In the Moment

Orange, green, and brown leaves. A perfect seventy degrees. There’s a beautiful family walking down the mountain trail as my own family walk up it. The trail is steep and there are a lot of roots and large stones so we move to one side to let the family pass. The Dad, head of his family, marching proud down the trail. He leads his wife and three kids down.

His wife has brown-blonde hair. She also looks happy to be on the trail. Their children following closely behind like young ducklings. A proud momma of a son and two daughters.

But something is different about their children. Their heads are down. They aren’t looking at the beautiful leaves, they do not have the same proud look their parents have, and they are missing it. There is a lack of life in their movement. A lack of interest. Missing the golden leaves, the breeze, nature. Missing all of it. They are out of touch – eyes glazed. The youngest’s nose almost touching the screen of a phone.

That night my wife and I return home and begin to make dinner together. We turn on music, chat about the day, watch our daughter play with her toys and scoot across the floor. I pick her up and throw her up and her head almost touches the ceiling. She laughs and I put her down. She craws across and I am impressed with her speed. We are in the moment and enjoy each other’s company.

Thoughts on Masculinity and Hetero VS Homosexuality

I grew up in Northwest Georgia where boys and men typically affirmed their masculinity and sexuality with trucks, boots and camo-ball caps. I’m not originally from the south and never quite identified with the sub culture, but I lived in it, understand it inside and out, and appreciate it on a certain level.

As a kid and especially a teenager, this made me stand out like a sore thumb. I remember it being insinuated more than a few times that I was queer, gay or even a faggot. I remember one very hurtful time when my two best friends at the time insinuated that I was gay while we were driving down the road. Nothing is worse than being trapped in the back of a car and being attacked with the “So, are you a faggot?” question.

Worse, I’ve been propositioned by quite a few men as well. I remember working at Target one summer when a gay co-worker asked me if I wanted to come over to his house and go swimming. His parents were out of town for the weekend.

I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this on the inside that I’ve never really talked about. I admit, I do have a lot of hobbies or interests that most people would consider gay, though I have never actually felt attracted to another man before.

This morning I was riding my spin bike at 5am. Yep… real manly right? I had my earbuds in and there was I was alone in my garage with the music thumping in my ears. I sang out loud because, hell, it is 5am and I’m all alone in my garage! So why the fuck not!?

As I was cooling off I wondered what my wife would think about my performance, if she had happened to peek her head in and see me. Would it turn her off? Would she think I wasn’t very manly?

I spend a lot of time afraid my wife doesn’t think I’m masculine enough. I’ve heard her make fun of me to her sister for having solo ‘Just Dance’ video game sessions, or singing along to lofty sounding Silverchair songs with my guitar. And last summer, when I took her to see Les Misérables I got the impression that she felt awkward when I became visibly moved during Eponine’s solo, ‘On My Own’. Yes, I admit, that isn’t very manly and probably isn’t going to help you get laid at the end of the night. But I couldn’t help myself. I got teary eyed.

I’m not sure how I developed these tastes. My dad is a former marine who hunts, shoots, then carves up his own meat. He makes his own wine and beer and spends entire days wondering around in the woods for fun. And my mother isn’t really into much of anything, except shopping and watching re-runs of CSI on Lifetime. I also have zero friends who share any of these interests with me.

I just am who I am for better or worse. I do worry about what my wife thinks though. I pay extra attention to how I dress, how I carry myself, the amount of authority I command and the way I deal with other men who challenge me. I’m careful to never appear that I am not in control.

Sometimes, when we’re going through rough patches in our relationship, I feel that my masculinity is on trial. And to an extent, I feel the same way with most of my friends, especially those I might keep at arm’s length.

Though, I do wonder if maybe the most masculine thing I can do is be secure in who I am, and be a confident leader. I wonder if, at the end of the day, honesty isn’t what is most masculine. Instead of trying to fit into a mold of what society tells us masculinity is.

I am a confident, physical, strong man. I know who I am. I am honest with myself. I am not afraid to stand up for myself, my friends and my family. I am a good provider. And I work hard and love my wife and girls through and through.

That is true masculinity.

-Holden

Quick thought on Ebola and FEAR!

Last night I watched my poor wife watch World News Tonight on ABC in queasy discomfort.

On the screen, anchor David Muir reported-  “Someone in New York City who has been to Africa was found to have symptoms that might be indicate they have Ebola, but could also just as easily belong to the flu or common cold!  No one can confirm if it is Ebola or not at this time…. and now on to the WAR ON TERROR! BE MOTHER FUCKING AFRAID BITCHES!”

