abk Lifestyle: ✌️ & 🌴

“…how can you not explore the full depth and dimension of who you are?”-Sadhguru

I haven’t slept in my own bed in almost two years now. That is hard to believe. But this almost two year time period, combined with the nearly two years prior, was my introduction into a new way to experience life, and it was vital to begin exploring my full depth.

I slept in beds in half of the United States. I slept in beds in multiple foreign countries. I slept on couches. I slept in tents and under the open sky. I slept in numerous beds in North Carolina. I slept in numerous beds in Mississippi. Just not my own.

Since abk’s inception nearly four years ago, my life has become something that not even the wildest imagination could imagine. This is by design, of course, and it happened purposefully by my following three basic mantras along the way:

1. Be completely open to life

2. Constantly work on understanding and bettering myself

3. Pay attention to everything

It’s the great juxtaposition of living. On the one hand, my whole life became completely uncertain. I didn’t know my ass from my elbow there for a little while. But I learned very quickly to accept and embrace this. I now thrive on it. (Routine can be a slow, slow drain…).

On the other hand, the one thing I must have complete control over in this life, myself, needed to be more fully explored.

Understanding myself as an adult, in depth, fully conscious, without outside influence, was necessary to embrace the wonderful uncertainties of life and the infinite possibilities the world had to offer.

It’s amazing how many outside influences infiltrate our lives and the decisions we make, sometimes without our even knowing it. Blatant crap and subtle nonsense. Along the journey, it’s been incredibly important for me to eliminate these, outside of the ones of my conscious choosing.

I wanted to experience life in a way that transcended traditional categories and that challenged everything I had ever seen or heard. Someone else made up all of these things, likely in their self-interest. I’m sure some of these roadmaps were paved with good intentions, but they can be so confining, so restrictive, and that’s not what’s best for fully experiencing life.

You must remember, I knew essentially nothing about coastal Mississippi, so it was the perfect blank slate. I asked a lot of questions, but I predominately chose to just pay attention to everything around me. You see, what people say and what I observe are often two very different things.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t like being told much of anything. Not to mention, whatever is said is immediately biased based on the person who is saying it. I like exploring, discovering, and creating for myself. It’s what life means to me. It’s how I interact with the world.

For example, I had no idea Ocean Springs, Mississippi, even existed. I had no idea it had breathtaking sunsets, a world class art vibe, and James Beard award winning chefs. I had no idea that it would be voted one of the coolest towns to visit in America this coming year.

It’s an ideal environment for anyone who craves freedom, and it’s a perfect home base for anyone who wants to cultivate life and its endless possibilities.

But let’s be clear about one thing. To the first time reader or untrained eye, it may appear that my life changed because I quit my job, moved to Mississippi, travelled a ton, began the golf journey, etc. I can assure you this is not the case.

I changed my life by actively practicing the above mantras over and over. Embracing life as a whole and looking inward. Daily. Sometimes hourly. For almost four years now.

Nothing fancy. Just a full commitment to living. I’ll be back in my own bed soon enough.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Life or Likes: An abk Perspective

There once was a man named jneB. In his mid-thirties, he decided he was going to pivot and start a new, more intentional, more conscious life. A large piece of that life was that he wanted to play golf every day. And so he did.

Along the journey, he kept getting asked lots of questions.

What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to be a tour player? How do you make money playing golf?

He just kept his head down and kept working to get better. He made some changes and got worse for a little while, but then he get better again. Then he made a few more changes, got worse again, and then started getting better again.

But the questions kept coming. Are you trying to play golf for a living? How many followers do you have on social media? You’ve never had a hole in one?

Meanwhile, he just kept grinding and enjoying doing what he wanted to do every day, which was play. His son joined him some days to play, and while some might consider this a distraction to his getting better, jneB cherished it and saw it as an enhancement to his day.

But the questions kept coming. How much longer is this going to take? Are you really getting better? Are you still enjoying this?

