Your Monthly Male on Emotional Management

Your Monthly Male on Emotional Management

Our Monthly Male hasn’t been very monthly, but I can hardly blame that on him. For all I know, Paul was sitting in his room, sobbing uncontrollably, wishing I would ask him to write something for me…

Probably not, though. Anyway, he’s back with the answer to a question I asked him last week.

Now, before any of my female readers get all huffy about this, let me remind you that I am a very emotional person. This does not mean that every woman is an emotional box of crazy… I just know that I’m not alone in this, so I asked Paul (not my Paul, remember) how he’s dealt with the emotional women in his life. This is his response:

One very important thing that I’ve learned throughout life is that men and women are very different. I know…I was surprised, too! Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Little girls are made of sugar, little boys are made of snails. The list of differences between Guys and Dolls is as long as the San Andreas Fault, and 10 times as confusing, but nowhere is this dichotomy more clear than in the world of emotion.
Men and women feel emotions about different things, and to different degrees. While Sheila could freak out about a chipped nail, Steve might put a fist through a wall over a football game. Each reaction seems perfectly reasonable to the individual in question, and completely insane to their counterpart. Jerry Seinfeld said that “Men and women will never understand each other, so we might as well stop thinking about it. I’m not wasting any more time with this!”
The real difference, though, comes in the way the different genders react to their emotions. With the exception of sports, guys tend to keep their emotions close to the vest. I, for one, put a great deal of effort into suppressing, hiding, or ignoring whatever feelings come my way. Women, on the other hand, wear their emotions on their frilly little sleeves. Now, of course I’m making generalizations here, but to quote the inimitable Dave Barry, “If God didn’t want us to make gender-based generalizations, She would not have given us genders.”
The differences themselves are not a problem. The problem arises when men and women are forced to interact at times of high emotional distress. I have been lucky that over the years the most important women in my life have been reasonably not-crazy in the emotion department. Every once in a while, though, one of my sisters or my ex-fiance will take a quick dive off the deep end and I’m left fruitlessly trying to empathize with or cheer up the sobbing mess in front of me.
For a while, my approach was as follows: Put an arm around a shoulder, speak as calmly and rationally as possible, and attempt to calm her down with reason and logic. After a number of times when that served only to make the situation worse, I was forced to change my strategy. I decided it would be more effective to make jokes, and offset the tears with laughter and with my undeniable cuteness. That method was hit-or-miss, sometimes saving the day, sometimes setting off fits of hysteria.
Ultimately, I have found that the best method consists of two essential tools: a big bear hug or hand squeeze, and complete silence. There are no words that my male brain can produce that will make a woman calm down. My best bet is to close my mouth, batten down the hatches and weather the storm. Eventually she’ll calm down and real life can resume.
The one thing that I absolutely can NOT do, is try to understand whatever disaster has caused this emotional outburst in the first place. Sometimes it’s obvious (like when my ex’s dog died, or the end of “Toy Story 3”) but more often than not, the catalyst for a break-down is a completely mystery to any but the shrewdest observer of the feminine mind. Even if I can somehow discern the cause of a crying spell, that doesn’t get me any closer to understanding why it is such a tragedy, which brings me back to my “Smile and Nod” strategy. True empathy is rarely an option, so I’m left with: Hug, Hush, and This Too Shall Pass.
Now that I have stumbled upon a tried-and-true method for averting tear-soaked disaster (sixty percent of the time, it works every time!), the real challenge becomes anticipating and preventing the melt-downs. Of course, if I can ever discover the trick to that, I’ll become a millionaire relationship guru and I’ll be able to hire a counselor to calm down my significant other while I watch football. Until then, I stand armed with a comforting shoulder, a box of kleenex, and zipped lips.

A Guest Post that is Long Overdue

A Guest Post that is Long Overdue

As Paul gets closer and closer to starting school, I find myself longing for college. One of my favorite things in the whole world is sitting in a classroom on a cloudy day, drinking a cup of coffee, and listening to people talk about literature. I miss hearing the thoughts that have been brewing in peoples’ minds as they pondered the book they were reading.

I just miss college. Plain and simple.

It’s a good thing I procrastinated on posting Kevin’s guest post, then, huh? I’ll admit it, because i’ve admitted it to him: Sometimes reading his fabulous blogging makes my brain hurt…but it’s because my brain has been a big lazy, Ally McBeal-watching couch potato lately. He writes with academic flare and gives your brain a little “wake the heck up” slap when he does so. I asked Kevin to write about his blogging. Why does he do it? What does he get out of it?

