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Jason’s challenges

Golf Challenge Wrap-up

Golf Challenge Wrap-up

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A week of travel and several days of pain (I hurt my back) delayed the conclusion of my golf challenge, but it’s finally in the books.  I shot 105, which was only 2 shots better than my opening round.  Considering my personal goal was to break 100, I feel a little disheartened.  Ironically, the part of my game I had the most confidence in, putting, was my greatest weakness.  I had a total of 45 puts in my closing round, which translates to a pathetic 2.5 puts per green.  That was 8 shots worse than my opening round on putting alone (ouch!).  In my opening round, I made 3 or 4 puts from over 10 feet, while in the closing round I don’t think I made anything from over 5 feet.

While I didn’t achieve my score goal, I do feel better about my game now.   Before I avoided work related golf events so I wouldn’t embarrass myself, but now I’d feel okay to play with other people watching.  So that’s some progress at least.

My biggest take-away from this challenge is to not over analyze your golf swing.  In other words, find a swing that feels comfortable for you and then stick with it and don’t keep making adjustments all the time.  About midway through the month, I was feeling good about my swing and then I took a lesson.  That lesson actually set me back about 2 weeks.  Because golf is hard, it’s tempting to keep making adjustments to try and get better.  The problem is that the adjustments might fix one part of your swing but then cause an issue somewhere else.  In conclusion, golf is difficult and if you want to improve, be prepared to work hard.

 

Golf Challenge

Golf Challenge

Alright I’m now halfway through my month of golf training.  I’ll start by saying that golf is a very frustrating game.  It seems like it should be easy.   I mean come on, the ball doesn’t even move.  What it does do is sit there and mock you.  Golf is also compelling and addictive because it makes you think you might be on the verge of making a breakthrough.  I’ve had this feeling several times over the past couple weeks.  I start hitting balls at the driving range and then a few actually look like real golf shots and I think to myself, okay I’ve got this thing figured out, except when I try to do it again the ball goes anywhere but where I’m aiming.  And that’s why this game can drive people to insanity.  In tennis, if you have a good forehand, you can pretty much make a good shot most of the time.  In golf, it can look great on one shot and then on the very next shot seem like I’ve never swung a club in the my life.  Maybe it’s just a matter of more practice, we’ll see.

So far, I’ve spent nearly half of my practice time chipping and putting.  I think I’ve made the biggest improvement in these areas.  For golf players, I settled on this newer putting grip called the claw, which is where you only hold the putter normally with your left hand but then only barely hold it with your right hand.  I highly recommend this grip.  It felt weird at first, but I started to see improvement rather quickly.  I also decided to take a few lessons in person.  That’s helped too, but there are so many different methods for holding and hitting a golf ball, I think it’s best just to find a method that feels right for you and not try to copy a PGA tour pro’s swing. Well that’s it for now, time to practice.

Golf Challenge

Golf Challenge

I’ve always thought that golf would be a great sport to try when I got old.   Now that I’m over 40, I guess that time has come.  I have played before, maybe 20 times in the last 20 years, so this is going to take some work just to get to hacker status.   When we started doing these 30 day challenges last year, I had golf near the top of my list and thought May would be the perfect month.  So much for that logic.  I just checked and the forecast is for low 50s and rain for basically the first half of May.  You know what they say about best laid plans, but I will not be deterred.

My plan is to play an 18 hole round of golf at the beginning, practice for 30 days, and then play the same course again.  For practice, I’ve only got enough time for 45 minutes to an hour a day.  That means a lot of range work and chipping/putting at the range as well.  I’m undecided whether I should take a lesson or not although I’ll be consuming all the golf tips I can find on YouTube.  

I played my opening round  over the weekend and actually did better than I expected.  I got lucky on a few shots.  My best shot of the day came on a steep hill where I couldn’t even see the green.  After I hit the shot I was wondering if I would even be able to find the ball.  Once I came over the hill I saw the green and a ball about 6 feet from the pin.   I missed the birdie putt but it was my only par of the day.  It might be an advantage for me not to know where the green is.   I shot a 107.

Relaxation Challenge – The Stress-Free Finish Line

Relaxation Challenge – The Stress-Free Finish Line

Unfortunately, my stress free month has ended.  This challenge proved more beneficial and insightful than I expected.  If you find yourself getting stressed out too often, here’s my recommendation.  Like anything, you’ve got to have a plan.  The most important thing is keeping track of what triggers your stress by keeping a journal and recording what contributes to your anxiety.  You might discover, like I did, that certain tasks in your daily routine contribute to stress.  Once you understand the triggers, it’s much easier to take control of the situation.  Then you can utilize stress reduction techniques most efficiently.  I used a combination of meditation, music, and stretching.  

Another big insight I learned came in dealing with factors outside of your control.  Many times each day things happen that you can’t control and we become victims by allowing stress to win.  The key is to realize you have the power and don’t let that guy who cut you off driving to work negatively impact you.  Okay, I know that sounds too simple, but I’ve found it to be true.  Just remember you’re in charge of your emotions and the hardest part is over.  So much anxiety is caused when we feel we’re not in control.  Convince yourself you’re in control and you’ll be happier and healthier.