Meanwhile, he kept grinding, kept playing some of the world’s beautiful courses. He played in Iceland, Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. He played in Mexico again.

But the questions kept coming. What would you consider success along this golf journey? How many days in a row have you played? How many more days is this going to last?

Meanwhile, he kept playing golf. Aside from hurricane days, travel days, and injury days, he played or practiced every single day. 450+ days in, he had broken par multiple times. He had broken 70. He had become a plus handicap. He even had achieved one of the rarest achievements in the sport, an albatross. Most importantly, he had learned an immense amount about himself, what he wanted in this life, and his place in the world.

But the questions and comments kept coming. You are a long ways away, aren’t you? You really aren’t THAT good. Are you in a slump? Surely this must get boring?

After a while, he begin to wonder to himself. I appreciate the support and curiosity, but it’s an interesting place, this world. I’ve finally summoned the courage to get off autopilot and pursue a very intentional internal journey, one that directly or indirectly could be extremely helpful to other people. But I think some folks are entirely missing the point, still focused on some specific external outcome. The end is totally irrelevant. As long as I keep grinding, keep a good attitude, and stay open to life, I promise beautiful outcomes will keep happening. To what extent, that’s out of my control.

Finally, he got a question that he felt compelled to respond to. jneB, you really are trying to live your BEST life, aren’t you?

So he spoke up. BEST life? I don’t know about you, but this is my ONLY life, and I finally learned to treat it as such.

Have a great week.-jneB

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abk Living: The Simplification of Life

Along the abk journey, one of my absolute favorite exercises has been the application of the Does This Matter Test to literally everything in my life. Said another way, is a potential thought, idea, person, place, or action going to get a single iota of my attention? Or, as is so often the case, is something just BS and a complete waste of energy?

The Does This Matter exercise can be applied to whatever depth one personally deems necessary. It can be complex. Does this matter in the grand cosmos of things? It can be simple. Does this logistically matter in making today work? This exercise takes a little courage, partial consciousness (at a minimum), a tad bit of self belief, a dollop of restraint, some common sense, and, as always, free thinking.

For me, it was an active exercise at first, but now, it’s built into my being. It just happens.

Will this make my life better?, someone may ask. I don’t know exactly what this question means, but the Does This Matter exercise frees me to explore the richness, depth, and potential inside of me. On the exterior, it enables me to explore life itself and what I think actually matters.

At a minimum, it should help make your life, more intentionally, yours.

As an example, on Sunday night, I head towards bed about 8 pm. THIS matters to me. On Monday morning, I wake up in the 4am hour. 4am to 6am is my time. I listen to or read something inspiring, something limit pushing. I watch the sun rise. THIS matters to me.

For the 8 or so hours I spend at the pro shop, I don’t overcomplicate things. We’ve got customers, and I want them all to have a great time. If someone truly wants to get better, I try to help them. That’s it, but IT matters.

When I pick up my son, I want to know if he had a super duper big bad Monday. He talks. I listen. Sometimes we rock out. THIS matters.

Back at the golf course later that day, two things are going on. I am trying to get really good, and I am trying to enjoy nature with my son. We point out every animal or beautiful tree. We watch the sun set. He tells me I didn’t make enough birdies. THIS matters.

Dinner matters, both the actual food/drink and the experience. Christy, Banks, and I usually eat together, usually something tasty, often watching Family Feud. THIS matters.

After dinner? Stretching and abk. THIS matters. After that, who knows?

On Tuesday, it may be exactly the same or completely different. That’s what my pre-6am is for. Purpose. Intent. Clarity. A re-centering. An opportunity to eliminate any iota of confusion or negativity, if by chance any has crept in. THAT certainly matters.