David Muir World News Tonight

Alright, I’m paraphrasing of course, but that is what he might as well have been saying.

Turn your damn TV off, quit listening to the radio. Give it up already. The news no longer backs up their “news” with sources or information.

I’ll put it this way, if I wrote an audit report for work, or a research paper for school the way news sources report the news, I’d be fired from my job and get an F in class for failing to site valid sources and incompetency.

It’s all a fucking joke.

-Holden

Thoughts on being a Consultant

I’m 31 years old and on my third career. I still don’t know if I really like what I do or not. I still don’t know what exactly I want to do with my life. For the past 3 years, I’ve worked in consulting and professional services in one form or another. My current job is definitely more aligned with management consulting where my last was more about delivering large IT projects.

Over the past month I have spent considerable amounts of time recruiting college students, trying to convince them to come work for my team. I tell them all the benefits of working in this field. All the challenges and potential for personal growth. I promise them opportunities to travel, earn a great salary and meet interesting people.

On my way home from these recruiting sessions, I always wonder if maybe I’m blowing smoke up their asses. If maybe I’m selling empty promises.

I think that for the most part, management consultants are full of shit. Some of us are experts, some of us are really smart and add real value, but I think a lot of us simply bill hours and write fancy reports filled with tables and flow charts.

I don’t know if I like what I do for a living or not. I like some aspects of it. I like the potential to make a lot of money, I like the future prospects of tangent career paths not in consulting, and I like the job security. So I keep going. But honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m living off a steady diet of Big Macs- I’m eating this overhyped, stacked cheese burger covered in special sauce which is supposed to be delicious, but it’s really just a bunch of bread and no meat.

I worry that I’m feeding these college kids bullshit. But I’m even more worried by the fact that they seem to want it so bad. I don’t think they’ll necessarily see it as bullshit and that worries me for the future. It worries me that we’re becoming a society full of bullshitters. I also worry that some of these kids probably just see me as a tool, the ones who aren’t all in with the program.

Am I all in with the program? Am I just a tool?

I miss being a geek. I struggle to stay engaged in technology, but family and work pull me away from doing what I really enjoy all the time. I feel like I’m losing myself a bit at times.

I really don’t want to become a fucking tool. I really hate tools. I really hate liars and especially people who lie to themselves.

It might be time to start insisting I do more of what I love, both at work and home.

-Holden

How does a woman find her confidence?

I should change the name of this blog to “Holden’s Wife Blog” since that seems to be the only thing I write about anymore. I suppose “BlogTruth” is still appropriate though since everything I do write about her and our relationship is pretty raw and truthful.

Today, I’d like to talk about my wife’s confidence.

My wife seems to go through a lot of ups and downs in her self-esteem and confidence. After a challenging yoga session, she’ll come home on top of the world. After going out with friends and getting hit on by a few nice looking guys, you’ll find her glowing the next morning as she brags about it to me over coffee and English muffins. But in general, her default confidence level is typically below average.

Is this par for the course for most women, or perhaps people in general?

I find the low self-esteem and confidence issue annoying as hell. I have my own insecurities like anyone, but have always been the kind of person who shrugs it off and moves on with the day.

Sometimes I look at my wife and wonder what the hell she has to be insecure about. She’s beautiful, fun, hardworking, insightful and a great mother.

When I look at my wife, I see the girl next door who every boy fantasizes about, complete with a nice pair of tits and a rocking ass. When I read her emails, blog posts or even well thought out comments on Facebook, I’m impressed by her insightfulness and how well she can put her thoughts to paper.

I never get bored with my wife. She always somehow has new exciting stories to tell about adventures she had way before she ever met me and they’re always pretty damn funny, whimsical or uplifting.

My wife loves having fun. She’s the kind of girl who insists on enjoying a beer or a glass of wine for every occasion. She’s the kind of girl who dances in the middle of a blues bar when everyone else is hanging around lazily at the bar. She’s the kind of girl who isn’t afraid to strike up a conversation with the craziest looking guy or gal in a dive bar and end up having a night long adventure with them. I’ve endured all these things time and time again, usually in extreme discomfort…

My wife is also abnormally outgoing and charitable. She rarely walks by a street musician without throwing a few dollars in their bucket and having a chat between songs. She’s the kind of person who surprises homeless people with cheeseburgers and French fries.

My special lady is one of extremes. While I’m typically more even keeled and go with the flow, she lives life through peaks and valleys. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. I just wish I could help her discover how to keep the valleys from being quite so low at times.

