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.

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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I’m Surprised At You!

Are You True to Yourself?

Do you ever find who you are, who you really are, conflicts with what others think you should be?

It was Terry Cole Whittaker who wrote, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

Many of us know this to be true. Few of us are willing to admit just how many times we’ve failed at applying those simple words. Perhaps one of the reasons this happens is we are more concerned with what others think about us than we are about seeking to be ourselves.

One blogger recently wrote that our health, relationships, careers and financial status is reflected in the lives of our five closest friends. While this may or may not be true for each of us, I found it enlightening to consider. The tipping point for me is that if I have to change who I am to be around the people with whom I want to associate there is something wrong.

It comes back to that adage to walk the talk, not just talk the talk. Years ago I worked at a prayer ministry. At the end of the shift we’d tally up the issues we’d been asked to pray for by the callers. Inevitably, the largest numbers turned out to be for an issue we ourselves were having difficulty with at the time. It’s an eye opener to be giving counsel to others on a topic we are fussing about – one of those “SNAP OUTTA IT!” moments.

Is it time to re-think how you live? Are you willing to step back from your life and reflect on whether or not what you see supports you in the ways you need to be supported? It can be scary – what if we start being who we are and our friends run away?

Truth be told, our “friends” won’t. And, if there is a vacuum of any kind, the universe will fill it with what we need, not what we settled for. The universe abhors a vacuum and you are a magnificent child of the Divine. You don’t have to settle for anything less than what you know you deserve.

The question is, What is it that you know you deserve? Got it? Now go accept it!

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.

Listen up, Buttercup!

Do You REALLY Listen?

“YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!” How many times in your life has someone screamed that at you? I’ve been on the receiving end of that frustrating communication. And, speaking solely for myself, I have to say that almost without fail when those words were thrust in my general direction I most certainly WAS listening.

The problem was that I didn’t want to hear what was being said. I can listen to a garbage truck outside picking up our weekly refuse. However, it’s not exactly the sound I want to have whilst doing my daily meditations.

The response to the accusation above is usually something along the line of, “And, YOU are not listening to ME!”

Of course, we aren’t talking about listening, are we? We’re often trying to get one of two points across to the other person. The first possibility is that our idea of the other person listening is that they agree with us, tell us we’re right, and then beg our forgiveness. The second is that while we are listening, we aren’t “listening aright.” Instead of listening to understand, we’re listening to be understood.

Here’s what I mean by that. Have you been in a conversation with someone and you can tell beyond any doubt that s/he doesn’t believe a word of what you’re saying? This fact is verified as soon as you take even a small breath or dare to pause. Immediately the other person will begin telling you all the reasons you’re wrong, why they are right, thus proving they are more interested in preaching than discussing.

As soon as we seek to understand, rather than trying to be understood, we open a completely unexplored avenue toward peace with one another.

Okay, enough about “them.” What about “us?” In the midst of a much divided world, with the polarities of human thinking at such opposite ends of the spectrum, what we do with regard to communication is probably more vital than ever before. We can find peace and mutual aid by seeking to understand the viewpoints of people whose philosophies or ideologies are diametrically opposed to our own.

In spite of how wrong we might think someone is, they have a right to their opinion and belief. If that person is a stranger on a street corner we pass once in our life it doesn’t much matter. It’s a completely different scenario if the individual with whom we clash is the one in our bed. And, of course, there are all the people in between.

Just for today, would you be willing to engage others in new and open ways to understand them? This suggestion should never be undertaken in cases of someone attempting physical or psychological harm to us, but hopefully that’s not your experience of life. The payoff by seeking to understand is that the other person senses the shift in our consciousness, an openness to communicate, and will thereby be far more willing to entertain our point of view as well.

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.

Is Your “Give-A-Damn” Busted?

Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean Pitching Self-Respect

Do you ever feel like forgiveness makes you into a doormat? It can if we let it, but I hope that a new look at forgiveness and moving forward in life will make that a thing of the past for you.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that “acceptance is the answer to all my problems.” Acceptance, however, does not mean approval. In the same way, forgiveness does not mean allowing people to continue abusing us.

When Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” he was not suggesting that the left hook felt so good we should turn our face to accept a hard right hook. No. What he meant was to turn away from the problem and look toward the solution. In this way we not only remove ourselves from the situation, but we also maintain our own self-respect and dignity.

Sometimes, turning away from the situation means turning away from certain people. When a person says, “I’m not good enough for you,” believe them. They know what they’re talking about.

