Everything Happens for a Reason

I say it all the time. I believe it too.

Everything happens for a reason.

But this past weekend just reminded me all over again that it’s true, and I should never doubt that God has everything planned out.

I missed qualifying for our practice trip by one shot.  One shot.  After a month in Florida practicing and working on my game and feeling confident.  At the time, failing to qualify for a trip always feels like the end of the world.  I try to look on the bright side, but especially when I end up being the only team member left home, it’s tough.  And then the trip rolls around, and you see pictures, hear stories and mainly just feel left out.

This time though, a couple days after figuring out I didn’t qualify, plans magically fell into place for my best friend who goes to school in Texas to come and visit for the weekend.  All of a sudden, I had something to look forward to, instead of dreading being home without my teammates and seeing how much fun they were having in sunny Florida.

The weekend rolled around and things continued to fall into place.  I worked out my practice schedule to have optimal time with her. And the weather forecast looked amazing for winter in Kansas.

Now, I’m sitting here hours after she left to return to Texas and everything about the weekend makes me believe that it was all meant to be.  I got to see my best friend for the first time since August.  Not only that, but we had quality time together and I got to show her my college world.  We had the opportunity to catch up in a way you can only do in person. She also got to meet my boyfriend, and the time we all spent together was priceless because they both mean the world to me.

I also wasn’t alone at the golf course.  I practiced with the men’s team and felt included like I hadn’t expected.  Family.  It isn’t just a publicity stunt for our university or athletics department.

I was also student athlete of the basketball game and had my best friend there to see it.  I experienced going out on the court and throwing t-shirts into the stands and having my face on the jumbotron.

On top of everything, the weather was incredible.  Shorts weather on Sunday, despite it being February.  It was like God was showing us he planned this weekend and wanted it to go perfectly.

I wouldn’t trade this weekend for anything.

Late night chats with my best friend.  Laughing until I cry.  Dancing in the arms of the guy I love.  Perfect weather.  Eating a bacon bomb in the middle of Aggieville with two of my favorite people.

It all came together and reminded me,

Magic is Hidden in the Simple Things.  

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Giving All You’ve Got

“Try your best.”

It’s the three words that every child has probably heard from an adult at some point in their life.  We grow up trying.  We try our best to make the Little League baseball team.  We try our best to ace the science test.  We try our best to learn how to play the piano.  Parents, teachers and coaches engrave “trying your best” into our brains to make sure that we live up to our fullest potentials.

I have come to believe though, that there really is such a thing as trying too hard.

College golf is unique-you compete against your teammates for the top five travel spots.  For me, I tend to put more pressure on getting one of these five spots than I do the actual tournament.  And this pressure, leads to trying really hard.  In fact, as I’ve recently discovered after many frustrating rounds and some discussions with some people in my life, it leads to trying too hard.

So this battle is firing shots back and forth in my head.  How do I make something that means so much to me, not have as much meaning? Or how do I just play golf without thinking about the outcome? How do I try my very very best, and not have that turn into forgetting all the things I’ve worked so hard on?

That’s when it hit me.  Forget try.

Why would you want to try? What’s Nike’s motto, Just Do It? I’ve changed “try your best” to “give it all you’ve got.”  I’ve had people tell me how I’m always trying my best, but what I really think the vision should be is that I’m giving it all I’ve got.  If you’re giving then you’re putting in the time, effort, thought and passion.

There can’t be a try if you’re planning on doing something.  That goes for anything.  If you decide to go to Med School, you aren’t going to try to become a doctor.  You’re going to put in the study hours, passion for learning the subject, and time in the field.

If after all the giving, you feel like you gave all you have, then you’ve succeeded.  All your time, energy and passion- if you’ve given the most you could towards doing what you set out to do, then you’ve given it all you’ve got, and no one could possibly say you didn’t “try your best.”  In fact you did more than that-you worked and gave your best.

A motto says, “Success is a journey, not a destination.  Focus on the process.”  The process is the giving.  If you haven’t given anything then you can’t receive the feeling of success.