I treasure the relationship I have with my wife. But it is a challenging one for me. She is a very complex creature. Sometimes I think it might be nice to be married to someone a bit more like myself. Another professional who has a great paying job and a bit more stable personality. But shit, wouldn’t that be boring.

My wife has forced me to have some pretty crazy adventures.

I just wish she could learn to feel the same way about herself that I do….

-Holden

 

Choices and Liberation

My routine starts the night before. I choose an outfit and iron my clothes. I neatly hang my outfit in my closet. I shower and shave. This saves me time when I have to get to the client early. I have status reports to get out before lunch.

That morning the alarm buzzes. It takes me exactly 29 minutes each morning from alarm buzz until I leave the house. I know this because I’ve timed it. I arrive on site at the client at least one hour before anyone else shows up. This is when I’m most productive.

Status reports. Client meetings. Happy hours. Recruiting events. Networking. Between 6pm-8pm most nights I arrive home. I answer a few emails. I eat dinner. When I’m really busy I work until bed. Certain deviations in schedule were allowed for out-of-town travel or long commutes.

Three weeks ago I left consulting for a new job. The rules outlined in the three paragraphs above are no longer applicable. I’m still adjusting.

I guess the strangest thing about this new job isn’t having less work, but rather the permanence of my new situation. There were slow times when I worked in professional services too, but I knew that that was only temporary. It prevented me from taking on new hobbies or doing anything that required commitment. How can you commit to something for the next few months when the next project is staring you in the face? Always present in your mind like a burdensome task that you keep putting off, but know you have to complete.

This new allotment of time and consistency is peculiar to me. I have the time to dedicate to new (and some old) passions that have long evaded me. I find myself reading more often, I have time to write again, to goof off with friends, to get back into old fitness routines, and all without sacrificing time with my family.

I loved consulting. I loved the pressure to perform, the constant bombardment of knowledge, the travel, and the people I had the opportunity to work with. On the other hand – as I ease back into a slower-paced life I am surprised by the options I have available today that I didn’t a few weeks ago. In a sense it is liberation.

I am not advocating any particular career or life choice. What is right for each of us is unique.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we have to be mindful of how certain self imposed structures in our life can limit our choices. Maybe it’s our career, debt, or a relationship –  It could be anything. The trick is to pay close attention to the ways these self-made structures have the ability to make us their slaves – and to avoid it.

The strange thing about building a cage around yourself is that you are proud of it – even happy with what you have built – but no less trapped inside. That was consulting for me – I had build this structure around myself that ultimately trapped me inside.

Thoughts on Maturing Relationships

Holden has written several posts about marriage problems (here and here for example). We have had a number conversations and email exchanges on the topic too. Unfortunately, most of the time I can’t offer much in the way of advice, but I’d like to point out a few things that have served me well during the decade-long relationship with my own wife.

1. The Couple and the Self

My wife and I started our relationship very young. We were immature and as result of that immaturity I do not think I had the ability or experience to distinguish between the two entities that exist in a serious relationship: The Couple and the Self.

My wife and I are both a couple, but still our individual selves. We have our own ambitions, goals, desires, interests, insecurities – but those feature sets simultaneously overlap and bleed over into our couple-self. Sometimes those elements of self and couple are at odds and sometimes they align perfectly.

The key is coming into a relationship with respect and love for the other person as an individual.

When I think of my wife I see a women who dreams of selling her artwork at craft shows, having the courage and self-confidence to make friends, traveling the world, sitting at the dinner table with family, and being the world’s best wife and mother. I see a playful and feisty women with insecurities and dreams – some of those the same as mine – others different.

Sometimes I have to muster the courage , trust, and patience to let her be herself – even if that means sacrificing a little of my own time to do so. She does the same for me in return.

2. Self-Examination and Leadership

I have always tried to be a leader and my philosophy has typically been that leaders do two things:

1. Lead by example, and
2. Lead with integrity.

Leading by example and with integrity requires that one examines their own behavior – not the behavior of their partner. It is an exercise in self control, self discipline, and honesty.

In my own relationship I’ve tried (and often failed) to lead with these qualities. And I’ve learned that my own actions and responses are independent of the actions of anyone else.

If someone screams at me I can respond calmly. If I am insulted I can respond with a level head. When it is someone you love doing these things an appropriate response is even more difficult. Leadership responses take a lot of self control, but are the job of any good leader. If you expect a certain behavior you must first exhibit that behavior yourself.

These lessons are fluid – not just one way. My wife, for example, demonstrates unconditional love. She is caring, devoted, and faithful. She has taught me those traits by example and I have learned a lot from her. She is an emotional leader in our household.

