A Message for Men on Healing

My life is in constant evolution.

When I look back even a mere 5 years ago, I could never imagine I’d become the man I am today; more positive, more spiritual, more present.

I attribute much of this to the healing process. I must admit, in my 20’s and most of my 30’s, the word healing was not in my vocabulary. In fact, I probably sneered or was smug to anyone who dared to venture and use those words, my healing journey.

I had a bruised ego during those decades, often putting myself on a pedestal, believing I was invincible and always right. Now well into my 40’s I look back at that man and cringe, but most of all forgive him for what he was unaware of. That’s the power of healing. It allows us to grow, much like a tree, branching in all directions, exploring all possibilities upward.

Healing is a word we sometimes use loosely without much thought to its profound power and value. Externally, we are constantly healing, replacing dead skin cells and old hair follicles. Internally, healing takes place in a different way. It requires a lot more self awareness and motivation.

As a man, I understand this topic is difficult for many men to digest. Healing takes place when there’s vulnerability and that often puts men in an uncomfortable position. I’ve lived this truth when I was married a lifetime ago. Many of our disagreements resulted in a similar pattern which involved my inability to listen, validate and hear my ex’s thoughts and feelings. I had to be right and there was no grey area in this. The problem stemmed from an unhealed man. I took any feedback from her as a statement of attack, when in truth, it wasn’t at all. I took it personally and if I had dug deeper, I would have known that my feelings of being attacked stemmed from a deeper feeling of inadequacy and worth.

Presently, I find myself far more balanced than ever before, after doing years of work with self awareness and self-worth with therapists. I realized a long time ago, we’re all on a healing journey, regardless of age. And regardless of what life experiences you had or did not have, we are all subject to feeling inadequate and less worthy at some point in our lives, whereby internal healing needs to take place.

A husband who stubbornly refuses to address their marital struggles is in a much needed place of healing. Unable to be vulnerable and face his feelings is in fact the marker that there’s a deeper wound that he may or may not be aware of. Maybe he feels afraid that he’s failed as a husband. Maybe he feels scared that he’s not good enough. Maybe he’s afraid of his wife leaving him. Maybe he’s afraid of what he may unravel about his subconscious. These are all normal feelings to have, but until men bravely address these, we will continue to bury our problems and run the risk of severing intimacy with our partners.

shoes-1245920_1920
Image from Pixabay

There’s so many resources out there that can help us heal and grow. And there’s a lot of subtle ways we can heal without it feeling too foreign and invasive. Quietly meditating in our own space, talking about our feelings with a trusted friend (or counsellor), or writing about our thoughts in a journal are some basic ways we can promote healing. Healing doesn’t have to mean going on a week long retreat at a haven or a conference for Healing Your Life.

Small steps is what a mentor used to say to me. Get into practice of taking small steps bit by bit, day by day and you’ll discover yourself in a happier space over time. In addition, welcome new ideas to grow, without judging them. I started out (what seemed like a lifetime ago) by openly attending an 8 week long anger management workshop for men, in tandem with a ton of reading on understanding my life. They were small steps for me. Then, I worked with therapists for years (and still do), followed by workshops on a variety of different healing models and changing unhealthy subconscious belief systems. Today, I’m learning about the Universal Law of Attraction, Manifestations and understanding that My Life is what I make it out to be. This opened doors for me to learn a bit about Reiki healing and to anything else that I openly allow into my space. As you can see, my healing journey has evolved immensely and will continue to do so. The result is that I’m in a healthier space than ever before, which is extremely exciting and long overdue.

Jason

BOOK3D (11)-edited
Living with the Cat, the 9 Biggest Reasons Why Your Life Sucks!

 

 

 

Inspirations for Mental Health

I suddenly woke up at 2am this morning.

To be precise, my clock read 2:14am.

I woke up, sharp as a tack.

I fell asleep around 9:30pm, and the previous night, well, let’s just say I would hardly call what I did as sleep.

I sat up on my bed filled with inspiration. These moments don’t happen very often, where I hear the song Sweet Disposition by the Temper Trap coursing through my veins, and suddenly filled with ideas.

What ideas you ask?

Allow me to back up a bit.

black-choker-on-beige-scarf-1571673
Image by: Jane Pham

After publishing Living with the Cat, the 9 Biggest Reasons Why Your Life Sucks! this past October, I did a couple of speaking events, promoting the book and talking about shifting the mindset on how we view mental health. With self-deprocating humor, the book is a personal account of my experiences with depression, anxiety and anger. If we can’t learn to laugh at ourselves, we’ll perpetually be trapped in a vicious cycle of blame, resentment and anger. Since publishing it, my focus has been sharing much of my personal lived experiences with depression, anxiety and anger, or what I consider the 3 banes for the better part of my adult life. The power of sharing ones story of experiences and recovery is profound because we suddenly realize we’re human, and mental health struggles is prevalent in (dare i say) everyone at some point in our lives. This brings hope, inspiration and ideas to our struggles. It also validates our own experiences. Why else do we read other people’s blogs and watch Youtube videos on recovery from depression and anxiety?

