On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness
More shocking than the host of Celebrity Apprentice becoming our 45th President-elect has been the hate and vitriol spewed between so many friends who supported different candidates this recent election.
As you know things have gotten personal and real nasty. The levels of hate and toxicity have been surprising and it’s saddening that things have come to this in our great (yeah, it’s still great) country.
Who out there hasn’t been taken aback by the sheer anger and bile projected by our friends, countrymen, and fellow patriots at one other? Those who voted for Trump ask others to give him a chance before jumping down his throat. The HRC supporters respond and say how can we, when it was it was Trump who started and then fanned the fires with his inflammatory comments throughout the campaign? His early picks for key positions that include members of his immediate family and Republican insiders—how is this draining the swamp?
Many people are afraid of the early signs of backlash from the Trump victory by his fervent supporters, including racial slurs and swastikas slapped onto public buildings. Others point to Clinton’s cronyism and the screwing over of Bernie Sanders as proof that she really was Crooked Hillary. A match between Bernie and Trump may have been more interesting and might have yielded different results, but that’s not what we got. Instead we had six months of WWE style putdowns, slanders, and nastiness that either embarrassed, enraged, or galvanized supporters for these two flawed candidates.
How did this happen? For months, and even after the Wikileaks emails surfaced, it looked like Hillary had the election in the bag. But the pundits were wrong. They were so, so wrong. The polls and the TV talking heads either misread or weren’t paying attention to the pent up anger that spread not only through Middle America, but also resonated with a surprising number of women, blacks, and Latinos, all voting for Trump. It’s amazing, but true. So let’s agree that people were fed up, and now here we are. A country more divided after the election.
Social media, and Facebook in particular, have become war zones. Friends, friends of friends, and trolls continue the diatribe of incendiary and often highly personal remarks about their fellow Americans. Disgusting democrats, racist Republicans, Nazis, and rapists are just a sample of the descriptions I’ve witnessed today on my FB feed. And I, too, was sucked into the fray early on and may have tossed a few verbal bombs as well, especially towards friends who seemed out of touch. The bottom line is that many voters are going to be in for a major surprise, especially for those in the lower income levels who need positive change and a bit of luck. It’s still early, but unlike Brexit, I have not seen any buyers’ remorse by Trump supporters. In fact, most of them are either gloating or doubling down on the “whiny loser” rhetoric. Clinton supporters have refused to take a “wait and see” approach, but this only leads to more frustration as we are going to experience change whether we like it or not. To be fair, Trump won, and his supporters were really, really pissed off and many didn’t expect to win. But after the celebratory mood quiets down, I suggest they fasten their seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Many who hate the costs of Obamacare will find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to healthcare and rising costs from private sources, which was why we got Obamacare in the first place. The bottom line is that it’s going to get ugly and to survive as a nation we collectively need to stay peaceful, focused and educate ourselves about the positions and policies that we’re about to face.
So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? I suggest first taking stock and then taking action as warranted. To the protestors, you have the right to assemble and make our voices heard. Trump urged revolts when Obama won in 2012, so we have to be fair about that. Are some of these bused-in, paid supporters? Maybe. If so, it’s not a good thing, but do we get truth from the media anymore? Let’s face it—the mainstream media outlets are partisan. And most of the crap reported on the internet is mostly just that, crap. But, lots of people believe what they want to believe and that is not going to change. So here’s what I suggest:
1. Don’t attack what you hate. Promote what you love. Whether that means protesting, marching or joining a group that seeks to advocate transparency or make positive change, make sure that it is built on love, not just fear.
2. Block nasty strangers and snarky trolls on social media. People get whisky muscles on social media and, as you may have noticed, there are a lot of jerks on the internet. So unless you feel like wasting your time arguing with people who love to drag a spirited discussion into the gutter, the most effective way to deal with their bullshit is to simply block them. End of story.
3. If you have to, UNFRIEND people who are toxic. If they really are your friends in the offline world, they most likely won’t fall into this category. But, if offline friends become impossible and copy you on endless threads of hateful emails, rethink that friendship. Whatever you do, don’t respond to those emails, especially if you’re being baited and if members of their CC list expose strong and divergent opinions from yours. Ask yourself if that person is really your friend and the kind of dude you want in your life now.
I’m not pointing a finger solely at Trump supporters. They have a right to celebrate and even gloat a bit. But, I would ask them to at some point soon, get past the euphoria and actually go deeper into what their candidate has discussed, including the wall, tariffs, repealing Obamacare, handling ISIS in a secretive fashion, etc. Our new President-elect was voted in on the winds of change. Change can be a good thing, but not when it’s simply for the sake of change. There needs to be substantive reasons and concrete plans we can embrace. At this point, we all need to watch our new administration closely and hold their toes to the fire when they consider any actions that could curtail any of our hard-fought freedoms.
So let’s all take a deep breath, stay vigilant, and choose love over fear. It’s the only way to go.
This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Yeah, remember that guy? He promoted equality, space exploration, physical fitness, and justice for all. And no one called him crooked or the second coming of Hitler. But sadly, we all know what happened. God bless America.
Have you ever thought about how many dates is the right number before having sex with a new partner? Your Guy’s Guy says, “You can have sex on the first date or the tenth. What counts is when it feels right.” It’s the same with getting married.
Some daters are serial monogamists. They prefer the comfort of spending time with one partner and seeing what happens as the relationship unfolds. These folks often get married at a young age. The divorce rate is over fifty percent, and I’ll bet a majority of them occur when people get married too early.
