Male on Man

A Focus On Living by Calvin

VentroyStudios photo.jpeg

Empowering Yourself To Begin

 by Calvin Harris, H. W. M.

You’ve  come up with an idea or goal to put into action — whether it’s eating healthier or finding a perfect travel place or  starting a business — Now comes the question, how to begin?

 

In some cases, you can look to someone who is already doing it and then reenact their strategy which can prove useful. Learning from experience is a great way to gain confidence and accelerate your own learning curve. I benefit from such observations myself.

 

But it’s equally important to remember that these habits and systems, are strategies that successful people realized while on their journey to success, what tools they are using today is probably not the same ones they began with.

 

You might want to stay cognizant to their tools and optimal running practices,  they could be unworkable in getting your concept started because  there is a difference between  what is operational and what is a starting point.

 

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Therefore,  just copying their style can erode your confidence in what you are doing if you are not conscious of your present starting situation and resources vs someone  using  a time tested ongoing successful strategy and their resources.

Not paying attention can often make you feel like you lack the required resources to even get started. Especially If you are only looking at their present optimal operation.  You can feel or even convince yourself that you need to buy more things, or learn new skills, or meet more people before you can even take the first step toward your goals, and dollars to donuts, that’s not true.

For examples.

You decide you want to do a  weekend bicycling road trip. You have the proper bike and gear, but you start to notice Johnny De Gearpacker and Mildred the Adventuress,  who have spent a fortune on gear: rainproof  tents, moisture-wicking clothes, special bike tires, and shoes.  Now I’m not saying gear is not important. Great gear can make your travels much easier on the road, but it’s not required. You don’t need new bike shoes to start riding. You don’t need new cooking pots to start eating healthy. And you don’t need a new mountain bike to start weekend travel trips. Those things might be optimal, but they are not needed in the beginning.

You can argue that it’s hard to travel light without the right bike gear, but the truth is you could make it work with what you have now.

 

When starting a business, and having caught the entrepreneurial spirit, one can become obsessed with having “the Best,” in office space and equipment. I came to find out that success could happen with a laptop, cellphone, and a corner of a table at a coffee shop. Yep, that is without great office space and staff.

 

Avoiding starts by demanding the Optimal, is what I have seen in many talented people, with their claiming to need to “learn more” or “get all of their ducks in a row”  before they start. This often becomes a crutch that can prevent you from moving forward on the stuff that actually matters.

 

Obsessing about the Optimal can be a clever way to prevent yourself from doing the hard work or gaining the habits necessary for your success.

 

If you are a regular reader to my blogs, you know, I’m all for optimizing and improvement. Your gains fill me with joy. Altered habits, no matter how small, leave me cheering. Increase levels of consistency make my heart race. But don’t let visions of the Ultimate prevent you from getting started in the first place.

 

A bad start can always be improved, but obsessing over the perfect outcome will never bring you anywhere near your goal on its own. If you want to be happy set about actions that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and moves you towards your goals.

 

A Focus On Living by Calvin

What Roles Do You Play?

 

by photographer Damien Blottière

by photographer Damien Blottière

Single. Married. Husband. Father. Son. Friend. Student. Colleague (or boss). Have you ever thought about what it takes to succeed in the roles you play in life. 

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With pen and pad, you may want to list and count them. I did, and here are some of mine: Man. Brother. Business Entrepreneur. Client. Conscious Observer. Friend. Instructor. Neighbor. Teacher. Speaker. Writer.

I invite you to think about it for a few second—jot a few notes if you can regarding the many roles you play?

Now ask yourself,  with so many roles, have you been successful in your roles? Especially if you find yourself banging your head against the wall while  continually facing failures in some of those roles. 

Each of our roles require certain qualities to be successful, or effective. To be an effective student for instance takes certain things that we have to do; A self-discipline in attending class, doing assigned task, as well as learning through our own best methods. Conflict resolution with a particular teacher/ other student  through enacting diplomacy to bring about succees.

