Jean Anne Costa
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Childhood Limitations

Affirmation:  I let go of my childhood limitations.
How can one be over the age of 50, 60, 70 and still be restricted or controlled by emotions and concepts that influenced them as they were growing up?  How can one not?  I’m speaking about those emotions and concepts that deter us from true joy, that interfere with our ability to completely savor and embrace life.  And, is it even possible to release oneself, to become an adult in one’s own right?  Is it possible to grasp the positive qualities that serve us and our loved ones and let go of those, perhaps at least acknowledge and appreciate the experience but then let go of those concepts that are damaging us?
I am my mother’s main caregiver.  I am very blessed because at 90 she is still extremely healthy and independent.  There are three siblings.  My brother has been remarkable in his efforts to care for our mom even though he lives five hours away.  My sister is even further away and needs her energy to care for herself.  But, we know she is always there for us. 
I’m the oldest and mom chose to move near me over 15 years ago.  She made the move all by herself.  She likes to be independent and self sufficient.  It empowers her as it probably does most of us.  It also isolates her and makes my efforts to reach out confusing and extremely frustrating.
I feel like I am expected to support her in many ways but I’m simply suppose to figure it out myself, perform the act or acts, and then not let her know I did it.  I’m sure you can see the dilemma  My prayer for Mom is that she will continue to have joy and maintain dignity as she finishes out her life.  I only want to love her and enjoy her presence. I want to be the “good little girl” and make her happy.  I want to “fix” it.  I want to be her savior.  I want to take whatever steps needed to help her feel better, to make her happy.  I’m 65 years old and the child in my still wants to please my mother but I know, this is a fact, that no matter what or how much I do, I cannot please her long term.  I cannot make her happy.  Sister Mary Margaret from A Place for Women to Gather says, “Happiness is an inside job.”  There is only one person who can make us happy, us. 
That’s why I create affirmations.  It’s all up to me what I think, how I perceive life, how I feel.  I cannot remain the good little girl and live frustrated and sad because of anyone. I must let go of ALL my childhood limitations and embrace my own adult determination to create my own happiness.  Have you looked at your childhood limitations?  Are they interfering with the quality of your life?  Can you too release them?  Do you want to?

Kindness

Affirmation:  I am always manifesting.  I manifest to my highest and best.
Do you find it easier to like or to dislike people?  Which do you think more people lean towards, acceptance or rejection?  I happen to be someone who likes almost everyone from the first moment, unless something happens to reverse my opinion but there are peole who dislike almost everyone, unless something happens to reverse their opinion.
The latter must be a safer way to exist in this world.  Think of all the disappointment and hurt you’d av0id.  It’s like expecting to fail a test.  You know how that works.  You expect a failing grade and so you aren’t surprised you didn’t do well and pleased if you get even a “D”.  You are pleased with whatever comes along because your expectations were so low.  Do you want to get a “D” in life or worse yet, an “F”?  Does that add to your happiness or detract from it, always expecting so little from people, from life?
My husband says “Pessimists are right 100% of the time.”  I think they’re usually right and once in a while are shocked to discover they are not.  My affirmation is:  I am always manifesting.  I manifest to my highest and best.  Of course, the opposite is true too but how would that serve me; how does it serve the world or God to believe, to fall into the pits of despair and rejection?  I’m not speaking about clinical mental illness like depression or anxiety.  Those are maladies beyond the solo help of positive thinking.  I am speaking about the healthy individual who chooses to see the world and the people in it as less than creatures of extra ordinary beauty and grace.  Imagine if we embraced each other with love, dignity and grace.  Imagine if we gifted each other, those we easily love and those that are more challenging, as the glorious God created creatures they are?  Yes, we need to have healthy boundaries.  Most of us cannot take home, allow in, every person we encounter either physically or spiritually but we can grace everyone we see and meet today with a smile and a prayer for their well-being; a blessing that will bring kindness and ease to all those we encounter.  A blessing which will reflect off them and back onto us and create an energy in the world that just may bring some peace and harmony not only in our little piece of this earth but into the entire universe. 
It is easier to hate than to love.  Choose love, choose kindness, choose gentleness.  Manifest the light of God.  Make your world and the whole world a better place at least for today, and hopefully for every day afterwards.   

