Anxiety – Fighting back with hobbies

I am a gamer. As a proud card carrying member of Generation X I can tell you that in 1982 I got an Atari 2600. I actually got a “sears” version, back then Atari sold directly to Sears (who was still a major, if not the biggest retailer in the country) my FAVORITE uncle got it for me, LOL. I’ve been hooked ever since. Back then you had to hook it up to the TV, graphics were horrible by todays standard but god was it fun.

I’ve gone through many iterations of games and generations of gaming consoles in the last 40 years. I’ve been gaming probably longer than many of you have been alive LOL. I’ve recently started playing some of my older games again. This is my hobby of course, I work full time, I have a family I have a normal life. Hobbies allow you to disengage from reality, more over it allows you to escape from things you don’t necessarily enjoy doing.

As an example do you hate your job? Are you having a stressful situation with your family? Hobbies are a refuge, and allow you something you enjoy that’s exclusive to you. Sure you can share your hobby with other people but having something that is YOURS is very important for your mental health. It’s almost like a safe space, it’s a place you go that you exist as you like. At least that’s how it is in video games, and I truly appreciate that aspect of it.

Is it foolish to play video games?

Your hobby can be anything, cars, golf, pets, writing, video games. In the end though it’s a great way to have something that is just for you, that you can be selfish about and not share if you don’t want to. Its indulgent and people in your life may find it threatening to their relationship with you that you have something personal that doesn’t include them. It’s important to make time for everyone in your life and to make sure they don’t feel ignored.

However, it’s just as important to make sure that you make time for your hobbies. This will make you a better overall person and far more relaxed and happy. Remember to not over indulge and to be clear with the people in your life what your hobby is and what you are doing. As an example, I game wed evenings 8-10 and Friday night 9PM – to whenever I go to bed. My wife and kids know I do this, and it doesn’t create an issue for us. I game with my son from time to time actually, LOL.

The point is, find something you like for you. Be selfish, but don’t let it consume you. Anxiety sucks but we can fight back. Creating spaces in your life that give you time to do things that you enjoy is a great way to combat persistent anxiety. Remember this is your little thing, your corner of the world, your personal space. It can be anything you want, it’s a hobby something you are interested in and want to pursue and that gives you a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

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A blast from the past: 5 things that happened in the 80’s

So as a Gen Xer I look back on my life and think when was the best time of my life? I am having a good time now don’t get me wrong but growing up in the 80’s was a lot of fun. Gen Xer’s are a bridge generation, we are old enough to remember the 70’s and how things were but came of age in college in the 90’s when the tech boom was just taking off. I mean if you had asked me in 1985 if one day I would be walking around with a computer (smart phone) in my pocket that gave me access to nearly everything, all the time, all over the world I would have called you nuts.

Here are 5 things that happened in the 80’s that helped shape who Gen Xers are and what some of us think about when we look back…

The Challenger Explosion – Like 9/11, everyone who was alive in the ’80s knows exactly where they were on January 28, 1986. It was on this day that the 10th flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which carried five NASA astronauts and a civilian schoolteacher, exploded just 73 seconds into its flight, killing everybody on board.

The Chernobyl Disaster – As if people in the ’80s didn’t feel anxious enough about the threat of nuclear war, the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 made everyone all the more acutely aware of how vulnerable they really were. On April 26, 1986, at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, a reactor explosion caused a lethal amount of radiation to be released into the atmosphere.

The Miracle on the Ice – It was one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history and a reason to feel pride in American athletes. The XIII Olympic Winter Games of 1980 took place in Lake Placid, New York, but the odds were stacked against the U.S. hockey team. With a team made up of college kids, nobody expected the U.S. to stand a chance against the Soviets, who had a powerhouse team of experienced athletes. However, on February 22, 1980, the scrappy Americans beat the Soviets in a stunning upset.

The fall of the wall

The Berlin Wall Coming Down – Reagan first issued the challenge during a speech in Berlin in 1987, infamously asking the Soviet leader to “tear down this wall.” Nobody really believed it would happen, but just two and a half years later, the wall that had divided East and West Germany for almost three decades and had become a symbol of the Cold War finally came down. Thinking about that day—November 9, 1989—still gives us chills.