That definition of success or effectiveness will be entirely up to you;

If you define success as being happy in a certain role, then consider what are the attributes needed  for you to maintain  the place where you yourself  are happy? . We all come  wired with certain sets of qualities and abilities, other roles, we can develop by being trained or taught. Regardless of our unique strengths and weaknesses, our job then is to play out our roles, how well we do that is up to us based on the goals we have in mind. 

The Roles We’re Born Into vs Chosen Roles.

Self-Portraits by Alex Stoddard

Self-Portraits by Alex Stoddard

We have roles we’re born into  such as: homosapien, man, woman, son, daughter, brother, sister, etc. Then there are the roles we choose or resonate with such as: being a friend, a lover, a partner, a spouse, a parent, a student, an employee, a manager, a boss, an entrepreneur, etc.  These roles can also include defining ourself as having a particular occupation or mission such as: an actor, artist, blogger, a chef, a craftsman, an advocate, an activist or practicing a form of spirituality or religion.

Then there are Roles labels that we might take on, things we identify with such as Fighter, Nudist, Survivor. Conservationist, Green activist, Political party supporter, Sports fan, Ecologist.

In life, our personalities reflect abilities to be effective and successful in various Roles - through, integration, combing  and or overlapping of the various roles we can be -  

  • As a good Partner, qualities to cultivate: Caring, communication, empathy, boundaries, kindness,  being supportive, open,  patient, self-aware.

  • A good Manager or Boss -  skills to have or acquire: Being a good listener. Having visionary goals. Having a Strategy that is aware of  the bottom line as well as for care and support of  your employees.

  • As a Survivor, from disease or situation(abuse, etc.), attribute such as: Resilience, determination, faith and grit are needed.

  • Activist: Commitment to and for raising awareness, speaking about, writing about and participation in activities and fundraisers that actively promotes or eradicates something.

by Eduardo Mata Icaza

by Eduardo Mata Icaza

But what happens when the qualities that help us become successful in one area aren’t the same qualities needed to be effective in another?

If you aren’t sure, check yourself, ask:  “In all my situations am I playing, that is applying only the qualities of one role to everything I am doing? such as a Survivor to all my other roles?” Certainly grit is needed to make it through any ordeal, but a survivalist role suggest some type of constant struggle against something to survive,  and would you need or want struggle in every area of life? That would be an exhausting way to live.

 

Understanding the right role for the right situation and using qualities that are appropriate is a challenge. We have all seen examples of someone incredibly successful in business but can’t seem to get their personal life under control. Then again that person who is highly spiritual and wants to change the world but can’t get their business off the ground.  We have examples all the time where someone is successful in one role and essentially not in another. Perhaps it has happened to you?

I suggest questioning: what roles do you want to take on, and what attributes, qualities, or values, are needed for you to be successful and effective in each of those roles?  Check out your mental tool box, and if you don’t have those attributes, can you find a way to develop them?

 

Many of the people I’ve coached struggled in roles and relationships because they were unclear on what their healthy relationships would operate on, or what they needed from themselves to make it work.

Go over your list and check to see if the values and  qualities you are working with are in sync and required for each role you play in your life. Now if you find there are places that you are lacking, and that you’re willing to admit to lacking? Then comes the Big question, would you willing to seek out and get coaching, training or support you need in how to be more successful at the roles you’ve chosen to play? Then you are laying a path to success.

 

Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth. - Bradley Whitford

Living Your Priorities

The Power of Consistency

How small habits repeated consistently turn into big things by Calvin Harris

Heracles battling the Lernaean Hydra, Rudolph Tegner.jpg



 The truth is, the process of success and achieving your wildest dreams is not a matter of Will-Power or positive thought, as much as the Simple habit of showing up day after day.

When you show up with focused attention day in, day out for a set period of time, no matter how small, it’s inevitable you will reach where you truly want to be. Opportunities will begin to present themselves.

Author, Ayodeji Awosika, says:

 “When you show up and keep putting your work out there, good things start to happen. You make new connections, people reach out to you, opportunities start to present themselves.”  

Steal Like an Artist.jpg

 But before we get there, Austin Kleon a writer and artist living in Austin, Texas who wrote the book “Steal Like An Artist”,  makes the observation - “Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without the work.”

