I thought 2014 was my year, maybe it’s 2015!

2015It’s the time of the year when most people make their New Years Resolutions, then just a few weeks later, they’re off the wagon already. Instead of doing that, last year I looked at things I was doing well at the end of the year, and worked on doing better in the new year. Looking back, 2014 was a good year, and I’ve come so much further today than I was last year. Word Press sent me the stats of my blogs this year, and showed me what you my readers were most interested in. I’m going to be a bit selfish and highlight a few of the post that inspired me the most. This was quite a long list, so I’ll try to keep it short.

Lessons from Criticisms! 

One of the posts that effected me the most was “Lessons I learnt from Criticism” While my feelings were hurt initially, this really made me stop and ask myself “How is my view of the world and myself different from what others see?” While criticism is mostly meant to hurt, I also asked myself if there was truth hidden in there too. Sometimes people are hurting, and whether it’s intentional or not, they want others to hurt too. I’m willing to recognize that you and I may not see things the same way, it’s not beneficial for me to prove you wrong. Instead of proving you wrong, I can spend the time finding out what’s driving your emotions, instead of sympathy, I can show empathy for you.

What’s your Mix-Tape!

While it may not have seemed like it, I had fun writing “What’s your MIx-Tape” All too often we get caught up with the daily rigors of life, whether it’s work, school, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, bills etc. Life is hard and sometimes getting a moment to collect our thoughts are rare. While you’re not actively thinking, your mind is still subconsciously feeding you messages. With so many medias these days, it’s easy to get caught up, and to not realize that you’re hearing subconscious messages. Lol and I’m not saying that you’re hearing voices, or that aliens are talking to you. I mean you’re always hearing about a new product to make you better, more beautiful, smarter, more money … If you’re not conscious you end up feeling like you’re not enough, and you need that NEW and IMPROVED THING that will make your life better! In addition to all those messages, if you’re telling yourself that you’re not smart, beautiful, or worthy. If you’re also having a lot of negative self-talk, that can be a lot on your confidence. Instead of your thought being held captive by whatever new thing is playing, why not be kind, loving and gracious to yourself. Make it a point to consciously feed your mind positive messages about yourself.

As one season Ends…!

The title “As one Season ends, so another Begins” mostly explains itself. Aside from changes in my own life, 2014 was a year of changes for many of the people around me, and it’s important to remember that life is for but a season. There are times when you’re in your Harvest Season, and other your Sowing season. You might not see the benefits of what you’re going through now (either good or bad) until another season. Advance warning, I’m going to get Biblical for a bit here.

And we know that God causes everything to work together  for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 – NLT

Time and time again, whether you’re a person of faith or not, you hear someone say “WHY God, why did this happen to ME?” This is just one example, but what this passage doesn’t say is that God only lets good things happen, it doesn’t even say anything about the BAD. It actually omits that word, and it does say that God causes everything to work together for the good… I’m probably going to make some people upset by saying this, but the world is full of good and bad, and while someone dying is a tragedy. That tragedy can cause a chain of events that work for good. Sometimes even in bad circumstances there could be opportunities for good. As we go through the seasons in our life, it’s important to remember that even in the worst of situations, there could be a opportunity for you to show, love, grace or kindness or comfort to someone who’s hurting.

My masculinity is a Gift!

Through a series of posts ending with “What does it mean to be a Strong Man?” I embarked on a journey to understand what it means to be a Man. As a man I’ve been lead to believe that:

  • Good men are strong and powerful.
  • REAL men don’t cry or show emotions.
  • The Man is supposed to be the provider.
  • The Man is supposed to be a hero, to come in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress.

What makes me a man, is it because of what society tells me? Am I a man because of the ‘THINGS’ I’ve amassed. Do I just live by my carnal desires, and allow myself to be controlled by my sexual desires? We get bombarded my so many messages, and sometimes it’s hard to understand what’s real or not. In many cases we’re not thought healthy ways to deal with stress or our emotions. Through this post I was thought to stop and recognize that I have male energy, and how to behave around female energy, and some healthy strategies to handle stress and life. I’m learning to live with intention, I certainly don’t have all the answers. I’m however learning to ask questions, and to recognize my short comings, and most importantly to deal with them in healthy ways.