Lady Diana Becoming Princess Diana – The wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana in the summer of 1981 was more than just the spectacle of wealthy monarchs getting hitched. At the time, some 750 million people across the globe watched what was widely described as a fairytale wedding, one that influenced nuptials for years to come. Even the biggest cynics couldn’t help but get butterflies in their stomach after watching those royal lovebirds finally say “I do.”

These were some of the events that happened in the 80’s that many of your Gen X friends were influenced by. Most of these were huge cultural events that changed how people perceived the world at large. Yes, more happened during the 80’s, these aren’t necessarily the most impactful events either. Everyone experienced life differently, but the 80’s are when we started to really get into “globalism” things all over the world affected us.

I was 10 in 1980, 19 in 1989. I grew a lot in that decade I had a lot of firsts. I look back at it now and sometimes I wonder where all the time went….

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How to improve as a man – Consider the source

There are many people in the “men’s” space now. You have several female you tubers/tick tockers who give advice. Many men, on and on. Here is the thing, you have to consider the source. It’s going to be a quick post today because the point isn’t going to take a lot of articulation. Let me put it to you very succinctly, if someone doesn’t have a penis, how are they going to be able to advise you on how to manage yours? It would be like me giving a pregnant woman advice on how to handle body issues. Sure I can cite my experiences but I am not a woman the extent of my experience and ability to relate only goes so far.

taking advice from a woman on how to behave as a man isn’t a good idea. There is one major caveat to this, if you want to make THAT particular woman happy then yes adhere to her behavior parameters. Otherwise be yourself, and you will attract people (men and women) who want to hang with you. Additionally, be very careful which men you take advice from. As an example if you see me giving 20 years olds dating advice you should probably not take it very seriously. I am 52 and married.

You get the point. Look for people in similar situations that are like minded. The You Tuber with 6 mil subs isn’t going to relate to you directly. Maybe at one time he did but now? It’s unlikely. The masculinity gurus out there are good, to a degree. I mean the messages are not all that bad but for the most part if you live in a small town in Alabama and want to be a successful man, it’s probably more prudent to look for other successful men from small towns in Alabama.

Always consider the source of the information you are consuming and attempting to incorporate. The single best way to get better as a man is to look inward and make self-improvements. Hygiene, physical appearance, income, these are a few things that inspire positive emotions within you and flow outward that then attract positive outcomes. As the wise Jordan Peterson said “If you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world?” 

It’s a metaphor, the “room” is really any subject. Always consider the source.

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Over 50 fitness: Can you build muscle mass in your 50’s?

The answer is yes you can, but with caveats. As men age the master hormone Testosterone decreases. Now the caveat here is your starting point. Its universally accepted that testosterone drops as you age but there is no universally accepted starting point there is a range. So if you start at the lower range through your adult life it’s going to be that much harder when you hit your 50’s.

Disclaimer: Make sure you work closely with your health care provider and be tested regularly to ensure you make the best choices for your particular situation. The opinions expressed in this blog worked for me, they may not work for you.

The bottom line is, as a man you need testosterone to build muscle mass. The older you get the less you produce naturally so you will need to supplement to obtain similar results to when you were younger. The problem here is increased testosterone levels the older you get increases your risk of heart disease. So the next caveat, you can gain muscle mass in your 50’s but not at the same rate you did in earlier periods of your life.

While there isn’t much science on sustaining high level of testosterone for decades, we know that younger individuals have better health outcomes as their bodies haven’t been subjected to poor dietary choices for as long. That’s a logical conclusion, again there aren’t a lot of studies here supporting this but if your testosterone level was 850 at 21, its harder and riskier for you to maintain that 850 testosterones at 31,41,51,61.

Hormone Replacement Therapy might be an option.

What you should be doing is having a blood work up on your endocrine system once you hit 40 years old. They should be testing for a lot of things, (thyroid, adrenal, vitamin D) and your testosterone levels. When you get the test results you should be comparing your number to averages for people in your age group. There are numerous sources online that will give you a range, generally men from 19-49 have a range of 249-836, over 50 193-749.

