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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

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… 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to MRI

Robert Manni - Friday, September 05, 2014


Sometimes the human body is like an automobile. You take your car to the dealership for an oil change and before you know it, they’re telling you about potential issues in your transmission.

It’s the same with doctors. As a Guy’s Guy I do my very best to stay in shape and treat my body well. I give it good fuel and take it out for a long run a few times a week to blow off built up stress. But, I’ve also put some tough mileage on my tires. As a result over the past few months I had a bout with a small kidney stone. Thankfully, it has passed. I will be sure to do whatever I need to avoid experiencing that off-the charts discomfort again. During the process of sorting out my issue, I was asked to undergo a series of tests. This included a cat scan, an ultrasound and the dreaded MRI. Frankly, I have been so healthy that I invested very little psychic energy in these technologies. But that changed when I was asked to experience this gauntlet of standard tests.

A cat scan is painless. You are forced to drink a liter of creamy barium prior to the process on an empty stomach. Then you lay down and they take photos of your insides.  An ultrasound is easy peezy, too. It’s the same procedure given a pregnant woman. They rub some gel on you and work a stick across the area they want to look at.

An MRI is different and frankly until the day before my test I had no idea how it worked. I consider myself lucky to be so healthy and the experience gave me a lesson in empathy. As a result, I’d like to offer up my two cents on how to deal with this intrusive test. Here is my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to an MRI. Is this relevant to a blog about life, love and the pursuit of happiness? I think so. Let’s file it under “Life”. This is my take on my experience. If you need more official information, do online research and talk to your physician. Okay, that was a disclaimer.

What is MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. So, it uses magnets and radio waves to get a very clear and crisp look inside your body. I read about professional athletes getting MRI’s on their arms or ankles, but that usually consists of slipping the area of interest into a magnetic sleeve for images. When dealing with your core, the process takes on a different flavor.

 

What Is the Process?

You lay on your back on a motorized sliding “bed” and are covered with a “blanket” of magnets. They may or may not strap you in to keep you still.  The machine has a long tube. Mine was about five feet long, although MRI machines vary in size and the size of the opening. But the one I was looking at was a tube.

You are slid inside of it head first or feet first depending on the location of the images needed. I went feet first and was thankfully not strapped down. I could move my arms approximately nine inches to the sides. The tricky part was the tube came fairly close to my face, and I was staring directly at it.

Collecting and processing the images is noisy. You hear lots of loud beeps, bongs and clanking. To diminish the noise, they provide earplugs, headphones and a choice of music. The technicians talk to you during the process, mostly asking you to hold your breath at various times. I assume this is so you keep still. I had to strain to hear them because of the earplugs. Frankly the headphone’s sound quality was not very good and I was not in the mood to listen to the Stones during the procedure.

 

How Long Does it Take?

Tests usually take anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. The average is forty-five minutes. If you end up having a procedure following the test and need to return, the process is usually shorter. During my one-hour session, I spent forty minutes pushed all the way in. Then they slid me back out towards the edge of the tube for the second round of “photos” which took about twenty minutes.

 

How Do You Prepare?

Physically, you don’t need to do anything to prepare. You can eat that morning. All you do is change into a hospital gown with the ties facing front and remove your jewelry. Of course, due to all the ligations in the medical business these days, you need to fill out a pile of forms and repeatedly answer a series of the same questions. The one question you are constantly asked is for your name and date of birth. I assume that is so they don’t mistake you for someone else before removing your spleen or whatever. Basically, all you need to do physically is show up.

Psychologically, it’s another story. I did my online due diligence the night before and what I read and saw unnerved me. About fifteen years ago, after working late I found myself trapped in an elevator alone for an hour. Up until that day I had never had an issue with enclosed spaces. But getting stuck in an elevator with limited communication with the outside world can shift your perspective. After that incident I did not enjoy flying or riding the subway for about a year until I used my hypnosis training to get help reprogramming my mental perspective. Even so, being slid into a tube for an hour listening to loud clangs, beeps and bongs was not a desired leisure time activity. I read many articles about how to handle the enclosed space issue. Some suggested closing your eyes, others said, “no way”. The best advice came from my good friend, Rick. He suggested that I simply “go somewhere else”. He was right.

 

The Process

They give you the earplugs, headphones and music and then they slid you into the tube. Boom. The techs also hand you a rubber thingy filled with air that you squeeze if you are feeling uncomfortable. That prompts the tech to slide you out. Apparently no one likes the process.