The world seems to be facing an epidemic, and are in shock right now and that is because everyone wants to be successful, yet no one is willing to put in the work to be successful. You Can’t Be the Noun Without Doing the Verb.

We as a culture have become instant gratification seeking drones, that have been dumbed down and turned into dopamine seeking instant messaging, Facebook likes, and Netflix zombies at the expense of our dreams and desires.

For many, it is easier to simply talk about the work, rather than to actually do the work. What I mean by doing the work is to put into action the power of thinking, and comprehending, an orderly and rational way to carry out activities. While in the motion of carrying out those activities one arrives at a state of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Blogger Anthony Moore suggest:

“Most people will continue getting high on the dopamine of solely “dreaming” and journaling about their ideal life, without ever doing any meaningful work to make those goals happen.”

I go along with the idea that  ‘Its time’ that people start realizing you can’t be the noun without doing the verb.

You can’t be an athlete, if you never train.

You can’t be a writer, if you don’t write.

You can’t be a mathematician without using the principles of mathematics.

In what areas of your life, are you calling yourself the noun without doing the verb? It’s time to get consistent.

 

 

‘Consistency’, Anthony Moore puts it this way

 “Consistency is a bit like a million dollars. Everyone wants it, everyone knows it will make their life better, but it seems impossible to ever achieve it.”

Becoming consistent at anything you want is not elusive, it can be as simple as rethinking badly formed habits or finding how things are being put in the wrong order. To start forming new habits.

This does not mean, that this correction, or becoming the best version of yourself is likely to happen overnight, old behaviors don’t shake loose that easily.

Start with small steps. Focus on constancy and frequency, rather than intensity and allow the habit to slowly become a natural part of your Being. Become the Conscious builder of your life. Srinivas Rao wrote,

“Build the identity of the person you want to become.”

Blogger Reece Robertson tells us:

your renovation.jpg

 “This is preciously how I developed my morning journaling habit. I didn’t force myself to write an entry straight away. Rather, I would get up every morning, write the date in my journal, and then close it again.

Once that was a natural part of my morning routine, I began to journal for 15 minutes before getting into my reading and writing and haven’t stopped since.

Start small, learn the routine, and develop a process you can stick to.”

 

 

To recap, own the fact that you want to build the identity of the person you want to become. That you will cultivate the power of consistency. That you will make a pact with yourself to show up today, tomorrow, the day after that, and so on.

It will be a certainty that your life would be very different in a year.

Own that You are done holding yourself back, and you will be making more progress. having more joy and satisfaction from life. To develop more confidence, through self-discovery of being the Noun by your action as the Verb.

It starts now.

The majority of goals people pursue don’t require innate talent, or working a 12-hour a day — in most cases, they lack old-fashion consistency.” -Zdravko Cvijetic (content creator, entrepreneur and the founder of Zero to Skill).

A Challenge to Male Roles In U. S. Since 1937

Another Conversation on Masculinity, Society, and Change. by  Calvin Harris H.W., M.

 

man in the mirror.jpg

“Rationalization was much easier than recognizing the gravity of what was lost: an innocent, healthy childhood and an introduction to sexuality on my terms” - Concepción de León

This is a powerful quote from New York Times writer, Concepción de León.

I have spoken before about the necessity of sexuality, and  gender preference be defined by the individual, coming from their innate self, expressed outwardly decided by the  person in their own terms.   

I have mention before how this innate process has been derailed through  children’s storybooks, affecting  children’s gender and sexual behaviors from centuries past. So, today I would like us to look at a tenacious  twentieth century  American comic strip, that has speed seemed to act as an equalizer of bad behaviors (if for only one day), a chance for the young female adults of the last era to enact behaviors befitting their male counterparts. and  how this American folktale may have the underpinning for new sexual roles and yet again poor marks regarding Males and Masculinity in the twenty first century and beyond.