Others, like myself, prefer playing the field until they figure things out. And by that I mean taking the time to understand themselves and what works for them. For people like me, that can be a long process that includes lots of dates and romances. And for this Guy’s Guy, it meant taking a very long time before getting married. In fact, I was single so long that over time at holiday get-togethers, no one in my family even bothered asking me when I was getting married. It was a foregone conclusion that I would remain a bachelor. But they were wrong.
I’ve been married now for almost seven years and time has gone by quickly. During these years of what I still call my marriage bliss, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the meaning of marriage, and when it’s best to tie the knot. I’ll tackle that first. My advice is for you to get married when it feels right. If it doesn’t feel one hundred percent right in your head, your heart, and your soul, don’t do it. Also, love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to share some considerations, along with the pros and cons, and insights I’ve gleaned. So, without further ado, here is my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Marrying Later in Life.
Drum roll, please.
You can be a better partner – Man, I really messed up a lot of relationships with some great women before I got married. Most of the damage was self-inflicted. While my partners quietly fumed about my insensitive behavior and my selfishness, I strutted about thinking nothing was wrong until it was too late. This happened more than once. Fortunately, although I can be a slow learner, I finally realized what I had doing wrong in my relationships for so many years. How did I find out? After my third date with the women who is now my wife, I asked her what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend. I told her that I had a number of failed relationships and although I was a decent guy, my behavior must have been lacking in some ways. She said, “Pay attention”. I nodded and asked her if there was anything else. She quietly said, “No”. That’s when the light bulb lit up above my head. My mind shifted into a rapid review of all of my past relationships, and sure enough she was right. In many ways, I had not been paying enough attention to my partner or the nuances of the relationships. And I thought that if they had a problem, they would say so. But, a lot of women expect the guy to know how she is feeling. That’s because they always seem to know how we are feeling. It’s because women pay attention. But at least I now knew what the problem was. So, I was on my way to relationship success. We got engaged after dating for one year and were married a year later almost to the day.
I attribute having this life-changing epiphany partly because I waited until I knew who I was and how to be a better partner before getting married. So chalk one up for waiting until you’re really ready before getting married. It worked for me. Of course simply knowing is not the same as putting “paying attention” into practice. And I often catch myself slipping in this area. But, I’ve been married for over six years so I must have stepped up a bit.
You know yourself better and are more established – A lot of couples in their early twenties get married and by the time they hit thirty, they are different people who are going in different directions. Some call this their starter marriage. I call that bullshit. Marriage is marriage. You can define the terms however you want, but it’s not disposable for a Guy’s Guy. And that’s another reason why I waited. I wanted to have a solid grip on every aspect of myself, and my career before getting married, and I expected the same from my life partner. I suspect marriage is a lot easier when both participants have their feet on the ground and their dreams and goals clearly defined. It takes time for many people to get to this place. Money can certainly be a factor, but finding your footing in life is more than that. And it’s much easier to share your life with someone when you are comfortable in your own skin and know how to survive and thrive on your own. Your spouse is your partner, not your savior. Chalk up another point for waiting until you know who you are before getting married.
Having kids changes everything – I have aging parents and a young son. That can be tricky and draining also. I love my son so much, and I think I’m a better parent now than I would have been a thirty. I know who I am and I have the patience required to succeed with a toddler. But, psychologically, being an older parent can be challenging. I push myself constantly to live a healthy lifestyle and stay in top condition physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to share as much time as possible with my son and to do so I’ve had to make sacrifices. But that’s fine.
When I was single, I played golf every weekend. Now, I’m at the playground with the kid. It’s a small price to pay, even though I do love golfing.
Though, at times I get sad when I think about our age difference. In fact, my wife and I are considering having yet another child so our son has a sibling he can know and love as he gets older, and we get well, even older. It’s a toss up, but I have to confess, it’s probably better having kids earlier, so chalk one up for not waiting too long to get married.
There are lots more considerations, but I think I hit on the three macro issues when considering how long to wait until getting married. And again, no matter what, if you take the time to know and get comfortable with yourself, you’ll increase your chances of having a successful marriage. I’ll say it one more time. If it does not feel right, don’t do it. No matter how lonely you may be or how wonderful your current partner is, if in your heart of hearts you do not believe they are, “The One”, then wait.This Week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are my parents, Serge and Carole Manni. Unlike me, they got married very young and have been successfully married for the past sixty-six years. Go figure.
Do you wake up feeling tired, uninspired, and sometimes even dreading the new day? Do you wake up in a cranky mood and locked into the all-too-familiar, “I gotta have my coffee first” syndrome” before you can deal with other people or face the responsibilities of the day? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. If you look around the subway at the sea of solemn faces, doesn’t it seem like a lot of people are feeling kind of blue in the morning. In fact, the CDC reports that up to 9% of Americans suffer from symptoms of depression.
Guy’s Guys are constantly seeking new ways to improve their lives and make this a better world. We create change from within then express it through our actions. With this in mind, I’d like to share a few ideas that help me climb out of bed every day and head out the door feeling great. It starts with rituals and routines. I realize the terms “routine” and “ritual” come with boring connotations, but the results of sticking to an early morning regime can deliver results that are far from boring. Over the years I’ve experimented with a number of techniques and pared them down to a manageable number. I hope they serve to spark your own ideas that help you to get up and get rolling. I’m not suggesting that one size fits all or that everything is right for you. We’re all different. But, for me at least, starting the day with a routine puts me in position to hit the ground running and win the day. So, in order, here is my list of rituals, routines, and regimes that have get me off to a good start each day and enhance the quality of my life.
