Why Do Only 42% of Americans Have a Passport?

have a passport

Currently, the U.S. has visa-free access or visa on arrival to 185 countries. The U.S. passport is the 6th best passport (tied with Austria, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UK).

As an American, it’s really a great opportunity to see what’s out there in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, I read a recent study that surveyed the population of international travelers from Australia, England, and the USA.

They found that 75% of Aussies travel outside the country. 67% of Britians travel outside of their country. But only 40% of Americans travel outside the country.

The U.S. has the 6th best passport, but only 40% of its citizens have traveled outside of their country. Do most Americans forgo having a passport because they live in the best country in the world?

First and foremost, the U.S. isn’t the world’s best country, especially if you’re a minority. Furthermore, the U.S. does not rank in the top 20 in the following categories: best to visit, open for business, social mobility, best place to travel alone, comfortable retirement, starting a career, and best place to study.

What’s Stopping Them From Getting an Amazing Passport?

Maybe most Americans don’t want to travel abroad because they trust President Trump’s opinion. For example, his gross stereotypical belief about Mexicans.

After living two years in Mexico, I can confidently say that it’s as safe as the United States. I’m not suggesting that crime can’t happen because it can. But it can also happen in any metropolitan area in the United States too.

There’s so many beautiful countries but Mexico is my favorite country abroad.

With a passport, you can experience this and more. It’s my intention for you to reach the finish line. So, get started with my 3 step process to achieve any goal in record speed.

I definitely want you to reach the finish line, but remember it starts step by step. So, until next time, I hope you’re reaching your finish line.

Photo: Pixabay

The post Why Do Only 42% of Americans Have a Passport? appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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Avoid Avoiding Loneliness

To some people, loneliness is equal to death. Being lonely brings up dire feelings of fear that we jump through horrible hoops to avoid. There are many people who can’t spend a night alone in their home or are so afraid to be alone or be seen alone that they’d rather suffer at home instead of going to the park, the beach, dinner, or (forbid!) a movie by themselves.

Certainly, forced loneliness can be deadly. Solitary confinement is considered one of the most torturous things that can happen to a person.

Yet there are many who choose to spend time alone. Many introverts (not all) enjoy being alone much of the time. There are those who go as far off the grid as they dare to achieve being alone as much as is possible. Monks and religious, at least those that don’t live in a community, can also choose to separate themselves. Others, such as Henry David Thoreau, willingly place themselves in spaces where interacting regularly with other people is rare.

Yet in our social media-saturated, people on top of everyone else subway ride, overcrowded city, there still remains a deep fear of being lonely.

Being Alone vs. Being Lonely

I’ve often heard people make the distinction between being alone and being lonely. These two concepts are incredibly different. Many people, even high functioning extroverts, want and value “me time” that is away from others. I think most of us don’t take enough “alone me time” because of the fear of loneliness. Once that feeling of loneliness begins to settle in, or just the anxiety that it might, people start to shift into avoiding behaviors.

So what is it about being alone that most people are okay with? Here are some great reasons to be alone

  • Distractions removed
  • Self-prioritizing
  • Not having to respond to someone else’ needs: not be a caretaker for a bit
  • Meditation

Self-care is a buzzword these days used in both positive and negative contexts and this can describe some of the “alone me time.”

You don’t have to feel lonely just because you’re alone. Most people don’t seek out loneliness. But it finds us.

So what to do?

How We Avoid Loneliness

As a therapist, I’m always on the lookout for how we are avoiding something. We’re masters at this.

Take your basic addictions and, whatever you believe about the science of addiction, they all succeed in helping us avoid negative feelings. Alcohol, drugs, sex and porn, overeating, workaholism—all of it pushes away unacceptableness. The unacceptableness takes the form of shame, sadness, and often loneliness is combined in there.

Sure, those avoidance behaviors create worse problems sometimes, but we’re not thinking about that in the moment. We’re just trying to get through our morning, our day, our night and to do that we feel we need to push away loneliness. It’s why we stay with someone who we don’t like all that much or who treats us poorly. It’s why we end up at the bar instead of sitting at home (or going to therapy!)

I wrote a piece here about the different ways we prevent ourselves from feeling sad, fear, and shame. We call these different ways “defenses” and there are a bunch of different types.

Loneliness, though, we often try to combat through relationships and having children. Both those are positive, awesome things, right?

Rarely, though, can they take away our loneliness and knowing that it’s going to come back someday may just compound it.

