Don’t Discount a Good Woman

 

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Over the last week I have been thinking quite a bit about how under appreciated women are in the lives of men.  I am as guilty as the next guy of discounting the value of women.  A large part of that is because of how men are socialized as we grow up.  We are taught either directly or indirectly that women have less value, are sexual objects only and exist to be controlled and dominated by men.  Even though I know it is not true it is hard not to automatically fall into those kinds of thought patterns despite my knowledge to the contrary.

I don’t want to launch into some kind of anti-man rant because that is overdone and usually not done properly.  However, if men would learn to truly value women and see the incredible purpose and power they have our society would be much better off.  Of course it would also be helpful if women would stop writing on Facebook and other social media outlets how terrible men are and how women don’t need men.  Both of these situations are not acceptable but I will reserve the latter discussion for another day.

The next time you are with your wife, girlfriend or find yourself around several women I really want to encourage you to try to observe and learn to appreciate the opposite sex.  Here are three areas that men can improve upon simply by learning to appreciate women.

1. New Perspectives

Every person, whether you are a man or a woman will have a different perspective on any given situation.  However, as men we are reluctant to ask a woman’s opinion on a particular situation we are dealing with.  Nowhere does this happen more than with our careers.  I am not sure why we tend to not ask women how they would handle a particular situation at work but we rarely do.  I know I have a hard time asking my wife about her thoughts on things I deal with at work.  Often times I excuse the behavior simply because we work in two totally different (in my mind at least) environments.  I easily dismiss her opinion simply by saying to myself “Well she doesn’t work in corporate America so she has no idea what it is like.” But maybe that IS the problem.  Maybe I am spending too much time thinking inside the box when I need to try to step back and see things from a totally unique vantage point.  Which is why I am starting to truly understand and appreciate her opinion on these kinds of things.

I realize I am giving a very specific example but my point is that your wife, girlfriend or “friend who is a woman” will have a different perspective on what you are dealing with.  Why do we find it acceptable to ask several guys friends how to handle a situation but rarely will we ask a woman?  You might actually be surprised to find out that what she has to say might give you a great idea or provide the necessary inspiration to sign that next big sales contract etc.

I am still a work in progress but more and more often I have been asking Sharlay and talking to her about my career and work stuff just to hear how she thinks about the situation.  Sometimes she says some really brilliant things that make me have to reconsider my approach to a given situation.  I have gained a new appreciation for her perspective and especially the wisdom she has shared with me that I would have never thought of myself.

She won’t always have the answers but then again most of your buddies won’t either.  However, the women in your life can give you another voice, one that is very different than your own to consider when dealing with life and the daily grind.  Don’t dismiss their opinion simply because they are a woman.  You aren’t a Neanderthal, so don’t act like one.

2. Emotions

Look, I know.  I know, I know, I know.  Just hear me out.  Even to me, the thought about writing this makes me want to vomit.  However, try as I might, I can’t ignore the importance of being able to take the emotional temperature of a room.  Let’s be honest guys we are not very good at it, but I find that my wife is amazing (as have been other women I have know.) at it.

Like many men I am not adept at displaying emotions or reading the same of others.  Men are generally taught to display only one emotion when in mixed company, anger.  All other emotions, especially sadness should be kept bottled up inside until you are alone and under no circumstance should people see you cry.  While I know that is mostly bullshit, it is still a trap I fall into often.  However, I am not trying to make a point that you should ask your wife (or female companion) to help you get in touch with your emotional side.

My observation is simply this: women (in my opinion) are better at reading other people’s true emotions (men and women), and it is a very impressive skill.  It is so impressive I am surprised there are not more seminars being taught or books being written on how to learn this skill.  My boss is one of the most gifted in this area and it just so happens that she is a woman.  I have seen her have great success at closing deals and getting business from clients where others (mostly men) have failed.  One of the secrets to her success is her ability to bring a high degree of “humanness” to her business dealings.interview23

When she talks with clients she always makes them feel important but not because they have the money we want, but because she takes a genuine interest in their personal and professional lives.  More than that, she is able to see not just the political landscape within an organization but also the emotional one between people.  When presenting to clients she is able to make the entire client team feel at ease and when she notices that one of the client contacts is clearly intimidated by another employee, she makes it a point to address the intimidated employee and give them a voice at the meeting.  Suddenly, this once timid person now has confidence that their voice is being heard and becomes a valuable contributor to the meeting.  I have seen many male partners totally ignore this kind of emotional and/or human issue and lose the opportunity and yet have no idea how it happened.

