Rules

I’ve spent most of my life following rules. Rules led me to a life where I worked in a cubicle all day only to come home to a reformed slut wife who would pawn the kids off on me and run off to the “chiropractor”. 

Fuck the rules. They exist to keep us in line, to make us good sheep. They prey on our most basic needs to belong to a group. 

More recently, rules led me to run a blog that had an email subscribe list, sharing buttons, and blog posts between 800 and 2,000 words. 

I was trying to grow a Twitter following where “they” tell you to tweet more often and get into people’s mentions. 

I was following rules again, just a different set. 

Fuck all of that. I can tweet as much or as little as I’d like. I can post 5,000 word blog posts or 100 word blog posts. I don’t care. 

For most of my life I was led to believe that I had to do things a certain way. That behavior doesn’t die quickly. 

I’ve internalized a lot of redpill wisdom, but the 32 years of conditioning prior to that doesn’t go without a fight. 

I’d be lying if I told you I had it all figured out. Anyone that tells you that is lying. 

What I do know is that correcting course is necessary part of this journey. One minute we are filled with strength, hope, and optimism. The next we as clueless as they day we were born. 

I am still going to follow a set of rules, but I am the one creating them. I have seen what works and what doesn’t. 

I can tell you for certain that living life in someone else’s frame, whether that’s a woman’s, your kids’, or your parents’, is the fastest way to misery. 

But don’t simply replace their frame with that of some red pill blogger or online guru. Make it your own frame. Write down your own commandments if you need to. Tape them to the bathroom mirror. 

Most of all, don’t feel any shame for needing a daily reminder to live life for yourself. I know I sure do. This blog is my reminder. These words are as much for me as they are for you. 

Why I Deleted My Successful Blog

I have read of authors writing entire books then throwing them in the trash. Perhaps that is what I am doing here. All I know is that I needed to start over.

I got caught up worrying about affiliate marketing and the blogging circle-jerk. No longer.

My strength has always been sharing my story for others to learn from.

On my old site I could no longer do that. I made the mistake of telling a few people in my personal life about that blog, and from that point forward I could feel underlying stress every time I’d write.

I wasn’t writing freely.

I had the most fun writing a couple of years ago when I was completely anonymous on a free blog platform.

Now, I was holding things back, and that was hurting you, the reader.

It’s the deepest, darkest observations of our own soul that transform us. It is also the realization that we are not alone in feeling them that gives us strength.

I want to write for you. I don’t want to write for SEO or affiliate marketing.

I was spending too much time with technical issues, themes, email lists, and hosting plans.

I got tired of worrying about a featured image or getting all the links right in my posts. Too much time spent.

My time is limited and I feel invigorated when I write. I want to write, plain and simple.

I feel a tremendous weight lifted by deleting that old blog.

I will bring back the best posts and update them here. They helped a lot of men, but now I can help even more.

Don’t believe the lie that you need top notch hosting and your own domain to share your message.

The biggest influencers in this sphere use free wordpress.com themes and hosting.

I was spending too much money. I like simplicity and I had made things complicated. My operating expenses on that blog were several hundred dollars a year, yet it was arguably no better than a free blog.

My goal is to have my living expenses as low as possible. That brings freedom.

From now on I can write for you, and me.

Will I switch over to a fancy url again someday? Maybe. Probably not.

Will I do affiliate marketing? No.

Will I monetize? I will sell a book someday, that’s it. I do some coaching for divorced guys as well, that won’t change.

Here’s the thing, I’m not going to self-promote and have some big launch of my next big project. I don’t have a long-term plan like that, I’d be lying if I said I did.

Nope, I am making all of this up as I go along, and that’s the beauty of it. No over-thinking or trying to stay “on message”. Just me and my thoughts and an uncertain path.

Thanks for following along.

 

 

The Loss of Quiet

It was a beautiful, early-August evening downtown at the ball game. It’s my favorite time to experience our nation’s pastime.

I don’t spend much time worrying about sports these days. I used to schedule my life around big games. but those days, thankfully, are long gone.

Now, I view sports as an opportunity to connect with others. I will watch a big game, not because I care that much about the outcome, but I like being able to talk with others that are close to me about it.

Sports is really my main channel of connecting with my father. He lives and dies by the local sports teams. I wish it wasn’t so, but there’s little changing his mind at this stage in his life.

Rather than fight it, I’ve accepted it. I keep up on the local baseball team so he and I can talk about it over dinner.

Back to that hot, sunny August night. My dad and I arrived right about the first pitch, finding our seats up in the left field upper deck. The sun was still above the upper ring of the stadium causing us to squint and sweat the first three innings of the game.

Beer in hand we settled in to enjoy the rhythm and strategy of a slower game, a respite in a world getting faster and faster by the day. There’s something about baseball that provides an escape. Even the soothing sounds of a ball game on the radio on summer night can bring me right back to my childhood and a different time.

Only the short attention spans and pop culture attitude has pervaded the baseball experience.