Although I did inadvertently open my eyes a few times, I kept them closed throughout most of the process and I am glad I did. I did not know how close the proximity of the tube was, although there is some space and nothing to fear, psychologically, you could feel like you are in close quarters. Once we got started, the clanging and banging and noises seemed to go on and on. I lost track of time. I tested out a few meditations, but due to the noise, they felt garbled. I shifted my thoughts into St. Germaine’s Violet Flame chant, “I am a being of violet fire. I am the purity of God’s desire”. As I mentally repeated this waves of violet light washed over me. It was very comforting and I’m grateful this came to me at the perfect time.

After what seemed like an eternity of loud beeps there was a prolonged silence at what I figured afterwards was the forty-minute mark. I waited patiently for a few minutes and then asked the tech what was going on. No answer. I waited some more and asked again. No answer. By now I’m thinking – are they on break?  Finally I squeezed the rubber air hose. One of the techs came on the speaker and told me to hold on because they were waiting for some shots to develop. What could I do? So after another few minutes they slide me out and asked if I was okay. I said, “yeah” and the tech told me they were more than halfway. I nodded and he slid me back inside. Thankfully, for the last series of images my head was close to the outer edge of the tube. I was more “relaxed”.

And then it was over. After, exhaled and wondered how long it will be until the technology evolves into something less intrusive.

 

I’ve got a few things to tend to, but I’m fine. In the meantime, I have been reminded how precious life is and how easy it is to take our health for granted. Just like a top shelf automobile, every so often the human body requires a look under the hood and a tune up.

 

Are you familiar with MRI?

 

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Raymond Vahan Damadian, an Armenian-American who invented this breakthrough technology in 1969. 

The Guys' Guy's 2014 Fantasy Football Overview

Robert Manni - Friday, August 29, 2014


It’s that special time of year again for sports fans and Guy’s Guys.

Major League Baseball is entering its annual pennant chase, tennis’s US Open has taken center stage in New York, and another NFL season is about to kick off. From what was once limited to a few football crazies to a mainstay in every office and group of friends across America, fantasy football has taken our sports-centric culture by storm.

I’m not a licensed fantasy football expert, but I’ve played and succeeded in a league for close to twenty years now. Whether you are a Guy’s Guy or Girl’s Guy, here are a few nuggets to get you off to a good start this season.

What League is best for you?

Although there are many league options including auctions, PPR (points per reception), and ten to fourteen team leagues, far and away the most popular leagues are made up of twelve teams. Most have no or limited keepers and feature a snake draft where team one selects first in the round one, then last in the second round, and so on. Each week your team is pitted against another, and for the next thirteen weeks you play head to head until the playoffs. Each team plays two running backs (RB), one quarterback (QB), two wide receivers (WR), one flex player (RB, WR or TE), one tight end (TE), one team defense (D), and one kicker (K).

Strategy.

Although the rules of the NFL have evolved over the past decade to favor passing and scoring, running backs are still a key consideration for your early picks. Many pro teams have shifted to committee backfields that deploy multiple running backs. This makes drafting at least one “bell weather” RB early on a team that prefers running the ball critical. Many experts consider drafting a top quarterback or wide receiver as viable early first round options. I suggest you consider position scarcity and select a running back and possibly even a second one in rounds two and/or three. The WR pool is deep and unless you can grab one of the top four QB’s you are better off grabbing a top RB. I assure you, the starting RB’s will be taken a lot earlier than you’d expect.

I like to grab a few WR’s and then zone in on my QB and TE. The way I look at it is although you draft a base team of sixteen players, along with a few injury slots, you can only play one set of players in the aforementioned positions each week. So even though there are “bye” weeks for each team, you’re still going to play your go-to/top players almost every week. That means you need to focus on filling out your starting team before stacking your bench. Well, at least that’s how I see it. And, every draft takes on a life of its own, so invariably a top player or two falls through the cracks and becomes available later than you expected. If this is the case, grab him. After all it’s only fantasy football.

Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are studs worth taking early. If you wait there are a number of viable options including Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. Some reaches to consider are Phil Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer. I’d avoid this year’s rookies. I really don’t have a QB philosophy beyond considering their past accomplishments, team’s offensive philosophy, and their injury history.