So, by sharing my story through my book and speaking events, I’ve managed to inspire so many people, from old friends to people I’ve never met before. This moves my heart, filling it with joy to contribute to a greater good beyond myself. It’s also cathartic for me, plus it keeps me accountable for those who are familiar with my history of anger, abuse and a toxic belief system. This continues to be my personal ongoing goal, which is to help others realize they’re not alone, plus, to share the powerful message that men can share their feelings as well. Growing up as an emotional child, I was often beat by family members for being too sensitive, too emotional and too vocal with my feelings. As an adult, I have the power, gift and responsibility to break that mould and be my honest self, one who isn’t afraid to talk about his feelings.

Inspiration strikes sometimes when we least expect it. It can come from any direction and could be a chain reaction of events that sparked the ideas. D has truly become a welcomed addition in my life, and the other day she sent me some links to some community mental health resources. I browsed through the links without thinking much into it, until this morning.

close-up-of-hand-over-white-background-316465
Image by: Lum3n

 

I rose from my bed, picked up my journal and began scribbling down ideas on what I want to do next to promote mental health awareness. Like storyboarding, I built pages of concept ideas that I can do with my voice as a mental health advocate. Throughout my journey, I’ve always felt what I’ve gone through as a gift and responsibility to the mental health community. Thus, I began scripting and stacking more ideas ontop each other idea I had at 2:30am.

What are my ideas?

Well, without spilling the beans too much, let’s just say there’s so many mediums I can use to raise mental health awareness, and speaking about it has always been most rewarding for me. However, the Piscean and Enneagram 4 in me wants to do something more creatively. But in the words from Shakespeare’s Henry V, let this acceptance take.

In other words, let’s just leave it as this and stay tuned.

(the Postscript)

By the time my wrist was sore from writing down my ideas, the clock was reading 4:30am and I just felt compelled to blog. In a matter of hours, I’ll be playing basketball with my son and his friends, yet I’m filled with energy and enthusiasm. I’m excited to see him as it’s been a week since he came over and I love talking about life and personal growth with him, plus the odd trash talk when we take to the courts. I’m also excited to share my ideas with D who’s been an attraction of inspiration to me. I was bursting with enthusiasm and wanted to message her, but resisted the temptation given it was 2 in the morning. I’ve never felt this compatible with a partner before in the early stages of dating, and I feel whole about myself. Best part is, she’s brilliant, emotionally available and she’s got a passion for life.

As I sit in my livingroom with a cup of coffee in hand and my cat sitting beside me, I can see the sun rising.

I’m just going to enjoy this moment.

Jason Lee
Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Cat, the 9 Biggest Reasons Why Your Life Sucks!

 

 

 

 

A Dad’s Journal on Life

“I spent my entire life playing it safe, just to avoid being exactly where I am right now.” – Jonathan Tropper from the 2014 movie This is Where I Leave You.

I used to do exactly just that. I played it safe: I graduated, got a job, met a woman, got married, bought a home, had a kid. Things were supposed to turn out exactly how its pictured in the movies, right? A happy yet predictable ending of everlasting smiles against a backdrop of a glowing sunset.

Truth is, it’s not often things turn out the way we plan. And if they did where’s the fun in that? By fun, I mean new learnings, growth, spontaneity and unexpected outcomes. And to me, that’s the reward.

green-car-near-seashore-with-blue-ocean-1118448
Photo credit: Simon Matzinger

But to get to all that, there’s a little something called hardships. Yes, the speedbumps, the strife, the detours that have us taking the gravelly road instead. Of course, none of this was planned by all means. It just happened. There’s no good, there’s no bad. There’s just is.

I’ve been a single dad for a good portion of my adult life, for just over seventeen years to be precise. Sure, there’s been relationships within those seventeen years, but not without broken hearts and hardships as well. After the divorce, I invested my life to be the best Dad I could for my son, never regretting, never wincing at the challenge of being emotionally available to him. I solemnly promised myself I would never father him the way I was fathered by my own dad. My dad struggled with his own internal pain, and often times took it out on me in the form of physical abuse. It wasn’t easy for me to come to terms with this, but over the years whilst working with therapists (and homework alike), I’ve managed to find a place of true acceptance. I love my dad, despite all that happened and he most certainly did the best he knew how to. Rest his soul.

