Justice

Politics & Anxiety: More is coming

This blog isn’t a political blog, so have no fear I am not going to go on a political rant here. We do however cover Anxiety issues a lot and in the U.S. we are entering a new political season. You could argue that politics is always in season in the U.S. As an example in the community I live in, we have people with signs in their yards regarding politics, it comes up in conversation regularly. For my non U.S. readers a quick aside so you have a more accurate picture of the political climate in the U.S.

The narrative of political divide, the splintering of the culture etc. is partially true. People here are more galvanized then ever politically but we are not at each other’s throats. The overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are normal, quiet people who go about their business and take care of their family and friends. They aren’t light flags on fire, at protests, storming the capital. Those are the exceptions not the rule, but if you were watching news on the U.S. that’s what you would see. The U.S. is in a transition period; this has happened many times before.

Back to the anxiety. So what is happening now is you are seeing the political apparatus in the U.S. “Heat Up”. You will see more arrests, more investigations, more foreign policy moves, more scandals. This is par for the course really, our mid-term elections are coming soon and the heat will be turned way up. Soon we will know if Trump is running for President or not and that will likely make things even hotter.

Vote
Liberty is paramount

I wish I had great news for you. I wish I could say there is a remarkable candidate who will unite American’s under one platform and a reconciliation and rebirth is to follow. If I did say that I would be lying to you. I think things are going to get more stressful and anxiety is going to spike. This won’t resolve until the presidential election of 2024 and even then one side will be unhappy. Expect viral protests, some violence, gas lighting, fear mongering… Everything will be on the table.

How you deal with all of the noise is really subjective. I stopped listening myself. After 52 years on the planet I have lived through Democrat and Republican regimes neither have been great. I would encourage you to invest your time into those who are important to you first. Your civic energies should be focused on your locale. Get involved in your town or city politics, this is the most effective way to steer changes that immediately impact the people you know. National politics is theatre; dangerous theatre I concede but it’s designed to anger you to affect a specific outcome. Once that outcome is achieved, they don’t want to hear from you anymore.

You are going to be fine, things will heat up. Things will look dyer for a time. Large scale upheaval is highly unlikely its only happened a few times in U.S. history. I realize this post isn’t painting a particularly rosy picture but knowing what is coming is at least one advantage. Hopefully it helps you prepare for the inevitable. The political season in the U.S. is on its way, buckle up.

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Justice

Politics & Anxiety: More is coming

This blog isn’t a political blog, so have no fear I am not going to go on a political rant here. We do however cover Anxiety issues a lot and in the U.S. we are entering a new political season. You could argue that politics is always in season in the U.S. As an example in the community I live in, we have people with signs in their yards regarding politics, it comes up in conversation regularly. For my non U.S. readers a quick aside so you have a more accurate picture of the political climate in the U.S.

The narrative of political divide, the splintering of the culture etc. is partially true. People here are more galvanized then ever politically but we are not at each other’s throats. The overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are normal, quiet people who go about their business and take care of their family and friends. They aren’t light flags on fire, at protests, storming the capital. Those are the exceptions not the rule, but if you were watching news on the U.S. that’s what you would see. The U.S. is in a transition period; this has happened many times before.

Back to the anxiety. So what is happening now is you are seeing the political apparatus in the U.S. “Heat Up”. You will see more arrests, more investigations, more foreign policy moves, more scandals. This is par for the course really, our mid-term elections are coming soon and the heat will be turned way up. Soon we will know if Trump is running for President or not and that will likely make things even hotter.

Vote
Liberty is paramount

I wish I had great news for you. I wish I could say there is a remarkable candidate who will unite American’s under one platform and a reconciliation and rebirth is to follow. If I did say that I would be lying to you. I think things are going to get more stressful and anxiety is going to spike. This won’t resolve until the presidential election of 2024 and even then one side will be unhappy. Expect viral protests, some violence, gas lighting, fear mongering… Everything will be on the table.