I like to think she’s picked up a few of my better qualities as well.

3. Speak-Easy

I learned a long time ago that I know my wife well enough that I can use words as deadly daggers. Words that can tear into her self-confidence, break her down, and make her fill like nothing.

I used to use those words with more frequency than I’d like to admit, but as I’ve matured and as my love has matured so has my use of words.

Sometimes I try to step outside of myself. When my temper is about to explode I take a moment to self-evaluate and to reassess my actions. I’ve learned (and sometimes failed) to speak-easy.

Over the long haul I have watched my wife’s self confidence return and our arguments fizzle out faster. Try to remember you love this other human being – even when you are at your most upset.

Ebola, ISIS and a Perpetual State of Fear

Last week a really smart friend of mine wrote me an email saying some things I felt were really foolish. He has a trip to South America coming up in December and he was writing me, asking what I thought about the Ebola outbreak and wondering if he shouldn’t bail on the trip.

A follow up email later that week spread on to fear talks about ISIS and the possibility of an American invasion by radicalized, passport toting Americans or worse, Arabs posing as Mexicans and waltzing right across our southern borders into the homeland!

My friend isn’t the only one who has latched onto these fear memes. It seems most of us are being drawn into the Fear-Machine. My new stance on all this is- I need to see it to believe it. In the mean time, I’m assuming it is all bullshit. Here’s why:

  1. The NSA leaks carefully selected information to the media. This includes both authorized leaks that Congress is aware of and unauthorized leaks: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/nsa-mind-bender-wont-tell-info-already-leaked-media/
  1. Our government has repealed a portion of a law named the Smith-Mundt Act which made it illegal for our government to propagandize US citizens: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/07/12/us_backs_off_propaganda_ban_spreads_government_made_news_to_americans
  1. The Norman Lear Center, a public policy advocacy group which works with government agencies, openly admits they lobby Hollywood to inject propaganda into prime time television. Below is a link to a two minute audio clip showing how they use their influence to push a climate change agenda. What other memes and ideas might they be pushing? http://adam.curry.com/enc/20141009173314_hollywoodhealthsociety4martinkaplanbragging.mp3
  1. Udo Ulfkotte, a German journalist explains how Intelligence Agencies befriend journalists abroad, write articles for them and push them to publish Agency produced propaganda in highly credible news sources, which American news sources then use as official sources.

These Intelligence Agency produced news articles published under the name or credible journalists have the power to sway both public opinion and set the agenda for law makers.

There’s a few clips here, but each well worth a listen (listen to in order):

All news clips are compliments of the No Agenda Show- www.NoAgendaShow.com

-Holden

Life is short, and Marriage is hard.

My wife and I have had some rocky times as of late. It’s been rocky enough that there has been talk of divorce and I’m pretty sure my wife has even gone so far as to consult an attorney.

A lot of the discourse in our marriage has come from my wife’s complaints aimed towards me.

I am a man of supreme imperfection. I stress too much over money, I get too lost in my work, I freak out over little things sometimes, and I have a bad habit of letting tension build up in my to the point that I explode and say things I’d never day say to anyone I wasn’t in a legally bounded relationship with (aka marriage).

As of late, my wife has decided it is all too much for her. Over the last year I have tried very hard to step outside of myself and fairly assess my imperfections independently. I have admitted many of my faults and tried very hard to work on each of them. I still fall into the same old bad habits at times though.

Other times, I wonder if perhaps I am not really the problem though. My wife has been acting very strange over the last six months or so. So strange in fact, I wondered if maybe she was having an affair and all this lashing out at me was due to her own guilt fermenting inside her and her trying to offload onto me and make me as much of a bad guy as she was feeling like on the inside.   A bit of lowly eavesdropping has led me to believe this is not the case.

So what’s the problem then? Why is my wife always so damn angry at me despite all my communication and effort?

Life will end soon….

Yesterday I wrote a post talking about what women really want in a man.

That post was born out of the experience I had last Friday night while having a guy’s night out.

That night, I was flattered to death. One of the ladies told me I was a great guy that evening. I haven’t heard that in quite a while. I kind of shocked a shift in the perception I have of myself.

“What? You think I’m a great guy? What on earth would lead you to believe that?”

It didn’t inspire me to want to leave my wife or be unfaithful or anything of that sort. But it definitely made me wonder. Why were these ladies so smitten with me? All I’ve been told for the last six months is that I’m selfish, I’m cheap, and I’m verbally abusive. And I’ll admit, these things are all true of me at my low points. But everyone has low points don’t they? I’m not typically this person.

