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Midlife Wisdom for Men Issue #001, December 31, 2003
December 31, 2003
Written by Noel McNaughton
Midlife-Men.com
(c) copyright 2003 midlife-men.com

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December 24, 2003 Issue #001

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

o A Word from the Editor

o I need your questions and feedback

o Is Fighting with Reality Causing You Stress?

o It’s New Year – Don’t Go Wild with the Resolutions About Getting in Shape

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A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

Welcome to the first issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

I created the www.midlife-men.com website about two years ago, as a service to men who may be seeking information to help them get through their 'midlife transitions'. When I was experiencing my own 'journey through the underworld' (and I am still not ALL the way out of it), I found a number of websites for men that focussed on sex, a few that focussed on health, and any number of pornography sites, but very few that talked about the internal struggle I was going through.

The number of visitors to this site has been growing steadily, and I am pleased to be offering you this e-zine as an extra resource as you make your way through the challenges you are facing now.

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I NEED YOUR QUESTIONS AND FEEDBACK!

My intention with Midlife Wisdom for Men is to focus on the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical aspects of midlife transitions. Because of my own personal experiences, I will lean toward the spiritual and emotional aspects.

That being said, there are SO MANY THINGS one could talk about in a newsletter such as this, (after all we humans are very complex beings), that I need to hear from you. In order to cover the kinds of topics and issues you are most interested in, I would REALLY appreciate your questions, comments and suggestions.

So… let me know. Do you want stuff about health? Sex? Emotional life? Spirituality? How to build an extra income through the internet? Legal advice? (For example many of us will become executors of our parents' estates in the next few years.) Financial planning? Retirement planning? How to communicate with your wife? You get the idea.

Or… send me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I promise I will find the person who does.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to noel@midlife-men.com . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.

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Ok, let's get down to it…

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IS FIGHTING REALITY CAUSING YOU STRESS?

I know a Cree elder who talks about ‘isness’. Which is to say, things are as they are, and fighting that fact only causes stress.

Here’s what I mean… long ago I worked with native co-ops. My supervisor didn’t believe the new co-ops I was helping to start would be successful, so he worked behind my back to prevent them from getting the funding they needed. He did not know that I knew what he was doing, so I was able to work behind his back in order to undo the work he did behind my back. Sick, eh?

I never did confront him on it, and eventually I quit that job. But while I was there, I obsessed about the guy. How he shouldn’t do what he was doing. How he should work with me, and not try to hinder my projects. I burned up a lot of energy, and had a knot in my gut a lot of the time, thinking about what a jerk this guy was, and how my life would be better if I had a different boss.

And that’s where knowing about ‘isness’ would have helped. The stress I was feeling was not due to the ‘bad’ supervisor. It was due to my story about how he should be different. But the reality was, he was not the way he ‘should’ be. He was the way he was.

Since I learned about ‘isness’ a number of years ago, I have been watching the stories I tell myself about how things should be, and in general have let them go when they do not jibe with how things are. I have quite a bit less stress in my life because of it.

A few days ago I read “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie, co-written with Stephen Mitchell. Katie was in a deep depression in 1986, and had an ‘awakening’ where she suddenly realized it was the stories she told herself about her life that were making her depressed. (I hasten to add that not all depression is caused by false stories. Some is clearly biochemical.) Anyway, Katie began to share her discovery with others, and many peoples’ lives improved dramatically. She now gives workshops all over the world. She has developed ‘four questions that can change your life’. I found the book very useful. I wish I would have read it years ago! It is, is some ways, a spiritual as well as practical book, as the great masters have ALL stressed being in the moment, which is what this book helps one do.

Katie has a website as well: http://www.thework.org/home.html . You can download a page with the four questions on it, to use in your own life. But before doing that, I highly recommend you read the book, as it will give you a much clearer picture of how to use the questions.

May 2004 be the year you start ‘loving what is’!

