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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Robotic Surgery - Part 1 (How a Kidney Stone Saved My Life)

Robert Manni - Thursday, November 20, 2014


Your outlook on life can change in an instant. I learned that valuable lesson this year. After an amazing run of great health and a level of fitness I had not experienced since my twenties, I found out that I needed surgery. Twice.

Imagine what you’d look like after fighting the “Wolverine”.  Say hello to robotic surgery. Robotic surgery is a “minimally invasive” procedure where five rods are plunged into your body to seek and remove unwanted growths. Compared to the medical technology available just twenty years ago, robotic surgery is a miracle. But it’s still surgery, and it’s no joke. Thankfully, all that remains after two rounds of robotic procedures are the scares. And I am one happy and appreciative Guy’s Guy. Here is my story.

It all began one cold night last winter. After dinner I felt a searing pain along my left side. This went on uninterrupted for three endless hours. I had no idea what was going on.  And I could not find a way to soothe my body. I flipped and flopped and sweat like a beast in heat throughout the relentless onslaught. Then suddenly the pain subsided. I exhaled, sighed and chalked it up to acute indigestion. By the next day I’d forgotten about it.

Fast-forward two months. I experienced a replay of identical symptoms over the course of another uncomfortable three hours. Again, the pain suddenly disappeared. I considered calling my doctor, but instead shrugged it off. The next day I ran my six-mile loop around Central Park without problems.

Fast forward to the July 4th weekend. A few hours after my ten-mile run along the boardwalk, the same unbearable pain erupted along my left flank. Five hours later it finally stopped. It was a holiday weekend and I was away from the city, so I crossed my fingers and fell asleep. I awoke the next day feeling fine, but by the early afternoon the pain returned in full force. I was in such severe pain that I too weak to go to the hospital. In my desperation I contacted Patti Conklin, a recent guest on my GUY’S GUY RADIO podcast. Patti’s book, “God Within” was a game changer for me. I loved its clear empowering message and got know and respect Patti as a person. She advised me to deploy her “Color Works” meditation to task my body with addressing the pain. She also helped me with my vibration and frequency by long distance, sending me balancing and healing energy. I took her advice and meditated. I also drank lots of lemon water, gritted my teeth a lot before finally passing out. I continued the “Color Works” meditation daily to visualize the elimination of the stone. It helped calm my mind and spirit while teaching me to love and trust my body.

When I returned to the city I finally went to the doctor. He told me that my symptoms mirrored those from a kidney stone. In late July, he sent me for a CAT scan. They found the kidney stone. And they found something else—a small growth was lodged onto each of my kidneys. This is not uncommon. They could easily be fatty deposits. Wisely, my doctor advised me to see an urologist. For now, the stone was my primary concern. It was moderate in size and painfully grinding a slow, uncomfortable path towards my bladder. I was in for a bumpy ride. I began feeling discomfort when urinating, but there was nothing I could do about it until the stone passed. And that could take awhile. So, I squirmed through business meetings, occasionally excusing myself to catch my breath in the bathroom. Things finally came to a head after I sampled some wonderful new tequila. I felt the burn as the smoky liquid traveled down my urinary track. I called the meeting short, hoping I had not alienated the client. Then I went home and fought off some wildly uncomfortable urination for the next few hours.

I saw the urologist the following day. He was not smiling as he reviewed my CAT scan. I assumed that the growths were random fatty deposits. They weren’t. They were something far more dangerous and they needed to come out. To say the least, I was surprised. To be sure, my urologist ordered an ultrasound and an MRI. Same results. There was a growth on each kidney, and although they were not aggressive, they had to be removed. The finding was purely incidental. There had been no symptoms. If left untreated for another few years, all bets were off. I did my research and agreed to set dates in September and early November for two rounds of a surgical procedure that I knew nothing about. Who even thinks about their kidneys? Not me. I had been on the best health regime of my life in 2014 and now this? When I thought about it, I realized that my annoyingly persistent kidney stone had led me to this critical disclosure. And that little sucker still hadn’t passed.

The ultrasound showed the stone perched directly above my bladder and ready for release. And that could be excruciatingly painful. My priorities had rapidly changed. I now had to face up to the passing of a kidney stone followed by two rounds of robotic surgery on my kidneys. Right after the ultrasound, my urologist and I reviewed the results on his screen. It was still sitting right above my bladder. He suggested I return for an ureteroscopy the following day. This way the stone would be out of the way and could not cause trouble during my upcoming surgeries. An ureteroscopy consists of sliding a camera and a little grabber up the ureter to snatch the stone from the bladder. Not my idea of a fun afternoon, but I agreed to do it. 

Since my painful bouts during July, I had continued my daily “Color Works” practice. I asked my body to show me the right color and vibration to shrink and dissolve the kidney stone. I'd been doing this for over a month now. I thought about that in the ensuing hours before the ureteroscopy the following afternoon. Although it was still painful to urinate, the situation remained unchanged. I was in pain until I went under.

When I awoke after the procedure, I asked the doctor if he put a stent into my ureter. That’s fairly common following an utereroscopy and it supposedly hurts like hell. Thankfully, he said no. Then he told me to buy a lottery ticket. Although he and his assistants searched my ureter up, down and all around, the stone was nowhere to be found. Somehow, over the course of the past twenty-four hours, it disappeared.

