So, Golf and the media

I watch golf on TV. I just wanted to get that out there at the start of this. I like golf, and I enjoy watching it. I started watching it about the time Tiger Woods started playing professional golf, that is not a coincidence. Tiger’s success was intriguing to watch, I love watching an athlete in their prime play well, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Favre. I get if you don’t like them, but to me guys who elevate their sports are fascinating and almost mesmerizing to watch. I have never needed them to be great people (which is good, they mostly aren’t) I like them because they are great athletes that transcend their game, or lift it to a new level.

Now, here’s the thing. The media have been on the warpath for Tiger Woods for a long time. They hate how he treats them with disdain and so they love to show his failings. I have watched with interest as Dustin Johnson has been suspended for his third Cocaine infraction, and for allegedly having several affairs with other golfers’ wives causing at least one marriage to dissolve. What have the golf writers done in response to this, how about the general public? Not much, most stories seem to be at least somewhat sympathetic to him. There is no outcry, no constant harassment. Ok, he was never at the level of Tiger, but still, Tiger only broke up his own marriage, and as far as I know never did illegal drugs.

I dislike how Tiger Woods is treated. The media that vilify him, the other players that revel in his poor play, they should all, every single one of them, should be paying Tiger a percentage of what they make. Before Tiger there were only a few Million dollar events, golf was not on tv every weekend, the columnists had to cover other sports. Very few, if any, of those reporters would have full time employment covering golf if not for tiger Woods. Did he have disdain for the media, yep. But look at it from his perspective, he is the athlete, he is achieving all of this, he wins tournaments, what do those guys do, write about, talk about it, evaluate his every step and/or misstep. Of course he had disdain. Tiger isn’t friendly to the other players? So what, his job isn’t to be a buddy, his job and his passion is to win tournaments, so what if he finds that easier if he isn’t buddy buddy with Sergio Garcia.

Tiger Woods created modern golf. He created the industry that exists now around golf. Tiger Woods should be thanked daily for his contributions to this game. We should all be hoping and praying that he returns to health and to his winning ways, because who else is there? On a bad year, a year Tiger and the media and the other players called a bad year, he won 5 tournaments, closest other guy won 3. I miss him, I miss the fist pump, I miss the red shirt stalking the green, I miss the impossible shots, I still watch, but it is rarely as fun.

Tiger Woods is the golf equivalent of Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, the game is forever changed because of him. there are young guys doing well, playing aggressively, making improbable shots, but we should be all thanking Tiger for what he has already achieved and stop talking about what he hasn’t yet done.

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So, Opinions

I was at a party last night. I rarely go out, I’m just far too much of a homebody. More on that later…

I was at this party and my wife and I went and had a conversation with this couple. They were incredibly nice people, thoughtful, insightful and you know,…nice. My wife fit in quite well with them. I am, how do I put this gently, edgier. That isn’t what I want to talk about though. These very nice, very smart people have different views on things from my wife and I. We had a great conversation, we didn’t dig too deep into some of the shady areas where we might have disagreed, it was a party after all. I think we could have though. I think disagreement is okay. I don’t believe that every person I encounter has to either agree with me, or I must somehow convince them that they should. I like to meet and talk to people who don’t feel about things the way that I do. I learn things that way, not the least of which is that thoughtful, intelligent people don’t all have the same views about things.

Now that seems like a fairly obvious point to make, but I don’t think most people realize it. I have met far too many people in life who are absolutely convinced that if they can find the right article or words, or argument they will absolutely be able to sway me to their point of view. Sometimes they are right, very few of my views are so strong that I am not willing to re-look at them. Generally, though, those type of people don’t have all that well thought out views, they believe what they believe cause they saw it on 60 minutes, or read the first half of a paragraph from an internet article. They are not views founded on actual information, though they are held strongly nevertheless. That doesn’t even mean they are wrong, they may be totally correct, but not always, not even often, but sometimes.

