Generational bootstrap pullin-up; plus job and college talk

[long one, rambles some, goes on a topic slant by the end – you’ve been warned]

I don’t want to get into a big political, socio-economic debate, but simply wanted to share my personal experiences with trying to rachet-up each generation and the likelihood of that. Obviously, social programs, education, and parental choices play a huge role in this (to go from poverty to even middle-class is a big step), but each situation is individual. The start of our life’s version of Monopoly is the hand we’re dealt at birth. After that, it’s up to your social environment and inherent drive and opportunities to determine the path you take.

bootstrap

While I have no idea on the social-economic mix of my readers, I’m guessing most are of middle-class families, trying to do what’s best for their them and their brood. Obviously, we’re cut from the same cloth. My wife and I made our fair share of mistakes, but have made traction the last few years big time. The biggest reason we have generally been successful and have made improvement from our original birth lot: education, hard work, good jobs, and good decisions. Oh, and maybe a little luck, but mostly the aforementioned not lucky things. Plus, marrying the right person and being in a stable, loving relationship, which will likely help our kids. Like you, one of our main goals is to have our kids life be happier/easier/better than our own. Just like  past generations. We feel lucky for the opportunities we were given, and hope to impart knowledge and skills and perspectives to our own children. Like most people, some of our relatives either weren’t given the opportunity, or didn’t adhere to the perspective, and ended up at the same level (or worse) than their roots. This is a brief illustration of how your lot in life isn’t defined at birth. I’m sure some of you have more interesting or better stories than mine, I’d love to hear them (privately or in comments).

My Grandparents – My grandmother is a Native American tribal elder. Raised as a half-indian orphan, she was adopted into a farming family, and came from the humblest of roots. Native American’s are some of the poorest in our country. I spent a summer internship working for the Indian Health Services, and despite federal aid and income from casinos, most are well below the poverty line. My grandmother was fortunate in some ways to live close to the reservation with her ancestral roots, but marry into a stable farming family. My grandfather was a farmer, raised in a stable but poor family. My grandfather inherited the family farm and raised 6 kids. Christmases at my grandparents were magical when I was a kid, and despite the reality of the situation, it seemed like we were showered with gifts. The love and camaraderie at family dinners was palpable, and I have the fondest of memories helping on the farm when we visited. But knowing what I know now, they were really struggling to get by, even after my dad had relocated. Dealing with pricing of milk, silage, and farming on a small family farm is rarely easy. My aunt and uncle took over the family farm a couple of decades ago, and my grandparents currently live in a family-owned farm house with social security and the small tribal stipend as their sole source of income. They are still generous and loving and instilled great life lessons into us, though never really had a pot to piss in.

My mother’s parents did not come from noble beginnings either. My great-grandfather was a moonshiner in prohibition days, and my grandfather and his brother got stopped by Al Capone’s men at the border saying it would be his last delivery to the Chicagoland area. My grandfather worked odd jobs, while raising a family of 10 (8 kids) with a homemaker (as was customery back then) in a 3 or 4 bedroom apartment, then house. They were stacked on top of stacked. My mother talked about how she had to wear old socks held up by rubberbands because they couldn’t afford new ones, and whips out historic old poor meals like goulash and cabbage and potatoes on occasion from her childhood.

Holly’s Grandparents – I don’t know as much about my wife’s ancestry except that her mother’s mom died at a young age, and like my own grandmother was raised by her aunt who was motherlike, though poor. They had a bunch of kids too, though whatever happened after the death of her mom fractured my mother-in-laws family. Holly’s father’s parents owned a farm that had been passed down in the generation. Hard work and frugality was the norm. Not much love was provided by her grandmother, a tough bitter diamond til the day she died, but her grandfather was warm-hearted, strong willed, and had a great sense of humor (apparently. He died before I met him). They too had a large family (5 kids if I remember right), and despite being land rich, they didn’t have a lot of extra money.

My Parents – My mom and dad are still together, and moved away from the local region where they were raised around the time they  married to a moderately sized city. Most of their brethren stayed within shouting distance, and generally did ok for themselves. My dad was a mailman (hated his job for a long time, but felt locked in with the salary – a dangerous thing), who retired at 55 to a modest pension, and recently (at 65) to social security. Not wanting to let the excitement of life pass her by, my mom has worked at two nursing jobs the last 10 years, and her original one for 30 years before that. She worked part time so that we could have a hot breakfast and meet us afterschool, be present at our cub scouts and sporting events, and keep hot meals for my dad. We had stability, some nice extravagances at Christmas, but as I got older saw that we were in the bottom quartile in our community, a solid middle to upper-middle class suburb. Still, we had a nice childhood, and the hard work ethic from my parents upbringing were instilled in us, as was their frugal nature (though it took awhile to stick).

Holly’s Parents – Enjoying a nice middle-class lifestyle with the original Mr. Mustache, Holly was both comfortable but humble. Then her parents got divorced, the kids split up from each other (very odd, especially in today’s society), and spent her formative years holed up with her mom in small apartments and a spendthrift nature, somewhat impoverished. Her father had money, but was frugal and hardworking, not paying for college or any other benefits to my wife or her brothers. My father in law one of my favorite people, by the way. Her mother continued to make poor choices, frittering away her very modest paychecks on things she didn’t need (a habit that continues to this day), and having health issues that in part stemmed from poor diet choices. Retired now and leaving on a modest state pension and social security, she is a big part of our, and the kids’, life but isn’t a model to emulated.

Us – So starting at two generations ago, and depending on what you want out of life (agriculture and farming can be rewarding and/or lucrative, and has inherent life lessons and rewards/challenges), our families were prosperous in family alone, with a strong value system. The subsequent generation of our parents made small steps in income, while instilling a lot of the value system they saw. Today, my wife and I are both living in an area we never could have fathomed as kids, while still trying to impart those same values of hard work, family, humility, and service that were prevalent in our own lives. It’s far from a mansion, and while only 25 miles from where I grew up, offers many more opportunities should life allow them and the children take advantage. We are working our way to both monetary wealth as well as life wealth.

We are happy most days, and are satisfied with our lot in life. I’m sure my own grandparents were too, in their own way, but we’re certainly able to relax and work differently (less physical, more mental) to achieve the same goal, with (as is common in today’s society) more material things. Still, our favorite family activities remain reading, board games, and family movie night, while enjoying the fruits of our labor at the neighborhood pool or at friends house. I’m hoping that one day, with the opportunity to get educated with a reduced debt load and good advice (on Majors, on where to go to school, on what college is really intended for [vocational school, not party/social time]) that they’ll be able to raise that generational notch a little more.