Drum roll, please…
1. Alignment, Affirmations, and Meditations – I begin as soon as I wake up. Even before opening my eyes I get in touch with our Divine Source by focusing on aligning myself to Truth. I simply say, “I AM aligning myself to Truth.” This affirmation helps me eliminate anything in my purview that is not in my highest good. It sounds a bit metaphysical, but it’s very powerful. And, if I do nothing else spiritually the entire day, at least I have made a proclamation to be in frequency with Truth.
I then spend about ten minutes, either in bed or around my apartment, reciting a list of affirmations that have meaning to me. This includes blessings for all of the people and situations in my life— the good and the bad. And I do it every day. By the time I’m finished, I am already feeling good about life and the new day.
2. Swishing With Coconut Oil - Organic coconut oil is anti-viral that can do wonderful things for the human body. Swishing the raw oil around the mouth for twenty minutes kills many oral bacteria and helps ease inflammation within other parts of the body. According to my dental hygienist, my gums and overall oral health have never been better in the decade since I started swishing. And, since I started swishing, a sensitive growth on the bottom of my foot has not only been significantly reduced in size, but it’s also not sensitive anymore. After swishing, I spit the now viscous oil into the garbage (not the sink). Then I rinse mouth with salt water to get rid of the residual bacteria.
More info on Coconut Oil:
3. Bentonite Clay or Apple Cider Vinegar – Following all that swishing, rinsing, and spitting it’s time for something to drink. I begin my consumption of liquids on an empty stomach with a glass of filtered water mixed with either a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or a teaspoon of either bentonite or pascalite clay. The merits of both include removing toxins, cleaning the intestinal walls, and balancing the body’s alkaline.
I brush my teeth after this and wait about fifteen minutes before consuming anything else. I’ll usually do some push-ups followed by a shower before having a quick, but fulfilling breakfast.
More info on Apple Cider Vinegar benefits:
More info on Bentonite Clay:
4. Exercise – As mentioned, on most mornings before I hit the shower, I’ll drop down and pump out 65 push-ups. Then I hold the plank position for a count of two hundred before grinding out another five push-ups. After a quick stretch, it’s off to the shower. The affirmations, swishing, drinking and the push-ups have only taken 30 minutes.
5. Shake – By now I’m pretty hungry so I throw my favorite ingredients into a blender and power up a shake. I mix almond/coconut milk, a half banana, Green Vibrance powder (a plant-based super food), gojiberries, banana, organic strawberries or raspberries, maca powder, raw cocoa, organic wheat germ, a few ice cubes, and a little coconut water. I also take the following raw vitamins and organic supplements with my shake: turmeric, vitamin D, Raw One vitamins for men supplement (multi-vitamin), vitamin C, flax oil, and probiotics (saccharomyces boulardi and MOS), arginine and pine bark.
It sounds like this is a lot to do first thing in the morning, but it takes less than an hour and it works for me. If beginning your day with morning rituals feel like something of interest to you, I urge you to give it a try. Experiment with different things that feel right for you. In any case, I’m sure you’ll find your way. Good luck. Me? I am getting better and better.
This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Emil Couie, the French psychiatrist and pharmacist who introduced the phrase, “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
When the leaves start turning red, gold, and brown most folks pull out the sweaters from the back of their closet and slide back into their tried, true, and predictable pattern of fall activities.
Now, there is nothing wrong with football games, pumpkin pie, picking apples, or taking a long drive to bask in the peak colors of the autumn foliage. Folks who live in the Northeast love having four seasons and they know how to make the most of the myriad activities that take place at this wonderful time of year. Some call it cuffing season, when the swimsuits get packed away and it’s time to snuggle with your partner for the wintery months.
So, are we in too much of a routine now, folks? That’s where your Guy’s Guy comes into the picture. As somewhat of a contrarian when it comes to following set rules, I’ve cobbled together a handful of ideas for you to consider as we head deeper into autumn. So in no particular order here is my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Unconventional Things to Do This Fall.
Drum roll, please…
1. Hit the Beach – Yes, you read that correctly. After Labor Day, most people snap into that back-to-school mode way too quickly. The Hamptons crowds return to Tribeca and the “Bennies” finally pack up and leave the Jersey Shore towns to the locals. But, guess what? With climate change scientifically proven and the warmer temperatures going deeper into the year, September now feels like summer. If you hit the beach in September and October, the traffic is minimal, the water is still warm, and there are no crowds. And, the beach is peaceful and calm. Just the way we like it when we want to get away for a few days. And, September and early October have a number of holidays that can make for a number of three-day weekends. As I write this, we are in the latter stages of October and it’s 82 degrees in New York City. There is still time for a swim. And when the water gets too cold, you can always take a nice long stroll along the boardwalk.
2. Change Your Eating Habits – Just because summer is over and you’re more apt to cover up your body more it doesn’t mean it’s the time to binge and pack on the pounds for the next six months. In fact, the new season is the perfect time to review your dietary habits and make a commitment to a lifestyle change, namely in your relationship with food. Please note that I did not recommend going on a diet. If you want to knock off some poundage for a short time, diets are great. And, there is no better time to diet than in the late spring so you can show off your stuff all summer long. What I’m suggesting is a complete review and potential overall of how you eat and relate with food. It takes time to make real changes in this area, but if you give yourself six months you will see miraculous results that will stay with you next summer and beyond. If you can cut way, way down on meat, fried foods, dairy, bread and pasta and pizza, and of course, sugar, you will find yourself be bursting with energy while your carnivorous friends are loading up on comfort foods, becoming more sedentary and probably getting a bit chunky. You know this happens every year. So don’t be that guy. Change your relationship with food.