There are a lot of fancy quotes and BS buzzwords out there, but at the end of the day, life is about living, all that is around us and all that is within us. And we all have the freedom, should we journey from autopilot closer to the fully conscious, to explore our potential and decide what really matters.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Living: It is Possible…

“Impossible is nothing.”-Adidas

As a mid 30 something with pretty stout ankylosing spondylitis, I really had no business running the New York City Marathon back in November 2017. Definitely not after I got strep throat multiple times immediately leading up to race day.

I certainly had no business doing it again the following year. Most definitely not after I was stricken with illness and injury for the vast majority of the typical training period throughout 2018.

It was an unlikely proposition when I was in Italy in 2017, leaving Venice via train early one morning to catch the noon kickoff in Milan and then the evening kickoff in Bologna just a few hours later. 2 Serie A matches. 3 major Italian cities. 1 twelve hour period. If only I spoke Italian. Unlikely.

It was an improbable circumstance that I decided to give up my prime earning years to play golf every day in southern Mississippi. In the past just over a year and a half, grinding 455 intense golf days and nearly 2500 focused hours in hopes of achieving a virtually impossible goal a few years down the road.

I could go on and on.

Then there’s making an albatross, a 2 on a Par 5, joining the rare double eagle club, on Golf Day 453. Not impossible, but pretty damn close.

I’ve never been struck by lightning. I’ve never had a hole in one. Per the pure math of it all, I should have had both happen, the latter multiple times, before recording an albatross. But I digress…

I decided to play 9 holes late Saturday afternoon with two of my friends. It was chilly, and the course was packed. After waiting some 20 minutes to tee off, about 3pm CST, away we went. After a lazy bogey on 1 and an equally lazy par on 2, I decided I would try to get one back on the par 5 3rd. Playing roughly 520 yards, I decided to pop one just for giggles. I succeeded, leaving myself 196 yards to clear the pond fronting the green and 218 yards to a back right pin. After using some intense quantum physics to calculate the true yardage in the increasingly cold air, AND waiting for the foursome in front to clear the green, it was go time. I figured 4 iron would be perfect, giving me a high probability for birdie and a slight possibility for eagle.

Screw all that. Why not just hit the ball directly into the hole? I hit it perfectly, the ball never left the flag, and three bounces later it came to rest in the hole. I hollered at my playing partners, then immediately drove up to confirm what I thought I saw. Sure enough, on a par 5, I had put the ball in the hole on my second shot. Holy crap, I thought! 6 million to 1 odds, one expert said. Something that has never been done on that hole in the 18+ year history of the course, we believe. I was buzzing…

Listen, let’s not be silly here, it was just dumb luck. I haven’t been able to make a 3 foot putt in two weeks, but I can hit a 218 yard shot, with all of the potential twists and turns, straight in the hole? This is what I’ve learned to love and embrace about life. Dumb luck and chance are not to be ignored.

Honestly, I could care less about each of these tick marks on my ever growing life resume, but I absolutely love the expansion of self and possibility that each limit-pushing experience represents.

In the past few years, I have had so many of these beautiful experiences. Not just in sport. In life. Unlikely experiences. Improbable experiences. Dare I say, impossible?

I used to look at that Adidas commercial, and dream to myself, I wonder what the hell they are talking about? I’m starting to understand, to believe, to do. In another dimension. On another level. Maybe my ridiculous goals aren’t all that ridiculous after all.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: Nature Knows No Limits

“If you want to design your own world, it’s out there for you to design.”-abk

I love my small hometown of Wingate, North Carolina. I hope to be there in a week or two. I love the town, the university, and the people. I love the bacon cheddar chicken sub (add pickles) at Gino’s/Jim and Judy’s, the local eating joint. But at some point, the world came calling.

I spent my four years in college in an even tinier town, Mars Hill, North Carolina. In retrospect, I had the opportunity to make that tiny town huge, as it lay smack in the middle of the Appalachian mountains and 15 minutes from the world class, eclectic city of Asheville. But between multiple soccer injuries and a general lack of appreciation for where I was (and who I was), it was a complicated four years. I made a handful of wonderful, wonderful friends, and though it doesn’t happen frequently enough, I love to return to the area and visit. As it happens when college ends, the world came calling.

