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7 Tips for Cultivating Success and Financial Security

It was one of those parties large enough where folks had formed groups of different conversation each going on simultaneously. I decided to refill my wine glass at the bar, and on my return from the bar, heard bits and pieces of varying conversation as I move through the room. My attention was suddenly captured and drawn to a conversation when I heard the words ‘Yes, it would be a way of securing more of your money’ caught my ear, as I turned and gravitated into the group.

There I saw and heard the voice of Michael Hughes (not real name) aka the playboy and man’s man of financial gain in my circle of friends. He was at the center of a discussion where he was agreeing with some fellow over advice about finances that the fellow had gleaned from a television talk show whose guest were composed of “Sharks” (a business-themed T.V. show where multi-millionaire tycoons listen to people from all walks of life, who have come to pitch their dreams and ideas for the chance to secure funds in a business deal that could make them millionaires.) The Sharks' goal is to find a deal that brings a return on their investment and allows them ownership of a piece of the next big business idea.

The Sharks included billionaire Mark Cuban, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, QVC-famed Lori Greiner, tech innovator Robert Herjavec, branding expert Daymond John, and venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary. (These investors had found themselves being interviewed about keys to financial success.)

Our cocktail group conversation spring-boarded from that conversation about the show into other areas of money and success. As the conversation moved along I found myself going through my own mental check list of techniques I had tried over the years that worked and I found useful, but only when I would put them to work for me and my circumstance. Circumstance in one’s life is why a grain of salt is needed when taking any advice.

Having said that, this post is for that group of you who keep harassing me about my take on your financial decisions. To those of you that I have told on several occasions that finance is not my field of expertise! Well, I did learn something from that cocktail conversation encounter: that I had known more and forgotten it than I thought I did. It has given me the confidence to pass on these 7 tips, about finance that you may find useful to consider. I would suggest that you do your own research on it and only then to put it into action if you determine any of it useful to you.

Tip 1 - Be ready for when the poop hits the fan, because it always does

In life you learn that if you don’t like something give it 15 minutes because it is going to change.  You and your financial picture will certainly see change happen. If you are looking for security in a time of flux or a downturn, then you would need to learn how to prepare financially and emotionally for the unexpected, because there's a 100 percent certainty the unexpected will happen. It is suggested that one way to be ready for change is to keep 10 percent of your total assets in cash.

Tip 2 - Follow your heart, but do not forget your brains

People can be so overzealous about their dreams to the point that they scare themselves out of moving toward them; or they go rushing in, blinded by their passion that they miss the realities of making their dreams realized. They need to see themselves and their ideas/concepts differently, perhaps more like a savvy entrepreneur, which is a person with a plan for success, with flexibility of focus both for their ideas/dreams and lifestyle. And not to forget that they will have to generate money to survive and thrive, not only for themselves but for whatever ideas/creation they want to birth.

Tip 3 - Cultivate healthy skepticism

You can expect as an entrepreneur, a preoccupation with your dreams/creation (that could even have you forget to breath, thank heavens breathing is automatic), you will find you want to do everything possible to maintain and financially secure it.

Know that successful people have learned to take the hit on both finances and dreams, but they grew from the hit, got up and stop feeling sorry for themselves and keep moving forward.  In your financial world, you will need to apply the same strategies. Know there are opportunist looking to take a bite out of your savings, reputation and dreams. To protect yourself from paranoia about this, you must cultivate two types of focus - Knowledge and Wisdom. To do that I share a Marilyn Voss Savant quote: “To acquire knowledge you must study and to acquire Wisdom one must observe.”

Thus in your game plan development you have short term goal that involves learning to spot, what Sharks call, “Slick Willies.” These are slippery folks, quick to take shortcuts or shift stories, and they're often dishonest. Slick Willies are in every profession, from financial advisers to lawyers to real estate brokers, and the best way to tell if you're dealing with one, is to call a time-out and listen to your gut. Then proceed accordingly.

