Are You Having a Midlife Crisis?

Is it really a midlife crisis?

Many men spend most of their lives trying to live the life they believe they are supposed to live. They are supposed to be the provider, the protector, the ‘man’. Most do this at a great cost to self. They suppress their own needs, wants and desires in order to be that version of self they feel like society wants them to be.

At some point this becomes problematic and requires adjustment. However, most of the time when men start to make that adjustment it gets labelled a midlife crisis. They start to experiment with what makes them fulfilled and sometimes that can be challenging. The real crisis is a society that demands men hide who they really are in order to fit some societal narrative of what a real man can be. Love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a note in the comments below.

Men’s Mental Health: Be Somebody’s Larry

When it comes to men’s mental health we all need somewhere to unpack what is going on in our lives. The challenge often can be that finding those spaces to do that is difficult. As men, we tend to like to “fix” things. This often kills the space required for exploration of feelings and patterns of thought. In this short video I share a beautiful story about finding that space to unpack.

Men’s Mental Health Week

Men’s Mental Health: Why Emotional Fitness Matters

Why do so many of us men resist the mental health label? This is a conversation we need to have much more of. There are some unique societal pressures on men that create some unique challenges which ultimately require us to take some unique approaches when it comes to men’s mental health.

Men everywhere are hurting. What are we doing to address the pain men feel and the harm they can ultimately cause when that pain is not dealt with?

Fly In Fly Out Life – Real Stories, Struggles and Victories From Remote Work Camp Life

FIFO: faɪ fəʊ or Fly In Fly Out

FIFO work refers to remote camp work where workers are required to fly in and fly out to work and work away from home and their families.

This type of work poses unique challenges to workers and their families. The mental health struggles that can arise from the isolation from family, role transitions from work life to home life, societal stereotypes of masculinity and stigmas creating barriers to seeking help. We unpack all this through storytelling to give you a snapshot of FIFO life and to provide workers and their families with tools to thrive in this lifestyle.

Resilience

Building Resiliency

One of the most valuable characteristics a person can hold, in my opinion, is resiliency.

re·sil·ience
/rəˈzilyəns/
noun: resiliency
  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
    “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”

It is one of the personal characteristics that I hold dear. I have been hit with my share of hardship in life and pride myself on my ability to bounce back after a good shit kicking. Maybe one day I will learn to avoid the shit kicking but until then I will hang my hat on resilience. Who am I kidding. I have talked about this before in my article around Embrace the Suck  there is no amount of preparation that you can make, no amount of carefully scripting the life you think you want that will allow you to avoid the shit kicking that life will throw at you.

Resiliency is not a genetic characteristic. It is not a characteristic that we are born with or naturally gifted at. Resiliency is a combination of a number of personality traits that can be developed and honed over time. Building resilience is one of the reasons I choose to participate in endurance sporting events. Many of the characteristics required to complete a hundred mile trail race are the same as is required for resilience in life. For me it is about finding ways to practice those traits in a somewhat controlled environment so that I can apply them in those uncontrollable situations that life will throw at us from time to time.

The American Psychological Association lists the following 10 things that you can do to build resilience. I can relate almost all of them back to ultra marathons and the training that leads up to those races.

Make connections.

Some of the best human connections I have were made out on the trails. When you get the opportunity to run in relative solitude with another human being you tend to both share and learn a lot about each other. There is also this almost instantaneous bond that gets created when you share a similar type of suffering with another person. 

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.

On the trail, shit happens. Both literally and figuratively. Sometimes you need to adapt.

Accept that change is a part of living. 

As above, sometimes when we run long distances we have no choice but to accept change. Inclement weather, an obstacle on the course or any other source of unforeseen circumstances can require change mid run.

Move toward your goals. 

Relentless Forward Progress. When life sucks in a race we practice continually moving toward the finish line. Wait an hour and see what happens, just keep moving.

Take decisive actions. 

Training for and ultimately completing (really simply attempting) an ultramarathon requires dedicated, decisive action to get you there.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. 

Each new milestone we move towards is an opportunity to look deeper inward.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. 

Time on your feet, whether on the course or during training time, is a great opportunity to reflect and monitor your progress. Creating a training program and sticking with it will inevitably yield results that will build your self confidence.

Keep things in perspective. 

When you are cursing the race director or your coach during training it is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the fact that you are in a position to choose the type of suffering you want to practice with. Many in this world are not fortunate enough to be afforded such choice.

Maintain a hopeful outlook.

Visualizing crossing that finish line or looking forward to achieving that training milestone is a great way to practice maintaining a hopeful outlook. 

Take care of yourself. 

A healthy regimen of diet and exercise is core to any runners training.

