Men’s StudiesOpinion Disclaimer
With this past week’s tragedy in Aurora, CO there are lots of different discussions about guns. Some people are saying we should implement gun control while others are saying that if more people in the theater had weapons to defend themselves there would have been less loss of life. Opinions are rampant, facts and data are elusive, so I won’t be discussing that. Actually, what concerns me more and more every time I see this sort of thing is, “What are we doing that has our young men turning into mass murderers?”
That is the uncomfortable question. With a tragedy where one person causes all the carnage, it is easy to point the blame at that individual and wipe our hands of it. If this only happened once a generation, perhaps that would be okay. However, this type of lone gunman with no logical reason event seems to be happening more often (please correct me if my emotional numbers don’t match the real numbers) than before. In fact, this current tragedy bookends with the much earlier Columbine shootings in the same area. It’s about time we look at ourselves, as individuals, as communities and as a society at large about what our responsibility in these events is.
Responsibility (not blame)
Notice I said responsibility and not blame. People often collapse these two terms together and have them mean the same thing. For the purposes of this article I want to distinguish that blame is allocation of fault while responsibility is being cause in the matter. Our responsibility in these tragedies should be to learn from them and find out why they happened. Is it guns? Is it mental health care? Is it bullying? Is it parenting? Is it video games? Is it the fact that the air is thinner in Colorado? It is easy to get defensive when these questions get asked, who wants to be at fault for any of this? That is why I bring up responsibility, you may not want to be at fault but hopefully you want to be able to make a difference. By seeing where you (and I am using the plural you that English lacks along with the singular you) were cause in the matter you have the opportunity to make a difference in the future.
For myself I see a certain disconnectedness with the rest of the people around me. I ride the bus at all manners of the night and day. I see lots of lonely, lots of crazy, lots of belligerent and I tend to ignore it with the hope that it will just go away. It seems to when they get off the bus, or when I do, but it didn’t go away it just moved to another place. I don’t know how I should react or what I should do but perhaps me being conscious of the connectedness of all these people in our lives could start me down the path. Heck, it might even make a difference with one person. I’d probably never know but perhaps I don’t need to. Perhaps that’s another way I’m responsible, only taking actions when I know the results rather than having a little faith in the difference I can make. It’s a thought I’ll keep pondering.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen other discussions about the tough questions we should be asking ourselves after these tragedies? Let me know about them in the comments.
Dad’s on TV keep changing. I can’t speak much for what came before my time but I can say it has been dismal for a while. Pop-culture dads were showing up bafoonish, in the form of Homer Simpson and wannabes or weren’t even existant at all. To be fair, real dads are and should be silly at times but I think the lack of good role models made it easy for us to let ourselves off the hook. Really, this father image was just an extension of the acceptable male image of the time. What happens when the dumb, milquetoast, codependent guy finally becomes a dad?
To be fair, I don’t watch many different shows anymore, so this list might be a very small percentage. Even then it’s a start.
I’m fairly tired of watching gritty cop shows or gritty hospital dramas so that limits me quite a bit right there. However, one of the dads that seems decent on TV is from Criminal Minds (which I try not to watch but sometime you get stuck in the marathons). Aaron Hotchner, played by Thomas Gibson, has had many touching moments and many difficult moments in dealing with raising his son. All the serial killer who killed his ex-wife stuff aside his role as a father has been written and played well. Making a living and being a father can be a difficult thing to find balance it and that is important to show. He is a fairly cold seeming person, who has a warm relationship with his son.
Getting away from gritty cop shows that will keep you up at night worrying about the depravity of humanity, let’s go to a humorous cop show – Castle. This show is formulaic in every way shape and form. However Rick Castle, played by Malcom Reynolds Nathan Fillion, is a good father. In fact the show often has his parenting dilemma a background story to the main murder investigation. Sometimes his case helps him parent better, sometimes it is the other way around. Yes, Castle can often times be juvenile but he, like all of us, still has an inner child that likes to play. This is good to show. Being a dad doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun.
