Final Excerpt of short story – The Coffin

Photo by Roseanna Smith on Unsplash


His husband love got overtaken by business.  In the moment he justified his focus on growing the business.  And his children’s inheritance will prove he was successful – was his mental argument he would have with himself, as he raked leaves or swept the driveway – as a way to  assuage the discomfort of regret.

Gord felt he didn’t have the connection with his children for the same reason as when they were growing up he was growing his business.  Selling plumbing supplies came easier to him than being there for his children.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there. It’s that if he didn’t grow his business no one else would.  Plus this business put food on the table and would pay for university as long as he kept his foot on the gas and didn’t let up. 

‘There are different kinds of love, sweetheart!’  Gord remembers growling over his shoulder at Linda.  His teeth were clenched down hard perhaps in an attempt to not let these silly words out.  He can see it now.  They were in their bedroom one Saturday morning when he was getting ready for work instead of taking Phil to hockey practice and teaching Martha to skate and buying the groceries with Sue.

‘Of course there are different kinds of love.’  Linda was paused by her absolute frustration that her good husband still didn’t get it.’  That’s the point!’  Linda schooled Gord looking him right in the eyes as he buttoned his shirt.  Linda’s abstention from swearing gave her message that much more ummph.  She was no longer in an argument with him but had already transported herself to how it was going to feel in the car later that morning as she drove Phil to Saturday morning hockey practice instead of his dad. Gord could feel Linda’s disappointment but he couldn’t somehow say he was sorry.  Because, he told himself in the moment some 35 years ago, he wasn’t sorry because he was supporting his family.  This memory, and others, were the life recordings that went through Gord’s mind as he would slowly sweep the clean front walk of its minimal weekday dirt.  

In the few years since the death of his wife Gord had this urge to connect with his family so they know their unique value.  Therefore his anchored vision project.  Yes it would have been easier to say he loved them.  And that if he had failed in some ways as a father he was sorry.  But that would have been like the first route he walks in the mornings: short and simple and gets the job done without complications.

Mercifully Gord heard the toilet flush all the way down the hall which yanked him out of his swamp of regret. 

‘It’s all very spiritual and transformative and, and, and earthy.’  Cedar vibrated her hands at her sides as she sat back down to show Gord how she was impacted by their chat.

‘Yes but without the sweat lodge.’  Gord fake laughs quickly. ‘ Or if you want the sweat lodge go for it.  That was never my thing.’  Gord was trying to be funny in case he was coming on too strong.

‘What was your thing GG?’ Cedar asked, using her position as the preferred grandchild to be so direct.

‘I …’  Gord’s shoulders briefly pumped up and down as he gazed out the kitchen window looking out over the driveway and leaned back into his personal journey.

‘My thing would be whatever my thing was at the time.  One thing at a time.  When your grandmother was sick, that was my thing.  When I started my business, that became my thing.  When each child was born, that was my thing.  But, as the years went on, with each child it was less of a thing.’  Gord paused and looked into Cedar’s eyes because Cedar’s mother Martha was his third and last child.  They could both feel that this could be taken to mean that her mother’s  birth and existence amounted to less than the birth of her two older siblings.  

“You mom being the third wasn’t loved less by any means.  There was just, I don’t know, more going on and as parents we weren’t petrified as we were when your uncle Phil was born.’ 

Cedar was the third child as well.  By 7 minutes.  Her twin brother Red went to the light before she did.  

Was I less of a thing? Cedar had never even thought of it.  In the moment she felt good about being a twin, or having Red as her twin because of how it echoed her existence.  Gord saw her face quickly disappear inside of herself but didn’t grasp she was cherishing her birth not feeling any anger for getting the bronze medal.  She was very happy to be on the podium.

‘You and Red were born at the same time so you were a big deal.  A lot of diapers.  Jack loved being your older brother, he was like a mini dad organizing your toys, helping you walk.

‘Actually when your mom told me she was having twins I thought it was great.  But then she said, I have to confirm it with the doctor.  And that always stuck with me.  How did she know?  Now Gord was lost inside his mind where fireworks were going off of beautiful family memories.  And then, as it had come to be a recent habit, it circled quickly back around to Linda.

