Your donation can save lives!

With a little over the month gone, I am 20% of the way to my goal of $500. This is my first year participating in Movember even though I have watched friends participate for years now. This year it felt right to step in an take a more active role. Not to long ago I took part in the 22 day – 22 push-up challenge, a challenge that has brought awareness to the the high toll PTSD has on servicemen. A reported 22 US veterans take their lives each day, and that is sadly only part of the story. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, killing 42,773 people each year. Worse is that for every death there are 25 reported attempts. [Stats]

While suicide is not gender or race specific, in 2014 males rates were 3.5x higher than women and 70% were white males. Suicide is also not constrained by boundaries, this is a global epidemic.

suicide-chart-2005

There is no one reason for suicide, according to Psychology Today there are six core reasons, and I would not assume to understand. Each person will rationalize it differently and many will have tried to get help but not found it. Yet, I believe that with education and awareness we can make a difference.

If you are suffering and need to talk to someone, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Movember Foundation is aiming to reduce the rate of male suicide by 25% by 2030, and I want to help them get there. Let’s get men the help they need.

Donate Today!

What is the Movember Foundation?

The Movember Foundation is a well respected organization that grew out of a fun conversation between friends at a Melbourne pub back in 2003. They had discussed how the moustache had all but disappeared from fashion, and challenged themselves to see if they could bring it back. That first year it was all about the fun and included just 30 of their friends, but what they quickly realized was that it was a conversation starter. They could make a real impact, and found the perfect fit in supporting men’s health, which was severely underfunded. In 2004, 480 Mo Bros raised over $40,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia which was the largest single donation the PCFA had ever received. From there the movement was born. By 2015, over 5 million people have participated, raising over $710 million and funding 1200 men’s heath projects around the globe. [Read more]

While known for their focus on Prostate and Testicular cancer, the Movember foundation has expanded to also include mental health issues as well, including male suicide. It is a multi-pillar approach designed to tackle the most serious male health issues worldwide.

The state of men’s health is in crisis. Men experience worse longer-term health than women and die on average six years earlier. Prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years. Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. Three quarters of suicides are men. Poor mental health leads to half a million men taking their own life every year. That’s one every minute.
– Movember Foundation

What I am doing?

This year I felt it was my turn to step up and speak out, it was time to get off the side-lines and into the game. As strong males, we don’t like to see ourselves as weak or vulnerable. We, or at least I, still view myself as young and invincible even as I know I am getting older. It is hard to see myself as aging, and I don’t like to admit when I am suffering. I keep things to myself and try to hide it from the world. Yet, it wasn’t working and I saw my life slowly spiraling out of control – it had to stop. I founded this site was as a way to release some of that mental suffering and share my experiences in the hopes that someone finds them valuable. It was important and has been a major key in getting my out of my negative mindset.

It seemed appropriate that, coincidentally, Movember started off with my first prostate exam which was probably one of the most uncomfortable things I have done in a while. Far more mentally unsettling than painful, it also reminded me that I need to pay attention to my own health. It was a good smack that has refocused my attention on eating right and exercising – over the last couple years I have slowed my daily exercise routines and leaned on the easy dinners of pizza and fast food. Fruit smoothies went from daily to weekly to monthly “treats”. It is time I changed that… and there is no better time than now.

In the spirit of Movember, I wanted to inject a little fun back into some of these hard and troubling topics. I wanted to engage people in the process. I wanted to make things personal. I am asking you to choose my fashion statement for the month of December, and extending the Movember spirit throughout the holiday season. All donations to my account will be placed in one of the four following buckets – to keep things even tallies are calculated in US dollars. UPDATE: Ease the burden of the international exchange rates, I will personally match the exchange rate of your donation – making sure every dollar you give … count. Just let me know what bucket you prefer, and on December 1st I will make my fashion statement. As a bonus, I will extend my fashion statement by a month for every $500 I hit.

Bald

Badass Bald
Also known as the “Walter White” look, I pledge to shave my head and grow out a full goatee or beard to round out the look.

Moustache
Let the ‘stash reign
Movember is all about the moustache, and while I feared the 80’s pimp look I don’t think it looks too bad. Maybe I should keep it around a little longer.

Goatee

Return of the Goat
This is my standard go to, the goatee. I have been sporting this bad-boy on and off for years now.

Clean cut

Clean shaven and Good Looking’
It might just be time to break out the baby face and trim up for the holidays.
Make your choice and
Donate


Lets make a Difference!

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The Exam

mobro

Just last week I was talking to Walter over at WeRadDads.com about a podcast I had just listened to. The podcast was on the upcoming month of Movember, Mo being Aussie slang for a moustache. This is an annual fundraising and awareness effort put on by the Movember Foundation centered around men’s health. Particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. I have had friends participate many time in the past, and donated regularly to the cause … but I have never participated before. As it turns out, Walter had similar ideas.