In your Long term game plan incorporate “the worst-case scenario” to every situation. For example, what would be the personal impact of a significant stock market correction in your life, if it happens in the next five years? What if a spouse, or parent falls ill and needs long-term care? What if your job downsized before you were ready to take your dream/concept full throttle, or before you were ready for retirement?

To incorporate action plans for such situations as these into your game plan, you will need healthy skepticism, or what Andy Grove, the former CEO of semiconductor giant Intel, calls Paranoia as suggested in his book “Only the Paranoid Survive” which deals with lives in sudden change.

Tip 4 - Know “Who’s On First”

The Sharks Tank show has two dramatic words, "I'm out," and when spoken, I am told, you can see the air go out of the person who is trying to pitch their idea / product. Comments of the various investors have been reported as saying: Mark Cuban of the show says: “It's an emotionally charged moment for the entrepreneurs, it is remarkably emotionless for the Sharks. That's because, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal.’ Understand the investment.” Cuban is reported as going on to say "If you don't understand what is going on, whether as an investment or a deal, then why are you doing it?" Lori Greiner said: “The problem is, most people either don't realize that when you have a dream, persistence pays off, you find a way.” Or as Barbara Cocoran says: “They lack the fortitude to walk away.” Daymond John says: "Money is purely a tool, and you shouldn't attach any emotion to it. But you see it happen all the time with the buying of homes or people living beyond their means. They get emotionally tied to something, and it eventually hurts them."

Tip 5 - Take a Risk, a Calculated Risk

Shark - Kevin O'Leary was purported as saying regarding risk - "A calculated risk is based on knowing the outcomes of similar investments over a long period of time. It means learning from the past when you're looking toward the future."

In our cocktail conversation, we talked about 3 components of risk reduction, which came down to:

  1. Invest in what you know, and in what companies or products you love.

  2. Do your homework. Research the idea or product, use your resources the Internet.

  3. A New idea for me was reported to have come from Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary who was paraphrased as saying: “Prioritize return of capital. Instead of focusing on how much profit you can make; determine how quickly you'll recoup your investment. The key is return of capital first, not return on capital," He goes on to says. "If I give somebody $500,000, I first figure how that money is coming home."

Tip 6 - Negotiate Everything

“I am not interested in money but in the things of which money is the symbol,” said Henry Ford. One understanding of Money that I have come to understand a great deal more of, as of late, is from etymological origins of the word Money which means EXCHANGE, and later BARTER; In Latin origin - CAMBIRE "to exchange, barter; Celtic origin, from PIE root KEMP - "to bend, crook" (with a word sense evolution from "to turn" to "to change," to "to barter".  Which suggest to me an exchange of services.

So much of life is a negotiation. It must be noted that it is a mistake when negotiating to think of the goal is ‘trying to get something over on someone’, it is more important to try to find that ground or medium where both sides walk away feeling they've gotten value. Few things are worse than remembering getting bad quality and service out of an exchange.
Understand then, Money as exchange or barter gives us all more opportunities to find ways to turn or better our situation and life. Look for new ways to bring opportunities of trade or barter to you.

Tip 7 - Listen and keep learning

Are you present in your dealings with people? Conscious of your transactions?  Listening to others as well as yourself to be able to make corrections in a bad encounter or repeat the actions that produced a good outcome? What did you learn from the interaction? These questions encourage constructive thinking, and gives you tools to learn, to change, or adapt your dreams/ideas/projects as needed to bring about success.
So I had a lot to think over and distill, to come up with my conclusions as to what to share with you regarding cultivating success and financial security. One other point I would like to leave with you, is to look for the opportunity to make it abundant in your life. Marianne Williamson is quoted as saying: “The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts."

These were tips to help change your mind set about creating a secure future with new ways for you to think about money and doing business. If you take action and try some of these changes, shoot me an email. Tell me how it’s going for you.

