Pick a Side!

Are You Your Labels?

How are you personally dealing with the polarization going on in the world? Have you noticed how if we are for one thing that we are often expected to be against something else?

There are those who still believe we live in a black/white, gay/straight, right/wrong, yes/no world. The world has never been that way, although the ideal does give one a false sense of security. It a sign of longing for a past that never really existed:  Play by the rules and you are guaranteed to succeed.

The problem with that thinking is nothing is guaranteed. The only constant in the universe is change. And, humans are a species of contradictions.

Being pro-life doesn’t necessarily mean one is totally against abortion in all cases. Being a feminist doesn’t mean one hates men. We love to categorize people for our convenience and may even be proud of the labels we’ve given ourselves. But social media and life in general in the twenty-first century have opened up our private lives to public record. If we are talking the talk, but not walking the way, eventually someone is going to call us out for it.

Conservative and liberals can embrace parts of the opposing ideology when it suits them. Several years ago one of the Popes lamented the “cafeteria Catholicism” practice by Americans – in other words, taking from the religion what works for them personally instead of embracing everything, comfortable or not. But such an approach to religion has been around since religion began; only we just talk more about it now.

We are frequently much different in our thinking and how we live our lives than what other people assume. It comes down to judgment, primarily judgment of others. However, it also speaks to how, when, and what we express on issues currently unfolding in our lives.

There is, however, a way around all of this:  Communication. By listening to understand, instead of listening only for the opportunity to criticize an opposing viewpoint, we open the door to dialog. We might even stand to learn something in the process, not only about an issue, but about ourselves as well.

Would you be willing, starting today, to put aside your preconceived notions the next time you hear something you immediately judge as outrageous, unbelievable, or distasteful? Could we all seek to understand more and criticize less?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 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.

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.
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.

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.
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.