Moving on from a silly show to another silly show, with serious overtones. I bring you Glee. I swear, all that singing out of nowhere happened at my school, okay maybe not. But it could have. The right people were there. I’m sorry where was I? Oh yeah, great fathers. This show has one of the best. Burt Hummel, played by Mike O’Malley,is the dad every outcast wants (and hey we all feel like an outcast now and then). His son, Kurt (I know, Kurt and Burt – the names are interesting in this show), is gay and deals with many things a gay son would deal with. As a heterosexual father he deals with them all magnifiscently. I can think of many great scenes where I thought to myself, wow what a great dad.
- Some that stick out:
- Telling his girlfriend’s son, Finn, he can’t live there after Finn starts talking about all Kurt’s Faggy stuff. He had just invited them to live with him and this would probably ruin his new relationship
- Having a talk with his son about sex. How hard is this when both parties are heterosexual? He still does what he knows he needs to do for his son.
Basically, Dads are becoming important in pop culture again. Sure, some are still absent and some are still jokes but now some are stepping up to the plate. They aren’t just showing up to the game and sitting on the bench. This is a good sign that the collective unconscious knows good dads are great characters. Here’s to all the good dad’s out there who show their great character every day they take the time to parent.
At the eginning of each year, people make resolutions of how they are going to change. I am not different. This year I have already written about one of my resolutions in the new year.
This year another of my resolutions has to do with my Men’s Studies. Recently Men’s Group 101, a partnership between Tripp Lanier(The New Man Podcast) and Jayson Gaydiss, had a New Year sale on their program. The sale seemed good and I was in a resolution mode so I purchased it.
What does this mean!
OMG! Does this mean I’m going to start a men’s group in 2012? Perhaps, I don’t know. However, at the very least, I hope to be a part of one in 2012. You are probably thinking, “That sounds great Daryl, but why would you want to be part of a mens group?”
For me a mens group is yet another way for me to connect with my sacred masculine. Having grown up in an all female household I’ve felt disconnected for a long time. Only recently have I begun to connect with my personal maleness. Now I feel it is time to connect with other men with a desire to connect with the sacred masculine.
Have you ever wished you had a circle of Men who you met with regularly, who “had your back” and were committed to your greatness as a man?
The quote above is from an email I got from Men’s Group 101 that I think sums it up the best. To have a group of guys who have your back when you need it, which includes calling you on your own bullshit, sounds like a way to empower mens towards extra-ordinary lives.
I realize this post doesn’t say much about what exactly will happen. What I’m saying is, I’m open to something happening and I’m taking steps towards it – starting with the purchase of the Men’s Group 101 program. I’m not sure where it will take me but I’ll share with you along the way in future Wednesday Warrior posts.
Have you ever been interested in joining a men’s group? Have you ever been a part of men’s group? Have you known someone else who has? Please share your stories in the comments below. Also, if you are in the Seattle area and you are reading this, write a comment or hit up my contact page.
As we get nearer to the year long deluge toward the US Presidential election, I’m reminded of a conversation I had during the 2008 elections with a friend of mine. I’m fairly political outspoken, especially during election cycles. I think everyone should get involved in their community at some level. A friend of mine at some point said she didn’t like politics because there is too much to worry about. She got overwhelmed.
Do not get overwhelmed!
There is no reason to get overwhelmed and do nothing. All you have to do is find your one thing. You do not need to do everything. Just one thing, and then you can pick up more stuff as time goes by. How do you pick that one thing?
Start asking yourself questions. Is there anything that affects you personally? Could something change that would improve your community? Is there a news story that has been making you angry? Any of these questions could lead to your one thing.
For me it was my sons diabetes. Once he got diagnosed I realized, that while I was able to take care of my son there are many, many people who are in much worse spaces than me. Single parents on low wages who might have children with diabetes or other chronic diseases that require constant management. Also, what happens if my situation suddenly becomes worse?