3. Take a Trip to the Zoo - There are two times of the year to go to the zoo—in the spring and in the fall. My first preference is the spring because the animals are lively and pretty randy, too. But fall is also a great time to check out the Bronx Zoo. The foliage is gorgeous, the crowds are manageable, and the animals are fairly active as the weather cools down. In the summer and winter you rarely see the animals doing anything beyond sleeping or briefly lumbering over to their food tray.
4. Train for a marathon - Yes, I realize that the NYC Marathon takes place on the first Sunday of November. A year before running my first marathon, I was running on a Sunday morning listening to the marathon broadcast on the radio through my ear buds. I decided right then to run in the New York City Marathon the following year. And I did. Instead of cramming three months of training into a grueling summer, I began laying down my training base and running foundation a year in advance. I’m really glad I did this because by the time race day came around I was in tip-top shape and ran a faster time in my second thirteen miles. Having that strong foundation of running for a solid year also gave me time to cultivate some personal discipline and learn how to listen to my body when those inevitable tweaks and injuries sprang up.
If you don’t fancy yourself as a marathoner, you could start a fitness regime in the fall with a goal of getting into the best shape of your life by the following summer. If you stick to your program, most likely you will.
5. Make a List, Then Do Your Holiday Shopping Before Thanksgiving – Some folks love that scramble for presents during those frantic final weeks and days of December. Not me. I prefer to think things out in advance, set my budget, and scour the e-tailers for the best prices on the items I want to buy for my peeps. Yes, this is a bit anal, and you may get slightly better deals if you wait until the last minute, but who needs the hassle? If you try shopping early some time, you’ll realize how much easier it is to shop, how much money you can save, and how much more time you have on your hands during the holidays that you can spend partying with your homeys and loved ones.
There will be plenty of days ahead when you can you curl up in that chunky sweater with your honey in front of the TV. This year, consider trying on a few fresh ideas for fall. As DT says, “What have you got to lose?” If you don’t see me, I’m probably at the beach.
This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Robert Zimmerman, better know to most as Bob Dylan, folk singer and the voice of our generation, for his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Well-deserved.
In most cases opinions are like, well you know what part of the body I’m referring to. Hint: everyone has one and you are probably sitting on yours while you’re reading. But on rare occasion a pearl of wisdom is bestowed on each of us that truly resonates and helps guide us to a better experience in life. These nuggets are memorable and stick to our ribs. So when a fellow Guy’s Guy suggested that I write about the best pieces of advice I’d ever received, I first asked myself if anything quickly came to of mind, and sure enough, five bits of helpful advice almost instantly popped up in my mind. And I think you will agree that these are truths that have stood the test of time. So in no particular order, here they are, along with whom they are attributed to. Drum roll please….
1. PAY ATTENTION – At the end of the third date with my future wife, I said something like, “I’m really enjoying our getting to know one another. I’ve dated quite a few women and had ongoing relationships, but obviously they did not work out. What can I do to be a good boyfriend?” Without even a moment’s hesitation, she replied, “Pay attention.” I raised my eyebrows and said, “That’s it? Anything else?” She looked me in the eye and said, “No.” In a flash I got the message. I realized that I, like so many men, was too focused on me and my world and not paying enough mind to my partner and the “little things” that women keep a handle on. I decided right there that I would work on being more attentive. We’ve been married for six years, so I must be making progress. But, make no mistake about it. Paying attention is a way of life that transcends romantic relationships into every key area of our life- work, family, money, friendships. Basically, all of our human interactions.
2. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF – About twenty years ago I was in the midst of a personal crisis due to a job loss. I’d built up a sterling resume, but for some reason had not connected to my next gig yet, and it was driving me crazy. I often visited my folks in Jersey during this time, just being a good son. But, I was obviously giving off an anxious vibe due my frustrations. My father always asked me about work and it became annoying to keep telling him I was not back in the saddle yet. I guess he was paying attention though, because he sent a card to me in the city that really hit home. On the cover was a drawing of a young boy on a stage facing a huge crowd. He was holding a violin behind his back. I opened the card curiously and stopped in my tracks when I read the inscription. It simply said, “Believe in yourself”, Love Dad. I placed the card on top of the doorway that led into the main room and it remained there for a decade. I landed a great job pretty soon thereafter, but left the card perched on the molding as a reminder. It’s tucked away somewhere now, but the message still burns in my consciousness. I believe in myself and will always be thankful for my father’s sensitivity to me and his support and encouragement. My father traveled quite a bit during my younger years and I had to figure out a lot of things on my own, so it was heartwarming to receive this gift from him.
3. THIS TOO SHALL PASS – Many people are under the impression that this famous quote comes from the Bible, but it doesn’t. Some scholars attribute it to King Solomon or Sufi poets, but its origins remain unknown. It came to me from my mother. I’ll bet she thinks it comes from the Bible, too, but what matters is the underlying truth in this statement that is often shared with someone going through a tough time. The bottom line is that it’s true—this too will pass. Things eventually change. That means everything, the bad and the good. The lesson is to not get too caught up in what we are currently experiencing because it is temporary. Life is transitory. And although you might not always get want you want, when you think about some of those things you may have missed out on a few years later, we often realize that the thing, person, or opportunity we were obsessed with was probably not right for us and we are better off that it did not happen. And when you think about it, there really is no past or a future. The only thing that matters is right now. So, try not to get too hung up on what looks like a bad situation. Things change, life is transitory, and you have free will.
