Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Golf Gypsy: His Magnificence

Three of us stopped suddenly as we neared the par three.  The talking stopped and we stood in awe and delight of a magnificent Desert Bighorn Sheep nonchalantly chewing the neatly trimmed and fertilized lush green grasses of the desert homes near the foothills of the mountains where he roams.  I slowly crept back to the golf cart and quietly retrieved my camera.  Par suddenly wasn't on my mind, but watching him eat, meander, and drift around the green fascinated me. He walked across the bridge right into our way, seeming to nod, "Oh, a camera I see.  Let me strut for you and show you who's King here at the Palmer!" 

 "I'm watching," I told him.  He stood and stared for a long time then ignored us completely and slowly climbed right up the ragged mountain side, disappearing in the rocks. 

Those of us who are fortunate to enjoy the outdoors, whether in golf, hiking, biking, exploring, or simply being in tuned to nature, are so often blessed with a glimpse of the magnificents. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Golf Gypsy in the Enchanted Forest

There is a cliche my mother used to say, "You can't see the forest for the trees."  I might change it to say, "Some Days you can't find the fairway for the trees."  

One day this summer the groves of trees and tall grasses must have been exuding an unfavorable enchantment over my ball. My woes began on the fourth hole and didn't end until we finished our 18 holes.  The Trails Golf Course in Norman is a river bottom course lined with towering trees on every hole and sawtoothed pampas grass where the trees aren't growing.  I might add the witches boiled their pot and added water filled ponds, and sand bunkers, to the mix of curses that I experienced that day.   

Ironically, I hit some tremendous shots and made one dynamic putt, but I incurred several penalties along the way.  Overall, if I count only my trees hit, sand blasts shots, water shots, and penalties then I shot under par. I may have even set a personal best for hazardous play. 

On hole #7 the pro drove by and chuckled to see four of us wondering through the forest like lost souls, tripping over fallen limbs, and raking the leaves away looking for long lost golf balls. He smiled and asked, "Are you looking for Letty's ball (she who rarely ventures out of the fairway)?" 

"Yes," I responded still able to laugh, not knowing what the future held. His face turned red and he said, "Oh, that was suppose to be a joke!" 

That day on the golf course, I felt a kindred spirit to my hero, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, with the thought, "And then do you know what happened next?"

At The Trails a golfer is rarely alone in the forest.  The tree witches will find a way to tease and insult one's ego. Sometimes, they leave a trail of exchange balls, never yours but occasionally a fair exchange ball; other times they will kick the ball around in mid air like a Quidditch match from Harry Potter. The player can only watch as some other force is in control of the golf ball.

Somewhere in the Rules of Golf there is an unwritten rule that I did not know.  It reads, "When the wondering foursome agrees that the ball must be nearby, not lost, but covered by a magical leaf then there is NO penalty.  The once cursed player may drop a ball nearby an agreed location and hit the ball back into play." I thought it made sense. Why should a player have to go back and hit another golf ball when the first played ball is sitting nearby, just not visible due to the enchantment in the forest. (Rule:  7 ate 9) 

I watched my husband launch two fire bolts today, both flew into the enchanted forest with the firepower to break a curse, but the magic on the limbs and leaves never returned his shots.  No one laughed, but we were in awe of his lightning fast swing.

In golf, like in any sport in life, I am safe from the evil spells for another day, or until my spirit weakens, and I cannot hold them at bay!  Between now and the next tee time, I will walk with the humility that this game teaches us, and laugh at the stories we share. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Golf Gypsy Hyperventilates

"Next on the tee the foursome of ......  A ten minute call for the following ladies...."

How many times as a teenager did I hear that announcement before a round of golf. Whenever my name rang across the loudspeaker at a golf course for a ten minute call to the tee, I immediately ran to the bathroom with knots in my stomach.  When I didn't pass out, I ventured out to the first tee. However, my breathing came in gulps of air with shoulders pulled upwards toward my ears in tension. Once I hit that first tee shot, the shoulders usually began to relax and my breathing pattern became quiet, instead of yawning, gasping, and sucking for air.

Decades passed and I learned that I hyperventilate when dealing with stress or tension.  I tried every trick I read to stop the labored gasping. Meditation and yoga worked best, but I didn't know how to incorporate them into my everyday life when suddenly I couldn't breathe normally. 

This spring I began to hyperventilate on the golf course. It has been decades since I couldn't breath on the golf course, because golf has become my solace, my retreat from the tensions of everyday life. Again and again this spring I found myself nearly fainting from dizziness. In fear of something serious, I consulted a doctor, and we decided it might be depression, which is nothing new to me.

After one week on my medication, I woke up and said, No this is not my problem. I stopped the pills and began a lengthy internet search, where I found a natural way to treat my difficulty in breathing. It is called the Buteyko Breathing Method.

Since May I have applied every breathing method that Buteyko shares for those of us who struggle with chronic "over breathing" which includes mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing (yawning), and taking large breaths prior to talking. I am not asthmatic, but I have created a very unhealthy response to stress.

The first step is to use the control pause concept to evaluate your relative breathing volume.  This website explains it best and provides videos: Buteyko Breathing Method  

Because these methods are new to me, and my stress and tension has not gone away, I've discovered that I must be conscious of my breathing at all times. The exercise to reverse mouth breathing is one I use nearly every morning, and it clears my nasal passages without medication.

The other lifesaving technique I learned quells panic attacks and anxiety. When I catch myself gasping for air, I take a small breath through my nose; a small breath out; I hold my nose for five seconds in order to hold my breath, and then release it to resume breathing. I breathe normally for ten seconds and repeat the sequence.  Sometimes, after three repetitions I am breathing normally again, other times it takes four to five repetitions.  This works in any location; home, driving, eating, playing golf, walking. 

The science and story behind Buteyko's Breathing Method is amazing yet simple.  By breathing calmly, using more shallow breathing I have better oxygenation to help my tissues and organs, especially my brain. If I over breath then I have too much oxygen in my system and not enough CO2. Lack of CO2 (carbon dioxide) causes the blood vessels to constrict. By over breathing we lose carbon dioxide, and the smooth muscles surrounding the airways and the blood vessels constrict. As the airway constricts, there is a natural reaction to breathe more intensely. However, this causes even greater loss of carbon dioxide, and cooling of the airway causes it to close even more. For me, this created a vicious cycle of gasping for air, dizziness, and a foggy brain that kept me from enjoying healthy thinking and living.

This is perhaps the healthiest lifesaving activity I've ever discovered, and I truly wish I'd known it decades ago.  To read more about how to calm yourself and breath properly please follow up with the above mentioned site or the one shown below. 

The Buteyko Clinic