The Future – I have an engineering degree and it is no secret that many days I hate not so much the job, but the clients I am forced to work with, which is a nice way to say many days I hate my job. Other jobs I haven’t liked that much either, at least after awhile (usually several years, for various reasons not related to the work itself). My wife also has a four year degree, but finds her work fairly satisfying and worthwhile. For us, at this stage in our life, our four year degrees have worked out monetarily and allowed us to start off on the right foot, regardless of what happens in the future. But in today’s world with rising college costs and lessening white collar work, I strongly promote the idea of alternate blue-collar, skilled trade work. And I’m not alone. Mike Rowe, and the Art of Manliness, have a great article on blue collar work. This is something I briefly mention in my book, but will flesh out much further for my own kids, the positives and negatives of this. Blue collar. White collar, both have the ability to be successful, and sometimes it is not an obvious choice.

This Mike Rowe response to a question about a why not to follow the crowd and your passion went like this:

Like all bad advice, “Follow Your Passion” is routinely dispensed as though it’s wisdom were both incontrovertible and equally applicable to all. It’s not. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean that you will. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a thing you’re passionate about?” Of course not. The question is, for how long, and to what end?

When it comes to earning a living and being a productive member of society – I don’t think people should limit their options to those vocations they feel passionate towards. I met a lot of people on Dirty Jobs who really loved their work. But very few of them dreamed of having the career they ultimately chose. I remember a very successful septic tank cleaner who told me his secret of success. “I looked around to see where everyone else was headed, and then I went the opposite way,” he said. “Then I got good at my work. Then I found a way to love it. Then I got rich.”

One of the best websites in the ‘Sphere on this topic is Apocalypse Cometh. Check out this, and this, and this, and this. If one day the posts aren’t there, they include things like electrician, welder, website designer, HVAC, Carpentry, Diesel Mechanic, other mechanic, interpreter. Being able to work at heights (and like it!) for transmission lines or bridge maintenance or wind tower repair will keep you in demand. In many ways, you’re better off taking a tech class at a tech college than going to college to get a History Degree (a fate narrowly avoided by my wife, who got a science degree and now makes more than me). Don’t be a sheeple with the other parents, for you or your kid. There is a lot of satisfaction in building something or keeping something alive, and not being burdened by a $100,000+ college debt because little Johnny or Jill has to major in sociology or business (just check out Worthless an admittedly great book on not picking a shitty major that are universally accepted as “good”). Just be (or have your kids be) themselves, learn on their own with their potential passions, and if it is one that needs to be fed by tuition then do it, otherwise: avoid the trapping of western society (i.e. buying lots of shit you don’t need, including a house), live and enjoy as much for free as you can, and save as much as you can. Instill this in the next generation and they’ll be 100x further along than their H.S. peers who followed the masses into hundreds of thousands into debt for a $30k per year job.

Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to have your kids be different. There are more ways to ratchet up your generational and offspring success than following the map that society provides.  You and your offspring can grow in ways you can’t fathom. Don’t be afraid to teach that. One thing we’re already teaching our kids is the value of entrepreneurship and thinking outside the box. We’ll see how life unfolds. All options are open, but I will do my best to influence my kids’s choices so they won’t waste money on a degree that won’t pay off.

If interested in Music or the Arts (and many will disagree with me), by all accounts I will support that, but don’t believe a formal education is necessary to support a career or a passion in that. The chance to be Yo-Yo Ma (where such training is necessary) is so minuscule, and so obvious at a young age, that unless you have an obviously talented person in the arts (like winning state competitions by high school), don’t fall prey to the standard practice to a fine arts degree. Better off doing self study, figuring out website commerce, and starting your own business. Even if it fails, you’ll learn some actual skills that can relate to real world business, unlike a fine arts degree. And this from a dad who is paying for music lessons and hoping for a great musician. I am always a realist.

Obviously, this isn’t the shortest or most thought out post, but whatever. My family came from humble beginnings and now we’re making our own path…I hope the next generation’s success and values continue to grow, both mine and yours, whatever that may mean. Money does not equal happiness, nor is that the definition of success, but it does provide freedom and opportunity. That’s all. Have a nice weekend, and check out some Dirty Jobs on Netflix if you get the chance. Mike Rowe is awesome.

Brief thoughts on a milestone reached

views

I officially hit 500,000 views of this blog in the last 24 hours. Some people get that much in a week or a month, it’s taken me many months, but to me that number is still big. I started this whole thing on a whim to help me work through some of my own thoughts and actions, and was/am mostly writing for me. To have other read my semi coherent ramblings is a privilege. Really. When I started I was at a place where I wasn’t happy simply floating through life or my marriage, and decided to stop accepting mediocrity in myself. Simply writing about it here made me more aware of my own behavior and results of my actions, which kept me on point and prevented falling back into an apathetic existence. As a result, I’ve continued to push the boundaries of learning and leading and the last few years have been the best in my marriage and most likely my life. I hope to say that every year, but the change is palpable.

Thanks for reading and sharing in some of my experiences. During that time my wife got fired, got a new job, quit a year later. I stepped up and took leadership of our family. I had a vasectomy and hence wife going off hormonal BC. I shared some of our bedroom thoughts and experiences. I ended up in the hospital where I thought I would die from MRSA. My wife had hip surgery. Ups and downs that marriage and life is. I’ve grown as a person and am still trying to improve in areas, and still trying to remember to stay present and be happy. But I look back to who I was just a few years ago, and I’m a better person, husband, and father.

When I started, I had no idea what I was doing. Still don’t really, just sort of made it up as I went along. I continue to do that. I’ve got an LLC now, I’ve got other sites made or in the works. I purchased a mic and plan to start podcasting on one of those other sites here shortly, without any endpoint in mind. Just for the fun of it really. Depending on how that goes, I may try and bring that here. It would be a blast if I could talk Holly into it as well, but we’ll see. I’m just having fun here and giving you all blasts of my brain dumps. Value may vary. More cool stuff on the horizon, and writing and interacting with you has been a great experience for me.

Finally, thanks for those that comment and share your thoughts. I may not respond as often as I like, but I read most of the comments. However, I get comments from people on posts that are years old at this point, and have to prioritize my time. It is nice to know you’re not alone in your experiences in this life and what you go are going through, others have as well, and sharing helps us all. Have faith that the stuff you plant today will grow and blossom. Thanks for reading!