That process and journey is made up of a bunch of little things.

And magic is hidden in the simple things.

The Plan of Happiness: And why it isn’t always happy

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The Plan of Happiness.

I thought over this phrase as I listened to the heart monitor beside me, beeping with each rise and fall of my chest. My eyes were pinned to the ceiling and the pain medication turned the tiles a sickly green.

Ha.

Sometimes the plan is anything but.

That day–just a few days ago–I spent the day pinned to an I.V., waiting to hear the diagnosis that my Endometriosis is getting worse *hence, more painful* and surgery is the only option if I ever want to live a pain-free life or have a chance at children. I laid there wondering, why in Heaven’s name do we call the Plan of Salvation the Plan of Happiness? How is that synonymous whatsoever? Because goodness gracious! Life has its moments. Some of those moments extend to weeks or months or years. Some of those moments just don’t…

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A question I’m asked quite frequently

“How do you ever watch golf? It’s so boring!”

With the British Open coming to a close yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about this comment that I hear on a regular basis from my non-golfing friends.

Now, I’m not here to suggest everyone should love watching golf or insist that it become your next regular hobby. I am here to explain why I enjoy watching the sport that I love and maybe give some perspective into my mind when watching golf.

I will admit that golf doesn’t always excite me. There are times that I have to be multitasking in order to stay entertained. But the major championships, seeing all the best golfers in the world play their hearts out on a challenging course, will always be the weekends I put on my calendar to turn on the TV.

One of the main reasons that the major championships have such draw for me is the excitement of the back nine on Sunday. Literally, anything can happen. I’ve watched the best players in the world shoot ridiculous scores to win, while at the same time other great players lose a five shot lead. And when it all comes down to it, I feel an ounce of the pressure and adrenaline the leaders are feeling. I know I have no where experienced all the emotions the professionals are feeling in the most prestigious tournaments in the world, but I can say I have experienced it in my own way. The final putt to win the State Amateur, needing par to win a playoff and teeing off in the U.S. Girls Jr are just a few examples.

Another huge reason I love professional golf in general is understanding the extreme talent they have. To watch Rory McIlroy hit a 380 yard drive like it’s nothing, is amazing. To watch Tiger Woods (who I believe will still win more majors), get up and down out of a bunker with one knee on the ground and the ball on the lip, is incredible. To see all of their great strength and ball shaping abilities is just unbelievable to watch. Many amateur golfers expect those shots and expect the professionals to never falter, but they’re human just like the rest of us.

So I challenge you: not to make watching golf your next hobby and not to start enjoying watching golf on TV. Everyone has their own opinions. But before you complain and question how anyone could ever watch such a boring sport like golf on TV, I challenge you to take the perspective of the athlete, the human, walking down the 18th fairway about to achieve one of the biggest accomplishments of their life. Think about the hours of work that they’ve put into getting better every day. Think about the amount of pressure and adrenaline they are experiencing. Think about even the players not in the top 10, and how even they could be playing some of the best golf of their careers. Think about every moment they’ve been through to get to that point.  Compare all of this to the work you’ve put into getting the big job you want and what it would feel like to achieve your wildest dreams. Those kind of dreams were exactly what Rory McIlroy was achieving on Sunday at the British Open.

It’s the adrenaline, hours of practice and people by your side that all add up to make the moment so magical. It’s the little details.

After all, magic is hidden in the simple things.

“You don’t know what you have til it’s gone”

The saying goes,

“you don’t know what you have til it’s gone.”

I’ve always believed in counting your blessings and recognizing the many good things in our lives, even when it seems like everything is going wrong. I’ve always associated this quote with people that don’t take that perspective and fail to appreciate the simple things around them.

Recently though, I realized that although I may be thankful for my health, I may not appreciate it to the extent that I should. I’m an athlete; it’s basically my life right now. Between practice and workouts, my sport fills a good portion of my day. This expression hit me full on though when for a few days I was experiencing some back pain. I knew it wasn’t critical, but the feeling of not being able to spend my days like I normally do, created the belief in me that once I was pain free, I wouldn’t take a second of it for granted.