Women have this advantage, not because they are “too emotional” but rather because they are simply better connected to their own emotions and thus to the emotions of others.  It is really a short coming of men in general.  We have a hard time connecting to our own emotions so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we can’t read the same in others.  As men we can always be learning new skills and this is simply one of those we can probably all use a tune-up on.

3. Strength

I find that both men and woman are strong and each has a particular inner strength that cannot (generally) be matched by the other.  Yet as men we often dismiss a woman’s ability to be strong and to discredit those life experiences that have generated the strength that women have.  Men say things like “well you should have just gotten over it” or “I wouldn’t have even let that affect me” or some other inane bullshit like that.  Yet a woman’s decision to actually address a problem or deal with an emotion rather than “just get over it” gives a woman an inner strength that most men will never come close to having.

My wife is an incredibly strong woman and I don’t give her enough credit for the things in life she has had to endure.  She lost her father when she was very young and even up to the point of his passing he was only half the man he was due to a serious illness.  So for all intents and purposes she really didn’t have a father for the majority of her life.  The loss of a man she loved so much at such a young age, made her life much more difficult than I can even appreciate.  My wife has had to endure some incredible hardships and often she did it alone without the help of family or friends.

tumblr_ltzxlq3Rk91qkq3ogo1_500For her to have the carefree, happy-go-lucky and joyful personality that she does is a testament to her strength and of God’s grace and mercy in her life.  My name, Andrew, means “strength” and over the course of my life many people (including those who don’t know me) have commented about this inner strength that I possess.  Yet, there is a certain amount of strength I do not have but that I see every day in my wife.  The love she has for people, even people who have let her down over and over again and violated her trust and confidence, is a strength I will never have.  For me, even with my family, you only get two chances to screw up and then you are kicked to the curb.  Certainly there is forgiveness (don’t get me wrong) but that pretty much seals your fate from ever being involved in my life in a meaningful way.  Yet her strength allows her to continue to love and be generous to people who honestly don’t deserve it and take advantage of it.

God designed my wife very differently from me, just like he did your wife (or future wife, if you are single) which is why we make such a great married couple.  She balances me out very well.

We can all learn a lot from each other and it is important we don’t dismiss the things women can teach men simply because they are “women.”  We ALL fall short from time to time and that has nothing to do with our gender.  Don’t allow those shortcomings of others to box you out from learning from the opposite sex (and yes I am speaking to you woman as well.)

That is all for now!  Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

@ACSloss

@BetterMenNow

Tell us if you agree or not!

Devotional Tuesday – Embracing the Truth

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Jesus said to the people who believe in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-31

Today’s devotional is courtesy of Coach Tony Dungy and his Uncommon Life Daily Devotional.  We hope you enjoy!

I’ve taught my children that telling the truth is the best way to deal with the consequences of something and that trying to cover up a lie or misstatement is often worse than the initial transgression.  It’s where our integrity and influence take a hit.  We’ve seen that played out time and again in our culture-in sports, politics, business and even some religious settings.

We’ve seen over and over that cover-up often seems to have greater consequences than the initial action.  In most of the situations, the public seems more than willing to forgive the initial action if the person comes clean and admits their knowledge or participation in whatever is under investigation.  But that attempt to cover up the truth seems always to be what causes the curtain to fall on their careers and, eventually, their freedom and influence and impact for God’s Kingdom.

