New Website in the Works

Good Morning Readers:

Sometime about a year and a half ago, I had written a post about having a new website under construction; while I did, there were certain things about it that I didn’t like. Now, I can happily say that I have started learning how to code and program myself, and have recently done a beta launch of my own personal website. It’s a fun, albeit sometimes annoying process, but it’s cool to try to learn new things. It’s a simple bare-bones site, essentially a home and about page with a separate contact page with an email, but as I learn more, I hope to make the site more fun and interactive. Please, check it out, give feedback and tell me what you’d like to see.

 

The URL is mikeguillen.net

 

Thanks as always!

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Magic in a Bottle

It honestly didn’t matter that I had hit my tee shot left into the water on the seventh hole, and, after taking a penalty drop, I was hitting my third into a par-4. It really didn’t matter that my playing competitor had hit a shot stiff and had a 3-foot putt for a birdie-3. Nor did it matter that having a downhill putt from above the hole, regardless of length, was almost impossible to make, or even keep within five feet of the hole the other way. What did matter, in that instant, when I hit my third shot, that I had suddenly found my swagger on a golf course again. Normally, after I hit a good shot, I’d talk to my ball; this time, there was no need. Sometimes, I would pose, hold my finish and watch the ball arrive to its resting place; also, no need. I simply started walking toward the green, watching as the ball landed within a foot of the hole, took one small hop, and finished within three feet of the cup. Sometimes, one knows when they’ve captured magic, even for only an instant.

Now, this post may sound arrogant, or boastful, or like I’m bragging about something. There’s nothing to brag about in and of itself; I missed the putt, and all went along from there. But, what I captured in that moment, that ever fleeting feeling of everything aligning together, and without a second of hesitation, knowing you’ve pulled off something cool, whether it be in a game, sport, or even one’s love life, is nothing short of incredible. It’s what makes me feel alive, and I sincerely cherish every moment like this.

Why is this so important? For one, my most recent posts have been about the struggles of my golf career, and all the negative aspects that I have discussed in detail. Despite all the struggles, it’s those feelings of, “Hey, I can still do this,” that keep me going, and make me appreciate all the struggles and hardships.

What has/is your “Magic in a Bottle” moment? Please share in the comments below.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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Another Good Walk Spoiled Part 4

Not much happened after I choked in those two tournaments. Things pretty much stayed dormant until I moved to Phoenix in the spring of 2009. One day at home, I bent over to grab a coin on the floor and suddenly…

*CRACK*

Something dislodged in my back, and when I moved upright, my spine was tilted to the right. I firm yank to the left realigned everything, but for the next few weeks I couldn’t bend down more than waist height without it happening again. Eventually, it stopped.

Little did I know then that this would be the beginning of several injuries, and slowly but surely the decline of my career. For one, I started pulling up on short shots, either hitting them two feet in front of me, or skulling them 20 yards over the green. Long swings were still okay, but I eventually developed the yips.

Next, not to be outdone, I started to develop severe tennis elbow, which would sometimes create such sharp pain that I would drop the club in the middle of my backswing. After a while, the game got less and less fun, the broken clubs starting adding up, and by the end of 2009, everything fell apart. By the middle of 2010, I had literally lost everything; it’s not a story I will tell just yet, but essentially, in one fell swoop, I had nothing. I wouldn’t play another round until 2013, and it took until the spring of 2015 to where I could hit a wedge shot decently, most of the time.

Which brings us to the present day. I still have an immense passion for the game, and work hard every day trying to bring my physical abilities to match the love I have to play the game at a professional level. From this point forward, my blog, for the most part, will be dedicated to what I’m working on, my progress, and various thoughts through the process. I look forward to sharing what the next chapter(s) will be.

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Another Good Walk Spoiled Part Three

Going into my next tournament, there was a sense of urgency to show that I could hold it together for 18 holes and compete against other professionals. This next event was played on the opposite course from where I played my first state open qualifier in 2006, and felt fairly comfortable playing somewhere somewhat familiar. My warm up wasn’t great, but nothing alarming to set me into a panic mode. I had a friend from my high school golf team caddying for me, and did everything I could to create a comfortable atmosphere. The first hole at this course is a straightaway par-4, nothing tricky about it, two shots down the center will suffice. My name gets announced, I prepare to tee off, and in no short order, here’s what happens:

1st shot: Snap-hooked out of bounds, re-tee with one shot added

3rd shot: blocked about 40 yards left (I’m left handed, in case there was any curiosity), unplayable, re-tee with another shot added.