I made a brief pit stop in Monroe, North Carolina, a town that evokes limited thoughts and emotions on either side of my story. To me, it’s where you go to either Wal-Mart or Target. I did have my first house there, but very quickly, the world came calling.

Charlotte, North Carolina was the next stop, about 15 minutes southwest of downtown in a yet to be developed area near the airport. As a small-town boy with a large-world spirit, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. I loved watching the airplanes come in and out every day, guessing where they might be headed next and who might be on them. My townhouse was in the direct flight path of the planes, and one day, Air Force One flew directly over my deck, so close I could literally read Air Force One as I stared upward. Then, of course, the world came calling.

After a stint back in Wingate (shout out Wingate) and then a stint back at the Charlotte townhouse, Uptown Charlotte came calling. The previously undeveloped area close to the airport had become a zoo, so it was time to get out. Enter this beautiful, gentle slope just outside of downtown that overlooked the city. It looked directly into Bank of America Stadium. Wanted some grub? Walk. Wanted to tailgate? Walk. Hell, I could have jogged to work if I wanted. It was a real vibe, but sadly/happily, the world came calling.

For a span of a year or two or four, I lived on the road. I crisscrossed America both East to West and South to North. I explored small town USA, the local food, drink and people, and the back roads that time had passed by. I also crossed the border a few times, experiencing the utter and complete vibes that were Mexico City, Mexico; Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland; and Bologna, Italy, to name a few. I was smitten, but then the world came calling.

Enter Ocean Springs, Mississippi, an artsy town I had literally never heard of. Hidden along Mississippi’s Secret Coast, I knew absolutely no one there and nothing about the place. Little did I know, it was about to come calling. (After almost 2 years of not sleeping in my own bed, my bones are ready for the call to finally be answered.). Interestingly enough, it’s a small town vibe that carries an infinitely big existence (for me) due to its proximity to The Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans, major thoroughfares, and nature in general.

Want literally some of the best food in the world? Want to jump on I-10 to Los Angeles or Jacksonville? Want the spiritual energy from beautiful sunrises and sunsets nearly every single day? Want to play outside, in shorts, 10 months out of the year?

Last Sunday, I looked forward, backward, left, and right, and all I saw were blue skies, blue water, and blue dolphins. In this tiny little place, the world had become gigantic. Shhh…The Secret Coast had come calling. Nature, and its wide open spaces, had come calling.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Golf: 443 Days In

“To get better, real, focused effort is mandatory. How much one improves is dependent upon how big the effort, how intense the focus. This applies to anything.”-abk/abk Golf

On April 17, 2019, I started the golf journey with an unofficial handicap of 14.

On August 4, 2020, I shot a lifetime low 5 under par 67.

On September 7, I achieved a lifetime low handicap of +0.2.

On October 3 and 4, I shot an 83/77 (on 11 penalty strokes) at my Club Championship which forced me to accept that I had a major problem: a huge miss left, primarily off the tee, that could ruin a round with only a handful of bad swings.

On October 11, I quietly committed to a complete makeover (again), shoring up any lingering poor fundamentals, primarily my grip.

On October 17 and 22, some 400 days in, I felt like I had never played golf before. There were times when I literally could not take the club back. I was frozen and frustrated.

In late October, I waded back into a couple of informal competitions, which was a bad decision. I wasn’t ready. I shot low 80s, which I had hoped to never see again. Seeing those scores killed my confidence. I had no business being out there.

In early November, I left the ranch for Arkansas and Missouri, playing Mystic Creek and Payne’s Valley along the way. There were glimpses of decent golf, but I kind of just wanted to get away.

Recently, in the last ten days, the 70s have returned: 75, 76, 76, 73, 72, 73, 75. That’s something I can build on.