 

Two shorts by Scott Keene

Introducing short story writer Scott Keene of the Long Beach, California, Writing Group

Tattoos & Footsteps

by Scott Keene 27 July 2012

He woke with a start. He looked around the room with sleepy eyes. Where was he? He looked at the nightstand next to the bed. The hotel clock said 3:15. Of course, he sighed. The Marriott near the airport in St. Louis. The connection to Cleveland had been cancelled because of the storm. Southwest had tried to put him up in some crappy hotel that looked like some sort of medieval castle. He wasn't having that. He took his hotel voucher and his Marriott rewards points and gave himself an upgrade.

He lay his head back down on the pillow and let his eyes adjust to the darkness. Then he heard it again. The same sound that had awoken him. Footsteps. Except… no, it couldn't be. They sounded like they were coming from inside the room. He flipped the switch on the lamp next to his side of the bed and listened again. He could hear the faint sound of music coming from somewhere, but he couldn't make out the tune.

He got up, pulled on a t-shirt and jeans and slipped his feet into his loafers. Grabbed the key card and the ice bucket and walked down the hall.

There was a vending machine room at the end of the hall, where the ice machine was. He put the bucket in place and pressed the button. He heard the gentle whir of gears turning, but no ice. He pressed again and still nothing. He turned and walked back towards his room. As he passed room 217, he paused. The music was coming from behind this door. Still, he had trouble recognizing the tune. He leaned forward and gently pressed his ear to the door. Music, yes, but other noises too. Was that…? Yes, just beneath the sound of the music was the soft slapping and moaning of copulation.

He blushed and stepped away from the door. As he turned once again to make his way back to his room, he heard the door to room 217 open. "Hey," the woman said. He faced her, looked her up and down. She was naked he realized but covered nearly head to toe in tattoos. The music was louder now with the door open and he could still hear the sounds of love-making from inside.

Interesting. "Hey," he said, smiling.

 

Breasts

by Scott Keene 14 April 2016

He had a lot of thoughts about breasts. He was certainly not a breast man, but when prompted to write about breasts, there were several thoughts that came to mind.

He didn’t like the way the female breast was sexualized in American culture. Women were not allowed to be topless. Unless, of course the nipples were covered up. Why was this? Why was it okay to leave the breast exposed as long as the nipple was not revealed. He just didn't get it.

The Bather, 1858, Gustav Courbet

He remembered watching a special on Discovery Health channel about breast reduction surgery. This is medical. Clinical. There is nothing sexy about breast reduction surgery. Yet when the exam begins, the doctor pulls back the paper gown to reveal the breasts and the nipples are pixelated. Ridiculous.

By contrast, he remembered another special on weight loss. Same type of scenario, only this time the subject was male. The man weighed close to 300 pounds and was about to undergo reduction surgery, including breast reduction. But this time, full male breasts, no nipple pixilation. And this man's breasts were way bigger than the woman's in the other special. He realized, of course, size had nothing to do with it. It was clearly a gender issue.

But he still didn't get it.

Man Love

I have a curiosity about people and their interaction with each other. While attending a Birthday party recently, my attention was drawn to a group of Jocks who were gathered together (as far away from the dance floor as they could get.) but it was their body stance and posturing, as well as their nervous laughter while talking that had caught my attention.

As it turned out, their conversation was on: ‘Bromance’ and how confusing the term was, one fellow said: “I love this guy (pointing to the man standing next to him), but hey, don’t get me wrong, we are straight and married.” I thought it was funny that he had to point out the obvious, but I guess with people calling themselves any number of sexual orientations and the list growing every day, that he felt he needed a qualifier.

In this current age of transformative roles and changing morality, the question of male love / bonding really becomes tricky.  As human beings, we naturally experience changes during the course of our lives here on planet Earth with some appearing to come out of left field.  These changes are challenging, even overwhelming at times.

Individuals find themselves unconsciously seeking to make sense of it.  I feel they are trying to articulate their Archetypal journey from sense to soul - The path that is hidden beneath the surface. In the case of this male bonding episode it was grist for my mill to ponder, I call it Tantalum or the practice of contemplation to clarify.