Allowing Loneliness to Give it Less Power

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to let yourself feel bad. To let the loneliness in.

Not let it “win” but let it “in.” Allow yourself to feel lonely. It’s probably not that easy.

One of the stumbling blocks is the common fear that if you allow yourself to feel something negative then you’re going to lose your way—you’ll lose yourself, even! You’ll get stuck in that self-pitying pit of self-pity.

Well, yeah, that would suck. No doubt.

But this is what happens if you don’t: you get to spend the rest of your life trying to outrun a feeling. Now the loneliness that’s inside, that you’re capable of feeling, well, it’s been around longer than you. It’s more tenacious than you. It will always find your hiding spot because it’s a part of you.

That’s the kicker, right? Our feelings are a part of us and trying to avoid them or outpace them always gives them more power over us. Suddenly, we’re drinking booze for them. We’re binge-watching for them. We’re having a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for them. They are knocking at our door when we’re watching porn.

And since they are a part of us, it’s much more hospitable and less exhausting to let them in. To sit with the loneliness.

If you’re afraid of being stuck, let someone know that you’re feeling this way and to check in on you. Maybe even find a therapist to work through these feelings with if it’s too overwhelming or threatening to do on your own. Hey, this is what we’re trained for!

Conclusion

It makes perfect sense to want to avoid loneliness. It’s less helpful, though, when what we’re doing to avoid feeling lonely stops us from making connections with others—connections that give us life. Avoiding feelings only gives them more power—trying to outrun them just makes them stronger.

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Originally published on Park Slope Therapist

◊♦◊The Good Men Project is different from most media companies. We are a “participatory media company”—which means we don’t just have content you read and share and comment on but it means we have multiple ways you can actively be a part of the conversation. As you become a deeper part of the conversation—The Conversation No One Else is Having—you will learn all of the ways we support our Writers’ Community—community FB groups, weekly conference calls, classes in writing, editing platform building and How to Create Social Change.

◊♦◊

Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:

Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.

Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:

  1. Get  access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
  2. Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
  3. View the website with no ads
  4. Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
  5. Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
  6. Commenting badge.

Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.

If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.

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Join our exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” — where community members are encouraged to discuss the issues of the week, get story ideas, meet other members and get known for their ideas? To get the call-in information, either join as a member or wait until you get a post published with us. Here are some examples of what we talk about on the calls.

Want to learn practical skills about how to be a better Writer, Editor or Platform Builder? Want to be a Rising Star in Media? Want to learn how to Create Social Change? We have classes in all of those areas.

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‘If We No Longer Force People to Work to Meet Their Basic Needs, Won’t They Stop Working?’

What underlies a question like this is that it’s okay to force people to work by withholding what they need to live, in order to force them to work for us. And at the same time, because they are forced, we don’t even pay them enough to meet their basic needs that we are withholding to force them to work.

What is a good word to describe this?

Now, what if we no longer withheld access to basic resources to meet fundamental shared basic needs? What if work in the labor market was then fully voluntary?

What if we could no longer force people to work for low wages? Maybe wages would go up? Maybe productivity would go up? Maybe the automation of human labor with technology would be accelerated?

We could find the answers to these questions. We already know from experiments what they are likely to be. Until universal basic income is policy though, we won’t know for sure, and we will continue forcing each other to work by withholding food and shelter from each other.

So what’s one belief that seems to be a major stumbling block in keeping people from more readily accepting the idea of paying everyone a basic income, in addition to the importance of it?

We all have three choices:

  1. Work for others
  2. Work for ourselves
  3. Do zero work

 

If you believe option 2 exists, you might believe there’s no need for basic income and that it’ll only enable option 3.

I don’t believe option 2 actually exists yet, but that it needs to, and can with basic income.

Why don’t I believe option 2 exists?

Can everyone actually just work for themselves? Doesn’t this require some form of starting capital? What if none exists? What if the education doesn’t exist? What if there are barriers to entry? What if competition at the top actively prevents this? What’s the percentage of the population that actually has option 2 in practice and not just in theory?

Regarding option 3, is this truly an option as well? Let’s take being homeless for example. Let’s say someone chooses to be homeless because they don’t want to do any work. They sleep under bridges and eat out of dumpsters in order to avoid any work. Is there really no work involved here? This seems like it can involve a lot of work. Finding food in dumpsters can take hours of work, and finding places to sleep can take hours of work, and also involve moving frequently from place to place. It seems to me that homelessness can be exhausting.

