All You Can Be

There are moments,

where you take a chance and it blows up

it your face, and you feel like an idiot

but you knew if you didn’t do it, you

would always been standing at the precipice

asking God,

“why’d didn’t I jump?”

Not all risks will end pretty

sometimes you jump and you splat,

but if the intention is honest,

and the passion is real

and you’re not out to play games or plug yourself,

then it’s worth it, because you tried

and maybe that girl will say no,

or the casting director won’t give the time of day,

or maybe nobody will understand what you tried to do,

but it’s okay.

You were you.

And that’s all you can be.

Beards: They Grow on You

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Stephen Collins‘ “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil” is a great book. It’s about a man, Dave, who does the same thing ever day. Same dinner, same music, same job, etc. He does this until one day a beard starts growing on his face. At that point, he freaks out. Everyone around him freaks out. The beard starts growing every which way, and he gets kicked out of town so nobody has to deal with him and his beard any more.

At first, it’s “haha, very funny,” but when you think about it: it’s much deeper than that. I mean, you could look at hair as just that. We have trouble enough with that as it is. We have to shave it off, make it ironic, bathe it in “beauty” products, and do who-knows-what-else to something that occurs naturally and harmlessly. I mean, fuck, we see a woman with some hair on her brows, arms, whatever and we act like devil incarnate. When all is said in done, it’s just hair.*

*Photographer, Ben Hopper, does a magnificent job of redeeming our innate splendor in his “Natural Beauty” project.

Then again, it’s not just hair. Maybe Collins’ beard is everything else that comes out of us too: our dreams, our quirks, our fears. We see one ounce of difference and we flip out. Chill. It’s just them being them. Some people like plaid. Some people love cats. Some people go to sweat houses and chant until they pass out. It’s all good.

I read an article by Dominatrix, Mitsu Mark, who talks about how she has all these clients who have a fantasy experience in mind but are too embarrassed or shy to say it, so they stay quiet and leave wanting. WE GO THROUGH LIFE THAT WAY! We want that last cookie. We wish the barista would re-make the drink. We pass up on the opportunity of a lifetime because somebody might look at us sideways if we did that. This is not saintliness, my friends. It’s societal BS. You want that drink re-made? Ask it to be remade. You want that last cookie, take it! We all know you want it, and we all want you to be happy. So, take it.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be a dick about it. Just speak your peace, then step aside to let somebody else have their turn in the spotlight. When you do that, you not only get out of your own way, but you also pave the way for your later acts of valor to be TRULY SELFLESS.

So, be upfront with how you feel. Be honest. Be kind. Be bold.

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Vulnerability: The 1st Step to Becoming Stronger

Mirror

Summary: That moment you’re happy with yourself and the one you love….

Photographer Neringa Rekasiute recently put out an a photo series entitled, “We.Women:”

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The series takes a group of women of all different ages and body types and sets them in front of a mirror, giving themselves and their audience an uncompromising, 360-degree view of their subject.

Black and white. One prop. No tricks.

I have to give props to these women. They’re willing to put it all on the line, call spade to spade, and become utterly transparent for the world to see.

I don’t know if you’ve given yourself the same treatment, but it’s a bit unnerving and a bit freeing at the same time. I mean, originally I was going to take a shirtless pic of myself for the Physiques blog, and then I was, like… “nobody needs to see that.”

And that’s exactly my point! Only until we reach the point of being utterly vulnerable can we truly be utterly free. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When we strip away the safeguards we work so hard to put up, we can finally get to the meat and potatoes of relationship and intimacy.

That said, I do not want this to come across as an anti-Photoshop PSA, either. I think image editing has its place. Ask any boudoir photographer, and you will quickly find out how transformative an experience good lighting and a quick airbrush can be. Even still, like clothing, makeup, cars, money, or any other trappings we humans choose to decorate ourselves with, these images can only amplify what is going on inside.

I love dressing up, putting on a nice suit and hitting the town; but when I am feeling like dirt, it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, I won’t be very much fun.

So, love yourself, love others, and get out there and kick some major butt!