It may seem a bit odd to think that the answer to this form of relationship lay in the Ancient Archetypes. Let's bring examples of those mythic archetypes to the forefront of our mind to lend some clues and have a chance to release some taboos about our man friends in the flow of daily encounters.

Seldom is a Conscious focus used to understand what may be going on with us, life just seems to happen. Thus, some wander disoriented through life, others on a self-destructive path, in a world that is understood, and measured primarily by the external environment. Seldom by a choice of the Conscious Contemplation.

You hear all the time how we have lost sight of the personal connection be it with environment, each other, and with even our self.  We have a disconnect from the Archetypal Source. Sadly, too, we have come to understand “myth” as a lie rather than the symbolic and metaphoric gateway to a deeper truth.

For example, when the guy was talking about his love of his buddy, a piece of the mythic story or experience came to my mind. It was told to me years ago as a form of American Indian lore about manhood and love.

Love in Indian lore as per males, was described not as a concept revolved around a romantic getting your grove on sentimentality, but rather shown as adherence to service and duty.

Every boy, from the beginning of his training, was an embryo public servant. He put into daily practice lessons that reflected public service, so in this way, it would become part of him. His expectation for his service was not salary, nor prizes to work for. He took his tribute in the recognition of the community’s betterment and the consciousness of unselfish service.

The finest love a man could develop then was with his fellow men in unselfish service; these friendships were thought to be - the severest test of character.

You'd think it would have been loyalty to family and clan, or man and woman. The love between man and woman founded on the mating instinct and is often times not free from desire and self-seeking. But to have a friend, and to be a true friend under any and all trials, was considered the mark of a man! The highest type of friendship was the relation of ‘brother-friend’ or ‘life-and-death friend.’ This bond between man and man was usually formed in early youth, and could only be broken by death. It is the essence of camaraderie and fraternal love, it was considered beyond the thought of pleasure or gain, and whose bases is on support and inspiration. Each is vowed to die for the other if need be, and nothing is denied the brother-friend, but neither is anything required beyond their bond.

Their Courage was predicated on the ability to forget oneself in the pursuit of duty and the desire to serve and protect others. Bravery was a high moral virtue, yet it did not consist so much in the form of aggressive self-assertion, but in the development of conscious self-control.  The effect of the vigorous physical training young men participated in, was thought to be a way sports and games could serve as a funnel for their sexual energy, so that they might maintain a courageous self-mastery in their lives. A boy was taught by the men in his tribe how to use this skill in hunting, fishing, and the warrior defense of their agrarian way of life. Also to understand the tribe’s code of service and to learn to be led by Spirit.

Men’s groups known as fraternal organizations have existed as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the 1950-60’s there were many different fraternal groups in the United States, and I would guess a good 30 to 40% of adult males belonged to one or another of these kinds of organizations.  Many with animal sounding names such as Lions, Moose, Goose, Eagles, Owls, Orioles - or with names like - Odd Fellows, Knights of..., Veterans of…, Freemasons, Rotary, to name only a few of the vast array.

Men associated with these organizations with the intent to bring out the best in themselves through companionship and brotherhood; these environments were dedicated to the intellectual, physical, and social development of its members, and in some way, somehow to be of service to their community.

So I entertain, in this current age of contemporary coded language – that entails words like - Bro, Bromance, Dudes, Posse, and Wing-men -  that the context of these 21st Century words, have a deeper and more Universal Reality that is the same in all cultures, and all times, which is the Mystery that binds all lives, which is Love.

These are ancient archetypal rooted practices are trans-formative in a man experiences. It is the “encounter” experienced as a larger focused context of Purpose. That brings clarity to relationships and a larger sense of Love.

“Amazing things begin to happen when we do what we can where we are. Albert Schweitzer, the French Nobel Peace Prize recipient of 1953, expressed it this way: “I am certain of one thing. The only ones among us who will ever be truly happy are those of us who have sought and found a way to serve."

The greatest shift in most of our lives will take place when we decide to make ourselves available to something greater than our-self. The moment that the internal dialogue moves from the question “What’s in it for me?” to the question of “How can I be of service?” will be the movement in the direction of discovering our unique relationships with others.