Comfort Zone

Affirmation:  I am either green and growing or ripe and rotten.
 
The conversation revolved around the question, “What did you learn today?”  I like to learn.  I am always looking for opportunities to gain more information, more knowledge.  Maybe that’s the reason I went back to school and did a Masters in Social Work as an “older” adult.  There is a lot of information out there, however, and I know I can only absorb so much.  So, I am fairly selective about what I choose to let in.  But, I do love to learn and my intention is to never stop. 
When I spoke to this very sharp elderly woman who had just moved to an adult facility, she told me that she was determining who she would choose as her dinner partners based on the question, “What did you learn today?”  She said the number of people who tell her they not only didn’t learn anything today but also didn’t do anything today, was staggering.  She didn’t intend to have dinner with any of them.
 
I think when we are always looking to learn, it means we have to step outside our comfort zones.  If we stay in that box where we feel safe, we seldom will see or hear anything new.  We have to be brave.  We have to step out there.
 
I like to go to an aerobics class at my gym.  There’s quite a large group that shows up regularly.  There’s also a regular teacher and we always do about the same type of moves.  It’s not very exciting, but it does get my heart rate up and burn up a few calories.  Today, we had a new teacher.  She was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable, but her approach to the class was different than the other teacher.  She announced that she would be adding two dance routines to the program.  I love to dance.  I dance whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I have been accused of being drunk quite a few times because of my total abandonment when I dance.  (I was not drinking.)  So, I thought it was a great idea.  Besides, it was new and different and maybe I’d learn something.  I must say when she turned that music on and the class began to shimmy and shake, the energy level in that room soared.  We did both dances and I thought it was great fun.  (I would wouldn’t I?)  But, when the 2 dances were over, I looked around and realized several people had left the class.  They’d never left the class when the usual teacher was there.  And, besides the leavers, people were grumbling about this type of exercise being inappropriate for their age.  Oh, yuck!  I was amazed.  I judged.  I thought this would be for me, just like the lady I met who was filtering people based on their daily experiences; I probably wouldn’t want to spend time with those people who weren’t open enough to experience something a little different than their normal.
 
What do you think?  I know life is short and sometimes we just shouldn’t be bothered doing things that we don’t like.  But, if you don’t at least give it a try, how will you know?  How will you grow?  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Do something every day that challenges you.  If you don’t your world will become small and smaller until you shrivel up and fall off the vine, like a rotten piece of fruit.  Choose growth, choose adventure, choose learning, choose life. 

Joy

Affirmation:  I embrace and savor all joyful experiences.
My mother-in-law turned 91 this year.  Have you ever wondered what you’d be like in your old age, or if you’ll even have an old age? (That’s a whole other topic.)  My mom, Margaret is 89 this year.  My mother-in-law is named Yolanda.  They both live independently and are lucky enough to live in adult communities that offer not only a myriad of services but easy access to community.  They are also in very good health. 
My husband and I traveled to see Yolanda for her birthday.  She lives near Sandy’s twin brother, Billy and his wife.  I spent the weekend soaking in the joy that Yolanda eludes.  She had counted her birthday cards and read each one to us and told us about the people who sent them, if we didn’t’ already know them.  If we did know them, she told us about them anyway.  She told us how wonderful they all are.  How kind and talented and smart they are.  It’s such fun to listen to her take pleasure in her family and friends.  She’s one of the most non-judgmental, unconditionally loving people I have ever met.  I’ve been blessed by having her for a mentor and a friend.  I’ve learned so much from this woman who readily accepted me as her daughter simply because her son loved me. 
We moved away from the New York area very soon after her first granddaughter was born.  Melissa was six weeks old and we moved to a farm town five hours away.  They must have been so unsettled by our decision.  But, they never let on, neither she nor Sandy’s dad, Joe.  They simply showed up any chance they got bringing home cooked meals and gifts galore.  I was young.  I was a little defensive about keeping my own space, my own house and I didn’t fully appreciate what a gift I was being given.
She now lives in Savannah.  She moved there right before her 90th birthday.  We drove her to the airport; she got on a plane and began a whole new life.  I was in awe.  I can only hope that when I’m 90 I will have the gumption to make a lifestyle change, of my own choice. 
I have read that most people remember their negative or sad experiences better than they remember their positive, happy experiences.  It seems we have a tendency to dwell on the negative and sad and to simply notice the joyful experiences but not to absorb them.  The advice given was that we take more notice of the uplifting events; that we let them soak into our cellular structure by savoring them, not letting them slip by unvalued.  
There are so many lessons to learn about life from Yolanda.  I’m sure you have people in your life from whom you too have learned a lot.  But, the one I took away from sharing this celebration with her was how important it is to savor the joys of our lives.  I believe it will color our attitude, our health, our quality of life not only now but for the rest of our lives and then maybe we too can be 89 or 91 or 100+ and giggle and enjoy all the wonderful moments and celebrations of our lives. 