As Jo Dee Messina says in her classic song, “My Give a Damn’s Busted,” we really do try to care. We really do want to dig a little deeper to understand. But at some point, when we are not getting anything in return but more heartache and disappointment, it may be time to cut ties. When or if that is necessary with someone in your life only you can know.

Ask yourself how hard you’re trying in any given situation, be it with another person or some other circumstance. Ask yourself exactly what it is you’re trying for; and, are you the only one putting in the effort?

You’ll have your answer. Forgiveness is a foundation piece of experiencing a life worth living, a life of happiness. Forgiveness is not, however, an invitation for being less that you are and being recognized for it by the people around you.

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.

Is It Time to Quit?

Are you a quitter? “Of course not!” you might exclaim as if being classified as a quitter is worse than being a murderer. In some ways, you’d be right.

We are taught never quit, never give up. It’s drilled into our heads that quitters are losers. However, recent studies indicate that quitting a job, a relationship, a project or any number of other things might be one of the more healthy actions we can take.

Economist tells us that there is a point where we must cut our losses and move on; we have to sell the stock or take the loss on the investment. To get out of an investment is hard enough; relationships – another area hard to quit – can be even more problematic.

As Ennis says to Jack in the film Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” We decide we need the guy to provide for us since we haven’t worked in decades. We determine that she’s only violent when she drinks and she’s always remorseful. After all, those partners have “so much potential.”

The problem with sticking with anything after its expiration date is that we only make ourselves sick, miserable and feeling like a victim. If only jobs and relationships had a “sell by” or “discard by” date like our milk products and other perishable food items do.

We wouldn’t drink curdled, tainted milk or think twice about tossing moldy leftovers found in the refrigerator. Yet we continue to stick it out in life situations hoping, without any logic and historical perspective to the contrary, that s/he/they will change or this time our horse will win.

Quitting a losing battle by moving to a job we love or leaving a relationship that is abusive or has a “past due to discard” date is empowering, energizing and freeing for everyone concerned. If you think you have something like this in your own life at this time please take the time to put your thoughts down on paper. List all the positive aspects of your situation, as well as the more negative circumstances. How does this list balance out?

Take this into prayer and meditation over the next two or three weeks. It’s seldom wise to make a snap decision on affairs of the heart or when we are feeling like making a change will brand us a quitter. But change is the only constant in the universe. Nothing stays the same.

Give quitting a chance. Realize that leaving what no longer serves us signals to the universe that we are willing to live dynamically and in new ways. In doing so, we bless ourselves and all those around us.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

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.

Gay is Wrong; Bestiality and Magic? No Problem.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/03/us/theater-shuns-disney-beauty-over-gay-moment/index.html

I find it odd that people calling themselves Christians are boycotting the new "Beauty and the Beast" movie just because the character, LeFou (Gaston's sidekick) is shown questioning his feelings for another guy. THIS bothers the Bible belters even though Jesus said nothing about men loving one another. But ...

... the fact that some young girl is falling in love with a magically-transformed beast that looks more like a buffalo isn't a problem for them at all! Little Jesus boys and girls have been watching the animated version of the story for years with little if anything being said about the hint of bestiality or the presence of magic and witchcraft - all three frowned upon from what I remember of my days in the religion of my youth.

True Christians know Jesus said he “came to fulfill the law.” He then gave his followers two laws: Love God. Love one another. Christians aren’t bound by the over 630 laws in what modern-day Christians call the “Old Testament,” more correctly called the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet, since Bible belters of all colors and religions seem to love to cherry pick passages out of Mosaic law to shore up their prejudice, racism and homophobia, let’s just take a quick look at those pre-Christian writings.

In the Bible, when King Saul's son, Jonathan, was killed, David (the man who would become king of Israel) wrote that "more precious was my love for you than the love of women."

Later, King David’s own son, Solomon, wrote in Proverbs that a "true friend sticks closer than a brother." Passages like these are scattered throughout both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek-Aramaic (New Testament) Scriptures, including the passage about the “disciple who Jesus loved” laid his heard on the Lord’s breast during the meal.

The “I-can-live-on-a-pedestal-and-judge-others-because-I-love-Jesus” Bible thumpers don’t speak out against Biblical passages like these because their small minds find it inconvenient to consider. I’m not suggesting that David and Jonathan were “an item.” We get into major trouble when we try to wrap our 21st century concepts around the way ancient civilizations lived. But they were obvious very, very close. VERY close.

Men “get” one another. Women “get” women. Belly dancing wasn’t created to stimulate the males of the species to want to copulate. The art was developed to help easy the pain of women in childbirth. Western civilization and homophobic Bible thumpers just don’t get the difference between sensuality, sexuality and sex.

