It never ceases to amaze me how many layers and textures slowly appear over the course of a given season. Whether it’s the stages of the melt over winter, the new buds and shoots of the spring or the ever-changing bursts of wildflowers over the summer months giving way to the burnished coppers of autumn, living mindfully encourages us to lend our awareness to this bounty constantly. But, as we are all aware, the demands of our jobs and our lives can make that difficult by times. It can be a tal
This summer I was afforded a unique opportunity. Our son Lucas (17) plays guitar in a band and they were lucky enough to land a regular outdoor gig playing jazz in downtown Charlottetown five evenings a week all summer. Only glitch with this plan was that last November Lucas developed a hernia and has been waiting on surgery ever since. This precluded him from carrying any of the gear both to and from the summer shows. Hence, I became the band’s default roadie for most of the summer, and I have
As superintendents, we are well acquainted with the personal vulnerability we feel when our workplaces are in need of repair. Whether it's structural decline, damage from a weather event, personnel issues, or simply wear and tear from the passage of time, we usually have two choices when it comes to facing difficulties within our operations. We can pretend they are not really a problem and continue with business as usual, or we can tackle the issues head on with clarity, moving towards a meaning
A couple of years back I saw an animated short on Youtube (below) narrated by author, ABC news personality, and podcast host Dan Harris. In the video Harris likened the practice of mindfulness to being an actual superpower. Our ability to choose to respond wisely rather than be carried off by our habitual reactions is on par with x-ray vision or shooting webs from your wrists.
The interesting thing about most super heroes is that they aren’t just one-trick ponies. Even though the
“There is nothing so stable as change.” — Bob Dylan
In our lives there isn’t much that’s predictable. The only thing we can count on for sure is that things change constantly. On many levels change is imperceptible. Thatch accumulation underneath a green surface, a tree growing a few inches at a time, a change in a belt notch or a hairline receding. The hum of daily life keeps these things in the background, hidden by our toils and troubles, joys and sorrows.
Once in a while we all exp
It was no more than a whisper for years. But thanks to the courage of more and more people willing to speak out, the hushed tones are growing into an audible conversation. People who you never would have suspected are opening up to a new narrative. Those who have always felt strongly about it are speaking their minds and sharing with each other openly.
Mental well-being, stress management and mindfulness are beginning to take root in the turf industry.
This movement towards a more ho
“You must experiment. You do things in which you eliminate something that is perhaps essential, but to learn how essential it is you leave it out. The space then becomes very significant.” — Henry Moore
A few weeks ago I was afforded a rare opportunity to step away from everything that I deem essential in my life. Work, phone, social media, my friends, my family (by far the most essential one… basically my life as I have come to know it. I wasn’t on a vacation per se, rather an intentional
I’ll start this post with a healthy dose of honesty. I’m tired. This year has been one chock full of a very many things, a lot of goodness, hardship, tough conversations, and wonderful connections. Now one could say, “well, that’s life”, and that is true… but 2019 was a solid one. As I sit down to write the last post of the year, I simply cannot deny the fact that the cumulative fatigue of the year has caught up with me.
When I find myself strung out, writing is tough. The flow of ideas an
All superintendents have to-do lists. It doesn’t matter how one manages them — smartphone, tablet, app or even manually on a piece of paper — they guide our days and can shape us as much as they shape our courses.
Many of us live and die by these lists. The blueprint they provide us is essential to what we accomplish on any given day, week, month, or over the course of the season. But what is your relationship to that list? Is it a positive source of clarity and organization? Do you pause a
A few weeks back a good friend, Michael Vessely (Culver Academy) reminded me of someone special who has had a profound effect on my life. He was not someone I ever met in person, but nonetheless always felt a deep connection with. This person had that kind of effect on all those he touched, met, and taught. I’m speaking of cultural icon, instructional painter, and humanitarian, Mr. Bob Ross - creator and host of The Joy of Painting television show that aired for many years on PBS.
There has been a theory forming in my mind for a while now. It’s one of those connections that I have been subtly observing for a while now, but it wasn’t until this spring that it has emerged fully formed. The idea explores the overlay and the similarities between turf departments and restaurant kitchens. It may seem like an odd theme for a blog post but bear with me.
Over the last couple of months our kitchen staff has suffered tremendously. We have been dealing with devastating personal
Like many of you I sat transfixed as Tiger Woods made his way to his unprecedented fifth Masters title. It was hard not to be swept away by the culmination of this archetypal hero’s journey and cheer him down the 18th fairway. It was great to see him don the green jacket once more, but more importantly it was really nice to see him happy.
It wasn’t until after a recent conversation with my dear friend (a former Assistant Superintendent of mine) Robert McGregor a few days later, that the arc
The practice of yoga has always fascinated me. The breath work, the mind/body connection, and the way it can absolutely destroy you without you leaving your mat. Yoga has had a profound effect on my body and my well being.
