I’ve been feeling pretty down in the dumps lately. Really badly, actually. In fact, so bad, I’ve had some terrible thoughts running through my head that I can’t shake. I went and had a chat to the GP, and it turns out I have pretty crazy depression and anxiety. Who would of thought!
I’ve been doing a few ‘self-care’ things – trying to exercise, eating better, sleeping better, listening to more positive things. It probably is making a difference to my overall mental and physical health.
One of my fav websites is the Art of Manliness. If you haven’t checked it out, do yourself a favour. They’ve put up a recent post, ‘What Does It Mean to Be a Man? 80+ Quotes on Men & Manhood’.
If you’ve ever spent time at the beach, especially if you’ve surfed (or done something similar), you’ll know that the formation of a wave starts way out in the ocean. Winds blow over the water, creating cycles of water that start rolling across the ocean. These form waves, and when the water gets shallow, these rolling cycles topple over – these are the waves you see breaking on the shore. The strength of the wave usually depends on the force of the wind blowing across the ocean and the bulk of water behind each wave. It’s why, sometimes a wave can seem small, yet carry the weight of the ocean behind you and crash into you with great, great force.
This post, ‘What Does It Mean to Be a Man? 80+ Quotes on Men & Manhood’ for me is like a wave that has generated many miles out to see, blown across the ocean by winds and forces immeasurable. Even after reading a few quotes on masculinity and manhood, I was bowled over by the commanding words, encouragement and grit these heros of old had to offer.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ before. I’ve never really thought of that term, until recently. Until reading those quotes. Are they inspirational? Not entirely. So why have these great quotes inspired me? It’s because they carried me. They carried me, like the ocean’s surge propels a surfer through the water. I was carried by something that started many eons ago, propelling me to something way bigger then I could ever imagine.
For a while now, I’ve been struggling against an outgoing tide in my mind. I’ve felt like the contributions I make to my family, my employer and society have all been for nothing. I’ve felt like letting go and allowing the outgoing tide to sweet me out to sea. To forget about all that’s important to me and live a life that’s swept around by the whims of nature. Reading these quotes, however, it’s like being propelled towards a goal I never thought obtainable before. Reading the wisdom of men, passed down from generation to generation – it’s like a surging ocean pushing me out of the tide of despair, and forward towards all that I hold true.
I want to leave you with a few quotes from the abovementioned website, ones that have resonated with me, encouraged me and made me feel like I was truly riding the surge set in place many generations ago
“The greatest thing a man can possibly do in this world is to make the most possible out of the stuff that has been given him. This is success, and there is no other. It is not a question of what someone else can do or become which every youth should ask himself, but what can I do? How can I develop the best possible manhood?” Orison Swett Marden
“Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor” Norman Mailer
“One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man” Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
“Opposition is what we want and must have, to be good at anything. Hardship is the native soil of manhood and self-reliance” John Neal
There’s a stack of ways, good ways and healthy ways to help manage depression and anxiety. For me, it’s been standing on the shoulders of giants, and feeling the surge of generations past lifting me up and pushing me to be the best man I can be.
I’ve watched two movies in recent times about the relationship between a son and his dad. The first movie, the Judge, was possibly one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s an arm wrestle of wills between a dad and his son, and truly, something I think you ought to watch.
This will be a short blog, and I think I’ll cut right to the chase.
I think everyone has a dad-shaped hole. Something inside of them that’s just YEARNING for the love, acceptance and pride of their dad. I can’t speak for girls, but I certainly know it’s true for boys.
It’s this inbuilt gauge, a compass, a guiding force. Your mum will always love you, but your dad – that’s a different kettle of fish all together.
It’s in a three year old, pushing his toy lawnmower behind his daddy as he cuts the cuts the grass in front of him.
It’s in the eight year old, proudly showing his science experiment, longing to know that his dad thinks its cool.
It’s in the twelve year old, hoping that his dad will tell him these changes he’s experiencing are normal.
It’s in the fifteen year old, wondering if he’s tough enough to beat his dad in football.
It’s in the seventeen year old, hoping his dad is proud that he got his licence.