To be continued…

Teachings from a Toddler

Robert Manni - Thursday, November 06, 2014


Time flashes by. It’s hard to believe my young son is already eighteen months old. As any parent of a toddler can attest to, the job of raising a child is both exhausting and exhilarating. As a long time bachelor who never considered children, I scoffed when my friends told me having a child changes everything. They were right. It’s a whole different ballgame and hopefully it has made me a better Guy’s Guy. While I’ve witnessed my little boy learn about the world, I’ve also learned a lot from him. Here are a few things I’ve picked up by observing and tending to my son.

Life is discovery and learning.

It’s so refreshing seeing a young one interact with things for the first time. Whether it’s trying a new food, hearing a fire truck, or seeing a big dog or a little girl with flowing blonde hair, I’m continually amazed at the sheer joy children glean from what adults consider uneventful daily occurrences. Just a few minutes ago I watched my son play with a hanger for ten minutes. He picked it up, tossed it, dropped it, pushed it and basically milked the life out of it before leaving it on the floor so he could hide in my closet. When we’re outside he’ll pick up a leaf from an oak tree and carefully examine it like an astronaut who just landed on a strange planet.  He constantly reminds me about the wonders of our world and little things like fresh fallen leaves that adults take for granted. Maintaining one’s innocence and sense of wonder is important to keeping fresh and staying young at heart.

Get your hands dirty.

Like radar, toddler boys gravitate to nature and the earth. My son loves trees and bushes and wading through leaves that crunch beneath his feet. As we walk he picks up random broken tree branches, blades of grass and leaves and he’ll stop to scrunch down and play with each item until he’s gotten whatever joy he can get from it. Then he picks up the next thing in his path. There is something about little boys and their fascination with nature and getting their hands dirty that reminds me to roll up my sleeves mindfully dig into whatever I’m doing.   

Practice makes perfect.

My son has a stack of books. When I ask if he wants me to read to him, he carefully pores through the pile and makes his first selection. I pull him onto the couch and read aloud. He seems to always pick the same books, never bored with hearing me read each again and again. I must have read, “The Runaway Bunny” aloud over one hundred times. He points to the illustrations and says, “Caw”, his current word for everything. I’ll respond, “moon”, “cat”, “fish”, “frog” or whatever before he turns the page. Then he points to the same images again to be sure he knows the word. And he’s learning. When he places his finger on the illustration of a window, I’ll say “window”. Then he points to the window in our living room and says, “Caw”. He gets it. Repetition sounds boring, but it’s good for learning. Think about it next time you’re in that language, dance, or cooking class you thought would be so easy.

Routines can be good.

Let’s take repetition a step further. My son, and I think all toddlers, prefer routines at this early age. When you are new to the game, there is a comfort in knowing what comes next. Mommy gives you a bottle in the morning. Daddy tests you with flash cards when he feeds you dinner. You grab your shoes when it’s time to go out, and so on. I’ve noticed that when his routine gets changed up, like with daylight saving, it takes him a time to adjust. But within a few days, he settles back onto his groove. Adults like the comfort of routines also, and there is nothing wrong with a little predictability during chaotic times.

 

Leave the baggage behind.

My son is endlessly curious. He wants to examine anything he has not seen before. And that’s good. Recently he’s been obsessed with a deck of cards in a plastic case wrapped with a rubber band. I knew that as soon as he got to those cards they were destined for the floor. And sure enough it happened as predicted. I finally took the rubber band off after watching his sad little eyes peer up at me again while holding the case. When I took off the rubber band and handed him the case, I could see the delight in his eyes. Then the cards tumbled onto the floor.  After a quick glance at the cards, he cheerily marched off with the plastic case. He had no interest in the cards. And, of course, toddlers don’t think about who cleans up the mess, but that’s okay. Every time my son moves on from his most recent object of desire he reminds me not to put too much value on things or emotions. It’s better to leave our baggage behind.

Maybe I’m connecting the dots a little too conveniently to suit my point of view, but I know I’m learning as much about myself that my son is about the world. Thank you, little man.

Have you ever taken the time to learn from little kids?

 This week’s Guys’ Guys of the week are the growing number of stay-at-home dads who unselfishly devote their time to raising their children.

The Things I Learned Running Marathons

Robert Manni - Friday, October 31, 2014


The first Sunday in November is a special day. Runners of all shapes and sizes come from around the globe to New York to share a special human experience while packed together for 26.2 miles traversing the five boroughs of the city.

If you’re entered in this year’s race, I wish you the very best. It could turn out to be one of the most special days of your life. Enjoy it.

For me, the greatest thing about the marathon is that for one chilly morning anyone who puts in the training can experience what is feels like to compete in a world-class athletic event.  After all, very few of us know what it’s like to play a professional sport and perform in front of a rabidly cheering crowd. I love running, but I’m no elite athlete. I’ve done my share of 5k and 5-mile races and finished three marathons. Each marathon proved to be a different experience, but all of them taught me valuable lessons. Here are a few things I learned that continue to help me out today.