Christmas shopping, what we’re buying 2014

My goal is to have shopping done by Thanksgiving. At this stage of my life, unless I’m looking for a specialty item or gift certificate at a local restaurant, I don’t step foot in a physical store for the holidays. Nor most other times for that matter (with the exception of Costco, where we primarily purchase food items and various household items). The mall, Target, wherever is usually so stupidly busy after work or on the weekends, not to mention the throngs of black Friday shoppers, it is more stress than happiness. Plus, I’m really not much of a consumer.

Anyways, we’re buying a few things for our trip, so I started and mostly ended our holiday shopping today. We are so fortunate to have a nice home and a nice family, with most of our wants covered as well. We aren’t driving high-end cars, my kids don’t have their own room televisions, nor their own iPads or whatever. They have enough. We have enough. Which makes Christmas sometimes hard, or maybe easy, when you don’t feel so materialistic about getting things. Obviously, I’m not a Gift Language (as in The 5 Love Languages) so have a hard time both buying gifts and receiving them. I asked for some new workout socks for Christmas. That’s all I really want or need. Holly wants a new taller faucet for our kitchen sink. The kids want iPads (which they aren’t getting), but instead will get just a few things to supplement their existing stash of crafts and legos and video games.

We (I should say my wife) still makes gifts for people. She crochets hats, scarves, and blankets, and had a side hustle for awhile selling really nice beaded jewelry. Stuff like below. I’ve asked if she wanted to sell on a page linked to the AMD site and thus far she’s declined. She’s really talented and creative, even taking metal working classes and making things like silver chain-link bracelets. Don’t be afraid to use whatever talents (woodworking, card-making, knitting, vehicle repair [as in homemade gift certificates for oil changes or whatever) to give your time and efforts as gifts. People really appreciate this.necklace and earings

So here’s a few things we are getting this year (all 100% true), including some standard gifts for others like teachers and the like. No recommendations for novelty ideas or gifts. Though funny on occasion, I find the thrill fairly quick to wear off. If you’d like any ideas, MMSL Forum had a funny thread on Christmas Gift Ideas, some pretty good random ones for those that are struggling for that special someone. A quick note – any Amazon links are affiliate ones, meaning I get a small percentage just like others who run this program. It costs you nothing more, and last year I was able to make enough to pay for my webhosting service, so much appreciated.

Gifts For Others – We don’t buy too many gifts for others. Thankfully, we’ve talked our families into moving away from this tradition as we all have enough stuff. We just want to spend time with each other. So gifts for others consist usually of things for teachers and close friends that we just want to give something they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. Our “go to” gift is Penzeys spice gift boxes. My wife splurges on spices and buys them nearly exclusively from Penzeys. Their gift boxes are about $15-16 and are very well received, plus check out on-line coupons, you can often get free gift boxes or other stuff. We’ve even bought, or gone in with others, the big gift boxes for wedding presents which are almost always one of the most unique and well received gifts they receive (and you’re thought about every time they use them). My favorites are the Chicago and Chili 3000 for the griller in your family.

Video Library – Since we don’t have cable, we have a half-way decent family library. The adult side doesn’t get watched as much, but we still break out Fight Club or the Matrix or one of several romantic comedies on occasion. The kids’ library consists of mostly Pixar movies, and a few Dreamworks films (How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek), along with Star Wars box sets , key Disney movies like Frozen (must have watched that about 20 times the first month we had it) and Tangled, along with a few randoms like Annie and the Wizard of Oz. In the winter months, or as a come-down from crazy summer days (or rainy days), these get watched very, very frequently and we’ve found them to be well worth the money spent. I actually like every one of those films and am a big fan of the Pixar group. Shitty movies by the other studios (Turkey Run, Nut Job, etc.) are one and done, so find them at the library or Netflix instead of buying them – stick with the Majors. When we go to the movies, we usually bring our own snacks and try to see late first run movies at the discount place, but buying a movie can be more economical as an entertainment choice. Two of the best are on DVD this holiday season, and we’ll be buying them for family Christmas Gifts. If you have kids and haven’t seen the two below, they are great and receive the AMD highest recommendation for multiple watchings (we’ve seen the first Dragon film probably 20 times and I still get goose bumps watching the flight scenes – great musical score too, and the second one is just as good, though much different tenor). I’m not a big superhero movie guy (most are very ‘meh,’ though the Christopher Nolan Batman movies are very, very good), but GotG is way funnier and takes itself much less seriously than the other Marvel or DC films. A few older jokes you might think are slightly inappropriate will go over your kids’ head. My 7 year old loved the movie as much as me.

Educational stuff – I’m an enginerd and my kids have their own interests and abilities, but are both very smart. Birdsnest (9) is writing plays on the computer with dialogue and parts for her friends, so will be getting a few workshop sessions for the children’s theater group in town that has a class for kids K-5 on playwriting and acting. Loudboy is possibly a future engineer or something similar, his mind works similarly to mine at that age. He will be getting Snap Circuits Physics Kit. This is something I’ve had in my cart for 6 months, and will pull the trigger for this Christmas. Almost 1,500 reviews, mostly 5-star, at Amazon. Teaches basic electrical engineering/circuit concepts in a fun way. Recommended for ages 8-15, but younger may be possible if you help them. So excited for this, about $45.

Games – My kids got the D&D Boxed starter set ($12, includes dice), that we play with still (and love) earlier this year. We also found the Game of Life at the thrift shop for $1.50, which is a popular game in our home. We love board games at our house in general and are great times. For Christmas, after doing some board game research, we are buying Ticket To Ride

Intended for those aged 8-12, but again, 1,600 reviews, mostly 5-star, sounds awesome for both kids and grown-ups. When interested in something, I research a lot. The next boardgame I plan to buy when the kids get older is Galaxy Trucker (recommended for 10 and up, a little much for my 7-9 year olds even if they are playing chess already, but sounds awesome for the Star Wars/Sci-Fi geek I am, can’t wait to buy this one – a little pricey  but sounds awesome and is highly rated). For video games this year, for under $20, we’re buying Minecraft for the console so the kids don’t hog my wife’s iPad. For the Grown-ups, we’re getting Cards Against Humanity which will be great with our frequent friends and neighbors gatherings (now that the kids take care of themselves).

For the Missus – Sorry, I have nothing for you here. My most difficult purchase every year. When I’ve bought lingerie, it has usually tanked as our tastes and comfort levels are so much different. Christmas sex toy shopping can be done together at sites like Adam and Eve, that can be fun and my wife and I have done that before for Christmas. Or you can try and surprise her with adult films, see my post here for ideas.  Your results may vary. Me: I will get my wife a new faucet, and not sure what else I’m getting her, except this great swimsuit for our early December trip (for me, seriously, only $15 – gonna be both funny and awesome, since A) I don’t quite look like that, yet. and B) confidence is sexy). What more could she ask for? What are  y’all getting your wife or husband? I need some more ideas as faucet doesn’t scream awesome to me.