A key yoga lesson which has stayed with me over the years is that of support. A wise teacher once explained that when doing a pose, the primary source of strength doesn’t always come from the main body part you would assume it would. Instead, much of the strength and sta
We are all part of communities. I am a family member, a citizen of my small town, I am an Islander, a Maritimer and a Canadian. You can say similar yet different things about yourself. Whether it’s at the family level, within our surrounding neighborhoods or even based on our geographic locations; we are all part of a something bigger than just ourselves. At the macro level we are also part of the larger human community and even the community of all beings that makes up this planet. We all are i
With each turn of a new year, it can be a helpful exercise to both reflect on the year that was and ponder the time ahead. I’ve never been a huge fan of the resolution thing and hopefully most of us have figured out that approach doesn’t really work anyway. Most resolutions fail principally because they start from a place of deficiency; the idea that something is inherently wrong with us and we just need to buckle down and fix it.
What if instead we simply reflected on our strengths and so
A funny thing happened this week. After my most recent bout with intermittent recurring back pain (on and off for the better part of the past 25 years) I finally decided to go for a physiotherapy appointment. I’m really not sure why I hadn’t gone before; ignorance, procrastination, stubbornness... pick anything really. My wife picked stubbornness. My chronic back struggles had become a part of how I defined myself and I guess I just accepted that my back pain was inevitable.
Back trouble fo
We had a feeling that we were on to something. An idea for an event that was so far out of the industry box, there was no packaging left. We sincerely hoped that it would have a lasting impact on the attendees; that the small space created would open a door to new possibilities and a fresh way of approaching what it means to be a Superintendent. We had no idea the impact our first retreat would have.
The beta version of the Mindful Superintendent Leadership and Wellness Retreat has come and
Every now and again we get a nudge in the right direction. It can be from a loved one, a stranger, or a good friend. They see something special in you or an opportunity in your future that you just haven’t noticed yet. It’s not that you wouldn’t ever see it on your own, it’s just that they are looking at the situation through a different lens.
Over a decade ago my amazing wife Jill told me that one day we would be writing together and that folks like you will be reading about what we had t
the shore, the shore… forever more
the shore is where I’m bound
‘cause it’s the closest place to feeling free… that I’ve ever found
those troubles great will have to wait… right now I’m doing fine
in a place that is no place at all
and a moment out of time
“Chasin’ the shore” by Island author David Weale
No matter where you call home, there are special landscapes where the lines between the everyday and “out there” blur a little bit. Whether it’s t
Most of you know that I am a fan of meditation. We have discussed it here on more than a few occasions (the art of the pause, silence is golden). Recently I passed a personal milestone with my practice: 100 consecutive days. I have been practicing for a lot longer than that but decided to make a conscious effort this year to make daily meditation a habit.
Like any behavioral change a little positive reinforcement can go a long way. There are lots of different mediums and types of meditatio
One of the fundamental truths of life as a human being is that, no matter what, we all suffer. Whether physical fatigue, mental exhaustion, anxiety or another factor... episodic or chronic... some measure of it is unavoidable. The level or degree ebbs and flows, but at some point we all encounter it. How we engage and relate to this inevitable suffering can be one of the keys to living a balanced life.
As golf course superintendents, our jobs require total immersion if we are to be successf
Every now and again a book comes along that really connects with people close to you. Originally from an uncle, given to my mother in law, then passed to my son and then my wife, the book by James Rebanks has made the family rounds. As my wife Jill finished reading it, she turned to me in bed and stated, "You have to read this. You will get it. There are so many parallels between his life and yours."
The work tells the story of a forgotten way of life in the Lake District of the nort
How many times have you struggled with a problem only to find that the tighter your grip, the more elusive the answer became? You doubled down, squared your shoulders and refocused, only to find that in your fervor, the problem had resolved itself without your intervention. Lost in the haze of your quest to fix things, doing nothing at all was actually the best course of action.
An old greenkeeping proverb states, "Doing nothing is often the hardest thing to do." But for many superintendent
I was finally able to attend my inaugural Golf Industry Show a few weeks back. It was a long time on the "to do list" as a Superintendent from the East Coast of Canada, and the experience did not disappoint. As I flew home, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and positive vibes from the whole event.
I would like to take a moment to thank some of the folks who made the trip so memorable.
Chris Tritabaugh, for teaming up with me to deliver my first ever seminar at the GIS. Chris
We are well into the New Year and hopefully most of the resolution hoopla has passed us over until next year. It seems that the resolution craze has simply become yet another fabricated holiday that marketers and advertisers use to sell us things that we just don't need. They know that if every news outlet runs a story about how we all need to be better at being us, then they most assuredly have the product or service that that will help us achieve our goals.
That's not to say that there ar