We have to be careful here because there are people OVER the high end of the range. There are always outliers and the younger you are the more likely you could be over and sustain it, but as you age, if you remain in that higher range your risk of heart disease magnifies. So where we want to be is 85% of the high end range over 50, at or around 650. At that % (this can fluxuate) you should be able to gain muscle mass in your 50’s.

You aren’t going to pack on 20 pounds of muscle in 6 months, but 5 or more in a year? Yes, its possible. Now this is based on my experience and having talked to my doctor and having blood work done regularly. None of this should be taken lightly and you should be working with your doctor regularly (every 3-6 months) to determine if you are healthy and if you need to adjust your testosterone levels.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with your doctor on your specific needs as you age. You should be increasing your interactions with your doctor’s office and specifically your blood work even if it means you have to pay out of pocket. This isn’t something you can just figure out on your own. Work with a medical professional, heed their advice but keep close tabs on your testosterone levels.

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Oscar Wilde

3 reasons why the younger you are the brighter you work future looks. 

In this post we are going back to the workplace to give some of our younger reader’s encouragement. The last major work force shift was via globalization. Many of you are too young to remember a time when globalization WASN’T prevalent. When everything wasn’t made in china, as an example. I’m not here to say globalization is good or bad, but it’s an example of how work can change dramatically.

The latest shift was hastened by the pandemic that is the “great resignation” which coincided with a huge increase in people working from home. This shift is evolving but similar to globalization this will have a dramatic impact for the next 20-30 years. Globalization didn’t happen overnight, it took decades and now it is here. The “great resignation” impact is being felt now but it’s really just beginning. This is why the younger you are the brighter your work future looks.

Why? Three major reasons.

  1. Remote work – in 2015 remote work was a novelty now it is main stream. It’s not going away and its upside is hard to quantify but I will try. Less time traveling to work, more opportunity to work at convenient times for you. More options for work. You see Remote work is a game changer in so many ways. Younger workers are going to be able to adapt quickly and in some cases hold more than one job making much more money.
  2. Boomers & Gen Xer’s – We are getting older. Many boomers have already left the work force. I will be gone in 15 years myself. There are more of us working in traditional industries then the younger generations (some Gen Z kids are still in high school). The more of us that leave the more positions that open up. The work isn’t going away, it still needs to be done and companies need someone to do it. This ties in to the point below as well but as Gen Xers age out of jobs you’re going to have more chances at middle and upper management roles, that’s where the real money resides.
  3. Birth rates – People are having less children and they are having them older. This really started with my generation xers. Many of us had our kids in our 30’s and our family size dropped from prior generations. This trend is continuing, along with lower marriage rates as well. The bottom line is there will be less people in the workforce coming in 20-30 years from now. So the 20-40 year olds working now? Things look good for you here, newer, younger cheaper versions might not be so plentiful in say 2050.
Working from home?

I know conceptually some of this might be a stretch but it’s not out of the realm at all. I think most of these suppositions are actually highly probable. It could be that we experience another huge labor force shift on a shorter time span then normal (they usually happen every 35-100 years). Technology is moving quickly so it might be global companies have an even broader pool of candidates should they continue to evolve remote work.

Either way I think it bodes well for younger workers. I think in 2050 the people turning 40 will have very good employment opportunities and income levels should be very robust. This of course doesn’t account for anomalies like pandemics, war, environmental disasters. Let’s not kid ourselves things could go badly, but if things remain the same as they are now I think working in the next 20-30 years will be easier. You will have better options, more availability and a greater pool of employment opportunities.

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Am I contagious?

Personal Finance – 3 journeymen (not advanced) finance tips

Like every finance piece I do on this blog this is my personal opinion based on 30 years of working in the finance industry. You should research thoroughly any advice you receive before making any financials decisions. The tips in today’s piece are moderate, they aren’t for beginners and those advanced in their financial journey probably have already encountered these concepts.

