Read 52 Books!

Read 52 Books!

I think I came across a post on #Mastodon about “The 52 Book Club“, so I thought I would share it with anyone else that might be interested since we’re starting a new year.

The challenge each year is to read 52 books in 52 weeks composed of 52 different categories! There’s a 2023 guide on the website with categories and books to pick from, so it takes out the hard part of searching out books to read. Once you find a book, read it, and then check it off of your list. They also have some pretty neat templates so you can post on social media about your progress.

Comment below if you think you’ll give the challenge a try this year.

Make sure to use #the52bookclub2023 #the52bookclub when you post anything.

Important Links:

Photo by Mark Cruzat

Windows Not Showing Country Flags

Windows Not Showing Country Flags

I enjoy designing websites but I recently discovered that Windows doesn’t like to display country flag emojis. They seem to work fine with Apple products, but there’s some issue that Microsoft seems to be avoiding but not including the flags.

There’s a work around if you design websites and want to display flags like I have done on my homepage.

I use Divi by ElegantThemes so the workaround is pretty easy to implement!

  1. Visit https://github.com/talkjs/country-flag-emoji-polyfill and follow the instructions. I used the CDN script and it works perfectly. In Divi go to “Theme Options > Integration” and add the script to the < head > section.
  2. Now you need to add your flags to it’s own property. I used a “Full Width Header” on my homepage, so it has “Subtitle” box where I put all of my flags.
  3. Once you do this, go to “Fullwidth Header Settings > Advanced > Custom CSS > Subtitle” and enter font-family: “Twemoji Country Flags”;

That is it! Once you save everything, the flags will miraculously appear! It’s pretty silly we have to go through all of this trouble so all users can see the country flags, but it’s better than seeing the two letters instead.

Below is the script code that you need to use in Step 1 above.

<script type="module" defer>
  import { polyfillCountryFlagEmojis } from "https://cdn.skypack.dev/country-flag-emoji-polyfill";
  polyfillCountryFlagEmojis();
</script>

If you want to follow the full directions from the source website, please check out the GitHub for Country Flag Emoji Polyfill.

Be A Freak

Be A Freak

I’m sure you saw the word freak and instantly became interested in what this article could possibly be about.  It’s about how to function in a dating world without completely creeping someone out within the first few days, weeks or even months.  It’s all about keeping a steady pace and saying the right things at the appropriate times.

Let’s take a look at a friend of mine who has good intentions but is approaching every possible dating scenario the wrong way.

1)   He says I love you or I think I love in a matter of days
2)   He tries to date guys who are younger than him and therefore not looking for the same things in life
3)   He frequently cries (everywhere) when the new boyfriend is not attentive enough
4)   He tells his boyfriend and friends how unhappy he is when not finding the perfect guy
5)   He’s never happy with himself

When you’re a bachelor on the market and looking for love, you have to make sure you pace yourself and your approach to the new relationship.  You also need to make sure you are happy with yourself before looking for a boyfriend.  If you’re unhappy with who you are, there’s no man in the world that is going to make it go away or make things better.  If you hate your weight, your job, or your direction in life, you’ve got to fix these things.  Don’t sit around and expect for some prince charming to come in and fix you or put up with your baggage!

Don’t date guys with limited experience if you’re trying to find a long-term relationship.  I don’t know why people constantly think they will be the one to win in this scenario!  If you’re 25 or older and dating someone who is 18 to 21 you are basically riding the waves of pending disaster.  The reason is that you’re in two different stages of life and will continue to be for a few years to come.  At 25 you may be starting to settle into your career, a house and maybe considering starting a family.  At 18, you’re just getting out of high school, trying to decide what you want to do with your life, and you have the popular age 21 coming up.  If you’re in your 20’s and beyond, you remember what turning 21 is like, which baffles me as to why you’d want to date someone getting ready to go through that stage of life.  I know, I know, you like the young look, the hard abs, and the stamina of your young stallion.  Use your brain this time and realize it’s a pending scenario of doom, but feel free to toss the dice.

Last but not least, don’t drive your friends insane with your dating drama because you keep going against their advice and picking the worst possible boyfriend every single time.  The first few times your friends will be patient and supportive as they try to help you through your mishap and boyfriend tragedy.  Trust me, if you keep making the same choices and mistakes they will not hesitate to start distancing themselves from you and your pity party.

Your mission is to be happy with yourself and who you are, date someone your own age, don’t get too clingy too quick, don’t throw around the word love too soon, and take the advice from your friends to heart; they’re not stupid or you wouldn’t be friends, hopefully.