5th shot: blocked about 60 yards left into the residential road, out-of-bounds, re-tee with another shot added

7th shot: FINALLY split the fairway, hit my next shot on the green, and three-putted for an 11.

Although I was essentially out of the tournament from the first hole, I figured I could still salvage some kind of respectable score, especially after battling back to shoot even on the back nine in my last event. Unfortunately, that never happened. It was like the Murphy’s Law of a golf round. Ball moving at address, plugged lies in bunkers, missing targets by a yard and bouncing into water hazards, you name it, it happened. By the 13th hole I was literally numb, but, much to my surprise, finished the round and was congratulated by my playing partners, one of whom was a retired major league baseball player who kicked my ass by at least 25 shots.

As much as the feeling of choking hurt, it didn’t compare to the backlash I received from those I was close to at home. Many of whom said it was embarrassing. I was only 23 at the time, and I couldn’t comprehend what I do now, and how people will project their own insecurities onto someone else out of fear. This is a special topic, which will get a blog post of its own.

Despite the failures of my return to tournament golf, I didn’t give up. After continuing to get in better shape, I decided that my best chance to overcome this new found anxiety is to immerse myself into the professional game, and the best way to do so was moving to Phoenix. I arrived in March of 2009, and the next post will be about how a coin on the floor changed everything for me.

Stay tuned

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Another Good Walk Spoiled Part Two

A while ago I had shared an essay I wrote in college about the knee injury I had in my first professional tournament back in 2007,  and the subsequent weight loss and comeback. The essay was only supposed to be about 2000 words, and since I didn’t want to write a novel about it, I was fairly vague and generalized the fact that I finished last in the two tournaments that I played in after my injury. As one may imagine, there is a lot more to the story than finishing last in those two tournaments. And, as I make my way back into playing golf competitively, I’d like to share the rest of the story that took me from competing in professional tournaments in 2008, to retiring from playing golf altogether in early 2010.

After being medically cleared to practice in March of 2008, I was eager to get back to work on the golf course. The first six weeks were tough; I played my first round on April Fools’ Day and could barely get a tee shot 10 feet off the ground. As I got closer to the start of my comeback tournament, there was always a lingering thought:

What if I blow out my knee again?

While I was in the ER after having it happen the first time, the doctor had explained how it’s more likely to happen again after it happens the first time. I did my best to eliminate these bad thoughts and focus on doing my best in a two-day event in late June.

My warm up went fine that morning. Swing felt good enough to get around a fairly simple track in South Phoenix. After my name was announced on the first tee, I could feel the jitters and the butterflies. Then the opening tee shot.

I flinched, and snap-hooked it about 150 in front of me. I made a 6 on the par-4, and took a deep breath, doing everything I could to settle myself. The second hole was a short par-5, and hit a good drive, a decent approach just short of the green. Made my first par of the day, and felt better as the round progressed.

The problems started around the sixth hole, where I began to feel fatigued, and my body rotation got lazy. The high scores kept piling up in succession, and after a dumb penalty on the final hole, where I made an eight, I don’t think I broke 100 for the round.

The second round started even worse, with a three-putt from seven feet and making a 7 after a much better opening tee-shot, and once I finished the front nine with a dismal 49, I was not in great spirits. It was at that point I decided to forget making a swing and just try to get the damn ball in the hole, resorting to a bunt-style swing to keep it somewhere where I could find it and hit it.

Par on 10 and 11, double on 12, then birdied 13 and 14, par on 15, birdie on 16, bogey on 17 and a par on 18 to go 49-36 (which could be a record on that tour for largest gap between two nines; I never asked). Those last nine holes were a huge boost, and I felt like being able to scrape it together showed that maybe I could still compete. I decided to play a one-day event the following month and see if I could put it all together.

To be continued…

 

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My Minimalist Experience Part One: Moving for $100 or Less

Recently, a friend of mine in Phoenix had moved from an apartment in the Northwest to one in the Southeast suburbs. I had just moved back from Reno a few days before her move was complete, and said to me, “Ugh, moving sucks! I don’t know how you can do it so often!” To which I replied:

“It’s easy when your entire life’s possessions fits into a midsize car.”