When I made the promise of being the best dad I could, I took my vow seriously and still do! Naturally, I stumbled along the way from time to time, being a dad who was impatient, selfish and angry, mirroring many similarities to my own father. However, I always managed to ground myself and reflect after I faltered, hoping I wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes by trying to identify any recurring patterns. By self reflection, I mean working with counsellors, meditating, journaling, and doing the work.

I created this life for myself and wouldn’t have it any other way. I didn’t always feel this way of course, especially during the times of strife. I struggled as an ex husband and as a dad, but instead of sitting in a chair, creating my own Universe of resentment, disdain and blame, I chose a path of dedication and commitment for the wellbeing of my son. Admitedlly, child support payments and tight budgeting for the last seventeen years hasn’t been easy at all, but it was necessary for me to learn truths about myself. He’s my love, my responsibilty and it’s been my honor to support his needs and it was the least I could do for him. I took a lot of pride and honor being his dad. It was real pleasure and joy being the parent attending all his school plays and bake sales, making him lunch, looking after him when he got the flu, helping him with his homework and art projects, arranging and taking him to playdates and birthday parties in order to keep him social, taking him on vacations whenever I saved enough money, picking him up from school, planning his birthday parties emailing all the moms to RSVP and saving enough to book his favorite place at Crash Crawley’s. As I reflect back, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do all these things for him. Those were moments I will never be able re-live again with him and I’m so glad I did. I wonder if I didn’t end up divorcing, would I have been as dedicated and possibly missed out on those glorious moments with him? When I compare the challenges vs the rewards, the scale tips to the side of rewards by far. I got so much joy from being an emotionally available dad and building a relationship with him. And when he struggled immensely with his depression and anxiety, I felt his pain and my heart ached with each day that he suffered. Those years were by far the most challenging, but without my grown sense of empathy and compassion, our little family would have struggled even more, thus I believe things happen for reasons. If we learn from our mistakes and take the necessary steps to be the better husband, better boyfriend, better dad, we can equip ourselves with tools to manage hardships a lot better.

Oregon Trip 2011 124

Being a single parent wasn’t easy as many of you can attest to. Often times self-care takes a back seat to the needs of our kids, forcing our own mental health to sometimes teeter between just being alright and not so well today. So let’s take a mental health minute to honor all the single dads and moms out there. I marvel at what all the other single parents do for their kids, leaving so little room for themselves. I only have one child, and so many of you out there have two, three or even more to raise. I applaud you all for your strength, heart and love you bring each day to your kids. Just remember that we can’t always be perfect and we will make mistakes from time to time. Let’s cut ourselves some slack and practice the art of forgiveness, shall we? Even though we sometimes stumble as parents, we have to remember that there’s something to always learn. Whenever I hear my inner critic, I like to say to myself, Don’t judge me by my past. I don’t live there anymore.

With each day that I work towards a greater sense of equanimity, I can’t help but smile at what I have in front of me. I have a fabulous life and blessed with not only the joys of having a son, but also a lovely home, fresh air, great people in my life whom I’d admire and a World waiting for me to explore. Did I plan for all this? Not at all. I simply just welcomed that this is my life, and I love it.

image0001-15
Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Cat, the 9 Biggest Reasons Why Your Life Sucks!

Now is the Only Time that Matters

My mornings now typically start off with a 5:30am tabata workout by myself at a nearby park, a refreshing shower, a cup of coffee, a twenty minute deep meditation followed immediately by a smile before I log onto my computer to start my workday. My workday ends around 4pm when I start thinking about dinner. By 9 or 10pm, I’m typically winding down with a good book (in case you’re interested, I’m enjoying a good read by Dr Rick Hanson called Neurodharma), watching a Youtube video or catching up on some correspondences with some friends.

Despite what’s going on in the world, I’d say I have it pretty darn good.

One of the most powerful gifts I received during these last three months is the time and space to draw attention to the present. It wasn’t always like this for me, however. When the isolation started, I must admit I felt a little discombobulated. Like with almost everyone else, my social life, my exercise routines, my entertainment all came to a grinding halt. It was a hard time for me to adjust, but after some great conversations with my counsellor Guillermo, my son, my good friends Rene and Randy, I started to regain my sense of self again. Talking to them and hearing how they were coping, reminded me about focussing on what’s going on right now. They helped me to recenter myself, and in a way of somewhat reinventing a part of who I am. We’re all created differently, and sometimes some of us need a helping hand to get us through a rut, big or small, and there’s no shame in ever asking for a little encouragement.

What are some benefits from being present?