‘Your grandmother always loved the whole mystery of giving a child a name.  It gave her joy and energy so for me I couldn’t see how others saw it as overbearing or imposing.  Anyway it would be an innocent imposition.  She would bring her little notebook and look into her child’s eyes for a clue – then look to the sky for inspiration. She really loved doing it and thought it was her role to participate.   Martha says it was the only time she saw her mother write.  That wasn’t true.  Martha just felt that they were her children and she, plus her husband, had the ability to name them.’  

‘So how did she know?’  Prompted Cedar for more information on her mother being a young mother.  She wanted to admire her mom as the young, dynamic woman she could see in family photos before she was transformed into a bossy mom.

‘Know what?’

‘That she was pregnant with twins?’  The juicy confessional type of conversation with GG was so novel and satisfying.

‘I didn’t really capture that.  Martha came up with your names before your grandmother could really process that there would be twins and get her motor running, so to speak, on what could be possible matching names.  And truth be told, the names Red and Cedar that your mom had already come up with were so far off Linda’s screen that, well there was nothing to say really.’’

‘So my mom came up with the idea for our names?’  Cedar couldn’t remember asking and hadn’t really ever wanted to get into it.  Her brother had a bit of a hard time because his name was Red but as life would have it Cedar got the red hair of the two.  It confused people that a guy named Red didn’t have red hair but he had a twin sister who did.  So they would get bullied in high school.  That’s what teenagers do when they are presented with something that is beyond their grasp.  They would stand up for each other but he was basically a wimp so he got brushed aside.  Guys would even just hug him instead of beating on him.  Beating on Red was so easy, it was comical.  

As a result, sometimes they would play down they were twins, and a few times even siblings.  There was no abandonment of one by the other.  It was actually an effective teenage social strategy.  It was a way to avoid ridicule.  They would retreat into the fact that they were twins born Geminis.  Twins squared.  It made no difference to anyone who wasn’t them but it just made the route to get to them emotionally more convoluted so it provided an extra layer of protection.  

But in the same breath, in high school her name gave her a way to sound different.  Which she liked because it mirrored the way she felt.  It also spiced up how she dressed and helped her come into her own style.  Tall with her long, wavy red hair she took on a Boho look that seemed to work for her.  

‘I remember your mom saying that she loved the red cedar trees because…’  Gord started.

‘Wait GG.  Actually, I think I will ask my mom about our names.  If you don’t mind.’  Even though she was eagerly soaking up the downloading of family history from her grandfather she stopped him.  

‘We haven’t avoided the conversation, we just made sure we never had it.’  Cedar explained to her grandfather.  As it came out of her mouth she could hear how lame it sounded, but it was basically true.

Cedar was glad she had dragged their good-byes outside because in that way it broke the proximity of the two of them that had grown around the kitchen table.  She didn’t want a hug so Cedar fumbled with buttoning her coat moving toward the door.  Cedar skipped down the stairs and they waved good-bye.   Cedar put in her ears buds as she turned right to catch the bus uptown.   As Gord stood on his front steps breathing the cooling November evening Cedar was reconnecting with the sound track of her generation.  Gord, GG, dad, daddy, hesitated.  He stood on the front steps of his fully paid off house, where 3 beautiful children knew innocence  and joy; where Linda, his wife would bring each of them home from the hospital and nurture them with sincere service that inspired and humbled Gord.

Waiting till after Cedar had turned the corner he then headed back to his garage.   The same garage where he started his plumbing business.  The same garage that was his first warehouse for his plumbing supply business.    This old man was in a negotiation with his own shoulders to determine if he walked back with the hunched shoulders of a defeated man who had nothing better to do than to test drive his coffin.  Or if he was an aging man engaging the role of elder as he addressed mortality with humility/fear/awe/respect.   

Gord was comfortable in his coffin.  It was only the second time he had laid down in it. He kind of felt like a Formula 1 driver slipping into their sleek race car. He had used his yellow measuring tape to get his height and width and depth.  Then he added 6 inches to each measurement.  It was snug, not cramped. 