Then there are the laws. Here in my town, we like to tear down homeless camps. This happens in lots of other places too. Being homeless is not allowed. There also exist laws against dumpster diving and companies even will do stuff to tossed food to actively prevent people from being able to eat it. We put up homeless spikes and toss homeless people in jails. I think the best example though is this one, where a guy was not even allowed to exist on his own in the middle of nowhere. He was shot and killed.

So no, I just don’t think we really allow any options except for option 1.

We are a one option society. Work for others, or else.

That is our system as constructed. Those who can work for themselves must first work enough for others, and those who wish to do no work must first work for others, or be born to parents that make it an option 2 possible without any working for others.

How can we make it possible for option 2 to actually exist?

My favorite story is Garrison Frazier. It’s a story I first learned about from Karl Widerquist, and included in this article. He was a freed slave and chosen as the spokesperson for other freed slaves. He was asked about slavery and how he could be truly free from ever being enslaved again.

Slavery is, receiving by irresistible power the work of another man, and not by his consent. The freedom, as I understand it, promised by the proclamation, is taking us from under the yoke of bondage, and placing us where we could reap the fruit of our own labor, take care of ourselves and assist the Government in maintaining our freedom… The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor…”

This is to say that without owning a minimum amount of land, it is not possible to truly live by your own labor. One must have this ability in order to not be forced to work for others. If you can’t grow your own food or build your own house, you can’t live by your own hands. This option must exist. But does it make any sense in this day and age to give everyone land? How would we even accomplish this? How would it be universal and equal in quantity and quality? What if some land didn’t grow food? How would this work in cities where our markets have created the dense populations of labor required for them to exist?

Universal basic income is how we can accomplish what universal land would accomplish, in a far more efficient, flexible, and equitable way. By giving everyone enough cash to purchase food and shelter, we meet the requirements needed for option 2 to exist.

And yes, we also then meet the requirements for option 3 to exist. But really how different is it from option 2 anyway? If everyone got enough land to be free, and they refused to work for others, they would have to either work it or die. In the same way, if someone gets a basic income and refuses to use it to buy food and shelter, they will die. But seriously, how many people refuse to eat and don’t want shelter? Are we not deluding ourselves when we think that the only reason people eat right now, is because we are limiting their choices with food stamps, or that drug addicts somehow don’t eat? Everyone needs to eat. It’s a basic need.

Meanwhile, this concern that people with their basic needs met don’t have other needs, is incorrect. We know we all have many more needs than our most basic ones.

We aren’t going to stop working to meet all our needs, just because we make it easier to meet some of them. Why do we pretend otherwise?

I personally believe our collective belief so many of us feel, that we all really want to do nothing whatsoever, is due to our systematic devastation of intrinsic motivation from birth. We pummel intrinsic motivation into the goddamn ground so that many of us feel extrinsic motivation is the only kind to exist. We look forward to vacations so that we can do nothing. We come home from work excited to do nothing. So when we think of actually enabling everyone to do nothing, we imagine a world of everyone doing absolutely nothing. We think this because, in our everyday experience, intrinsic motivation feels rare. It feels rare because we don’t see it. We don’t see it because we ignore it and because we do everything we can to reduce it.

Here’s an example of destroyed intrinsic motivation. Imagine you are a kid again. You enter a science fair because you love science. Lots of kids get ribbons for theirs and you don’t. Crushed, you decide you aren’t good at science after all. The core problem here is we gave anyone ribbons.

Another example. Again, you are a kid. You love learning. You’re an amazing visual learner. Your class involves little visual learning and you get Ds on your report card. Now you hate school and think you’re dumb, even though you’d get As if there was more visual learning in both teaching and testing. The problem here is we graded anyone at all.

Not only are we good at destroying intrinsic motivation, but we’re also great at ignoring it. Imagine your mother cooks you your favorite meal because she loves you, and after, to thank her, you put a $50 bill on the table. No one would ever actually do that, right? Why? Because her motivation for the meal was not extrinsic in motivation. Paying her might even lead to her never wanting to cook for you again.

T his seems to be our major problem. We have oriented ourselves so extrinsically, that we think no one would do anything for any other reason whatsoever, without cash as part of the equation. And yet at the same time, we know this flat out isn’t true.

W e also know that our use of extrinsic rewards can actually be harmful, and as we automate the labor extrinsic rewards don’t hurt, we’re going to increase negative impacts on what work remains.