4. IT’S ALL CONNECTED – Probably my all time favorite job to date was at a small, hip, and now defunct NYC ad agency. I can honestly say that I never once got up in the morning and dreaded coming to work. In fact, it was just the opposite. I actually looked forward to every new day at the agency and the challenges my team faced rebuilding a global vodka brand and catapulting a now world-famous gin to new heights. Every day was an adventure. The agency had a wonderful work ethic and environment with great people who got along, as well as fifty or so advertising people can get along. And we did great work and succeeded in building our clients’ businesses. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe a higher salary, but I made enough and had a nice expense account so no complaints. Like most situations in the ad game, at a certain point the landscape shifts. If you're smart you can see the changes on the horizon. So, I accepted a bigger job on a massive global account at another agency. On my last day, my boss, the agency’s owner, stopped by my office. He was a man of few words. But he said two things that stuck with me to this day. First, he said, “good job”. That was high praise because he wasn’t one to dole out the flowery compliments. I knew I had kicked ass and he validate it. Then he leaned in and said, “Remember, it’s all connected.” Then he shook my hand and walked out. The message did not sink in at that moment, but it still resonates with me until this day. He was right. Everything we are and do is connected, and we are surely connected to each other. That was been a huge gift and I remain appreciative of this gift of teaching me about “Oneness” as it applies to career, people, and our lives.
5. NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE OCEAN OR ONCOMING TRAFFIC – (another reminder about paying attention). Sounds pretty obvious, right? But often even the simplest common sense tenants are ignored and often times followed by dire consequences. I’m not sure where I heard these two tidbits, but I keep them in mind each time I go for a swim at the Jersey Shore or step off of the curb in New York City.
We’ve all seen pedestrians rush across city streets in traffic without looking both ways. And virtually every time I go for a swim in the Atlantic, so many people turn their backs when the waves get rough. And we all know how many accidents there are in the city and in the water. I think this advice also applies to all aspects of our lives. It’s always best to pay attention and look before you leap.
So there you have it. Five pieces of advice that have helped me live a better life. I hope they will help you, too. That’s all I’ve got for right now. Peace out.
This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Serge Manni, my Dad, for having my back when I needed a boost and for always being there for me, even if at times it was only in spirit.
I foolishly thought that raising a little boy would become much easier after the terrible twos had run their course. Boy, was I in for a surprise. The third year brings new layers of complexity to a child’s growth. Witnessing this phenomenon can be exhilarating, eye opening, and downright confounding. As toddlers grow they become more grounded, layered, interesting, and unique. Just like little people!
Here are some personal observations and what I’m learning as my son enters the second half of his third year.
The transition from age two to three - When kids are one or two, they are the ones being jostled and pushed on the playground, but things change when the kid turns three. Toddlers stand firmer as they develop a sense of ego and self. By the time they’re three, the roles change and parents now need to watch that their kids are nice to the other kids. That means “kind hands and feet”. I think the transition is easier when a child receives lots of love at home. Another thing that stands out for three year olds is how the mental and verbal skills begin to sync up as the kids talk more freely and start communicating using more expressive language. As this occurs we hear random, unrelated comments and answers to the many questions we ask them. Over time, kids pull it together, but what stands out for me is how much they hear and already comprehend regardless of how challenging it is for them to verbalize what they’re thinking and feeling.
Pre K3 - The goal for our son in school this year was socialization. There are a lot of “only” kids in NYC, so during the many transitions it’s been comforting to know that we are not alone. Many other parents face the same challenges when socializing their kids. That said, for a confident kid with an outgoing personality, Pre K3 can be a bitch. For all of our direction and talk about “kind hands and kind feet” the transition from a small, intimate daycare environment to joining a group of twenty new kids can be challenging. My son has a confident, friendly personality. When I’ve dropped him off at school he goes up to almost every kid in his class while we are waiting outside. He always has a big smile and does his best to engage with all the other kids. Unfortunately, although he eventually finds another kid to hold hands with and walk up the stairs together, some kids are shy and they hide behind their Moms and Dads when my son approaches. I just hope he does not get discouraged and always maintains his confidence and friendly ways when he grows up. The world can always use more loving, positive personalities.
Still cleaning up – One glaring routine about parenting that is rarely discussed the amount of time parents spend cleaning crap up. Little kids are so random and sloppy. Anyone who has kids has spent a number of years of their adult lives bent over picking up toys and assorted items that their kids tossed aside. Sure, this comes with the territory, but had I never realized how much actually time I would spend picking up after the little one. No wonder so many parents are tired. Speaking of…
Relentless energy – This was another major surprise for me. My son is up at 6am and keeps rocking non-stop until 8pm. In fact, he would play and entertain himself until he passed out if we didn’t set a bedtime routine for him. Thankfully, he loves his bath and bedtime story, and most nights he sleeps like a rock until morning.
Tantrums – Another surprise. As the little guy gets a better sense of his personal power, he occasionally throws a major fit over seemingly insignificant issues. My son’s pet peeves are centered on our traveling around the city. For some reason he strongly prefers the B train over the C train and he insists on sitting by the smallest window on the train and the bus. “The little window” is mission critical for him so I frequently have to scramble onto the train or bus while moving at breakneck speed so I can claim our magical seat by the “little window”. My son has had a few major-league meltdowns on NYC’s crowded trains and buses, so if you’ve heard a toddler screaming bloody murder on the C train it may have been us weaving down the aisle in search of the right seat. Sorry about that. Now I know what other parents go through.
