You’ll Never Guess What’s Killing Men

Husbands and Buddies and Friends, OH MY!

If you’re reading this, there’s an 80 percent chance you’re female. My subscribers are predominately women and 35+. (If you’re a guy – thank you for subscribing and reading my work!)

Truth is, I’ve always attracted more women than men in my work, which given that I’ve been an out gay man for over four decades has always been a bit puzzling to me. Even when I had my church in Pittsburgh, I had a majority of lesbian members, and the lesbian minister at the MCC had all the gay guys. Go figure!

So, ladies, bear with me while I focus this week’s blog on a guy issue. Hopefully, you can forward this to some man you know! (Stick around though - there's some great stuff here for you to consider, too!)

Guys, regardless of sexual orientation, seem to have a more difficult time in our society making true, intimate, male friends. Women may have tons of girlfriends, but we guys may only have a handful of other men in our life – if any – upon we can call on when we are down and out.

Sure, we may have the “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, dude!” or “Get a grip, man!” friend who will tell us to stop whining and acting weak. “Be a man about it, for crissakes!” he’ll scream, as he tosses you a fifty-pound medicine ball.

Right.

Much of it has to do with our societal homophobia, and this goes for gay, bisexual, and straight men. We are taught to be terrified of intimate male friendships, because our western culture associates intimacy with sex. This misconception screws up our chances of male bonding, as well as making it more difficult for men to have deeper relationships with women.

The truth is all humans – male and female – will have times when we are feeling weak, when we have allowed ourselves to be victimized, or when we can’t see the forest for the trees. But men are more likely to tough it out and isolate instead of seeking help.

And this, dear reader, is the real message of this blog:

Male social isolation is killing us.

In the December 1, 2017, issue of Bottomline Personal magazine, then editor Karen Larson notes that “social isolation increases the risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and dementia while decreasing immune system functions” in males.

Further, Dr. Richard Schwartz, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School believes male social isolation “has as important an effect on our health as smoking, high blood pressure, or obesity.”

Retired men often have few social connections other than their spouse. While women have been acculturated to make new friends, the same is often not the case for men. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible and we CAN learn to do so. Here are a couple of ways:

  • Seek out the companionship of other guys you admire or connect with
  • Join a community or group where you will be surrounded by other supportive men
  • Refuse to buy into the men have to be powerful all the time and never vulnerable
  • Create standing times with the men closest to you
  • Learn that intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex

Still have questions? Get in contact with me and let’s talk!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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What Did I Just See You Do?

Accountability and Success

How are those New Year’s resolutions of yours coming along? Or, did you (like me) not make any? It usually takes about two weeks (or three weeks max) for New Year’s resolutions to fall by the wayside.

I’m not being Negative Nellie here, but statistically we aren’t stellar at following through on most of the New Year’s resolutions we make. Why is that? Why aren’t we accountable to ourselves for the plans or resolutions we claim to want?

Our success is doomed as soon as we agree to something if we didn’t really want to do it in the first place. This situation often occurs when we agree to something because we feel we have to do it (READ:  Guilt).

To guarantee our success we must be accountable to our decisions to affect change in our life. The critical factor here, however, is that we are discussing our decisions – not our partner’s/spouse’s decision, not our friend’s decision, nor anyone else’s.

What’s right for you to change in your life today to have a life more worth living? What are you willing to commit to today to affect that change? It might very be a New Year’s resolution, or it could be some long-time desire that only you know about.

Do you need additional motivation to follow through? Here’s one great idea:  Do it for you! Do it just because you want to, because you want to see the change more than anything. It doesn’t even matter if you never share it with anyone. The inner satisfaction of following through and being accountable to ourselves can be the most wonderful gifts we can receive.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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This May Tick You Off

Women of Power

Have you noticed a resurgence of women acting powerfully? It’s not like there hasn’t been a growing stream of upwardly mobile females in the workforce in the past 50 years. But the #metoo movement acknowledging what men have denied for decades if not centuries, growing numbers of allegations of sexual harassment, and apologies by contrite abusers has brought about a whole new level of conversation.