The Sadie Hawkins Day Race

The Sadie Hawkins Day Race

The Comic Strip was created by cartoonist Al Capp and called Li'l Abner. The Encyclopaedia Britannica reported that Li’l Abner, ran in American newspaper from 1934 until 1977, chronicling the absurdities of daily life in the fictional Appalachian town of Dogpatch.

The comic strip abounded in stereotypes of Appalachia. Its title character, Abner Yokum, was a handsome, muscle-bound hillbilly, as lazy as he was dull witted. Like Abner, most of the men of Dogpatch were cast as essentially useless to society; all the real work was done by the “wimmenfolk.” One such woman was the curvaceous and beautiful yet hard-working Daisy Mae Scragg, who was hopelessly in love with Abner and pursued him fruitlessly for years before they finally married in 1952; they produced a child, Honest Abe, in 1953. Another was Abner’s mother, Mammy [who to me looked like Popeye the Sailor], She was the unofficial mayor of Dogpatch, who smoked a corncob pipe and kept the Yokum household running while her lazy, illiterate husband, Pappy, did little more than lie about.

Capp used Li’l Abner to comment satirically on American life and politics, spoofing ruthless capitalists in the early years before turning his wit on hippies and antiwar activists as his views grew more conservative later in life. He retired his creation in 1977, two years before his death. Since then, Li’l Abner has been reprinted at various times.”

In its wake, this comic strip has had a profound influence on the way the world viewed the American South, Men’s  & Women’s roles. and a notable celebration in Dogpatch called, Sadie Hawkins Day, on which the women of the town were allowed to marry any bachelor they could chase down and capture; annual on that  day of role reversal. Females asked males to dances, have sex, or marry. The enormous popularity of the Sadie Hawkins Day  had Capp obligingly  making it a comic strip tradition every November, lasting four decades. The Sadie Hawkins Day phenomena went from being  a pseudo-holiday  November 15, 1937 to gaining in popularity in 1939, two years after its inauguration, the celebration warranted a two-page spread in Life Magazine, who reported that on “Sadie Hawkins Day, Girls Chase Boys in 201 Colleges." By the early 1940s the comic strip event had swept the nation's imagination and acquired a life of its own. By 1952, the event was reportedly celebrated in various venues around the world. It became a woman-empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, long before the modern feminist movement gained prominence.

 

The practical side of Sadie Hawkins day was simply one of gender role-reversal. Women and girls take the initiative, make decisions in preparation to go out with their  invite  man or boy of choice — almost unheard of before 1937.

 

Yet the Male paradigm, the persona of the male counterpoint in Dogpatch  depicts a protagonist, “who is handsome, muscle-bound and as lazy as he was dull witted. A character essentially useless to himself, to his family and to society.  

A character, that we can only hope will not take hold in the American male psyche, as the roles of men and women begin to balance each other out, no longer  men vs women but equal in opportunity.

 

Book Unspeakable by Daum

Book Unspeakable by Daum

Meghan Daum, author of “The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion”,  an occasional, Los Angeles Times oped columnist. www.meghandaum.com

 

On a topic of women vs men causes and movements,  Meghan said [these movements] “will live or die by the degree to which it’s willing to let people in. Until it makes room for examinations not just of toxic masculinity but also toxic femininity—and, even better, dispatch with these meaningless terms—it will continue to tell only half the story. Until it admits that women can be as manipulative and creepy and generally awful as men, the movement will continue to send a message that we’re not really whole people.”

 

I’m wary of any language that defines people ‘only’ based on what was done to them, as opposed to an identity they chose.  I would not want people’s life story to be overshadowed by notions of popular culture.

Yet so many men have felt isolated and unresponsive by what was misread as to how they should act and be by their culture. Decisions in life and sexually counter to their nature, that they just freeze up, or succumb to that which can only be described as trauma.

“The Body Keeps the Score”.jpg

Dr. van der Kolk a psychiatrist specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder, working with  veterans to sexual assault survivors, wrote a book called: “The Body Keeps the Score”  which hinges on his idea that trauma is stored in the body and that, for therapy to be effective, it needs to take into account the physiological changes that occur. He says, “Many people also experience dissociation, which can manifest as literal desensitization in parts of the body or the inability to describe physical sensations.”