I was mowing the grass yesterday thinking about all this when it hit me:

“What the fuck man? We’re all going to die soon. We have all of what…. 80 healthy years on this planet if we’re lucky? That’s SHIT!” I gotta quit sweating this bullshit.”

So fuck it. I’m just going to keep trying to be a standup guy. I’m going to love my wife and kids and quit sweating the small stuff. Hell, I may even quit sweating the big stuff. I’ve spend so many years building myself up in pursuit of this ‘Two Cars in the Garage and a White Picket Fence’ American Dream that I forgot I was supposed to be happy along the way!

Last time I had an argument with my wife, I had to remind myself afterward that it could be so much worse. One of my kids could have cancer or one of us could be terminally ill, I could be handicapped and not able to provide for my family, we could live in a war torn country where we fear for the health and safety of our boys and girls on a daily basis.

This shit is small fries. It is time to let it go. If my wife is unable to do it, then fine. She can call her lawyers, take everything I own and go start new away from me. If I’m doing my best to treat her right and provide for my family then what do I have to regret? I will always be able to start over. As long as I have my health, I’m golden.

Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

-Holden

Thoughts on Manliness and What Women Really Want

This past Friday I hit the town with my co-author Atty and another one of our best chums who we’ll call Huck- due to his free spirited nature when he drinks.

After kicking back a few beers I found myself yawning by 9pm. I was having a good time but was ready to go home. It was a long week that had started with business travel on Sunday afternoon and I hadn’t been home one day that week before 7pm.

Then in walked “big Al”, a close friend and co-worker of Huck’s. Al was a very attractive southern belle who was accompanied by her equally attractive sister, her unassumingly beautiful sister-in-law and a feisty bestie with a knack for belting out sarcastic quips the way Barry Bonds used to belt out homeruns at the height of his career.

We paired with the quartet the way peanut butter does jelly when sandwiched between two soft slices of Wonder Bread. I realized at a certain point that the reason we all got along so well was no one was trying to impress the other. We simply gelled.

There was no end game of getting laid, no ulterior motive of having another encounter at a later date or even anticipation of landing a good night kiss. In fact, we spent much of the night talking about spouses, children and family.

My time with our new female friends helped me come to a few interesting realizations. I think I finally discovered what real women want. And by real, I mean women of substance. A woman I would actually be interested in if I were single and looking.

What Women Really Want in a Man

Humility- A strong woman doesn’t require a man; she stands on her own two feet. Once you reach approximately 30 years old, you start to realize that the woman who does need a man to survive probably isn’t one that you care to be involved with. This makes bragging unnecessary and unattractive.

If you’re accomplished, there is no reason to point it. No one likes a one upper. No one likes the man who has to be top dog and authoritative. Instead, your authority should shine in your cool and quiet demeanor, during normal conversation.

Frankness and honesty with thyself- I accepted not too long ago that I am not necessarily the smartest, most ambitious or politically savvy guy in the room. I realized that maybe instead I am more adept in other areas like team building, technical tasks and building relationships.

Bottom line, I learned to be frank and honest with myself. I learned to accept who I am and stop chasing something I am not. Strong women love a man who is honest with himself and isn’t afraid to show it.

Humor- E.E. Cummings wrote, “The most wasteful of days is one without laughter.”

I believe having a good sense of humor is essential to happiness. I believe laughter can cure some disease and ailment. I believe not being able to laugh at yourself is one of the most serious of shortcomings a person can possess.

A strong woman loves a man who can gracefully self-deprecate himselve while remaining confident. It displays humility, emotional intelligence and a certain degree of self-control.

A man who can have a laugh and make those around him laugh is a man who possesses emotional intelligence.

Chivalry- Young men today don’t understand how to be gentlemen. The ‘selfie generation’ is characterized by self-centered individuals paying little attention to anyone other than on him/her-self.

Chivalry extends beyond holding open doors or offering your coat to a lady on a chilly evening. It extends to paying attention to detail and remembering the little things as well. It extends to small gestures of kindness. Little acts of kindness and acute attention make all the difference in the world.

I caught the attention of my wife while working alongside her as a server while in college. Every Friday and Saturday night, I’d look at the side work chart, see what her side work was for the evening then prep for her before she could begin.

Later, I’d take note of what her favorite coffee drink was from Starbucks or her favorite pizza toppings and surprise her by ordering for her on dates.

It is that attention to detail that really catches the attention of a lady and shows her that you get her and that she is more than just an object to you.

-Holden