It is calm. I am feeling composed, relaxed, balanced and happy.
Previously, it was as if I were a boat on the ocean, battling heavy seas.
Now, the clouds have parted, some welcome sunshine has filtered through, and the morning light is gently caressing calm seas once again.
Relief, that’s the main feeling. Contentment. Happy in my own space, happy to make new work colleagues, to be able to contribute without shadows of speculation and resentment being cast over my contributions.
I am free to engage, to enjoy, to rejoice in the simple things. To pat a friend or colleague on the back, to give some good feedback to others, to say thanks, and to let people know that I really care about them. Because, I really do!
I’ve let go, but in a good way. Let go of resentment. Let go of shame. Let go of the negativity that seemed to surround me and I was trapped like a shopping bag being blown around in a vortex of shit.
I realise that I was just hanging on. Using all my strength to tell myself that I could continue. Some days were really good in spite of the situation, and some days felt absolutely fucking desperate. It was like the rug had been pulled. I was angry. I was frustrated. I kept a positive outlook as much as possible in the situation and I did my best to not get dragged into the whole shit-pile, but in reality, that shit-pile was – my life! I don’t and haven’t blamed anyone else. Like I’ve said before, I was the architect of my own demise!
Life still has its challenges. Things will never be perfect. I can accept that. I watched a Ted talk recently that said that people affected by serious hardship, like a debilitating injury, and those who experience good fortune such as winning the lottery end up at the same place, after a few months, in terms of acceptance and who is happiest. This is counterintuitive because we all think that of course, winning the lottery would just about assure happiness – with all our ‘real’ problems put aside by having lots of money. Right?
Without getting into pop-psychology, the evidence would suggest that those who go through challenging and life altering events do adjust, and are generally content to accept, perhaps even find happiness in their apparent misfortune. I’m not suggesting I’ve suffered misfortune, just saying that the recent events of my life have certainly been challenging and life altering.
For a rough a journey as it has been, I am better for it. Stronger, more self assured, more independent and less resentful of the situation that surrounded me. What I learned is that people will accept you. Ok, some won’t that’s ok. But people will, if you open your heart and be genuine and sincere, no matter who you are.
possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men:
“handsome, muscled, and driven, he’s a prime example of masculinity”
synonyms: virility · manliness · maleness · machismo · vigor · strength · muscularity · ruggedness · robustness · testosterone
*** It’s all good, but, where is the sensitive, caring, open hearted, kind, loving, sensual part of the masculine description? Oh, that’s right, its not. Kinda the point, right? ***
So I just watched this Ted Talk – It’s Justin Baldoni, an actor who has been portrayed in lots of shirtless and sexy-man kind of roles. Good for him, right? Ok, so the topic of today’s blog is to explore masculinity, and what it means to me personally, and especially in light of the current media climate, and my own personal experiences.
It should be noted, that the Ted Talk was given in a room full of women. That’s relevant because the speech addressed women. Nothing wrong with that, it was a really good speech. Where I differ in my approach is that I am probably less ‘apologetic’ on behalf of all men for whatever has transpired through history. I can only be accountable for my own actions and I can only speak for myself.
I will say, that while I’m not a card carrying feminist, I do believe in equality and all people should be treated with respect and dignity. All people. That includes men, and women, and the undecided.
Ok, so, in today’s society, the term ‘masculinity’ conjures up many meanings, and I’m guessing survey says its not all-good. But I’m here to take affirmative action, to balance the ledger so to speak. A few of the general connotations of perception of men these days might include:
Violent against women.
Unmentionable and questionable conduct in relation to children – especially those in positions of power or authority with access to children.
Disproportionally remunerated in relation to women.
Consumer and supporter of porn.
etc. I think you get the gist of what I’m saying.
Well, here’s what I’ll say about it. Its a bit like shark attacks or bears in the woods – both are much feared but really the actual instance of shark and bear attacks are wayyyyyy fewer than one would expect based on our fear level and cultural expectations around shark and bear attacks.
But, (bear with me ladies), that doesn’t jive, because, I have people close to me in my life who have been (will be, and are being) subject to harassment, and have been abused in the past. Therefore, it could be argued that to dismiss these realities is not reflective of other’s experience.
What I’m saying is, the media reports, and the 1% of men who provide these experiences, cannon fodder for the media and feminist crowd, do not represent the 99% of decent guys out there. Or, maybe I’m in denial, maybe I’m kidding myself, and maybe 99% of men are inherently bad, and 1% have no balls? There I go perpetuating the current media storm.
Ok, I realise that this is going to bring and avalanche of feedback from the #metoo crowd. I understand that, as women, these things happen, and are real.
I have a daughter, and female friends. I don’t want them to be victimized or harassed, period.