 

Men’s identities must change to be able to let go of painful isolation.  Let go of fragmented storylines,  images, sounds and emotion that must be processed as belonging to the past.

The Re-Imaging of Masculinity in the 21st Century and it’s role model for the coming youth, must be vigorously overhauled and fiercely optimistic of a person’s place in the world, for example:

Masculine youth needs to learn to be rigorously honest about what he knows and what he needs to know, and what he feels. To express constructive emotions that exposes the past and lets it go. He knows how to rage without hurting others. He knows how to fear and keep moving. He knows joy, and shares gratitude. He seeks self-mastery.

The 21st Century and beyond male youth has to learn to let go of childish shame. Feeling guilty when they have done nothing  wrong. He is kind to men, kind to women, kind to children. He teaches others how to be kind.

He stopped blaming women or his parents or men for his pain. He creates intimacy and trust with his actions. He stopped letting his defenses ruin his relationships. He stopped letting his libido run his life. He has learned self-respect comes from telling the truth. He has men who he trusts and turns to for support.

He confronts his limitations. He knows how to take conscious chances makes things happen. He knows how to learn from his mistakes and roll with it. When he falls, he gets back up. He practices compassion, for himself and others.  He is disciplined when he needs to be. He is flexible when he needs to be. He has high expectations for himself and those he connects with and finally He knows how to listen from the core of his being.

S. F. Pride 1986 Snake Man

S. F. Pride 1986 Snake Man

He knows he is an animal and part of nature. Yet he knows his spirit and the connection to something greater. As a whole person, he looks for ways to serve others. He knows he has a higher purpose. He loves with fierceness. He laughs with abandonment because he lives fully.

 

These are some descriptions of the Re-Imagined Masculinity, a reality that means a revolution/evolution of the holders of the future, that means a change in you, A call for a rethink of the stories you tell about yourself, a rethink of expectations of yourself and others, and a focus on tomorrow.

 

If these words speak to your heart, learn more  

mentoring and training that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life.

Calvin has been facilitating men’s work for over a decade.

A credo for the new masculine. a New Conversation with Men,

Reclaiming Male Role Models,

Advertising, Gender, and A New Masculinity

Man is comtemplation.jpg

A poem by a man, a mechanic by trade and  poet/writer  by vocation Jim Storm, his poem  says a lot about the month of October and the uncovering of the new masculinity within all people: “October is about leaves revealing colors they have hidden all year. People have an October as well.”

In a blog that I wrote (April 2018 - SOC) entitled “Masculinity Is It the Problem or A Programed Expectation?”   What is Masculinity? How is it measured? What are its demands? And how is that person meant to look, think, act, and feel? and should that be according to the mores of society?

This is a continuation of that conversation, and to somehow navigate  that  storm of debate on the subject of Masculinity successfully using a compass with an edge, and that edge is composed of paying attention, and preparation gathered from how the storms behaved in the past, there in is the edge.

 

We looked at how common nursery rhymes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from Europe and America had negative descriptors of Masculinity, and the male gender described as slugs, snails, snips, and frogs depending on where in the world the rhyme was told.

In today’s society, Advertising has played one of the important roles of carving out either negative or positive representations of gender and masculinity of late. But with a focus on women’s empowerment dominating the  cultural landscape, Producers keen on selling their brand and products are forgetting their role in shaping male identity as a consequence.

Suzy Bashford, international journalist in her article for the online European business  marketing website called The Drum (July 2016) wrote:

“A growing global ‘boy crisis’ suggests that we could be, in fact, empowering the wrong sex…. The difference is that we are all now familiar with the narrative around [women’s issues] and tackling these issues, thanks in no small part to groundbreaking campaigns such as ‘Like A Girl’ by Always, Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ and Dove’s ‘Real Beauty ’ [ad campaigns]…..

