Movember to stop men dying too young

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It is closing in on the end of Movember. We all have grown accustomed to the furry upper lips floating majestically around our offices and the city. Sadly they will soon be disappearing. With the month coming to an end comes a big ask: take the time this weekend to talk about health with a man that’s important to you. It doesn’t have to be a clinical interview; just taking the time to check-in can make a difference.

Across the world, men die an average six years younger than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable. Which means that it doesn’t have to be that way: we can all take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives.

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From humble beginnings in Australia in 2003 supported by New Zealand in 2004, the Movember movement has grown to be a truly global one, inspiring support from over 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world. Movember’s initial focus on men’s health and prostate cancer expanded over the years to include testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Since 2003 1,250 men’s health projects have been funded by Movember, including:

  • three-part series ‘Man Up’ that tackles gender stereotypes, the pressures of manhood, and why so many men are driven to suicide.
  • the ‘Making Connections’ project delivered across multiple sites in the USA. This initiative connects men and boys within their communities to promote resilience across generations – working in particular with boys and men of colour, military members, veterans, and their families.

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In 2016 Movember united with the National Breast Cancer Foundation Australia – funding research to transform the lives of both men and women. The move allows researchers to leverage genetic similarities between prostate, breast and ovarian cancers to create progress in treatment methods.

The Movember website has great resources about men’s health and how to start a conversation.

Let’s join our efforts to shine a light on the health risks men need to know about, increasing awareness to stop men dying too young…

US Foundation Photoshoot 2015

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Credits: All photos are from the Movember website.

Too Damaged to Love Again?

Thought

Have you ever wondered how early childhood pain or trauma affect ones capacity to love? And to those who have been seriously hurt, is it possible to be so damaged emotionally that you actually can’t love again?

The skills necessary for achieving an intimate relationship are both the ability to be self-aware enough to be in touch with your own feelings and than be able to relate to the feelings and experiences of the intimate partner. Lacking these skills leaves one with a diminished ability to both give love and receive it.

We live in a fast-paced culture and the result is we want everything to come as a quick delivery. Love takes time to develop; it is not a process that can be accelerated. Loving someone deeply requires taking the time to truly know them. It takes honesty, it requires some risks and it takes a tremendous amount of trust. Yet many people think they can just fast forward the process like some steamy scene in a romance movie and begin a real relationship with sex instead of communication. It is doomed to fail because microwave love misses out on real intimacy…

Could it be that we hurry through love, rush relationships, speed up sex, and race through life in general because we are all too wounded to be willing to take the risk of loving someone deeply? Or could it be that our culture has just lost the ability to love because we have become too narcissistic and self-centred? Hurrying through life keeps us so busy that it steals the important solitude that we need to be healthy and whole, both psychologically and spiritually. In other words it keeps us from fully feeling our emotions of loneliness and emptiness. Maybe that’s why some people stay so busy and never take a minute to slow down, because if they did it would mean getting honest about what’s missing in their life and that would be too painful, so it’s off to another busy activity to avoid getting real…

You get to choose the level of intimacy in your relationships. Do you have the courage to open your heart and really love, or are you too damaged, wounded or narcissistic to love again?

(From Too damaged to love again?)

Credits: Photo from Pininterest

Treat yourself like an ANGEL

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Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

As Seth Gillihan points out many of us struggle with a general negative feeling about ourselves. Maybe you think awful things about yourself—that you’re stupid, disgusting, unlovable, or worthless. Perhaps you’re constantly on your own case about not doing enough, or “messing up” everything you try. Or maybe it’s hard to find words for your sense of inadequacy, and while you don’t believe you’re bad, you have a chronic sense of not being happy with yourself.

It’s hard to feel at ease when you have a pervasive feeling that, in some fundamental way, you’re not OK. Self-neglect can be more subtle but similarly damaging. We might be very considerate toward everyone in our lives except for the person who inhabits our own skin.

Try these four strategies to show yourself some care:

  • Take the time to plan your day in a thoughtful way.
  • Prepare a nice lunch for yourself.
  • Carefully consider your own needs and how you can meet them.
  • Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.

It’s very difficult to force ourselves to feel a certain way about who we are. Changing unhelpful thoughts is useful to some extent, especially if those thoughts are overly harsh and simply not true. Try replacing any negative self-talk with a positive framework. As an example, try treating yourself like an ANGEL:

A – Awesome
N – Nice
G – Goodhearted
E – Exceptional
L – Loveable idiot (reserved for very special occasions only 😜).

While ‘loveable idiot’ term was coined by Alain de Botton in the context of interpersonal relationships, I think it applies very well to  our relationship with ourselves and helps us to learn to treat ourselves with laughter rather than criticism…

Not all angels reside in heaven.
Some walk the earth.
Just like you…

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Adapted from Psychology Today

Monday giggle with miracle cures…

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My nanna was a real expert in miracle cures. She had a very special magic healing potion for that. It was a pretty strong brew of 99% medical alcohol ethanol and chili pepper that she used for all sorts of things. Once she gave it to her friend’s husband who had a sore throat. He was supposed to rub a small amount of that brew onto his neck to increase blood flow and improve healing. Poor guy took a sip of it instead and… his throat was no longer sore, and his level of fitness improved dramatically judging by how fast he started running around the house….

Nanna used that brew as a healing rub for all sorts of inflammatory things: radiculitis, arthritis etc. So we regularly saw someone getting miraculously healed as soon as that brew was applied and running around the house… In fact pretty often it was both the ‘patient’ and the ‘healer’ dashing to the bathroom at the speed of light to wash that brew off…

Nanna never widely advertised her magic potion. It was reserved for her nearest and dearest and a few close friends… It surely gave all of us plenty of stories to share at various family gatherings…

Miracle

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Parenting theories, lessons and tips

“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.”