Stay focused. Connect your mind, body, and spirit.

Both the training and actually running the race demands a fine balance and integration of your body, mind and spirit. No matter what kind of shape you are in, you will find yourself challenged at some point during the relentless twenty-six point two mile course. It might be a cramp, exhaustion, bad weather, or an upset stomach, but trust me you will face something unexpected. And even if you train diligently and put in those long runs, a marathon requires an elevated level of mental toughness and a fighting spirit. Be prepared.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Marathoners come in all shapes and sizes and speak all sorts of languages. During my first race I was surprised at how many runners who did not look like they were in great shape pass me. At first my ego got the best of me when waves of older and chunkier runners zipped by. I got down on myself and even questioned my training. Then I remembered reading that everyone’s physical body processes oxygen differently. Plus, I had no idea what kind of training regimen these people went through or how many marathons they had run. I shook it off and kept running.

Don’t worry about anyone else. Stick to your plan.

After a few miles of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of my first marathon and the presence of so many runners running elbow to elbow, I dug deep and focused on my plan. That meant plugging along slowly and steadily until reaching mile twenty. If I had a gas in my tank I would speed up towards the end of the race. I tracked along at a ten-minutes per mile for the first three quarters of the first marathon. And I did not hit the dreaded wall at mile twenty. I breezed through the final six miles and now I was passing everyone else. I crossed the finish line with both hands in the air. Let me tell you; it felt great.

Hydrate and eat well.

Running for four hours requires a lot of fuel so during each marathon I made sure to slow down at most of the water stops while also grabbing healthy snacks when I saw them handed out. This made a big difference in my energy level. And it’s the same in day-to-day life. Skipping meals or not drinking enough water results in mental and physical burn out. And who doesn’t enjoy eating and drinking?

Pat yourself on the back.

People in general and marathoners can be pretty tough on themselves. Instead of celebrating their amazing feats, they carp about what they did wrong and what they’ll do next time. I’ve been guilty of this also. Now I always give myself credit whenever I put in some hard work. Now that my marathon days are over (did I really say that?) I realize what an accomplishment it is just to complete this long race. I’m proud of a job well done.

Practice makes perfect. Train like a champ.

Like anything else in life, you need to prepare for the big opportunities. Whether it’s writing a screenplay, making a presentation, or running a marathon you need to invest time and psychic energy into the undertaking if you want to enjoy the experience and savor victory—however you define it.  My solo twenty-mile training runs were critical to my physical and mental state of mind during the marathons. I knew that if I could run twenty miles in September without the cheering crowds I’d be well prepared for race day in November. I was well prepared for each race and it sure came in handy.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Running a marathon is a microcosm for life. There is pleasure, pain, joy, tears, and camaraderie—basically a full range of human emotions experienced over a few brief hours on a Sunday morning. If you ever get the urge to run a marathon, by all means do so. And if you do, make sure you fully immerse yourself in the experience—from each mile of your training until you cross the finish line.  You’ll be happy with a job well done. What more can you ask for?

Have you ever considered running a marathon?

 

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the week are the 30,000 plus runners in Sunday’s NYC Marathon. Have a great race, people!

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Jury Duty

Robert Manni - Thursday, October 23, 2014


It’s the piece of mail that we all dread receiving. You have been called for jury duty. 

And, like a tax audit or another bill from your auto insurance company, you can’t avoid it. Unless you have a bulletproof excuse, you have to show up for jury duty. But here’s the thing; Guys’ Guys show up. After being summoned for a second time after twenty years, in the end I was glad I stepped up and served. At the time I didn’t realize the scope of the case I was assigned to and the ramifications on the life of the accused. It was a big deal and the alleged perpetrator’s life hung the balance. Afterwards I felt more in touch with my sense of citizenship and my humanity. Here’s what happened and what I learned. After all, Guy’s Guy’s are all about new experiences.

After I graduated from college I briefly moved back home to New Jersey. One summer I got called for jury duty in Hackensack. I showed up, filled out some forms, sat and waited for twenty minutes, and was told to go home. I thought nothing of it and was glad they let me go. They let me be for the next two decades. Flash forward twenty years when my official residency changed to New York. After registering to vote, I was almost immediately summoned for jury duty. On a freezing, overcast January day I showed up at the big courthouse in downtown Manhattan. I stood outside in line in the bitter cold with a few hundred sad-looking New Yorkers waiting to be processed. Expecting lots of waiting time, I kept my phone and a book on hand. Once inside we were matriculated and shuttled into a huge room where we sat waiting and waiting. Finally we were told that the lot of us was under consideration for a major federal conspiracy case. There was a collective groan across the dank, drab holding room as our files were reviewed.

After two hours there was an announcement. They had selected a few dozen candidates that would be reviewed by the judge and the respective attorneys. Since I have never won Lotto or even a major prize at a golf outing, I assumed I would not be selected. But mine was the second name called. This precipitated a few days of interviews, instructions, forms and questionnaires to fill out, and more hours of waiting in the dank confines of the backrooms of the courthouse. As the process transpired, I realized that I had no excuse that would get me out of this dilemma. And sure enough, I was selected for the case, and it was a doozy. It lasted two weeks and featured long dissertations on firearms, ammunition, drugs, fistfuls of illegal cash, hidden videotapes, snitches, undercover cops and more. It was a wild ride that delved into areas of criminal behavior and jargon that I had never known. Who knew bullets were called “food”? Each day we broke whenever the attorneys had a disagreement about a witness, detail or a procedure. They paid us a few bucks a day. At lunch we fanned out and took separate paths into Chinatown.