How you deal with all of the noise is really subjective. I stopped listening myself. After 52 years on the planet I have lived through Democrat and Republican regimes neither have been great. I would encourage you to invest your time into those who are important to you first. Your civic energies should be focused on your locale. Get involved in your town or city politics, this is the most effective way to steer changes that immediately impact the people you know. National politics is theatre; dangerous theatre I concede but it’s designed to anger you to affect a specific outcome. Once that outcome is achieved, they don’t want to hear from you anymore.

You are going to be fine, things will heat up. Things will look dyer for a time. Large scale upheaval is highly unlikely its only happened a few times in U.S. history. I realize this post isn’t painting a particularly rosy picture but knowing what is coming is at least one advantage. Hopefully it helps you prepare for the inevitable. The political season in the U.S. is on its way, buckle up.

Thank you for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Want to see another post like this one? Click here.

Squats

How I stay in shape over 50: The importance and illusion of the forearm

If you have been working out for a while you’ve likely heard about the illusion of the V taper. Basically the broader your shoulders are, the smaller your waist will appear. This creates the illusion of you being thinner then you actually are. This actually works, but there is a subtler, yet potent illusion men can use to increase attraction. The Forearm.

To be clear, this post is meant for heterosexual men attempting to attract women. I don’t know if this works for other sexualities, you would have to tell me. Now your forearms are the director connector to your hands which many people watch while engaged. Hands are used in communication all the time, people watch your hands, so do women. There is plenty of psychology around this, I’m not going to post a bunch of links here but I would ask you to consider this: Why do women get their nails done and make sure their hands are smooth?

Back to Men…. So hands are important, for men this extends to the forearms. A muscled and cut (you can see the veins) forearm creates the illusion (in some cases its true) that the rest of the body is as defined. Most men are covered head to toe. Often the only thing exposed is the head, neck and arms. If you have sleeves on your jacket or shirt even your arms aren’t exposed. Females like flesh too. Don’t be fooled by this, this might not be their sole motivation for engaging with you but we have to be real here, women evaluate men sexually too. Attraction may be different for them (meaning the fact you can fix the car might be “Hot” to them) but they also enjoy a man who looks good physically.

What ever you say Popeye

This isn’t absolute, there are always exceptions to the rule. Your forearms set off one of the few socially acceptable “flesh points” for men. If you are having your nails polished, nvm… if you aren’t, then a vascular well-muscled forearm will get you attention most of the time. The issue then becomes training. Your forearms are engaged in nearly every exercise you do in the gym so hitting them exclusively has to be done carefully.

Forearms should be worked at the end of a workout so you do not pre exhaust them and prohibit other lifts. Reverse curls, and wrist curls are two simple exercises you can do that will beef up your forearms. Start working these into your routine a few times week. Your forearms will grow quickly, you use them all the time so be very aware of how they feel and where you are at with them.  Strong forearms set off an entire look. You can be wearing a suit and you roll up your sleeves…. Your forearms will take center stage. You might lift something for someone, and the veins pop, and their eyes widen.

Don’t neglect your forearms, the illusion they can create is potent.

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How to make more money and perks at work

So it’s been a while since I have done a “working” piece. Quick recap, at prior roles I have been a manager who hired and fired staff. Now it’s been a minute since then but not that long ago. So take my advice here with a grain of salt. Now what I am about to reveal isn’t rocket science, you could probably come to the same conclusion. BUT as a former manager I can tell you the people who had these items I always tried to do more for.

Gender, Race, Religion, Sexuality it didn’t matter to me. If you had these traits, I tried to pay you more. I without a doubt favored staff who exhibited these traits. I know that’s probably not politically correct but I am being real here. I’m telling you right now your manager at work values these items as well. So what are these magical traits?