John Wilmot

I have three children only and a million of theories, which all turned out to be just a trial and error in practice. Parenting is as crazy as circumnavigating the world without a map…but, oh, what a journey, what an adventure! Journey that at times felt agonisingly frustrating and was driving me absolutely mad! Journey that helped me to get to know myself better and re-evaluate a lot of things in life. Journey that taught me:

  • to focus on enjoying the ride rather than getting to the destination
  • to stop being perfectionist: there are no perfect children, but there are plenty of perfect moments with them
  • to be kind to myself: after all the only ‘perfect’ parents are those who never had children…

And that journey does not end when they become adults. Today I came across an article on parenting adult children with some useful tips:

  • Recognise and respect your differences
  • Discover your own strengths and weaknesses as a parent
  • Let them learn from their own mistakes
  • Avoid making them choose between you and their family
  • No unsolicited advice – let them take their own decisions without interrupting them.

I would also add to this list ‘get your own life sorted’, take care of your own happiness and well-being. On airplanes we are always advised to put our oxygen mask first before helping our children? If we run out of oxygen ourselves, we can hardly provide any help to them…

What are your key parenting lessons or tips?

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Change your story, change your life…

You might have seen a video of this gifted LA subway singer that went viral. A truly beautiful lady with a tragic story. Given up for adoption at two, a gruelling Soviet childhood and a violent marriage…

Domestic violence often features in such tragic stories, often shapes such tragic lives… I had my personal experience with domestic violence. In my experience domestic violence is much more complex than historical example described by Dostoevsky more than a century ago. And not only ‘peasants’ are affected. My sister-in-law’s nose was broken once by her ex – he was a medical doctor by trade. ‘First do no harm’ says the Hippocratic Oath of ethics historically taken by physicians – yeah right…

Domestic violence knows neither geographic nor cultural borders.

Looking back I can see how my personal experience with domestic violence started shaping my life, shaping my story, leading to a bad end… Luckily I had a wonderful friend who made me stop, read and re-shape my story

Every day is an opportunity for you to change your life, to change your story. Change what you do not want in your life. Change what makes you unhappy. You have the power to change your thoughts and your thoughts have the power to change the story of your life….

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Credits: Image from Change your story, Change your life.

Is YOUR VOICE heard and respected at home?

Marriage

“My wife sent me to the supermarket to buy a fabric softener. Well, actually I was told to take a photo of the shelf of softeners and send it over: apparently, I am not qualified to choose which one to buy. So I came up to the shelf and started taking photos. Suddenly a man nearby pointed at me with his phone and said, “I can send you my photos of all the softeners here. With WhatsApp. I have a full gallery. Each bottle is a close-up from both sides.” I replied, ”No, thanks. I was just told to send the full shelf without close-ups.“ ”Clear. Lucky man…” I laughed, “Something like that, but thanks for your offer anyway. Great idea with WhatsApp.” The man smiled and said, “Sure, but the idea is not mine. See that man taking photos of detergents? He sent the photos to me. And my photo session of baby food starts now. Have fun!”

From 15 Overheard Life Stories Charged With Optimism

 

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It is very well known that men generally do not like to ‘sweat the small stuff’. Therefore they are often happy to leave routine domestic decision-making to women and are often putting a great deal of their energy into placating the women in their lives in order to keep their world manageable.

Celia Lashlie however identified some areas of concern in her book “He’ll be OK”:

“The principal told me again and again that when two parents come in for a chat because their boy’s in trouble, it’s the norm for the mother to do all the talking. The principal looks towards the father and it’s obvious he has something to say, an opinion to offer, but she won’t shut up long enough for him to actually say it…. I thought it might be an overly prejudiced view, so decided to investigate a little further. The opportunity to do so arose when I found myself in front of a group of fathers.

‘Listen guys, I just want to check something out with you. Apparently when you and your wife are in the principal’s office because your son’s in a spot of bother and you’ve been called to the school, you’re really quiet, you just don’t talk.’

‘No,’ came the reply from one man.

‘Why not?’

‘Because I’ll get it wrong.’

Somewhat naively, I replied, ‘No, you can’t get it wrong, he’s your boy.’

‘Oh no,’ he said, looking straight at me, a now-familiar look of resignation on his face, ‘I’ll get it wrong… and I’ll get a pull-through when I get home.’

As he said this, several heads in the room nodded, the men seeming to relish the fact that someone had identified a situation with which they were all very familiar…

After a bit more discussion on this topic with the men, I headed back to talk to their wives and partners and, as I did so, I found myself thinking that the views expressed by the men were probably a little unfair and would offend the women I was about to talk to. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

‘The guys have just told me that when they’re in the principal’s office with you, they don’t talk because they’ll get it wrong.’

One woman didn’t even hesitate; she looked straight at me and without the slightest hint of the embarrassment I was expecting, she said, ‘He will.’

‘And he reckons he’ll get a pull-through when he gets home?’

‘I won’t wait that long – I’ll get him in the car.’

There seemed to be universal agreement with her comments and the conversation continued with one woman saying, ‘I take him to parent-teacher evenings, but he just won’t talk.’ By this time I was thinking, Yes, and I think I’m beginning to see why, so I said, ‘Well, there’s one possible solution.’

‘What’s that?’

‘You could send him by himself, then he’s going to have to talk.

At that moment the entire group of intelligent, articulate middle-class women looked as if I’d just asked them to eat a snake. (No power and control issues here, I thought to myself!)”…

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Is YOUR VOICE heard and respected at home?

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