  1. Reviewing your insurance profile: Regularly you should be reviewing and understanding your insurance profile, likely twice a year. Now insurance is to mitigate disaster/negative situations. This is more than auto insurance or homeowner’s insurance; this should include things like long term disability insurance to replace income. Long term care insurance to mitigate costs of nursing homes or assisted living and umbrella policies that give another layer of coverage for you beyond specific policies (like home owners or auto)
  2. The care of loved ones: This extends to your elderly parents or your children. Do you have a plan for either? What if your parent becomes sick? Who will assist them? This can take on many forms, maybe you have siblings who can help as well. Point is, have a plan here because it’s when you don’t then it presents itself. Kids? Anything can happen here. From the unthinkable of devastating medical injury to helping them pay for college. You should have some plan in place to set aside some money “just in case” hopefully you can help your kid get a head start in life financially, worst case you have to support them for the rest of your life because of a medical issue. Yes, that happens.
  3. Running your finances like a business: This is the hardest one to pull off, but your check book (or whatever you use to ledger your money) is like a Profit and Loss statement for a business. You have to review this regularly, really be clear on how your business is running and call in the executives for meetings regularly on spending and revenue. I know it sounds silly doesn’t it? What this does is, it takes the “personal” out of it and all the stake holders (spouses, kids) become officers of the company who have a vested interest in its success. If you can get to this point on your personal finance journey you are one step closer to expert status, not many people get to this point.
How much is this going to cost?

In the end, a strong personal economy = better outcomes. You can be more generous, you can have things you want, you can afford a good life. When you don’t know where your money is going and you don’t assign a mission to every dollar you place yourself in a weaker position mentally and financially. Anyone can win with money; your income level doesn’t matter you just have to get a handle on where everything is going. This takes maybe an hour a week to do and over time it will take less and less, you can do this.

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Anxiety: One of the hardest things to deal with

For those of us with anxiety we have good days and bad days. There are of course degrees of anxiety, some of us are in better places then others and that’s why every day is a crap shoot. Like anything in life the more you experience something the more adept you become at navigating its nuances. Anxiety is no different and for me I have had a few very hard lessons in my travels.

One of the hardest for me? The conversation you have been avoiding is probably the one you most need to have. If you are dreading it, chances are if it’s not already a trigger it’s going to be soon. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the neighbor’s dog barking? The Amazon delivery person’s insistence in putting your packages on the side step instead of the front? This can be a wide range of subjects; we all have different triggers.

The worst part is not knowing, not knowing if having the conversation is the person going to think you are nuts? Will they reactive negatively? Violently? These emotions are real, and don’t let anyone minimize them. If you are talking to your roommate about the guy upstairs playing music to loud, don’t let their rational (or agreement) sway you from how you feel. The hardest part is making the decision to confront and “have the conversation

Some conversations you know going in, its going to be a horror show.

This is one of the worst parts of anxiety. Wouldn’t it be great for just a day to not care what other people think? Many of us find that relief through self-medication and I am not advocating that here. What I am saying is, there are options. Continue on and allow this to eat away at you and become another trigger. I’ve done it, you wouldn’t be the first to live with other people’s crap. Or have the talk and confront.

The downside is it can be a disaster, creating more conflict then you ever wanted. The upside is the person may provide relief, gain a measure of respect for you and in the future may be more aware of how their actions affect you. I advocate to have the conversation, with a HUGE caveat. That being you have to assess the risk posed by the other person. Example, a conversation about putting the cap on the toothpaste is likely to have less of an impact then asking a parent to have their child stop leaving their toys around.

Both may be triggers but the likelihood of one garnering a negative response is higher. Use your instinct and your experience as an individual with anxiety. Some battles (and for us, internally, that’s what these conversations are) are less risky than others. have those first, build a mental reserve of successful (or failures) outcomes to draw on as you consider attempting the harder and harder conversations as your life progressives.

If you are thinking about it constantly, its eating at you and emboldening your anxiety. It’s likely a conversation you should have sooner rather than later.

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How to be a better man: The “mid-term” relationship test

So another post in my better man series, this one is for all the guys that are in a mid-term relationship (I say between 6 months to 2 years). You are committed to one another as exclusive (most likely) and are basically figuring out if this is going to be a long term play. Before I map out this test for you a quick disclaimer: My how to be a better man posts are meant for heterosexual men. This may or may not work for other sexualities, I don’t know. This isn’t meant to offend, it’s my opinion and hopefully it helps men navigate the trials of improving themselves.