Soft Skills

I know you have probably heard this buzz phrase all over the place recently. It’s the intangible traits that are exhibited by the individual. These are without a doubt some of the biggest factors in your success or failure within a role. You not only have to be aware of them but hone them in to capitalize on them. I work for money so I can afford to do the things I like to do. I’m guessing you are very similar, so here is a list of a few “soft skills” that will help you make more money at work and get more perks.

  • Dependability: You show up every day ready to work.
  • Positive attitude: This is self-explanatory
  • Communication: It’s not just sending the email, its ensuring that people understand what you mean.
  • Adaptability: If someone is out, can I look to you to fill in or do I have to ask someone else?
  • Conflict Resolution: Conflict happens; can you resolve it internally or at the first sign of trouble are you emailing HR?

Now these might be vague but I think you get the gist. The point is most employees have a few of these traits (less and less these days it seems) but some have many. Now some people call them names a “beta” or “brown noser” as a manager my name for them? MVP. These are the people I rely on the most and any good manager worth their salt will make sure those individuals are paid well and cared for.

As an example, I worked with a woman we will call Pam. Pam reported to me directly. She had great soft skills she really excelled at her role it was a pleasure to have her in my dept. I had another person I will call Heidi. Heidi was generally a pain in the ass, but Heidi did one specific task better than anyone else and that made her valuable. I needed her, or so I thought. So one day Heidi tells me she needs 3 weeks off to prepare for her sister’s wedding. I try and be sympathetic to her but I simply didn’t have the ability to “give” her 3 weeks off. See she wanted it above and beyond her PTO time.

Take every minute of paid time off you get, leave none on the table.

I told her I couldn’t do that and she should put in a PTO time off request for any time she needed (she didn’t have 3 weeks btw). Heidi emails HR, tells them I was rude (because I said no). I get the call from HR, I talk to them, they get it and they handle it. 2 weeks go by Heidi says nothing things are working as per normal. Heidi comes in at the end of the day and quits, saying she HAS to have the time off for the wedding prep and if I won’t let her go she is quitting. I say as little as possible.

She leaves, I let HR know. Now luckily Heidi wrote a resignation letter. It wasn’t flattering to me, but it wasn’t horrible either, this is important later. Next work day I start cleaning up Heidi’s desk and taking that work. Pam asks what’s going on, I tell her Heidi is no longer with the company. Pam starts intercepting people who would normally come see Heidi and she begins to do her work (I never asked, I was going to get a temp). I thank her, and this buys me time to get a qualified temp which I do 2 weeks later.

I get an email a month later, Heidi wants to come back to work. I tell her “sorry the position is filled” which leads to a meltdown along the lines of “I’m sorry I was under a lot of stress, etc., so on”. I refer her to HR, the temp is working out, I offer them the role and they accept. Pam’s review comes up, I give her a stellar review due to the Heidi situation. I went to the CFO and asked for a special 5K bonus to be taken out of my dept. budget, which reduced my annual bonus (part of my comp was a % of the amount I was under budget). I gave her a 6% raise, the highest I could at the time and give her 3 “Oh shit” days.

Those are days when something happens randomly and you don’t want to use PTO but you are stuck. Think flat tire, furnace goes out during the night you get the picture. Basically 3 days I cover for her, she gets paid, we don’t use PTO. This wasn’t official policy but a lot of managers did it. The point of all this? Pam stepped up when I needed her to because that’s who she was. I rewarded her with as much as I could for doing it. Heidi? She left voice mails crying for her job, which she never got back.

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Anxiety: 5 Quick tips to reduce stress and anxiety at work

I know, I’ve done these before but these never get old and are critical for all of us who have anxiety issues. Let’s face it, work plays a huge part in our lives, we need income to survive and from plumbers to CFO’s we all get stress inputs via expectations from work. Maybe you thrive on it, or maybe you cringe from it. If you are having a bad day at work and need quick relief here are 5 things to try.

1. Have plants: When you’re stressed at work, water your plant, prune it a bit, touch it. Often when we care for another entity, plants, people, pets we create positive feelings within ourselves. This can translate into a temporary emotional boost and get you through a tough moment.