What I got out of it was a beautifully written, insightful blog post…perfect for this cloudy day. If you’re not a blogger yet, perhaps you’ll let Kevin change your mind. Also, it’s his birthday today, so you should leave him a ‘Happy Birthday’ in the comments!

Years ago, while visiting California, I grabbed a copy of The Independent, Santa Barbara’s free weekly newspaper, to read an interview with T. Coraghessen Boyle, author of Riven Rock and The Tortilla Curtain. Have you ever experienced a stranger saying something that describes you perfectly? I did that day. Though I’ve long since lost the paper and can’t muster an exact quote (and it’s not archived online), I remember the gist.

Boyle, who teaches creative writing at USC, admitted he writes about political and social issues in his award-winning novels because, until he writes his ideas, he doesn’t know what they are. As soon as I read that, a bell rang in my mind. I, too, often write without a clear idea what I have to say, because my thoughts are by nature ephemeral. Until I crystallize them into words, I have no more idea what I think than any random stranger.

Since I started writing my blog earlier this year, I’ve progressed in my ambitions. Initially, I intended to simply resume the book column I wrote for the student paper in graduate school. But once I started writing, I realized I had much more to say than that. Though I still review books, my media and culture commentaries have become much more prominent in the process.

I write three 750-word blog entries each week (though a new job recently made me miss two consecutive deadlines). That word count equals three pages in standard format. Thus I write as much every two or three weeks as many college professors expect undergraduates to write per semester. And I do it all for one reason: so I can understand what I think, and maybe hear from others who will help refine my thinking.

The key to writing for this purpose is remaining open to surprise. When I taught college English, my students often struggled to start writing because they thought they had to begin with a clear vision. Nothing could be further from the truth. The act of writing, turning abstract thoughts into concrete words, is an invaluable learning tool. And nobody learns more from the process than the writer.

Peter Elbow, in Writing Without Teachers, describes a process he calls freewriting. He simply sets himself a timer and pours his ideas onto the page as fast as he can, without correcting or censoring. He does not want, in this case to write finished work. His only purpose is to get all ideas onto the page as fast as he can; he’ll have time later to polish and refine.

An eight-dollar Wal-Mart kitchen timer makes a good tool for this. Most cell phones today also have timer functions. For those inexperienced with this format, ten minutes makes a good deadline. I can usually hand-write about 300 words in ten minutes, or type about 500 words. If I can overcome the internal censor who edits work on the fly, I often surprise myself with ideas and juxtapositions I never knew were percolating in my own head.

I recommend this for anybody who wants to improve themselves. No skill, not even specific job skills, matter like the ability to refine ideas and communicate them to others. World-changing ideas, like general relativity, democracy, and the personal computer all survive because somebody wrote them down. Who can say how many other good ideas vanished because we have no written record?

My blog may not change the world. But it has certainly changed me, and set me on the track to possibly change the world. Turning indefinite ideas into solid words could do the same for you.

A Guest Post to Keep You from Melting

A Guest Post to Keep You from Melting

I’m posting this week’s guest post in hopes that all of my readers haven’t melted away…Our lovely guest this week is Heidi Moyer, a dazzling domestic goddess with blogging skills to boot. Once you get a batch of her homemade popsicles made, you should probably bring a couple over for me.

Yeesh, it’s been hot. Duh, Heidi it’s summer. There is always relief in sight, as long as freezers continue to exist in our realm, and too, the desire to eat something cold, cold, COLD.

Popsicles are an excellent choice to help chill you from the inside out—great for kids and adults, alike. But I always feel let down when I get to the market and begin looking at ingredients, it usually starts out something like this: Water, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, juice from concentrate, natural flavorings, ice structuring proteins, contains 10% juice…I could be exaggerating but I’m not, this list is from none other thanPopsicle brand popsicles website. So, is my toddler supposed to suck on one of these chemically sweetened hyper-sticks? Em, no.

Homemade popsicles will delight your kids and you, and you won’t be trying to figure out how to cut sugar from the rest of their meals to balance out the bad ingredients. And can you say “smarty-pants”? Only because these babies are so easy to make you’ll wonder why you ever bought them from the store to begin with. If you don’t have a blender, just get two different flavors of yogurt smoothie, although, the fresh fruit flavor of the second layer is very tasty. All you need besides the ingredients is a popsicle mold, mine came from the friendly dollar aisle at Target. (Now you’re thrifty and smart!)

Pastel Popsicles

Needed: 1 container of Kefir (or other Probiotic yogurt smoothie) in any flavor, ½ cup vanilla yogurt, ½ cup frozen strawberries, food processor or blender, popsicle mold—most molds need approximately 2 cups of freezable liquids, you can always eyeball to make more if needed.

