1
Divorced Dads: It’s time to get your swagger back
2
Do shoes make the man? Heck, yes!
3
The $100 Freaking Four-Foot “Hunka Love” Teddy Bear
4
Homemade Energy Bars
5
Lentil Salad: Recipe of the Week
6
The Curse of Our Thumbs
7
MLK
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My First Blog – the dreaded new year’s resolution! 12/31/2014

Divorced Dads: It’s time to get your swagger back

Get your swagger back after divorce
Source: Tapiture

Many of you are just like me. You used to be somebody.  You were a kick-ass dude with his life tightly pulled together.  Of course,  we all know you are still freakin’ awesome. But now, it’s more like the watered-down divorced kind of awesome.  The after divorce kind of awesome.  And that doesn’t feel the same at all.  You work hard, fall behind, miss out on great events, and you doubt yourself.  Divorce is a crazy thing for everyone. Everyone. I know because I have firsthand knowledge.  It’s my story too.

There is an endless stream of shows, articles, books, and resources to help newly-divorced women learn to cope without a man (as if they need the help).  I’m sure you’ve also heard people yammer on about the virtues of putting the kids first.  BTW… if I had a dollar for every clichéd “I am doing it for my kids” line of BS I would be a sitting on a giant pile of cash instead of this office chair.  But there is deafening silence when you bring up a discussion about how Dad should deal with the mess that’s left behind after divorce.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s time to recognize that it is not a sign of weakness to want to be a man.  I am not talking about chopping-wood-in-your-flannel-shirt-while-drinking-whiskey man.  I am talking about a man who is part of the experience.  A man who has a heart and a soul, a man who doesn’t have to measure his worth in machismo.  Don’t misunderstand, it is bad ass to chop wood while drinking whiskey– but it’s so much more than that.  You are not a criminal if you fight to be a great dad.   You are not the bad guy if you fight for more time with your children.  You simply need to GET YOUR SWAGGER BACK.

Here is a cursory list of things you can do to get your emotional swagger back. 

Go to a counselor

This step was critical for me.  I waited until I was in a really bad place before I went to a professional.  Do not delay this step!  Most psychologists are wicked smart about what you are going through.  You would not sit at home and stew about your car not running, you would go to a mechanic.  Dr. Perrin was my mechanic.  I don’t think there was any magic, he just showed me a path.  Maybe he just listened with no pre-conceived notions about me.  Maybe he was a safe place for me to be honest.  Whatever it was I cannot stress this enough.

Show your kids the real you

You can shed a tear at your kids first dance because that is major life event.  Your kids need to know you are fully engaged on many levels.  It is very hard to understand what is going on in their minds.  They are generally younger than you (right) and don’t have much life experience with emotions.  Hell, as grown men we have not generally been given permission to even have emotions let alone understand them.  It is critical that they hear from you about life.  Not to preach or even teach but to remind them, even subconsciously, that you care and are interested.  There could be terribly inaccurate information pouring into their brains daily from well intended people about your relationship with them.  They are smart, they know what you say and what you DO.

Don’t forget all this stuff!

Or course you can hit the gym and regain your body which helps your confidence and all that goes with that.  You can be super effective at work and solidify one part of your life.  You can get a grip on your budget (or at least try).  Don’t forget to read a book, a non-fiction book.  Build some great play-lists on Spotify and shut off the TV.  And… you can share a beer with your inner most doubts, in your garage, and explain why you can’t hang out anymore. Send that stupid inner voice packing and be awesome again.  

This is the first of many posts that point toward potential fixes.  Life goes on after divorce.  It can be better than ever, but it does take time and effort.  I am not a PhD in “manology” nor do I have a team of psychologists backing my research.  My degree in divorce is from the school of hard knocks.  I am a divorced dad who struggled mightily with my place in the world and still do.  I am a regular working guy trying to make ends meet and reset myself.  Most importantly I am currently busting my ass to get to a great place.

There will be no vitriol and hate, no low-hanging fruit pointed at former spouses or blaming the system.  This is a place to grow, think, love, and come up with some cool shit.  Stay tuned for a long-running dialog on being somewhere between functional and a rock star after divorce.   Jump on and come along for the ride.

Let’s Go!

Do shoes make the man? Heck, yes!

Do shoes make the man?  Shoes and SocksDo shoes make the man?