So I found it a coincidental opportunity that saw me at the Doctors office on November 1st. The appointment had been setup long before I had decided to participate in Movember. Weeks before I had gone to get a referral from my doctor, and came out with that and an appointment for my annual physical. Apparently ‘annual’ means something, so he was a little upset that I hadn’t seen him in 4 years.

Who wants to see the doctor, heck even when I am sick or hurt I avoid it. I have patched cuts that should have been stitched with toilet paper and tape. I have entertained coughing fits for over 3 months before scheduling a doctor appointment. I skipped that ER until my ankle was the size of my head and I was essentially hauled there by friends. I could say it is because I am a guy, but as a guy I am far more logical than that. There are several reasons: Cost, Time, and Trust I think are the core issues though. Some of that is just my experience in the US, but I was never one to go to the doctor (or dentist) in Canada either.

So, what is it … a guy thing? I doubt it, might be more of a control thing combined with a ‘I can fix it’ attitude. Which could be considered a guy thing to some people. For me, I don’t want to rely on someone else to maintain my own worldly existence. Yet, fear is there too. I must say that I am often afraid when visiting the doctor, afraid that I will be told that there is something wrong … something I don’t know about … something that can’t be fixed.

Yet, there I was. Obeying the command of the doctor to come back on the 1st with all my lab work done. I was thinking, “could we not have this conversation over the phone.” But as I sat there I was thinking, this is an interesting opportunity. I am in for my physical on the first day of Movember, this is a perfect way to start off a month dedicated to men’s health awareness. “And heck … I am healthy, so this will be a piece of cake.”

That was until we started going over my numbers. Blood pressure … perfect, gained a few pounds (now only 5 lbs until I get to my goal weight), Cholesterol … high (damn, pizza and McD’s with the kids has been catching up with me), and the numbers back for the prostate check were … off … WHAT!!!. A sense of terror crept over me … “and what does that mean?” I asked. “Means you need to drop your drawers” was his response, kind of flat. So I did as he instructed. I allowed the medical student stay in the room in an effort to project a sense of comfort about the whole situation, but I was uncomfortable and there was no hiding it. Not from being naked or exposed in front of the doctor or the student, but from the thought of what was coming.

This had always been a joke. Even that morning we had laughed about the “bend over and cough” scenario. But now I was lying there in a fetal position, pants on the floor, butt exposed, and being … “manipulated”. It was a joke no longer. I cringed with every movement, more from the expectation and anticipation of the unknown than what was actually happening. Then it was over. While it was an odd sensation, there was no pain.

In the end, nothing abnormal to report. Suspicion is that there is an infection that needs to be addressed so I was given a prescription and, following a quick flu shot, sent on my merry way.

There are still a number of things I need to find information on, after getting and reading the information on CIPRO I have questions. I would like more details on the infection, would like to know more about options, and long term impacts if left ‘as is’. However, that is as much about my education as it is about my medical care. Knowing and understanding is important and the only way you have any control.

In my past I have always been reasonably healthy. My numbers have always been right between the goal posts. I have never had a reason to be worried. However, these past two years have been a strain on me, a strain that I thought had been all mental but it seems there has been a strain on my physical body as well. Not only am I not running, visiting the gym as much or eating right … but there is more I need to be monitoring. This opportunity, my coincidental opportunity, made this men’s health awareness a reality for me.

I need to pay attention.

That is what this month is all about. Bringing awareness to these issues so people go get their physicals done … yes it is uncomfortable. 12.9% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lives. That is uncomfortable too and the earlier is is found the better your chance for a positive outcome.

So I am all in with this month of Movember, it has already had impact.

Follow my progress on Facebook

Donate today: http://mobro.co/stilldaddy

Check out our team, the “Rad Mo Bros.”

Find out more on the Foundation and read the history. Nothing like a few beers and a crazy idea to kick off such a fun and impactful idea.

movember-2016-campaign-iconicmo-logo-black-thumb

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The Transition

I sat down with a buddy of mine the other day confused. “How does this work?” I was asking. He was divorced earlier on in his life and has often provided me advice though the process. However, he was in a much different place then (still young, no kids) and has now been with his partner for the past 17 years. So when asking him about navigating the waters of dating I got the same shoulder shrug I see in the mirror so often.

So we sat under the hot Florida sun, pondering the concept of dating. The different aspects, changes, and expectations and how drink eventually turn into moving in together or marriage. I was wondering how people handle the strains of day-to-day life with the desire to spend ever increasing amounts of time together. And how some of the simple choices became incredibly more complex with kids and shared custody arrangements involved.

Transitioning to the dating has not been easy, not that I was really expecting it to be. I never had the self-confidence growing up needed to “make a move”, thus had low expectations as I re-entered the “single life”. Yet as I sat there sipping my beer I knew that wasn’t what was troubling me. Since I moved out two years ago I have been in several different relationships, some short, some just fun, and some more serious in nature. While never perfect, they all had several good times though eventually we decided it wasn’t going to work.


It wasn’t the individual relationships that were bothering
me that day, it was the relationship itself.