Seek and Offer with Liz Taylor

In addition to her Foundation for AIDS and more than 40 movies plus television shows, the generational movie star Liz Taylor squeezed in 8 marriages from 7 husbands.  This shows Liz Taylor was into recycling before most people on your block.

In her personal life Liz Taylor sought what her heart petitioned.  To love and be loved; to receive and be received. In a personal relationship Ms. Taylor offered insecurity (when you are a good friend of Michael Jackson your life currency includes high frequency ego)  and warmth.  In a man she sought not only romance but a source of stability.  She had a need which she felt would be satisfied by a solid relationship.  Taylor wanted a marriage strong enough to support her as a woman yet flexible enough to be able to handle the whims and intrusions of Hollywood. 

In the classic movie Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Taylor plays the empathetic yet tempestuous wife to Paul Newman as her failing husband.  The 1958 movie could have been called ‘Lost and Found’.  Newman’s character Brick Pollitt was lost in life and Taylor’s Maggie desperately wanted him found in her life; in her heart.

What you seek is almost certainly available in the person you seek it in.  Ms Taylor probably found some of what she was seeking in Richard (twice) at some point, Conrad, Mike and Michael.  After the proverbial honeymoon was over they may or may not have wanted to offer it up to her.  Once she felt her man couldn’t, or wouldn’t, offer Liz what she wanted then she needed to look for it elsewhere.  In one of her marriages it was only a matter of months before Taylor’s marriage had become unfulfilling . Although it makes sense that when the love is gone then why stay married, but it would be costly in divorce lawyers.  

Maybe Liz didn’t know how to ask to be loved the way she wanted to be loved.  Maybe the men she chose weren’t up to the job.  A few of her relationships definitely were complicated by drugs and alcohol. 

Unfortunately a common conundrum for a man is not knowing how to love his wife.  He wants to but can’t understand what expression that takes.  Love gets contorted by our handling of the emotional unpacking of our inner lives, life stages and development urges, professional success, physical health.  So it is easy to understand how two confused adults can fail in a relationship.  Especially if they had no guidance from their parents.

Without simple yet deep conversation sprinkled with wisdom we end up with men who are in fact lost with no idea what they seek and what they offer.  That is frustrating for everyone.  And can be dangerous because the man can think anytime he is being asked to do something it is because he has done something wrong.  Which is incorrect.  He is being asked because it is his responsibility to participate in a relationship and family.  

Also, if he is being asked it says he is capable and can be relied upon based on what he offers as a man.  We get this good reputation by doing a lot of small things, day after day.  This repetitive signal that upholds our marriage is a practical way to seek love.  As we grow and learn we can refine our seeking.  Refining our seeking means that we use our experience and intuition to know where, when and how to seek.  It means that our spouse can feel that embedded in our seeking is an offering of love and support for her as a woman.

What you seek can be found in what you offer.  It’s almost like saying you already have what you seek – you just want it reflected back to you.  And is reflected back to but just like in a mirror, it is reversed and is based on what your spouse seeks.  You seek honesty and so your spouse delivers the truth; you seek happiness and your spouse offers laughter; you seek companionship and your spouse offers you conversation.

If you don’t get what you seek then perhaps before pointing a finger it is to ask if it is clear to you what you seek and offer.  That can be as simple as writing it down on a piece of paper:  3 things you seek in your relationship and 3 things you offer to your relationship.  Is one contingent upon the other?  Yes and no.  It isn’t tit for tat at the moment.  We all have to put up with our spouse in the bad days and relish the good days.  And they provide you the same service.  However a living relationship needs the give and take of seek and offer to have a flow between both people that continue to define and refine their mechanism  for loving and being loved.   

By persisting in what you offer to your wife, offering her safety and your sentiment for her happiness, it will help define what you seek.  Meaning you know what you want as a man and as a husband that is valid unto itself while at the same time strengthening the marriage.  This requires understanding what satisfies you as a man and making yourself responsible for it.  This involves learning what fulfills your spouse and supporting her in that endeavour.  You seek being loved and someone to love.  