There’s only one problem:  Too many women still think they have to act like men to be powerful. Conversely, too many men think they have to be bullies or assholes “to be real men.”

It’s not unusual. History is full of how the oppressed have overcorrected when they were no longer subjugated. Freed slaves have turned on their former masters, or worse, enslaved others. The poor have revolted against the aristocrats, and then started acting like the class they despised. Gays and lesbians have flaunted their private sex lives to heterosexual society, largely for effect. And, too many women continue to act like men to get ahead.

Studies down over the past five decades have proven the futility of this approach. Yes, today women become CEOs and make lots of money, but that alone doesn’t make them a success. We have evidenced-based, clinical studies documenting an increase in male-patterned baldness, hypertension, and heart disease, to name just a few issues, among women working in executive careers. But, here’s the real kicker:  This way of life doesn’t work for men either!

Are we still playing stereotypes from 1957 that might not have worked for women or men back then anymore than they do today? I feel for women who are objectified in the board room. It’s a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t situation. If a woman shows up in the corporate world dressed to the nines and wearing six-inch heels she’s accused of buying into what men expect (even if that’s what she wants to wear!).

But whether she arrives looking like she just stepped off the runway at a Paris fashion show or in a three-piece Brooks Brothers suit the result is still the same as soon as she asserts her power. She’ll be derided by men for being a ball-busting bitch (that’s a bad thing), yet if a straight man takes control he’s clapped on the back for being a bastard (and that’s supposed to be a good thing!).

Then there’s the woman who decides to be a homemaker, care for children, and support her wife or husband who remains in the workforce outside the home. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum, but comes under just as much criticism.

We can’t talk about women in power without acknowledging ALL the places women make tremendous contributions to our society. And, we can’t discuss women in power without talking about men in power, and why and how that’s different. It’s complicated, but worth the discussion, which ultimately leads to people in power and how we are each individually and uniquely able to express leadership, guidance, and hopefully, compassion.

We are challenged in the 21st century with new and confrontational ideas about gender, gender orientation, and what it means today to be a man or woman. Frankly, I find these discussions to be as exciting as they are challenging.

But let’s not miss the point:

Rather than figuring out why others are or aren’t expressing themselves, let’s be more mindful of who we are. How do you express power in your life? Or, where do you feel disempowered?

If you’d like to join in this discussion, jump over to my blog page by clicking here and make a comment!

P.S. Remember this: A woman of power is dynamic, unique, and a force with which to be reckoned - no matter where she is. Ladies ... please ... show us whatcha got in a way only you can!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

 

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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She Has Risen!

Freedom in Darkness

As the days grow shorter, and the nights longer, have you found yourself a bit darker emotionally? Granted, given the world stage, it’s quite easy to slip into feeling morose after the initial anger fades on the issue or bizarre Tweet-of-the-Day.

Yes, many believe we are in dark times – politically, meteorologically, and astrologically. Yet that’s not a bad thing. Our conditions – planet wide or personal – simply “are.” We make them bad or good depending on our personal judgment. We often think of darkness as a negative. Another way of looking at it is that it is very freeing. How?

Darkness never overtakes light. The light can be extinguished, but it cannot be made subservient to the darkness. Conversely, take the smallest candle into a darkened room and the obscurity starts to fade.

Today is the winter solstice, which is why you’re receiving this blog today instead of Friday. It’s the time when it is the darkest on our part of the planet and the time when the daylight hours get longer and the nighttime hours get shorter. Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are all festivals of light – life becoming brighter as we exit the darkness on our way to the birth of spring and new creation.

This past year has been full of events we wish had never happened. That’s a statement most people will agree with regardless of race, gender, gender orientation, religion (or lack thereof), age, or political affiliation. No one is happy about the massacre in Las Vegas; no one is rejoicing at the loss of life and property from the Thomas fire in southern California. I won’t take the time to list so many more events and tragedies we of which we are all-too-well aware.