While I was on my trip to Kansas City, I had plenty of time to reset. What did I need to do so that by year-end the changes would be complete, I would be back to shooting around even par consistently, and then I could be off to the races in 2021?

Mathematically, I am currently playing about three strokes higher than at my peak, which makes sense, given all of the recent changes. At my peak (late July to mid September 2020), I still needed to shave five strokes off of essentially a zero handicap to achieve my desired outcome. If I can get back to my peak, or maybe better, by year-end, then I could start seriously chipping away in 2021. But how?

I needed to enhance my brain, body, and attitude even further. 443 days in, things had changed, and rightfully so. I needed less holes of golf and more focused play/practice. 18 holes and a little practice each day was plenty. I needed my own form of meditation to continue to strengthen my mind. I needed to employ a methodical routine prior to each shot where I repeated key words over in my head, sometimes aloud. My stretching regimen needed to double. My calves, shoulders, and left wrist needed to get stronger. My feet, right Achilles, and left elbow needed some love. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Basically, my mind, body, and spirit needed a refresh. Who I am now is very different from who I was 443 days ago, and needs change along the journey.

The beautiful thing about golf is that the Truth reigns supreme. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No pretending. No excuses. Working at the course and playing every day, I’ve heard it all. If only this, if only that. Do you think the game cares that I have a sore left elbow? Do you think that cluster of trees cares that I’ve got a career round going? As one of my coaches would say, There are no trees in the middle of the fairway.

I got my wake up call. I took my ten steps backwards. I got away. But I’m back, more focused and driven than ever, just happy to have control of my ball again.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Turning Fantasy Into Reality: Owning the Journey

“If you see the world as beautiful, thrilling, and mysterious…then you feel quite alive.” -David Hockney

The goal is freedom. Not retire and go sit on a beach freedom. No, the freedom to pursue all of my potential, and internal freedom. The goal is to be at ease at all times, regardless of the external stimuli. In chaos or calm. Alone or with people. Happy or sad. Make a putt or miss a putt.

It’s about self, because that is all I can control. I don’t control the election. I don’t control the weather. I don’t control traffic. I don’t control any other person, except me. It’s a state of being. It’s a mindset. It’s an attitude. You will never hear me mention wealth, power, status, or notoriety. It’s freedom, the number one goal.

I focus on self for three reasons. First, it’s all I can control, else the world trick me into thinking otherwise. Second, as I master self, I can give more fully and confidently to world. Third, it makes the world huge and the opportunities endless. I’ve been dialed in on self for 3.5 years now, and my world full of people and places keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Financially, following a dream takes varying degrees of cash. If you want to retire and go sit on a beach, you need X. If you want to play golf, travel, learn, and enter a new world, you need Y. If you want to simply relocate or start a bakery or whatever, you need Z.

You need money to live, but the good news is you can make money doing pretty much anything. In the past 3.5 years, so that I can pursue my potential, I have made money from at least 10 different sources, possibly more. I have watched Christy run a growing organization from her pajamas in southern Mississippi. Need money? Go do something that makes money. Develop the skill of making money. As 2020 has taught us, a lot can be done from anywhere.

Almost nothing I write anymore is hypothesis. I’ve either done it personally, or I’ve met someone else who has done it. Remember that random Uber driver in Minneapolis …inspiration comes from the strangest places.

The journey is conscious. Very conscious. Ridiculously conscious. Uber conscious. If I’m doing something, you best believe I’ve chosen to do it. Very little is left to unconsciousness. Why would I let sleepwalking dictate my roadmap?

The journey is focused on continuous improvement and constantly redefining myself. It’s one of the great luxuries we are afforded as Americans. Don’t like who you were when you were 20? Redefine. Don’t like who you were when you were 30? Redefine. Just want to continuously redefine or improve yourself for no apparent reason? I’m on board.