  1. Gratitude – I’m able to truly soak in what I have in my life: my son, my home, the food I eat, my cat, just to name a few. My son and I used to talk about basketball a lot, but these last few months we’ve been engaging ourselves in deeper discussions about mental health, meditation practices and the law of attraction. He and I have both grown into a deeper space of positivity, and I feel we’ve connected even more during this period than ever before.
  2. Mental focus – When life was normal it’s so easy to have to think about what the next day or the next week is going to look like. While I still have those thoughts, I’m no longer consumed by them. I realize that things will happen when they happen, and I focus much less on controlling the outcome. By letting go of the attachment to the outcome, I find myself in a calmer state of mind. The truth is, I’m learning that time is inconsequential. We’ve created this world of deadlines and scheduled appointments, ruling out notions of being flexible and just going with the flow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still as guilty as anyone when it comes to this – all I’m saying is that I’ve been learning to loosen the old noose when it comes to the concept of time. As I mentioned in my second book, If you really want something, you’ll make time for it.
  3. Happiness – There’s a ton of memes and books about how being present can lead to happiness, almost to the point of overkill, but the truth is, it works. When you really think about it, the past no longer exists. It’s an event that took place, but is no longer real. It’s only as real as the power we give it. On the flip side, the future also does not exist. The future never happens because we are constantly behind it, as if we’re chasing it. If both the past and future do not exist, then the only time that matters is now. Trying to grasp this hasn’t been easy for me, but it’s starting to make more sense to me these days. Thus, knowing that the only moment that matters is now, I naturally feel lighter and…well, happier!
gray-double-bell-clock-1037993
Photo credit: Moose Photos

It sure feels refreshing to be able to spend time outside again, seeing people enjoy themselves at parks with their loved ones. It’s also nice to see restaurants slowly reopening and hearing the much needed laughter from everyone.

And I look forward to many exciting events this week including dinner with Randy, a Zoom chat with Stella and Cat, and seeing D to round off the week. But until all that happens, there’s no better place to be than right now.

Have a great day everyone!

image0001-15
Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Cat: the 9 Biggest Reasons Why Your Life Sucks!

 

Equanimity

I woke up this morning feeling a greater sense of calm. I still only got my usual six hours of sleep (give or take), and my cat Inori still caterwauled the night away, but for whatever reason, I felt present. I climbed out of bed and sat on the floor, staring outside, listening to the sounds of the 7am morning with a warm inner glow. I then proceeded with my usual morning meditation and eased myself into an even greater state of peace. My morning coffee that followed tasted richer and more aromatic. My eyes beamed at how beautiful my 900sq ft apartment is and how nice the warm morning shower felt on my body.

Equanimity.

That’s where I was.

I recently discovered my new word. If I had balls to get a tattoo, Equanimity would be inked on my forearm. Maybe with a hashtag too. I love that word. Besides its precisely balanced meaning of mental calmness and composure, it has the perfect combination of sounds when spoken. Equanimity.

Feeling a sense of mental calmness and composure in recent days has been enlightening for me, especially during recent months. I can certainly take away many inadvertent gifts from uncertain times and continue to remain positive.

How do I do this?

I’ve recently been extending my meditations to practices of gratitude. Though I have countless things to be grateful for, I’ve especially been grateful for the meaningful relationships I’ve been in the past.

balancing-rock-formation-816377
Photo credit: Tina Nord

When I look back at some of my relationships (both short and long, since time is rather insignificant to me), I always take away something valuable. If you know me well enough, you’ll know I’m a deep thinker. I feel, I analyze and I learn to see things with greater depth and appreciation.

For instance, in one relationship, I learned about personal growth and trying to achieve greater things beyone my 9-5 lifestyle. You might say becoming an author, speaker and blogger was in many ways a result of my willingness to see myself beyond my corporate clothes.

In another, I’m extremely grateful for being introduced to counselling. This catalyzed my much needed healing journey, propelling me to gain a deeper understanding of my childhood pain. I also learned about being present and how to enjoy the moment. “Why can’t you sit still and just enjoy things with me?” she’d use to say.

Finally in another relationship, a very important lesson I’m grateful for, was I finally learned to see my self-worth. I internally questioned my value in the relationship, and only realized it after it was all said and done. And she reminded me to demonstrate gratitude for what I already have, which helped put me in a place where I am today of greater happiness.

My gratitude meditations includes all these lessons because I’ve learned from all my relationships, and I’ve valued them deeply. While most of my peers are keeping themselves busy these days binge watching Netflix, I often find myself meditating.

It’s a great time to be present with myself and to live in the now, appreciating what I’ve created in my world. My blogs, my writing, my creations, my vulnerability, my compassion are gifts meant to be shared and to bring healing. We can all learn from thinking more abundantly which means seeing things as learning opportunities, rather than losses. Especially (as I gracefully age), living in the moment, worrying less and simply allowing the Universe to take its course has become one of my daily mantras.

And after each deep meditation, I rise up feeling a sense of growth, presence, happiness, and balance. I stand taller, walking with an even bigger smile on my face.

That’s the power of Equanimity.

20200123_034456653_iOS
Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Cat, the 9 Biggest Reasons Why Your Life Sucks!