As for the science we have to confirm how little work is actually reduced when people are guaranteed basic incomes, we need only look to our own Income Maintenance Experiments in the 70s, Canada’s Mincome Experiment, basic income experiments in Namibia and India, and GiveDirectly’s unconditional cash experiments in Uganda and Kenya. This is not all the evidence we have. There’s more. There are cash transfer programs in place all over the world. From all of this we know that when people are given money to live, on one extreme end some like students and mothers work a bit less, and on the other extreme end, people work even more because they are enabled to do so.

The problem is that despite all of this data, we still have our various mental stumbling blocks. We think people have no intrinsic motivation. We think people can’t be motivated externally to work by something as simple as just paying them more. And we think option 2 exists because it should and we want to believe it does because otherwise we’re left with supporting a system with only one option.

And we really don’t want to believe that’s true, because that says something about us, we as a society really don’t want to face.

If you want to go deeper down into this particular rabbit hole of our one and only current choice, I suggest reading the same book I have, Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income, whose author Karl Widerquist has kindly made available FREE in pre-published form. Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Originally published on Medium

◊♦◊The Good Men Project is different from most media companies. We are a “participatory media company”—which means we don’t just have content you read and share and comment on but it means we have multiple ways you can actively be a part of the conversation. As you become a deeper part of the conversation—The Conversation No One Else is Having—you will learn all of the ways we support our Writers’ Community—community FB groups, weekly conference calls, classes in writing, editing platform building and How to Create Social Change.

◊♦◊

Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:

Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.

Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:

  1. Get  access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
  2. Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
  3. View the website with no ads
  4. Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
  5. Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
  6. Commenting badge.

Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.

If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.

◊♦◊

Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:

submit to Good Men Project

◊♦◊

Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:

◊♦◊

Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:

Join our exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” — where community members are encouraged to discuss the issues of the week, get story ideas, meet other members and get known for their ideas? To get the call-in information, either join as a member or wait until you get a post published with us. Here are some examples of what we talk about on the calls.

Want to learn practical skills about how to be a better Writer, Editor or Platform Builder? Want to be a Rising Star in Media? Want to learn how to Create Social Change? We have classes in all of those areas.

While you’re at it, get connected with our social media:

◊♦◊

However, you engage with The Good Men Project—you can help lead this conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Join us!

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Do you want to talk about how to have richer, more mindful, and enduring relationships?

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We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.

Photo credit: Shutterstock ID 305598770

Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The post ‘If We No Longer Force People to Work to Meet Their Basic Needs, Won’t They Stop Working?’ appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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How to Start Your Own Self-Help Magazine to Inspire People

Since the past few years, self-help magazines have garnered a lot of popularity. These magazines talk about topics that help improve the lives of the readers. Readers connect to such magazines and find it very inspiring to come across topics that talk about self-development.

The self-help genre is extremely vast and it covers topics relating to happiness, living and wellness. With the fast-paced age, it has become absolutely necessary to talk about problems that people might be facing in their everyday lives.

These types of magazines encourage people to live a better life. If you are good with words and want to help people everywhere, then you should consider writing a self-help magazine. You do not need to be a professional writer to publish your very own magazine. All you need to have is the ability and confidence to help people with your words.

If you are confused about where to start or how to start, here are some tips that are sure to help. These tips won’t just help you publish your own self-help magazine but will also tell you how to create and print a magazine that people will actually want to buy. Take a look!

5 Tips for Writing a Self-Help Magazine:

1. Be Yourself

Writing a self-help book does not require any professional skills or qualifications. Most popular self-help books are written based on personal life experiences or experiences of what other people have gone through.

If you plan on starting your own self-help magazine, then write on topics that you know about or have experienced. Having a deep understanding of a certain topic or problem will allow you to give valuable feedback. At the same time, you will also sound confident about the things that you say. Be real and talk about experiences you are aware of to inspire the people who read your magazine.

2. Connect With Your Readers

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind while working on your magazine is to connect with your readers. Think about what the reader might be looking for – are you providing all the right and true answers to their questions?

You have to ensure that the reader is satisfied with your suggestions with every story. Having a pre-hand knowledge of the topic will help you connect to your readers easily.

“Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.” – Anais Nin

3. Speak to the Reader

Rather than writing about how much you know, write in a way that feels like you are talking to your readers. Speaking directly to your readers will allow people reading your magazine to form a connection with your words and what you have to say. If you are having trouble writing the content, imagine talking to a friend over a cup of coffee and just start writing.