Obviously not at all costs.  With dignity for the person and their stage in life. 

Pioneer The New You

The following is an excerpt from my new book Satisfaction: How A Man Elevates His Skills And Qualities To Generate What He Wants. The book highlights men’s Emotional Agility. Emotional Agility here refers to a person’s capacity to synthesize daily and devotion emotion. This is the degree to which a person can cultivate their own sense of meaning while integrating the sense of peace this brings into their daily life. Emotional Agility is the way a person is able to rise up above the grind of daily life to recognize higher realms of awareness.

Pioneering implies going into the unknown. That is scary and can cause us to retreat into our habits when we actually can feel a need to grow. Pioneering the New You requires us to be brave and creative, perseverant and sensitive.

From page 108 … “The New You doesn’t exist without the old you. Yet the New You uses the past and resists being used by it. By standing firmly on your past with eyes into the future you invoke perception about what to do now. Each day, for each of us there is always a New You available. A version of you that comes with a higher level of intention.

Your New You grasps that a man changes as he is processed through the succession of Life Stages. He also realizes his spouse will experience a corresponding change thus the New You is nimble in the moment to update himself with the intricacies of her growth. the New you isn’t scared of the moment because he has no need to control it. the moment is free to flow into the future. So is the New You. Free to stop, smile and tell your wife she looks great.

The New You accesses his agility to get satisfaction. He is tune to his finesse to facilitate Fulfillment in others. He declares what he wants and has the humility to do the work to make it a reality.

The Post Apocalyptic Mind Set

Tallahassee, Little Rock, Wichita, Madison, Columbus and to a lesser extent Albuquerque and Berkeley.

Said in a Canadian way: Point Pelee, Flin Flon, Moose Jaw, Sault Ste. Marie, Calgary and to a lesser extent Charlevoix and Tofino.

Photo by Some Tale on Unsplash

The American locales are the names taken by the characters in the violent and witty post-apocalyptic movies Zombieland and Zombieland: Double Tap starring good old Woody Harrelson. The Canadian names are perhaps the names of the characters for Zombieland 3! Regardless they might be places worth a visit for some fabulous wine, awesome skiing or dinosaur bone hunting.

So Tallahassee, played with gusto by W. Harrelson, and his fellow small U.S. city companions are fighting a daily battle to be normal as they stay alive despite the persistent zombies with a thirst for their brains. Frighteningly similar to our Covid covered daily lives!

You too can star in your own post apocalyptic film too. Actually you probably already have. It is the fall out from any big argument you have with anyone, usually family – especially your wife. We all argue and disagree.

The idea here is to plan for the apocalypse. It’s not so much to be a prepper who has all their tins of chicken soup and bags of lentils stacked nicely in some pantry. Or to be a ready survivalist with their mental checklist and go bag with: knife, beef jerky, water filter, compass, rechargeable headlamp, small tarp and wire (to trap small animals).

The thinking is to have something to think about after the Big Bang of a heated emotional argument. Because if you yell and scream, shout and stamp and bang then once you calm down you will be emotionally emptied out. This can feel quite good actually. To have cleaned yourself out of that backed- up stress and nagging frustration. However it is a wise one who curates what fills their empty emotional bucket. Because either way it is going to get filled zip-zoom fast.

We have to know we are going to have disagreements. That’s not bad. it’s that some of those disagreements turn to arguments. Some of those moments of poor understanding we reduce to fights. So prepare. Yes avoid the arguments you can avoid. But fights seem to come out of nowhere. Like a tax bill, or a hernia, a mother-in-law.

Have your formula for instantly, cleverly creating your own life line out of the confusion of anger and pettiness that pollute the planet during and after a fight. To do this, you sincerely want to have a good relationship with the other person as a foundation. Then write the phrase you want to mentally/vocally be saying to your wife in the wake of the anger and frustration. Maybe you are with her – both quiet, tired and hurt. Or maybe you have jumped in your car and have tunes cranked as swear words and insults are swirling in the ether ready for you to launch them in your wife’s general direction.

The suggestion here is to substitute something like the following:

“I am your man, forever and always. I know it. You know it.”