Consequences – If all this sounds like my three-year old has been running a game on me, it might be true in some instances, but I have a weapon. A strong, powerful psychological weapon called “consequences”. It’s when parents take something away from the kid when he’s acting up. If he throws a tantrum on the train, there are consequences. No Thomas the Train video. No ice cream. No pizza. No play date with his homey. You get the picture. And, “consequences” work like a charm. As soon as my boy hears the word, he immediately pays attention and behaves. But, he’s no dummy. Now he asks for what he calls a “positive consequence” when he does something right. Fair enough. So if he follows direction and does something right, he might get a positive consequence. This might come after the successful completion of…
Potty time – How long should it take for little people to learn how to pee or poop? A pony doesn’t need instructions. Neither does a duck, a goose, or a turtle, but humans are slow to learn in this area. So parents develop patience and also frequently clean up some more. By now my son has good aim though. I can’t tell you how many times I have held my son up over the toilet in a public bathroom, but I am eagerly waiting for him to grow tall enough to be able to pee into the bowl on his own. Patience, Dad, patience.
Unconditional love and trust – Beyond the grousing I do about parenting and the investment of time spent paying constant attention every minute we are together, there is something my son has taught me that is more valuable than gold. It’s his unconditional love. No matter how a bad day he’s had or if Mommy or Daddy or his teacher chewed him out, he always, always, always wakes up in the morning in a great mood. He never stays pissed off or holds a grudge. Every morning he is filled with smiles and brimming with love and affection for my wife and me. He is one happy kid. Thank you, son, for teaching me the importance of forgiveness, gratitude, and unconditional love. What more can I ask for?
This week’s GUY”S GUY of the WEEK is my son, Sky Manni. He is my teacher and I thank him for all of the lessons he has and will bestow on me. As we say to each other every night before I lay him down, “I love you, Sky.” “I love you Daddy”.
Life can change at any second. That’s right, amigos. Every new day brings an opportunity.
But to make change, we must be open-minded and try new ways of doing things. This is one of the keys to adapting as we age.
Remember when you attended your high school reunion? Quite an eye-opener. Some of your classmates still look fantastic and full of life while others appeared much older than their age. What happened? With each subsequent reunion the differences in how people we know age grows. For some, it’s a reflection of an individual’s life-experiences or genetic makeup. But in most cases, it’s indicative in how these folks have taken care of themselves. So it’s critical to approach each new day as a fresh start and take stock in how we are treating our mind, body and soul. In my last post I focused on all of the inevitable bad news and challenges we’ll face as we age. But, like I stated, it doesn’t have to be all bad news. Sure, we’ll all get old eventually, and faster than we expected, but there are steps we can take along the way to ease our path as we approach our senior years. Here are a few tricks your Guy’s Guy has learned along the way.
1. Pace yourself.
I’m a runner, and although I’ve completed three marathons, I still struggle with my weekly treks around the outer loop of Central Park. That run never seems to get easier, and running is hard on the body. Many runners switch to another form of cardio as they get older due to the pounding and the nagging injuries that often occur. And as we get older, those tweaks take longer and longer to fully heal. So what’s the answer? First, make a decision about running or any intense fitness activity you are involved in. Is your body still up to the challenges and pounding or is it time to find a replacement workout? Maybe add yoga, but at least incorporate stretching into your routine.
Everybody is different, so each one of us needs to take an honest stock of themselves and ask if running or whatever your most intense workout is can remain part of your regime. If the answer is yes, like it was for me, be smart and take it easy on yourself. Sure, I can still do those log runs, but now I take the time to recover between these runs and make sure I stretch after every run. When I get a tweak in your hammy or meniscus, I back off and hop on the elliptical trainer for a few weeks before hitting the pavement again.
I pulled a hammy this summer and wisely made the switch to the elliptical for a month. I also stretched every day and massaged my hammy until it was back to normal before running on it again. Ten years ago, I might have foolishly continued running and risked really hurting myself. It’s about being smart, amigos. You can do most of the same things, but as you age, you need to be smarter about how you work out.
2. Watch your weight.
Let’s face it. The food in our supermarkets is mostly processed and loaded with hidden sugars and GMOs. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now, so we need to use our noodle when choosing what foods we eat and how much of it we consume. I used to think that as long I kept running I could eat whatever I wanted in the same portion sizes as I consumed in my twenties. Twenty pounds later I began to take note of how quickly the pounds were sticking to my frame. And once us guys get that roll of abdominal fat around our waists, it becomes more and more difficult to shed it completely.
Over the years I’ve slowly, but consistently, adapted my diet to fit my aging body and lifestyle. I’ve always started my day with a set of at least fifty push-ups, but there have been times when I have skipped the gym for a few months and stop running outside when the roads were iced over during our northeast winters. What I ate became the X-factor in how I managed my waistline and health, so I had to make some changes.
I decided to stop eating meat eight years ago. At first it was hard, but now I don’t even think about it. I quit smoking over twenty-five years ago and still regret ever taking that first puff. Thankfully, I didn’t gain any weight when I stopped smoking, probably because I exercised more. I switched to a cleaner diet that has over the years evolved to predominantly green vegetables, fish, pasture raised eggs, and green smoothies, while avoiding sugars and simple carbs including breads, pizza, and pasta as much as possible. Another consideration is when I eat. Eating meals earlier in the day is better for our health and waistline. I try not to eat after 8pm so I do not go to sleep with a full stomach. Has it been a challenge? Sure, but I like how I feel weighing twenty pounds less than I did twenty years ago. I have more energy and my clothes fit better, too. I’m happy with my choices and healthier as a result.
The key to success in managing your diet is to try a few different routines, including fasting (if you can hack it), put in the necessary time to get real results, and then make lifestyle changes based on what you’ve learned and what works for you. Do I enjoy a glass of wine or top shelf tequila now and then? Sure, but I’m doing my best to avoid the boomer habit of drinking my way into old age.