4. Be Motivational yet Practical

The entire purpose of a self-help magazine is to motivate the people who are reading it. Make sure to add a lot of motivational elements that will encourage the reader to do better or to face their problems confidently.

A lot of self-help books completely lack the motivational element. So, while writing, focus on whether or not your words will help someone. On the other hand, while motivation is the key, it is important to be practical as well.

5. Keep it Simple

Most magazines make their readers go through a bunch of pages reading the same re-written content before they actually find any answers or solutions. Don’t do that!

Filling up the pages of your magazine with long and boring content is something you must avoid at all costs. Keep your content direct and simple to help readers find what they came looking for easily.

The above five tips will help you start writing your own self-help magazine. Now, we’ll talk about a few tips which will help you when it comes to magazine printing.

5 Tips for Printing Your Self-Help Magazine:

1. The Right Cover

The front cover is the first thing that they will look at when they come across your magazine. The cover that you pick has to fit the niche as well as catch the eye of the reader. Even with amazing content inside, readers will fail to notice your magazine if the cover fails to impress them. Keep in mind that your cover image does not have to be loud or gaudy. Even a simple and elegant cover can grab a person’s interest. A good magazine cover contains:

  • An attractive heading
  • A bold subheading that explains the niche or purpose of your magazine
  • Various sub-headings along with suitable pictures that give an overview of what stories your magazine will offer.

2. Functional Content Pages

Before you print your magazine, make sure that you have sorted out the content pages. The content pages are what keep your magazine intact. In short, the content pages of your magazine should be functional and easy to understand. A reader should be able to distinguish between various sections and articles just by looking at it. Do not end up stuffing too much content on a single page and make sure that the pages are easy on the eyes.

3. Choose the Apt Fonts

Content plays a major role in your magazine, which is why it is essential to make sure that it is readable. Make sure that you choose a font that is easy to decipher. Additionally, you can also make use of two different font styles for the heading and the body of your content. The headline can consist of a stylish and bold font. However, choose a simple yet elegant font for the body of your content.

“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

4. Maintain Uniformity

After you have chosen the format, font and design of your magazine – maintain it throughout. If you try to change format on every page, your magazine loses uniformity and will lack identity. Mixing too many elements will also take the attention away from the content, which is something you will want to avoid in a self-help magazine. Maintain a single style throughout your magazine.

5. Find the Right Printing Company

This is the final, yet the most crucial step before your magazine printing. The right printing company will make sure that your magazine turns out just the way you had imagined. There are a lot of online magazine printers that offer low-cost magazine printing while maintaining quality at the same time.

A reliable printing company will ensure that you save a lot of time and money along with having a timely delivery. Do not compromise on the quality of work that you were expecting. An efficient printing company will ensure that your needs are met.

What was your favorite take-away from this article on how to start your own self-help magazine? Let us know your thoughts below!

source https://addicted2success.com/success-advice/how-to-start-your-own-self-help-magazine-to-inspire-people/

Don Cribbs: You Can Control Your Response

The Bristlecone Project is an awareness campaign of 1in6.org. Photographs and text by David Lisak, Ph.D.

In the spring of 2017 Don graduated with a master’s degree in counseling. He is now well on his way to a career as a trauma and substance abuse counselor. He has found his calling, but life did not start off well for Don. He shared the womb with his twin, but his twin died before birth, and Don was left with a marrow-deep feeling of obligation to live a life of purpose.

Then came the second blow. When he was four years old, a sex offender married his mother for the purpose of gaining access to her children, Don included. So began six months of brutal sexual abuse at the hands of his “step-father.”

The abuse ended when Don and one of his siblings disclosed to his mother what their step-father had been doing to them across two years. While his mother had failed to protect them during those years, she believed them, and she called the police, triggering a criminal investigation and eventually a trial.

The abuse ended, but the legacies of the abuse had only begun. There were years of nightmares, other psychological torments, physical scars, and the long term medical consequences of severe childhood trauma.

While his step-father’s criminal process unfolded, Don went to live with his grandparents in another state. They introduced him – he was six years old – to their church, and Don was transformed. He vividly recalls singing in the church choir and being transported by the music. He felt a presence, and he felt connected to that presence, and with that connection a salve for the wounds of his childhood.

Don adheres to the truth that while he had no control over the traumas that beset his childhood and so shaped his life, he does have control over how he responds to those traumas and their legacies. And he has chosen to transform those legacies into a commitment to helping others who seek a path toward the healing of their wounds.