Running Backs: There are a handful of studs worth choosing if you have the opportunity to take them in the first round. These include Lesean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and Jamaal Charles. I also like up and comers including LeVeon Bell, Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy, and Andre Ellington to step up as future keepers. If possible, I’d steer clear away from injury-prone Adrian Foster, CJ Spiller, and RB’s I consider less than top shelf including Freddie Morris, Gio Bernard, and Ben Tate. Again, consider stocking up on RB’s early because they go fast and you don’t want to be left without at least one top runner.

Wide Receivers: There are a lot to choose from, so have fun with these picks. Beyond the top five of superstars— Demarius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, AJ Green, Brandon Marshall, there are numerous options. Alshon Jeffries, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown, and Vincent Jackson should all be on your target list. It seems like every year more than a handful of overlooked WR’s turn into fantasy stars due to a combination of talent and injuries. When looking at “sleepers” consider up and comers C. Patterson, K. Wright, TY Hilton, and even E. Decker. Towards the latter stages of the draft, I like to load up on WR’s, again because the pool is deep and there are many that become stars that are worth keeping for future seasons, if your league offers that option.

Tight Ends: This is a feast or famine position. Unless you can grab J. Graham, J. Thomas, or V. Davis, you are better off waiting. Each NFL team has a different philosophy on deploying this position so you need to do your research to be successful. This is also a position where first year players have a hard time breaking through and getting balls thrown their way.

Defense: Unless you can grab Seattle or San Francisco early, it might be better to wait. I’ve checked a variety of syndicated resources and the other picks are all over the place. I like Denver and New Orleans because both teams have shored up their defenses and have explosive offenses that will keep limit the amount of time their defenses need to spend on the field.

Kickers: Unless you can get New England’s Gostkowski, wait until the very end of the draft. NFL kickers are talented and the majority is serviceable from a fantasy perspective. Try and select a K who plays for a high scoring tem, preferably that plays indoors.

That should get you thinking and hopefully off to a good start. Everyone has his or her preferred strategy and players they like. That’s part of the fun. Keep it light and by do your best. One more tip— try to not get upset over league rules, etc. You may not like every rule, but try to remember that crafting a league charter is not easy.

Are you ready for some fantasy football? 

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week is Bill Winkenbach, a part owner of the Oakland Raiders. In 1963, he sketched out in a hotel room what has become the template for what is now fantasy football, our cultural phenomenon.  

NYC vs. SoCal - Part 2 (The Subtle Differences)

Robert Manni - Monday, August 25, 2014

This isn’t your usual comparison between LA and NYC. We’re not talking movie stars and masters of the universe or beach bunnies and fashionistas or the Yankees and Dodgers. Those comparisons been covered quite well by numerous insightful writers and bloggers. This post targets those under the radar differences in how people live on both coasts. For context, my in-laws are in Temecula, ninety minutes southeast of LA and I visit them every summer. So through my Jersey-bred Guy’s Guy lens, I’ve spent the last week studying the day-to-day nuances of the people and the area. Here are my findings on the nuances between the two coasts. 

Oil and Water

In most cases, these two liquids don’t mix. But in SoCal they’re fundamental resources that drive the economy and lives of the vast population of this sprawling state. The highways are jammed with gas guzzling vehicles at all hours across the myriad highways woven through the mountains, plains, cities and beachfronts. For the most part, the vast terrain is stained brown and parched except where developments have been built and landscaped. All the foliage needs constant hydration to counteract the impact of an ever-blazing sun. Without oil for transportation and water for hydration, this state is cooked. Back East, we don’t see the importance of these resources in the same way. We have the option of mass transportation. And, the ravages from flooding far outweigh the infrequent dry spells. In SoCal, drought is the norm. There have been rumblings about privatizing the water supply since. If the water supple continues to dwindle, watch these closely.

Old vs. New 

In SoCal, you constantly see land being cleared and vast, new developments being built. In New York, it’s all about gentrification and the re-re invention of neighborhoods throughout the boroughs. What was once a ghetto is now a million-dollar listing. In New York, old becomes new. In SoCal, everything is new except those off the beaten path, barren and forgotten small towns in the valleys that look like they were built in the seventies.