I’m not a big fan of How To’s because one size does not fit all. However, as someone who is 3.5 years into the process of turning fantasy into reality, I would like to share the Big 4 that guide my journey. Maybe they will help you.

1. For every decision, there is a consequence. It could be good, it could be bad, or it could be imperceptible at the time. Own it. Equally as important, no decision can be a massive decision.

2. The journey is full of tradeoffs. If I decide to do X, often that means I’m not available to do Y. If I want to do A, I may have to give up doing B. It’s a simple concept that can often cause guilt. Own it.

3. Fear, negativity, and worry have no place along the journey. It’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that they can be journey killers, or worse yet, they can prevent the journey from ever starting. I’ve worked hard to develop mechanisms and processes to keep them at bay.

4. Last, and most important, if the grand journey fails, I have to be willing to eat dirt to put food on the table, and I am.

As someone who is inept at or disinterested in so much, it’s encouraging to begin to find my place.

I’m fascinated by the Truth, energy, and potential. I see so many people who are unaware of their own potential, can’t get out of their own way, their energy is low, or they are just scared to pursue their own Truth because it is unique (as it should be). I can spot this stuff from a mile away because I’ve been there, done that.

As I told my buddy on the golf course this week when he asked me if I ever wanted to teach, It would be ridiculously selfish to have acquired all of these experiences over the past few years and keep them to myself. My hope is that through intense focus on self, you will reap the rewards. If you’ve already got something figured out, then you are likely the one that’s teaching me.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: Born to Seek

When the journey began a few years ago, it felt like I was seeking something. An answer, maybe. Something else, maybe. But as the journey has unfolded, it turns out I wasn’t seeking anything in particular at all. It turns out that on the abk journey of self discovery, I discovered that the process of seeking is a huge part of who I am. I’m constantly seeking. I’m a seeker. I seek.

Learning and free thinking have always been so important to me, so it makes perfect sense that having the freedom to seek would be at the top of my personal needs list. Not knowing, denying, or simply not acting on that was a bit uncomfortable, to put it mildly. Now knowing and having the courage to act on it is freedom.

To some extent, we are all looking for answers to something. While the act of seeking does provide some of those, I find the new questions that the process proposes equally, if not more, enchanting.

I mean, for God’s sake, I recently grinded through 382 days of golf to achieve a zero handicap only to decide that I needed to step back, rethink, and recalibrate my strategy to become better at golf. Again.

I’m going to seek. It’s who I am. Denying that was, and if ever again, would be painful.

The seeking began last week in El Dorado, Arkansas. If you know where that is, you are lying. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and the golf course located there was my first stop on the journey. Mystic Creek Golf Club, ranked the #1 course you can play in the state, was a treat. How a course of this caliber gets dropped out in the sticks poses a great question to my seeking mind. It was like Augusta times Pinehurst, minus the exclusivity and large greens fees. $59 got me the round, range balls, some swag, and a nutritious and less than filling lunch of Pringles and Gatorade. From the tees I played (75.6/143) and the fact that I am still in 10 steps backwards mode, I was giddy with my 79, a birdie on 18 to finish.

From there, I had about 2.5 hours to the cleanest hotel room you will ever find. But first, I had to stop at the Whole Hog Cafe. I have no picture to show because my BBQ sandwich lasted for all of about 2.3 seconds. Pringles as lunch is something my 5 year old son should do, not his older, wiser 38 year old father. Anyways, I do love the efficiency with which you can check into a hotel room during the unusual 2020 times, bypassing everyone and everything and just walking in to your hermetically sealed room. Check in online, get a digital key, and bam! Notre Dame vs Clemson was on before I knew it.

Living in southern Mississippi now, I don’t get much, if any, fall foliage, and I miss that. I love the fall colors. They speak to me. So Saturday morning’s drive from Arkansas to Missouri through the Ozarks was just what the doctor ordered. My destination for the day was the Tiger Woods designed Payne’s Valley, possibly the hottest course in America right now. Booked solid for the foreseeable future, a single spot magically opened up on Saturday at noon, which I snagged faster than I ate that first BBQ sandwich. To say the day was an experience would be an understatement.