Be honest.  No really.  BE HONEST.   You look at people who rock differently than you look at slobs.  I can hear the naysayers now, “But it’s what is on the inside that matters!”  Bullshit.  Don’t tell me you would go to The Avengers if the cast was made up of 4 fat dudes in sweat pants and a woman with crazy eyes who uses the moped to travel.   We totally dig people with swagger.  Swagger is a freaking cool-ass thing.  Swagger rocks and swagger comes in all sorts of forms.

Let’s break this down into one little chunk for brevity.  I had a man-crush on a dude’s shoes and socks at a meeting the other day.  Straight-up teenage vibe, you know, like a little girl watching that stupid vampire series.  No, I don’t have a poster of his feet.  However, I did take the picture when he wasn’t looking, sneaky style.  (Full disclosure: I eventually told him so the photographic evidence of his footwear has been given the full approval to publish.  He wasn’t even troubled because HE KNEW he was awesome.)

So does it matter.  Heck yes, it matters!  Shoes do make the man.  Studies even back this up. A study conducted by Researchers at the University of Kansas back me up. Respondents accurately judged characteristics such as age, income, and political affiliation of an unknown person, based solely (pun intended!) on his shoes.  I kid you not.  I feel validated.

Your kick-ass shoes give you credibility.  They are an indication of your self-respect. If I am listening to someone yammer on about a topic they love and they have stupid shoes, I tune out.  To me, shoes are an easy way to say he cares.  You don’t have be rolling in cash to look good.   Just care.  Regardless on income, any guy can consciously choose to keep them polished and pick out some cool socks.  You cannot mail this one in.  Trust me when I tell you shoes are critical.

I am not totally in the dark.  If he was an idiot and spit while he talked and the shoes were cool he would also lack credibility.  I am a fan of language, ties, smooth conversation (conversation is sexy), posture and rock-hard abs.  But the shoes are the foundation.  Take that first step, fellas.

Next week we talk about your damn creepy eyebrows.

Let’s Go!

The $100 Freaking Four-Foot “Hunka Love” Teddy Bear

The $100 Freaking Four-Foot “Hunka Love” Teddy Bear

I just saw a Valentine’s Day commercial that made me freeze in my tracks.  While I’m not going to dive into the commercially made-up holiday that is Valentines Day, I do think this advertisement deserves a little discussion.

A beautiful woman gets a teddy bear for Valentine’s Day from a great looking man.  A FOUR-FOOT TALL FREAKING TEDDY BEAR.  She is sooooo happy and the look in her eyes clearly demonstrates that she is in an amorous state based on her feelings towards “Captain Thoughtful” and this amazing romantic gesture.

Oh wait,  it gets worse.  Then, they show a hottie in a spaghetti-strap tank top turning up her nose at a box of chocolates because you, the stupid man, are trying to get her fat.  How dare you give her chocolate?  How insensitive.  Don’t you know that her silicone is very new and there could be a dangerous reaction?  Dude, you are an ass.

Flowers – Ha!  DEAD in a week, just like your love life.  Clearly, no woman wants flowers because if they don’t last forever they’re no good.  Isn’t that why people don’t want pets or kids?  No woman wants anything that doesn’t live forever.  Insert perfect gift NOW.

Vermont Teddy Bear HunkaThe four-foot teddy bear will, and I quote, “…take care of her when you are not around.”  What?  Is this stuffed menace also anatomically correct?  Is it a twisted, yet erotic, combination of Ted and Chuckie?  I mean, I like a teddy bear as much as the next guy, but for $100 this fluffy guy should do something to earn his keep.   Surrogate Phallic Teddy never fails, and you Zippy, fail all the time.

I wonder how long the relationship will last?  Sure ,Teddy never comes home drunk or gets fired for hitting on the bosses wife.  Sure ,Teddy never says anything stupid in front of that special someone’s parents.  And of course you would not catch fur ball “accidentally” locking the cat out of the bedroom.   The good news is that I think that will wear off FAST.

There will come a day when Teddy does not take out the garbage or will not be around for the toilet seat blame-game.  He will be laying there like a dolt in the corner when one of her friends was passive aggressive on facebook and she needs to talk about the two-faced bitch.  And Teddy, flawless Teddy will commit the ultimate sin by not noticing the new haircut.  BOOM! You’re back in, my friend.  You take the fall for the seat indiscretion, you call out the former friend, and swoon over the cut.  Back in.