But from this darkness we derive the strength like bring light where there is none. We are no longer willing to put up with injustice, terror, and inequality. We are willing to individually and collectively do whatever it takes to return sanity to our families, our communities, our nations, and our planet.

That doesn’t start with bitching about the government or what “they” are doing.

It begins with each of us – taking personal responsibility to make planet Earth a better place to live.

As we come out of the darkness I hope you will take time to find what is important in your life, enjoy it, cherish it, and celebrate it. Chances are, it's not going to be your computer, your mobile device, your car or anything else that’s material.

May your holidays and the new calendar year be filled with love, joy and prosperity!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

You Know You Should …

Do you like to be told what you should or shouldn’t be doing? I don’t. People often try to be helpful by finding solutions for us. It’s not usually as helpful as they’d like to believe.

I bring up “shoulding” because perhaps you’ve noticed how some people will often compliment you on an accomplishment and then, without even taking a breath, proceed to tell you how you should have done it. I find that amazing – almost entertaining – at least most of the time. The rest of the time I find it downright annoying.

One of the most difficult things to experience is criticism from others, even if those attacks are couched in a compliment. It’s at these times that we must dodge and deflect. If we allow others to throw us off balance we can lose sight of our own vision and our goals.

What dodging and defecting unnecessary criticism can do is strengthen our resolve and shore up the core foundations of our beliefs. If we are not careful we can get caught up in the negative attacks. We often find such attacks are based on the person’s own insecurities or feelings of inadequacy.

In the midst of that, however, is the infuriating fact that regardless of the person’s intent (conscious or subconscious), the poor “should-er” might just have an idea we ought to consider! Like I said, it’s somewhat infuriating. It’s a lot like your ex or your mother-in-law calling you on your stuff. You get the picture and it’s not pretty.

It is an issue of balance. If we can hear criticism constructively and objectively we will become more confident and often find some fine tuning of our actions that we can do to accelerate the progression toward our goals. After a while we’ll be able to hear the words, pick what we can use and cast away the rest. Now that’s power.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2012, 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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Let It Go

Does It Really Make a Difference?

Have you found yourself watching someone’s mouth move, but not being able to be interested in the nonsense you’re hearing? I do my best to be engaged and concerned when someone is relating a story to me. Really I do! But there are times, and I know you’ve been there, when I just look at the person and say, “And, you’re telling me this because…?”

Sometimes we just need to vent. I get that. My friend, Nancy, and I used to have an agreement that I could call to bitch about anything I wanted for exactly five minutes. No more. She would cut me off at five minutes, done or not. Well, I might not have thought I was done, but Nancy was and that was that.

At some point it behooves us to take a deep breath and say, “Does it really make a difference?” We may be terribly upset about the way someone has treated us. Or perhaps someone has walked away from a commitment she or he has made to us or to our organization. It’s done. It’s over. We can pick up the pieces and get on with our life, or we can whine, scream and moan. Why would we choose the latter?

You see, the simple truth is that some people bless us by coming into our lives and some people bless us by leaving. This works personally, professionally and in our communities or organizations. Ever notice how some people can leave a group or relationship with dignity, class and mutual respect, while other people have to make everyone wrong, create havoc and basically re-define what it means to be a raging drama queen?

We don’t have to be the latter. We also don’t have to be affected by someone who chooses to wear that badge. Know that in the universal scheme of things, all is progressing exactly as it should. It may not look pretty at the moment, but when the dust settles the right people will be involved and the perfect outcome will be assured. By feeding the drama with our crazed upset we are only continuing to strengthen the psychic bond we wish to severe.

Take time this week to let go of the drama of change and embrace the flow of peace in your life. The people that leave us are making room for the people who want to be with us. And so it is!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

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Copyright © 2011, 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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I Demand Justice!

Revenge v. Justice

Haven’t you ever wanted to see someone who’d hurt you “get what they deserve?” Most of us have. Grandma Esther used to say, “Every dog has its day.” Rest assured she wanted to be there to watch it happen, if not personally take part in the act.

