Scary Mail

I received a letter in the mail before Thanksgiving and I’ve been resisting opening it.
Who sent it? What am I afraid of?
Watch now to find out.

 

Love LetterExplore sending a love letter, a pick-me up, a pep-talk, note to yourself. Ideally, wait long enough to open it that you won’t recall what you wrote, then allow yourself to be surprised, touched, proud, grateful…

The ManKind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure

This weekend I attended the Graduation and Homecoming event for the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend I completed two weeks ago. It is a powerful, transformative event put on by The ManKind Project. I made before and after videos and dedicated an episode of the Real Men Feel podcast to it as well. You can dig in to all of that goodness right here. That episode has quickly become the most popular show we’ve done yet and I’ve heard feedback from men, and a couple of women, from all over the world.

I really can’t recommend the New Warrior Training Adventure enough. At homecoming I got to witness what partners and spouses have seen in their men since they’ve returned and got to learn more about all the amazing thinks MKP is up to. There is even a women’s version of the weekend called Women Within.

I attended the NWTA weekend to gain some clarity over my own work with men and whether Real Men Feel was really something worth continuing with. The work I experienced and witnessed, along with the overwhelming feedback I’ve received via email, online and in-person regarding the podcast has left me with no doubt about my mission.

I also learned my animal name, Fun-Loving Chipmunk, which I am enjoying more every day.

Fun-Living Chipmunk

My man card, or rather my New Warrior certificate.

Man Certification

I cannot encourage men to explore the ManKind Project strongly enough, and women please check out Women Within. It isn’t just a female version, it is a weekend created by and for women. There is also program for boys and one for men behind bars.

I’ll be volunteering at the next New Warrior Training Adventure being held in Massachusetts in March 2017. I hope to see you there.

The (Not So) Evil Stepmother

Today has been a long day, ending a challenging time for my family. As someone who often speaks of authenticity and founded Real Men Feel, this is one of those videos I knew I had to make.

For Marilyn

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FU: I Love You

The first time I ever did a “fuck you, I love you” post it was how I signed off on a video after a friend seemed to die by suicide. It was unplanned wording that perfectly reflected how I was feeling. I used it again in a video after Robin William’s suicide (wow, two years ago for both). In each case, I was saying that I loved them, the person, but I was pissed at how they went out. The “fuck you” was to suicide.

I find myself thinking those same seemingly opposed thoughts, fuck you and I love you, in regards to my father. I wrote a post earlier today for RealMenFeel.org called Strong Enough to Be Sad (read it now if you want to be fully up to speed before proceeding. It’s short and I’ll wait.).

I often tell my coaching clients that they can love someone and still be angry, annoyed, bitter, resentful or frustrated with them. Unconditional love doesn’t mean you don’t also have other emotions, it means beneath all the other emotions, even the so-called ‘negative’ ones, there is love. Unconditional love for yourself means loving you even when you can’t stand you.

Today I brought my dad to see his oncologist for an appointment that we both knew meant cancer was back. He’s already had surgery to remove cancer from his colon and kidneys. While sitting in the waiting room today, he noticed writing on my wrist. He said, “I know I’ve asked before, but what does that say?”

On my left wrist is my first tattoo, which I got six years ago this month. Getting it was a pretty big deal. The incidents that inspired it had me interviewed on CNN and ABC’s Nightline. My dad knew all of this because he lived through it all too.

He was now asking me again what it says on my wrist. No big deal I thought. “It says GRATEFUL,” I told him. His response was a new one. He said, “Jesus Christ, what a faker!’ and stared at me with a slight smirk like he was waiting for me to laugh or react, I’m not really sure.Grateful

I wanted to reply with a hearty, “I hope you die alone on the streets,” and walk out. Instead I turned away, took a slow deep breath, reminded myself that in his dementia-ravaged and scared mind, that was the best he could do for a nervous joke to pass the time. I muttered, “Fuck you, I love you.”

During the appointment we discovered he has multiple growing cancers in his lungs, liver and stomach. Fuck you, I love you.

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Fifty

It was my birthday yesterday. I don’t really celebrate birthdays in any big way. Haven’t since i was a kid. I’ve even missed my own birthday on a few occasions, being so busy that I forgot I had had another birthday until a week after the fact. I’ve been losing track of how old I am since my early 20’s. Each year seems to go by faster and faster.

I’ve always thought some of this perspective might be due to my depressed and suicidal times, which go all the way back to elementary school. For many years growing up I never thought I’d live past 18. I remember when I was about 12 years old, friends were talking about the year 2001 and figuring out how old they’d be then. I didn’t bother because I had no interest in still being alive then. Outside of being able to get my driver’s license, there’s never been an age I’ve looked forward to turning. I’ve certainly never come across any man saying, “I can’t wait to be fifty!”

Also, so many people have told me over the years about all the horrors of growing older. As a child, my dad often told me high school was the best years of his life. Older men I’ve met complained about life turning downhill at 30, 35, 40, 45…. So it seemed to me there was nothing to look forward to. My body was going to fall apart suddenly, I was going to cynical, divorced, miserable and alone — at least that was my impression based on the unsolicited advice that was often shared with me.

All I know for sure is my experience. That has been that my 30’s were better than my 20’s, and my 40’s were even better than my 30’s. Now I’m 50. A number I never expected, never looked forward to, yet here I am. Nothing has me feeling “over the hill” or even past my prime. I feel I am in fantastic shape; emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. Especially compared to my own prior experience. I think my 50’s are going to totally rock!

So if you’ve had anyone telling you getting older sucks, ignore them. If you yourself think your own aging has sucked, focus on something else, and for God’s sake don’t dare come tell me any of shitty stories. I hear 70 is the new 25.

Be well and enjoy!

Andy

 

PS – I did have a lot of fun making this Ode to Myself

 UPDATE: I saw my dad today (July 3, 2016) and told him I wrote a post about turning 50. He said, “It’s all down hill from there.” I pointed out to him that he’s said that about almost every age since 18. He looked at me in silence for a moment, then said, “Yup, getting old sucks.”
I love him, but I don’t like talking to him.
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