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IT'S NEW YEAR... DON'T GO WILD WITH RESOLUTIONS ABOUT GETTING IN SHAPE!

I have read many times that if there is one thing that will serve us well as we age, it is physical fitness.

According to Michael F. Roizen, MD; Professor of Anaesthesiology and Internal Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical Center in New York, there is well-quantified research to show that physical fitness gives us benefits in three major areas:

o It reduces arterial aging, which is associated with memory loss, impotence, heart disease, stroke, reduced orgasm quality, even wrinkling of the skin.

o It slows down immune aging, which is associated with infections and cancer, and autoimmune disease such as many forms of arthritis.

o It reduces accidents, and disability from accidents.

And here are a few more benefits from regular exercise:

o Increased Strength

o Increased Bone Density (this matters more as we age)

o Increased Ability to Handle Stress (a biggy during midlife transitions!)

o Increased Flexibility (again, increasingly important as we get older)

Research shows that a fit 70-year-old who has remained active can be as strong as an unfit sedentary 30-year-old. In fact, an active person will decline physiologically only by about half a per cent a year compared to an inactive person who will decline by about 2 per cent.

SO… that being said, how does one establish a regular exercise routine?? (Maybe you too have an exercise bike or treadmill acting as a clothes hanger in the basement?)

WELL, here's what the experts say: If you have not been working out, DON'T START WITH STAMINA EXERCISES.

You know how it is. Something - maybe a New Year's resolution, or maybe your favourite pants just got a bit too tight - triggers you to start an exercise routine. Or maybe you just want to be more trim so you will be considered for that promotion to senior manager (research shows that anything above a 34 inch waist reduces your chances of promotion). You get all revved up and buy an exercise machine, or maybe join a fitness club.

You go at it hammer and tong for a session or two, your muscles get sore, and pretty soon you have missed a workout, then another, and then it's gone.

So, start with something easier. Maybe a 30-minute walk. Or 20 minutes of stretching. Or maybe a few isometrics while you watch you favourite TV show. Once you have built up a bit of condition, you might think of increasing the intensity. Maybe that's when you join the fitness club.

Here's the other key: Build it into your regular routine, and see it as part of your normal life from now on, not something you do 'if you have time'.

And remember… it takes a while for the benefits to show up, but show up they will.

What works for me is an exercise class. I work out three times a week. Somehow, knowing I will be working with others in an organized routine that works out all my muscle groups and revs up my heart and lungs for a while is enough to motivate me to go. I am self employed, so my schedule is flexible enough to allow me to get to the gym during the day. I don't always enjoy the workout, and sometimes I have to force myself to go, but I always enjoy the benefits.

May 2004 be the year when you establish a regular exercise routine! (If you haven’t already that is…)

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A ZEN STORY

There is a Zen story about a poor man walking through the woods reflecting upon his many troubles. He stopped to rest against a tree, a magical tree that would instantly grant the wishes of anyone who came in contact with it. He realised he was thirsty and wished for a drink. Instantly a cup of cool water was in his hand. Shocked, he looked at the water, he decided it was safe and drank it. He then realised he was hungry and wished he had something to eat. A meal appeared before him. "My wishes are being granted," he thought in disbelief. "Well, then I wish for a beautiful home of my own," he said out loud. The home appeared in the meadow before him. A huge smile crossed his face as he wished for servants to take care of the house. When they appeared he realised he had somehow been blessed with an incredible power and he wished for a beautiful, loving, intelligent woman to share his good fortune. "Wait a minute, this is ridiculous," said the man to the woman. "I'm not this lucky. This can't happen to me." As he spoke...everything disappeared. He shook his head and said, "I knew it," then walked away thinking about his many troubles.

There is a great truth hidden behind this simple Zen story. Our mind is like this magical tree. But we have to believe it.

May 2004 be your best year ever.

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That's it for now. I hope the coming year finds you getting in better physical condition (slowly) and moving more and more toward your soul’s calling.

All the best,

Noel

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