“The moment was a blackhole for my patience but I know I love you.”

Phrases like these can slow and reverse the downward spiral that is so darkly magnetic.

“I seek to be understood by you, at the same time I seek to understand you”

That was not what I want. I want us to fight together for something; not fight against each other.”

Re issue of 5 things a young man needs to hear from an elder

  1. Always be generating.  Generate your own reason for what you’re doing.  This makes you the author of your own story so you aren’t at the mercy of someone else’s laziness. Be clean.
  2. Connect with nature: breathe through your nose, put down the phone, walk barefoot, let yourself be marveled. Make nature your man cave.  Use the peace in the moment and the power of nature to visualize you: healthy, successful, happy, spontaneous, loved, loving and emotionally agile.
  3. Frame your journey according to the various stages of life.  This really helps when dealing with stress to understand what is impacting us so we can take responsibility for it.  This is a proactive measure to rise above violence against women.
  4. Understand how to understand women. If you don’t know how to access your abilities you will end up squandering your mutual love. As a man you can do what your wife asks you to do. As a husband you can ask yourself what she would want and then do it.
  5. Be of service.  Find people who don’t count the cost.  Read the books they read.

Chapter 2 Life Roles Excerpt from the book Satisfaction.


Photo by Emir Saldierna on Unsplash

Chapter 2 – Life Roles

The thing is women don’t want to have to tell you when they are flowing from Maternal into Professional and then quickly into Romantic but then back into Professional in a period of 10 seconds.  They want you to have the same connection with your inner lives as they do with theirs.  And they don’t understand when you don’t.  They take it personally.  Your wife might think you don’t care.

Purpose: Excerpt from my book Satisfaction

Chapter 1 is entitled : Purpose

Photo by Gavin Spear on Unsplash

My purpose in writing this book is to create a resource for men to get satisfaction in their lives.  Based on my personal, ongoing passage through the desert of uncertainty I share how a man can clarify the picture, the words and song of his life story. 

Uncertainty here is a catchphrase for: fear, comparison, judgement, immaturity, depression, anger, grasping for professional success, seeking to love and be loved, reaching for a devotional identity in order to connect to the power of a life purpose. Enroute I have encountered questions, tools and insights that generate light that helps do the work to reveal a bigger purpose.

I want the emotional reality of a man’s multi-pronged life trajectory to include confidence in his abilities to accomplish his objectives and the power to resist pettiness.  As a result of many years of wilderness leadership I have forged a connection with nature that produces perceptions that are sewn throughout the book.   Possible side effects of integrating these concepts from this writing into your daily life can include polishing the rough cut gem of your purpose, transforming communication and ______________…

instagram: kevin_mcnamaraca

Women are Better at … – Excerpt from a book in progress about Satisfaction

Women are better at being women than men are at being men.

Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash

This is not man bashing.

Photo by Ana-Maria Nichita on Unsplash

Imagine your three big terracotta flower pots on the sunny side of the house where the tomato plants soak up the sun.  Even though they have that bitter tomato plant fragrance they smell fabulous in the summer afternoon heat.  The pots where the chile plants were sown and watered got grouped by the gate in the shadow of the big tomato plant pots.

Photo by Justus Menke on Unsplash

Due to the conditions the tomatoes ripen and each plant gives lots of fruit.  Whereas the chiles are small and few.  The chiles have the same desire to grow.  Tomatoes grow into tomatoes.  Chiles into chiles.  Their success depends a lot on the local conditions.

The local conditions in a woman includes her management of the Female Frixion (see below).

The local conditions in a man are impacted by his dealing with life through the Male Stack.

This is not fanning the flames of the battle of the sexes.  It’s not saying there is a competition to achieve self-realization as a man or woman. It’s not a race to embody your gender before your spouse embodies theirs. It’s not a comparison because we are talking apples and oranges here.

Women are oscillating while men are projecting.  

Women get lonely – and seek out companionship. Men get lost – and need direction.

Men will proclaim when a woman in the same situation will reflect.