What had me confused was the growth of a relationship, and how we weaved them into our daily lives as grown adults. This came to the forefront with my most recent relationship as we tried to grow the relationship while trying to meet our individual needs, all while I still maintained my well-structured role as Dad and my obligations as a provider. I quickly saw how my experience through a 14-year marriage had impacted the expectations I had for any serious relationship I was looking to be engaged in.

Life has changed since I was last dating. Before marriage I was young, energetic, and had few obligations. I was just launching into my career, had no kids, and the world was open for me to explore. The dating life was simple. When we were young, dating was a matter of meeting at school or work and following with time spent together in the evening. This would grow into more time spent together going on dates, to special events, and taking adventures. You just gradually spent more time together as you slowly got to know each other.

I really only had two relationships that lasted beyond a few months, and the only one to last longer than a year – and that lasted over 14. Truth be told, the year before I was married we lived in two different cities, two different countries and saw each other only on weekends or vacations. We did well and enjoyed those times, but our interactions where pretty focused and scheduled.

Once married, our day-to-day lives were joined. Activities were almost expected to be done together. Decisions were made together. Responsibilities were shared, roles were defined, and we moved on and grew. The transition wasn’t easy, there was lots to learn. Overall life was good as learned work together, over the years the balance of this got all messed up as I got addicted to my job and my career (I honestly felt I didn’t have much choice), but that is for another story…

The point is, I feel my personal experience in relationships is very limited. Even looking back at how my friends and family handled it, scheduling issues and busy lives seemed to be resolved by simply moving in together. They didn’t have kids or any of shared custody drama. Though I am sure that there were issues, I didn’t experience it.

Stages of a Relationship

I am finding four stages to a relationship. I describe them as:

Stage 1: Introductions
Sometimes called the honeymoon stage, this is that surface connection. With it comes the infatuation and the seeds of passion. During this stage you are almost completely focused on your partner often putting off obligations and adjusting schedules just to spend time together.

Stage 2: Growing Together
This is the actual test of compatibility for your life together. Here you figure out how to make it work. You merge your schedules and start and start building out join goals and aspirations. This is where truths become known, the subtle details of your inner self are exposed. I would place the first year or two of marriage in this stage as the changes and challenges involved in those first couple years are all about growing together.

Stage 3: The Long Haul
You have now accepted the quirks of your partner and you have settled in. You no longer view your life as separate. You have committed, and hopefully you are happy.

Stage 4: The Break
This is the stage that no one talks about, but it is there hiding in the shadows … and not the topic of today.

The Transitional Challenge

Early on I had made the choice that I would not introduce the boys to any new interest of mine until we had decided to go long-term. At the time I really didn’t know what that meant, but I did know that it was my job to provide protection. That protection included the emotional pains that result from a broken heart. What resulted was me living two separate lives; one a father and one a single man. These two worlds were not to touch.

This presented a challenge as my relationship with one girl started to enter the first transition point. She, not having kids, was in a different mental state. Fully engaged in moving on and growing together. I, having exposed her to only one side of my life, was now fully entrenched in a full-scale battle with myself. I had only casually introduced her to a select group of my friends, and while she knew of my kids she had only met them once before we started dating. I had not utilized the time of those first few months to conduct proper introductions. The result was that we ended up on a different page and at the time I did not recognize what was going on.

These first months are a critical time where you both need to introduce yourselves and your lives … completely. This should include your family, friends, and your ambitions. The things that make up your life. Sure the first few weeks can be all about the two of you, but you can’t keep your worlds separate.

So this is where I was recently, in another relationship with another wonderful lady. I had decided that living two lives wasn’t going to work so had introduce her as we started spending more regular time together. After a few times together I informed the boys about the relationship, I was hoping honesty would help their transition. The boys knew and liked her, and they knew we were dating … and did not seem concerned by the show of affection that became more comfortable as the weeks passed (This was very encouraging). It made a lot of things easier, but we still seemed to live two lives.

My life is busy. With the boys’ events and homework combined with my own activities and obligations, almost every day is full. She also has a life, with her own events, obligations and commitments. This required us both to make sacrifices as we let the relationship grow, but over time it became hard to continue sacrificing different areas of lives. The “honeymoon” stage was over and real life had started settling in … the transition had begun and we were not ready for it. We had avoided introducing some of our internal fears, our ambitions, and our expectations. I had introduced my family but we hadn’t done a lot to introduce our friends and activities. We had attempted to keep things at the surface and avoid some of the pains of the past.

So there I swing, wondering how anyone makes it work? How does one handle that second, post-dating/pre-marriage, stage? How do the lives merge without completely merging? I think the answers to these questions are what you are looking for during those first few months of the relationship. I am left hoping that with the right person the answers to these questions are clear.

What I did find was that the kids are resilient, and I need not be so worried about that. They are accepting and desire me to be happy, so as long as they still have my main attention and are treated with respect I feel they will be fine.

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