Originally posted on 1in6.org

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Thug Nasty

Here’s what I know about Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell:

He’s a UFC fighter from Arkansas.

He really wants Reebok to get him some camo shorts.

And, he just might be my new favorite athlete.

I’d never heard of “Thug Nasty” until after he defeated Bobby Moffett via unanimous decision last weekend, remaining undefeated at 11-0.

Funny thing is, I didn’t even watch the fight.

I just saw a clip from his post-fight interview. Here’s what “Thug Nasty” said:

“Hey Papaw? Call my momma and tell her I’m fine. And tell her to be hungry when she picks me up. I’m taking her out for steak. I wanna thank Arkansas. Everybody back home, remember, y’all my inspiration. I ain’t supposed to be here ‘cause I’m from Arkansas. They told me I had to leave Arkansas to be worth something. Every time you put a mike in my face, I’m gonna say Arkansas! And Reebok, I told y’all I want some camo shorts!”

I hear you, brother. Loud and clear.

And I’m guessing the members of Razorback Nation, a fan base that has endured their fair share of disappointments over recent years — including last week’s firing of longtime men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson — are more than ready to get behind “Thug Nasty,” the 24 year-old Cabot native.

I know I am.

His passion for Arkansas takes me back to my childhood: 1994. Second grade. Dwight Elementary. Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, and the Razorbacks had just won the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. National Champs, baby!

High times for the Natural State.

I carried my passion for Arkansas with me when I went down to south Florida to play football for a year. I wore boots and Razorback t-shirts. Not so much because I was a fan, but because it was where I was from. It made me different. I did the same thing when I ventured up north to Sweden.

Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell also wears his Arkansas roots like a badge of pride. By Monday, his post-fight interview had gone viral, blowing up across nearly every social media platform.

I’d urge you to Google Bryce’s speech. Watch it and listen to this young man scream his heart out on national television. His passion for Arkansas is so genuine — so raw — it’s contagious. It’s also really funny.

For example, late in the interview, the reporter asks Bryce what he’s planning to do with the fifty thousand dollars he’s just been awarded.

True to form, Bryce keeps his answer short, saying the camper he lives in needs a new roof, and if there’s any money left after that he might try and pave his driveway too.

When the reporter prods him about why he wants to pave his driveway, Bryce explains, “I live in a field man with cow s**t everywhere. So it’s like, every day I park in the gravel and then walk in cow s**t and then wipe my boots off and then go inside. So it’s like, yeah, I want to have a nice gravel driveway.”

Even if you’re not a fan of MMA or UFC, do yourself a favor and check out this bright new star in the world of Arkansas athletics. I have no doubt that Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell is here to stay.

And Reebok, get this man some camo shorts!

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I’m the Lightning Before the Thunder


As I started writing this, I noticed that I’ve used music lately as inspiration for some of my columns and I think that’s something not necessarily bad. I don’t play any instruments, and can’t sing to save my life, but I love music and it gets me through my autistic days.

Someone once told me that the overwhelming majority of my music is eight beat. I have no clue what that means, but if I like the music, I guess that’s a good thing. I’ll have to do some research on the autistic brain and eight-beat counts.

As I often do, I digress.

Today’s inspiration comes via Las Vegas and Imagine Dragons, who, on a rainy Friday filled with Thunderstorms, got me thinking about the song Thunder. Also having ADHD, I, of course, switched music mid-song and put that one on and intentionally listened to the lyrics.

Here’s what I noticed.

Kids were laughing in my classes

It wasn’t easy growing up autistic in a time before anyone even used that word for school-age kids. I was ten years out of high school before doctors discovered that anyone other than infants could be autistic.

I was the odd kid. Teacher’s called me weird, stupid and lazy. Classmates were a bit more colorful with their language.

I’m not saying that I had a bad life; it just was a bit rough. Out of those experiences I grew up with, a feeling of self-doubt permeated a large portion of my life.

I eventually figured out through a lot of trial and many, many errors that I have talents and that there are things I can do well and that can serve the needs of others.

I was dreaming of bigger things
And wanna leave my own life behind
Not a yes sir, not a follower
Fit the box, fit the mold
Have a seat in the foyer, take a number
I was lightning before the thunder

I always knew deep inside that there was greatness in me; I just wasn’t sure where it was. It took a long time to figure myself out and to get to know who I really was, but it eventually happened.