Fiddling

Affirmation:  I love to make music.  I am patient with myself and I know with time and perseverance each practice session makes me a better player and better is good enough.
Sometime in 2005 my daughter’s boyfriend asked me what I would like to do that I hadn’t yet done.  Actually, the question revolved more around the fact that I have less time going forward than I have looking back.  What would I do if I had all the time in the world?  I immediately answered, “I’d learn to play the fiddle.”  I was stunned.  Where did that come from? 
My Uncle Frank played the violin.  I never heard him play but I knew that he belonged to a senior orchestra and that a lot of my aunt and uncle’s social life revolved around his music. 
Most of my activities are very physical.  I practice yoga; I like to walk and swim; I love to go to the gym and take some sort of class.  I play golf.  I thought it would be nice to have something I could do sitting down.  Something that wasn’t so physical.  That statement alone should be an indication of how little I knew about playing the violin or as I refer to it, the fiddle.
What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?  The violin has strings and the fiddle has “strangs.”  One of the children at the Walker Family Strings Camp told me that joke.  I’ve been gong there for the last four years.  I’m usually the oldest and the least accomplished student at the camp. 
I’ve had at least six different teachers and I’ve been to summer camp and to my favorite place in the world, The John C Campbell Folk School, to participate in group classes.  I practice too.  I usually practice about four or more times a week.  Now, I attend a class at the senior center.  There are about five of us and the most wonderful teacher I could ever imagine.  She’s gifted, kind, fun and forgiving.  I also belong to a group called FFUG.  I believe it stands for the Fuquay Fiddles (I can’t imagine what) Group.  We meet every Monday evening for about 3 hours and play.  There are about ten people in the group. 
The first time I showed up at FFUG, I could not play a single note with the other gal who was there.  Her name is Janie and that night I drove about a half hour to her house.  I was the only one who showed up and I’d never played with other people.  But, she took me in and told me about the “ten year program.”  Janie was on that program.  She had given herself ten years to be able to play the fiddle in a decent manner.  What a discovery that was for me.  I didn’t need to be perfect right away.  In fact, I didn’t need to be a great or even a good player after several years.  I could take ten years to get to where I thought I should be.  I could take ten years and then, I could take another ten years.  There is no rush. 
When I told another friend I had taken up the fiddle, they told me they’d never do that.  They’d want to be able to play right away.  They didn’t have the patience for that long a process.  I also know a lady who decided after she retired to play in a Bluegrass band.  She ordered a wash board and thimbles from the internet and now, she’s performing with the band she joined.  I have thought maybe I should try a drum or a triangle but I must tell you, I love the fiddle. 
I love the sound, even when it isn’t the best sound.  I love sitting with it in the evening all by myself playing the songs I’ve learned and working on new ones.  Picking out the notes and the rhythm and eventually finding the melody.   And, I love the people I’ve met because of the instrument and the places it has taken me.  It’s been a great gift I’ve given myself. 
I have to remind myself how I feel about it because I am very hard on myself.  It is the one area of my life where I am very shy.  I don’t mind playing with a group and blending in knowing my mistakes are hidden by the good notes of the others but when called upon to play by myself for someone else, I hide. 
I’ve tried to come up with an affirmation for this learning experience and it has been very difficult.  None of them sound good enough.  Perhaps, that goes along with how I feel about my playing; it’s not good enough.  But, what I have discovered is that while I don’t have any innate talent for the fiddle, none.  Every time that I pick it up to practice, I get a little bit better.  I can find the notes a little easier, my bow hold is more comfortable and my stroke more fluid.  I read the music a little easier and there’s a nicer sound, less scratching and screeching.  I actually may be able to play decently by the time I’m 90 or perhaps 100.  Maybe the affirmation is simply:  I love to make music.  I am patient with myself and I know with time and perseverance each practice session makes me a better player and better is good enough.  What about you?  Do you have anything in your life you’re working on?  Anything you wish you were great at, anything you feel shy about?  What affirmation would you create to keep you going or would you keep going?