It’s in the 21 year old, aching to know his dad is there for graduation.
It’s in the 25 year old, bringing the girl he hopes to marry home, hoping his dad approves.
It’s in the 27 year old, standing at the alter, watching his mum cry, but looking for that silent nod of approval from his dad.
It’s in the 28 year old, walking his dad through his first new house, telling him of the DIY jobs he already has planned.
It’s in the 29 year old, handing his dad his grandchild, beaming with pride.
It’s in the 30 year old, just wanting to bounce ideas off his dad about this whole crazy idea about being married.
It’s in the 33 year old, needing his dads advice on whether or not to take that job interstate.
It’s in the 40 year old, just racking his brains about this whole life thing, trying desperately to hold onto something strong
It’s in the 50 year old, catching a glimpse of the joy his dad had when he had his first grandchild
It’s in the 60 year old, wondering how he would carry the family legacy, now his dad has gone
It’s in those silent moments of fishing together. Wrestling through an idea together. Arguing over who’s boss, like lions fighting for command of the pride. It’s in that moment, when a son knows his dad went hammer and tooth, never giving up, never giving in, even when, in retrospect, things weren’t that good.
Dads, your sons need you. They need you when they are infants. They need you when they are boys. They need you when they are teenagers and they need you when they are young adults. They need you as they journey through life.
I’ve said it before, but being a dad is not a passive activity. It’s something you journey through. At first, you are teaching your son, mentoring him, guiding him. You walk with him, are in the trenches with him, are side by side with him. Finally, he will walk with you. He will be by your side, being your strength, the joy that carries you along.
Dads, don’t be shy in showing your boys love, pride, discipline and guidance. Your boys are aching for it.
Image from http://dorkshelf.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads//2014/10/The-Judge-Featured-1900×560-1412876043.jpg
Many people ask me how to respond to sorrow and grief. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been quite honest and upfront about my own journey. Perhaps people think I’ve got something to say. What ever it is, I’m constantly honoured when people ask me my advice.
As I’ve talked about in earlier posts, I’m naturally a terrible introvert. I’m most comfortable living in my own world of uncommon sense, enjoying a tidal wave of thoughts every second, lapping up the totality of humanity and enjoying my small contribution to those around me. For me, the question ‘what are you thinking’ can be an incredibly difficult question to ask! I often have to get over the thoughts of ‘these are my thoughts, not your thoughts! You can’t think my thoughts, they are mine, get your own thoughts to think about!’. Then I realise they (usually my wife!) just want to know what I’m thinking, because, well that’s what gals like to do. They arn’t wanting to steal my thoughts (which are my thoughts to think), they just want to know.Odd creatures.
Not too long ago, I talked about the serendipity of silence, in relation to being quiet within yourself. Friendship can be much the same way, as can responding to grief.
There is an art to being with someone. To being able to be there – just being – physically, emotionally or mentally. To communicate an essay of emotion without even mentioning a syllable. I actually think guys can be better then girls at this. Why? Who knows. I think guys just get that sometimes, you’ll talk when you’re ready, and only when the required pre-conditions are met for communication.
Sometimes you can say it all, without saying a word. The sum of shared experiences that bind a pair of people can sometimes mean so much more then, well, words.
For me, I quite enjoy listening to others. I love the concept of someones story. I love hearing the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. I love a good laugh.
Sometimes, the best way to journey (not help, journey) with someone through grief is just by being there. There’s probably nothing you can say that will take the pain away. You can’t apologise for someones loss. You probably can’t fathom what they are feeling. What you can do is be there.
It’s often through silence that you get the best conversations. The biggest insights. The most powerful breakthroughs. Some things you cant rush with words. The crassness of communication turns a journey of grief into a destination that needs to be ‘talked through’.
I think one of the greatest respects you can pay a friend is the respect of silence. Of understanding that you both don’t have to talk. The respect of being. Some might consider this an incredibly shallow friendship – however, I think contrary to this. It certainly does not replace the pillars of friendship that include intimacy, openness and a shared history. What the respect of silence says to your companion is that silence isn’t a gap between you. It’s not a void that needs to be filled with words. It’s actually an invisible bond between you.