Buffalo greet you as you enter the property. You arrive to the mountaintop clubhouse via a suspension bridge. You have to sign a waiver to play. The course is breathtaking and super stout from the Tiger Tees (75.6/136) in 20 mph winds.

It was actually a bit too long for me in those conditions, with the 267 yard par 3 and 643 yard par 5 that played directly into the wind.

As such, my playing partners and I turned the back 9 into a bit of a party. We enjoyed each other’s company, we enjoyed the scenery, and I taught them a little about golf. In turn, they bought me some delicious Missouri IPAs, which may explain the 4 putt on hole 16.

The course is becoming famous for its 19th hole, a short par 3 with a floating green that plays into a waterfall. Make a hole in one? Win a thousand dollars. Me? Left it about 8 feet right, but made the birdie putt, which was completely meaningless. I shot a 90 on the big, bad 18 holes, then made a 2 on the 19th hole. To finish, you drive through the waterfall, through the caverns, and up the mountain. I guess that’s why you sign the waiver.

The sneaky winners amongst all the abk travel are midwest cities. I love them. Cleveland, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, to name a few. And Sunday, for my 3rd time, Kansas City. As I drove in from Branson, I noticed the midwestern clouds, which are ominous and beautiful.

My first stop was to pay my respects at Swope Soccer Village, the scene of the crime for the 2016 men’s soccer national championship for my Wingate Bulldogs.

Then it was to Arrowhead Stadium to see my buddy Jay, his friend and son, and my Carolina Panthers.

We tailgated, enjoyed the game, and then I miraculously watched us try a 67 yard field goal at the death to try and beat the Chiefs. I thought I was back in New Orleans two weeks ago, but then again, that field goal attempt was a mere 65 yards.

Luckily, after another close loss, I had Kansas City BBQ to wash away my tears. My only regret was that the legendary LC’s close to the stadium gave us so much food that some went to waste. But damn, it was good.

On the way home, I got a few more hours of peak Arkansas fall foliage. Just before I crossed the mighty Mississippi River, I found Hoots BBQ, an apparent mainstay on the Arkansas BBQ Trail.

As I devoured the tender brisket, the land turned flat. The pines started to reappear. And soon enough, I was back home. Ready to recenter, recalibrate, and see what’s next.

Have a great week.-Benj

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A Week for the Ages: Panthers, Zeta, and Rock Trolls

(Drop the beat…)

‘Twas an interesting week

Down in the dirrrty Deep South,

Hurricane Zeta came through

And kind of punched us in the mouth.

But first back to Sunday

In the grand Superdome,

The Saints hosted my Panthers

I felt right at home.

Except something was different

Only 3,000 fans,

No parties no tailgates

No funky brass bands.

We had a row to ourselves

No lines to be seen,

Sanitizing stations everywhere

So we felt nice and clean.

It was a hell of a game

And came down to the end,

A 65 yard field goal attempt

Not something you’d usually recommend.

We sat flush with the crossbar

As the kick went in the air,

The Superdome got quiet

I leapt out of my chair.

The ball flew and it tumbled

Maybe 12 inches short,

So I sat my ass down

And tried to be a good sport.

All in all it was awesome

The whole day was first class,

‘Twas Boyzz Day in New Orleans

And we both had a blast.

Then we walked back to the lot

Where I had parked my car,

There was a boot on my tire

I could see from afar.

There were boots everywhere, everywhere

What the hell was going on,

Guess the attendants were out of practice

Since it had been so damn long.

It was annoying, for sure

But it didn’t ruin the day,

A great memory for the ages

I must certainly say.

Cars getting booted

Fans wearing masks,

65 yard field goal attempts

Falling short at the last.