We tend to seek out information that agrees with our own point of view. This is an actual thing, it is called confirmation bias, There is an excellent study on the subject here. We do this in lots or areas, politically, spiritually, emotionally. We like as people to reinforce ideas we already hold. We seek out people that agree with us, we avoid those that don’t. This is a sad thing. I wish I was more open, I mean I think I do pretty well at this, but not well enough. I am fascinated by what people believe, how they have come to believe it, and how that belief affects their actions. I love to understand these things, though sometimes it makes me inordinately sad to discover the truth behind some beliefs. Watching Law and Order is NOT a good way to get information on the legal system, or The Good Wife, or any movie ever made about law and courtrooms. I find it intriguing how many people form their views from watching the View, as if the ladies seated around that table have insight that is far reaching and somehow beyond ours, simply because they are on TV. I watch the news most mornings and I am often shocked at how biased the stories are. We mislead on a regular basis. One such story in the news right now is about a Canadian Journalist who is imprisoned in Egypt. Okay, this is not in any way a good thing, but many of the stories I have watched or read, talk about the Federal Government (though they mostly just say Stephen Harper) isn’t doing anything to help. The problem is, that Mohamed Fahmy isn’t just a Canadian journalist. He has dual citizenship with Egypt. That means he is one of their citizens too, which means he is subject to their laws in a way that a Canadian journalist would not be. I want to be clear, I have no idea if he is guilty or not guilty of what he has been convicted of, the point is, we want to criticize our government for not doing enough to help a convict of a country not ours, who is a citizen of that country. So the media leave out that part, because we all might feel differently, we might not, but we aren’t given all the information so who knows.

I digress, we form our views, often on spotty information, and then hold to them like they are well thought out, long held, rational ideas. I guess what I am saying is I really liked that couple they were nice, I hope we have further chances to talk.

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So, Feminism

I am a white, middle-aged, middle-class, over-weight man. I grew up in a solidly middle class family. I live in Western Canada. My options for what to do for a living, for what to do with my life, have been limited only by my own limitations, self-imposed or otherwise. If I wanted to be a lawyer, I had only to apply myself and go get it. The same is true for just about any other job. I am a privileged person. I live in a wealthy country, I am white, and I am a man. The world , at least the part of it I live in, is geared for me to achieve whatever I want. That is just true. I don’t know that I have thought about this all that much in my life.

I am thinking about it now though. Why? Because I have 2 daughters. I want for them to see a vision for their lives and apply themselves and go get it. If one of them sees herself as a Neuro-surgeon, I want her to be able to see that and to be able to achieve it. Or a Welder. Or the CEO or COO of a corporation. I want for them the opportunities that I had. I didn’t do much with my opportunities, but they were there. I want them to be there for my girls. Use them or don’t use them, I want them to have every opportunity and the choice to use it or not at their disposal.

They don’t really have the same opportunity though, do they? There are only 48 Fortune 1000 companies with female CEOs. 48! It is rare and hard to achieve. One of my daughters would like to be a Film Director. Wikipedia lists 114 Female Canadian Film Directors and 429 American Female Film Directors. I gave up counting the Male Film Directors. It is possible, I am not saying it is not possible, but the road is harder. Why? Why is is harder? Is it because less women want to do this? I doubt that that is so? I really do. 

I am not sure that I have spent any time at all making sure women did not get ahead, or fought against a women being my boss, or being promoted. If I have, I surely don’t remember. What I know though, is that I haven ever actively said, “you know what, we have a double standard and it is not right!” We need to though, we all need to. My daughters are just as capable, just as amazing as any young man I have met, actually they are better! They are outstanding, amazing, smart, funny, hard working young ladies who can be anything, they need to not only know that, they need others to know it too. You see, the problem is not just about them limiting themselves, the problem is their chances are limited by others. They have fewer role models to follow, fewer people to show them the way. They must not just see a path, they may have to carve a new path, and I hate that.

They can do it, I don’t doubt that, but I wouldn’t have had to, any career I might have chosen there were other men, who had done it first, I had only to see what they did and do the same thing. I think my daughters should have the same thing, a role model who shows them how to be what they want to be. I am a feminist because I know that all people, regardless of sex, colour, race, sexual identity, size, (or whatever other way we make people “US” and “THEM”) are equal. Not the same, God bless the differences, but we are all equal, or deserve to be.

We all deserve to go for it, to be able to achieve it or not based on who we are, not on who you are. We deserve to succeed or fail based on our own abilities and limitations, not on imposed abilities and limitations.

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So, Time travel and the Speed of Life

Time goes by so fast.