I observed two old friends at a funeral recently. Usually very chatty, no words were minced or wasted between the pair during the season of mourning. I watched as they stood together, strolled together through the green expanse of the cemetery and enjoyed the closeness of a silent bond together. Neither had to say a word to each other – each knew silence was all they needed to convey their deepest sympathies to each other.
It’s the totality of your walk together. The sum of your shared experiences. It’s a respect, often hard earned through lifes hard knocks.
So next time you are at a loss to support someone, especially someone in grief, support them with silence. Support them with an acknowledgement of being. That they don’t need to say or justify anything they are thinking or feeling. That you love, respect and want to support them just the way they are.
Silence. It brings with it more heartfelt communication then the most beautifully constructed sentence that you can ever construct.
Image lifted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/faris-khalifeh/2068051840/?rb=1
There’s no end of parenting advice and parenting theories out there. Many have their merits, their quirks, their cons.
Let’s not beat around the bush. If you’re a deliberate parent, you’re probably going to take the role more seriously and your kids are probably going to turn out better. Pretty much most parenting theories, when applied properly, will have some sort of positive impact. Engaged parents usually produce engaged, healthy kids.
Pretty much every parenting theory I’ve seen follows the same formula.
Vidins is here to decode the formula for you.
1/ Every parenting theory will criticize your parents.
They’ll use sympathetic lines like ‘your parents probably did the best they could, BUT’, or ‘you probably think that because you turned out all right, your parents ways were probably right too’. They’ll probably also bring up something gendered like dad spanked us and mum scolded us.
Don’t fall for the tricks!
These parenting theories do this to lure you into a false sense of security and try to make you pity your parents. Here’s the rub. You’re a parent and you want the best for your kids, right? Well your parents wanted the best for you, too. Are you saying that their method of parenting wasn’t good enough, or hip enough for you? Fo’ shame! Your parents loved you! It would be dishonouring to them not to emulate their parenting style!
Don’t believe the latest thing. Believe the genuine thing.
2/ Discipline Shmicipline.
Without a doubt, most ‘modern’ parenting theories will talk about discipline. They’ll probably talk about setting boundaries, naughty corners, time-outs and reinforcing good behaviour. All good things, by the way. All good if you have good children.
But you don’t have good children.
You have naughty children.
Very naughty children.
Tantrum in the shopping centre children.
Rice-bubbles all over the floor children.
You’re at your wits end. That’s why you’re watching a parenting DVD or reading a parenting book.
Most days you can’t decide if you want to put your kids up for adoption or drown them in the river.
Time outs? Give me a break! More like ‘time out to recharge the batteries to give mum more hell’.
Parents, it does not matter what the theories say, it’s ok to take to your kids backsides with a wooden spoon. Daily, if need be.
Your kids will learn. Oh yes, they will learn.
3/ Bring the Bible into it.
Now I can’t say for sure with the Muslims, or the Hindus or Buddhists, or even Sikhs, but I know for sure that a stack of Christian parenting theories will bring something of the Bible into the fold. The Bible is used to explain how you should talk to your kids, set boundaries, discipline, ethics, morality, faith (obviously).
Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but when it came to Jesus, God had it pretty easy in the parenting department, apart from the whole dying on the cross thing. Jesus, fully man yet fully God never sinned, never threw a tantrum (except for that time in the Temple with the tables), never said ‘NO!’. When he got lost, he didn’t run away to do something naughty – he just hung out at the Temple. You can’t tell me that that’s parenting a strong-willed child.
There’s a stack of excellent life advice in the Bible – not just for parenting, but pretty much every area of your life. Just be wary when select half verses are used to spiritualise an aspect of parenting.
4/ You’ll damage your children if you don’t use this theory
Inevitably, the parenting theorist will criticize all the other parenting theories out there. They will be to prescriptive, to disciplinarian, to libertarian, to permissive, not loving enough, not disciplining enough blah blah blah.
You know who parenting theories damage the most? Parents! Lofty ideals, impossibly high standards, impractical ideas and experts with picture perfect kids do damage to parents!