Preparation

020

1) Shake, and then pour Kefir half-way up into the popsicle molds
2) Cover with plastic wrap (without sticks stuck in) and freeze for 2 hours
3) Remove popsicle molds, the Kefir should be softly set
4) Blitz together the vanilla yogurt and frozen strawberries, pour into molds

028

036

5) Place the stick-handles into the molds
6) Freeze for 3 hours before serving

050

Heidi Moyer is a stay at home Mommy to Vail, and wife to Eric, and writes as often as she can for her food blog at www.thekitchette.blogspot.com.

probioticpops

 

Another Guest Post!

Another Guest Post!

So, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post this…my only excuse is that I’m on a 5 day lake-vacation with all of my husband’s immediately family…my brain has been a little more on the scattered side than usual!
Aaaaaanyway, I’ve got a guest post up as a “Friday Foodie” atMidwestern Moms. Midwestern Moms is a great blog that specializes in everything from Blog Monetization to Crocheting, so go check it out!
I hope you’re all having a great weekend!

Meet Paul: Your Monthly Male

Meet Paul: Your Monthly Male

Hey, friends! So, it kind of hurts my brain to say this, but I’m working on a mild site revamp. I’m going to be adding some new pictures, writing some new material, and generally just making things better. Now, I don’t know if you guys have noticed this, but there is a serious lack of testosterone around here. I’m sure the men out there who read this would appreciate some material from their side of the fence.
On that note, I’d like you to meet Paul (not my Paul; this is a different Paul) N. He’s a (gasp) Dude Blogger and he’s going to be providing some much-needed male perspective around here. This month, his topic is Mom Blogging. Is he a fan? Is he annoyed by it? Read on, friends, read on!

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I love moms. I think they’re pretty great. In fact, I have one of my very own! Well, actually I share her with seven siblings, four in-laws, four grandchildren and my sometimes-childish father, but who’s counting? (Yeah, she’s kind of a big deal….)
As I have grown older, I have appreciated my mother, and mothers everywhere, more and more as I become aware of all the things that she has done for me, all the crap I put her through, and all the minutiae and tedium that mothers deal with on an hourly basis. Where have I discovered this new eye-opening perspective? MomBlogs, of course!
Why yes, I DO frequently trawl the internet for blogs about child-rearing, why do you ask? Ok, I don’t actually do that, but I read Lauren’s blog and my sister also has a successfulblog dedicated to wife/motherhood, cooking, and Catholicism (You’re welcome, Theresa). Through these two outlets, I have gained insight into a darker side of parenting that I didn’t even know existed.
Let’s tell it like it is, though. Is there anything more self-serving than a blog about motherhood? Now, I truly don’t mean this in a negative way, but honestly, to which demographic does this e-genre cater? I can only think of one…Welders don’t care about the merits of cloth vs. disposable diapers. Travel agents don’t worry about the easiest way to get a three-year-old to brush her teeth.
But isn’t that the beauty of blogs in the first place? You find that thing that’s important to you, that you have thoughts and opinions about, that you can share with other like-minded people, and you put it all on the internet for review, validation, or rebuttal. I know that’s what I do with my blog – have a thought, rant about it for a while, pretend that other people care about what I have to say, and hope somebody reads it and agrees.
I will say this, though: if there is one topic that transcends geography, profession, and economic status, it is parenthood. No matter what a person does for a living or where they are, there is always potential for a little bundle of joy to come and make them care about what brand of baby food is best, whether they wanted to or not. And when that time comes, where will they turn for all this insight that they never knew they needed? Ok, fine, they would go to their pediatrician, and then to Dr. Spock, but after that, they would turn to the matrio-blogsophere for conversation on the very things that have their head spinning at home.
And yes, I know there is much more to these blogs than debate on whether to lay an infant on his back or stomach. There is much more to these women than “just” taking care of their children. Regardless, the best part of any parenting blog isn’t the theories and philosophies of child-rearing. It isn’t the musings about life in general from the mothers. ItDEFINITELY isn’t all those recipes that I’m never going to use. It’s all the great stories about the hilarious little things that children do.
I am not a parent, so the best I can do is live vicariously through my nieces and nephew, and when I can’t see them, the MomBlogs can certainly provide a good chuckle, or a nice eye-roll, or even a “…sure am glad I don’t have to deal with THAT…”
…So keep writing for yourselves and for your fellow moms, ladies….and every once in a while curious passers-by like me will stop in for a quick read and a quick dose of perspective.

Anyone out there have a different opinion? Do you agree? Have any thoughts to add?