Just a moment ago it was the beginning of a new year, we were desperately trying to remember to write in 2014 on everything and now spring is here. How does this happen? You blink and suddenly the end of the school year is in sight. You are trying to figure out how you are going to occupy your kids in the summer, or if you have teenagers, how are you going to get them up before noon every day. I haven’t even mentioned spring cleaning, going through the house and purging it of all the clutter that seems to manifest itself over the winter. Raking the yard, getting the lawn mower  and patio furniture out. all of this seems to pile up and catch us unaware until suddenly it is Mother’s Day and you realize you haven’t even thought about that. Time is a funny thing. Some days seem to take forever to get through, you can barely manage to continue working until you reach the end of the work day, and yet at the same time the days add up so fast.

 

​Before you know it those babies are grown up, you are old, so many days left squandered and so many opportunities wasted. Oh, to go back in time and relive some of those moments, get them right. Alas this is not to be, we cannot go back. Time travel does not exist except in Science Fiction movies and books and TV shows. I guess that is not entirely true, we are time travelers, we just move forward through time…really really slowly, except fast as well as slow. That is not the type of time travel we want though, we want to be able to pause, to walk backwards, to revisit those magic days, or redo the messed up days, but it cannot be. We can only inexorably, continue forward. Ours is a one way trip. We move through time in one direction. The days are fleeting and it is so easy to lose ourselves in our day to day pursuits, forgetting and missing the chance to stop and smell the rain, to have coffee with a friend, watch your kids frolic, just live…you know really live.

What about church and spending time with God? How many times have you slept in, or done other things? Maybe it is not even church, but that daily reflection that we are not alone, that there is something going on, we don’t fully understand, we don’t fully engage with. You may not share my faith, you may not think about God the way I do, but in whatever form you might see God, to walk through this life and not marvel at what is around us, at the amazing life we have, at the connection with other people, at the complexity of nature. Watching a child learn to walk, learn to talk, learn anything, even if it is how to write an essay, it is simple amazing how life is. Can you really go through this life and not pause once in a while and say, what if there is something more? Or, if you are already there, stop and marvel at what He has made. Too many days go by uncontemplated. Too many moments go unremembered.

It is not too late to make a change. It is not too late to call your friend, turn off the tv, sit out on the deck, contemplate the divine. Hold hands with the one you love and walk and talk and find joy in each other.

Fellow Time Travelers, let’s slow our pace down and share a moment. I wonder if we did this more often, would the world seem different, be different? Would we be kinder to each other? Would life taste sweeter? It just might, let’s give it a go, what do you say?

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So, I read this today…

Glenon Doyle Melton is one of my heroes. She writes the truth. She has been through things I cannot comprehend and her honesty and her empathy touch me. 

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So, How are you doing?

We all get asked, several times a day, some variation of the question – How are you doing?

We rarely, if ever, answer truthfully. When asking others, we rarely, if ever, want the truth. It is a greeting akin to saying hello.

“How’s it going?”

“Good, you?”

“Good”

And we move on.

I think, though, we need to ask ourselves that question during our day, and expect an honest answer from ourselves.

“Dave, How are you doing?” “pretty good, my day started a bit rough, but I think  I took a minute and collected myself and things are going well.”

Here is the thing though, just understanding where you are emotionally and physically during the day is only half of the battle, we also need to ask ourselves this question. “What are you doing, or can you do to improve your day?” Even if your day is going well, could it be better? Probably. So these two questions form a part of the tapestry of your day. How are you? and, what can you do about it? Knowing that in a day your can range from great to terrible, form working well to beyond stressed, is very helpful, that knowledge alone may be enough to allow us  to regroup, as it did for me this morning. Often, though we do need to take some time to figure out how we can change what is happening. We may also start to notice a pattern.

I recall working in a job where every time I met with one person I worked with, the rest of my day was not good. I was more stressed and reacted badly to whatever happened. It wasn’t that person’s intent to make my day bad, it wasn’t their intent to make me stressed,, they simply asked me questions in a way that triggered that response in me. I want to be clear, this was in every way, my issue. They asked real questions, but I reacted with stress and panic. I felt powerless and useless. Had I ever had the wherewithal to explain my feelings and reactions, i am quite confident this person would have been shocked and perhaps together we might have solved some of the problems in our communication. In the end, I left that job. It may have been the right call at the right time, but I made it for the wrong reasons.