And surprisingly, it wasn’t just the fact that I couldn’t play my sport. I realized how much I enjoyed working out, regardless of whether it was to improve my golf game. I also realized how even simple actions like going for a walk outside on a nice night or spending a day with my friends, was impeded by not being completely healthy.

These simple actions I realized I could never take for granted. I also came to appreciate hobbies in my life that I never realized were truly passions, such as running and working out.

After all, magic is hidden in the simple things, and we can’t take anything for granted.

Technology taking away the simple things?

I’ll start off with a disclaimer: I love technology.  Staying in touch with my parents and friends who are hundreds of miles away wouldn’t be possible without it.  I have several types of social media, all on my smartphone.  As a public relations major, I see social media as a great communication method.  I love being able to take photos everywhere I go.  I love being able to go for a run, while listening to music and tracking my pace.

But lately, I’ve been noticing how much technology is controlling our lives.  People bury their heads in their phones, without the slightest notice of the world going on around them.   Walking to class and waiting for class to start, consists of scrolling through Twitter and Instagram.  When people don’t have something to instantly entertain them, their first instinct is to reach for their phone.

I’m worried people will begin losing touch with some of the greatest things in life such as the company of others, people watching and the natural world around them.

One of my favorite songs right now is Automatic by Miranda Lambert.  A verse goes, “If you had something to say, you’d write it on a piece of paper, then you’d put a stamp on it, and they’d get it three days later.”  Now while I’m glad I can text, call and video chat my family and friends, I’m afraid some of the greatest things in life will be lost–such as a simple hand written letter.  

The chorus sings, “Hey, whatever happened to waiting your turn, doing it all by hand, cuz when everything is handed to you, it’s only worth as much as the time put in, it all just seemed so good the way we had it, back before everything became automatic.”

It is so much easier to appreciate the small things when our heads aren’t buried in our phones.  To enjoy the company of others, instead of relying on a phone for entertainment.  To take a moment to notice all the details going on around us.

After all, magic is hidden in the simple things.

“Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.”

Sometimes the opportunities that arise for us can seem like bigger tasks than we are comfortable with.  Whether it be a new job, position within an organization or event we are asked to be a part of–there is sometimes that moment of hesitation of whether we want to accept the responsibility that comes with the opportunity.  But the thing to remember, is with the opportunity, is a chance to have a boatload of new experiences.

Tomorrow, I will walk on to a stage in front of the entire student athlete population, and present Show Stopping Moment of the Year.  When I accepted the position in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t the fact I would have to do any public speaking.  I was merely excited to be a leader on my team.  Now, I don’t have a fear of public speaking, but there is not doubt I’ll be a little nervous walking on to the stage tomorrow night.  But that, is where I think life begins, is right there at the end of my comfort zone.  Trying new experiences, and in return getting the opportunity to be a part of events and meet new groups of people.  After all,

“You only regret the chances you didn’t take.”

And with every event I help plan, volunteer opportunity that I’m a part of, photo shoot I’m able to be in, and athlete that I meet, I always remember,

magic is really hidden in the simple things.

 

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Eat. Sleep. Golf.

College golf has redefined this expression for me.

Many golf enthusiasts use the saying “eat, sleep, golf” to emphasize their love of the game. As a collegiate competitor though, going to tournaments is the exact definition of these three words.

An example of this from our last tournament in Utah:

Travel day: Wake up. Eat. Drive to St. George from Las Vegas. Check in with host families. Eat. Practice and play nine holes. Eat. Sleep.

Practice round day: Wake up. Eat. Arrive at course and have practice competitions. Go for hike with host family. (Hey look! Something that’s not eating, sleeping or golfing!) Eat. Play practice round. Eat. Sleep.

Competition Day 1: Wake up. Eat. Warm up and play 36 holes. Eat lunch during round. Eat dinner immediately following play. Sleep.

Competition Day 2: Wake up. Eat. Warm up and play 18 holes. Pack up van. Eat. Drive to Las Vegas. Check into hotel. Eat. Drive around Las Vegas. Sleep.