Vulnerable
We’re on this journey together, guys!

Blessings to you in Christ,

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The Trouble with Type: The Problem with Pidgeonholed Relationships

Type

Summary: Variety is the spice of life.* Garnish well!

*William Cowper’s “The Task”

We all have preferences in the social, emotional, and physical profiles of the people we interact with on a daily basis. We are a very tribal people after all. Like attracts like, whether that likeness comes in the form of sex, color, religion, social status, club affiliation, etc. Even if you are a die-hard individualist, you will inevitably find yourself in good company. (Non-conformists conforming to non-conformity.)

This pull towards sameness is understandable. There is comfort and security in. The group protects its own, defends its own, and offers up an identifiable flagpole to rally around. This is all well and good, but there is also a certain danger to it.

1. Variety Strengthens

As the Irish found out during the Potato Blight or Johnny One-Note discovers as his career flounders, homogeneity is convenient, but still not a safe bet. An unexpected attack or sudden change can rattle an entire sub-culture. If that culture is not willing or able to adapt, it can often fall into obscurity or be wiped out altogether.

We must be willing to let outsiders in, not to assimilate them Borg-style, but to appreciate the insights they may have to offer.

Of course, this thought is not mere social theory.

It is good dating advice too.

2. Variety Frees

We have all heard the phrase before: “he/she just isn’t my type.”

Everyone has a preference. There are a wide range of personality types, physical features, fetishes we pick and chose from when it comes to pursuing a partner. You may even have biases and not even realize it unless you really spend time putting two and two together.

On the other hand, this idea of type can also be a self-defeating one. You may be interested in a person but not think of you are their type or they are yours. So, you walk away and maybe miss out on a golden opportunity.

Take my wife and I, for example. On the surface, we are very different people: I am big city, she is small town; I am impetuous, she is analytical; I am active, she is mellow. Rather than this being a hindrance in our relationship, it has been quite a blessing. I bring the wonder, she brings the foresight. We complement each other well.

So, don’t be afraid of mixing things up.

Side note: I think we could all take a lesson from Brazil. Their culture is the most heterogenous in the world, and it also produces the most beautiful people. Just food for thought.

Blessings to you in Christ,

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Fantastical Physiques: Body Image and You

Body 3

Summary: The more you love yourself, the easier it is for others to love you as well.

Bring to mind, if you will, two mental images:

Exhibit A: Chris Hemsworth 

Exhibit B: Michael Cera

These will be two case studies for the duration of this exercise. That said, let us begin with a question: What do these two persons have in common? They are both actors, yes. They are both men. Their characters also both set some pretty loft expectations for the average American male.

Take Chris Hemsworth for example, especially in the Thor movies. I have to hand it to the guy. He looks amazing. BUT! It takes a lot of effort to look like he does. Hours in the gym, a personal trainer, a dietitian, the works. Not all of us are able to match this level of commitment.

Then, there is Michael Cera. He is nerdy, thin, and pale. Most guys have no problem achieving this standard. And his characters end up getting the girl anyways, especially in Zombieland, where he is the proverbial the last guy left on Earth. But, as you probably have already noticed, simply existing does not win you any brownie points with the opposite sex. (Side note: Making brownies, on the other hand, wins you brownie points with everybody.)

Does this mean you have to look like Chris Hemsworth to have any success on the dating scene, or in comparable social engagements? No. Does this mean that you have to put some effort into your appearance before hitting the town? Yes. A bit of muscle tone, matched with a sharp sense of humor, can go a long way.

Truth be told, there are women out there who would prefer a man with a little bit of squish on him over say, a more steroid-happy dude. (The former is, after all, more fun to hug.) So, don’t sweat bullets over stubborn fluff.

Are you presentable? Can you strike up a decent conversation? These are two great places to start off with. Then go from there. Remember: It’s like Bill Murray said in What About Bob?: “Baby steps….”

Even if you don’t look like your favorite superhero, still make every effort to be a superhero in your own, real-world way. And keep in mind: if you struggle with body image issues, she most likely does too. Extend her all the grace you would give yourself and more. Your relationship with benefit greatly from this.