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. - Confucius

Grandma wanted revenge, not justice. There is a big difference between the two. Revenge satisfies our ego. We get to be right. We are there to observe the punishment. We get to feel vindicated, justified, and may feel like we’ve turned the tables on the person who we allowed to victimize us. But it will never give us what justice does:

In his new documentary series on The National Geographic Channel, actor Morgan Freeman examines how peoples all over the world deal with the results of war, and how peace is possible. In one episode, he sits across from a Tutsi woman whose family was killed by the Hutu people during the genocide in Rwanda.

Next to her sits the man who was part of the Hutu militia. The man was personally responsible for killing those family members. Over two years of communication has resulted in these two people from different tribes becoming friends through the help of a local bishop in the area. They are part of an “ambitious reconciliation program.” The man who murdered her husband, brother-in-law, and two children now helps her with her farm to provide income for her family, making amends for his actions.

We are more aware today more than ever before of the injustice in the world. This is so because of 24-hour-a-day news coverage, the Internet, and our smart phones. Because of the information we receive it can become extremely easy to react to events and reports, often without a full understanding of the complete picture. We want to stop the violence, but we frequently lack any knowledge of why such horrible events are happening in the first place. We can become so fixated on the solution that we ignore why the problem exists.

Revenge is easy. Justice takes time. We must gain knowledge; we seek to understand; we can then act in wise ways to correct the problem; and, we begin the healing process.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” is a phrase attributed to Pashto origins, shows up in the Italian culture, and even said to be of Klingon origin in Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan. Regardless of the actual source it dooms us to a cold, heartless, and unsatisfying life, instead of warming us to a brighter future.

In the television series, Revenge, a “double infinity” symbol was used emphasis unending love – in a sense, “double forever.” That same symbol reminds me every day that revenge, not justice, continues the cycle of hate, anger, and lack of forgiveness.

Is there someone in your life upon whom you are seeking revenge? Are you investing your time, treasures, and talents in the pursuit of getting back at another? Seek this week to heal those thoughts. Determine to forgive, so that the psychic bindings holding you to that person or situation are severed for all time.

We have within us the power to change. It’s a quality which we are born with, but often fail to use. We are only victims of the past if we chose to be so.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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“Do Something, Even If It’s Wrong!”

Living By Default

Have you ever found yourself nearly paralyzed with indecision because you couldn’t figure out what to do? It’s possible to have this happen when we become so overwhelmed with possibilities, or the domino effect of a choice that we – in hindsight – realize wasn’t a wise move.

My Grandma Esther used to say, “Do something, Terry, even if it’s wrong!” It was her way of expressing frustration with my indecisiveness as a child. (Over 20 “Estherisms” are discussed in detail in my new book, “From the Trailer Park to the Pulpit” – look for it soon!) Looking back over my life I can see how I missed out on opportunities because I lacked the confidence to depend on my own intuition.

We are the best source of council when we must make a decision. True, having wise counselors, be they trained professionals or trusted friend can be invaluable. Most of the time we know exactly what must be done, though we are afraid of the fallout. Those results can range from the mild disapproval of friends to societal outrage at our actions.

I heard Marie Forleo say one time that when we don’t make decisions we’re “living by default.” There are a number of problems with living this way, but here are two reasons why some people live by default for most of their lives. First, they don’t want to take responsibility if things go south. Second, if things do go south they get to blame someone. That’s living in fear or blame.

What a positively yucky (for lack of a better, more academic word) way to live one’s life!

This concept was once stated as, “Not choosing is choosing.” By not making our own decisions we are choosing to allow others to do so. It’s like the person who says they don’t care which restaurant at which to have dinner, but then complains about the choice someone else makes. Ridiculous, not to speak of annoying.

And yet, haven’t we all done that at one time or another? Perhaps today you’ll make the decision to no longer “live by default.” Even if our decisions don’t pan out the way we expect them to, we have the knowledge that we can choose again. A mistake, a missed opportunity, or whatever we want to call it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

It means we can choose again. And this time, when we do choose, we’ll be making decisions with the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to see our situation through to a more desirable conclusion.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Isn’t It About Time?