 

7 Ways to Boost Testosterone without TRT

Testosterone is the most important hormone for men, though it impacts women to a large degree as well men produce 7-8 times as much. Produced by the testicles, it plays a key role in physical development, including muscle, hair, bone mass, and general health and well-being. It also greatly impacts men’s sexual arousel and general aggressiveness. As you likely realize after seeing the various ads and other news articles, as men age testosterone levels decrease, starting as early as 30. From this Elite Men’s Guide article:Testosterone-Levels-by-Age

Low testosterone has been linked to increase fat, decreased muscle mass, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction and cognitive function. Some men with low testosterone, who later receive treatment, say they felt they were in a fog. Now this isn’t my area of expertise by any means. Personally, nearing 40, I still feel like things are working as they should and I have no complaints in the body composition, health, or bedroom.

But many men do suffer from low T, and low T is a definition that is individual to you, and somewhat hard to pin down. So as people are looking for a quick fix, some turn to pharmaceuticals, and things like Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). I know very little about this subject, but Rebecca Watson (AKA Serenity) has made this a key part of her coaching practice and knows a lot about the subject. If you are interested in learning more or exploring the best way to evaluate this in your life, you should contact her, her website:  http://lowtwife.com/coaching/ . From what I’ve seen, it’s a complicated practice dependent on a good practitioner. Testosterone production and TRT therapy can be impacted by current medication or diet so it’s far from a one-size-fits-all. While I haven’t contacted her, Rebecca appears very knowledgeable on the pitfalls and common misconceptions and may be able to help some navigate this arena. I only ask that you do your own research as well, as I still feel this is a relatively new health area (hormone replacement therapy) and while it may yield results, some of the short- or long-term impacts may not yet be known. Anyway, not to get too far off topic from the subject at hand.

There are many ways to work towards increasing your body’s ability to create more testosterone naturally and become a beast. Do you feel all calm and cuddly ready to pack it in every day, or instead are you motivated to go out there and do some crazy stuff and accomplish something? Do you have to have caffeine or 5-hour energy to feel focused or concentrate in life, feeling groggy or disoriented otherwise? Maybe you should try some of these things and see how you feel, many have been shown to increase testosterone levels naturally, so try them before looking at TRT. But either way, if you suffer from some of the symptoms of Low T, at least start to figure out why, and what you can do about it. Bringing up those levels has the ability to greatly improve your life.

  • Lift Heavy Shit – If you’re just starting out, doing something like 3 sets of 10 as your body adapts may be a start, but when I’m talking heavy, I’m talking HEAVY, like 90-100% singles of 1 rep maxes of compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, benchpress, rows, presses with short rest intervals (like 1 minute). Stick to singles or triples, and I wouldn’t go higher than five reps. Stuff like Rip’s Starting Strength
    is a gold mine of information on form and protocol.
  • Shoot Guns – This article  http://www.webmd.com/men/news/20060728/guns-up-testosterone-male-aggression  showed a 100 times increase of testosterone in men (aged 18- to 22-) who shot guns compared to the control group. It’s a funny article, in that after measuring before and after testosterone in saliva, they also gave the men an opportunity to anonymously add hot sauce to a glass of water that someone unknown to them would drink. The gun-handlers put more than three times the hot sauce in, and were disappointed after the experiment when they found out no one really had to drink the hot sauce water. Anyways, shooting guns is a fun activity and does get things going inside your head and body. I’m not sure the time spike on the T production after the activity, but it may be a great date night activity where you then immediately come home and take care of business. Your wife may like it too, it can be a powerful feeling to shoot guns.chicks with gun
  • Sleep as much as you can – Especially if you’re lifting, sleep helps in so many ways. Testosterone and Cortisol are two hormones on the opposite end of a see-saw. If Cortisol is high, it impedes testosterone production, therefore doing whatever you can to reduce that stress hormone is good. A good night’s sleep is a great way to let your body recover which thereby reduces stress.
  • Reduce stress – as a follow-up on the previous item, chronic stress also produces Cortisol and is a major determinant to testosterone production. Stress reduction tools like prayer, meditation, yoga, laughing, deep breathing, and positive visualization should be implemented as often as practical if you are chronically bombarded by stress. This should lower your Cortisol production, and allow your naturally occurring testosterone to increase.
  • Lose weight – overweight men are likely to have low testosterone production. From this article on Everyday Health:

“not only does low testosterone seem to cause weight gain in men, the reverse also seems to be true: Obesity is one of the risk factors for lower than normal levels of testosterone. Physiologically, the relationship between low testosterone and weight gain in men can become a vicious cycle.

“Body fat contains an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogens,” says David Samadi, MD, chairman of the urology department at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Having extra estrogens triggers the body to slow its production of testosterone. The less testosterone you make, the more belly fat you accumulate, and so on.”For men who already have low testosterone, excess body fat can worsen the condition: “Fat speeds up the metabolizing of testosterone,” Dr. Samadi says. “Therefore, the more fat you carry around, the faster you’ll burn through the already low testosterone levels in your body.”

So how do you lose weight? I personally find a lower carb approach works well as does intermittent fasting. In fact, intermittent fasting boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of satiety hormones including insulin, leptin, and others, all of which are known to create healthy testosterone actions, this in turn increases libido and minimize T decline as we age.

  • Supplement – Vitamin D, Zinc, and whey protein (not to excess). Zinc is an important mineral for T production and according to this study  may contribute to elevating serum testosterone. How much zinc? The study referenced 30 milligrams a day, which appears to be a standard dosage you buy at the store. Vitamin D is also critical, especially in the winter where those of us in the northern climate can’t get strong enough sun in the winter to produce it naturally. A safe tanning bed may be used, or a vitamin D3 oral supplement will help. Do your research on dosage, as it may vary, you’ll often find 2000 to 5000 international units (IU) sold. Holly was on (I think) 10,000 IU prescription dosages in the past. I’ve written before about Vitamin D deficiency and it is common and really impacts semen quality, testosterone, and general feeling of well being. Finally, whey protein or Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), especially in common with strength training, help to raise testosterone levels as well. However, other studies have shown lowering protein and increasing fat raises T. From this Nutrition Express article:

“Researchers in Finland discovered a unique benefit of whey protein. In a recent study, they fed a group of older men 15 grams of whey protein isolate before and after a bout of resistance exercise. Muscle biopsies from the thigh were collected before, one hour after and 48 hours after exercise to determine expression of the androgen (testosterone) receptor. Androgen receptors are what testosterone binds to in order to elicit their anabolic (muscle building) effects in target tissues.