Insurance will not cover prior conditions, at least not well, so I’ll have to have a job with great insurance for many years to come. Then there is the lacking of research. Some people may not like the idea of “socialized” anything. However, a socialized medical system allows research and data to be gathered across the country. Many countries that have socialized medicine are able to put this kind of data together. Blah, blah, blah…I’ll talk more about all this stuff in future articles.
It was this line of thinking that has me focused on my thing. You may not agree with it and I may not agree with your thing but I believe it is important we all have our thing and fight for it. What is your thing? Do you have more than one thing? I have more than one thing I stand for but very few things I can really put energy into. But by focusing on one thing we can put more energy in to making a single difference and build up to a larger amount of accomplishments over time.
Just a quick Wednesday Warrior post to describe an amazing free teleconference running from June 10-19, 2011. This event is called the Ultimate Men’s Summit and it features over 75 presenters, many of which I have mentioned in my blog.
- Tripp Lanier – Host of The New Man Podcast and co-creator of Mens Group 101
- Matthew Fox – Author of “The Hidden Spirituality of Men“
- Jayson Gaddis – Co Creator of Mens Group 101
- Sam Keen – Author of “Fire In The Belly” (The book that started my men’s studies journey)
- Robert Bly – Author of “Iron John” one of the foremost studied books in Men’s studies.
There are lots of speakers and lots of presentations to get out of this teleconference. According to the website they are planning on putting up the recordings of the calls within 24 hours and will try to keep them up indefinitely. So join us in creating the new vision for masculinity.
It is not what happens to you that matters but rather how you respond to what happens to you. I could easily get metaphorical about this with the many things that have happened to me (especially in the recent past) but I’ve got two very specific things to bring up regarding this concept.
Parkour, Freerunning and overcoming obstacles
Almost 4 years ago when I first found out about parkour, I was drawn to the concept of training to overcome obstacles physically and using this training to help you overcome all obstacles – mental and physical. Well this year, in my new home of San Jose, I’ve decided to train parkour at a facility called Guardian Art. At Guardian Art they don’t relate the same way to obstacles. In fact, they don’t relate to obstacles at all. Everything is an accessory.
When I look up the word accessory, this is what I get:
For the sake of movement, obstacles can be treated instead like accessories. You can choose to use it or not to help you move through space. Knowing how to use an accessory in your movements makes your arsenal of motion more complete, adds convenience for you in getting from place to place and with practice your movements may even be pretty.
One other thing I’ve begun training recently is improvisational comedy. I started taking classes out at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro, NC and am now training at ComedySportz San Jose. First off, I highly recommend everyone take an improv comedy class. There is something for everyone. Second, improv has given me practice in relating to whatever life throws at you as accessories.
When I’m on stage with my teammates doing improv, I have very little idea what is going to happen. However, we have been taught to take whatever each other does or says as a gift to help the scene move along. You’ll often hear improvisers use the term “yes, and…” to describe what they do. This is because you always say yes to the reality someone is bringing into the mix and you add onto it. In other words, they bring something onto the stage and you use it as an accessory to help out the scene.
If you find yourself trying to overcome some sort of obstacle perhaps you could instead try to adjust your point of view. Can that obstacle be an accessory? Have you accepted the reality of your
obstacle accessory yet? Can you add to that reality to create something even more amazing? I’d love to hear where these concepts have worked for you in some way. Please comment below to let me know how you can see this in your own life.
One of my sons seems to have a strong urge to win at everything. He finds it extremely important. To better perform my duties as his father I have had to look at my own beliefs about competition and the importance of winning.
Winning Isn’t Everything ( Loser Talk )
I’ve heard this statement so many times and at times I’ve believed it. Of course, that’s just loser talk or so I’ve heard. So what, if any truth are in each of these statements? If the statement “winning isn’t everything” is wrong then winning is everything. On the other hand, some people who say, “winning isn’t everything” really mean “winning means nothing.” I’m not a big fan of absolutes so by that simple analysis alone I’m already leaning toward winning not being everything and against either extreme.