Further, I, me, moi, have been perceived as a harasser, a creep, a sleaze, even though, maybe I was not aware, and maybe I was niave, and maybe I was nonchalant. On occasion my actions may have been totally benign, and misinterpreted, while on other occasions, you can bet that I wanted to get something from an interaction from a female, because, guess what? I’m a man. Duh.
If men never pursued women, the species would discontinue, which kinda suggests that harassment on some level is a biological instrument of reproduction. If you have ever seen a stallion go nuts about a mare you know what I am talking about. Again, clarification, there are obvious cases that are just inappropriate. Goes without saying.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what constitutes a general male/female conversation, where flirting starts and ends, and what constitutes harassment. In a confusing sort of twist, the rules seem to be it’s harassment, when a woman says it is. The definition would probably be something like ‘if the attention is unwanted…’ etc. Fair enough.
Ok, you can say its obvious, but really, it’s not. I don’t grab anything I shouldn’t, and I don’t hassle females for the sake of gaining anything, so I think my activities are quite respectful. In fact, I know they are, but its been a learning curve. I guess based on the modern media shit storm, and my own personal experience, I err on the side of caution.
So, what’s the implication of that? What is the effect of that on individual men, and boys in our society? From my perspective, it adds up to a whole lot of guilt and shame. I think that is a kind of sad indictment for how a man or young man should feel.
Here’s a news flash. While we are men, we aren’t all bad. Really.
You don’t have to go far to get sensational news, and feminist propaganda, though.
Enough #metoo already! Please.
Here’s what I’ll say. I like being a man. I like feeling sexy. I like to engage with other people – men and women, and for the vast majority of times, if you are respectful and polite people will respond in turn with equal favour.
For the men out there, here’s what I want to communicate:
Be a proud man. Whatever you are.
It’s ok to be gay, if that’s what you are.
It’s ok to cry, when you need to.
It’s ok to talk to other men – time and a place of course, about what is important to you. Open you mind and open your heart. You will be rewarded.
It’s ok to feel sexy. In fact, I enjoy it and encourage it!
It’s ok to be sensual, in whatever way makes you feel good.
Dress the way you want.
Do the things you want – cast off the shackles of traditional masculinity. If you want to take a sewing class, write poetry, become an aerobics instructor, you go, boy!
It’s ok if sometimes you feel like you are crumbling under the weight of expectations as a man – the protector, the provider, the strong one. We all have our weak moments, and that’s ok.
So in the process of moving, I found a picture of me! This must have been about 1978, or so. I was born in 75 so I figure I was about 3 or 4 years old here. So it got me thinking, if I had to ‘write a letter to my young self’ what would it say? Here’s my attempt…
Hey little man, what’s up? You have no idea of the shit storm you are in for! No, I’m kidding really, you’re gonna have a lot of fun out there. One day, you’ll be approaching 43, sitting in a café in eastern Canada, typing a letter to yourself, which is going to be posted on a blog – It’s an internet thing, don’t worry you’ll figure it out.
So, um, what can I say? Good luck out there. Go with an open heart, and an open mind. Be kind to yourself, and others. Stand up for what you believe in. You’re going to go through a lot of stress and anxiety, but please, let it go, it will not serve you well.
Be true to yourself. Be who you want to be. Travel wide. Love with all your ‘lil heart. You will drift from your family, but don’t drift too far. Family is very important to your identity and even if you are frustrated at times, know that they mean well.
Sometimes, you are going to have to tow the line, to fit in, to just do things because others say you should. Often this is due to social norms that are developed over many generations and sometimes there are very good reasons for these and sometimes they are just stupid conventions that you are going to have to accept.
Don’t be afraid. Be cautious, be aware, but don’t let fear hold you back. Some of your best life experiences will come when you just let go, of fear. Step out of your comfort zone, and be brave, be bold.
Remember that while what others think of you is important, it does not define you, and you will never please everyone. Do your best to be the best you that you can be and allow others to accept you as you are, or leave you be.
Live without regrets, but take heed of your learnings. Its a fool’s endeavour to make the same dumb mistakes more than a few times! You will make plenty, it’s all part of the experience.
Take care, young man, one day, you’re going to be me!!!!
I don’t cry often, but when I do its normally a big kind of relief. With all the changes in my life I have felt a whole spectrum of emotions – from resentment, to guilt, to shame, to embarrassment, to anger, to love, to lust, to feeling inspired, energetic and optimistic, to the lowest lows I have experienced, such that I have been genuinely fearful for what I might do such was the feeling of rejection and hopelessness.
But don’t worry – this is not a helpless, depressing post, it’s one of release. Healthy release!
There is no one singular theme here, its been an ups and downs kind of a ride. In short, I feel more open, more myself, and more content at this point than I have in years; even if it has essentially cost me my job, contact with my children, a lot of money, and a tremendous amount of turmoil.