While observing the proceedings I realized that the accused perpetrator’s future hung in the balance and I would be one of twelve who would decide on his fate. If convicted, this guy was facing decades behind bars. This was a big responsibility for us jurors. Fortunately, our group was an astute, fair-minded crew. We paid attention, kept an open mind and followed the judge’s instructions—including refraining from reading the newspaper or watching the news during the trial. I did not know until afterwards that there had been constant news coverage of the case.

Two weeks later, after day after day of numerous meticulous, highly procedural presentations of the evidence followed by the defense rebuttal; the jury was asked for a decision. After we presented our findings (I’m thankful that I was not the foreman) we went out for drinks at a pub behind the courthouse. We had all kept our distance during the trial, so in the next two hours I got to know my fellow jurors more than I had during the past two weeks. There was a strange, unique bond that had taken place and a feeling of mutual respect among peers. I am proud our paths briefly crossed briefly in what had been a very human experience where the fate of certain individuals was placed in our hands. When I left the pub the snow began falling as if on cue. It was a quiet, gentle snow that covered the ground like a blanket, burying the experience in a soft white hue under a darkened winter sky. I knew I would never see any of these people again. Meeting them and sharing this experience had been enough.

Forgive me if I sound sanctimonious, but this two-week odyssey gave me a new slant on jury duty. Now I know why it is important to be responsible and take it seriously. Being called to serve is not punishment. It’s an honor. Sure, you might get assigned to a small-time civil case, a business beef or something equally mundane, but that’s the luck of the draw. The important thing is to show up and represent, and that’s worth keeping in mind as we march through life.

Have you been called for jury duty?

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the attorneys who are forced to deal with painstaking procedures that even with all its flaws still makes our legal system the best in the world.

Confessions of a Horndog: The Way Guys View Sex

Robert Manni - Sunday, October 19, 2014


Sure we’re approaching 2015, but have things changed that much when it comes to how men and women view sex? I’ve been thinking about that a lot these past few weeks. Most guests on my Guy's Guy Radio podcast take a politically correct stance, insisting that all things are equal when it comes to how men and women view sex.

Let’s agree that women’s empowerment is growing, and it’s long overdue. And when it comes to sex, although more and more of today’s women hunt male prey the way guys chase women, does the majority female mindset view sex the way men do? I’m not sure. Let’s take a look at some of the ways men view sex. Then I’ll let you ladies determine if women see it the same way.

I have a lot of guy friends and they seem to fall into two camps. One group is made up of total horn dogs. Regardless of their age or relationship status, they think about sex all day. They are visual, they fantasize, they talk about sex, and although they may not stray; they’re mentally sexed up. I fall into this camp and I always have.

I love sex and I think about it a lot. In the past I’d act on my impulses, even when I was in a relationship. I was young and believed that you only live once. You can say that I was a selfish guy. I was, but I loved sex and if there was extracurricular activity, it was simply a physical act to me. Although I had to have some connection with them, I kept the sex in a non-binding neutral, unemotional, no-strings attached box. And it worked for me.

There are a lot of guys who see sex this way. Sex is sex, and since it is always on our minds, we tend to take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves. After all, when you are single, you’re single.

Now that I’m married and a bit wiser, I focus one hundred percent of my attention on my wife. She deserves it, and I’m doing everything I can to be the best partner. That said, I’m still a horny guy.

Living in New York City, I see and interact with a lot of hot women. Do I think about having sex with them? The thought has crossed my mind from time to time (that means yes), but I don’t act on it. Part of the reason is that I know my wife is loyal and I don’t think my having sex with other women would be fair to her. Most of the others guys I know in the horn dog camp think and behave this way, also. We enjoy the company of an attractive woman in a business or social situations, but we are men now so we keep things under control. The question is: could I have sex with a random attractive woman and just leave it at that? I could, but again, I don’t. If I did, it would simply be a curiosity and a matter of variety. That’s all. But, I don’t. Will my wife kill me if she reads this? I don’t think so. She knows that I am a horn dog, but one who is on a leash.

Here is one more thing to factor in about the horn dog camp. As with any group, you always have a lunatic fringe. These are the guys who can’t stop going to strip clubs, chasing women, and having sex with whoever they can, regardless of the guy’s age or if they are married. I don’t know many women who fall into this camp, but plenty of guys do. And, unfortunately, most of these dudes are married.

The other group of guys I know never discuss sex, make a sexual comment or even crack a joke about sex.

I find that most of these guys are married or involved in a one-on-one relationship. They don’t “cheat”, but many times they fall in love with other people. When things don’t work out, they divorce and get right back into a one-on-one relationship, many times with someone they fell for when they were married.

