.  We worry about how we’re going to do our jobs.  We worry about whether the holiday meal is going to come off okay.  We worry about our children.  We worry about our parents.  We worry about the new business ventures we’ve started.  We worry about money.  Oh, those thoughts–there they are again.  Those worries almost always (by the nature of the word “worry”) have a negative slant.  So those worries lead to negative feelings which lead us to do things (behaviors) that may not always be in the best interest of whatever it is or whomever it is we’re worrying about.  Track your conscious thoughts during the day.  How many of them have a negative, worrying type of characterization to them?  And what do you do with those thoughts?  What behaviors do they lead you to?

I just traveled to Australia in December and a favorite saying of theirs is, “No Worries.”   If you bump into them and say, “Excuse me,” they say, “No worries” often accompanied by, “Love.”  If you apologize to them for some perceived harm you’ve caused them, they more often than not say, “No worries.”  What a great saying!  If you have a spiritual side, most religions teach the ills of worrying.  “Who of you by worring can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” –Luke 12:25-26. 

I have historically been one of those who worried about everything.  And, unfortunately, I can site examples of how worrying led to non-productive behaviors.  Please, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be conscientious and put our best foot forward.  I’m also not saying we shouldn’t be cognizant of others feelings, but let’s do that from a place of positive thinking versus worrying.  The latter feels more outwardly focused versus worrying which seems more inwardly focused.  This is all about strength with grace.  Anyone out there who can elaborate on this more articulately than me?

Stephen Covey writes in his book, First Things First, “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space lies the power to choose our response.  In that response lies our freedom and growth.”  I sincerely believe understanding how our thoughts lead to our behaviors and understanding Covey’s principle  can lead to living a much happier more grace-filled life.  Let me work on  explaining this more fully over the next few days/weeks.