And that is exactly why they have their knickers in a twist because LeFou is infatuated with Gaston.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

“No” Is a Complete Sentence

(Revised and expanded from the original, published in December 2, 2011)

Do you have a problem telling people “No?” It seems many of my friends or acquaintances feel over-scheduled or stressed-out because of the demands they have put on themselves. Like attracts like, so I too fall into that category more often than I would care to admit.

Please note that responsibility for this situation does not fall on the demands placed on us by others, but rather those that we place on ourselves. We have only ourselves to credit with being too busy, even if it was at the insistence of someone else that we do something. Why? Because we said “Yes.”

We frequently say “Yes” because we cannot think of a convenient, believable or acceptable reason why we should say “No.” How about “I don’t want to do that” for starters?no

“No” is a complete sentence. I am usually amused, sometimes annoyed, by people who respond negatively to a request I have made because they follow their answer with a litany of reasons or excuses why they cannot comply. “No” is a complete sentence!

Personally, I don’t need reasons or do I want excuses. If you do, fine. I don’t need that sort of thing because I hope someone is unable to fulfill my request because they have something even more wonderful and exciting to do. Good for them!

If you don’t want to do something someone else asks of you, please say “No, thank you!” Not, “No, because …,” which is only going to set you up for a discussion of why you should relent. Acting out of obligation instead of willingness doesn’t encourage clarity; neither does making excuses that sound like our own personal pity party. When we agree to do anything we don’t want to do we muddy the energy around us. Instead of enjoying the task, we experience an underlying, nagging feeling of resentment. Why not respectfully decline and allow someone else who wants to fulfill the request be given the opportunity to serve?

Just for part of today, think carefully before you answer “Yes” to something you don’t want to do. Weigh the outcome, take a deep breath, and then answer from your heart. If you can say “No” without anger, resentment or attitude you will find a freedom you haven’t experienced up until now.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

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Terry Drew Karanen © 2011, 2016

Who Are You Listening To?

What is really important in your life? I mean, with all that’s going on in the world, what do we really need to know?

Apparently several papers and the Internet media feel the impending divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is front page news. No, seriously. A local news radio station reported recently this was actually on the front page of several newspapers.

This is not about all the other events that could have taken precedent. We can all name several, but this media feeding frenzy speaks to just how much our news sources concentrate on the negative.

So after 12 years of being together, Bradgelina is about to be a thing of the past. One reporter said, “Another Hollywood marriage has broken up, not that we’re ever surprised about that.” Really? Statistically Pitt and Jolie have been together longer than the average marriage, which ends in divorce within eight years (McKinley Irvin, 2012). The media is not interested in the 50-year marriage Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward enjoyed, or that Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been together over 30 years.

Similarly, the media is quick to tell you that half of all American marriages end in divorce, but fail to mention that ALSO means half of all American marriages survive! You get the point.

In New Thought we teach that our thoughts create. We can say all the affirmations we want and create beautiful affirmative prayers, but if we are constantly listening to every piece of gossip and tragedy from the media then it’s like shopping for organic groceries, and then going home to drink drain cleaner.blog22

Stop the madness! Let’s fill our minds with uplifting information. That doesn’t mean we ignore what’s going on in the world. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind philosophy never taught us to ignore our problems or the plight of others. He did, however, write that we deny the necessity that they should continue.

We have a responsibility to feed our minds with productive thoughts and an obligation to act on those ideas to the best of our abilities for the benefit of our planet. Not preachin’, jus’ sayin’.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Similar and Different

Have you ever met someone, thought how similar you were, but then discovered some glaringly different beliefs? It can be most unsettling. We think we’re on the same wavelength and suddenly realize this isn’t true at all.

I remember accepting a temporary secretarial position many years ago that required proficiency with the Word and Excel programs. While my abilities were more than sufficient, I was stopped dead in my tracks when I sat down at the Apple computer in front of me. I’m a PC guy and couldn’t even figure out how to turn the darn thing on.

When situations like this occur it can be quite jarring to our sense of peace. But it’s also a great reminder that one of the great constants in the universe is change, as paradoxical as that may be. The question is not so much whether change will occur in our lives, but how we will deal with change when it’s staring us in the face. I was at that temp job for three months and got along smashingly with my new Apple friend!

If everything in our lives were similar or identical it would be pretty boring. Consistency doesn’t have to be sameness. We have evidence in nature of how just different landscapes can be yet all beautiful in their own way.

Perhaps the next time you think one thing is happening only to discover that some very different is occurring you’ll think of this discussion. Take a deep breath and relax into the change that’s happening. Even in the differences, what can you find that is similar?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
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2016 © Terry Drew Karanen