Photo by Warm Orange on Unsplash

Balancing Act

Balancing Act

As men we have an obligation to work and provide for ourselves and our family. We also have to figure out how to balance our professional life with our personal life, which can be even more complicated if you’re gay.  You can draw your own conclusions to this statement, but I remember before coming out how difficult it was to keep everything in life separated.  It’s like having a day life and a night life but the two never meet.  Things are a lot easier once you’re open about who you are, though still complex.

Trying to find balance is a challenge I have yet to figure out for a variety of reasons. My main conflict is my hours at work are from 3pm to 11pm with rotating days off. The problem here is that when most of the world is socializing or spending time with family, I’m sitting at work making money to pay bills.  At first I found my job to be perfect but recently I’ve realized I’m missing out on a lot. Do any of you feel the same way?

I do feel lucky to have an understanding husband and family who realize I have to make a living, even if that means missing out on social occasions. That doesn’t make things any better in my mind and heart though.

With all that said, I introduce my next challenge. How do we find time to make friends and nurture these relationships when we barely have time to maintain our responsibility to loved ones?  I have yet to find the answer to this question and have decided to reach out to you, my readers. It’s not always about giving advice, but about getting others to consider a situation and provide feedback.

While I’m completely happy with my life and the time I have with my husband, I will say that I wish we had more friends to spend time with. When we look on television we see these groups of close friends on The L Word and in the past on Queer as Folk, but I have to ask, are these scenarios for real?

My husband and I have tried to find friends to hang out with, but seem to frequently hit a wall. Not only because of my work schedule, but because the people we meet seem to have lifestyles that conflict with ours. We meet people who live life consumed with drama, like to party too much, are into drugs, or are out to have 3-ways with couples. For us it’s not cool at all.

A few months ago we thought attending a local gay church would present to us new opportunity to meet others who are more like us. Unfortunately we failed again as many of the people who were at church were the same ones frequenting the bars. On the flip side, the others were very much outside of our age group.

This week I ask you, my readers, who I’m sure struggle now or have in the past with meeting quality friends; what did you do to conquer this and what ideas can you share to help the rest of us?

How do you find balance in your work, personal and social life?  How do you find quality friends to build relationships with that last?  How do you avoid those people who consume your soul with their own misery?

Let’s spend the week discussing this and see what kind of progress we can make. Can you help me and at the same time help yourself?

Photo by JC Dela Cuesta on Unsplash

You’re Not Broken

You’re Not Broken

It is funny to go back and read things I wrote many many years ago when I thought my life was in order and complete. I now find myself questioning the validity of relationships and the male ability to truly commit to another person. While I still believe the advice I gave in this article, I find myself spending time reflecting on my own life and what I want in the future. Sometimes self-love is the only love you need.

Dating involves a lot of patience, time and definitely commitment on the part of both people involved. The problem many men run in to these days is trying to get too involved way too quickly, often bypassing the importance of establishing a foundation. One thing we all must remember is in order to function in the dating world we need to keep a steady pace and say the right words at the right time.

I hate my body and I feel overweight. I’m so lonely and bored; I wish I had a boyfriend to cuddle on the couch with. I met this really nice and hot 18 year old guy online last weekend! I know it hasn’t been very long, but I think I love you. My friends always seem too busy for me and I don’t understand why. I call and text you all the time but you never reply back!

Do any of these things sound remotely familiar to you? Have you ever used or met someone who has said something along these lines? I bet you have and I know I have over my years in the gay dating scene. What is important to understand is that there is nothing wrong with you or wrong with the person. It took me a long time to realize that there are some things I had to fix within before I could give my entire heart to another person.

The key to dating success is to be comfortable in your own skin and with the direction your life is heading. Do you enjoy your career, do you like the body you see in the mirror every morning after a shower, and do you live in a home that makes you happy? These are all questions that took me years to ask myself after having failed relationships. At some point I knew I had to take care of me and love me in order to love another man. I also had to realize that it was a lost cause to date someone much younger than myself because their life trials were just beginning, and the road to their self discovery was just beginning, no matter what they say. Over time I finally understood all of these things and quit going out every weekend hoping to find a prince charming to sweep me off my feet and fix everything in my life.

The questions presented above hopefully make you think and consider what kind of man and boyfriend material you are. Are you the person who drops the I Love You bomb after a week? Are you the person dating the 18 year old when you’re 38? Are you carrying a few extra pounds and complaining that no one wants you? Is it you that picks up the phone to call and text that new boy all day long? If you answered yes to these things it doesn’t mean you’re a loser or a freak. It just means it’s time to find a new way of approaching the dating world. It’s not something you fix in one evening while sitting around at home, but something you work on over time with trial and error. Like me, with a little effort you can learn from your mistakes and eventually become that perfect catch for someone and you can have that prince charming you have always wanted.