Otherwise there is that uncomfortable veil feeling, as if something is missed.  As if the Universe has kept knowledge hidden from you. Look closer then at what your relationships are - to the Men in your lives, to Service, and what you say you Love. To be more present, be more patient, and to stay on purpose that delivers you to the possibility of a life-lived-in-depth, the possibility of authentic living. By keeping it real, the veil is lifted. 

From Lust to Sexuality

It was a bit surprising when a twenty-something ‘y' generation young man approached me and was asking my advice on getting laid. Let’s call him Ted. I had known Ted for a few years now and would have thought that he would looked for this kind of advice from among his peer group, maybe by starting the conversation with: “Yo, when was the last time you got laid?"

All jokes aside, I looked at him and I could tell he was serious. Concerned that Ted felt he may be a real looser, my thoughts turn to what could have brought him to this point? Could it be he was just not informed? Then again, could it be that Ted had discovered feelings of sexual fluidity within himself?  Was he asking because he was going from asexuality to full-on sexual expression? Or was he interested in one of the other alphabet letters of sexuality that he might want to try? Whatever it was, I felt it best not to ask but to keep to his question.

I had to think about my years of sexual activity and perhaps share realizations I’d come to with him, such as - “The more I think I know, the less I really know about this ever changing activity.” That being said, I decided to stay with his scenario and try and flush out some of the gaps in his thinking or lessen the possibility for rejection in his encounters.

So I asked Ted what he was really looking to gain from his sexual exploits.

  1. Was he looking to become an orgasmic human vibrator, looking for any Human intake orifice for solo or participatory pleasure be it after drunk dialing or being bored with porn or Netflix or just because they like to do it.

  2. Being a -FWB (friend with benefits) to a person that wants no strings but who wants to enjoy his company.

  3. Building a causal relationship of sex that moves beyond friends to lovers.

  4. Looking for a committed relationship or life partner.

  5. He was tired of masturbating alone.

I suggested that once Ted decided what he was after from his hook-ups he would then consider what the other person desired or wanted from the encounter, which may mean doing things he hadn’t considered doing to get the payout he wanted. Also, to keep in mind that he or the other person could always change their mind as to how often and long this would last. Lastly the importance of keeping a friendly dialogue going with yourself and the partner to have no ugly surprises.

Ted threw out some lame-ass goal from off the top of his head, for immediate gratification that he could see in his mind’s eye. I did suggest spending some time with himself alone considering his choice and his options in regards to repeating the act, his future sense of fulfillment, and gaining happiness.

Ted being a science geek, I reminded him, too, of a principle of quantum physics, which is that our thoughts determine reality. Early in the 1900s they proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt with an experiment called the double slit experiment. They found that the determining factor of the behavior of energy (‘particles’) at the quantum level is the awareness of the observer. The consciousness of the observer in this query was Ted.

Our reality, I assured him, does not exist in a place outside of us, but rather within. It infuses all matter and energy, connecting every person, everything from a ray of light to a bit of cosmic dust. I think it is absolutely clear that we must start to consider ourselves as more than a physical body and more like the fusion of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and intentions, which I call the human sensuous energy field.

Sorry, I strayed. I asked Ted to consider his chances for success in sustaining having good sex. He pressed me further. I suggested that he consider the importance in the difference between the fantasy about his performance during sex, that which we create in our imagination (which, no matter how you look at it, is going to be far better than the performances that we can actually give, or worse, expect a partner to perform).

Anybody that has had regular sex can attest that the best sex they have had has always been conjured up in their head either alone or with a partner, rather than the actuality of their technique alone. In sex's defense I do have to say, that the worse sex you can have is better than no sex, in my option.