As I grew older, like in my forties older, I started figuring things out in my life, but it took a lot of errors before it happened.

I’ve never been much of a follower when it came to doing things in my life. I like to examine things, break them down and figure out why they work or don’t work. That’s why I think I was a pretty successful soccer and hockey coach over the years.

I wasn’t afraid to lead and teach. I definitely did NOT fit into anyone’s box, and most of us on the spectrum don’t. It scares some people and amazes others. For me, it was scary for a long time.

I was forty-six when I finally was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. That was the day when I stopped being weird and started being autistic and when that happened, it was like the proverbial light bulb that shines above your head. Suddenly I knew why I am the way I am.

I’m an out of the box thinker, who is way too logical for some people, who says what he means and is not one just to take a number, sit and wait with everyone else. I want to be out there enjoying life, even if I often stay at home because people with Asperger’s often have social issues.

Though I played recreational adult ice hockey for too many years (according to the orthopedic surgeon who performed triple rotator cuff surgery last year) and enjoyed being the thunder on the ice, I learned I didn’t need to be the thunder in the rest of my life.

In my work as an autism advocate, I don’t care about attention. I just want to help those on the spectrum live better lives and to educate those not on the spectrum.

Now I can be the lightning before the thunder. I can get in, do my thing quickly and get out before the thunder strikes. The thunder makes noise, but the lightning is what does the damage, or in the case of this post, shows myself that I’m capable of doing great things.

We all are.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to keep looking for the talent and greatness inside you? Will you be the thunder that makes noise but really doesn’t accomplish anything? Or are you happy where you’re at, be it good or bad?

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My Child, Like Me, Is a Little Obsessive

Besides some childhood hyperactivity, Alaina also seems to have inherited from me some mild obsessive tendencies. I’m OK with stepping on cracks in the pavement and don’t spend all day counting things, (not all day) but whenever possible I prefer to do things in the correct order and have always been slightly more organized than is probably healthy. If someone were to go upstairs, open my closet, and quiz me, I could say with a high degree of accuracy each shirt hanging from left to right. I have a sizable CD collection that is alphabetized and sorted by genre. If Kayla watches a movie and replaces it on the shelf in the improper location, I know within minutes of entering the room.

One of the things my mother and grandmother liked to do together was to go shopping. This was in the days before child abduction became every parent’s nightmare, so what they would do is to drop me off in the toy section, do their shopping, then return to collect me. I’d spend that time organizing. The good guys would all be placed with the other good guys, the bad with the bad. DC superheroes would no longer be mixed in with Marvel superheroes. Things would make sense.

Last night I got home and did the same things I always do. Shoes off, coat and backpack hung, bunny fed, and my book listing the things I was to do the following day placed on the counter. All doors were checked twice to ensure they were locked.

And of course, I changed the clocks. I was exhausted after a long day. At six AM I was awoken by calls from the bathroom announcing that Alaina was “all done.” She does a great job with hygiene after #1, but assistance is still required for #2. It was now 1:30 AM, but I would not have been able to sleep with incorrect clocks.

You’d end up jailed nowadays, but the same shopping trick would very easily work with Alaina.

The first time our house was decorated for a holiday she had identified every new feature in the house within minutes. She couldn’t verbalize her consternation, but as her head constantly swiveled from one changed thing to the next, it was obvious what she was looking at.

Opening Christmas presents, she calmly opened each present, showed proper excitement and gratitude, and then proceeded to place the gift in its proper pile. There was a clothes pile, a toy pile, another pile for “project” type things like coloring books and PlayDoh. The candy from her stocking was in perfect little lines, separated by shape and color.

End of day clean up is quick and efficient. There is a box for little people, another for animals. Blocks and railroad tracks have their own boxes, cars, and trucks parked in reserved spots. The initial organization came from me, but the zeal she exhibits following these protocols is all her. Nights that my wife and I both work inevitably end with Grammy being scolded for putting something away incorrectly. By a three-year-old.

There is no excessive hand washing or finger counting, so, for now, we aren’t concerned. I can be somewhat difficult to live with, (for a multitude of reasons) but I don’t expect my housemates to meet my level of organization. As long as MY stuff is where it belongs, I’m generally OK. Hopefully, she will be the same.

I’m sure over the years there are going to be plenty of things we fight with Alaina about. At least picking up her room shouldn’t be one of them.