In this verse today, Jesus had the bigger picture in mind, however. He’s talking about the ultimate, eternal truth – the truth that He is the Savior and that by accepting Him as Savior, we will be set free from our bondage to sin and no longer separated from Him.  So many people view the Christian walk as a series of dos and don’ts, a list of behaviors to be kept.  Rather, Christ came for freedom so we would no longer be slaves to the law, but rather would be redeemed through His death – through grace.

It seems like such an easy thing.  God takes something that seems incomprehensible to our finite minds – our redemption – and makes it accessible to us through Jesus’ death on the cross.  That in itself should make us take a serious look at the Truth embodied in Jesus Christ.

What truth do you know and understand?

Uncommon Key –> It’s simple: the Truth (Jesus Christ) will set you free!  Why don’t you claim Him for your life?  And watch how He will use His truth in you to influence the world around you.

How to Really Buy Flowers Like a Man

Roses are great but not always the best option, it depends on the signal you are sending.

Happy Monday Gents!

I was reading the most recent GQ magazine over the weekend and located on page 26 was an article entitled “How to Buy Flowers Like a Man.”  No doubt this appeared, at least in part, because Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Yes, that horrible day when men scramble in a mad panic to do something romantic for their wives, girlfriends or significant others one time a year, is almost upon us!  Here is a hint: if you are romantic year round than V-day isn’t a) a very big deal b) a lot less pressure.

Here is the problem with the GQ article: it’s stupid and terrible advice.  I am not a florist.  However, I do have plenty of years experience in picking, purchasing and providing flowers to the ladies (mostly with high degrees of success.)  In addition, my cousin runs a florist shop in Minnesota and I like to think I picked up on a number of helpful hints and tips along the way.  Sometimes GQ does a good job with stuff like this, but this time they really failed terribly.  As Shaq says it was “horr-awful” (See #8)

First, the advice is insipid and in several cases self serving.  For instance, one of the “advice givers” is the owner of Stems in Brooklyn.  Is it any surprise that her advice is to spend no less than $50 on flowers?  Don’t do that.

Another person giving advice is a porn star who also has writes a relationship advice column (ummmm?)  Although to be fair her advice was decent: not every woman likes flowers (tip of the cap to Rebecca and Olivia, two women who don’t appreciate flowers as much as they should, which I learned the hard way.)

Are you feeling lucky, punk?

The other advice: buy flowers no matter what (which was inconsistent with other advice); don’t buy bodega flowers; invest in the new wave of flower start-ups (huh?); and don’t forget about nature’s sample sale. The last bit of advice actually encourages men to wander around their neighborhoods stealing flowers from people who are growing them in their yards (what?!)  Finally, as if the above wasn’t already enough, the article (written by a woman) claims that shopping for flowers is almost as intimidating for men as visiting the proctologist.

If you are intimidated by walking into a flower shop please email us (BetterMenNow@gmail.com) so we can tell you where to mail your man card to.  It’s just flowers, relax.

So here are my tips on properly purchasing flowers for that lady in your life.

1.  Don’t Bet on Roses

Purchasing roses is a problem for several reasons.  First, it is a bit of a cliche and many women find roses to be over done.  Second, buying a dozen roses tends to send a pretty strong message about how you feel about this particular woman.  If she isn’t feeling the same you can end up causing a premature end to said relationship.  Third, if you buy the single rose thinking it makes you look spontaneous you are wrong; it makes you look cheap.  Finally, while it is hard to believe, a lot of women don’t like roses, my wife included.

Therefore, you should stay away from roses unless you know 100% it is a lady killer.

Don’t be stupid: ask her what her favorite kind of flower is.  This will also help in case she has an allergy to a particular kind of flower. Trust me, you want this kind of information.

2. $50 is Probably Too Much

Again this will depend on your relationship and of course the event you are planning (i.e. proposal, anniversary etc.) but you don’t need to spend $50 on flowers to impress a woman.

If you know what kind of flowers she likes you are more than half-way there.  If, however you don’t know or the place you are looking happens to be out of that kind of flower, don’t panic.  If you purchase her a nice colorful bouquet of fragrant (read: smells good) she is going to love it.

