Happy International Men’s Day and Thanksgiving! November 19 is the date established to acknowledge men's positive roles in their families and communities. If you live in the States, you might find yourself on the couch this afternoon trying to recover from yesterday’s feast of family, friends, and food.
In Antigua, Thanksgiving is not a holiday. Among locals, the last Thursday of the month is called Thursday. Yes, it's just another day on the calendar.
I received invitations for the past two years to speak at the Directorate of Gender Affairs' International Men's Day event. Last year’s engagement brought men together from various non-profit and corporate organizations to share a meal and discuss critical gender-based issues.
My name appeared on the program last Saturday's program at 9:00 AM. Ana’s On The Beach, a local restaurant on the shoreline of Dickenson Bay, offered the perfect setting for the occasion. Before the event, I woke up early to jog, review my presentation’s outline, and drive the children to their sports practices. The morning went smooth, but the speaking engagement was rough.
Did you experience a difficult start to any of your days this week? Give thanks for the weekend that allows us to recover and reflect on challenges.
Back to last weekend...
I showed up ahead of time with capoeira’s percussion instruments for three well-planned and interactive illustrations. The restaurant staff and the organizers greeted me at the door. I walked in and sat at the front table, anticipating breakfast and starting the special meeting.
While I waited, three representatives from the Directorate of Gender Affairs placed pamphlets, notebooks, and pens next to each plate.
Another speaker arrived at about 9:15 AM; we talked and sipped coffee while I reviewed my notes. Fifteen minutes later, the event’s lead coordinator approached me. He told me he invited people but didn't receive the number of RSVPs expected.
The hour and minute hands on the clock moved for another 45 minutes, but the three organizers, myself, and an additional presenter remained sitting down. Unfortunately, not one person showed up at Ana's on the Beach.
My talk about holistic health and masculinity went unheard. So today, I will share the key points with you.
How can men persist in positively impacting their families and communities? It's easy but hard to do every day. Don't aim for perfection. Do your best with the time you have today.
1. For the body, make exercising and eating a balanced diet partners in your life. Aim for 40 minutes of moderate activity on at least three days per week. Find something you enjoy that also pushes you to sweat and experience discomfort. Compliment your workouts with meals that include fruit, vegetables, and lean meat options. Don’t eat every day like you do on Thanksgiving.
2. For the mind, read and learn something new. In Steven Kotler's book, The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer, he suggests reading anywhere from 25 - 50 pages per day to broaden your knowledge and skill set. Choosing a topic outside your field to read about is where you can strengthen and flex your mental muscles.
3. For the spirit, explore your faith. This deeply personal process may involve going to church, a mosque, a temple, a synagogue, or watching a worship service online. It might also include praying and meditating at home. Regardless of your religious, spiritual, or agnostic beliefs, everything you do for the mind and body is useless without a soul in-tuned with your potential's frequency.
We tap into the benefits of holistic health when we pray or sit still for a moment before a fight, board meeting, race, game, classroom lesson, or conference presentation.
When we stop taking care of ourselves, we limit the ability to recognize passion and transform it into purpose.
Neglecting our mental, physical, and spiritual needs can lead to severe problems. This week, something went wrong with the man responsible for the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. We can also say that something’s not right with the man, who believes he knows everything and is running for president again. These statements are not about shaming men; it's about acknowledging the factors preventing us from being better husbands, fathers, sons, friends, and political leaders.
We must eliminate toxic behaviors that encourage gender-based violence and other poor decisions.
Uncomfortable conversations between boys and men are important. They enable us to look through multiple lenses of masculinity to contribute more to society. I don't know when last weekend's International Men's Day event will get rescheduled, but I am committed to presenting and adding my voice to the group.
Revisit your plans this weekend to include one activity associated with holistic health. Perhaps, you can consider exercising, reading, praying, or meditating. Do something that supports transforming into an improved version of yourself.