So when the opportunity presents itself to get outside in ridiculously cold temperatures, I take that as an opportunity to practice the tenets of resilience. Have a look at this weeks vlog to see what record low temperatures look like in Edmonton.

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Colleen Yoga

Why are we afraid to live our Truth?

Words are an interesting conundrum.  I sit here about to commemorate the anniversary of Colleen’s tragic death and I look for words to equal the beauty of the person and memories I hold.  It is estimated that there are just over a million words in the English language.   What if the people, objects or experiences that I am trying to portray are more exquisite than any words available?  Do you do the subject a disservice?  As I sit in the Rocky Mountain rain that completely envelops the imposing mountains, how do I find words to describe to you the beauty of my surroundings?  How do I convey the beauty of a love that once was yet will always be?  In short how do you describe the indescribable?  My desire is to open the canvas, paint the base and let you, the reader, fill the shadows.  I want to communicate to you the importance of the ideas I write and challenge you to find a way to live a deeper version of yourself.  The ideas may not be new and I pray to God that it does not take a catastrophic event in your life for you to start looking within to become a fuller version of who you are supposed to be.

There are pivotal moments in your life.  Those seminal junctures that inexorably change the path of the journey you thought you were on.  The sooner in life that we can see these moments for what they are, freedom for expansion, the sooner we can leverage these moments for growth.  Whether these occasions cause joy, pain, sorrow or anger we can choose to contemplate on and learn from them.  The more we are able to recognize and reflect the closer we come to finding our capital T Truth.  Wrapped deep in their core, it is within these moments we find purpose and meaning.

This is especially true, albeit exceedingly difficult, when the event, moment or occasion has soul crushing ramifications.  This can often be a difficult reality to accept.  I sit here today heart open wide, ripped, torn, broken and bleeding thinking of those saddest of words “It might have been”.  I will not however let those words shape my destiny, my future or my message.

On October 2, 2015 I swore that I would not let “her story end here“.  I vowed that I would find a way to remain conscious through the teachings I was receiving.   I would find some method to turn pain into purpose.  It is difficult because I am not the most significantly impacted by the death of Colleen.  I do however feel inextricably linked with her.  The two of us now indistinguishable.  The path that we had begun together forged even stronger by her passing and the manor of her death.

The message left, not one of hate, blame, rage, despair, animosity, resentment or even sorrow.  While these are all emotions that need to be moved through, they are not what matters most.  What matters most is Love.  We need to move through these emotions and find Love and forgiveness.

As a lifelong student of leadership, I look at some of the principals of leadership and look to how we, as human beings can lead with Love.  Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner wrote, in their book “The Leadership Challenge”, of the five exemplary practices of leadership.

  • Model the way
  • Inspire a shared vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the Heart

Colleen was a shining example of leadership when it came to Love.  That is a legacy I intend to carry on.  As I sit and reflect on how to commemorate the anniversary of her death, the only way I know how is to do it with Love.  To strive to lead with Love.  To model all five of the practices outlined above.  This can be extremely difficult in a world that tends to put Love very low on the scorecard of success.  Perhaps we should move it closer to the top.  We certainly hear all kinds of en vogue platitudes about Love all the time.  With the amount of memes that get shared daily I fear we become immune to the true meaning and lose the message that needs to be spread.

Certainly in a business world that is built on the hyper masculine traits of being ruthlessly relentless Love is seen as weakness and is typically avoided at all costs.  We throw the word around in an effort to create corporate culture but do we truly lead with Love?  I don’t know.  How do we stand up and be seen?  Will that be rewarded or will our competitors walk all over us?  Is the cliche “Nice guys finish last” one that rings true or can we take some risks and ‘Model the Way’?
As the anniversary bell tolls, I am left to reflect and ‘Challenge the Process’ alone.  It is hard, it is painful but there are also grains of joy sprinkled within the sands of agony.  Joy in continuing to explore these concepts together as Colleen and I were prone to do.  All I can do is continue to sift through the anguish, searching for the seeds of Love sowing them throughout the furrows I have created in my world.

The most courageous thing that we can do as human beings is to drop the mask of who we think the world wants us to be and stand together in raw, unhidden beauty, ugliness or pain, revealing the true nature of our souls.  It is only when we rise up naked, stripped bare, and vulnerable that we can see ourselves for who we are, either accepting, or challenging and changing.  We must stand with hearts open wide, accepting and free from casting judgment.

I am left to ponder these questions and while many of the answers still elude me, and likely always will, I come back to the simple truism ‘More Love, Less Hate’.  This is an incredibly uncomplicated concept that we should easily come to a consensus on.  So the question remains why do we not live like this?  Why are we so afraid of living who we truly are?

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