Destinations

Affirmation:  I gift myself a generous amount of time to travel to my destinations.
I love being at home.  I can putter around the house for an entire day.  I know I’m not the only one.  I have spoken with a lot of people who feel the same way.  Consequently, I can struggle getting out of the house to make it to an appointment or other scheduled event.  “I’ll do just one more ‘little’ thing” I tell myself.  Then, I’ll realize I am not going to make that half hour trip in the fifteen minutes I have left myself.  How do I feel when I finally arrive at my destination?  I feel horrible.  I feel anxious, frustrated and wondering if the appointment will even still be available. 
One day, my whole day ran late.  I found it fascinating that I was operating on “divine time.”  I wasn’t the only one running late; all three of my scheduled events were also running late.  So, I actually arrived on time.  I wish the universe was always so cooperative but the truth is, it is not.  And, normally I need to make an effort, to be conscientious enough, respectful enough to show up at the time to which I have previously agreed. 
I’m never late when my husband is “in charge.”  In fact, he normally leaves so much time, we have arrived places way ahead of time.  I don’t like that either.  I mean, think of all the stuff I could have accomplished in the amount of time I’m waiting around before the event starts.  But, I’m never anxious and I don’t have to worry about missing that plane.  I once had a friend tell me her husband likes to leave so early for the airport; she thought he would start booking a hotel close by the night before they were to leave.  Yes, there are very different approaches to keeping time. 
I like to just allow time to flow, not to look at the watch or the clock and to believe I have as much time as I need to do all the things I want to do and that I will still be wherever I’m supposed to be whenever I’m supposed to be there.  It only works that way occasionally, very occasionally.  When I discussed this with my friends I found we all had different approaches to how we handled arriving “on time.”  One woman set her clock fifteen minutes early all the time.  It worked at first but then she started remembering she had set it ahead, and started arriving later and later because in her mind she had so much extra time.  Some people seem to have a clock implanted in their brain.  They can see the seconds ticking by and everyone in their vicinity needs to respond to their sense of time so no one will miss out.  Others simply decide they will arrive everywhere with an additional fifteen minutes to spare.  You can be late, but not them; they simply move along at whatever pace it takes to arrive ahead of the scheduled time.
I’ve tried all these approaches; none seem to work for me.  Then, I thought about how nice it would be if I wasn’t rushing.  If my travel to my destinations was serene, pleasant, evenly spaced, how truly healthy that would be.  So, I decided to think about allowing enough time to represent a gift I give myself, a generous gift.  I bet you’re wondering if I’m ever rushing now that I have adopted the affirmation:  I gift myself a generous amount of time to travel to my destinations.  Yes, I am.  Yes, I do.  But, it has slowly seeped into my subconscious and every time I head out the door earlier than I use to, I realize it has become an integral part of my daily existence.  More and more often, I have more than enough time to arrive where I need to be and I’ve allowed for unexpected delays and arrive feeling calm and serene.  If I’m early, I simply claim the time for something really important, like a few extra prayers or some mediation.  Yes, it may not sound that important but over the long haul I am sure it is a healthier way for me to deal with time. 

Spirit

Affirmation:  I am a spiritual being having a human experience.