3. Consider natural solutions.
The last time I had a check up, the medical assistant administering the tests asked what meds I take. I told her, “Nothing”. She asked me the same question two more times. Same answer. I’m not suggesting that you do not take medication your physician prescribes, but in some cases, you have a choice of forgoing the meds by changing in your lifestyle and dietary choices. For example, two years ago, my doctor told me my cholesterol was on the high side. He suggested a statin pill. I said, “No, thanks”. He suggested that I return in six months. If my numbers were unchanged he wanted me to take the prescription. I asked if there was anything I could do to lower my numbers. He suggested a vegan diet. I told him I’d see him in a year. I quit eating meat and drastically improved my dietary choices by avoiding processed and acidic foods.
When I returned a year later, my numbers had dropped by ninety points. After two more years my cholesterol numbers are bordering on low. Why? I looked for a natural path to wellness and stuck to the program so my body could heal itself. I also reduced my blood pressure significantly through diet and exercise. The point is; if you take charge of your choices, you can make positive changes to your health and well-being. Your doctor will let you know when things are going wrong, but they rarely tell you how to stay healthy. Do your own research and take charge of your health as best you can. And, make sure you don’t miss your check ups.
Let’s face it. The endless onslaught of negativity spewed at us by the media, movies, and advertising can lead to an overload of mental monkey chatter that turns our lives into an endless loop of reacting instead of having vision that we act on. Starting the day or finding time for 15-20 minutes for quiet meditation connects us to our higher selves. This connection with the divine is there for all, but it’s up to each one of us to make the time to forge a connection to consciousness. Your higher self, sometimes coming through as that little voice inside of your head or heart, knows all about who we are, what we are, and how we serve. It’s there to help us. But again, it’s up to us to take advantage of our connection with divinity.
Ultimately, no matter what diet or physical programs you incorporate the key to aging well is through love— self-love, love for your neighbor, love for humanity, and a love for the God that’s in each one of us. If you want to age gracefully, make smart choices and seek consciousness. Love and a connection to your divinity can help your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being while bringing you joy, gratitude, and peace.
This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Jack La Lanne. This true Guy’s Guy was a humanitarian who helped create today’s fitness revolution and healthy lifestyle. During his show he also shared much wisdom about keeping the spirit and mind strong and positive while training the body.
A seventy-three year-old Mick Jagger once sang, “Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me.” Although he was correct, he’s still vital, in great shape and killing it in concert.
If we play the cards we’re dealt the best way we can, it’s possible to extend our time here on Earth and age with vigor, class, and élan. But, in order to live long and prosper there are some rules to follow. Aging impacts everyone¾ millennials through boomers. So in an effort to cover as much ground as succinctly as possible, I’ll break down the bad news on aging here before returning next week with the good news, including the steps we can take to ease our path into a healthy future.
The Bad News
After we reach the age of twenty-five, we begin to notice things starting to slow down. I’m sure many of you have woken up with a hangover while in your mid-twenties and noticed that for the first time the effects of the previous night took a larger toll on your well being than usual. A feeling like your head was hit with tiny ball peen hammers, aches and pains in new places, and your needing an extra day or two to get back to feeling one hundred percent again. Amigos, that’s the first step in what can be a long, uncomfortable slide into middle age if we are not mindful about our body and our lifestyle. Make no mistake about it. Once we hit twenty-five, our metabolism slows down and continues its slow descent for the rest of our lives.
From that point, it takes longer to manage our health and recover from partying, sex, sports injuries, illness, increased mental monkey chatter, and energetic blockages. Compounding all of this is the disturbing fact that too many Americans live reactive lives driven by fear, pessimism, and the current news cycle and propaganda spewed by our media. The majority of the media and advertising is focused on creating a mindset based on feeling of lack and what we don’t have. You need this. You could lose that and if you do, you’re screwed. Unless, of course, you buy this and do as you’re told. As we age, the burden of carrying around all this made-up nonsense becomes more burdensome until the dam bursts and we succumb to chronic illness.
And, along the way, we gain weight. When I was a kid, there were a handful of “chubby” kids in school. And, being cruel, we’d call them names. But now that we’re older, who isn’t waging their own personal battle of the bulge? If you take a stroll through any shopping mall, you’ll see a lot of obese kids and adults. It’s usually due to the food they eat, sedentary lifestyles, meds, and stress. As we gain weight, we slow down. And as we slow down, if we are not mindful about our diet and lifestyle, we’ll keep gaining weight. Then, we’ll get sick and slow down even more when we start taking meds for this, for that, and to combat the side effects from the first meds we took. This easily becomes a vicious downward cycle.
Want some more bad news about aging? As we get older, we can’t do all the things we have been doing for so many years, like eating the same foods in the same quantities, having sex three times a night, or working out as intensely and often as we did when we were in our early twenties. That does not mean we can’t take steps to combat all these limitations, but it’s not easy to change life-long habits and it requires discipline. Unfortunately, not a lot of people wake up and make the necessary choices to evolve their life-long habits until it’s too late.
Couple this with what was once your perfect vision weakening, bouts of insomnia, anxiety over work, getting up to pee three times an night, money anxiety, job loss, worrying about things we can’t control, and yearning for “the good old days”. And there’s more. Death, taxes, childcare costs, a shaky economy, Donald Trump being a step away from the presidency, and climate change. If we fall prey to the hype and swallow the swill served us in the form of GMO foods, fear-based media, ultra-violent entertainment, aging parents with chronic illnesses, loneliness, and a diminished quality of life, life can look bleak.
BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!
For every question there is an answer and for the biggest questions in life the answer is always based in love. At our source we come from and are created with love. With love for ourselves in mind, next time I will review each one of the troubling aspect of aging and offer concrete ways of addressing the issue of aging gracefully and purposely, while living a fulfilling life deep the our senior years.