Originally published on Musings of a Thirsty Daddy

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Trusting Pain

  • The One presides over all and rules over everyone from within. –The Svetashvatara Upanishad

 

  • We strive to be kind in all situations. –Jim Lockard

  • You cannot be right and ignore a child’s self-esteem. –Howie Pape

 

  • It is the full and correct knowledge of the known that takes you to the unknown. -Nisargadatta

 

  • Touching one’s mind to loving purity aligns us with reality. –Puella Feliciter Cantans

 

  • You strengthen your thoughts and feelings by constantly experiencing them. -Satchidananda

  • Affirmation: I fear no evil and protect myself appropriately

 

  • Breathing the words below on your in and out breath trains your mind in both focus and direction…..

 

…..one………………

 

…..separating..……

 

..…joining…………

These quotes are shared by Robert Rannigan, LPC, to touch, inspire, and motivate moms and dads to reflect upon what is important in their lives and those of their spouses and children. The role of fathers has been slowly changing over the years. Dads are now expected to be more emotionally involved with their kids and–most of all–desire more emotional closeness with them. To do this, men have to establish a sense of safety, certainty, and knowing within their own internal environments. Through increased mindfulness and focus, they will then be able to create these very things for themselves, as well as for the families they love.

Grouped by a common theme, “Quotes for Parents” bring words of wisdom, almost daily, from great minds—current and old—into the lives of modern parents (and the rest of us) to nudge them (and us) ever so closer to the mindfulness and self-awareness we should all be practicing every single day.

These quotes are provided as encouragement to observe the power of words and to choose your words carefully. In the morning, choose one (or some of their impactful words) to meditate upon and guide you in a positive direction as you navigate the day’s challenges.

 

This post was originally published on Robert Rannigan’s Daily Quotes for Parents and is republished here with his permission.

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Your Words Matter

Nothing ever works out for me.

That’s a powerful statement. It has an energy all its own. It’s an empowering statement in the sense that you are determining how your life looks and feels. If you say that nothing ever works out the way you want it to, then even if things seem to be going well, you’ll be anticipating them going wrong at some point.

It’s hard to be a man these days.

Similarly, if you believe it’s hard to be a man because of how the roles of men are changing and evolving that is how you will experience those changes. It could be seen as an opportunity to define what it is to be a man without rigid expectations. After all, if everything’s changing, then you get to be fluid in how you express.

I’m doing the best that I can.

This too is a defining statement. Whether what you’re doing is getting you the results that you want is irrelevant. If you accept that you’re currently doing the best you can, then you can also accept there’s room for improvement. This broader perception gives you room to breathe and space to grow and evolve.

Our external words arise out of our inner dialogue. If that inner dialogue is harsh, rigid or fearful, then that is how we will experience our world.

Harsh things happen. We might meet people who say unpleasant things to us or who attempt to treat us badly. If we don’t see their behaviour as evidence of how all people behave, then it becomes just another transient moment.

My way, or no way.

If we believe that things have to be a certain way, then any deviation from that way will generate a fearful and reactive response. That reactive response will highlight where we are attached to a particular outcome. The words we use in those moments will be about resisting that outcome.

Resisting outcomes isn’t what changes outcomes. What changes outcomes is choosing a different response the next time or in the next moment. This isn’t about being falsely positive and upbeat if we don’t really feel that way. It’s about understanding the power of words to affect our emotional responses.

So if your way isn’t working for someone else, or for you for that matter, then allowing greater flexibility in how things could be, frees you up. The spirit of compromise and a willingness to be somewhat fluid in your responses might open up brand new ways that work better for all involved.

Feelings are based on thoughts and thoughts come and go.

‘I’m feeling sad right now,’ is a very different response to ‘I’ll never be happy.’ You might not be happy right now, but the sadness will pass once it’s expressed itself. If you allow that momentary sadness to define how your future will be, then it may well become true that you’ll never be happy.

Allowing happiness and sadness room to come and go and rise and fall, will create a lot more mental space. Mental space feels peaceful. And feeling peaceful goes beyond happiness and sadness. It can co-exist with both.

So the inner dialogue can be running with sad or happy thoughts, and even then peace can be present. This is because, beyond the inner dialogue, there’s space to allow those transient thoughts to come and go. Subsequently, the words that arise from this greater mental space will support a more peaceful experience of life.

You may even start to say: ‘Whatever’s happening right now may feel easy or hard to experience, but this too will pass. And I’m okay with that.’

If you really are okay with that, then you’re much more likely to experience your life as more peaceful and joyful anyway.

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