Androgen receptor mRNA responses were variable but tended to increase more during the whey protein isolate trial. The average increase one hour post-exercise was about 25% and this was maintained at 48 hours post-exercise. In contrast, there was little change in average androgen receptor expression during the placebo trial. ”

Which one is right? I don’t know, I supplement with protein powder after workouts and I feel ok, but your results may vary. I also take Vitamin D and Zinc and feel pretty healthy, motivated, and capable most days. 

  • Things to avoid – these may not increase testosterone, but these things decrease them and you should avoid them
  1. BPA – bisphenol-A is a synthetic chemical in plastics that leach out and has been shown to decrease testosterone in men. Avoid drinking from plastic bottles and use glass or stainless wherever possible. We make our protein shakes in glass mason jars with the metal shaker ball now.
  2. Soy – want bitch tits? Eat a lot of soy. Soy drives production of estrogen and reduces sperm count and testosterone.
  3. Alcohol – Alcohol impacts sleep rhythms so decreases the amount of growth hormone released if taken before bed so can impact recovery from that tough workout. With regards to T, when alcohol is in the liver it secretes a substance that adversely impacts (or is toxic to) the release of testosterone.

Just because you’re getting older, doesn’t mean you have to look like the typical middle-aged man with a paunch, erectile dysfunction, no motivation, who acts like Mr. Cuddles. Yeah, testosterone reduces naturally as we age, but we can do things to help ourselves and mitigate the impacts without going directly to expensive drugs. If you’ve tried some or all of these, and are still feeling not right, by all means contact someone who specializes in this area and see how you stack up. Just because you aren’t overweight or drinking a lot and are working out, doesn’t mean you can’t be Low T, so don’t rule that out as a symptom of you not feeling like yourself. Me, I’ll be intermittent fasting, trying to sleep a lot, getting some tanning (in preparation for my sexcation next month primarily), getting under that barbell and doing my best to stay virile and strong. So far it’s working for me, and hope it does for you as well.

 

 

Putting things in perspective, talk with a veteran

If you ever feel like what you’re dealing with in life right now is overwhelming, I have a solution for you that will put things back into perspective about how, even when things suck, they are in reality pretty good: talk with a veteran, especially one who has seen real action. Say thanks for their service to their country, and if they’re willing, see if they’ll share their experience with you.

One of my friends is a veteran at the young age of about 25 years old, just getting started in life. He has a lot of wisdom for his age and we’re on the same life wavelength. I had heard a few stories of his role in the armed forces, and some of his issues upon return. But just a few. When I asked if he would be ok talking with me about it, and getting into the nitty gritty of what he saw, he surprised me by saying yes. So a few weeks ago, we hung out at the local coffee shop for a few hours catching up, and I gained some real appreciation for what these brave men and women go through – both in the field and upon their return.

It was a long tale of youth mentality shifting to adult mindset, of mundane tasks, politics, and death. Of heroism and bad guys. Of survival and simply living one breath at time. His experiences aren’t unique, and you could tell it has shaped his perspective – almost palpable changes beyond the lasting scars he wears. When he came back, he said he wasn’t in a good mental place. Him and his returning mates were still riding high off the war, and felt “invincible,” getting into bar fights and generally feeling untouchable after seeing what they’d seen. I imagine it’s like turning the volume down in life after you come back from being on edge for several years.

They dealt with post-traumatic stress as they struggled to process some of the situations that they had seen. “When you’re in the moment,” my friend said, “your mind uses various defense mechanisms to cope with this traumatic experience, to make it seem normal. Only when you are safe and away from this situation can you begin to process how fucked up the situation was.” He said his platoon had an inordinately high number of purple heart recipients, carrying out missions that were supposed to be mundane and maybe didn’t have that great of value. To see people he knew and cared for die for a mission that he didn’t agree with was something he struggled with as well. I’ve known him for a few years now and he’s processed through this much further than when I met him. He’s less angry and more reflective on the situation than before. But the war will have lifelong impacts on this young soul. Something he didn’t give due consideration to when he signed up.

So on the eve of this year’s Veteran’s Day here in the U.S., take the time to appreciate what our men and women have gone through and sacrifice(d) to allow us to have the freedom and opportunities that we have. I thoroughly appreciate my friend’s willingness to openly share his experiences, and would recommend reaching out to veterans young or old and try and gain some perspective. Makes the struggles we go through seem trivial by comparison.

So thank you Vets, thanks for all you’ve done and all you do, and the sacrifices you make for the rest of us.

THANK_YOU-veterans

True talk about sex in the shower

I enjoy showering with a woman. I have done it a few times in my single days, but my wife is the only one who I have had sex with in the shower. Regardless, it takes me about 2.2 seconds before I sport wood while showering with a lady. I think it’s a complement. Anywho…

So up until 2014, I maybe had shower sex a grand total of two times. It was due to both the infrequency of showering together, the lack of desire to escalate, and the physical aspects of lubrication issues that seemed to impact this overall situation.  Now my wife and I are roughly the same height, I’m about an inch taller, so shower sex works for us on that front. If the man is much more taller, the “insert Tab A into Tab B” starts to become more problematic. I digress a little, but will revisit this point.

save water shower together

After reading the The Married Man Sex Life Primer, I had a face palm on the whole “pass through” shower situation, where as your wife is nearing the end of her shower, you pass through as you start yours. Fairly innocuous if you have a half-way decent relationship, and you share some naked time and maybe laugh about your boner. I was like “why didn’t I think of that?” and immediately implemented it into semi-regular frequency. Soap up. Rub naked bodies on each other, and maybe you catch lighting in a bottle and fuck in the shower. It happened a couple times for us over the last two years. Certainly a mix-up from the regular bedroom sex situation (as can floor/fireplace sex is, or couch sex, or kitchen sex, or go to the garage and use your car like a teenager-sex, or use your imagination… most people don’t, which is why their sex life is boring; yours shouldn’t be).