The Ubiquitous Taco

In Manhattan, if an establishment serves decent tacos, it gets a write up in the coolest city-centric blogs and publications, lauding its creativity and authenticity. In SoCal, there is a Mom and Pop taco shop or chain store situated on every other street corner. And most of them still beat the pants off any Mexican food you can find in the Big Apple.  The inverse is true for pizza and bagels. They’re great in NYC and for the most part still fall short in SoCal. Go figure.

Health Foods

Advantage SoCal. Chains like Sprouts and Roots are light years ahead of Whole Foods and the small health food stores permeating the city. The produce is fresher, bigger, tastier and far less expensive. I bought a gluten-free tuna wrap the other day for three dollars. I did a double take on my way to the register, thinking the sandwich dude had messed up. But, no, the cost was one-third of what I pay in NYC or Jersey. In fact, all the food in SoCal is way cheaper than in New York. But with the exception of mahi-mahi, the seafood in SoCal is in no way comparable in quality or taste to what we get on the East Coast. Go figure.

Stores and Service

Let’s face it. Everyone in New York who works in retail hates their job and most of them let you know it. Who hasn’t dealt with the grumbling, grunting retail employee whose idea of friendliness is a curt “no problem” when you ask for a bag to carry your groceries? In SoCal the vibe is looser, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Yesterday the check out guy at Ralph’s in Temecula looked at my San Diego Padres baseball cap and exclaimed, “Cool hat!” I wondered if he was talking to me. After all, the Padres are the local team. Does anyone say this when you wear your Yankees cap in New York? The other night I ran into Albertsons to buy ice. The check out guy looked at my paper coffee cup and said, “Ah, having a late night cup of Joe?” People just don’t say things like that to you in New York. As innocuous as this comment is, it would feel intrusive.

Another example of the differences—my wife and stopped by a local Coffee Grind at 9:15pm for a decaf lattes. The Place closes at 9:30. We’d had not been there in a year. However, the owner told us we looked familiar. Then he gave us one half dozen doughnuts that he was planning on tossing. And they were really good. A bonus example: I called Sports Authority to find out the stores hours. The place was closed. Yet, someone answered the phone. “Sports Authority. Hi, this is Eric.” Never happen in a New York minute. I chalk all of this up to the fact that unlike in the hectic grind of New York City, people in SoCal have more time to be friendly. Another cool thing. The supermarkets sell wine and booze and most have banks under the same roof. And for some crazy reason, despite the non-stop, scorching sun and baking heat, the tanning salons do quiet well out here. Go figure.

Parking

In New York, pedestrians usually seek out the sunny side of the street. In SoCal, drivers keep their eyes peeled to find a spot in the shade. What the heck do you call those silver and black mats drivers prop up against their windshield to block out the sun? Go figure.

Proximity

In SoCal you can hop in the car and be in the mountains, the beach, golf or gambling within an hour. Technically you can also do this in New York, but the Catskills are not six thousand feet high, as far as I know.  And my beloved Jersey Shore is not Malibu. And the number of accessible and affordable golf courses in SoCal dwarfs New York. And all the Indian Reservations in SoCal are less seedy than Atlantic City or the dumps in Queens.

Sounds like your Guy’s Guy is contemplating a move west. Maybe. But despite all of its crabbiness and dirt, there really is no place like New York. There is a passion that permeates the air, the energy and everyone you meet in the five boroughs. Hell, even the guy flipping pizza on Carmine Street dough has attitude, gravitas and a few stories to tell. I’m an East Coast guy through and through, but I do love the So Cal lifestyle and with each trip out west I find more to enjoy about it, despite things that seem weird to a New Yorker. Go figure.

Is your vibe East Coast or West Coast?

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the people who love New York and SoCal and find the joy wherever they’re at.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Hypnosis: Part 1

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 14, 2014


Guy’s Guys enjoy learning new things and adding to their game. Hypnosis is actually a very old, and to many, a very odd thing, but it will help you with your game. 

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy has been one of the most wonderful gifts of my life. In fact, when I tell people I’m a certified advanced clinical master hypnotist, they often look at me apprehensively, as if I might put them under a spell. This outmoded thinking couldn't be further from the truth. Hypnosis is a positive, spiritual practice with a foundation grounded in love, not exploitation.

And with this in mind, dear friends, I humbly offer my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Hypnosis: Part 1. In this post we’ll explore hypnosis fundamentals, while clearing up the usual misunderstandings people have about the practice. A few weeks from now Part 2 will drill down into hypnosis techniques that help people help themselves. And, that’s what hypnosis is all abouthelping men and women be at their best. Sounds like it fits right into a Guys' Guy's world, doesn’t it?