So you have been together just over a year your GF is great you are in love and so is she. The “Test” is a rhetorical question but her actions after the question is posed is what is going to tip you off on where you really stand with this woman. At some point she is going to want to go out with her girlfriends, to a club, a show, some public place. No problem that’s fine you aren’t married but ask her this question.

“Would you be okay if your long term boyfriend went out with a group of friends, and that night women, some better looking than you bought him drinks, flirted with him and were ready to have sex with him even if he told them he was in a long term committed relationship?”

When she goes out with the girl’s how is does she look?

Now a smart woman is going to say no of course not. We know when groups of women go out, men flirt, buy them drinks etc. and we know why. Women like the attention, I get it and it doesn’t mean they are cheaters but do they ever imagine if the roles were reversed how they would feel?

Now the test: Did she go out with her friends anyway after you gave her that scenario? Did she invite you to go with them? If she went out anyway and didn’t invite you? That’s a red flag bud, the night she is out, ask yourself the test question and insert GF, instead of BF. How you feeling? If she went out anyway, I would encourage you to take a hard look at behaviors and decide very quickly if she is your long term play.

I’m not saying she is cheating, I’m not saying she is a bad person, I’m not saying you are a simp, but again, how you feeling?

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The Value of time – As Time Passes

In my travels around the internet I often stumble across interesting pieces. Poems, quotes, obscure news stories… One of the concepts we talk about on this blog is the value of time. I believe that time is the most valuable commodity on the planet. It doesn’t care what your age is, your gender, your sexuality, your political affiliation, or where you live.

I found a great poem below. I cant remember where I found it but I did get the Author and the year it was written. Time goes by so fast, moments that I wish would never pass are now memories. The older I get the more I realize how much I have done, and how much I have missed. This poem is great, I hope you enjoy it too.

As Time Passes

Jenni-Fiere M. Bivens 2006

As the seconds pass,
We look back
At what our lives have held.

As the minutes pass,
We see what fell through the cracks.
Parts of our lives we withheld.

As the hours pass,
We think of what we learned,
What we have taught,
What we have forgot.

As the days pass,
We wish a lot could be returned.
We wish we would have never fought
You hope they forget me not.

As years pass,
You stand alone.
They have all grown,
Married and gone
Or on their own.

As your life passes,
You stand proud,
Looking how well they raise their own.
You did well.
Live on…


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Surviving 2020 & covid

Anxiety decades later

So a quick post today. As most of you know I have anxiety, like many of you, and millions of people all over the world. Now unlike many of you I am in my 50’s and I have been living with Anxiety in some form for decades. So what is it like to have anxiety issues in your 50’s and dealing with them for years?

Let me say that age enables you to have experience and experience breeds wisdom. It makes dealing with Anxiety easier so that’s the good news here. The older you get, the longer you live with this issue the better equipped you become in dealing with it. Now things can still get bad don’t get me wrong, but the feelings of isolation and shame decrease as you begin to realize more and more that many people have this problem, it’s not just you.

That’s the good news, the bad news is you have more time to reflect on, which for me has always been the problem. I suffer from intrusive thoughts. I can be sitting in the car and suddenly I remember something that happened in 1983 that was a negative situation. The problem with intrusive thoughts is you assume the emotional reactions you had at the time and then start applying them to your current situation.

Pick whatever name you want, Anxiety at any age sucks

The older you get the more situations you have that you can reflect on. Now everyone does this to a degree but for me anyway it can be debilitating. I can’t get out of the thought or the feeling, it will replay itself over and over until I can expel it. Like a song you can get out of your head. It flavors everything I am doing and affects all of those around me. Now this is contradictory to the first part of the post isn’t it?

“Karac you said the older you get the less shame and isolation you feel” yes that’s true, but the frequency increases and that’s the problem. Literally daily I have an issue like this, and the factors that contribute to its intensity can be anything from lack of sleep, stress at work or family issues. So the older you get the easier it gets to deal with the issue, but the issue becomes more frequent.

At least that’s what is happening to me. I could take more medication but I basically just push through. Don’t get me wrong I have more good days then bad but when you have anxiety, you are most likely going to be dealing with it for decades. So all my Gen Z and Millennial friends out there, your mental health is a life long journey. The first critical step is recognizing your specific issue and understanding what your triggers are and why they are happening.

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