We are much less equipped to talk about the issues affecting boys. There’s an unconscious bias that males should simply ‘man up’ and deal with any crisis of confidence themselves…Yet, the reality is that men commit suicide more than women, and are more likely to drop out of education and get involved in crime, drugs and binge-drinking. Moreover, as women are increasingly empowered, many men feel increasingly dis-empowered, accentuating these social problems.”

Vintage Advert remixed

Vintage Advert remixed


Unilever known as Lynx, owner of “[Axe] deodorant brand who wants to become the number one male grooming brand in the world. Had to realize that their marketing strategy failed when sales slowed dramatically from when they’d first entered the market with the “alpha-male” concept. Lynx/Axe admits it had been relying on assumptions before its repositioning. It was only when sales growth slowed that the brand decided to invest in some proper research, leading to a 10-country study of 3,500 men, and consultation of experts such as neuroscientists, to find out what men are really thinking. The results shocked the brand explained Stephanie Feeny, head of strategy at 72&Sunny Amsterdam’s An Advertising Agency used by Lynx to research and reform marketing strategies. “Ideas of masculinity had changed and it recognised it wasn’t quite keeping pace with culture. Lynx/Axe found men are craving a more diverse definition of what it means to be a ‘successful’ man.”

One of the sectors most impacted by this insight is FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer daily used Goods). With analyst from FMCG buying practices, gender role assumptions were most challenged. It was found the person who wins the bread and the person who buys the bread isn’t down to gender these days, for example,

It is often now that the advertiser discovers that in some country’s men are doing 40 per cent of the supermarket shopping. That in the US men have been running household budgets. If producers of goods don’t recognised this, they are going to lose out because they’re increasingly ignoring their potential biggest audience. We hear a lot about women’s voices needing to be heard, but when it comes to men, it becomes strangely silent.

Campaigner David Brockway, who manages the Great Initiative’s Great Men project, urges the industry to be “more revolutionary”,

The Lynx /Axe global brand repositioning had been a “difficult”, steep learning curve admits Fernando Desouches, brand development director, he argues that he learned “men are actually more emotional than women” and that they need more empowerment than women. Desouches says, “you’ve got to ‘set the platform’ before you explode the myth.”

the Argentinian’s voice is tangible when he says” “Women have feminism. But men don’t even know they are sick. This is why we need to put men alongside women, not move them to the side to give room to women. Both genders need to be in the center.”

The Gender divisive issues are certainly at the center of the storm, and will subside through guiding principals of compassion and compass points like attention, and preparation to steer you through the storm. At the end a truly equal future, when sex becomes a far less defining characteristic than it is today.

Suzy Bashford puts it this way:  “After all, you cannot fully empower either gender if by empowering one you are creating divisions and disempowering the other.

As Nobel peace prizewinner Malala Yousafzai puts it ‘we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.’ A statement that is equally true of women, as it is of men.”



Living Your Priorities

Prioritizing Your Life And The Work You Do In IT.

Photo Artist Jason Beamguard Working Metal

Photo Artist Jason Beamguard Working Metal

I was recently approached by one of my Clients, who said to me “I don’t know what to do, all of my time is going into putting out fires and these urgent situations keep happening. It's leaving me exhausted and frustrated.”

 

It became clear that he had forgotten how to know the difference between what is necessary and what is expendable according to his life plan. Which is not hard to do, when our lives go on autopilot under the pressures of being expected to be available 24/7.

 

We all have priorities. For some Identifying them is the place to start. However, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Misdirected intentions, some disguised as urgent issues, can get in the way of what really matters to you, and in no time flat, you are wondering why you’re unfulfilled or sidetracked.

 

Melinda Kennedy, an organizational development consultant and trainer at Caliper, an employee assessment and talent development firm puts it this way. “Whether this is a product of our working environment, our own personality, or our home life, we may find ourselves struggling to prioritize what is most important and most urgent,” she says. “As a result, we feel overworked, undervalued, and completely exhausted.”  

 

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To identify or re-acquaint yourself with your priorities, crave out some time to be alone with your thoughts.  Ask yourself if money was not an issue for you, you were in good health, and you did not need to work…What would you do to fulfill your dreams?