During the month, we purchased a massage chair.  I’d been thinking about getting one for a couple years and the challenge was just what I needed to convince myself that it was time.   We’ve had it about three weeks now and I think I’ve used it almost every day.  The chair is great to use for 10-15 minutes before bed.  I fall asleep faster and even seem to sleep better.  The technology in the newest massage chairs has radically improved in recent years and prices have also been coming down.  I did a lot of research before making a decision and the best place I found was here.   Dr. Weidner was very helpful and the entire process went smoothly. 

Good luck to those who choose to stand up to stress.  Punch stress in the face and take control.  You’ll be happy you did.

Relaxation Challenge – Almost Halfway

Relaxation Challenge – Almost Halfway

Alright I’m almost 2 weeks into my stress reduction month and I’ve definitely made some progress.   I think the most important thing I’ve done has been keeping data by maintaining a stress journal.   It helped me discover what events triggered additional stress and the times of the day that meditation can provide the most benefit.   On the other hand, some things that I thought might help like driving in the slow lane probably caused as much stress as it prevented.   Avoiding competitive games has really helped.  I’m really competitive and for me it’s difficult to return to equilibrium after competition.  So if I can keep those activities to a reasonable level it seems to really help.  Mediation on a consistent schedule has also been a big plus and I notice the difference when I miss a planned session.  It’s all about calming your mind as it tends to start juggling too many tasks as the day goes on.   That’s all for now but we just purchased a massage chair that might help more on this front.  More details on that later.

Jason’s March Relaxation Challenge

Jason’s March Relaxation Challenge

For March, I’ve decided to make reducing stress a challenge.  Everyone has too much stress and we all know that’s not a great thing, but what can you do about it?  This month will be an interesting experiment as to whether a plan and concerted effort can make a difference when it comes to stress.   The first step of my plan was to identify  the major sources of stress in my life, which include work, competitive activities, family responsibilities, and commuting.  Some of these like competition and commuting I can materially change while work/family will need a different plan.  For competition, the plan is to avoid all competitive situations where possible, easier said than done for me.  For commuting, it’s going to be the slow lane for me although this might actually increase my stress, time will tell.  And for the things I can’t really change at work and home, I’m going to meditate and do some stretching 4-5 times a day for 3-5 minutes at a time.  Hope you have a stress free March.      

 

Documentary a Day Wrap Up

Documentary a Day Wrap Up

What a fun month!  We learned about history, food, the economy, sports, different cultures, and inspiring people.  The best part?  We did it together.  Each documentary, whether we loved it or hated it generated great conversation and time spent together on the couch. A perfect challenge for the cold days of January. We finished last night with an hour to spare.  Woo hoo 🙂  You can click here to browse through all the documentaries for the month.

Stacy’s Top 5

More than Honey.jpg  Champs Poster    13th (film).png  Amy (2015 film) poster.png

I would like to note that we watched four films about food and healthy eating and they have encouraged great change here and inspired next month’s challenge.  I learned something from each of them and they all encouraged the same thing – a plant based diet. (Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food Inc., Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead)

Jason’s Top 5

Champs Poster    Amy (2015 film) poster.png     Forks Over Knives movie poster.png

While these were some of my favorites, I think the most important ones were the four food related ones.  They inspired me to improve my diet and I already feel better for it.

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

2016. Stacy & Jason 4/5

We saw the new version, which was updated for the Cavs win.  The first version was filmed before the Cavs victory and that would have been just outright depressing.  It was fun to relive the victory and all the celebrations – good times.  I thought the film went a little overboard on trying to make Cleveland look bad as it basically showed every negative event of the last 50 years.   Just think how torturing the Indians World Series loss would have been if the Cavs had not won.

2013. 1 hour 32 minutes.  Stacy & Jason 4/5

This was a fascinating look at JFK’s final day.  This is not a conspiracy movie, but it just lays out the timeline of events.  While I thought I knew the story fairly well, there were several details that I didn’t know.  1) JFK was in Dallas because he needed Texas in the next election and he took Jackie to help because he was not well liked there. 2) They originally arrest Oswald for shooting a police officer in a movie theater and it takes them a little while to realize he’s the suspected assassin. 3) Oswald was taken to the same hospital and pronounced dead by the same doctor as JFK. 4) Texas refuses to release the body at first because the investigation was not yet closed.

 

2015. 1 hour 46 minutes. Stacy 3/5, Jason 3.5/5

This chronicles four friends horseback journey from Mexico to Canada.  If that wasn’t hard enough on its own, they decide to make the trek with wild mustangs.  They purchase the wild horses from the Nevada park service and it takes a few months to train the mustangs.  I wasn’t aware that wild horses were actually a population problem for the park service. So to reduce the population many horses are rounded out and put into camps where they can be purchased.  For people that enjoy or are interested in horseback riding or big adventures, this film is for you.