After the first half of the first inning concluded we were bombarded with loud music. The music was so loud we could hardly talk to each other. In a wide open stadium they managed to pump enough music to drown out casual conversation. We both remarked how disheartening it was that we couldn’t enjoy a conversation at a ball game.

It seemed as though the stadium operators couldn’t let one moment go by without projecting some type of “entertainment” directly into our faces. If it wasn’t music it was the screechy voice of the young announcer running dance contests and kiss cams. Let’s not forget the racing donuts and coffee cups either.

While we still enjoyed our night, and made some memories as the game itself was one of the best I’ve ever seen, there was a certain relief when it was over and we no longer had to endure the music and signs telling us to “get loud”.

Only a week later, my girlfriend and I visited a waterfront restaurant on a picture perfect Thursday night. We hoped to relax with a glass of wine and enjoy a sunset as we watched yachts and freighters cruise by.

Yet, within minutes of being seated, we were greeted with live music blaring through a speaker just a few feet from us. This quiet waterfront setting was anything but.

We ate our meal and exited quickly, it wasn’t the experience we had hoped for.

These two experiences made me wonder if we have lost something as a culture. Have we lost our ability to enjoy moments of quiet, to experience to slower moments in life? Does our culture now require 24/7 entertainment?

I see guys build massive followings on Twitter by tweeting hundreds of times per day. Good for them, I enjoy much of their work, but I can’t help but wonder what is lost? What if those people put all of that energy into a book? Imagine the possibilities.

What if they let people socialize and talk at a ball game instead of drowning out the possibilities with noise? What if they allowed couples to enjoy a quiet evening by the water after a hard week of work?

What is our culture losing in the name of entertainment? Is the loss of attention spans reversible, or simply a sign of evolution?

These are questions I ponder as I enjoy a mid-September evening with the windows open, a glass of wine in hand, listening to the crickets chirp.

Photo credit.

Is Anxiety Caused by Inflammation?

Much like Scott Adams talks about in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, I am not a doctor, but I can tell you what has and has not worked for me when it comes to my health and well-being. I can also tell you if these things make sense, or as Scott says, “pass my bullshit detector.”

After struggling with anxiety for much of my teens and twenties I accepted it as normal. I had felt it for so long that I no longer knew what if felt like to feel “normal”.

Then, about four years ago, I completely changed my diet. I picked up The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and my life was forever changed. I dropped thirty pounds following the paleo diet, I had more energy than I ever had, and chronic skin conditions and sinus infections faded away.

Along with these conditions, so went my anxiety. I felt relief. Despite going through a devastating divorce I wasn’t feeling anxiety. This was crucial to my handling of the situation.

Over the years I drifted away from a full paleo diet but I always held constant two things: I didn’t eat gluten or sugar (directly). While I would put on a few pounds depending on how many tortilla chips I consumed in any given month my skin rashes and sinus troubles never returned.

Then earlier this Summer I visited Italy for nine days. I couldn’t bring myself to visit Italy without sampling the pasta, so I broke my gluten rule for the week. Upon returning I didn’t feel too bad so I got a little careless and by mid-August, I was consuming hamburger buns like nobody’s business.

Then it struck without warning: my anxiety had returned. I have dealt with little bits of anxiety resurfacing over the years, but this was different, this was the real deal, the same stuff I had dealt with from 16 to 32. A graying of my world, doom and gloom, disaster lurked around every corner. I began chewing my fingernails and picking at the skin on my hands, something I had hardly done in four years.

What was different? What had changed? Life was fairly dialed in. I had no real significant troubles to think of. But that’s the way anxiety works, it doesn’t discriminate between those that have it good and those that have real problems.

Within days of this bout of anxiety starting the first symptoms of a sinus infection began to appear. My first such infection in over four years. Additionally, some skin rashes starting to show their head as well.

My body had reentered an inflammatory state. I could feel it everywhere. I was slow and fatigued, had trouble getting out of bed, and felt aches all over.

This confirmed my hypothesis that my anxiety was, at least in part, caused by inflammation and that the inflammation was caused by dietary triggers: gluten and sugar.

I am always one to run experiments, I love n=1 trials. I had to get to the bottom of this. I didn’t have to look far. They only real change to my lifestyle was the reintroduction of gluten and sugar. I had gotten careless, and the lack of discipline had cost me.

It turns out there is good research on the topic of inflammation and anxiety / depression. Gluten can irritate the gut in many people, causing inflammation. Sugar spikes insulin which then releases inflammation-causing cytokines. I am one of the lucky few that seem to be sensitive to both of these mechanisms.

My anxiety peaked late last week and has been in slow decline ever since. It is not a coincidence that I went back to my gluten and sugar-free diet eight days ago.

Our lives are one giant experiment. When something goes wrong we mustn’t lament our bad fortune, rather we must attack it, use our superior intellects to solve the mystery of what went wrong.

In this case, it was a simple fix that put me back on the path to a feeling of peace and well-being. It was carelessness and lack of discipline that set me back. I have accepted that my diet must be more dialed in that some others to achieve this goal. I would be doing a huge disservice to myself by choosing the short-term enjoyment of some trivial foods at the expense of my long-term prosperity.