Does she have a favorite color?  Get her some flowers that match said color.

Some women just want a man who will try something different when it comes to flowers.  For instance, when Sharlay and I were dating she always complained about how dark my apartment was (which it was, no sunlight and dark curtains etc.)  So one day when she stopped by for dinner I purchased her two bunches of sunflowers. They were awesome!  Bright yellow, big dials on the sunflowers, cost only $20 total (from the bodega by the way) and they lasted FOREVER!

Don’t be stupid: you can buy $30 in flowers that look like $50.  If she cares that much about the cost you should probably send her packing anyway.

One quick note on florists.  I do recommend you use a florist when possible, bodega’s are convenient, cheaper and usually have a good stock of flowers, but having a good florist can add a personal touch that a bodega lacks.  Find a good one, give them a shot at a bouquet for your woman and if she loves it you should just keep going back every time. That being said…

3. No Reason to Hate on Bodegas

This looks just like the bodega by our apartment in Queens…then again they all look pretty much alike.

If you don’t live in New York City (or in another large city) you might not be familiar with bodegas.  They are basically small grocery stores located on just about every block. If there is one thing I miss about living in New York (although there are more like 200) is a good bodega. I would say while living there I purchased 85% of my flowers from a bodega.  They often lasted longer, were more colorful and of course were much cheaper than buying flowers from a florist.  Most bodegas will wrap the flowers in white or brown paper if you are grabbing them before meeting your woman somewhere.

If you are going to surprise her with the flowers at home be sure to put them in a nice vase (buy one if you need to) and present them prominently in your house so she will notice them.  Adding a nice romantic card to go with those flowers is a classy and romantic gesture not to be overrated.

Don’t be stupid: don’t buy the single rose from the gas station, especially if it comes in a glass container (which is most often used for smoking crack by the way), you are going to lose brownie points for that move.  As a matter of fact don’t ever buy anything from a gas station that you plan on giving as a gift to your girl.  C’mon man!

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Failure to ask questions is a plague that has afflicted men since the beginning of time but that doesn’t mean you can’t break the cycle!  If you truly are unsure about which kind of flowers to buy, ask someone working at the shop what they recommend.  Just be careful if they keep pointing you towards the most expensive options.  Please remember, when in doubt, keep it simple and understated.  I promise you she will love the effort and the flowers.

Don’t be stupid: as G.I. Joe says “knowing is half the battle.”  Be informed, ask questions and do research if you need to but don’t ever, ever be intimidated by a florist or flowers.

What do you think?  Tells us in the comment or tweet us @BetterMenNow

 

Fashion Friday – Treating Shaving Nicks

Today’s post really isn’t about fashion but does fall into the category of grooming so I decided to include it on today’s blog.  I always struggled with the best way to treat shaving nicks and cuts.  No one ever told me how to deal with these problems and it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s I even knew there was something better than toilet paper on the face.  This post comes courtesy of The Art of Manliness.  Check out their site for other manly advice sure to impress the ladies and make you a better man.

No matter how careful you may be, shaving nicks and cuts are bound to happen. The go-to remedy for most gents is to simply apply small pieces of toilet paper to their little wounds and wait for them to clot up. While effective, it can take a long time for the bleeding to stop. And (in my experience at least), it’s easy to forget that you have unsightly pieces of bloody tissue paper on your face before you walk out the door. Nothing ruins a first impression like bloody pieces of toilet paper plastered to your face.

Below, I offer some alternative remedies that go beyond toilet paper squares for treating and stopping the bleeding on minor shaving cuts. I’ll also cover what to do if you fall victim to a super serious shaving casualty.

Treatments for Small Nicks and Cuts

Products Specially Made for Shaving Cuts

There are a variety of products out there that are specially made for treating small shaving cuts. While the way in which they are applied differs, the active ingredient in all of these products is an astringent. Astringents constrict the tissues in your skin and coagulate and dry the blood in your cuts.