They don’t like dating and they find comfort in always having a special someone at their side. I don’t know what you call these guys, but I’ve heard them referred to as serial monogamists. Since I do not fall into this camp, I don’t have as good a grasp on what’s going through their heads when it comes to sex. Do they think about it as much as I do? Are they repressed? Why do they go from one relationship to the next? I don’t know. It seems like these fellas are not interested in recreational sex, but I could be wrong. Maybe they’re horn dogs also, but just more discreet.

I’m wondering if today’s women fall into the same two camps: lady horn dogs and serial monogamists. Maybe nowadays men and women actually do have the same perspectives about sex. But again, I’ll let the ladies decide.

And I’m not certain if there is anything we can do with these confessions and insights beyond being true to ourselves and fair-minded in how we see others. Sex is a personal issues and such a lightning rod subject in our society. The more dialogue we have about it, the better chance we have of understanding the opposite sex and ourselves. And that’s a good thing.

Is your guy a horn dog, and is that a bad thing?

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Healing

Robert Manni - Saturday, October 11, 2014


Shit happens. And it usually happens when you least expect it.

This year I’ve been on a major health kick. I lost thirty-five pounds through a drastically improved diet and workout regime and have never felt better in my life. In fact, relative to my age, I’ve never been in better shape. I did not know why I was training so hard, but I’ve been diligent and disciplined like never before. I’ve been on a mission.

So I was flabbergasted when I learned I needed two robotic surgical procedures. Yikes. The finding was purely incidental and the prognosis is excellent for a complete, 100% recovery. In fact, a few short months it will seem like nothing ever happened. Maybe I was subconsciously getting my body, mind and spirit in shape to handle this.  Surgery is no walk in the park and I have to deal with a double dip, so I really needed to be ready.

Today marks two weeks since round one and I am feeling terrific. My body is healing steadily and I feel and look (so I’ve been told) terrific. I’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks and more than ever, I’m appreciative of everything in this life. With this in mind, I offer my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Healing. Not that Guy’s Guys heal any differently, but this recent challenge has provided some important learning for me. I will devote another blog post to surgery, but right now, let’s discuss the process of healing. It is an important aspect of our lives, regardless of our physical health. I hope some of my insights work for you.

Sometimes we need to get off the grid. Even though I mapped out my upcoming blog posts and Guy’s Guy Radio podcasts in advance, I went dark for a solid week, focusing only on the procedure. Prior to surgery there is the usual prep and some anxiety about the unknown. I decided to hand my troubles to God and focused on relaxation, knowing I am healed, and my connection with the universal consciousness. I did not read the newspaper or watch our toxic news on television. I bought a copy of Men’s Health on my way to the hospital and managed to flip the pages for a few days while drugged up on painkillers. I did not listen to my beloved Rolling Stones or post on FB and Twitter. I rebroadcasted an earlier podcast for Guy’s Guy Radio and reposted a blog for the website. I planned my business activities out in advance so I would not be disturbed. This was a time for quieting my mind and spirit. I remained calm throughout the hospital stay and praised the heavens when they removed my catheter. Finally, after two long nights I returned home.

Sleep is a miracle cure. Although climbing in and out of bed was discomforting, sleeping in my own bed was far better than being propped up in the hospital with an IV and that damn catheter. I am a tummy sleeper, so adjusting to sleeping on my back for the next two weeks was challenging. But, I made sure to make the most of my time in the sack. I sank back, meditated, and let myself drift in and out of sleep for days. And, as if on cue, I felt better each and every day. I made sure to nap in the afternoon and not allow my mind to be disturbed by anything. I have found a new appreciation of the powers of sleep. It has been a miraculous path to my healing. I was off painkillers in less than a week. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

Learn to appreciate the little things.  After having the catheter removed, I had a new appreciation of not having anything dangling from my you-know-what. Then after three days of noshing on soft and slippery foods, it was great to ingest solid foods. The painkillers keep you constipated so after three long days I was ecstatic after my first bowel movement. Yes, these are the little things that we so often overlook. I am now very appreciative of all of our creature comforts and simply being capable of functioning like a healthy human being. It’s something we too easily ignore. Be thankful, people. Everything can all change in a heartbeat.

Be flexible. Adapt. If you can’t sleep on your belly, sleep on your side. If you can’t jump in and out of bed (a favorite pastime that drives my wife crazy), then quietly slide into bed. If you have holes drilled into your abdomen, keep them covered when showering. If it hurts like hell to sneeze or cough, do whatever you can not to sneeze or cough. If you can’t drink, don’t. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t pick up your seventeen month-year old child, find a way of cajoling him onto the couch so you can read to him. It’s that simple. Learn to do things differently. I did not get frustrated and the challenges helped me stay sharp and heal. I improvised and am a better person for it.

The power of visualizations and affirmations. From the moment they jabbed me with general anesthetic, I have been visualizing and mentally repeating affirmations of my health. I say, “I am healed and renewed” and “I am one with the energizing life of God” throughout the day. I also see myself in my mind’s eye as completely healed. There is power in the words “I am” and the intentions that follow. You can use these for any area of your life. It works. Just know it.

Surround yourself with love. I am certain that my healing is on the fast track because I am sleeping with my wife, son, and cat in the same room. I feel their love and it helps my body, mind and spirit heal. I know this. Love heals. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you. It’s that simple. That’s all I am going to say about it.