I realize there is no perfect gift.  I have some very real and irrational fears about this 99.99 “Act Now” parasite, but there is great hope in it as well.  Sometimes it takes great evil to see great good (or at least average good).  Eventually when Teddy lets her down, she’ll realize that you are not a giant buffoon.  She will realize that you are just a flawed monkey.  Her monkey.  Had you bought her flowers or some transitory junk there would have never been such an epiphany.  It took the $100 Fur Ball of Evil to teach her that.

My final advice is to never buy a human-sized beanbag.   Maybe buy her flowers?  Doesn’t sound like much advice, but it is.  You can do so much more by being home now and then, noticing her haircut (and lie about it if you don’t like it – bonus advice!), be anatomically correct yourself (even if not perfect) and see how that works out.  Plus, that hundred bucks could buy some pretty damn good scotch.

Of course don’t take my word for it, buy the bear, and then let me know how it works out.  That’s why I have a comment section.

Let’s Go!

Homemade Energy Bars

Energy Bars

Energy Bars

This recipe is fantastic… and scary!

I think I may have created a false sense of ease with my last post.  I am the guy with very few rules regarding food. I lied.

Homemade energy bars are fantastic, delicious, and so good for you.  However, the planning stage is ridiculous to the point where the recipe is moot.

Homemade Energy Bars

Step One: Get a 13-year-old child to help you.  Right?  I have made these a few times and each time my 13-year-old son has been the catalyst.  Soooo…. you need to really plan ahead.  If you have a kid, wait until they are 13. Simple.  If not, maybe godsmatch or Zoosk or something can assist you. You need to either get knocked up or get someone knocked up.  Then, about 13 years later, make some energy bars.  Seems like a lot of prep, and it is! Now get to work.

Here is his hand – Of Course I will share Yes – have some!

Honey BearOnce that is done, the rest will seem really easy.
Grab a cup of oatmeal and mix it with 2/3 cup of honey. What makes honey awesome, besides the taste, is the cool little plastic bear it comes in.   Fun… really fun. Add a cup of peanut butter. I used Jiff last time for the simple reason that I had some Jiff. Toss in 1/2 cup of flax seed (go ahead and grind it up because that makes you feel organic). I use 1 teaspoons of vanilla and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Can we talk about the chocolate? Purists will tell you to buy semi-sweet. Ha!  Milk chocolate is soooo good. I also like butterscotch chips, which are old-school fantastic.  Here is where you can get it done. Mix-and-match, live on the edge, challenge the status quo, stick it to the man, whatever you like to do… do it now. This is your chance to create magic! (don’t tell anyone, but raisins would probably work too.)

I hear what you’re saying, “Dave, I see sunflower seeds in the picture.”  Yep, I was short a little flax seed and I had those in cupboard.   Get real kids.  This ain’t rocket surgery, so make some damn bars.

The hardest part is the coconut. Spread some on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350 for about 10 minutes. You have to watch because this little delight is like my family tree on vacation. One second everything is fluffy and white – the next minute – really burned, like really burned. These puppies go from white to burned in no time, so don’t be lazy.  PAY ATTENTION.

Once it is all mixed, put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes so it can congeal. I just love the word congeal. It is probably not the right word for what is happening now, but it pleases me oh-so-very-much. Press the mix into balls about the size of ping-pong balls.  Gently cup the balls while rolling them in your hands.  Gently, yet firmly.  Wait…wrong blog. Make some balls and you are done.

I recommend these anywhere you go that requires a contribution to the trough. Anywhere you see five or more crock pots on the counter, and especially anywhere where processed liquid cheese is the most common ingredient. I also recommend them anytime you want to eat. They are super-good and good for you.

So, in conclusion: Make some protein balls, impress the ladies, save your life, build some muscle, look cool, eat well, and use the word “balls” enough to create confusion amongst your friends.

Let’s Go!

Lentil Salad: Recipe of the Week

Healthy Lentil Salad - Packed with protein and flavor

My First Recipe.  EVER.

This is the first recipe I’ve developed ever.  EVER.  I think the reason I want to post recipes on my blog is that I have enjoyed food for as long as I remember.  It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.  The dilemma is the super anal-retentive natured people read recipes and expect every little detail to be handed to them in mindless exactitude on a silver platter.  I cannot cook that way.  I could.  I should.  Maybe then my food would be better.  But where is the fun in THAT?  So, I humbly present to you my first recipe.  It’s imperfectly based on a variety of vague ideas and nuance along with a side of what-I-had-in-my-kitchen.  So good luck foodie friends… you can do this!