 

 From that list, if you can narrow it down to one or two items to accomplish, then compare those items with your daily activities, what of those daily activities are bring you in line with your planned goals? Here is one way you can know the difference between what is necessary and what is expendable.

 

Tim Elmore Book Marching Off the Map

Tim Elmore Book Marching Off the Map

Tim Elmore, author of Marching Off the Map and president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit leadership training and development organization says. “Most leaders start well, but eventually just react to what others want,” he says. “We focus on getting through the week instead of planning ahead and reaching a goal.”  Knowing your priorities moves you from being reactive to proactive. A shift in Thinking, in Habits, enabling you  to Living Your Priorities.

What Does Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone Feel Like

One Man’s Experience Of Moving Out Of His Comfort Zone
Shared by Calvin Harris. H. W. M.

Model Dominique Claude Marneau,  by German Photo Artist Mario Dollinger  in Paris France

Model Dominique Claude Marneau,  by German Photo Artist Mario Dollinger  in Paris France

What is your comfort zone? Well, a simplistic answer would be anything that keeps us away from feeling or experiencing uncomfortable degrees of mental or physical stress or elevated levels of anxiety. 

Yet many mental health practitioners suggest being able to get out of your comfort zone is actually a healthy thing to do, it can increase your agility and  mental fitness.  That in turn can widens the perimeter of your comfort zone.  The Business world seems increasingly competitive, yet those with mental agility seem to survive and prosper in any economy. When we look at the world, in general, we see that the quality of life has an uncertainty about it thus causing fear and stress as an intricate part of modern life. those who have repeatedly step out of their comfort zone are in a better position to deal with sudden and unexpected change.

One way to expand your comfort zone is by taking controlled risks and doing things you normally would not do, such as a change of routine. Engaging change makes us flexible to new possibilities and to novelty. Novelty can stimulates those brain chemicals that make us feel happy and continues to motivates new discovery.

 

 Corey Levitan is the writer in this feature article for SOC,  in our section know as 'Other Voices.' 

Maxim 2018

Maxim 2018

Corey originally wrote this piece for Maxim magazine,  in January  2016, as a writer on assignment, but what he wrote was in a way, not the usual fare that Maxim magazine doles out to its readers.  Certainly not the usually representation on the concept of love.

He writes about himself and about an expanded concept called Love, but by his stepping out of his comfort zone he stepped into a Universal Truth about love and empathy, that would  takes on even a different spelling of the word Love - A G A P E.


Yes, Corey's story was somewhat dis-comfortable for him, but Corey’s experience also allowed him to slow down. Ponder, look around, observe, absorb and interpret everything he’d experience with a expanded vision. 

 
 “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.” - Aldous Huxley

I WAS A PROFESSIONAL MAN SNUGGLER

Our intrepid correspondent investigates the warm and fuzzy world of cuddling for cash. By COREY LEVITAN,  for Maxim Magazine JAN 27, 2016

Corey.jpg

The author pictured in mid-snuggle with his client.

I’m a straight man. I watch sports, surf Pornhub, and I’m married to a lovely woman who sometimes even agrees to have sex with me.

But recently, I agreed to the strangest intimate experience of my life: I was chosen to snuggle by a beefy dude who spotted my photo on a professional cuddling site.

Let me explain. I pitched this stunt to Maxim as an exploration of the weird world of professional cuddlers. Non-sexual cuddling was supposedly created in 2004 by two New York City relationship coaches as a way to reintroduce intimacy to young people living increasing percentages of their lives online.

Their “Cuddle Parties” were so successful, cuddle-preneurs began offering up stables of solo practitioners. Snuggle Buddies, run by 28-year-old Evan Carp out of his New Jersey home, advertises more than 230 cuddlers in 39 states, 99 percent of whom are female. But Carp agreed to list me as “Holden” — Get it? Holdin’? — his ninth male cuddler. The service costs $80 per hour, or $324 for an overnight, with a 50/50 Carp/cuddler split.

I was seriously hoping the first person to request Holden would be a woman. (Did I mention seriously?) But unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a big, gay dude.