In my time in Montreal, I visited the Basilique Marie-Reine-Du-Monde. From the outside it’s impressive, but not really beautiful, at least in the way I like. On the inside, it’s simply magnificent. High ceilings, paintings in every corner and ceiling space, carved columns, and statues. I’m not particularly religious, but I was really taken by the impressive interior. There is a main area where the priests deliver the sermons, and its a four column masterpiece of sculpting and design.
I stayed for the service, ate the flesh of Christ, and took a moment to take it all in. I was overcome by the beauty of this place, and the sense of loneliness I experienced in that moment. I shed a few tears, then took a seat on one of the side pulpits. That’s where I really opened up. I sobbed. For a good long while. The nice thing about churches is that people leave you alone, to grieve or worship or do what you need to do. I probably wept for a good 10 minutes there.
I let my tears fall – a lot of them, onto the marbled floor at my feet. It felt good, knowing that a part of me, would be left there in Montreal, in that sacred space.
Afterwards I took a candle lighting stick and lit two candles. I wept openly. Some other people were doing their own thing – lighting candles or whatever. I found an enormous freedom in letting it out, and I was not ashamed to cry openly.
Now I have the feeling of having resolved some of the immediate issues in my life. I feel like the storm has passed, somewhat. I really needed to let it all out, and the Basilica was the ideal place to allow myself that space.
If there were a themesong for this blogpost, it would be High and Dry by Radiohead. Not really because I feel left high and dry so much as its just poetic and beautiful, because its Radiohead.
Overhead press – 5 reps of 5 with Olympic bar and 45lb plates.
One arm dumbbell rows – 3 sets of 10 with 80 lb dumbbell.
Machine with standing glute/ham/quad push back. (I call this horsekicks).
So we are just days away from when T bird and my babies fly away to our home country. I will be staying on in Oh-Canada. Houses on the market for sale. Kind of restructuring life and finances and everything really. It’s a great opportunity to let go of any hang ups or baggage that we’ve been carrying.
We (T bird and T bird jr my daughter) even played a game of monopoly the other night. Monopoly is very much like life. There is income, there are bills, there are windfalls, you over spend and then end up owing money. It started to resemble our life just a bit too much!
It would be really interesting if they put jobs and relationships in there wouldn’t it? You’d probably have to put any sharp objects away, I am guessing.
So this guy – in the gif here, I can relate to this shit. Going awesome, get the dreaded speed wobbles, then oh-fuck. End up in the ditch. Yes, I’ve been there! My life, of late, could play like a country song. But, wait, I’m not complaining, oh, no!
But you know what? As hard as the journey has been, as depressing at times, and challenging and down right embarrassing and all of the rest of it – it’s really ok. Let me reiterate IT’S REALLY FUCKING OK!!!! HAHAHAHAHHHAAAAA.
I went to Blairmore gym today in Saskatoon. It’s a great gym, I’m a member of a chain of 3 gyms, soon to be 4 apparently. I like Blairmore because it is quiet compared to the other two gyms, and the equipment is brand new. Makes for a nice work out.
So, hopefully, a very human post today. This morning I was feeling a little achy in the upper back/neck where I often experience headaches, so I was conscious of that getting started. I used some moisturiser and rubbed my traps and upper back as best I could. I felt just a little nauseous which can be an effect of these neck type pains.
I put on my gym gear – hot shorts of course. I shave my legs because I can’t stand hairy legs. I made a resolution to shave once a week – keeps everything relatively smooth. I took an extra 10 minutes or so to get that done.
I felt a bit like I needed to pee. I put that aside as I got into my workout. Getting through my sets, I was doubtful within myself that I could do the 5 sets of 5 bench press with 225 lbs. But I kept going. Pushing through. The good news, I got through my work out, and actually feel pretty damn good right now! I also did lat raises, bent over lat raises, incline bench press, chest flyes, and lying leg raises.
This week I was challenged a few times, in work, in life whatever. Sometimes these things are put before us to test out mettle. I think what matters is what you do with these challenges, how you respond. Can you make yourself a better person from the experience?
It’s not about taking a bunch of shit and accepting it. Its not about reacting strongly or getting emotional. Its about standing up for yourself. Responding appropriately. Being direct with people, yet courteous and polite. Its about sticking to your guns…..
My wonderful daughter turns 12 today. Twelve years ago I was at a country town hospital – Biloela in Central Queensland. My wife had been in labour over night. She was born in the morning – around 7 am. I was the first person to hold her, except perhaps for my wife. I remember I cried tears of joy. I was so happy. I called my sister and my parents and I told them about our new baby girl. I was happy and recall trying to talk clearly to my sister but being kind of choked by happy tears – if that is even possible.
We have our moments, my daughter and I. She’s growing up to be a young woman. Sometimes I hardly recognise her. She’s beautiful, and sweet and all the things I could hope for.