So after two weeks, I’m feeling strong. In fact, I feel tremendous. My surgeon told me that the procedure went perfectly. I am well rested and in a state of grace, more than ready for round two.

Do you know how to heal?

 

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are my surgeon and the team at NYU Langone Center who have cared for me during each phase of my procedure. Thank you all.


The Guys' Guy's Guide to Cats

Robert Manni - Thursday, October 02, 2014

Maybe they’re not man’s best friend, but cats can be great pets for guys living in the city. You’d think a Guy’s Guy would want a dog. Yes, I can see myself walking along a riverbank with my trusted black lab at my side. But city life is a different ballgame for canine ownership. And I’m not sure I have the time or the right environment to offer a dog the great life it deserves. Plus, I’ve seen hundreds of dog owners huddled in the rain, picking up their dog’s poop with a plastic sandwich bag. I always tell myself, no way Jose. If I move out of the city, I’ll consider a dog. For right now, if I’m going to have a pet, it will be a cat. When I first moved to NYC, I owned a cockatiel who lived in an open cage for many years, but that’s another story.

A few years ago, my wife and I discussed adopting a rescue cat from one of the city shelters. We spent a Sunday traversing private and public agencies, meeting people who loved cats, and felines of all varieties and ages. My criterion for adoption was simple. I did not want a cat that was too old. I’d never owned a cat from birth so I wanted a kitten less than two years old and not one of a pair. There are many older cats with siblings that need homes. I will consider a mature cat or even two cats next time, but I wasn’t an experienced cat owner, so I did nomt feel comfortable taking on more than I could handle. My second deal breaker was that the feline up for adoption did not scratch me.  And that become a problem. The first three cats my wife liked for some reason immediately scratched me, so they were eliminated. Finally we stopped at the Bid A Wee on the East Side. As I approached the front door a small cat was staring directly at me through the window. She quietly followed us around and ultimately turned out to be the one that we took home. Sooki has been with us for close to three years now and this is what I have learned from her.

Cats are affectionate. I assumed that I would drop her into her litter box and that would be it. She’d roam the premises and do as she pleased, ignoring my wife and I unless she was hungry. Then she would make a deposit in the litter box and take a nice long nap under the window as the sun filtered in. Boy, was I wrong. Sooki, like all cats, need attention and love. They might not show it in as profound a way as a dog, but they do crave your love and touch. Sooki greets us when we enter our apartment. I make sure to acknowledge her then and each morning. I say hi and stroke her head to let her know I appreciate her. She also sleeps at the foot of our bed. Whenever I am working on my computer, like right now, she sits quietly close by and takes a nap. And when I crash onto the couch to watch “Ray Donovan” or ESPN, she climbs up and looks me in the eye. I rub her head and she plops down against my side. I’m not sure every cat rolls like Sooki, but my girl needs and gives love.

Cats can be stinky. Unlike a dog, cats do their business in a litter box. You only have to drop them into it once and they know the drill. That’s the good news. The other side of the coin is that cats can get sloppy. Their piss smells awful and their poop needs to be scooped out deposited into the toilet promptly if you want to keep your place smelling good. I tried different of types of litter and found that Feline Pine works well and lasts for about a week. There are a few tricks to keeping the stink quotient low when you own a cat. One is to keep a half lemon slice near the litter box. For some reason it absorbs the odor. The other is a stone called zeolite, which can be purchased online (I found it on Amazon). The stones costs about $30, but they absorbs virtually all of the kitty odors and they last a long time.  Beyond that, you have to change the litter box and disinfect the area on a regular basis. Anything less and your litter box quickly becomes a disaster area.

You don’t want a fat cat. Since cats are nocturnal creatures that also sleep close to eighteen hours a day, they can beef up rather quickly if they don’t get exercise and if they eat mass produced cat food. Similar to what humans are faced with when it comes to food choices, the good stuff costs more per serving, but goes a lot further when it comes to nutrition and good health. After deploying a wet (Newman’s Own Organics) and dry food (Orijens) combination each day, we noticed Sooki start to pack on the pounds after she graduated from her kitty stage. After some experimentation, we decided on giving her only dry food twice a day, and learned that she doesn’t eat as much since becoming an adult. So Sooki is relatively lean now and she’s healthy.

A cat is still a cat. Like any other female creature, Sooki likes having her hair combed and her nails done. We have a young son who likes to pull her tail or grab her face. Since she is a cat, Sooki has taken a token swipe at our little guy a few times, so I take her to a pet store to have her nails trimmed monthly. It costs ten bucks. I’ve found that this has made her more peaceful and less aggressive and jealous of him. But, I keep a watchful eye when our sixteen-month year old goes face to face with her. I’m certain that they will become good mates in a year or so.

What else can I say? A cat is not a dog, so you’re not going to take her hunting or for long runs on the beach. But if you live in the city and like having a loyal furry companion, owning a cat can be rewarding and if you adopt, you will be providing a home for a discarded animal.

There are thousands of cats that need a home. Have you ever considered rescuing a cat?