Why would this be an affirmation?  Is this something that would resonate with you?  Would it make your life any richer, any easier?  For me, believing that I am spirit inhabiting a human form gives me a sense of immortality and being a cancer survivor, immortality has a nice ring to it.  Actually, just aging makes the idea of immortality more attractive. 
One day when I was journaling, I searched for several yellow markers in varying hues and found myself drawing.  I seldom draw but I just knew I needed to get this on paper, this concept that had come to me.  I drew a circle of yellow and then rays of gold and brighter yellow coming out from the center and then I placed an outline of myself in the middle of all the light placing my heart right in the center of the brightest part of the drawing.  When I finished, I knew this was a representation of how I really am.  I am energy, I am spirit.  It is larger than me but it radiates from me.  I take the concept with me every day when I head out into the world and I share it readily and eagerly with most of those that I meet as I go through my day.  Can you visualize this?  It comforts me.  It makes me feel generous and compassionate.  Hopefully, it helps me stay in touch with that which is truly important and helps me let go of the mundane. 
I think we have always been and will always be.  And, because I am spirit, I can tap into those unimaginable qualities that are available to spirit, all those miracles and graces that are generously infused into spirit.  It’s a meditation.  Sometimes I forget but I don’t think that matters.  I think the most important thing is that I have recognized it and own it. 
One of my desires in life is to connect with spirit and let it direct my life.  The Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat has been an example of that process.  Truly, I was directed by spirit to put my idea out into the universe and once it was out there, spirit led it to its fruition and has been blessing it ever since, blessing it and all those who are associated with it.
That’s how I’d like every day to be, lived in the spirit.  I begin the day with prayer.  I pray throughout the day with small ejaculations and deep breaths and I end my day, the very old fashioned way, with some traditional prayers.  I make an effort to stay connected, connected to God, to my Guardian Angel and to my guides.  I imagine them all being pleased that I have taken the time and made the effort to spend time with them, to continually keep them in my mind and my heart.  I don’t think they’d respond any differently than my loved ones when I treat them with consideration and thoughtfulness.  I have a mediation tape I used for chemotherapy that says just that, “Remember, we are always here.  It is you who comes and goes.”  So, I try not to go to far from all that support and guidance. 
If we truly are spirit in a human form, think of all the spirits that are surrounding us, encouraging us, supporting us.  They are helping us to recognize our true selves, to dream wonderful dreams and to support us in our desire to make not only ourselves better but to reach out into the world and to make that better.  It sounds nurturing to me.  It makes my life easier and richer and hopefully helps the lives of all those I touch as I go though my day.
The light in me salutes the light in you.  Namaste.

