In the past few months, I’ve had the joy of experiencing an outpouring of love from my son at random times. He will spontaneously wrap his arms around my leg, nuzzle his face into my thigh, while making a “hmmmm” sound, like he’s eating something yummy. Sometimes in the middle of these moments he will outright look at me and say “Mommy, I love you”.
This. Is. Magic. There is a quickening in me, like my heart has been penetrated by a thunderbolt of electric sweetness. I feel like a suddenly blossoming flower on a most potent spring day. The beauty is that many times he bestows me with these experiences in moments when I’m mired in the mediocrity of handling day to day logistics like on a customer service call with my bank, folding my 3rd basket of laundry or getting dinner done. I’m awestruck by how much power can come from such a small body.
The Love Bubble is Pricked
This experience of beauty changes though when he is with his boy buddies. I’ve noticed recently how at times, he will approach me with his arms about to raise in a potential embrace, wearing that grin I know so well and he’ll stop his hands mid air and look to his sides to see if his friends are watching him, only to quickly turn away from me as if that moment never happened.
These moments are for me, signs of how his 6 year old heart has been initiated into boy culture. The culture that says boys don’t show or receive affection. We have a dynamic between us that is it’s own world and he has gotten the message that it’s something to be embarrassed of.
The Global Discussion
Why do I share this? To contribute to the global discussion that asks “What is healthy and balanced masculinity?” Clarity on this is imperative, the way I see it, if we are going to step up in our corner of the world and make a dent in the global distress happening today.
The Paradigm Glasses We Wear
We all have masculine and feminine qualities and what we understand them to be, determines how we express those qualities.
Is your understanding of masculinity in line with the heart oppressing, overly intellectual, get things done-at-whatever-cost-paradigm? This same one that has our world presently drowning from its consequences? Or is your understanding more in line with the balanced masculine paradigm of being focused, aggressive and steadfast to a higher, more life affirming purpose? Do you channel your bodily and intellectual strength to support that higher purpose ?
Today’s post is the first in a series I’ll be doing on masculinity. Being that this month celebrates Father’s Day and I just finished a series on femininity, it seems incomplete to not celebrate men and manliness.
So what is it? What does balanced and fully expressed masculinity look like when in dance with fully expressed feminine power?
I only know what masculinity is from the stance of being a woman who has lived with and loved her father, her husband, her son and observed classmates, bosses, teachers and coworkers. My self care journey has also birthed my own balanced masculine qualities, so this is my take.
Our initial experience of the masculine comes from how we were fathered. If our mothers taught us how to care for our internal and external environments in the way of making sure we eat veggies, go to bed on time, brush our teeth and clean our room, then it’s our fathers that teach us how to interact with others, discriminate who people are, if their company is in our best interest and how to navigate the world to attain what we want. Father’s model for us how to be (or not, depending on our experience) good stewards of ourselves and our resources.
The Feminine and Masculine Contrast
The masculine is that part of ourselves that has to do with the way in which we pursue and attain what we want. If the feminine is most alive when enjoying the moment, flowing, creating, playing and relishing in the heart, it’s the masculine that is most alive when using the faculties of focus, assertiveness,steadfastness and strategy when in pursuit of, upholding and protecting what is meaningful.
My Journey of Manning Up’ With Self Care
My story of developing my healthy masculine qualities was definitely marked by my experience with self care. The journey of keeping it up for the past 2 decades has meant asking penetrating questions regarding my deepest values and how my lifestyle can support them. These questions determined the direction I saw myself going in. Also consistently keeping the focus on my self care through ups and downs, being strategic in how I use my morning time, creating systems to make it’s as easy as possible to carry them out, barriers to distractions to make sure it happens and continually revising what can be edited in my life for more energy, productivity and fulfillment have all been exercises in developing my masculine side.
Strength in Purpose
When I would periodically reach a place where I’d question if I really wanted to continue with my morning self care time, I’d have to return time and time again to my purpose in it. As the years went by, I went through a process of shedding my reasons and revealing deeper, more meaningful purposes. They began with “I want to be pretty and skinny” and have grown to what they are today of “My self care supports me to be of more service as a vehicle of goodness and light to my family, my volunteer service and whomever reads this blog”.
Delinquent Conquistador Men
The key take away that differentiates the unbalanced paradigm of masculinity from the balanced one is that the balanced one has higher purpose. The old paradigm of masculinity that has been almost grinding our world into oblivion has been based on conquering and achieving, for the sake of it. This has glorified and inflated the egos of the powerful few, in sacrifice of the yielding many, leaving a trail of destruction.
Grounded and Knightly Masculinity
Balanced masculinity has a love for higher purpose as its cornerstone and from that comes the various balanced qualities that stem from strength and sensitivity. Balanced masculinity has the strength to persist in the face of challenge, is aggressive in its protection of it higher purpose and is focused in its strategy for achieving this higher purpose. These qualities are aimed at protecting, upholding and harnessing its love (the soft underbelly) for it’s higher, life affirming mission. This mission must be one that is in service to the good of mankind for the other balanced masculine qualities to follow.
That delineation in purpose is what determines the true nobility and power in masculinity.
4 Ideas to increase your true masculinity
1)Pick one area in your life that would benefit from your practicing more discipline and do it!
2)What is something you desire that is not yet in your life, that you could practice focus, strategy and taking decisive action towards?
3)Choose one small doable thing that you could begin, follow through and complete within the week. When done, choose slightly bigger thing that would take say 2 weeks. The sense of accomplishment for having begun and completed something will accumulate and in time, repeating this will help build the inner stamina to begin, follow through and accomplish bigger things that require more commitment.
4)Is there a goal in your life that you care deeply for that you’ve been slacking in devoting to it the amount of energy it deserves? How can you step up in supporting, protecting and furthering its progress?
Here are some resources below If your interested in continuing the online dialogue on other platforms.
- A thought provoking TED talk here from Tony Porter, a man on the front-lines of continuing this global dialogue on what true masculinity is with his organization called A Call To Men
- For those of you who have read my post on poetry and have been feeding your heart with it, here is an excellent poem called “3 AM” by Carlos Andrés Gómez & Adam Falkner that speaks about the man culture that puts a lid on heartfelt expression among men.
- A part of a series on Soulpancake that questions masculinity called “Are you a man?”
Here are some great organizations challenging the status quo on this topic
What is your experience of healthy masculinity?
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