“Just relax, it won’t hurt as much,” one friend commented on my Facebook update about the booking. Other helpful comments included: “Something seems seriously wrong about this” and “Dude, you’re gonna get fucked.” 

Steven (not his real name) is in his mid-40s and, like me, lives in Las Vegas. He works in advertising and his hobbies apparently include, judging by the size of his arms, hitting the gym way more than I do.

After he welcomed me into his apartment and poured two Chardonnays, we awkwardly tried getting to know each other. Steven had never professionally cuddled before, either, and we laughed nervously about the fact that both of us will be able to continue making this claim.

“I just saw the word snuggle and thought it was different,” he told me. “I could have called an escort if I wanted a fuck. I’ve had that before and I didn’t want that.”

Steven had an awful 2015. He lost his job and his shoulder to lean on about it because his boyfriend dumped him. He’s new to town and doesn’t know many people—certainly not anyone willing to serve up some no-strings-attached snuggling.

“I just wanted an emotional connection,” he explained.

He motioned me over to his leather living-room couch, where I sat down on the far end. Steven’s head fell onto my chest. It was heavier than it looked, and warmer. In fact, it quickly heated up the Arizona State football jersey I wore to telegraph my unwavering heterosexuality.

My hands rested on his chest, frozen. I admitted that I was uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to move them without indicating sexual interest. Steven laughed. 

“You don’t have to move them,” he said, looking up at me upside-down. “I just want you to hold me and talk to me.”

I asked Steven why he picked me for his first paid snugglefest. I braced myself for a compliment about my handsomeness, the kind I only hear from my wife when I wear a suit. 

“You were the only one local,” he replied. (Oh, I didn’t realize. I felt relieved that he wasn’t super attracted to me, although a little insulted, too.)

Sensing my anxiety, Steven then pointed at the lack of a bulge in his sweatpants.

“It’s nothing sexual, see?” he said. (In fact, Snuggle Buddies make all cuddle-ees sign a contract promising that no sexual activity of any kind will occur—even kissing.)

After about 10 minutes, I began to relax. It started to feel very safe and nice, actually—like that Friends episode where Joey and Ross accidentally take a nap together, freak out about it, then decide that they kind of like it. 

Science would seem to back them up. According to 350 studies published over the past 20 years, touching other humans delivers emotional and physiological benefits, including lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. The journal Psychological Science even reported that cuddling can boost the immune systems of people exposed to the common cold.

Steven and I chatted about the things we hate in serious relationships. Even with his ex-boyfriend, snuggling was a rarity because any touching was misconstrued for a sexual advance. He tells me some other things about his ex that suggest he was an abusive asshole, and when I use that description, my right knee receives a pat of appreciation.

Soon, strangely, it was me who needed this as much as Steven. I thought about all the guys I embrace in my life, including some of my best friends, who always pull away from a bro-hug after about two seconds --recoiling due to our society’s wrongheaded sexualization of the male embrace.

I realize that my first five minutes on Steven’s couch amounted to more physical intimacy than I’ve ever shared with my own father, the man I love more than anyone else on Earth. And I’m usually the one breaking off the hug when we greet each other. Why? (This saddens and angers me because he’s getting very old and we probably don’t have many greetings left.) 

My ringing iPhone interrupts this flood of insight. It’s the 45-minute mark and, as planned, my buddy Adam Brooks is calling to make sure I don’t say “kettle corn.” (That’s my safe word.)

The tough-guy star of TV’s Sin City Bounty Hunters has been waiting outside in the car, in case things got out of hand. You know, in the way they might when you’re inside a complete stranger’s house after posting a sketchy online ad, and you’re hoping not to get sexually molested or perhaps even cuddled to death.

Now that I know how harmless Steve is, I feel like a total dick for bringing along my own personal snuggle pimp. But, nice guy that Steve is, he pretends the phone call never happened and we wrap up the hour by uncuddling and saying our goodbyes. I tell him I hope he got what he wanted out of that. 

“I know you did,” he says.

Very true. My dad’s getting a bear hug when he visits next week.

Email him at coreylevitan@gmail.com