Miracles

Affirmation My life is Joy filled, Miracles occur, Love surrounds me and permeates every aspect of my existence.  
On August 4th, 2011, 29 women and 1 man came together for the 7th annual 4 day, 3 night Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat.  I began this retreat and each year I leave feeling the same way.  I am astounded at the response of the participants.  Everyone leaves feeling uplifted and empowered.  In 2010 the survey they took found 100% of the ladies who participated had an increased sense of hopefulness and well being.  100%!!  If that’s not a miracle, I’m not sure what qualifies.
I’ve watched this grow and thrive since the beginning.  It hasn’t been about me.  This is an example of something that is “spirit driven.”  Have you ever had an experience like that?  You had the seed of an idea and it bloomed into something beyond your wildest dream? 
I had this small thought about how nice it would be to have a yoga retreat at the beach for breast cancer survivors here in North Carolina.  I mentioned it to a yoga teacher I knew and then to the director of the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program.  The day of our first meeting, I didn’t have a clue who would come, other than my family and when we began the meeting, there were 12 people there.  I began by telling people about my idea and then admitting I was not good at delegating responsibilities.  Never once was a suggestion made when someone in the group didn’t volunteer to take care of it.  I should have known then that this was something in which God had a vested interest.  And, in seven years it has continued the same way.  Not only do people readily step up to take care of whatever needs to be done, people find ways to help with the retreat that some of us never dreamed of.  This year one of the ladies made comfort pillows for everyone with meaningful words on them.  They smelled of lavender and were squishy.  The women were very appreciative, especially after they found out this lady didn’t know how to sew until she began the project.  Another woman took it upon herself to buy cushy beach towels for everyone there.  We had homemade biscotti and pound cake.  A local ice-cream shop donated sundaes for everyone and one of our committee members made the supreme effort to go taste several of the flavors beforehand.  We raised enough money to help pay for anyone who wanted to come on scholarship.  It’s phenomenal how it all comes together and it’s obvious to all of us there that the success of this event is beyond anything most of us have ever experienced.  It has to have the hand of God in it. 
Miraculous, you ask?  What is miraculous about ice-cream and beach towels and homemade goodies?  They simply appear, like the manna in the dessert.  We never asked for these treasures.  But, what is really miraculous is what happens to the mind, body and spirit of each of the ladies and our one man (He’s the breast cancer counselor for the DCPSP.  This retreat is only for female breast cancer survivors.)  by the end of the four days.  A light comes on in each person.  There has been healing; there’s been a renewed sense of hope.  The women have found camaraderie and acceptance.  We have laughed, cried, played, swam, created, danced and done yoga.  We have found power, the power in each of us and as a group.  Words really can’t describe what happens over the four days.  You’ll have to trust me.  The event is laced with miracles, many aspects that cannot be easily explained, especially the overwhelming feeling of love that permeates each person as the retreat comes to a close. 
If you’re interested in attending, you can look us up on PinkRibbonYoga.org.  

Sharing

Affirmation:  I see the grace and blessings in all the events of my life.
Betty Ford died this July, July 2011.  She was the wife of President Gerald Ford.  I guess being the first lady might be enough for some women.  Maybe one day, it’ll be enough for some man, although I doubt that very much.  In fact, it seems like most of the first ladies of the past were pioneers in one way or another.  It has even been rumored that at times the White House, the government was run by first ladies trying to protect the ineptitude or disabilities of their husbands. 
Betty Ford was an addict and her obituary focused more on her achievement of creating the Betty Ford Center for Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation than on her being Gerald Ford’s wife.  Most of what I read about her after her death was about how courageous she was to admit to her addiction but not only did she openly talk about her problem, she took steps to heal and then reached out to over 90,000 others who have been treated by her center. 
I am sure you will agree that alone is a remarkable legacy, one any one of us would probably be proud to claim.  But, there was something else Betty Ford was known for; she publicly announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  At the time, that was a very radical and courageous thing to do.  There was a time when the word “cancer” created panic and fear in the people who were associated with the patient.  Yes, it still can but not because people think it’s a communicable disease.  Then, it had a stigma attached to it.  It’s people like Betty Ford whose honesty and courage led to taking cancer out of the closet and into the forefront of research and treatment.
I spoke with a woman recently who is a breast cancer survivor.  She told me she pretends it never happened to her.  Her denial is her way of coping.  I am not here to judge that right or wrong.  We need to do whatever it takes to survive, to heal.  If denial is your best tool, use it.  But, I do wonder if it really works.  What do you think?  Do you think you can really bury such a life changing event?  Sometimes I think I’ve moved on and then, wham, even after 12 years something comes along to remind me of how different I am now than I was before cancer.  I not only look at my life with a fuller understanding of my mortality, I look at the lives of my loved ones in the same way.  Experiencing death and life threatening illnesses has helped me to see life as more precious and fragile. 
I’ve chosen to share openly that I am a breast cancer survivor.  No, it is not the first thing I tell people, sometimes they haven’t a clue and they may have known me for sometime but when called upon, I readily share my story.  One of the reasons I like to share is simply because it’s such a success story.  I am still here.  It’s been twelve years and I am still here.  I think it’s important for people to know that a diagnosis of breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence.  Yes, it can be and unfortunately many times, it is but it’s not always.  There are more and more people like me who are living wonderful lives long after undergoing cancer treatment.  I feel it’s my responsibility to share with anyone who wants to listen that there is hope.  That while cancer treatment isn’t fun, one can survive and in many cases, like mine, one can thrive. 

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.”