Clubman Styptic Pencil

Styptic pencils. Your grandpa probably had one of these in his shaving kit. A styptic pencil is a small stick made of mineral astringents like anhydrous aluminum sulfate, potassium alum, or titanium dioxide. To use a styptic pencil, just wet the tip a bit and press it against your nick for a few seconds. It stings a little, but the pain is worth it, as the bleeding usually stops. Quick tip: After you apply the pencil, give your face a once over in the mirror before you head out the door. In my experience, it leaves a white, powdery residue where you applied it. Rinse it off so you don’t arrive at work looking like you just polished off a pack of Hostess white powder donuts in the car.

Art of Shaving Alum Block

Alum block. This consists of a bar-of-soap-sized block of potassium alum that you wet, and rub on your face after shaving. It works pretty much the same way as a styptic pencil – shrinking the skin’s tissues and stymying the flow of blood. The only difference is that while the styptic pencil is for spot-treatments, alum blocks are for treating your entire face. This can come in handy ifyou’re trying out straight razor shaving for the first time, as you’ll likely have multiple nicks all over your face, making you look like some creepy, bleeding religious statue on Unsolved MysteriesShudder.

I know several gents who use alum blocks post-shave even if they don’t have any nicks or cuts. Besides acting as astringents, the minerals in an alum block also have antiseptic qualities which can help prevent razor burn. Also, the tingly sensation it gives the skin just feels nice.

My Nik Is Sealed

Special shaving nick rollers and gels. In recent years, a few companies have developed products that have the blood-stopping capability of the styptic pencil, but with less sting and white chalky residue. In addition to aluminum chloride to stop the bleeding, these rollers and gels have ingredients like aloe and vitamin E to help soothe your skin. Pacific Shaving Company Stick, My Nik Is Sealed, and Prorasso Styptic Gel are three popular specialty shaving nick products.

Aftershaves (or skin bracers).  The alcohol in many aftershaves acts as an astringent, and so can help slow bleeding a bit. If your aftershave has witch hazel in it as well, even better – it’s a potent astringent too. And alcohol also acts as an antiseptic, which can help prevent skin infections like razor burn. To top it all off, aftershaves leave you smelling awesomely manly. I know many men who don’t like the skin bracing sting of aftershaves, but I personally enjoy it. Wakes me up a bit!

If you’re looking for suggestions on an aftershave, I highly recommend checking out our guide to old-school drug store colognes and aftershaves. If they were good enough for grandpa, they’re good enough for us.

Home Remedies You Can Use in a Pinch

If you don’t want to get a special product to deal with your shaving wounds, or you’re in a pinch and don’t have your go-to remedy on hand, these methods can also offer relief for your nicks and cuts.

Cold water. Even if you do favor the use a product specially made for shaving cuts, splashing cold water on your face should always be your first go-to remedy when you nick yourself. Cold water can be all you need, and you’re almost sure to have it on hand. When using this remedy, the colder the water, the better. It will cause your blood vessels to constrict, causing the flow of blood to slow and eventually clot. For faster and more effective results, try rubbing an ice cube on the cut.

Anti-Perspirant. If you don’t have a styptic pencil or alum block on hand, dab a bit of your anti-perspirant deodorant on your wound.  The aluminum chloride in anti-perspirants not only prevents sweating, but it also acts as an astringent.

Lip balm. Lip balm can help stop the bleeding from shaving nicks in a pinch. The waxy texture helps seal the wound and allows a clot to form.

Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline). Applying a small amount of Vaseline to your nick does the same thing as lip balm. Just make sure to wipe it off before you leave the house.

Listerine. That’s right. The stuff you use to make your mouth feel all fresh and clean can also be applied to your shaving nicks. After all, it did actually start out as a surgical antiseptic and was used to clean wounds on the battlefields of WWI.

Keeps your mouth smelling fresh and your face looking great.

I learned about the Listerine-as-aftershave trick after seeing several Listerine ads in a bunch of old men’s magazines touting the benefits in bracing the skin after a good shave. I actually gave Listerine a try as an aftershave after I saw these ads, and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Yes, it stung like hell, but I’ll be darned if the few small nicks I had on my neck stopped bleeding. And the antiseptic tingle felt great on my skin. And my cheeks smelled minty fresh.

