Several years ago, seven buddies and I went on a golf trip to Scotland. It was wonderful, a lot of great golf on some of the most majestic golf courses in the world. But the real treat was our camaraderie, giving each other a hard time both on and off the course.
We had a great selection of courses to play, except our schedule was missing the granddaddy course of them all…St Andrews, considered the place where the game of golf began and all the legends of the game have played. Unfortunately, when planning our trip, we learned St. Andrews was closed for a town festival.
As luck would have it, the day we rolled through the town of St. Andrews we learned the course had just opened earlier in the day. Although it was very late in the day, with damp weather and threatening skies, my good friend Drew and I decided trying to get on St. Andrews was to too good an opportunity to miss. Our friends thought we were nuts, considering we had just finished a round of golf an hour ago, it was late in the day and the weather outlook wasn’t terrific.
So, Choice #1… Drew and I took our clubs from the van and walked to the starter’s cabin, hopeful there would be an open tee time to play The Home of Golf!
Given that we were the only people at the starter’s cabin, he seemed only too happy to accommodate us, but quickly let us know there were no caddies available at this hour and to watch out for the weather. Hell, how hard could it be to find our way around a golf course without caddies, and we were well prepared for the elements with our rain suits stored in our golf bags. (Unfortunately, in the rush, we had left our umbrellas in the van.) So off we went, like two kids getting ready to open presents!
Without boring you with a hole-by hole description, the first nine holes were great. We were loving it, making fun of our buddies’ decision to not join us and to top it off it looked like the rain forecast was a false alarm!
Hmm, we may have spoken too soon because as we completed the 11th hole the skies were looking a tad darker, but this is Scotland and on this trip we had already experienced side-blowing downpours, hail that sent us running for shelter, and beautiful, sunny skies. And, that was on a course named Carnoustie during a single 3½ hour round of golf!
As we were walking up to 13th green, we felt a mist beginning to fall. Choice #2… do we break out our rain suits or not? Back then, rain suits were a bit bulky, making swinging a golf club more confining. Drew and I quickly decided nah, this weather is nothing to worry about.
Standing on the 14th tee the mist got a little heavier, more like a drizzle. Choice #3… Rain suits or not? Our response…not just yet. Swinging our golf clubs more freely on this special course was worth getting a little damp.
Well, over the next 60 seconds we went from being OK feeling a little damp to being caught in an abrupt, fierce downpour that felt like someone had turned a fire hose on us.
Oh, did I mention the two brain trusts left their umbrellas in the van on a rain-threatening day?
Regardless of the weather, there was no way we were not going to finish our St. Andrews golf outing. So what if it was raining so hard that even the sheep on the course were heading towards cover. And, so what if Drew and I were dripping wet from head to toe as we approached the last hole!
After our last putts fell into the water-filled cup on the 18th hole, we began walking towards the starter to thank him, with the loud squishing sound from our golf shoes announcing our arrival. Taking one look at us, with a laugh he told us we were the last people to leave the course and wryly asked, did you have fun? FUN? Choice #4… It was GREAT!
This is a personal story about the power of having personal choice and using it!
As family caregivers, the comment I hear most often, causing family caregiver great angst, is the belief they have little control over the circumstances influencing their family caregiving responsibilities and day-to-day lives.
Having choice is an antidote for believing that there is a lack of control in your life. Every choice does not have to be perfect. In fact, most choices are not, but they are made considering all the circumstances involved, which in family caregiving has to include your personal needs.
The power of choice is in your own hands: your choice to ask family and friends for help, your choice to find best resources, your choice to be as assertive a health advocate as necessary for your loved one’s well-being, and your choice to ensure you include the joy activities you need and deserve in your life.
There are times when it is empowering for you to choose your personal priorities over anyone else. Be comfortable with these choices. And, don’t automatically feel a need to put on your rain suit, when you believe there is a good reason not to.
And, most important of all, you can choose the meaning you give to a situation. Drenched to the bone, Drew and I told the starter we had a “GREAT” experience. Why? Because to us, just being on St. Andrews and playing the special course wonderfully completed our trip.
We defined the meaning of our experience. So, we knew from the moment we stepped onto the 1st tee it was going to be a great time. You could say we set ourselves to succeed and there is definitely nothing wrong with that!
Oh yeah, there is one more choice worth mentioning…whether you are an writer, contractor, teacher, politician or family caregiver, sometimes the best personal choice to consider is knowing when it’s time to get out of the rain! It’s your choice!
Help yourself. Help others.