The Meaning of Life Quotes:

One of my all-time favorite comedians is Jim Carrey, it wasn’t until I heard a commencement speech he gave to a group of College graduates did I realize how smart he also was. For the full post check out “The Meaning of Living-According to Jim Carrey” Here are a few of my favorite quotes from that speech:

  • You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you Love
  • Live your life asking how can I have an effect on the world while I’m here?
  • Ask how can my gift change the world, not what can the world do for me.
  • What if people see me without my mask! 
  • To find peace you first have to let the Armour go. 
  • Our need for acceptance, can also make you invisible. 
  • To find Peace we must let our Light shine through, and take the risk to let ourselves be seen.
  • Don’t let Wealth, Fame, Prestige … distract you from your true purpose in life, which is to let your Light shine through!!
  • There should be nothing more important in this world than you. 
  • Don’t let your EGO(the voice that tells you that you’re not good enough)fool you, know that you already possess everything you want, believe it and it will come to pass.
  • Stop worrying about how your dreams will come through, just believe, and don’t get caught up on what the vessel looks like. If you miss your chance, the Universe will find a way to bring it back around again.

I’m an Extroverted Introvert!

While I didn’t cover it in any specific post, I learnt quite a bit more about being Introverted. I’m learning to embrace myself in a more loving way, to be kind to my emotions and quirks. There are times when I don’t mind being social, but at some point I’ll need to be alone, that’s how I re-energize myself. I’m learning how to be unapologetic about needing quiet time for myself. I also learnt that in my quiet times, that’s when I’m actually much more creative, I need time to process my thoughts

When it’s all said and done, while these are the things that mean a lot to me. What I’m learning to do is to not put my stock in things such as money, possessions, or things that are temporary. There are things in life that despite our best efforts, we don’t have control over them, and life itself could be gone in but a moment. Instead of focusing on things that are fleeting, I’m going to spend this year focusing on things that are eternal, such as love, grace and kindness. I’m going to spend my time trying to make an impact on the world in a way that can make my story last for eternity. The reality is that one day I too will pass on, and how the world remembers me is far more important than money, or THINGS!

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Coming into my Masculinity Full Circle

love-kiss-man-woman-silhouette-fire-smoke

I was speaking to a friend last night after she read my last post, while she thought it was a great post; and that it revealed another layer to me. She did point out that I always seem to stay away from sex, and she was right, I was intentional in that. I soon realized though that she was right, it’s a vital part of who I am, and to not talk about that aspect, wouldn’t give a full picture of who I am. So I’ve decided to break my silence. I decided to start writing because I wanted to have a record of my transformation, and my hope is that I may help others on their journey also, so leaving out this part won’t be a full picture of my journey.

***This post deviates from my usual safe topics, and I’m about to embark on one that’s seen as a bit taboo, but if you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll no I’m never afraid to say what I mean. This topic might be a bit more graphic for some, So this is your opportunity to stop reading. I do encourage you to keep reading though, as always I will give a full picture of what I’m talking about, and by reading all the way to the end, you won’t get any misunderstands about my view.***

So where do I start!

I’m sure that my now most of you should know that I’m Christian, and I believe strongly in my faith. While I’ve been Christian for most of my life, there was a point in my life where I strayed away from my faith. I’ve since returned, and I continue to grow everyday. Late last year I heard a teaching at my church on The Power of Love, and it has changed my view on Sex, and my conduct as a Christian. Since that message I’ve decided to Abstain from sex until I’m married. As a Christian it’s taught that sex outside of Marriage is a Sin. While Christians are generally conservative, it’s my belief that God intended for sex to be something that is ammazing, exciting, and will leave you writhing with pleasure.

“…Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching, and no one would criticize me. I would bring you to my childhood home, and there you would teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine. Your left arm would be under my head, and your right arm would embrace me… I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees…”

No that is not a quote from the newest steamy novel, it’s form the Bible, specifically Song of Solomon 8. I know this is just one chapter, but there are several other cases of this type of language.

So how should I behave!

“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people” – Ephesians 5:3 (NLT)

Here we learn that many sexual behavior is condemned outside of a covenant relationship. It’s also interesting to note that the Greek word pornea is used here, which is the word for pornography. Impurity, meaning washed clean; also referring to being in a self-serving mind set. Lastly greed referring to not getting your own needs met. When we combine the three, we see that Sex is part of the covenant relationship, and taking any action that is self satisfying (including masturbation), or somehow getting your needs met, would constitute as sin. Now I know you’re thinking that with all those rules, it doesn’t leave me much room. Well you’re right, but if you follow the path, it’s also very rewarding in the end. I was practicing this but without much of a method, or a guide on how to conduct myself, I was a bit lost. I read a post from another writer Bryan Reeves, and I believe that through his work on the subject of Male Sexual Energy, I’ve found a kind of Guiding Principles to help me in my walk of abstinence.