Another day in New Orleans

Where you just never know,

Then freaking Zeta showed up

And the wind started to blow.

Zeta came out of nowhere

I first saw it in Cancún,

It started building up Monday

Damn, it’s gonna be here soon.

ETA was Wednesday

Better get ready,

Get stuff put away

Get the unsteady, steady.

I played 18 quick holes

At the course Wednesday morning,

And then about 8pm that night

The wind started roaring.

Trees started snapping

The power went out,

The cabin started shaking

Ol’ Zeta got stout.

The new house lost shingles

The storm surge was tough,

The cleanup that followed

Was reasonable, yet rough.

Every activity got cancelled

But not Halloween,

There was a little Rock Troll

That really wanted to be seen.

‘Twas a week for the ages

I think we all agree,

Next week, golf in Arkansas

And football in KC.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: Embracing Play

“…I have many friends who are successful … but who have no life in them…”-Sadhguru

It’s Monday morning. It’s the 4am hour. My body is still asleep, but my spirit is alive. It’s time to get going.

It’s well before daybreak. Dark, dark. When I step outside, I smell fish. It’s okay. It reminds me where I am.

This past Monday, specifically, I have to take a deep breath. On Sunday, my Browns got smoked. Cam got beat. The Panthers got beat. And in the big one, my Braves lost Game 7. That one hurt. I was planning to go to Game 2 of the World Series in Arlington, Texas this week. (I went fishing instead.)

I get that out of my system and listen to a refreshing word on the way to the golf course. Usually, it’s JJ Redick’s podcast, “The Old Man and the Three”. This week, it is wisdom from Sadhguru, sent to me by my good friend Junior.

In the 6am hour, I’ve got the golf shop ready to rock for the day. Soon after, the sun finally rises. I’ve been awake forever.

In my mind, I have one job for the day: make sure that each golfer has an enjoyable experience. I’ve been doing this for almost two decades, just in a different line of business and at a much higher pay grade. Most of the day, I talk golf, baseball, SEC football, or Saints. I’m learning the histories, the biases, the allegiances. This week, my Panthers come to New Orleans. If more than 3,000 Saints season ticket holders were allowed, wait…I’m at The Superdome right now 🤫 (another L).

I particularly enjoy the out of town guests, typically in town to visit the casinos. They come from all over the country, so we often trade travel war stories. There’s typically an easy connection to be made.

As early afternoon nears, my mind shifts to playing. I have to go get Banks first (still my favorite part of the day) and then do a brief walk through at the new house construction site. They don’t really need my input today, so I lay down on a pile of plywood and stare at the bright blue sky. Nearby, butterflies float by.

Some days, when the waves are calm, I have to make a decision: jet ski in the gulf or play golf. A few times I’ve done both, but my torso hates me afterwards. A couple of weeks ago, Christy and I rode with the dolphins, certainly a Wednesday for the ages.

On this day, I’m playing golf. On days that I work at the club, I do very little work on the course. It’s all play, and my preference is to play at sunset, so I arrive about 4:30pm. That gives me 1:45 to play 18, which I can do with relative ease. Later that evening, I remember Big Ten football, and thus my Penn State Nittany Lions, is back this weekend. 2:30pm at Indiana, I believe (lost that one too).

By 7pm, if not earlier, I have a limited capacity and desire to remain awake. The 4am hour was a lifetime ago. I used to ask myself, Did I get everything done today? Now I simply ensure that I left all of my energy for the day out in the universe.

I need my rejuvenation because life calls again tomorrow, maybe at 4am, maybe at 5am, maybe not until 6am. The time is irrelevant, because this is not the life that gets in the way of living. No, I don’t answer that call anymore. I’m focused on a conscious, thoughtful, intentional life that utilizes the gifts, talents, and energy that I’ve been given. Nothing less. Nothing more.

Have a great week.-Benj

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