A big part of the reason why people don’t like the focus on winning is the way it has been perverted in modern society. Professional sports and business are filled with people whose identities are wrapped up in whether or not they are a winner. Recently #winning became a meme on twitter for this very reason. What happens when these people lose? This is when those people get destructive. Sometimes the destruction goes internal but other times they begin to wreak havoc on those around them. It even goes as far as destroying the very thing you are competing in – most often through cheating.
Think about what steroids have done to professional sports. Sure, some people don’t really care but other people think everyone is doing steroids and thus have less respect for all the athletes. In the world of business we’ve seen major cheating over the past few years that has people mistrust all businesses and business leaders. Politics, an area that started out as people trying to make a difference for their communities, has had so much lying and and other deceits that politicians try to label themselves as anything but.
Constructive Competition – is it possible?
I seem to have made a case against competition as positive while also making the case that winning is everything. Now, if winning isn’t everything, let’s see what else is there? The most simple answer is that there is losing. Winning IS NOT everything because there is losing and there is something to be gained from losing. Of course there is only something to be gained from losing if you actually try to win.
If you are playing a sport and you always win, you aren’t challenging yourself. You aren’t likely to improve. In fact, in the grand scheme of things you are losing. I’ve written before that failure is the best option. People with the biggest wins have a history filled with losses. Losses they learned from so that they could win, cleanly, in sports, games, business and beyond.
Competition is always with yourself
The fact that sports, business and other things are set up so that you appear to be competing with others is just an illusion. In competition you are always just competing with yourself. If you are always winning because you are playing people who aren’t better than you then, by not improving, you have actually lost the real competition with yourself. If, on the other hand, you are losing because you are playing opponents who are better than you but you do your best to try to win you will improve yourself and thus win in the long run.
What does winning look like?
So if you can lose and still win, how do you know if you are actually trying to win? Simple really and winners already have a good idea.
- Research – You might be losing because you don’t understand what game you are playing. We live in a world full of information. Free videos on youtube, wikipedia and blogs with much more specific information than mine. Look into better ways to play the game you are playing, you might be surprised at how quickly you improve.
- Reflection - Do you record your game? Video, audio and good old remembering your mistakes are great tools for self improvement. Your reflections after you compete can give you very specific information about your own habits and how you can improve.
- Preparation - Out of shape? Are you running, swimming or hitting the gym? Do you know your opponent? Knowing your opponent is clearly an opportunity to gain the upper hand in competition.
- Anything else? – Do you see anything else that means you are trying to win? Do you have more specifics about my previous examples.
Thank your opponent
GG, good game, thank you. Your opponent, by trying to win themselves, is helping you to improve. Make sure you appreciate that. You might have to be a badass on the field but once the game is over ( or whenever else you have the chance ) make sure you show your appreciation for how hard they made you work. They might be more of a destructive competitor but that doesn’t matter. Their hard work has given you the best opportunity to improve. By the way, your hard work does the same for them whether you realize it or not.
So competition can be constructive if you turn it inward and don’t wrap your identity around winning. Appreciate your opponents and yourself. You both work hard in an attempt to win. I’m still doing my best to get this concept through to my son. He’s just giving me the best opportunity to improve my skills as a father.
The journey of my spiritual warrior started and still lives in men’s studies. Along the way I have found many articles, blogs and people who have helped me find my way. One person I’ve found is Tripp Lanier and more importantly his New Man Podcast.
I have an on again off again relationship with the New Man Podcast. The reason I’ve listened to it on and off is not because it is mediocre. It is because the podcast is so very confronting. With the subtitle of “Beyond the Macho Jerk and the New Age Jerk” the podcast gets to the real heart of what it takes for a man to live a powerful life. If you’ve never looked into mens studies and don’t think you need to take a listen. I promise, you’ll be surprised.
Each podcast usually has Tripp interviewing a guest who has something to offer men on their own personal journeys or women trying to understand them. Actually, much of this could probably help women in their own lives as well.