Then something changed. This year alone, we probably had shower sex 12-15 times (and had a number more near-misses where timing didn’t quite workout due to work schedules, or taking too much time catching up from the workout itself), several different venues, and several standard of deviations above norm. Why? I’m not exactly sure why, but here’s my key hypothesis:

  1. We often wake up early together to workout (at home), either alone or with each other. This releases endorphins into the system and make you feel good about yourself.
  2. Because of #1 above, you need to shower, roughly at the same time, to get ready for work. Our kids are old enough so once we get the morning ball rolling, they more-or-less take care of themselves.
  3. So we shower. My wife feels better after she’s semi-clean before I get in. Cleanup in the shower is easier for Holly, even if it’s shark week where she’s not comfortable for normal bedroom maneuvers,  shower sex is open.
  4. I brought in a container of coconut oil as a permanent stay in the shower, and use it nearly 100% of the time. It’s not water soluble and makes the whole thing way better for both of us.
  5. Since we have an excuse (getting ready in the morning) and can lock the door, it takes stress out of the picture, as the kids are getting ready on their own schedule. If you have really-young kids, or are on a different schedule than your spouse, obviously this option may not be possible.
  6. My wife had hip surgery earlier this year, so standard sex positions in bed weren’t that comfortable. Shower sex with single leg raised seemed to work better for her. We usually use the face-to-face position, with leg on shower bench, but the doggy-style is a shower favorite as well. Most men love seeing the visual of this, and if you bend a little, even taller fellas can accommodate.

So we’ve had a nice run this year. The disadvantages are that they are usually quickies and simply taking care of business. But still fun. Other things that impact this are the fact that we both just worked out. You’ve never struggled in having sex with your wife unless you’ve just done a squat workout and are trying to hold her up against a wall while you’re legs and body are shaking from the previous exertion. Takes things to a whole ‘nother level.

I highly recommend the pass-through for those who haven’t tried it. Easy naked hug is a good start. For those who are looking for a good shower sex experience, I recommend the following:

  1. Make sure you are in the start of the hot water heater cycle. If everyone else has already taken a shower, and you are ready for a longer than normal one with your spouse, you may be in for a cold experience if you don’t plan it right.
  2. Use lube. Water takes natural lube away, and getting going can start (and sometimes end like sandpaper). They have some nice silicon based lube that works in water, but we like natural coconut oil. If you use a condom, your options are not going to be as well since most condom-friendly lubes wash away in water and condoms break more frequently in this type of environment.
  3. Make sure you have a rubber mat or some stickies on the floor. It is often hard to get a good stable position to really go at it without the possibility of slipping and getting  a concussion or breaking something. Handles, or steps, or benches in the shower may help with this.
  4. If you are height disproportional, use a stool that is safe in the shower (rubber feet or other safety measures).
  5. Sometimes sex isn’t an option, but a soapy hand job to “get you clean” can sometimes do the trick. Or just use the time to wash each other with the idea that if the place or time isn’t right, you’ll head immediately to the bed, or make up for it that night after the kids are in bed. Naked connection, whether sex is involved or not, is a sacred thing and brings people together. Which is why the pass-through is such a good idea in the first place. Showering is a powerful thing and shouldn’t be underestimated as an arrow in your quiver of maintaining marital energy.

And if you wonder if other married people shower together, I go to  The Marriage Bed, who have the followings stats:shower (1)

This site has a lot more info on marital shower sex if you want to read it.

I like the following quotes (though, you should really read the link above, since many men [who wrote in] are negative to the concept because their wives are less willing to take the plunge – leaves me wondering more about the state of marriage in our country, as there is a lot of negativity filtering through), the good ones anyway:

  • I like to shower with my husband because it gives us some spare time together. It’s not just about being physically intimate but can be a good time just to be together without other interruptions.
  • It’s a great, intimate thing to do, even if sex isn’t involved, but sometimes he or I just want to be alone with our thoughts in the shower, especially me. I am home with children all day, so it is nice to just have some quiet peace to myself.
  • Showering is a great time to be silly or treat each other with a back scrub or washing each other. Sometimes the only place to chat without teen ears listening in
  • Love to also take baths together. It’s very intimate to wash and care for each other. Love the bonding time.
  • It’s great time to reconnect have fun, talk, and not be interrupted cause the kids find it gross lol
  • We don’t do it as often since we’ve got kids. We use to do it sometimes when trying to save time or hot water, or sometimes just because> I’ve always been a big fan.
  • I love showering with wifey. She’s got an awesome body and love to look at her and love to soap up and run my hands over her naked skin. Only drawback is lubrication during penetration. Any good suggestions from readers for something that works well and doesn’t wash off? Thanks!
  • Showering together always leads to sex. Either a quickie while in the shower or jumping in bed after we get clean.

Anyway, I hope you find some common showering ground to share with your spouse. It really can be fun, though I know it’s not for anyone. Other people have different experiences, like mommy blogger here. But have fun in your own way, don’t be afraid to explore the difficult medium.

shower sex

Video Game, The Movie (and the life)


Video Games: The Movie is out on Netflix. As a past gamer (not one currently), I found this documentary incredibly entertaining. It delved into all aspects of the industry, from the history, to the games that made it or flopped (E.T. on Atari, and how), to the development of systems, to the current gamer and competitions, to the future. It originated as a kickstarter project, but got lots of great interviews with Nintendo, Atari, Microsoft, and Sci-Fi royalty, including Will Wheaton , and my favorite video/life-game visionary: Earnest Cline (Cline wrote Ready Player One a novel about Virtual Reality [VR], and how it came to connect the entire planet since you could use it for education, shopping, virtual relationships, and escape – great book, check it out – I think will be reality before we’re all too old).

Anyways, I spent a lot of my youth playing games with my family (including my dad), my brothers (lots of time logged), and my friends (grade school through college). Here are some of the highlights:

  • Pong – my dad had a pong machine. I remember the cylindrical paddles and playing different variations of the pong game
  • Atari 2600 – Another dad purchase. We played this system so much we got blisters on hour hands (including the palm). Not the most ergonomic of controllersatari_2600_joystickI remember the following games most: Space Invaders, Combat, Pac-man, Breakout, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pole Position, Frostbite (maybe my favorite), Chopper Command
  • Nintendo Entertainment System – so many here, maybe my favorite console: Excite Bike, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros (1, 2, and 3), Mega Man, Contra (who can forget the code?), Metal Gear, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Tecmo Bowl (and Super Bowl [see here for PC emulator of 2013 version for those nostalgic], who can remember the awesomeness of the original though: 4 plays to choose from; LT, Bo Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Walter Payton,Bo-tatooMarino, Dickerson, Largent, Herschel Walker)… where was I? Oh yeah, Nintendo. Baseball Stars was the shit, Bionic Commando, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Zelda, Double Dragon, Kung Fu, Spy Hunter, Dragon Warrior, Ice Hockey (with the three choices of players: skinny, fast, but fell down when they encounterd a divot; medium; and fat, slow, but great checkers). So much Awesome with Nintendo
  • Sega original system – one of my friends had this and we played a lot of California Games, Sonic, Afterburner,After_Burner_-_1988_-_Activisionand Marble Madness.
  • Super NES: Street Fighter II, Final Fantasy II, Super Mario Cart, Zelda. That’s all you needed on this console. NBA Jam was fun too (You’re on FIRE!)
  • Sega Genesis: Didn’t have this, but all I remembered is Sonic, Shinobi, and Altered Beast.
  • Playstation: Crash Team Racing, Syphon Filter, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, and Silent Hill rounded out some of the memorable ones.
  • N64: Mariocart and Goldeneye were the only games I played, often drunk after the bars.
  • We received a Playstation 2 as a wedding present and played it for over a decade. It was also the first console my kids played on. Many games of Madden, Crash Team Racing, Tony Hawk, Sly Cooper Thievious Raccoon, the God of War series blew me away. Later, when kids got in the mix, the Lego games became mostly what we played: Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Star Wars, and Lego Batman. I never got into the time sucking RPGs on this console, and was just playing quick games of carting or platformers or sports as I found time. God Of War
  • Playstation 3: We’ve had this one for a year or two now, and it’s a nice step up from the PS2, but we mostly play Lego games still (Marvel and DC, Harry Potter, Star Wars is still a hit), along with Little Big Planet (including their carting game) and the Disney Infinity. I have a bunch more my brother gave me, including Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, but they aren’t kid appropriate and I simply don’t have time to invest – or that is, I feel my unwinding time is more rewarding when I spend it on on other endeavors like reading or writing.