When Will You Start Living the Life You Want?

How’s life? Are you having a good day? Was this past week what you wanted it to be? And, how’s next week shaping up?

For far too many people, Monday through Friday is the penance they pay to have a weekend. The Wednesday “Hump Day” gets them halfway through, Thursday is anticipatory, and eventually “Thank God, It’s Friday!” arrives.

Drinkers drink away the weekend and weekend warriors try to do too much all at once, barely remembering even the good times. Parents, most of whom both work a regular job in addition to caring for a home and family, must juggle precious little time between unfinished errands, chores, kids (if they have any), and each other.

“Yeah,” some might say, “But that’s life! All my friends have the same thing.” Fine. If that’s what they want, but do you? When Monday rolls around are you excited about getting back to your career? If not, wouldn’t you love to?

If we aren’t enjoying our lives to the fullest then it might be we’re not really living. It may look like we’re living, but in actuality all we’re doing is going through the motions of living.

Here’s what I think living looks like:

  • Having a career or job that’s the mission allowing us to fulfill our vision;
  • Trusting that our body is healthy, strong, and vital;
  • Being in the company of loving, like-minded people, and perhaps in unique relationships that are joyful; and,
  • Seeing that our finances are secure, bills are paid, and there’s always plenty of money to share, spend, and save.

This might also be the definition of prosperity. It’s close to what a New Thought leader used to say. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something to the effect that prosperity was the ability to go where we want to go, do what we want to do, with people we want to be with, and in the style in which we’d like to do it.

Now THAT’S living! We don’t have to be the people followed around by the paparazzi, or have billions in the bank to pay for expensive cars and homes. All we have to do is trust in the Source of our good. Never question the channel of that good coming to you abundant amounts.

Are you willing to up-the-ante on your life today? Decide what you want and go for it. There is no time for indecision. Dr. Raymond Charles Barker told us that:

Indecision is actually the individual’s decision to fail.

Let go of indecision right now. Embrace a more powerful you and decide to be happy, healthy, and abundant. If you need help doing that, click on the link below!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

Just Who Do You Think YOU Are?

It’s Time To Be Yourself

Do you get criticized by others for thinking and acting “outside the box?” I wouldn’t be surprised. I certainly do. And, like attracts like!

I remember years ago being just about ready to walk out the door when my roommate asked, “You’re not going out in THAT, are you?” (Okay, granted, it was the 80s and I wouldn’t be caught DEAD wearing that today if I still had it, which I don’t, but I digress…) I gave him a blank stare. That’s always a good comeback when someone asks a stupid question.

He followed his original query with, “What makes you think you can wear that?” My answer, again with a blank stare was, “Because I can!” Admittedly, I “may” have had a slight bit of attitude in the delivery, and I “suspect” I may have raised at least one eyebrow when responding, since at his height he’d never have been able to pull off and over-sized, turquoise shirt with tails and a metallic vest. (I warned you. I was the 80s …)

Levity aside, you’ll probably admit that the opinions of others may have very well stopped you from doing what you wanted to do at some point. You might not have even suspected a particular person, but were afraid of some kind of reprisal or criticism about your appearance, conduct, or idea.

There are lots of reasons why we let people stop us from doing things. We think we’re too old, or too young; not good enough; untrained; inexperienced; or, playing out of our league. But each of us has a particular gift in the way we live life and express ourselves. Abraham Maslov is quoted as saying:

No great deed, private or public, has ever been undertaken in a bliss of certainty.

If we wait around to live our lives until we have everyone’s approval the only thing being said will be, “S/He looks so natural lying there in that beautiful coffin.”

It’s time to up the ante on being you. We don’t have to be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous. In fact, sometimes being ourselves may mean that we are calm when others are excited. Give us and the entire world the pleasure of seeing you for the unique and magnificent expression of Spirit in human form. We need you … just as you are!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.