The Female Frixion generates an emotional conflict in women about the prevalence of one of the three lives in the moment or stage of life.   Those lives are:  Professional, Romantic and Maternal.  In men they are: Professional, Romantic and Paternal.  Men don’t live the same friction of feeding these three lives in the same way.  Women internalize the friction and men externalize the stress.  Women make themselves responsible for their emotions about the 3-way balance of these inner lives.  Men can often not understand how or why they would be responsible for their own emotions. 

Each woman struggles for years with this aspect of their life.  Often it can make them not feel good about themselves.  A woman might start to think she is not ’a good mother’.   The truth may be she is a good mother but the friction that follows her around, like a 4 year old girl follows around her older sister, won’t let her in peace.  

This friction  heightens her awareness to her inner lives and cultivates the connection with her instinct.  Her instinct is about life.  Her female instinct responds to the moment that her mind is focused on.  It is not simply her instinct about how she feels about her emotions.  That is included.  But it needs to be understood that her instinct, the instinct, is fast and true and collects no emotional baggage.  We collect the baggage with our low emotion ego trolling.  The more emotional luggage we insist on hauling around life the less we can listen to and recognize the instinct.  

Lateral consideration of the three lives all at once that is the mental/emotional process of women is in contrast to the vertical surging that is the one-at-a-time male style process.  This is the Male Stack.  Instead of a need to bring all three lives forward with the same grace and focus like a woman, the man engages one life at a time.  The male life management style may appear to require less subtlety and finesse from the man himself because according to him ‘it is what it is,’ ‘what you see is what you get.’ That is the challenge staring each man in the face: To make his living of the three lives in his own unique way a vertically integrated generator of male instinctual response.

Because the female consideration is not as reactive as the surging male she can appear to be powered by an unsure woman.   That is not always true.  Perhaps rarely true. 

The decision making circuitry to decide about the same thing as a man is different in a woman.  That needs to be understood.  And appreciated. So it can impact our lives.  Reflected upon so it can impact our marriages.  Impact our language, sayings, expectations, our workplace (like making workplace based daycare more possible).  

An excellent illumination on the reality of women’s decision making is How Women Decide by Therese Huston. The book focuses on the extra and unfair work a woman has to do quickly, mentally in the moment to make her decision appear as valid as possible in the eyes of men. Huston also delves into the innate decision making differences between men and women. She highlights if a woman can grasp how to utilize her natural mental/emotional circuitry in a business setting then she can deactivate the resistance to her style of thinking. For our personal relationships the useful insights that are supported with how-to ideas are relevant to generating good conversation with your spouse to elevate understanding.

When we choose we, men and women, can update our beliefs about women.  We can learn a lot if we take the time and observe how this friction is a reality.  Communicate the fact of it and tell stories about it.  Resist the laziness that permits this difference to damage and not enlighten.  Resist blaming a woman for being a woman.

Women are not better than men.  Men are not better than women.  However because of the Female Frixion women are generally more true to their nature than men are to theirs.

This lack of connection with one’s essence as a man can cause stress in a man.  Without a strong emotional core, a man under stress can blame others for wanting to help him, he can delve into some form of drugs (including the internet). A man, even if he is really a good man, if he feels stressed, unappreciated or lost can get angry and become violent.  

Most likely women would think men experience this friction between the inner lives but they don’t.  So in difficult moments that require a couple to be on the same page, they often aren’t.  This can convert an important or difficult conversation into an argument.  Faster than we can stop it.  The argument is powered not by the issue being discussed but by the lack of understanding.  And exacerbated by how we feel about not being understood or understanding. 

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If women have the Female Frixion to connect them to their instinct, what do men have?  What can be the sand in the seashell that is a positive friction to produce a pearl?  

Ask yourself:

What do you stand for?  As a man, husband.

What do you uphold?  In the stress of providing for your family on a daily basis and also in the search for a sense of purpose.  

How agile are you within the Male Stack (of the three lives)?

Do you want to cultivate your response to the instinct?

What do you adhere to?  When the conversation turns sexist.

What do you cause in others?  By what you resist.

What are you in service to? For immediate and lifetime results.