The most recent episode had Tripp Lanier interviewing author Steven Pressfield about resistance and self sabatoge.
Tripp Lanier not only has this podcast but he also has his consulting business for those willing to really take their lives to the next level. I have been tempted many times to look into it but I’ve still found myself unwilling to play that big of a game. Don’t be surprised if that changes in the near future. However you might want to first check out “The New Manual.”
Have any of you listened to Tripp Lanier? What are your thoughts? Are there other leaders in the mens movement you like listening to? I’d love to hear your comments and stories below. Thanks.
As I begin writing in my blog again I realize there has, for a long time, been a large hole in the middle of the week. My Wednesday Warrior posts have been lacking greatly. In 2010 only 3 posts were under this category and I have a feeling I know why. In an effort to change the direction of these powerful posts I would like to share the reasons I used to keep myself from writing what are usually such intimate posts.
Rough Waters In The Job Market
I had a successful 2010. I increased my value as well as finally moving into games programming and back to the west coast. However with that came great turmoil. January of 2010 saw me move my family from Wilmington to Chapel Hill, NC to work in Social Game development. That company got bought by Playdom in March and Playdom got bought by Disney in August. While my job survived the acquisition by Playdom it only lasted a few months after the acquisition by Disney. I was able to take the opportunity to find a new job on the other side of the country working with Gaia Interactive. Its a great gig and all has ended up well. So why did this stop me?
First on the list is me just trying to manage it all – and with a positive outlook. Writing these posts tend to bring buried emotions to the surface. This is usually a good thing. During this time I just didn’t want to face those emotions. Second on the list is guilt. Everything continued to work out fine for me and other people are completely out of work and not having the luck I did. What did I have to complain about?
The truth is I am in the same bucket as everyone else right now. Worried about the security of my job. How stable is it? What will it mean if I lose my job? That meaning got even stronger with the other big storm that came through my life last year – health issues.
Health and the Family
My wife and I had been through a lot financially, and we’ve made ends meet with very little as we’ve had to. The job thing wouldn’t have worried us as much if it weren’t for the bombshell that dropped in May. Our 4 year old got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. All the sudden having stable, good health insurance became an all encompassing worry that hit me hard.
Context: Parenting with Type 1 Diabetes
I’m guessing people reading this don’t know much about dealing with type 1 diabetes, because I didn’t until I HAD TO. My wife and I have to check his blood sugar several ( read 5-7 or more if things are wacky ) times a day. This includes the multiple times in the middle of the night because we don’t want him to run high all night and do long term damage or worse have him go really low and not wake up in the morning. We manage his blood sugar through injections of insulin ( we now have an insulin pump thank goodness ) throughout the day. There are no days off for this. This is our Monday through Saturday, weekends and holidays too. Traveling? We must remember the diabetes supplies, emergency glucagon injection, drinks and snacks to get the blood sugar up if need be. Of course we need to remember the stuff other parents have to remember too. [End Rant]
So I went along and I was coping, or so I thought. I was now running on similar sleep to when the kids were first born fairly consistently and I was getting worried about the stability of my studio so I was looking into other options. I guess the worry of this came crashing down on me one night when I had my first ever anxiety attack ( I thought it was more dire ) and went to the emergency room in the middle of the night.
It turns out my all the tests showed I was perfectly healthy except for one thing they wanted me to get checked out with my doctor, low blood platelets. Long story shortened, I ended up seeing a hematologist because this wasn’t an errant reading. Normal range for platelets is between 150K and 400K and at one point while measured I was as low as 12K. The danger of low platelets is that your blood doesn’t clot so you end up losing a lot of blood – especially if you have internal bleeding that you don’t know about. Luckily I had decent health insurance with Playdom and it payed for the majority of a very expensive set of infusions ( well one is still outstanding but it should be covered ) that put me back in the normal range just before I got a new job and moved across country.
Do you know the way to San Jose?