Today was leg day. I wore my new long tights I bought on line, so that was a bit of fun. Here’s my workout: Following the general Arnie written split workout deal…. loosely following.
Squats: 6 sets of 15, 10, 8, 6, 4, 4.
Leg extensions, 5 sets of 10 reps.
Leg curls, 6 sets of 15, 10, 8, 8, 6.
Sit ups 3 sets of 25, 15, 10.
Calf raises, 3 sets of 10.
Straight leg deadlift, 3 sets of 10.
It was a good work out.
My daughter hugged me!
It’s her 12th birthday tomorrow. I woke her this morning to ask what she wanted for her birthday. I was kind of surprised, she didn’t even yell at me! So that’s the plan here today, I will be taking her shopping and get something that she would like. One small step for fatherhood, one giant leap for this dad!
I was also reflecting on the past few months. I had a chat with the ex – with kids being noisy in the background, but a chat all the same. Sometimes its good to talk. A few months ago I was really not doing too good. I was struggling a bit. Ok, a lot perhaps. Strangely, within myself I felt pretty good but all around me there was chaos and upset….
All self caused, and I’m ok with that too. Major changes are tough – especially on those around you. I’ve had to modify a few things in my life and I’ve had some learnings about what works and what causes upset. I don’t have any regrets. None. Its just a matter of living and learning and finding your true path.
So its probably worth a quick list of the things I am thankful for:
I am loved.
I have two wonderful healthy children.
I have an ex who cares about me.
I have a job. It pays well.
I have a new boss, and so far the arrangement is very decent.
I have my health.
I enjoy keeping fit and working out.
I have family that cares for me (even if I disappoint sometimes!)
I have eyesight.
I have mental faculties that allow me to express myself, to write, to draw, to play music, to dance!
I have a car, that runs, and its cheap on petrol!
I have two wonderful dogs in my life.
I could probably keep going but I hear people dry retching so I will quit now!
WordPress readers and bloggers, you get a hug! Namaste.
Life is a balancing act. We are constantly and often intuitively adjusting to the variables – maybe its the slope of the pavement, maybe its going around a corner on a bicycle, or deciding how much to spend on ourselves or our loved ones when buying a gift or having a night out.
Balance also applies to personal freedoms. As with everything, there are balance issues to consider. How do you express yourself with the amount of freedom or experience you desire, while being considerate of the feelings of those who care about you? Even within yourself, there is balance to consider. How much to drink on a night out? Too much and you end up in gutter, too little and you maybe don’t get the buzz you are looking for. I’ve fucked that one up plenty of times.
What if you don’t even know what your limits of acceptable experience are, because you are still finding your way in life, or your situation has changed? Sometimes you might over commit, sometimes you haven’t found your balance and invariably, you will leave people feeling disappointed, or perhaps find yourself regretting your actions or motivations.
There’s no magic answers here, sometimes its just down to life experience, going with the flow, and knowing when to say yes, and when to say no, even to yourself.
Disclaimer, I ‘m going through a lot in my life. This post isn’t directed at any one or any situation, its just a celebration of music. Now let’s enjoy!
So when I was growing up, as a child born in ’75, my mum played a LOT of Rod Stewart. She thought he was great, and I guess I kind of absorbed it. Inhaled it, was infused with it.
Rod Stewart is simply awesome. I do need to clarify though, the later (let’s say second half) part of his career was dominated by commercially packaged musical garbage, in my humble opinion.
However, his work in The Faces and later as a solo artist was much to my liking. It’s worth noting that being a rock star, in the early 70’s or whenever in the UK, he mixed with a lot of other rock stars, and I read the book by Keith Richards, and our Rod turns up in that book. As it happens, Rod ends up recruiting Ronnie Woods of the Rolling Stones and you can see him in the video for Stay With Me. I attached the video link to that raucous celebration of rock and roll below.
But back to the topic – I was only joking. I love this track because its Rod ‘pouring his heart out in a song’ in a way that is both honest and kind of irreverent. You can just tell that he’s a genuine hopeless romantic, bumbling his way through life and living and loving and making mistakes, and having various relationships along the way. It’s sweet and a bit nasty at the same time how does he get away with that?????
Ok, I also want to draw attention to the guitar parts. Its almost perfection. The acoustic intro and solo are sweet like classical music, but when the electric guitar comes in after the acoustic guitar solo, I have a kind of audio aural canal orgasm, and that’s what we listing to music for, right? Perfect!!!!!!!
The verse after the guitar solo is especially bitter sweet. Just beautiful…
Now you ask me if I’m sincere
That’s the question that I always fear
Verse seven is never clear
But I’ll tell you what you want to hear
I try to give you all you want
But giving love is not my strongest point
If that’s the case, it’s pointless going on
I’d rather be alone
‘Cause what I’m doing must be wrong
Pouring my heart out in a song
Owning up for prosperity
For the whole damn world to see