Doing nothing is a Option!

Since very young, men are taught to respond to a female’s presence by acknowledging her with an action. Then as a teen we’reMan looking at woman thought that if we see a beautiful girl, “we’re to go get her number” or “go talk to her.” In instances where a few males are gathered together, at the mere hint of a female, it seems they become a pack of apes, hollering and hooting at her. For the male that doesn’t replicate this behavior, he is seen as weird, and the most hated question “why wont’ you go talk to her? do you not like girls?”  Bryan suggests that instead of responding in the way we’ve learnt all our life, what if we acknowledge that we’re aroused, and then do nothing! Additionally there seems to be the idea that on the opposite side of sexual arousal is a relationship. The “I think she’s hot, so I must start a relationship with her” syndrome. As I’m sure you all know physical attraction is only a very small element of a successful relationship. How many people have met someone very attractive, and things fizzled very quickly after. By not acting on every sexual urge, we give the other parts of our brain to process and think. A man is a visual creature, and a woman’s body is curvaceous, and with every rise and fall or her skin, it brings a very strong arousal in a man. In many cases though, you don’t just go around having sex with every attractive person you see, so how has doing nothing not caught on yet?

Delayed Gratification brings greater pleasure later!

By not giving into every single sexual feeling, I can learn to harness it in one direction. Women imagine if your guy comes home, you’re sitting on the couch reading a book/watching TV (in hopes of not being chauvinistic or stereotypical, this seemed a better example). He’s been thinking about you all day, and he can harness all that sexual energy into not just being sensual, but also be ravishing. Then you have one of those toe curling episodes, where you feel satiated rather than the usual “Ok get away from me now feeling.” As Bryan suggests, instead of focusing purely on a woman’s physical body, you learn to respect, and understand her mind and body as one. By channeling all your energy into one relationship, it gives greater focus. By understanding that you will have periods where you’ll be sexually aroused, and sometimes by others who’s not your spouse, you learn that you don’t have to act on it. By understanding that this is how you were made, there is also no guilt, but when you do decide to act, it’s in a focused direction.

So what does this have to do with Anything!

By practicing abstinence, not only am I fulfilling my Biblical directives, but I’m also keeping my sexual energy for a committed relationship. Understanding that I will be sexually aroused, but that I don’t have to act, helps me to harness my energy. Harnessing my energy helps me to focus all of that energy on one person, in explosive passion and service. I’m only at the beginning of my journey, so it’s too soon to really tell what the benefits will be. From my experience so far, I’ve felt an awakening in me though. By not objectifying women, I’ve began to see them more that physical objects, that I have to acknowledge in some kind of prehistoric display. As I continue to learn, I anticipate that I will get to the next stage, mind and body.

**Thank you for reading, I hope it wasn’t too bad. I wanted to give a clearer picture of my journey and what I’m hoping to accomplish. As with my last post, I hope that this can help spark conversations between men and women. There is a greater love and level of satisfaction for everyone out there. Imagine a world where we learn to harness and perfect our sexual energy. Seem to me there could be more peace!!**

 

 

Has becoming a Man become an Unreachable Goal!!!

Struggling Man

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about what it means to be a Strong Man. As my 34th Birthday came and went, I find that the topic had not faded away, but instead become a bigger part of my consciousness. As it has been in the past, many of the thoughts I have are either addressed in other posts, or is the topic of discussion in Church.

What proceeds isn’t meant to chastise anyone, I’m hoping that this topic can be a prompt for a conversation; a conversation between men and the women in our lives. All I ask is that you keep an open mind, and hear what I say with a voice of Love. Thought it’s important to start with this disclaimer, didn’t want my words to spark anger or any kind of resentment!

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that my struggle isn’t unique, as males we face constant pressure to be a Man (not quite sure what that even means). Although we face pressure to provide, to show strength but still be passive, to NEVER fail (failure is a sign of weakness). We are told these Stories that we eventually believe, and they become our mantras; but we’re never thought how to cope. I seem to be a bit of a tri-fecta unmarried, no children, and no substantive financial successes (money, nice car) to show for myself. But how has my manhood become about that? I’d like to point out that those things I listed aren’t everything, and although it’s not verbalized, EVERY man knows that he’s measured by those things.