Lentil Salad

This is a delicious protein-packed salad/dip/snack-for-your-face along with muscles and internal organs.  There are two cool parts to this:  1.  No soaking beans and 2.  About 400 things taste great in it.  You get to decide what to use.

Suggested Ingredients:

Dry Lentil – Tomato – Feta Cheese – Red Onion – Spinach – Bell Pepper – Avocado – Basil – Cilantro – Mint – White Wine Vinegar – Lemon Juice

Directions:

Boil the lentils based on the description that comes with lentils.  They are professionals and surely no better than I at describing a proper lentil.  Drain them, rinse them, stare at them and wonder why you started with three colors of lentils and you end up with brown.

Once you have those bad boys dialed in add some of the other ingredients.  What?  More detail?  OK (go with two cups dry)

Some Feta – part of the onion – pepper for fun color – avocado (go with one that is not so ripe so you don’t get mush) – a fist full of spinach (this will vary based on the size of your fist – this ingredient rocks so put as much you want no matter your fist capacity) – and all the other stuff.

Fresh basil – if you live in the frozen north, regular basil.  Cilantro – this is a cool green thing that adds amazing flavor .  Mint – you make the call, some people hate this.  The point is seasoning does not have to be salt.  NO SALT.

IMG_1750

When you put in the liquids, be sparing.  I would start with a 1/4 cup of vinegar and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice.  It is easy to add more, yet tough to go the other way.

Mix it all together with a spatula or a big giant spoon, your clean hand or even a stick.  Just get it mixed up because that is what the man wants us to do.  I cannot believe this step needs to be here.  Who doesn’t know that you need to mix stuff?

Lastly, there are tons ways to adapt this.  Sometimes we see a recipe and pick the one thing we detest and ignore the whole deal and miss out on all the fibery glory.  So, here are some suggestions:

Cucumbers, garlic, pick your favorite bean (ooh… garbanzo is fun to say), mango, pineapple, jalapeno, raisins, try some different liquids, you get the idea.  There is no reason you can’t alter some things and do what I did.  Even pretend you made up the recipe!

Let’s Go!

 

 

 

 

The Curse of Our Thumbs

opposable thumbs - good or bad?

The Curse of Our Thumbs

A giant evolutionary step in humans becoming the dominant species on the earth really has to be the opposable thumb (I say that with a wink and a nod to those who think there was no such thing as evolution).  For the sake of this little ditty, let’s agree it was an evolutionary thing.  I think we need to pare out some grand themes, it is a blog not a treatise on the evolution of man.

Save the comments.  I know there are many things that could be the defining moment.  For example,  fire and the wheel are arguments that could be pointed my way.  I love fire, it cooks my food and warms the cockles of my heart.  The wheel, what can a guy say?  I love my car, so I assume we can all be thankful for those two big steps.  I am certain that had Grog had no thumb, he makes no wheel (Boom! – Trump card).  Our thumbs open doors, literally.  Grog sports a flipper or a gnarled claw and we are a footnote in a journal written by alien archaeologists as they visit a planet with no intelligent life.

There are people, like Roger Waters, who is not a fan of our evolution.

“Then some damn fool invents the wheel –  Listen to the whitewalls squeal –  You spend all day looking for a parking spot – Nothing for the heart, nothing for the pot.”  — Roger Waters (from the song Me or Him on RADIO K.A.O.S.).

I would guess that there is probably someone out there who hates fire.  Ice man?  Maybe Smokey the Bear?  I don’t know it is hard to picture a real human who does not benefit from being warm.  Dang, I am rambling again… but I was looking for a reason to quote Roger.

My point is this:  Our supposed greatest physical asset has become one of our greatest enemies.  Yes, we can still open doors, build fires, and make tires, all thanks to Mr. Thumb.  That said, I also must scold our flexible digit because he has stunted us in our emotional growth and intellectual growth.  I think it is fair to say the thumb has become self-aware.