This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is spiritual teacher Tony Robbins, who said, “People overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish over a decade.”
Here’s to a pledge for decades of good health and well being for you.
“If you can find peace here, you can find peace anywhere”.
That’s not Frank. It’s your Guy’s Guy. And it’s true. It’s possible to live a serene, drama-free lifestyle in New York City.
One way to find peace is to sit near the ocean watching the sea and listening to the waves crash against the shoreline. After a few short minutes you will definitely calm down. Another surefire way to quiet the mind is resting under a lotus tree on a remote mountainside. But how can we find bliss when we spend portions of our day, not on a mountaintop, but wedged into a sweaty, overcrowded 6 train during rush hour?
No worries. Finding peace in New York City is not as difficult as you may think. Over the years I have found a number of ways to stay calm and find tranquility, even in the city’s unusually stressful environment. So, I wanted to share are a few tips to help you chill. I’ve included a few of my faves and old standbys, and some new techniques I’ve recently picked up. And, trust me amigo, they all work if you have the right mindset and truly want to slow things down, even if it’s only for a short time. So without further adieu, here are your Guys’ Guy’s Tips for Finding Peace Anywhere, even in New York City.
1. Limit your media consumption – Everyone in New York is inundated with an endless barrage of media—internet, iPhones, television, text messages, Instagram, radio, podcasts, video games, newspapers, and all of the advertising that accompanies it. Every day we're clubbed and have our faces rubbed i[ a mixed mush of Trump, Isis, Hillary, and the damn Zika virus. You can’t even take a piss in a bar without seeing ads selling you the beer you just eliminated. It’s a vicious cycle.
In advertising, our aim is capitalize on feelings of lack to sell crap you really don’t need. Media takes things to another level. It preys upon our fears. Their strategy seems to be, “let’s scare the shit out of them so they’ll stay tuned”, hoping for a solution to the world’s problems. But as we know, whenever one problem is solved, lots more enter the trending news cycle. When people fall under this spell of doom and gloom it becomes close to impossible to find peace or solace.
There is one thing you can do to help alleviate the issue. Make sure you find the time to unplug every day. Be mindful of your work, but afterwards make it a goal to go old school. Don’t check your the phone every ten seconds, take a breather offline, have a real conversation, and see if you can leave the office without plugging in your ear buds. I know that’s tall order for millennials in a hyper-connected city like ours, but unplugging can make a big difference in elevating your mood and soothing your feelings of anxiety.
2. Replace it with literature, music, film, and art – One can argue that surfing the internet is reading, and most of the time, surfing the internet does consist of reading. But let’s consider what we’re reading when we’re online. Snarky Facebook posts about the election, what people had for lunch, or the latest news about Bernie Sanders, Kanye, Beiber, or the Kardashians probably won’t help your inner peace or sanity. Books and other art forms can help you find the peace you're seeking, if you consume peaceful content. Porn, ultra-violent graphic novels, speed metal, and Tarantino films are not recommended when you want to add peace to your day.
3. Walk more – Buses are slow. Subways are filthy and curtailed by delays. Taxis and Uber can get expensive quickly. And all these modes of transportation create stress. Want some peace? Over the years I have found that walking whenever possible does wonders for your heart, relaxes you, helps you learn the city, and is a great way to either start your day or de-stress after a tough go at the office. Of course there are times when we need to take public transportation or call Uber. But if you pay attention, you’ll find ample opportunities to walk instead of riding that stinky C train. And, over time you may find yourself steering your walks towards the more scenic urban landscapes like our wonderful parks.
4. Meditate, do yoga, get physical – I find that twenty minutes of meditation or yoga helps alleviate stress and fosters peace. If a high intensity cardio workout can help get you into a zone where you can find clarity, then go for it. Any physical activity that requires focus also works to quiet that noise and monkey chatter in your mind.
5. Find tranquil settings – I’ve worked in most areas of Manhattan except for Wall Street. And having traversed almost every inch of Manhattan, I know enough to avoid Times Square, Midtown, and the financial district whenever possible. Between selfie-obsessed tourists, cartoon characters, and workers marching to and from the office texting and yapping into their cellphones, I steer clear of these over-populated sections of the city. If you are forced to spend time in one of these congested areas because of your job, if you look you will find a few mini-oasis and quiet places to sit, some with urban waterfalls. Weather permitting; stepping outside during your lunch hour or on a break does wonders for your mood.
6. Breathe – If you only do one thing to help you find peace in the city, make it being conscious of your breathing. Each time you can sit quietly for a moment, walk down the street, or when you’re feeling angst creep in, focus on your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Do this for a minute or two and I assure you that you will find a brief respite from your daily struggles. Simply pay attention to your breathing. The more you do it, the more bliss you will find. It’s that easy, amigos. Peace out.
This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Sri Dharma Mittra. He is a wise and peaceful yoga teacher who has an amazing studio on 23rd Street in Manhattan and followers worldwide.
- The Guys' Guy's Guide to Thanksgiving
- The Guys' Guy's Post-Election Guide to Managing Your Friendships, and Social Media
- The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married Later in Life
- Five Great Ways to Start Your Day
- 5 Unconventional Things to do This Fall
- The 5 Most Important Pieces of Advice I've Ever Been Given
- Teachings of a Three Year Old
- The Guys' Guy's Guide to Aging - Part 2 (The Good News)
- The Guys' Guy's Guide to Aging - Part 1 (The Bad News)
- How to Find Peace Anywhere, Even New York City
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