Living with Bad Role Models!

Whether you’re religious or not there seems to be a scarcity of good role models. In the Media we see Athletes who are strong and great at their physical accomplishments, but we also hear of stories of infidelity or rampant divorce. In the movies we see the Man who can get multiple women in bed, idolized as “The Man” What about the stories about the many who’s a father, a husband, a lover, a friend, life long companion all wrapped up into one person? Why are those men not idolized? Even in the Biblical times, we read stories of Men like David, who was a great Leader, but who was also plagued with depression and feelings of inferiority.

Talking about problems is seen as a Weakness!

I saw a story about the recent recession and how families were dealing with it. One of the men made a statement that has stayed with me, he said “They would rather see me die trying to stay on my White Horse, than to see me fall” What he meant was that to maintain the facade of having it together, even though it’s obvious he doesn’t. He said that his wife and daughters don’t talk to him about the struggles he’s going through to to maintain the view that he has it together. The truth is we don’t have it together, we men face immense pressure to “Be a Man” We’re expected and in most cases required to be a provider, safety and security are our main priorities. I challenge you though, sure men don’t generally talk about their problems, but in many cases part of the problem is that others aren’t willing to have the conversation.

The R Word feels like the Kiss of Death!

Yes I’m talking about that “R” word, responsibility. While being able to provide and care for those around you with financial support is important. It has become the defacto response when not wanting to face fear. As Jim Carrey said To find peace you first have to let the Armour go and stop worrying about what will happen if people see you without your armor. I’d replace the “R” word, with the “V” word. No not that “V” word, I’m talking about vulnerability. We all have weaknesses, we all fall short, but the great thing about vulnerability, is that it frees us from fear. Without Fear we can have hope and faith instead. Fear keeps us in a state of inaction, it prevents us from moving and bettering ourselves. Faith and hope on the other hand are action oriented, they entice us to do better, to not take the status-quo as an acceptable pathway.

Keys to become an Agent of Change

Now that I’ve painted a picture of doom and bad role models, how can you possibly change. My Pastor Steve suggested a few specific things you could do, his were really great so there’s no need for me to invent something new.

Use your Strength for Good

Reject Passivity- As males we possess a kind of strength, and we should lead that way. When a problem arises don’t default our responsibility, don’t use “Ask your mom” or “I don’t do that kind of stuff, why don’t you plan that honey” We must be an active participant in decisions, the women around us are counting on us to make decisions, don’t become complacent. Now what I’m not saying is “I’m a man and I need to make all the decisions (while pounding my chest like a cave-man)” There’s a difference between compromising on a decision and making all the decisions. Compromise fosters harmony, and allows both people to have a stake in the decision making process.

Take Responsibility- Not the same one from earlier, but take responsibility for your actions, don’t blame others’ for what you do. Take full ownership of your action, and leave it up to others for theirs. Something I learnt this year I think is helpful here, “Always do my Best.” Each day I will do the best that I’m capable of, the caviat here is that if I can only do 50% then that’s what I’ll do, I won’t beat myself up for not being able to accomplish 150%.

Lead Courageously- We’re expected to lead our families, so lead with confidence and courage. If you feel you lack those skills then pray for them, and actively seek out opportunities to improve. For single person like myself, it doesn’t take a family to lead, and I can still lead in my everyday relationships, whether work, friendship, or others.

“A wise person hears the Truth, and adjusts his behavior to the truth. A foolish person hears the truth, and adjusts the truth to his behavior” – Unknown (well I hear my Pastor Steve say it on numerous occasions)

The Truth is constant, it shouldn’t change, therefore you should change to the truth rather than the other way around. For example, we know that smoking is bad for your health. A wise person will say, smoking is bad for my health and since I would like to live longer, I will have to stop smoking. In contrast a foolish person will say, well I don’t smoke that often, and I probably won’t get cancer for awhile anyway, so I’ll smoke till I die. Sorry smokers, it’s the first example I could think of, and there is Scientific evidence to back it up so it seemed a great illustration. As the truth becomes exposed to us, do we change our behavior to reflect the new truth, or do we find a way to maintain our current behavior, and model a truth that reflects our behavior. As we navigate our lives as males, which are we living, as a wise person or a foolish person?