Our thumb is why don’t we talk anymore.   Seriously… We don’t have to!  Our thumbs are in cahoots with the cell phone companies that have dumbed us down to WTF, LOL, LMFAO and MUSE (OK… I made that one up).  A cool thing about talking is inflection.  Other things that I thoroughly enjoy are sarcasm, compassion, pace, timbre, poetic license, and just good ol’ slang.  The thumb is inflectionless, has no sense of humor, doesn’t give more than grunts and pokes.  It’s in direct opposition with so many of life’s simple pleasures.

Please understand that I love my thumb.  This is source of great conflict that only my mother, my therapist, and god understand.  Had I been born a few decades ago we would have hitch hiked across America.  I was raised on The Fonz who, if we are not too cool to admit, moved the thumb back into our collective conscience.  Yes, the thumb told the lions to finish off gladiators and the thumb let us know if the movie was going to be good (or at least artsy).  From that standpoint I am certain that the thumb has done me a solid.  But now… oh lord… now the thumb has forsaken me.  I will see you later becomes a vague reference to Saved By The Bell and now my friend thinks they will see Slater later.  Spell check and typos have teamed up with blunt words to make me look like an ass.  There I said it.

While our thumbs don’t totally suck, I believe they have ruined our front-brains.  We can still fight, forage for food, rut, and cry like a baby when that fight gets us punched in the face but we cannot clearly elucidate a point regarding love.  We cannot affirm our fellow man, we can barely arrange place to meet when we sell some crap on Craigslist.

But it’s not hopeless.  It is not too late to reclaim our relationships, let our other fingers do some of the work, and even, dare I say, use our mouths.  Let’s talk, grab some coffee and remind our thumbs of their place.  To quote the Fonz, Aaayyyy.

Let’s Go!

SIDE NOTE:  No real thumbs are quoted here to protect the innocent.

“hey just checking if we are going out tonight” — The Thumb
“why r u bailing on me” — some alleged friend’s thumb
“no I have to stop somewhere and wanted to check on your schedule” — first thumb
“Oh, I see I am just an event on the schedule DON’T BOTHER” — second overly-sensitive odd thumb

MLK

I attended the Pathfinder Awards ceremony on MLK Jr. Day. It is an event that recognized people in my home town who display a willingness to include, grow, and make Mankato a better place for all people. It was very well done and all of the recipients were gracious and worthy. A young high school girl who set up a prom for developmentally disabled children in her school, a teacher who built a science curriculum for student who struggle learning English, and a business who works with local refugees to employee these individuals displaced from their countries all shone brightly. The amazing thing is that none of them are public speakers, none are charismatic leaders, none have access to key legislation, they are just doing.

The keynote was delivered by Rev. Dr. James Washington. His resume is amazing and intimidating. He probably knows more about human rights than all of the rest of us combined. He changed his presentation after seeing the things being done at a grass-roots level. While he could have quoted his books, dropped names, or even talked down to us, he chose another path. He simply focused on making a difference in a little way every single day. He burst into song, he referenced people in the room and he was engaging.

He talked about his goal of eliminating racism and sexism and ageism and homophobia was unrealistic. He reminded us, through self deprecating comments, that we can only leave the world a better place.

Don’t be silent, don’t accept the status quo, make a difference on action at a time. His call to action including a statement that our instant media generation often forgets. His call to action was so simple yet so far off our radar that I had to pause and reflect on my plans. I consider myself open and caring and willing to grow. He said “first seek to understand, then seek to be understood”. Bam. There it is. We post on Facebook, we dogmatically lecture others, we think we are explaining. We are assuming that our audience it at the same level emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. We assume they have the same life experiences and are starting from the same place. I was embarrassed for myself.  We will discuss this at length another day.

Time to move forward with this information. Time to be the change. Time to be better. Time to make it better.

Let’s go!

 

My First Blog – the dreaded new year’s resolution! 12/31/2014

 

My First Blog – the dreaded new year’s resolution! 12/31/2014

It is that time of year where everyone has high hopes, big plans, and certain doom. I don’t say that because it is not possible to grow and change; it is hard to live up to crazy expectations we set for ourselves. I think instead of my plan to run a marathon, learn the guitar, start a new brand, and fix a pile of financial history I should Instead set realistic goals that become habits. My resolution is to practice chords 3 days a week, hit the gym 3 days a week and just write for a while. I think if I give it to the universe there will be an answer. Of course this will only work with help from friends and family AND…I have to do things I have not done before. Let’s go!

 

 

 

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