Ted came around, and he agreed that the best sex for most people is with someone with whom they have a sense of shared trust and perhaps an unacknowledged attraction. They’ve probably met at work or a party or through friends. They’ve seen each other at the same events, or gym or favorite sports venue, or their favorite bar. After a while some kind of affinity with this person is created, and you can figure they fit into some wider category of friends. Sex happens as a combustion of thought. Someone having met and interacted socially could start to wonder, what it would be like to be the person to get it on with Ted?

I prodded Ted into telling me what he thought his next step should be, which turn out to be his letting go of his imagined expectation and inadequacies (about looks, penis size and performance) for something tangible. That next step, or tangibility, was for him to voice an intention to the other person to actually go out together. Ah yes I said, but consider that you are not asking them out not for sex, but for fun.

To enjoy each other’s company. To get to know each other’s moods. As humans we learn in the exploration of play; having fun is a way of adding to our knowledge. In this case adding to the knowledge Ted would gain about this other person without the messy investment of feelings or getting hurt or rejection. Allowing Ted a safety zone for playful interaction where he could, if he liked, strut and flirt and observe the reactions of his intended, giving Ted a gauge of if or when the time is right to make his move towards the bedroom and, if he had chosen the right person for this situation would they go for it too? I suggested another benefit is that he could develop a friendship along the way with this other person even if either or both of them went on to other relationships.

He protested and said this was not about finding his dream partner. This was about getting laid.

I could sense in his conversation that he felt I had strayed from goal. Like many men he craves intimacy but fears rejection, getting hurt, clinging vines, or strings. To get him back on track I suggested that for men looking for free, no-strings-attached sex, sex for the sport of it, that he might want to try one of those hook-up sex sites. Ted looked shocked, for I had removed sex from its prescribed context. He protested that he needed to know something about the other person first.

I said ‘I have your attention again, good. Let me put it in your terms – You want to get laid, and to hit it more than one time, and especially if it is good.’ For this to happen, it is going to require both your heads to be working. The need to be conscious and to pay attention for the point of all of this is to ensure that you have a relatively frequent booty call. So if you actually want a relatively frequent booty call, and you want to be the person that is called, you need to put some effort into it, both in and out of the bed. It is about more than arousal, or the discharge of relief, Ted; it is realizing you can be the one they call for mutual orgasm rather than your singular masturbation.

It has to begin with a person you like and have respect for. This is at the start, during and after the experience. If you leave someone feeling shitty in any way, the chances of that next phone call coming is greatly reduced. Remember that person is the one you enjoy and can joke around with. The situation after sex has changed, but you may now have a deeper insight into your Being, a fuller understanding of your facets and capabilities.

Be clear about your arrangement, what is it, and what it is not: a hook-up, a movement within a relationship, a committed relationship. Whatever it is, be clear through real communication that you are on track. Awareness and communication increases good sex frequency for the both of you, without entering into territories that can ruin the friendship. Work to ensure the essence of your friendship stays the same, with increased incremental bits of change or fun. Don’t call or text more. Don’t call or text less. Don’t read into or assume you know the other person’s mind without communication and checking. This will prevent you calling yourself just a hook-up, or a boyfriend, or a lover or whatever prematurely.  If you find yourself doing that, the problem is you, and you will likely find you don’t have the chops to pull this kind of thing off. Just be yourself. Your intended has already known that guy (you) for a while now, and will like that guy (you) just the right amount, so don’t mess with a good thing.

Ted, I say, there is no intercourse without the fusion of Love in some kind of shape or expression. It will be different with each person and, Ted, your sexual orientation (what you think) goes further in determining the quality of satisfaction in those sexual activities than technique ever can. The mind’s orientation can resist the fact that we all have a choice between having the life we want or creating the reasons why we can’t have that life.

Consciously or not, Ted, people think about hopes and dreams for themselves in terms that go beyond the hook-ups. The true orgasm is the combustible fusion of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and intentions - that sensuous human energy field perpetually informing the quantum reality within us and around us at each moment of our existence. It is not sex fully engaged without the igniting sensuous fusion of Love, and even better still if found in its highest form called Agape.