As parents, we allow our kids to play age appropriate games. I never enjoyed first person shooters (murder simulation), and the few I played (like Goldeneye on N64) I was awful at. Videogames are like interactive movies in a lot of cases, and ones like Minecraft have some very creative and imaginative value that I can see. But I can see how it sucks other creative energy out just staring at the screen for hours, instead of making up games, or doing crafty inventing things (like Birdsnest does so frequently), or sucks the life out of relationships. While none of my friends really play videogames, I’ve heard of others whose relationships suffer because games are the after-work focus (especially in-depth interactive games like World of Warcraft) and take the place of quality time.

Still, they have their place in our entertainment Rolodex, and they are here to stay. If you are a past gamer, check out that Video Game documentary I mentioned at the start. It was fun to relive some of those great memories, and I’m sure my own children will recall to their future kids how they were playing blocky Minecraft games on a flat computer screen while their children walk around with VR goggles on a 3-D simulator platform. Evolution of games and this media will be very interesting to see in the next 20 years. Our generation was the first raised on games, and the change in our lifetime in this media will be unprecedented.

Looks like a cold, video game kind of day to me. Enjoy your weekend.

What would you regret if you died tonight?

I’m coming off a most excellent day. Had meetings all day with one future employer. A phone interview with a second. Both much different than what I do now and something I would fit very well with other nice bennies and salary. Came home and grilled some grass fed tenderloin, and made my MIL feel like a queen (invited over) since she never gets dinner this nice (single, on SS and pension). Snuggled with my kids for a bit before bed. My wife and I had happy sex (teasing each other all day, after missing each other in the shower in the early morn [shower sex has been an easy hit for us the last six months for some reason] because my home-gym workout took longer than expected). Now, I’m enjoying myself watching the movie “DRAFT DAY” about the NFL draft, one of my favorite (albeit stupid) events of the year. A great and exciting day all around. But I still have unrealized regrets if I were to die tonight.

Our kids have the good fortune to have their own rooms, but the last two weeks, they’ve decided they wanted to share a room. Week 1 was in LoudBoy’s, this week is Birdsnest’s room. They read and do their normal routine, just sharing a bed. We are so lucky they get along so well (2 years apart) and can deal with the sibling stuff. Mostly, they’re buddies, as the sharing a room goes to show. As I went in there after my post coital interlude, and touched their sleeping heads briefly before I went to bed tonight, I was filled with love…and the brief thought that if I died tomorrow on my long drive tomorrow morning to yet another job site, what would I regret? The only thing is that I came up with is that I didn’t maximize my day today, or any day, with my wife and kids. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Could you ever “maximize” a day? Doubtful, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Especially with so much time literally lost looking at electronic screens of some sort, or getting lost in other people’s (like our bosses or companies’) worlds.

So love your kids, love your wife, love your husband, like there is no tomorrow, because there may not be. Don’t hold back on rough-housing time, or baseball throwing time, or snuggly time, or ignoring your phone to play the board game of LIFE time, or the having a glass of wine and actually TALKING and sharing with your spouse time. If you are wrapped in the shit you think you have to do, for people you think you have to please, you are letting life pass you by, and future regret to manifest. Instead, live in the moment while your kids are young and  awake and your wife is willing. Don’t let this moment pass you by. If not, the moment is gone, your kids are grown, your wife is old, and so are you, filled with regret. Instead, fill your future historical mind with love and happiness instead of would ofs and should ofs.

-AMD

Men and Friends, A Rare and Valuable Commodity

best friendsWhile men have friends, what I see mostly is the friendships are long-lasting, strong, and semi-rare in actual interactions. This is especially true for married men, with their obligations with work and family, and the responsibilities for keeping the house and body in order. Here’s what I see and hear from other men regarding their interactions with other male friends:

  • Very strong and long relationships
  • See infrequently (things like hunt camp, fantasy football drafts, annual homecoming game, etc. are most common)
  • Low priority compared to wife or kids or work
  • Athletic events or hobbies usually solitary (gym time, running, mechanical tinkering)
  • Male neighbors are important since we see them more often
  • Regular daily interaction with coworkers, but not very many tight friendships there, most don’t last if one changes jobs
  • Sibling friendships are all over the board, from tight nit to essentially strangers

Obviously, your experience may vary, and I’m not so sure wives and women are much different, but men are notoriously more introverted. Both Salon’s Men’s Hidden Crisis and The Atlantic basically comes to the same conclusion – men have a harder time doing regular male friend stuff. From the Atlantic article:

As I conduct my own informal polls, I find that many men—particularly the Boomer and beyond variety—are simply out of practice [AMD: of maintaining male friends]. Part of this is due to the fact that women are generally the social planners in the house, whether by choice or default.

“Men who do not have male friends often rely too much on their women and expect too much from them,” says psychiatrist Dr. John Jacobs, who specializes in couples therapy. Meaning it is not good for the marriage, for starters, and may leave serious emptiness at some point. (Remember in I Love You, Man when the groom couldn’t find a best man?) Historian-author Richard Reeves, whose wife of 33 years died this month, revealed on his website that, “I’m not sure I’ve made a decision without her since the day we married.”