As I stated in the beginning, this isn’t meant to chastise anyone, but it’s more about starting a conversation. As a man I face immense pressures to be a certain way, and while it may not be entirely true, I feel that women around me expect those things of me too. You may argue that it’s not true, that you do not expect those things from your men, but have you ever talked to them about it? If you ask what is a Man, whether it’s from a man or a woman, you’d probably get very similar answers. This pressure has lead to depression, suicide, and men are literally killing themselves to maintain this persona. I hope you use your words to build up and strengthen rather than tear down and humiliate, do it with and for Love. Men speak to the women in your life, let them see the real you, let them see what you’re actually struggling with. For the women, talk to your men, and be willing to get rid of the “Knight in Shining Armor” persona, I’m not saying that your guy isn’t going to save the day. But this is real life, no one rides a white horse, maybe a white Prius!

What does it mean to be a Strong Man!!

When you think about that phrase, it’s a bit of an oxymoron, because a strong man doesn’t necessarily mean a guy with muscleA Strong Mans who has great physical strength. I read several articles last week that started me thinking about masculinity, and as I grow older, what does it mean to be a strong man. You can find the full article by Bryan Reeves on “Women are not defective Men” to get more insight about what my general theme is. As I go deeper into my 30’s with each passing day, I find that many of the things which peeked my interest when I was younger are no longer enough. Having an intellectual connection is more fascinating, and far more intriguing. I’ve talked regularly in-dept about a book I read earlier in the year “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read an article on The Daily Love yesterday that got me thinking again, for an agreement to be effective, everyone involved has to follow it. As I get older I’m beginning to see that there are many wrong beliefs about what a Man should be, and they lead to statements like:

  • Good men are strong and powerful.
  • Real men don’t cry or show emotions.
  • The Man is supposed to be the provider.
  • The Man is supposed to be a hero, to come in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress.

To many Men money, power, prestige, family (wife and children) are a measure of your man hood. While those things are important, they don’t give the full picture, and what about communication, love, honesty, vulnerability. Why are those things not on the list?

As I was thinking about those things, and as I read Bryan’s article, it was clear that there is so much that men are not taught. To be a functioning and healthy adult (I use the word healthy, because there are many other ways) you need to learn certain things. Going back to what I said about agreements, if we’re not taught these things, and we believe the wrong beliefs that we are taught, then we’re doomed to repeat the same bad choices. As a man there are so many pressures that plague us, and yet in many cases, there are more incentives to perpetuate the wrong beliefs.

So how do you get on the right track. It starts with acknowledging some truths:

  • We’re all human, and that means that we’re capable of emotions, yes even us hard exterior men. Suppressing our emotions in effect is invalidating the gifts we were created with.
  • We must learn that people are different, and that thinking differently or having different values are not right nor wrong. We see the world differently, and that’s ok, it makes us unique not broken.
  • On a level we’re all broken, we all have flaws, it was built into our DNA. While having flaws isn’t an excuse, it’s good to remember that when dealing with others. Sometimes against our best efforts we make mistakes, give others opportunities to correct their mistakes. After-all we’d like the same treatment if the roles were reversed.
  • Learn to embrace our emotions, we were born with 6 senses, if they’re telling us something, we should probably listen. It’s like seeing a wild animal coming towards us with teeth gnashing, and saying “hey you must want to lick me!” By allowing ourselves to feel, we deal with the issue in the moment. Suppressing doesn’t make the emotion go away, it only bottles it up, and it WILL come back, and perhaps at a most inopportune time.
  • Learn to embrace our male and female selves. Men are confident and have a rugged bravado, women are gentler, kind, and caring. Each was made differently, but they were made to combine to produce pure LOVE. By embracing each other’s best qualities, we are able to achieve a more perfect harmony.

To be a well functioning adult male, I must do away with the old mole. I’m not Ryan Gosling, but he’s not be either. So I’ll stop tryingAverage Man to be what I’m not. It’s ok to be me, as I get older I become wiser, well that’s my hope anyway. I must learn to embrace my Male energy, and learn to be in harmony with the mesmerizing and fascinating yet mysterious female energy. I don’t understand it, but perhaps that’s the point. Men are conquerors, and when we do we move on. Perhaps our women are supposed to be a mystery, it keeps us longing and coming back for more as we learn and explore her mysterious deity.