Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Retrospective

As 2010 comes to a close, I want to take a look back on this year and appreciate where the events of the past 365 days have brought me.

2009 ended as one of the most challenging years in my life.  I was very unhappy, confused, depressed, lonely and really didn't care about much at all.  I decided in the final two weeks that I needed to turn things around and the best way to do that was to keep myself too busy to think about things.  I set many daily, weekly and monthly goals across all of my personal creative interests / hobbies, personal finances and professional career.

The year started great, I had a new things to keep my attention and I started achieving goals at a very rapid and satisfying rate.  In February things started to back slip and I found myself questioning why I was working so hard at things that didn't seem to matter in the "big picture" of life.  I started doing a bunch of soul searching and started to slip back into a deep depression.  All of this came to a head in March, when I was forced to learn a very hard life lesson.  Although the next several months were very hard, and I wasn't sure how things would end up, all worked out as best it could.

Starting in April I was able to take a step back and look inward at myself to try and figure out why I had spiraled to the all-time low I had hit in March.  I started reading a lot and changed the focus of the books from interests / hobbies to self help topics and the study of why people do the things we do... diving into several Psychology topic areas and finding that I really enjoyed the study.

The next several months had me rebuilding my self image, and getting back to the person that I remembered before 2008. I met knew friends and forged new relationships.  I started to enjoy life again.

I had several goals around losing weight and at my high point I was able to lose almost 45 lbs.  The bad news is I'm pretty sure I've put most of that back on... boo!  Oh well - it gives me another goal for 2011, right? 

The final months of the year finished strong with new songwriting projects, website consulting jobs, being signed as Technical Reviewer to three books currently being published, and a freshly renewed spirit for the holiday season!

As I look back on the documented goals that I had for 2010, I can't say that I managed to accomplish them all, however here are some things that I did manage to accomplish the following...

  • Moved content and preparing for launch of as the central site for all projects that I'm involved in.
  • Cut way back on Fast Food consumption
  • Am now back to being a non-drinker, with estimated savings of $5k per year
  • Have written and composed four new songs this year
  • Read over 60 books
  • Achieved many of goals around hobbies and interests
  • Designed three new t-shirt designs for ZicApparel
  • Completed 3 of 7 hiking trails at the Waterloo Discovery Center
I'm sure there are many more things, but I'll now turn my attention to 2011 and making it the best year ever!

I'll be posting my "2011: A Look Forward" post on Sunday and it will be available on the new website only, so please update your bookmarks and follow me on my journey.

Thanks so much for reading...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Christmas Time

DECEMBER rings in as one of the best months of 2010!  A fabulous way to close out the year and look forward to a fantastic 2011!  I enjoyed spending time with those special to me and close to my heart. 

Kelley and I attended a pretty great little concert at the beginning of the month and spent some quality time through the holidays. My mom came over for a visit and will be here with me through New Years.

This was a year to remember the great holiday memories from years past, but to not be sad when remembering them. Instead of mourning the ones we miss, we celebrated with those that are here to enjoy it.  The holidays really had much more meaning to me this year and I look forward to taking advantage of the time I have left with family and friends.  That last statement may sound a bit morbid, but we aren't all here forever.  Our time with each other is limited and precious and I realize this...

It was a small trip through the Christmas light display in Jackson that really put me in the mood to enjoy the holiday season this year.  It's funny how the little times can mean so much.

As I sit here on Boxing Day, thinking back on the past couple days, I feel very blessed.  I'm lucky to have folks that care about me and I look forward to next year being one of the best ever!

Happy Holiday's to you and yours...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: "The Will To Change" by Bell Hooks

I recently finished this book and although it wasn't exactly what I expected, I did enjoy the book nonetheless.  The book focuses on "love" and the ability for men to show emotion, express feelings and basically be in touch with their feminine masculinity.  It covers how rare this is in today's society.  The book was written in 2004 and is still accurate for today's times.  It talks a lot about feminism and how the movement back in the 60's / 70's got a bad rap from the women that used it as a "man hater" type of position.  In actuality the book says in it's opening, "Every female wants to be loved by a male. Every woman wants to love and be loved by the males in her life. Whether gay or straight, bisexual or celibate, she wants to feel the love of father, grandfather, unlce, brother or male friend. If she is heterosexual she wants the love of a male partner."

The book goes into great detail telling why the majority of males lack the ability to love in the way that their women would like them to love.  It describes the Male Patriarchy (and uses the word Patriarchy way too much in my humble opinion) as the main reason for the way things are today, the reason why boys are told at a young age not to cry or show emotion, and how this culture brings up children with the idea that the male of the species is in someway superior to the female.

I'll share with you a few quotes from pages I made note to return to after reading the book, these will sum up the highlights of what I learned or insights I enjoyed from this book.

"In an anti patriarchal culture males do not have to prove their value and worth. They know from birth that simply being gives them value, the right to be cherished and loved."

"Many anti patriarchal parents find that the alternative masculinities they support for their boy children are shattered not by grown-ups but by sexist male peers."

"Much of the anger boys express is itself a response to the demand that they now show any other emotions. Anger feels better than numbness because it often leads to more instrumental action."

From "The Heart of the Soul" by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis - "Anger prevents love and isolates the one who is angry. It is an attempt, often successful, to push away what is most longed for - companionship and understanding. It is a denial of the humanness of others, as well as a denial of your own humanness. Anger is the agony of believing that you are not capable of being understood and that you are not worth of being understood. It is a wall that separates you from others as effectively as if it were concrete, thick, and very high. There is no way through it, under it, or over it."

"Usually this moment comes in adolescence, when many caring and affectionate mothers stop giving their sons emotional nurturance for fear that it will emasculate them. Unable to cope with the loss of emotional connection, boys internalize the pain and mask it with indifference or rage. Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them."

"Most folks believe we are hard-wired biologically to long for sex but they do not believe that we are hard-wired to long for love. Almost everyone believes that we can have sex without love; most folks do not believe that a couple can have love in a relationship if there is no sex."

In reference to the movie "American Beauty" - "They echo the patriarchal message that if a man stops work, he loses his reason for living."

From "Love and Survival" by Dean Ornish - "I am learning that the key to our survival is love. When we love someone and feel loved by them, somehow along the way our suffering subsides, our deepest wounds begin healing, our hearts start to feel safe enough to be vulnerable and to open a little wider. We begin experiencing our own emotions and the feelings of those around us."

Old standards of male sex role versus new masculinity discussed and organized in good fashion on this site that I was able to locate with the help of the Goog.

"To heal, men must learn to feel again. They must learn to break the silence, to speak the pain. Often men, to speak the pain, first turn to the women in their lives and are refused a hearing. In many ways women have bought into the patriarchal masculine mystique. Asked to witness a male expressing feelings, to listen to those feelings and respond, they may simply turn away."

"Integrity is needed for healthy self-esteem. Most males have low self-esteem because they are constantly lying and dissimulating (taking on false appearances) in order to perform the male sexist role."

"The love women are looking for in a relationship with men is one based on mutuality in partnership. Mutuality is different from equality."

Overall a good read and it lead me to some other works by Nathaniel Brandon and Terrance Real, among others listed above...