I understand how difficult it can be to get rid of material wealth. In 2010, I did so rather involuntarily, which is a story I’ll tell one day. Since that time, however, living with fewer and fewer possessions has become easier. And there are features of a minimalist lifestyle, especially if you live or aspire to live a fairly nomadic lifestyle, that are far cheaper than one could imagine.

For example, in the last 8 months I had moved from Las Vegas, to Reno, and back to Las Vegas, and each trip cost more than $100. Did I mention that I don’t own a car (more on why in another post) and possess enough goods that would cost more than $100 just in baggage or shipping fees alone?

This is, hopefully, the first in a series of posts dedicated to enlighten those who have considered a nomadic lifestyle, or wonder how and why it’s a much freer way to live.

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Goals Revisited

Last year I tried to set certain goals to complete by the end of 2015. In short, it failed. Although I did accomplish many of the things I set out to do, it wasn’t at the scale that I intended do complete. After thinking about it, and remembering some of the guidelines from the Four Hour Work Week, I’ve decided to do something different. While goals are helpful, it’s often how they’re framed that determines how or if they’ll be achieved. I will be dividing goals into two groups: results oriented and non-results oriented. The former will be defined with short deadlines, while the others will be done regardless of the results.

Short-term defined goals:

Come up with three recipes for new cookbook

Volunteer at least one hour for a charity

Write one blog post a week.

Longer-term goals:

Play 1000 hands of cash game poker online each month, regardless of outcome.

Make one sports wager a week for six months and keep a tally of the results.

 

Often times, reaching goals is less about winning or losing than it is putting in the time and learning from mistakes. I hope to keep everyone posted on the progress of these goals as time goes on.

 

What kind of goals do you have this year?

 

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It’s Been Far Too Long

It’s amazing how fast time flies. I can’t believe I haven’t sniffed a blog post on here since early May. I’m glad to see I have followers still, and looking forward to writing and sharing more from now and WELL into 2016. What’s happened in the last seven months? A lot of stuff I’d rather not re-visit, but will talk about what’s going on now.

  • I’m back in Las Vegas after spending the Summer and Fall in Reno, and looking forward to continuing to work on my various projects, which I’ll talk about as I feel comfortable doing so.
  • This has been the most trying year from a personal standpoint that I’ve ever dealt with, and I feel fortunate to have learned and grown from the experience.

I’m excited to get back to writing and interacting with the followers I’ve garnered, and hope to get more involved in the blogging community now and in the near future. Hope everyone has had a great holiday season.

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Paleo Chunky Chipotle Chicken Taco Wraps

Yesterday, I posted a photo on Instagram of a new dish that I had created, and despite having less than 20 followers, received a plethora of likes and positive feedback. So, I decided to share the recipe on my blog:

Ingredients:

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

16 ounces crushed tomatoes

1-3 chipotle chiles, chopped and seeded (depending on how much spice you like)

One 12-ounce bag of tri-colored bell peppers and onions (for convenience; you could also dice fresh peppers and onions, but this was simpler)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt

1 head romaine lettuce

1 avocado, sliced

Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and place the chicken, skin down, on the bottom.  This will render some fat that will be used for the rest of the ingredients. Season the exposed meat with salt. Add the crushed tomato, crushed garlic, chipotles and pepper/onion combo into the pan. Cover, bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer, for 60-90 minutes. Remove the lid and take out the chicken, peeling off the skin (which make great dog treats), and use a couple forks to separate the meat from the bones. While doing so, allow the sauce to reduce over medium heat, untouched, so that the onions and peppers can caramelize. Once the liquid has reduced by a third (15-20 minutes), place the chicken back into the sauce to simmer for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before spooning onto lettuce leaves. Top with avocado and serve.

Here’s what it looks like:

Chunky Chipotle

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Recent Activity and a New Project

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and for good reason: I’ve been busier than expected.  What’s had me so busy lately?

Golf. A lot of golf.

My game has improved dramatically during the first quarter of 2015. So much, in fact, that I’m already planning my return to competitive golf in the next six months.

Any one who has played golf understands how expensive it can be. Therefore,  I have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the re-start of my golf career.

I’m using Go Fund Me,  and the link is: gofundme.com/q6zp58

I’ve included links to a couple stories on my blog, as well as a detailed description of what the funds raised will be used for.

The best thing the readers of this blog can do is spread the word, share the campaign or share this blog.

Thank you for your support,  and for being a loyal follower.

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