It’s a bluebird Tuesday afternoon on the back nine at the Silverado Country Club in Napa and I’m feeling too nice.


Too nice to my golf team who, because of various excuses, currently consists of three girls playing out of 15 girls on the team.


Too nice to my students who currently have way too many F’s in my classes.


Too nice to my own kids who are victims of “Sonoma-Good-Parent-Providing-Everything entitlement”.


Too nice to a district that took a hard pass this summer on all the administrative positions I applied for.


Too nice to my wine tour bus company who seem to barely tolerate and certainly not appreciate my free-range chicken philosophy.


Too nice to the readers of this blog who haven’t raved enough about my message so that I can sell my stories to Hollywood and buy my cabin in the mountains.


Too nice to a government that takes a third of my paycheck and spends it on wars and hate and separation and things I often oppose.


I drop a ball and grab a three iron from my player’s bag. I launch the ball 50 feet beyond the green.


“Hit it like that?” My player says incredulously.


“No, sorry, just a little off my game today.” I reply.


I have issues, this we know, but the more I suppress and ignore them, the more I spin in my little vortex of dysfunction. What to do when it’s all too much?


I make a list for Wednesday:

  1. Find out why certain teachers are making students feel like they can’t leave class for matches, I always prioritize school over golf but students should feel supported to participate in sports. Also, get tougher on the team, be better organized, and do the work you slacker.
  2. Look at the students with F’s and figure out where the block is-Apathy? Screens? Confusion? Holes in knowledge? Me? Probably all of the above.
  3. Entitlement seems counter to being a good parent but it is not. A good parent takes care of their kids however there is a point when taking care means teaching independence, that’s the hardest stage because no one talks about it and all the shiny Facebook pictures make growing up seem so easy.
  4. I look bad on paper. I piss some people off with my opinions, writings and actions. “I don’t give a damn ‘bout my bad reputation” sometimes causes consequences. Accept or change m-fer, life is hard but also beautiful.
  5. See 4
  6. See 4
  7. Two plus years of calling the president a flaming shit bag on the doorstep of America, ranting about environmental issues, trying to wake up students and a community and are we any closer to a better world? Not so much although did you see that Boylen Slat launched his solution to cleaning the floating garbage patch this week? Good sign.


I can’t help being nice. It’s my way and it usually serves me well but sometimes I cross over into the doormat category and that is never good. Assertive niceness: know, say and get what I want but in a way that brings more joy than pain to the world, that’s my new mantra.


A week later and my top six players are happily duffing their way along the hills of Sonoma Golf Club. We’re getting killed by Napa High but caring little. The girls are happy, they are smiling and laughing with the other team, they are improving and they are learning.


I’m feeling inspired partially because of the SVHS back to school night where I was super stoked with my son’s new teachers and the new feeling of openness at the high school and partially because of Plein Air which not only funds my art program but turns Sonoma into an open air museum for a week each year. It’s one of those only in our little town events that couldn’t happen anywhere else.


And all that stuff I was whining about is really just work. Work is supposed to be hard, that’s why it’s called work. Sure I love teaching but it’s work to do a good job just like it’s work to move up in your field and it is certainly work to be a good parent, anyone who says it’s easy is lying to you and to themselves.


Plus there are worse problems than being too nice. I could be THAT guy who hates everything and is happy to tell you so. I know they exist, I see them all the time on the wine bus. “Really Walt, I was expecting better wines and a much better time.” Said by no one, ever, on my tours because I intervene before they can say it. That’s the work part, don’t ignore a problem, work and solve a problem.


My Achilles heel has always been trying to do more than I am capable of doing. And because I take on many things, I fail at some of those things. Does it mean I need to smash golf balls into faraway places? Sure, sometimes, but it also means that I get a lot of stuff done.


My team loses by 25 strokes but our overall score is 5 strokes less than our last match. Victory is all about perspective. Exactly what somebody who is too nice would say.







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