After our conversation, Ted left. In watching him walk away his head was held higher, his steps more assured. Ted realized that speaking to me was not to discourage his desire for sex, but to make it better by enlarging his concept of it and perhaps himself.

The fact that society is starting to have more open discussions about sex is good. The scope and depth of sexual desire isn’t something that can be done in a thousand or so words. But I hope it will be enough to have people engaging in enlarging the concept, firing up the male and female principles within all of us to rethink the fundamental level of reality and the restructuring of our beliefs and expectations about Love and sexual release.

Bringing it down to basics, we are all some form of energy field, and there is infinite potential in that energy. It is entirely up to us as to what we choose to manifest out of that field in our bodies and lives.

Whatever we do let’s make it good sex.

Are Beards a Man's Makeup ?

Many thanks to my long-time friend Jimmy Garner for the following post.

This week I spoke, from Hamburg, Germany, with my dear friend Calvin. He mentioned his thoughts about an article/blog for his March website edition concerning Men’s Beards.

November 2015 was National Beard Month and the evidence of this was apparent. From the man on the street, to celebrities, to News anchors, every man seemed to be sporting some sort of facial hair. Having spent some years in the “hair” business, I do have some thoughts about this subject.

I am a 63-year-old man with a sort-of-kind-of salt and pepper hair color on my face and head. Well … I should say of what hair I have left on my head. It seems that being a man of a certain age, I have hair in places I didn’t know I had. However, I have for years worn what I thought was a goatee. After being corrected more than once, and asking the Gods of Google, I found that “the two styles are often confused because of their similarities, but a goatee only covers the chin, while a Van Dyke also includes a mustache”. So, I have a Van Dyke. Who knew?

After many years in the business, I developed the opinion that the older a person becomes, the less hair they have, the younger they look. I am reminded of my first years in my salon, when I entered to see a woman speaking on our client phone, standing with her back to me, wearing a short smock. She had beautiful long blonde hair, arranged off her shoulders down to her mid-back; not to mention gorgeous long legs. However, when she turned around and I saw her face and neck, well … I was shocked. While her face had great character and she carried herself with grace and elegance, she looked just awful, accentuated by the long hair. She appeared more a caricature of her former self. I noticed the same issue with older men and long hair and/or facial hair. It seemed to be a universal generality, the less hair one had, the younger they looked. Of course there can always be the exception. If not for my partner’s preference for facial hair, I would not have any hair on my head, with the exception of eye brows.

My opinion in this was reinforced by watching the development of last years National Beard Month. There were articles aplenty in the newspapers, magazines, TV news programs, and the Internet about the pros and cons, the why and why nots of men’s facial hair over the years. Many articles and comments were quite surprising and even some a bit disgusting. However, what struck me were the visual difference in the younger men vs we older fellows.

Having an aesthetic eye for appearance, I found the older fellows, sporting their 5 o’clock shadows or full beards, usually with greater degrees of gray, looking older for their effort. The younger men looked stylish and many of them quite sexy. Of course, youth has its advantages. Even though it might be an eclectic combination of hair style and clothing, many young people can wear just about anything and get away with it. But for us older gentlemen, it is more like trying to squeeze our middle aged belly into a spandex sport outfit! It just ain’t gonna work! (I’ve always thought Spandex should come with warning labels).

The title of this missive I attribute to my partner; it is his borrowed statement. So should a man’s makeup be just that, facial hair? I think not, especially when it all starts to go gray and those character forming crow’s feet become cracking claws; anymore than I think mascara, rouge and eye liner work for men.

Jimmy D. Garner

Do we, as men, hide behind our beards or use them as a misconstrued attempt at looking hip or younger? There are many reasons for wearing a beard. When I was planning my February trip to Hamburg, Germany, I thought I should grow my beard to ward off the cold weather experienced here; besides just about everyone has one, so why not. Just before I left So. Cal, I looked in the morning mirror and was shocked. “My God, what am I thinking”. I only saw an old man with a gray beard that looked awful. Vanity prevailed! I shaved off the beard and some years, keeping the Van Dyke.

For what it’s worth . . . .