This week's Guys’ Guys of the Week are the staff at Bid A Wee shelter in New York City. They work tirelessly in the service of displaced animals. This is a great place filled with cats (and dogs) that need homes. 

Throwback Blog: What is a Guy's Guy, and Why Does it Matter?

Robert Manni - Thursday, September 25, 2014
Over the past thirty years, the paths of women and men have changed dramatically. While women have been on straight trajectory of achievement, accomplishment, and long overdue recognition, men now find themselves in a tough spot. This comes at a time when men have never been freer to be who they want, but it's also never been less clear who they are. My novel, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love, tackles this issue through the power of story that gives women a peek behind the curtains into the world of modern men. It’s a story about men, written for women. The male characters are flawed, yet likable, and hopefully I provided some insights into the lives of today’s men with a nod to how they hunt, feed and of course, mate. The time is now to generate awareness for what today’s men can be and address the growing need to bridge the gap between the sexes. And isn’t it ironic that with all of the technology that connects us, communication between the sexes has never been in such a dire state? We’re heading in different directions. Enter Guy’s Guys.

So What Is A Guy’s Guy?

Simply stated, a Guy’s Guy is a contemporary Man’s Man, with a nod to a return to the casual confidence and seductive integrity of the classic male, but updated to reflect the belief that everybody wins when men and women can be at their best. In other words, a Guy’s Guy welcomes the rise of women while competing with them for love, sex, power and money in a time where everyone’s playing for keeps. Guy’s Guys exude unassuming strength, timeless style, and emotional intelligence while enjoying healthy relationships and joyful, open living. Drop back twenty-five years or so ago and the new man back then had just transcended the attitude that relegated women to the kitchen and the bedroom. Of course, today’s Guy’s Guy is way, way beyond that. He sees women as equal across the board and treats them respectfully without resorting to the predictable patronization just to get them into the sack. And as far as business goes, it’s game on and no glass ceilings. You might be rolling your eyes, but it can be done and Guy’s Guys can help make it happen.

Is There A Guy’s Guy Code?

This is not about Guy’s Guy rulebooks, lists, or tricks and pick up lines that will get them laid. Today’s Guy’s Guys are out there, finding their way in a tough environment while maintaining their own values. It can be a difficult line to walk when you’re a young man caught in a culture that places them somewhere between the mixed messages of MMA and manscaping. A lot of young dudes are getting conflicting signals about who they are because there are no realistic role models for young men. It’s all about preening power studs, metrosexuals, geeks, or superheroes and what can men really learn from them? Women can help by paying attention and helping men shape their values and perspectives.

So What’s Next?

Over the next few months I’ll be sharing some of my Guy’s Guy stories and insights about men… and relationships with GalTime’s wonderful audience. I hope I can occasionally make you smile and rethink some of your ideas about modern men and what makes them tick. After all, the truth is not so bad. Or is it? You can decide for yourselves.

Is Your Man a Guy’s Guy?

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Forgiveness

Robert Manni - Friday, September 19, 2014

People screw up. In fact, people screw up a lot.

We’ve all been jerked around, stabbed in the back, had our hearts broken, and been betrayed. It’s part of the human experience. But, these trials are opportunities for growth. Some say that there are no coincidences and life is one big schoolroom. People cross our paths to teach us what we need to know, even if the lessons are painful. So we need a way of dealing with people’s misdeeds. It’s called forgiveness and it comes from the heart. That does not mean condoning asshole behavior, allowing it to continue, or failing to take preventative measures so it does not happen again. Nope. We do what’s necessary to protect ourselves, while forgiving and releasing the offenders from our energetic realm. With this in mind, I offer my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Forgiveness. I know life is hard and we’ve all been tempted to slap certain people upside their heads. But forgiveness is a critical part of a Guy’s Guy DNA.

Why forgive?

None of us are without fault. We’ve all done bad things to our fellow man. Maybe these misdeeds were unintentional, but we’ve all been subservient to our egos and wronged someone. We’re human. We’re also all connected in vibration. That means all of us are equally deserving of universal love. So what does all this have to do with being a Guy’s Guy? Guys’ Guys have a duty to make the world a better place. Forgiveness is a wonderful path of ascension. It aids our physical, emotional and spiritual health while releasing toxins and low vibration energy. Forgiveness also helps us see ourselves in others, even if we would not necessarily handle certain situations the same way. We do not know their path or their pain. And again, people mess up all the time so we need to forgive, even if it seems impossible at the time of the transgression. Carrying around anger and resentment or reacting in an equally bad way continues a cycle of negativity and impacts our health. Do we want the effects of someone’s bad behavior compounded by our internalizing their misdeeds? It’s a double whammy to avoid.

How do we forgive?