Other surprising uses for Listerine that I picked up from those old ads include treating skin rashes and dandruff. They also advertised it as a treatment for sore throats and colds…at least until the Federal Trade Commission told them that was baloney and to knock it off in the 70s.

When all else fails… toilet paper. Your results may vary with the above remedies. If none of them work for you, there’s always good old-fashioned toilet paper squares.

Treatments For “Oh, Sh**” Cuts and Lacerations

Most shaving nicks and cuts will just result in some spotty bleeding that can be stopped quickly using any of the above methods. But every now and then, you’ll have one of those slips of the wrist that create a gusher of a cut. No amount of styptic penciling or toilet papering will stop blood from pouring from these wounds. These more serious shaving cuts usually happen near the lips, underneath an earlobe, or on the neck and are more likely to occur with a straight razor than with a safety or cartridge razor. So if you’re getting started with straight razor shaving, make sure you’re completely focused on what you’re doing.

If you find yourself with a gusher, follow these steps.

Apply firm pressure over the wound. Get a Kleenex and press down on the point where the bleeding is the most severe. Hold for five minutes. If the bleeding stops, clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide and an antibiotic cream, like Neosporin, to prevent infection. (You don’t want your name added to the list of men who have died from shaving.) If necessary, apply a band-aid over the wound. Yes, you’ll look silly, but it’s a small price to pay to learn and master the fine art of shaving like your great-grandpa.

Pinch and hold the bleeding area.  If firm pressure for five minutes doesn’t stop the bleeding, use your thumb and index fingers to pinch the skin together from which the blood is flowing. That should help close the vessel. If bleeding stops, clean, and apply antibiotic ointment. Bandage if necessary.

Apply pressure directly above and below the wound. If pinching doesn’t work and bleeding is still heavy and steady, try pressing down firmly on your skin directly above and below the wound.

Go to the hospital. If none of the above works, and you’re still bleeding like a stuck pig, have someone take you to the emergency room. You’re probably going to need stitches. At least you’ll have a cool scar on your face. Just don’t tell people you got it while shaving.

It’s a Fashion Nightmare in Missouri – Quit Wearing Bedazzled Jeans

No matter how cool you think these jeans are and how “in” you believe them to be, you are dead wrong.

My wife and I have had quite the interesting first 2 months in Saint Louis.  I don’t mean interesting in the cool kind of way.  I will save my rant about how terrible the crime is here (someone was killed this week, with a gun, at a movie theater my wife and I have frequented several times), how terrible the drivers are and how Missouri seems to be stuck in the 1960’s, for another time.

Instead, I can no longer contain my disgust over the fact both men and women still wear bedazzled jeans that have back pockets with flaps here in Missouri! When was the last time this was even popular?  My guess is during the 3 months it was cool to wear Ed Hardy clothing.  That was easily 6 years ago!  And everyone knows that wearing Ed Hardy-like clothing means you are a grade-A douchebag.

We see it all the time and while it drives me crazy that anyone does it, I just don’t understand the men here in Missouri who wear such tacky and terrible clothes.  Last night while in Kansas City we went out to a very high end steak house.  While eating dinner I noticed not one, but two men wearing bedazzled jeans with back pockets that have flaps.  It makes me want to scream and gouge my eyeballs out.  Who is going around selling this shit still?  What guy tries those pants on and says, “These look so good and the pocket flaps really accentuate my ass?”

Men of Missouri (and elsewhere) you HAVE to know better than this!!  What the hell is wrong with you?  You need to take a match, some kerosene and all your pairs of bedazzled jeans (and any other jeans with flaps on the back of your pockets) and burn them today. Don’t go to work, don’t take your kids to school, burn those sorry excuses for jeans immediately.  You will be providing a public service to the rest of humanity.

Even more importantly it will stop everyone else from questioning your sexuality.  Although to be fair, no gay man would wear those jeans either.

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

@BetterMenNow