Photo Credit

Reconnaissance Man Review

I made a ton of mistakes between the ages of 18 and 25. A ton. Many of which I am still paying for today, more than a decade later.

This is what Aaron Clarey’s latest book, Reconnaissance Man, is trying to help the next generation of men avoid.

Also, he hates Minnesota. I never want to visit Minnesota after reading his book.

Without a doubt, the single worst decision I ever made in my life was to move to Minnesota.

That’s the first line in the book.

The thing is, he’s right. Maybe not about Minnesota, I bet many of us would like it there. But he’s right about this, we could all finish this sentence in our own way:

The single worst decision I ever made in my life was …

Mine would likely end with something about marrying the wrong woman, a mistake I made before I turned 25.

Could things have turned out differently if I had taken Aaron’s advice laid out in Reconnaissance Man? Likely.

While prescriptive at times, Aaron makes the compelling case that every young man should take some time, as early as possible, to travel the country and see what it has to offer.

In a location independent world, at that age, none of us are tied to a certain location no matter what our family tells us.

Going off, leaving home and exploring, is a rite of passage in many ways and leads to tremendous growth. The old cliche “expanding your horizons” comes to mind.

Many of us find out far too late that we don’t like where we live or the career we have chosen. We find out after we have become corporate slaves, indentured to a mortgage, 2.5 kids, and a nagging wife.

As a man who is in a similar place in my life as Aaron (minus the motorcycle and freedom to travel the country, plus kids and a cubicle job) here are a few passages that resonated with me:

While I knew he was right, I wish I had gotten that advice when I was 16 and not 36. It would have saved me an incalculable price. It would have spared me the 20 years of time, youth, expense, and mental strife I wasted in finance.

In short, I effectively wasted my entire youth pursuing a dream that was never meant to be.

You wouldn’t be stuck in that soul-sucking cubicle job, running TPS reports, hating every minute of it, but needing it because you took a mortgage out on a McMansion&Wife™

Clarey suggests that every young man takes a few years, preferably before college, to figure things out. He calls this years “reconnaissance”.

After going into the logistical details of such a time he delves back into the philosophy of it, my favorite part of the book.

He talks about the “four types of education” with one being a “philosophical education”.

What about children? Do you want a family? Do you want to get married?

What about religion? Do you believe in God?

While no man knows the answer to all of these questions by 25, having some idea of what YOU want is important to keeping from following someone else’s path.

Clarey goes into great depth covering where this reconnaissance period should take place (don’t miss Colorado) and avoiding common pitfalls as well (loneliness).

A young man stands to learn a lot from Aaron Clarey’s Reconnaissance Man. If I had this sort of advice 15 years ago my life may have turned out dramatically different.

The Anxiety Paradox

I remember the first time I felt it. I was about 16 years old. I had this No Fear poster on my wall.

I repeated that mantra to myself over and over.

“No Fear”

“No Fear”

“Don’t Let Your Fears Stand In The Way Of Your Dreams”

“Don’t Let Your Fears Stand In The Way Of Your Dreams”

Only my fear wasn’t something tangible like a fear of social situations or fear of dying.

Nope.

Mine was the worst kind of fear – fear without explanation.

I had no idea why I was afraid or what I was afraid of. I felt dread, but of nothing in particular.

I felt alone in the world. No one else understood what I was feeling, it was impossible to explain.

It’s as if the world was happening in a different dimension from myself. I could see it, and interact with it, but wasn’t really part of it.

On the outside, my life looked perfectly normal, amazing really. I was a star athlete and straight-A student. I had girlfriends and a loving, supportive family.

Yet why did I have to fake it? Why did I have to pretend to enjoy seemingly enjoyable activities? Why did I have a feeling of dread with no cause?

There’s a fine line between anxiety and depression, or rather, there’s a lot of crossover between the two. I had started on the anxiety side, but with enough time it had beaten me further down toward the black dog of depression.

The feeling wouldn’t lift no matter how hard I tried to push it off of me. It was too heavy, and every attempt at pushing left me deeper in the hole than before I started.

It was like trying to lift a boulder in quicksand, I was just accelerating my descent.

Therein lies the paradox. When we find ourselves fighting the leftover mechanisms of our neanderthal brains our logic fails us.

Certainly, we can will our way out of it, we tell ourselves.

We try over and over, only to sink deeper and deeper.

It is only once we reach bottom that we finally say “fuck it, I give up.”

Then, something incredible happens. Not long after we stop kicking and screaming against the anxiety monster, he gets up and walks away.

No longer hardened by our resistance he fades into the light.

Exhausted and despondent, we find ourselves mesmerized and filled with hope at the smallest of wonders.

The flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk. The sound of the leaves blowing in the breeze. The church bells no longer anger us but makes us a smile.

The answer was there all along yet our egos pushed us away from it. We have to fight through obstacles, we were told.

Now, when stressors pile on, I can feel the anxiety creeping in. I no longer fight him, but rather pay him no mind. I refrain from big decisions and focus on work. He gets the message and his stays are much shorter these days.