What is Hypnosis?

According to Wikipedia and the 2004 version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, hypnosis is a psychological state with physiological attributes superficially resembling sleep and marked by an individual's level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state. I’m already falling asleep already. For all intents and purposes, hypnosis is a holistic art that access the subconscious mind to address and reprogram specific mental and emotional issues. Think of it as fixing or patching your personal, subconscious software. It’s that simple. We operate using both our conscious and subconscious minds. The conscious mind deals with our daily taskslike picking up the dry cleaning, tuning out those annoying subway dancers, and digesting the most up-to-date stats from ESPN's Sportscenter.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

Although we are born “perfect”, our subconscious inscribes everything we do and experience, including our human functions. For instance, we don’t think about breathing. We just breathe. That’s our subconscious mind at work. Same with sleeping or farting—they’re wired into our subconscious. The subconscious is also vulnerable to suggestion and because of this, it’s also way more powerful than our conscious mind. Basically, we tell or suggest to our subconscious what to do and how to feel. It always behaves as directed and that can be dangerous.

In hypnotherapy, invariably, the client brings the hypnotist both the problem and the solution. The hypnotist doesn’t “do” anything to the client except relax him and get to the bottom of the issues. A good hypnotist helps a client access the information so the client can help him or herself.

Give Me An Example.

Here’s how life can get sticky and how hypnosis can help. Let’s say a client, John, has an unfounded fear of the water. A good hypnotist would help John relax by guiding him into a deep meditation. Then he and John will access John’s subconscious mind and communicate with it to clearly identify the trigger for the issue and then suggest a thought process and affirmations that reframe the issue in a positive way. In this case, the hypnotist would regress John through various stages of his life. Together they would uncover the trigger for his fear of water. 

Maybe when little Johnny was two years old he drifted too deep in the pool and panicked. He called for his Mommy, but she had a few too many cocktails and was flirting with Carlos, the hunky cabana boy, instead of paying attention to her son. Eventually, little Johnny was pulled to safety, but the experience left him with a subconscious fear of the water. In this case the hypnotist helped John identify this trigger, isolate it and reframe it so John can file it away and move on with his life. This particular technique works for just about anything that has a trigger, provided that the client relaxes and does the work. If John won’t relax and is not buying into the process, he will not lose his fear of water, With the help of his hypnotist he can revisit and address the trigger, and give his subconscious new instructions about water that eliminate his fears.

Misconceptions

Let’s get a few things straight. You can’t be hypnotized unless you want to be hypnotized. And, no, you won’t cluck like a chicken, unless you want to cluck like a chicken. The stage hypnotists you see on television represent an offshoot of the practice. They are entertainers and at times frowned upon by the hypnosis community. When stage hypnotists work with people, the process begins with their pouring through a large number of audience members and winnowing down the group until they find people who are exhibitionists or like being manipulated on stage. It’s who they are, so they are not doing anything out of character. With this in mind, a hypnotist cannot force anyone to exhibit behaviors outside of their nature and moral boundaries. So you don’t have to worry about a hypnotist turning you into a psycho killer… unless that is your true nature and desire.

What Can Hypnosis “Cure”?

As previously stated, hypnosis doesn’t really cure anything. It does however work with your subconscious mind so you can “cure” yourself of a variety of behaviors and ways of thinking. The “big three’ issues that hypnotists work with are clients 1. becoming non-smokers 2. sleeping better 3. managing their weight. Notice these were all framed in positive terms. That said, the overriding client issue I’ve personally encountered is low self-esteem. The good news is that hypnosis can help a person reconfigure their feelings about self worth.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I again stress that the goal of all hypnotherapy is helping people live better lives. There is a huge spiritual component to the work that comes from a place of love for mankind. Hypnotists don’t prescribe drugs and are careful not to overstep their boundaries.

A good hypnotist helps clients identify and address their issue while also teaching them self-hypnosis so they can work on themselves on their own. And, isn’t it about time we all took some responsibility for our personal well being and did the work required to make a difference?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Dr. Joseph Murphy, author of the book, “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind”. This book is a simple, straightforward introduction to hypnosis and a practical guide for self-hypnosis.

Do you think you understand hypnosis?


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