In December of 2010 I knew my position at Playdom was going away and rather than get moved into a different position with the uncertainties of how long that would last I did something crazy and took a job in San Jose, CA working with Gaia Interactive. I started the week before New years. I can say this, the change has been really good. I love the job and I’m already loving the area but moving is a huge burden I don’t want to do for a long time. Remember those health problems I spoke of? Well, it took some time to get records sent and new doctors set up for the family. I’m still having problems getting the hospital to send my records to a new hematologist so I can make sure my blood platelets are doing well – we think they sent my son’s records instead. Getting my oldest in school took quite some time because of the doctors issues and California has some requirements that North Carolina didn’t. I spent the first month splitting my time between work ( learning the code base mostly ) and finding a house for us to rent. My wife was still in NC so I was looking without her and relaying as much info, pictures and video as I could. That was very worrisome, especially as our move date got closer, but in the end it looks like we found an amazing house with a great people as landlords. As you can imagine, there was much more to the move than these things but those are the ones that stick in my mind as the big stressors.
2011 and beyond
Now that I am settled ( mostly ), what is the plan for the future. Well, that will come out through future Wednesday Warrior posts. The point is, with the air cleared, I am ready to create in the warrior space again. I hope this post will help other warriors see that the path is not an easy one but if you live your life through love and commitment your inner warrior has the strength to see thing through.
I have already begun some personal quests for my inner warrior and I will sharing those in upcoming posts. Also, my new home has centralized me to some great sanctuaries for personal growth. I will share those as well.
Do you have a rough journey you have been or are currently on? I’d love to hear about it. Post it in the comments or post a link to your own post in the comments below. Until then, stay strong and love on.
The other day I was listening to NPR talk about BMI or body mass index with regards to healthiness. I have always poo-pooed BMI because as a former personal trainer I know that it doesn’t take into account actual body fat percentage. For instance, a well conditioned athlete might have enough muscle to be considered obese using BMI while somebody in the ‘normal’ range might actually be skinny-fat and thus too weak to really function on a day to day basis. And, as I looked for a link to the story I was listening to at NPR.org it looks like there were many follow-ups or alternate stories that feel the same way.
BMI is a bogus measurement
However, despite the reality that BMI is a bogus measurement I decided to get real on my personal situation. While I used to be a professional wrestler and a personal trainer, I have been 5 years retired from both and my fitness level is that of a social media game developer( my current profession ) but my eating habits have not changed enough to compensate. So right now I am sitting at 240 pounds which is considered obese by the BMI measurement for a 6 foot tall person.
On the flip side, 220 pounds is the top end of the overweight label for my height and 180 is the top end for the normal range. Its interesting to note that 180 pounds was my weight in High School, probably when I was most active without trying to add muscle. I know that 220 is realistic as I was about 225 when I wrestled. However, is 180 realistic?
Getting real about the numbers
Let’s go through the numbers, keeping in mind I don’t actually know my bodyfat percentage right now.
If I’m at 30% body fat ( which is high for a man but definitely believable ) than I have 168 pounds of lean body mass and if I could somehow lose the weight without losing muscle mass ( a very difficult task – though attainable ) then I would be at 7% body fat. 7% body fat is pretty low, especially for a social media game developer. Am I willing to lose muscle mass, is it still that important to me?
The truth be told, I could have a higher or lower body fat than 30%. If it is higher, 180 could be attainable without losing muscle. If it is lower then I can just kiss some of that muscle goodbye if I want to hit 180.
Do I even want to try?
Do I want to try for 180? That’s a big goal. If I get to 180, will I have done it in a healthy way that I can continue for the rest of my life?
The answer is yes, I do want to make the journey toward 180 pounds and I’m going to use this blog to take you all along the journey with me. I say journey because I know that is more important than the destination. I might find a fork in the path along the way that is better for me and I will share that if I get there. For now, I have a destination and I just have to look through my old maps ( old personal training books ) and possibly get some new ones ( apps for my phone have helped in the past ). I guess one of those forks will come when I have to decide if losing muscle mass is worth it to me.
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