It’s easy. Take a deep breath, exhale, and release the person in question from your consciousness. I’m not suggesting that we forget what they have done. I am only suggesting that we forgive them. An eye for an eye results in a lot of one-eyed people. This is about letting go and moving on. The best way to deal with people who wrong us is by not engaging them in the future and not internalizing their bad behavior.  Carrying around anger and pain also empowers the other person, and that’s the last thing you want to do. There are many ways to forgive. Here are a few that work for me. When someone does me wrong I say to myself, “I’m sorry ____ is not the way I wanted him or her to be. I forgive them and set them free.” It helps me energetically and it also frees the other person. Maybe they can learn from this. I do not want to create ill will towards this person anyway because it will boomerang back to me. It’s better to forge ahead and seek like-minded people. I have found that since I have made forgiveness a daily practice I continue to meet people whose energy is more in line with mine. Meditation is also great way to forgive and let things go. As always, I put myself in a relaxed state. I begin by forgive myself, acknowledging my mistakes and how I may have unwittingly hurt others. I may be a Guy’s Guy, but I screw up as much as the next person. Then I mentally review specific time periods in my life. In my mind’s eye, I wait for individuals who have done me a disservice to appear. Let me tell you, it’s a long list. I face each one, tell them how I feel about what they did, and forgive them. I release them from my consciousness and they disappear. The process takes only a few minutes and I find it very cleansing. Just make sure to always forgive yourself. I realize that forgiveness can be challenging. But once I got the hang of it, forgiving others became easier. And somehow the world didn’t feel like such a terrible place.

Have you forgiven those who have trespassed you?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Paul Ferrini. His book, “The 12 Steps of Forgiveness” provides a practical blueprint for the art of forgiveness.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Meditation

Robert Manni - Friday, September 12, 2014

In today’s hyper-competitive, fast-paced world, it’s almost impossible to slow down. It seems that every day is mired in multitasking, double booking, and working overtime—all just to maintain the status quo. The demands on our time are endless. While all this is going on our brains get clogged with mega doses of information that perpetuates that incessant, internal monkey chatter. What time is my client meeting? Is my hairline receding? Who do I start at tight end in my fantasy football league? Why are there so many housewives shows on television? Should I buy the new iPhone or wait? It goes on and on. Our mental circuits are overloaded. We’re all on a runaway train careening along the rails towards a meltdown. What can we do? Sometimes the best course of action is to simply go inside and chill. And Guy’s Guys like to keep their cool. With this in mind I humbly offer you my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Meditation. I’ll share what I know about this new age, old school art and how I do it. There are myriad of ways to mediate, so I’m sure you can find one that suits you best.

Why Meditate?

It’s ironic that one of the healthiest activities for the body and mind requires that we do nothing. The benefits of meditation are numerous, led by a double dollop of good news. It helps prevent stress from entering the system, while at the same time releasing stress that has accumulated internally. Physical benefits of meditation include lowering high blood pressure, improving the immune system, reducing a propensity for anxiety attacks, decreasing tension-related pain, increasing serotonin and increasing energy levels. If that doesn’t convince you to give meditation a whirl, consider the mental benefits: decreased anxiety, increased creativity, happiness, intuition, and peace of mind, and an expansion of your consciousness.

How to Meditate

Meditating is easy and you can do it just a few minutes a day and get great results. And there is a cumulative effect. The more you meditate, the more benefits you reap from the process. You plant a seed and a flower grows. It’s up to you to plant those seeds.

I have a background and accreditations in Reiki and clinical hypnotherapy and I’ve been meditating for years. I can go deep almost anywhere whether it is during a long run or even tucked inside a MRI tube.

Over time, everyone develops his or her own technique. What I usually do is find a place where I can be left undisturbed for approximately twenty minutes. I sit quietly, close my eyes, and slowly inhale through my nostrils while exhaling through my mouth. Slow and steady, slow and steady. Then I count myself down from three, saying to myself with each breath, “Three, calm and relaxed, two, calm and relaxed, one, calm and relaxed.” While doing this I imagine a stream of white light pouring into my crown chakra and down throughout my ethereal and physical body. As I maintain my slow, steady breathing I begin focusing on releasing tension throughout my body and mind. The monkey chatter quiets down after a minute or so. If a random thought surfaces during the process like “where could I have left that dry cleaning ticket?” I treat it like a fluffy cloud that shows up in the sky on a sunny day. I recognize it and then let it slowly drift off. I’ve found that it helps if you can meditate outdoors in a pristine, natural setting, but that is not always possible.

If there’s an issue I need to resolve, I ask my subconscious or higher self for guidance. Other times I spend the time visualizing. I focus my intention on something I want, what it looks like upon completion and how I will feel when I have it. It may be for perfect health or writing a best seller or being of service or providing for my family. In fact in can be anything as long it is for the collective higher good. Although there is nothing wrong with abundance, I personally don’t intend hot cars or money for the sole reason of material gain.

Other times I intend that the divine white light pour into my consciousness and flush out any dis-ease or toxins in my system. I allow, I receive, I release.

Whatever direction I take my mediation… or not, the process goes on for twenty minutes or so. When I feel that I reached completion, I slowly bring myself back to the surface employing the same breathing technique. This time I tell myself “Three, I am awake and alert, two, I am awake and alert, one, I am awake and alert”. Then I open my eyes. And that’s it.

There are many forms and schools of thought when it comes to mediation, but the end results are the same. Better mental health, better physical health. Choose the type of meditation that fits you best, but do give it a try. 

Are you ready to go deep?

 

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are the southern Indian tribes credited with conducting meditational practices fifteen thousand years ago. Talk about old school… 


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