Such is the nature of the beta-male, leaving all non-work time up to their wife’s discretion. So if you aren’t in a bowling or golf league, or doing martial arts or CrossFit multiple days a week, you aren’t alone, but you are also missing out on some relationship energy that is good for men. And, allowing your wife to lead if she’s the SOLE social coordinator, is also really bad. You need to take the effort to plan stuff once in awhile, even if it doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped. Example: Last weekend, we went to a Haunted Hay Ride about 30 minutes away. One that supports a local environmental group, we’ve been to about 3 times before, and was awesome in the past. My wife wanted to go to one 4 minutes away (same price), but was an unknown. I made the call that we would be maintaining tradition and went to the historic one a ways away. We waited in a long line, and the hayride was just ok; definitely not as good as before, and wasn’t as good as we’d hoped. The other one (we later heard) had a five minute wait and was fun too. Maybe not as scary or great as the historic version of the one we went to, but good. For our night, we still had fun, which was the goal, but the other costs were (social, time) were higher. Oh well, next year we’ll stay local. Still, I made the call and thus kept leader position instead of simply letting my wife plan everything.

Just like it takes effort to be a leader, stay in shape and have muscles; to game your wife a little and be a good dad. It also takes effort to feed that masculine side that needs to be fed. You have to actually call up your local friends, or make some, and schedule to do something. I’m not saying every day, but if you hang out with “real” friends a couple times a month, you’re doing way better than most men I know. According to the Atlantic article:

Even those who have excelled, or are becoming better at, male bonding, attest to the challenges, particularly in those decades between boyhood and retirement. “One could argue that pressures of work and family ought to increase the desire of men to seek advice from others,” says Warren Sherman, who is part of the Father’s Group. “But after spending years avoiding talking about personal matters—as most of us learned to filter our emotions, raised to believe that being sensitive was being weak—and without the skill set to engage in the process, why try when there are so many demands on our time?”

Even Matt Forney talks about Male Friendship:

The list of conditions in number four I arrived at myself some years ago. In order for me to make new friends that will (hopefully) be long-lasting, they have to fulfill the following conditions:

  1. Mutual interest in the other person.
  2. Overlap of interests and outlook on life,
  3. Proximity.
  4. Lack of competing alternatives and/or demands on one’s time.
  5. Consistency.
  6. Reciprocity.

For me, numbers five and six are the most important (plus Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

Agreed on all accounts.

I’m not immune to these same married male friend pitfalls, but I am making an effort to get better. A man who simply does house stuff, or Honeydos all weekend is not that awesome. A couple weeks ago I met up with a close friend for fishing and talking about life and issues for a Sunday afternoon. Last weekend I had an Oh-So-Manly-Man-Date with another friend at a coffee house where we did talk about manly stuff (have a draft post on this already, will roll out this week I hope), like what it was like to go to war. This weekend, I caught up with some long-time male friends at a party where we made more concrete plans. Success breeds success. Manly friend time breeds more of the same. Doesn’t need to always be with the same guy or group, but maintaining those friendships is key. Being a friend that reciprocates is also key.

My own best friend lives 500 miles away and I haven’t seen him in about 2.5 years. But we talk a few times a year, and stay connected on FB. If I saw him tomorrow we’d pick off where we left off – dick jokes and racial slurs at our ethnicity (he’s half Mexican, I have a fair amount of Native American in me) and all. We say “I love you” to each other. The only relationship I have like that. Lots of history together, including vulnerability, shared love and loss, traveling Europe and shared wavelength. Such is what male friendship is like.

At the same time, making new friends and cultivating that new neighborhood or random friendship is also important. Some may stick, some may not, but people who you have a lot in common with, are in close proximity with, or have a common wavelength with are untapped friends in many cases. Having a regular activity where you suffer and triumph in equal parts (MMA, Golf, CrossFit, military, sometimes WORK [a four letter word in many cases]) also goes a long way towards establishing a lasting bond. Don’t squander those opportunities. Instead, reach out and invite them to drinks or sushi or a weighted-vest hike. Or to come over for dinner with the family (with theirs) or a campfire, or hanging at a waterpark. Whatever suits your fancy (I’ve done ALL those with male friends and with their families as noted-good times all around).

Many men struggle in with this aspect of their life, even if their marriage and health and kids are all in order. Don’t neglect our primal instinct of male bonding and influence. It is critical to our own well being and ability to learn and stay strong in the face of feminine imperative and influence that is so common.

So stop being a pawn in your wife’s social life. Stop letting your wife be the only one making plans for you, or the family, each weekend. And start making your own plans, and making awesome (or interesting or unique plans) for your family and see what happens. I think you’ll find your life’s happiness takes a bump when you start reconnecting with old male friends, or establishing new ones.

smiles

My Halloween Plans

happy halloween

A few years ago, I made a grappling dummy out of electrical wire, PVC pipe, and some foam insulation so I could practice BJJ moves and submissions away from the gym.

0218002250

 

Every Halloween since then, we’ve been dressing up the dummy in my old clothes and set him up on the front porch with a mask. Well this year, I’m doing something a little different. I’ll be hanging out with my dummy in another chair and mask, sitting real still, and scaring older kids. It is going to be awesome. I figure I will leave a bowl of candy on Dummy with a sign that says “please take only one,” and while they’re distracted, I’ll move or yell or something. So looking forward to this.

craptastic carved pumpkins this year, Dummy in the background

craptastic carved pumpkins this year, Dummy in the background

As a quick aside, Holly and I have been jumping out of dark hallways and rooms at night over the last couple of months, taking turns scaring each other. You never know when you’ll scream and get your heart racing. Good times.

Then, after trick-or-treating tomorrow, my wife and I are headed to a grown-up Halloween party sans kids. Should be a fun night. Maybe we’ll keep the costumes on after we get home. You never know ;)

Have fun out there and be safe!

[AMD Edit 11/1/14 – Post Script: I masked up next to Dummy yesterday and it was awesome! We have a Halloween “spell book” that opens up to a void space that is voice-activated and you can hide candy in it. I put a note “Please take one, Open book” and placed it on the book, on Dummy. Kids would come up, say stuff like “Oh, they aren’t real!” because they were distracted by my obviously fake dummy, then when they opened the talking candy book, I would move or move and yell, and they’d jump or scream. So awesome! But lest you think I’m an asshole, literally all the moms and dads on the sidewalk, watching this whole situation play out, were laughing their asses off seeing their kids (most were 3rd grade plus) get scared (and then laugh and say “you really scared me” – put the ‘trick’ in trick-or-treat, not many people do). I was real nice to the really small kids though, this was age appropriate shit scaring, not diaper scaring. I highly recommend something like this if you enjoy a good laugh, maybe my favorite halloweens eva.]