I present to you this challenge and hope you will take it seriously. Start taking care of yourself by eating better, working out and giving to your community. These steps alone will boost your self confidence. Next, be realistic about the kind of guy you want in your life.  We all can’t have (or want) that tan young stallion with abs you can wash your clothes on.  It really is alright to have someone sweet, kind, giving and close to your age that doesn’t have a perfect body. To complete the challenge, solicit feedback from your friends and take what they have to say to heart. Our friends are there to point out things to us that we may not realize. Our friends are there to help us grow and better ourselves. Keep in mind that while friends are a support system, it’s definitely possible to push them away if you seek their help and then do the opposite.

The key to success when you feel you have truly found the right guy is to take your time and be patient. Openly give to him and let him give to you, emotionally, mentally and intimately. Save those powerful words I Love You for another time. Once you grow with each other you will have that moment one day when your eyes will lock together, and in that instance you will know that it’s time to express your mutual love.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix

CommuniCANTion

CommuniCANTion

I’m not going to tell you I’m a master at relationships and that you must follow my advice to be successful. In fact, it’s really hard for anyone to say that because each of us is different and we approach things in our own way. What I can do is share my story, explain what happened, and tell you what I learned. I can also point you in a direction to seek additional information should you so desire.

Growing up I came from a household that ended up broken by the time I turned eight years old. It definitely wasn’t like the glory days of Leave It to Beaver. When you grow up in a family where communication doesn’t exist, it’s almost a given that your entire life will be a challenge in that area. I will say that I continue to struggle, but with personal effort, and understanding from my husband, I’ve been getting much better at it over the years.

Each relationship I’ve had has presented a new learning experience when it comes to communication or lack thereof. Thinking back I can’t really give many quality examples that would benefit anyone reading this article, except for my last experience of five years. The two of us never had a conversation in the beginning about our goals in life or our expectations of the relationship. We also sucked when it came to communicating about problems in the relationship. Now that I look back I realize that I literally spun in circles for five years making no progress in life.

One thing that surfaced early in the relationship was that he was uncomfortable living with me because he had never lived by himself before. I also frequently got the “I’m not sure I’m ready to settle down yet” conversation during the first year of the relationship. With that said it established a crumbling foundation from the beginning. When you’re with someone and they constantly insert doubt in to the relationship, it immediately puts you in caution mode. I’m sure you’re wondering why I stayed in the relationship for five years if it was so rocky. My answer to you is that I don’t know, unless I thought it would get better or improve with time. The problem is that it never did and I always waited for the other shoe to drop.

This article is about communication and why it’s important in order to start and maintain a successful relationship. In my present marriage we started off stating what our expectations were. I knew my husband wanted to eventually have children, and I’m glad it’s something we talked about at the beginning instead of it popping up several years later as a surprise. One of the other things we openly discussed was boundaries within the relationship. The main agreement we made with each other is to avoid the gay scene (bars/clubs) unless we go together. We both trust each other but we don’t trust other people. I think many will agree that it seems like people have a goal of interfering in a relationship when a couple is happy. It’s almost like they have the mentality of Well I’m Single So Everyone Should Be!

We both agreed that we wanted our relationship to be monogamous, so that was never a deep topic of conversation, but it may be something that you will want to openly discuss with your partner. You may also want to determine if you’re going to be in a serious or non-serious relationship. Another important part of our relationship is listening and responding instead of yelling at each other. Yes we’ve had arguments but we don’t have them frequently. We always try very hard to talk to each other, listen to each other, and be fair to each other. This is very hard to do and it’s something I’m still improving on.

There are eight things you can do according to John R. Ballew, M.S., a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta, to improve communication. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality.

1.      Make certain that each of you is present for the conversation.

2.      Don’t assume you know what the other person is going to say, or that you know what he means.

3.      Make sure the questions you ask are real questions.

4.      Take responsibility for your feelings.

5.      It helps to be considerate of your partner’s feelings.

6.      Listen as much as you speak.

7.      In disagreements, getting the desired result is more important than proving that your point is the right one.

8.      If at all possible, don’t let the conversation end without the issues at hand being clearly resolved.

I found writing this article to be an educational experience for myself. I looked over these eight items and asked myself if I adhere to all of them, and the answer is no! I need to work on being considerate of my partner’s feelings more often. I also need to work on making sure I don’t always feel like I need to be right. I would say that 90% of the time we resolve any conflicts before ending the conversation, but there are times when I will wait to discuss it further due to still learning how to effectively collect and express my thoughts.  I feel like I found things I need to work on this week and I hope you did as well!

If you need more information about effective relationship communication, here are the resources I used in writing this article.

Mind, Body, Soul – John R. Ballew, M.S.

Gay Relationships: Improving Communication – John R. Ballew, M.S.

Photo by Moose Photos

Last Updated: 12/20/2022