2. Go home: I know, this is probably not on the top of peoples list but hear me out. Companies give people sick time and vacation time as a benefit of their employment. If things are horrible at work one day, bag out early. I mean this isn’t going to stop you from thinking about it, but you’ll be thinking about it in a comfort setting (your car, your home) rather than wallowing in thought at work, the source of the pain.

3. Call your parents: If your parents are no longer with us, call a family member. You don’t have to dump the stress on them but just call and say hi. If you call mom or dad they are going to figure out quickly something is wrong and comfort you, that’s what parents do, the great ones anyway LOL.

4. Indulge your sweet tooth: Look I’m not telling you to go on an eating binge here but have something to eat that you enjoy. Chocolate? Doritos? An apple… Doesn’t matter, sometimes eating provides comfort and while unhealthy eating and overeating can prolong and enhance negative emotions associated with anxiety there is nothing wrong with indulging once in a while.

5. Address the issue head on: this is the most challenging depending on your workplace but if the source of the stress is an individual, a project or the work in general talk to your supervisor or HR. Companies want productive employees and if you don’t tell people there is a problem, you can’t assume they know one exists. If you tell them at least you know they are informed.

Look none of these are wonderful catch all solutions to work stress, but you need something. I work in a high stress environment; I know I have anxiety issues but I am dealing with it. How do you deal with it? I have one woman at work that every hour on the hour she dips out for a smoke break. Really nice lady but her skin looks horrible, but I never criticize, that’s what she needs to do to get through the day power to her.

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How to be a better man: A huge red flag

So another post in my “better man” series. These posts are designed to help heterosexual men. They may or may not be applicable to all genders and all sexualities I simply don’t know as I am writing from my personal perspective. So there are lots of red flags in relationships and many of us miss them completely. Often for men it’s the chase and the conquest, warning signs be dammed. It’s one of the worse parts of being a heterosexual make, the lack of discipline can change your life.

So you started dating someone, you like her a lot, she likes you a lot. Many of the “boxes” are checked for you and you are considering a more meaningful commitment. You begin to discuss it and hint at it, or maybe she has then you hear something like this:

“I’ve had bad experiences with men in the past”

This is the red flag. Now this may not come out verbatim but something along the lines of “I was damaged or hurt in a prior relationship”. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! Why? It’s a prelude to one of the biggest failings in early relationships. One (or both partners) are using their past relationship to gauge you. Of course we all do this to a degree but when someone actually verbalizes it, that means it is paramount for them.

Ancient Wisdom - Confucius
Wisdom comes from experience

Maybe they made mistakes, maybe their prior partner made huge mistakes. None of that is your fault. It’s the other persons issue, and for you to be held accountable for it normally means you will be paying for the mistakes of her past. Thus your future is reliant on how you measure up against SOMEONE ELSES mistakes. Now men do this too, this isn’t strictly a female trait but I’m willing to bet you hear them verbalize more often.

This is a red flag and if you really like the woman you have to get ahead of this quickly by informing her that you are unwilling to be measured against someone else’s mistakes. Ask her to articulate SPECIFICALLY what those issues were and try and address it as best you can. Again this is if you are really hooked but 9 times out of 10 your best long term move is to end this relationship quickly for both of your sakes.

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stressed-out-woman

Quick Finance Piece: Is this a recession?

Yes, it is.

So before I go too far let me do the normal disclaimer. I am a finance professional and any advice you see on my blog is my own opinion only and is not meant as investment advice. So that out of the way, yes we are in a recession. “But the media says we aren’t in a REAL recession”. I don’t trust the media, if you do I can’t really help you….

An economic recession has been defined for decades as two quarters of economic decline as measured by GDP. Now that’s not the technical definition but that is what has been used as the gauge for many years. The United States is in a recession. Now there are DEGREE’S of recession and that is where the nuance comes in.

