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                                                         Playing the Back Nine 

I suspect most of you are familiar with the above heading being a golf reference.  For those few uninitiated, the title denotes the last half of an 18 hole golf course.  My venture into that most frustrating of sports occurred only during annual sales meetings and only in the scramble format.  I never owned a set of clubs, only rented.   And starting with this new millennium, the golf ball has only played a part in my life when I wanted to work on my plantar fascia. 

                                                                                      Arnold Palmer I Ain’t

Most of the golfers I know consider themselves duffers. They have no illusions about being the next Tiger Woods (at least the Tiger Woods before his mid 30s). They go out every Saturday they can, walk the course, strike the ball and, on occasion, hit that splendid 45 foot putt or dig out of a sand trap to see the ball drop into the bottom of the cup. Golfers are dedicated and passionate, accepting being humbled time and again, waiting for those ‘diamond in the ruff’ moments they can relive at the 19th hole. They enjoy the comradery, the outdoors, the change of pace from the day-to-day grind. It never crosses their minds that they should be doing anything else but go out there and accept the challenge.

                                                                                       Same Principle 

When you cross over the 50 year threshold, you could look at that point in your life as having completed the front nine. The front nine was full of trials and tribulations, good times and bad. One has learned who he or she is, having dodged a couple of bullets and maybe even taken a few. Whatever your condition, you soldier on, steeling yourself for the back nine in front of you. What we perceive lying ahead often times seems more like either an uphill battle or a downhill slide…..or, you can look upon the 2nd half of the journey as that opportunity to take all that you have learned (the good, the bad and the ugly) and find a new focus on where you are going. Just like the avid golfer, no matter how bad your game was last week, you venture out, having that hope, that confidence that the next time the outcome will be better.

                                                                                         Don’t Give Up

To quit is unthinkable. Giving up is a frightening concept but I will bet you know someone that has, both in golf and in life. From my perspective, taking care of one’s physical health is paramount to having a fighting chance to enjoying the back nine. What I have personally experienced is the rejuvenation of the human spirit. Time and again individuals have discovered that they don’t have to struggle near as much with their life as they had anticipated. When the stairs are not a ‘sand trap’, when moving your furniture is not a ‘slice’ and when playing with your grandkids is not a ‘divot’, life will again appear to have possibilities. 

                                                                                      Just Get Started

No matter what your condition today, if you start taking care of your health, your body will respond. Just as a golfer will take lessons or gain a tip from Golf Digest, certain aspects of his or her game suddenly seem to improve. When you start exercising and eating right, you will find your ‘swing’ again. No, you won’t birdie every hole, but you may end up making par more often than you thought possible. And, now and again, that eagle may make an appearance. Each positive event drives you to keep going, keeping hope alive that you might even hit a hole-in-one along the way. And it’s that optimism that keeps you coming back to play the back nine.  

                    “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance” 

                                                                                                  Marie Curie (1867–1934) French physicist and chemist
                                                                                                                                      Two-time Nobel Prize winner