A personal check up several times a day, probably would have helped me to identify the issue and what was causing much of my stress. There were parts of that situation, I could not in any way have controlled. So the fix might have been to remove myself from the position, which I did, but not through self awareness. There were parts of the situation that I absolutely could have changed. Knowing what was happening and evaluating what, if anything, I could do, might have made the rest of it tolerable.

Every day, we get to choose how we respond to the stimuli in our lives. Sometimes our responses are automatic, we respond without even knowing why. recognizing those patterns can help us to recognize and change those responses. 

Know somebody who pushes your buttons all the time, you can learn that it is happening and how to deal with it. Here are some steps that might help you to control your automatic responses…

  1. Find time to be alone and allow yourself to feel whatever feelings are coming up for you. Your feelings are a valuable gift for you, but you will not receive it if you play the role of victim.
  2. Try to uncover the bottom line hurt you are experiencing. For instance, do you feel rejected? Misunderstood? Abandoned? Left out? Not enough? It is probably a familiar feeling that you have experienced before and you have an opportunity to bring some light to it.
  3. Ask yourself what this experience is triggering inside of you. What does it remind you of? When have you felt this way in the past? One of the main reasons we experience a big upset over something small is because buttons that get pushed have been there for a while.
  4. Determine the meaning you are giving to what happened. For instance, the person doesn’t respect your feelings. Relationships are too much work. Other people are selfish. You were right and they were wrong. You never get what you want. You need to protect yourself, etc.
  5. Ask yourself if the meaning you are giving to what happened is truly serving you. Is it supporting you in growing and communicating authentically? Most likely the answer is no because the initial meaning we give to something when we are hurt does not come from an empowering place.
  6. Be grateful for this growth experience and extract the lessons you received from this upset. What did it teach you? How can you use it for your growth?
  7. Share authentically with the person who triggered the upset what you experienced, what you are taking responsibility for and what you learned. 

Communicating from this place takes COURAGE. It takes courage to get out of your own reactive patterns. It takes courage to process your own upset rather than looking to someone else to blame and/or make it better for you. It takes courage to communicate authentically from a place of vulnerability.

I am not good at this, but I hope I am getting better. Sometimes growth is small and it always takes a lot of time to really change, so have patience with yourself. Look back in a year and see if you are different. Learn your triggers and take steps to avoid them and begin to change your reactions to them. 

My dad was my model for how to drive. My mom taught me the mechanics, but my dad was my model. He was a very good, and very aggressive, driver. He liked to be in the front of the train of cars, so he passed the others. Driving on the Trans- Canada highway, that is a lot of passing and on mountain roads, tight passing. For most of my driving life, I emulated him. About a year ago, I noticed something. I was driving my family in the car, and my wife was, as usual, scared, as it was a busy road, and I was driving aggressively, passing to get to the front of the cars. She told me that I needed to get over, so we could make our exit. I flipped, yelled at her and totally had an, out of all proportions reaction. That day, I took stock of myself, why had I freaked out. She had not done anything wrong, but my reaction was ridiculous. I realized that I took her nervousness personally, like she was attacking me, and then when she told me not to miss the exit, I took that personally. How dare she tell me how to drive! How dare she be nervous! I was in control, I “knew” what I was doing.

Once I realized what was happening, I examined the triggers and realized that as I drove, I always went what I thought was an acceptable 10 km/h over the speed limit and often more than that. It was part of the aggressiveness. So, I changed. I now drive at or very near the speed limit, I let cars pass me. I find that because I changed my focus while driving, my whole demeanour is changed, I let people in, I don’t…or try not to…take it personally when cut off. I, and this is not a small thing, treat my wife better. I treat her like the full partner and incredible person she is. She deserves to be treated like that. Well, let’s face it she deserves better, I married way up, but I am trying hard to become the man, the person she deserves as her partner in life.

I know, it seems like a small thing to change the speed your drive, but I think it made a big change in our lives.

Reflection can be huge, even in small things.

So, take time for yourself, do a self-checkup. Have patience with yourself, and be honest. 

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So, John Calipari and beaches in Mexico

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