This is not a hard recession by any means. We have great job numbers (which is an interesting situation in of itself), but we have horrible inflation, a slowing housing market etc. You see what you aren’t hearing much about is the horrific impact that Covid shut downs had on industries and supply and demand economics. You shut down global production for 6 months, you just don’t flip a switch and it comes back to normal.

The ride shouldn’t be to bumpy this time around

Throw in a war, a decrease in domestic Oil refining, divisive politics, on and on. The situation is dynamic and fluid there is no one catch all correction to fix this. You had decades of artificially low interest rates now creeping up again. A hard recession would see the market decreasing, layoff’s and a higher unemployment rate.

Companies are reporting good earnings that means DEMAND is still there and that bodes well for a quick recovery. They call that a V shaped recovery. I suspect we will see another decline in the 3rd qtr. and possibly into the 4th but the basis for good economic outcomes are there. First, the job market is healthy, you can work and make money. Second, demand for goods and services is still robust, so companies are still making profit (which fuels point 1).

I think 2023 will be a better year economically, unless again something extraordinary happens (a pandemic, another war. Be prudent here and tighten things up as best you can and save a bit more than usual but I don’t suspect things to get horrible soon, but things will still remain in the current state for the near term.

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Surviving 2020 & covid

Anxiety or a Panic Attack ?

If you have anxiety you might be exposed to, or have had a panic attack. This is the physical manifestation of your anxiety. Often it doesn’t play out as the person think’s it will, meaning the “panic” doesn’t nearly equate to the situation more often than not. However, that doesn’t minimize or negate what is actually happening to you. Panic often delves into physical conditions that impact you negatively. Examples:

  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Heart palpitations or racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Choking feeling
  • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy

The real problem is these attacks can happen at any time. Literally ANYTHING can be a trigger and this is, for a lot of people where anxiety ends up. They live in fear not of, I don’t know, let’s say spiders, but the PANIC that seeing the spider will invoke. I’ve never had a serious panic attack, I have heard in my life when the subject comes up in my social circle there is an immediate dismissal. “It’s not that bad” or “They made a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Sometimes the smallest thing can become a huge explosion.

What that narrative does is it creates the conditions by which someone who might have panic attacks has even more anxiety about it. Our culture celebrates strength and fortitude in essentially all ethnic backgrounds for each gender. Having anxiety that leads to a panic attack doesn’t make you weak, it’s not something you should be ashamed of and if you have people in your life telling you it’s not a big deal you should consider strongly limiting your time with them.

In extreme cases a panic attack can lead to death, either by suicide, heart attack or loss of control of your faculties. BREATHE!

I am not patronizing you, it sometimes is that simple. Even if you are in the middle of a grocery store and you think people are staring at you and you are in full panic, take slow deep breaths. 10 slow deep breaths is a minute of your life, you can do this and any social anxiety you may derive from that 1 minute where you think people are staring at you will dissipate quickly as your panic starts to decrease with every breath.

You aren’t alone, you are not abnormal. You have anxiety and you need to be honest with yourself about it. When in doubt, take a deep breath.

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FREYFEST & LAMMAS

So it’s been a while but one of the areas I declared I would spend more time covering on the blog is paganism. Now this isn’t a religious blog, it’s really just things that cross the mind of this a gen xer (hence the title of the blog). I am a pagan but like most practioners of faith I am not devout. I do not celebrate every tradition and ceremony; I am not rigid in the observations of holidays either.

I am however in tune to Norse paganism and specifically how much of it correlates to nature, and specifically the celebrations place in the life cycle of a year. Freyfest & Lammas is really a combination of a few pagan traditions. For the Norse this was the mid-point celebration between summer and fall. Many of the rituals you see in paganism is the celebration of earth providing life to all via seasonal changes that promote the harvest. The harsher climates, like northern Europe especially had emphasis on these rituals.