So what’s the modern parent to do? Stop reading parenting books or watching parenting DVD’s? Of course not! You could read through a whole parenting book and get one bit of gold that helps you on your parenting journey.
You have to find what works well for you and your family.
So my advice? Well for $25.99 plus postage and handling, I can send you my exclusive parenting DVD with the latest theory on parenting and childhood development, backed up by scientific research and endorsed by a real church minister!
I’ve just bought a house and will be moving next week. It’s a very exciting time for me and my family! We’ve told our extended family and shared some photos on Facebook. We’ve had a look through home decorating magazines and catalogues for ideas to personalise our home and garden. We are very, very excited!
One of the most amazing things about life is sharing it with those you love. Your family. Your friends.
You would probably have people in your life that you miss – children that have moved away, parents that have passed on, friends you’ve lost along the way.
What I’ve been thinking about is who misses you?
Could it be a new girl or boyfriend, anxiously waiting your call or message in the evening, missing you even though you’ve just seen each other during the day?
Could it be the child who’s run away, and has a parent searching, missing, wishing they’d come home?
Could it be the old friend, wishing he’d never said those words, just missing his old mate.
Who’s missing you?
Who’s waiting by their letter box, waiting for a letter from you?
Is there someone who still checks their phone, hoping for a text from you?
Is there an old mate of yours out there, just wanting to have a beer with you one more time?
I bet there are people out there that miss you. They don’t need to know all the intimacies of your life, they just want to be part of it.
I’m going to challenge you. Send that text. Pick up the phone. Write (and send) that letter. Go out for that drink. Because you know what’s worse than being missed? It’s not being missed.
Being selfish to help others. Is there such a thing?
I was having an
argument robust discussion with a friends the other night. The wife in the relationship explained how she tended to all her children’s needs before tending to her own. The husband told me that he had to look after himself before he could help others.
Have you ever met those people that do everything for everyone else and look absolutely ragged? The person that seems to help everyone except themselves? You know the type – the martyr that just looks tired and worn? Sure, they are selfless and generous and loving, but they wear everyone else down with their – their – I’m not too sure what the term is! They just seem to draw attention to themselves by being the one that ‘always helps out at great expense to themselves’.
Then there seem to be the other group of ‘pathological helpers’. These people still manage to do amazing things BUT they look after themselves first. It might be going to the gym, reading or gardening. People that seem to ascribe to the old airplane rule of ‘help yourself before you help others’. They are selfish, so they can help others. Their selfishness is often unseen – waking early for a morning gym session or stealing away at lunchtime for a quiet read. They do things to recharge their own batteries before helping others.
So what am I trying to say? There’s no point in running yourself into the ground to help others (even your own family) if it’s going to be at your expense. I know there are times when your personal resilience is going to be put to the test, when you’re going to be busy and when life just sucks. I’m convinced however that everyone has the ability to make time for themselves, to recharge their own batteries.
There’s a Pearl Jam tune called ‘All those yesterdays’. The lyrics are here:
“All Those Yesterdays”
Don’t you think you ought to rest?
Don’t you think you ought to lay your head down?
Don’t you think you want to sleep?
Don’t you think you ought to lay your head down tonight?
Don’t you think you’ve done enough?
Oh, don’t you think you’ve got enough, well maybe.
You don’t think there’s time to stop
There’s time enough for you to lay your head down, tonight, tonight
Let it wash away
All those yesterdays
What are you running from?
Taking pills to get along
Creating walls to call your own
So no one catches you drifting off and
Doing all the things that we all do
Let them wash away
All those yesterdays
All those yesterdays
All those paper plates
You’ve got time, you’ve got time to escape
There’s still time, it’s no crime to escape
It’s no crime to escape, it’s no crime to escape
There’s still time, so escape
It’s no crime, crime.
All those yesterdays
If you’re one of those people that loves helping, how do you manage your own resilience? is it boundaries? Doing your own thing? Having your own escape? Are you one of those people that just seems to have no time to themselves? How do you plan on changing that – for you?
Life’s like being on an airplane. You can’t help others until you help yourself.
Image from: http://elmo.cl/?m=200609
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