 

57 minutes. Stacy 3.5/5

Running a marathon is hard, ridiculously hard.  But there are people that push themselves to even further extremes. Enter ultra marathons that can be 50 or 100 miles or more. This film is about one woman’s goal of running a famous U.S. nature trail, the Long Trail that’s 273 miles. This is a testament to human endurance and will power.

Vegucated (film).jpg2011. 1 hour 16 minutes. Stacy 4/5, Jason 3.5/5

Ever think about going vegan? Probably not, but if you’re interested this is a good crash course about the rational and the lifestyle.

2015. 1 hour 16 minutes. Stacy 3.5/5, Jason 3/5

While this film points out many of the problems our country faces such as income inequality, political campaign finance, and business running government it fails to offer many solutions.  I felt it also used numerous half truths that distorted history in my opinion. The topics are important and interesting but I thought it was a little extreme with conspiracy theories.

 

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

Jason and I completed the challenge last night but before we write up our summary we need to get some documentary reviews out of the way.  I’m writing six and Jason will write six later.  I’m listing them in the order I liked them best.

Written by Stacy

More than Honey.jpg2012, 1 hour 35 minutes  Stacy 5/5 & Jason 3.5/5

Why are the world’s bees dying?  A 3rd generation German-Swiss beekeeper wonders why his purebred black bees are dying while John Miller in the California has some idea of why his bees are dying in the world’s largest almond groves.  By traveling around the world we can begin to get a clearer picture of how modern global living is stressing the bees beyond what they can handle.  I loved learning about the way the hives are being manipulated and the perserverance of the killer bees.  This is a much watch for everyone.

Amy (2015 film) poster.png2015, 2 hour 8 minutes. Stacy 4/5 & Jason 4/5

I was a late convert to Amy Winehouse but fell in love with her voice after her premature death.  You can feel every emotion in her songs.  This films uses only clips to show her life and how falling in love with the wrong guy, drugs, and her ascent to stardom started her on a downward spiral from which she would not recover.  The world lost an amazing talent.  It’s a heartbreaking story and a must see for fans.

Last-train-home-lixin-fan.jpg2009, 1 hour 25 minutes. Stacy 4/5 & Jason 3.5/5

Migrant workers in China’s big cities go home only once a year, if they’re lucky, and only at great expense and hardship. This family of five, the grandmother and two grandchildren at a very remote farm, and the two parents in the city sewing to earn money, struggle to stay connected year after year.  The parents stress education to their children so that the will not end up in a dead end job like their parents, but it’s hard to parent from so far away.  It was an eye opener for sure.  Well worth the subtitles.

2014. Stacy 4/5 & Jason 4.5/5

Told with first hand accounts of survivors and home and military video this is a harrowing look into the Vietnam War. One of the last infantry companies to be drafted, trained and sent to the war zone together this was a personal look at the daily lives of these soldiers.  It was powerful, showing the solidarity of these men even after all these years.

2014. 1 hour 34 minutes. Jason and Stacy 4/5

Eugene Cernan became the 11th and last (so far) man to walk on the moon in 1972.  He tells the story of his invitation to become and astronaut and what life was like training with his friends for multiple trips to space.  He was driven, ambitious, and able to excuse himself of his shortcomings as a father and husband.  It was a  fascinating look at the space program in its heyday.  He died this month at the age of 82.

2016. 48 minutes. Stacy 1.5/5 & Jason 2.5/5

A small tribe in the Amazon along the Brazil border makes its first contact with civilized society.  Parts of it felt so fake, maybe because it felt like so much of the story was missing.

 

 

 

Documentary a Day – One in a Billion

Documentary a Day – One in a Billion

One in a Billion Poster2016. 1 hour 9 minutes.  Jason & Stacy 3/5

Escaping poverty is incredibly difficult no matter where you’re born.  In most countries, your best chance to improve your station is to study relentlessly and get into a quality university.  It’s no different in India.  What is different, however, is that most parents discourage many other activities in favor of focusing entirely on school.  Sports are generally considered a waste of time.  Maybe they’re  right and we devote way too much time and energy to sports.

This film follows one kid’s journey from rural India to the NBA draft as he becomes the first India born player to be drafted.  Despite being 7 foot 2, it’s still a long and challenging road for Satnum Singh.  He’s discovered by an NBA sponsored scout that goes to India in hopes of expanding the league into India just like they did with Yao Ming in China.  The scout finds Satnum, who is already 6 foot 6 at 13 years old and who has a dad that is over seven feet tall.  Next Satnum is offered a scholarship to IMG Academy in Florida, which is one of the top prep schools in the U.S.  So at 13, Satnum leaves his family and friends and moves to a new country where he doesn’t even speak the language.  While the movie does drag on at times, one thing I loved was Satnum’s determination.  He works hard, really hard and never complains.  His hard work pays off when Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks selects him in the draft and he becomes a hero in his country.