Now technically this and many other Norse pagan festivals are blot’s. A blot is a sacrifice and sacrifices run the gambit from human to life stock, to food. Ancient customs were brutal to modern sensibilities but we always have to keep in mind that the inception of these ceremonies were by people who were doing what they could to survive and life was so harsh that giving over to faith was about the only mechanism they had to inspire hope.

The All Father sees all

July 31st – August 1st marks the halfway point between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.  In many cultures, it is the time of year that signifies the first harvest, mostly of grains.  Bread is traditionally baked in various shapes to celebrate the holiday.  The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first harvested grains and baked loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Freyfest (Freysblot) are just a few of the names given to this time of year.  The first harvest represents the first moment during which we can finally begin gathering the fruits of our labor from our hard work during the preceding months.  We are more aware of the bright reds and yellows of the autumn season that are just around the corner.

Source:

This is a time to celebrate and for joy. Be happy with what you have, enjoy the bounty of nature. Freyfest is the marking of the first harvest of the year. For you and I? We can drive to the grocery store. Maybe you have a small garden at home, maybe some peas or a tomato is ready? Harvest it and maybe hold it up to the sky and thank Frey for the bounty and then enjoy.

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Yet Another finance secret finance professional won’t tell you (but I will)

So another finance piece, as I write this the U.S. is in an official recession. This piece isn’t about recessions, inflation or politics so you can exhale. We are going to reveal another secret though that finance professionals don’t like to admit. So a quick disclaimer, I am a finance professional. I have been working in the finance and accounting field for over 30 years. This blog is not a finance advice blog; this is my own opinion based on my experiences. Any advice you receive regarding finance should be researched thoroughly by you as an investor and verified through multiple sources.

Now that out of the way here is the opening salvo “When things are good, everyone is a genius.” The last decade up until the pandemic really the stock market overall was pretty good. You had good annualized returns and many people made a lot of money. So being a finance professional and advising people to go into the market wasn’t a genius play. Of course if you aren’t fluent in finance you might have perceived it as such. Interest rates were low for a long time so there really wasn’t anywhere else to go with investing except real estate.

But the secret? Everyone is a genius when things are good, what about when things are bad? What about when you are in a bear market (when indices drop 20% in a calendar year)? The secret is, the real finance geniuses were diversified PRIOR to the bear market. Any finance professional could have told you to put your money in an index fund prior to covid and you would have made fantastic gains. The real economic geniuses advised you to diversify with money spread to commodities, bonds/treasuries, real-estate and precious metals (this is a commodity, but not a traditional commodity).

As an example, what if in 2016 your finance professional advised you to have 15% of your portfolio in “Gas & Oil”? That would look pretty good now wouldn’t it? Same with bonds, treasuries, wheat, gold… you get the picture. The secret here Is diversity of investment result in a wider spread of assets which can absorb declines in any particular sector.

Like it or not, the world still runs on Oil based products.

Now that does mean you would have had less in technologies for the same period and not enjoyed that growth. I concede that, but the savvy investor doesn’t play the short term they play the long term and sustained diversified portfolios over the long haul 10-30 years normally perform as well as a strict stock portfolio. Don’t get me wrong here, I personally believe the majority assets you are investing in should be either growth stock mutual funds or blue chip mutual funds.

100% of a portfolio though?  No, you diversify specifically for bear markets and sharp down turns because they always happen. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when and how long will it last. For calendar year 22 as of 6.30.22 the markets are down 20.3% now this has come up in July, there is no denying that but you’re still down overall. On top of that we have large inflation numbers devaluing the purchase power of your dollar. So what 1.00 would buy last year now buys .92 that’s an 8% decrease (rough estimate). That isn’t equated well in your portfolios return.

Meaning you made 10% on the stock sale but the money you received purchases 8% less than it did meaning the value of that 10% return to you in real time is a net positive of 2%. Again, the secret here is diversity. Always have part of your portfolio assigned to cash, bonds/treasuries, commodities and that will provide you a decent buffer for the next bear market because this will happen again.

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