Blessings to you in Christ,

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Beyond the Page

Book 2

Summary: Improve your dating lby balancing your real and fictional worlds.

Yesterday, a friend of mine was on dating website, checking out the site’s latest recommendations. One such recommendation was for a young man claiming to be a published writer (though he left the title of his work unknown). He was dapperly dressed and prided himself on being a “nice guy.” Despite all his supposed accomplishments, the hits on his page were slim to none.

I definitely felt for the guy. He tried to put his best foot forward. Yet, despite his best efforts, he scored no major points in the social realm. I have found this often to be the case with writers, to whose noble brotherhood I belong. We writers live spend so much time in our own fiction world that we struggle to engage in the real one. Fantasy and sci-fi writers are particularly notorious for this. Our investment in our craft limits the time we can invest in others, which also limits our ability to become a normal, contributing member of society.

This is not an insurmountable problem to take care of, but it does require some lifestyle changes to get around.

If you are a writer struggling on the dating scene, here are a few suggestions to help in your quest to master both the social and professional spheres:

1. Get a Job

Being a writer can be a lot of fun, but it can be very to make money at. Now, I wish you all the success in the world as a writer. However, while you are still a nobody in the industry, you will need to find an alternative means of gaining income to get by.

This does not mean selling out, or giving up on your dreams of being an independent, artist soul. Just the opposite, in fact. If you want to move out of your parents’ house, if you want to buy the clothes and cars and stuff necessary to become socially mobile, if you want to take that special somebody out on a date, then you will need money to do it.

Note: Contests, workshops, and other writing ventures also take money, so again it’s good to have the green.

The more fiscally sound you are, the more attractive you will become, both in your own eyes and in the eyes of others. So, get those resumes polished and ready for action!

2. Find a Hobby

I find it is easy to stay in writer mode all day long. There are always new turns of phrase I could use, characters I could develop, ideas I want to explore. Although those are incredibly interesting to me, they are not so much to other people, especially when I am working on concepts far from ready to be shown to the public.

It is therefore important to take up a hobby that is interesting to the outside world, so I get out of my own head and into an others-centered frame of mind.

Music is a universal language. A sport is good. A craft is another option. Going to movies works too, though I would recommend you go with friends if you do this, just so that you’re not falling back into anti-social tendencies. Anything where there is a possibility of human interaction is a keeper, especially if it requires physical movement (we are a sedentary bunch after all.)

The more you move around, the better you will feel. Plus, studies show that the amount of Vitamin D you soak in (via the Sun) significantly affects your outlook on life, and people are much more likely to interact with a smiling individual than a party-pooper.

3. Engage

Once you have started making money and moving about, we can focus on the last major hurdle you must overcome: sustainable human interaction. For this, you will need to become part of a co-ed social group, especially one that gives back to the community. A church or volunteer organization is great for this. Not only does it feel good to give, but it gets you talking to all kinds of people. (Spiritual development is just as important as fiscal or physical development to be sure.) The more social languages you can speak the better, because you never know what special someone is going to be into. And! Although you may think you know exactly who you are and what you want out of life, it is not uncommon for people to open a whole world of possibilities to you when you dare to take them up on a new opportunity, activity, or way of thinking.

Note: Do not join these organizations simply to pick up women. This is creepy and the last thing people need is to worry is being hit on while trying to do a good thing. People can smell ulterior motives a mile away, so don’t use them. The goal here is simply to develop a diverse, social vocabulary and, if romance arises naturally from this, all the better.

That said, please do not feel like you have to take on all of these things at once. Just know that each and every one of these elements will help you become a more well-rounded human being if you chose to explore them. Not only that, but the more people you meet, the more people may also be willing to read your work, offer you valuable feedback, or even provide that ever-important connection to get your foot in the door.

Final Note: Do not meet people just to promote your work, but not be afraid to share it if the opportunity arises either. When you truly care about people, they will begin to truly care about you. Social circles are nifty like that.

Thank you for your time. I pray you enjoy the worlds around you to their fullest.

Blessings to you in Christ,

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