The summary of those four days: Eat. Sleep. Golf.

Gotta love college golf!

4 o’clock drop, 5 o’clock drop, 6 o’clock plummet!

We woke up in Manhattan to a foggy morning and a nippy 27 degrees with 100% humidity.  The high temperature was projected to be 51, but that was seeming less and less like a possibility unless the sun decided to peek its way through the low cloud cover.

At 11 a.m. we received the text.  We would be playing at 2 p.m.!

On the drive to the golf course we listened as the radio weather man reported a current temperature of 35 degrees.  With four layers on top and three on bottom (and two pairs of socks!), we were ready to go though!

Right as we were about to tee off, it was like God knew we had qualifying to accomplish.  The sun came out! It is amazing the difference in the “real feel” temperature with just a little bit of solar energy.

As soon as I got on the course, it felt so freeing to be out playing golf! After months in the indoor, sloshing through snow and ice to even get there, all while trying to stay warm even with the heaters on, it was such a relief to be outdoors playing golf! Real golf! Not just putting and hitting balls out into the blinding, snow-covered range.  I believe that a lot can be accomplished in the indoor and there are many parts of your game you can focus on, but there is nothing like being out on the course playing.

By our final hole, it was beginning to get a bit chilly.  We had played through the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock drops, but now it was time for the 6 o’clock plummet! The sun was beginning to fall closer to the horizon, and we’d soon lose visibility too as my teammate cheerfully pointed out.

Despite our initial fears in the beginning of the day that it was going to be a rough round to get through between the cold and course conditions, it turned out to be a great day.  I thought about that as I stood up on that last tee.

Looking around, the setting sun was making the hills all around me glow.  I will never get over the beauty of Colbert Hills at sunset.  I also realized, I hadn’t stopped smiling the entire round.

How could I not? I was playing golf with my best friends in the beautiful state of Kansas.

Magic really is hidden in the simple things.

So golf isn’t a sport?….

As a competitive golfer, I have unfortunately heard the words, “golf isn’t a sport,” too many times to count.  I have also been questioned why golfers work out and what workouts could possibly consist of.

So I leave you with these 10 things to consider…

1. Have you ever walked 36 holes in one day carrying your golf bag of 14 clubs?

2. How about just 18? On a sunny August day when it’s 100 degrees and it’s a hilly course.

3. If being strong makes you hit the ball further, how would working out not help?

4. How many hours can you focus on a task? A basketball, football or baseball game lasts an estimated 3 hours.  Well golf, a round is fast if it’s finished in 4 hours.  And a 36 hole college tournament? Easily 9 hours competing.

5. You have to play in all types of weather elements. It might be 35 degrees when you tee off at 8 a.m.  Bring on the pants, ear muffs, jackets and hand warmers.  Then, by 1 p.m. be 70 degrees.  Time to undress! Or, a shower might pass by and you have to haul out your umbrella, rain gloves, jacket, rain pants and rain cover for your bag.

6. You have to be good at math.  5 yards into the wind.  10 yards uphill.  20 yards in front of the 150 yrd marker.  Pin is -8 from center.  What club do you hit?

7. Have you ever counted every shot you hit? And that includes following the rules and taking proper drops from water hazards and out-of-bounds. Now what did you shoot?

8. There’s 14 clubs in  your bag, and the best players in the world could hit any of them for any shot.

9. There’s so many aspects to practice…chipping, putting, pitching, driving, irons, sand shots, fairway bunkers, bad lies, punch shots, flop shots, low irons, high irons, woods, short putts, lag putts…the list goes on and on.  There’s just not enough time in the day!

10. You get to playing good, then you hit a bad shot.  You step up to a hole with a water hazard all along the right hand side and you’ve been slicing it all day.  You are 3-under par and just want to break 70.  It’s all mental.  And it’s been proven that golf is one of the more mentally challenging sports.

So, the next time you’re wondering if golf is a sport, go out there and try to play competitively.  I guarantee you, it won’t be as easy as you thought.

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” -Arnold Palmer