Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block - R.L. Sharp

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folk like you and me
Are builders for eternity.

To each is given a book of rules
A block of stone and a bag of tools
For each must shape ere time has flown
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

Women's power to hurt the male ego

( -- Here's a closely guarded secret: Women have more influence over men than they think. Psychologist Jay Carter talks to Michelle Burford about male self-esteem, the criticism that could demolish a man and what male intimacy is really about.

Twenty-six years of counseling men and couples have given Jay Carter an unusually clear window into men's hearts and minds. Carter's observations are so eye-opening that we asked him about everything from finding the key to a man's inner life to the best way to chew him out when you're mad:

Michelle Burford: You've written that most women have no idea of their power to wound men. Where does this power originate?

Jay Carter: During a boy's most important developmental period -- his first five years -- he usually gets his self-esteem from his mother. I think some of Freud's theories are hogwash, but I believe he was right about at least one: Whereas a girl might choose to grow up to become like her mother in certain ways, a boy tries to be becomingto his mother -- to make her proud.

Years later, when he meets someone he wants to spend his life with, he unconsciously gives her what I call his "jujube doll" -- a kind of voodoo-like name I have for the part of a man's self-esteem that's vulnerable to a woman's opinion of him. If she sticks a pin in his doll, he recoils. Most women I talk with don't realize what kind of influence they have over men.

Burford: Doesn't a woman likewise hand over part of her power to the most significant man in her life?

Carter: Yes, but she does it by sharing her most private feelings. The seat of a woman's soul is her emotions. A woman usually believes you know her when you know what she feels. But the seat of a man's soul is his intent or purpose.

That's why when a woman bares her soul by disclosing her feelings, a man often doesn't recognize that as significant. He's been socialized to discount feelings.
For him, baring the soul means sharing his hopes and dreams. He may say things that seem boring, silly or outlandish: "You know what I'd do if I had $20,000? I'd invest it in lotto." But if a woman really listens, he'll share more.

After a failure, a man might express his intentions by saying, "I know I've messed up, but here's what I wanted for our family." When a woman understands this, she can begin to share her own intentions as a way of drawing him closer. Men respect hopes and dreams. That's a language they speak.

Burford: In your book "Nasty Women," you state that men are more word-oriented. But aren't women considered more verbal?

Carter: Yes, but research on gender differences has proven that men tend to take words more literally and to hear them in more sweeping terms.

Let's say a woman asks her husband to pick up a half-gallon of orange juice after work. When he arrives home empty-handed, she's irritated.

She might offhandedly say, "You are so irresponsible." All he hears is the word irresponsible. He believes she's saying he's irresponsible in general. He thinks, "What about all the months I paid the mortgage? Does one slipup erase all my effort? And why is she overreacting?"

With his self-esteem wounded, he may launch into a defense about what it means to be responsible. She gets frustrated because he's so caught up in words that he doesn't acknowledge her feelings -- and that's usually because he doesn't remember how important feelings are to her.

Burford: What if the man really is irresponsible? How do you communicate that without inciting a gender missile crisis?

Carter: If you decide you want to keep the man around, don't use the word irresponsible. You can call him a jerk or even an ass and it won't devastate him, because what is a jerk? That's not concretely definable. But what a man feels when you call him irresponsible is what a woman feels when you call her a bitch. It's the ultimate insult. So if you're angry at a man, just call him a bitch.

Burford: Suppose a woman tunes in to her partner's intentions but he doesn't reciprocate by hearing her needs. How can she convey her frustration without becoming a nag or know-it-all?

Carter: She can get his attention through action. If a man leaves his pajamas on the floor, a woman might get so upset that she'll accuse him of disregarding her feelings. Then for two days, he'll pick up the PJs to avoid an emotional outburst.

But if two men were living together, one would simply say to the other, "Do you think you could put away your smelly pajamas before my girlfriend gets here?" The other agrees -- but still leaves his PJs out. So his roommate finally says with a grin, "The next time you leave your pajamas out, I'm gonna burn 'em in the backyard." He does. When the other guy looks for his PJs, he finds a smoldering pile of cloth.

That's how men operate. They don't call each other irresponsible or accuse each other of not caring about feelings; they simply burn the damn pajamas. For a woman to get a man's attention without bruising his jujube doll, she has to show rather than tell.

Burford: You've written that when a woman begins to care deeply for a man, he becomes her home-improvement project. Why?

Carter: A woman often marries a man for his potential. If women married men for who they actually were, there would be far fewer marriages. When a woman loves a man, she says to herself, 'I could improve him. Once we're together, things will be different.'

Since I began my practice in 1977, I've heard this refrain hundreds of times. I try to get it across to the woman that what she sees is what she gets. This is him. If he's drinking every Friday and Saturday night, look forward to a lifetime of weekend alcoholism. He may cut out Friday, but he'll still be a drinker.

Men tend to resist change. In fact, one of the most prized characteristics of a man's friendship with other men is total acceptance. When a woman begins to encourage a man to live up to his potential, he misunderstands that as her overall dissatisfaction with him. What he feels is tantamount to what women feel when men don't hear and respond to what they say they need.

Burford: How might the relationship unravel when she expresses her disappointment?

Carter:The man may initially improve according to her recommendations -- remember, he has a lot invested in what she thinks of him. But over time, he becomes slower to respond. The there's the day when she inadvertently steps on his jujube doll with a spiked heel, and it's so painful that he snatches his self-esteem back.

That's the day she loses significant influence. He tries to make himself not care what she thinks, which is why she begins to feel he's emotionally distant. He stops connecting. He doesn't look her in the eyes unless he's angry. When the marriage is on the brink of breakup, the woman drags him into my office. That's when I hear what almost any therapist can tell you is the most repeated phrase among men: "No matter what I do, I can never please this woman."

While she's been genuinely trying to improve him with the best of intentions, he's been feeling her efforts as a shot to his self-esteem. After all the work she has put into him -- he finally eats with his mouth closed, he doesn't say ignorant things -- he may run off with another woman.

That's often because he's looking for someone who will think the world of him -- someone who will see him as he thinks his wife once did. What he doesn't know is that he's bound to repeat the cycle because he hasn't done the work of understanding himself, the woman in his life, and the differences in how they communicate. He thinks his new woman is looking enraptured because he's the greatest, but what she's actually thinking is, "Wow -- what potential."

Burford: Once a man has snatched away his "jujube doll," can a woman ever get it back?

Carter: Yes. She can sit down with him and say something like 'It wasn't my intention to hurt you, but I have. I really do think you're a wonderful man.' He may never admit that there are heel marks all over his doll, but if she approaches him this way, he'll slowly open up again.

Burford: How can a woman encourage her partner to reach his full potential without hurting his self-esteem?

A: By stroking the jujube doll before bringing the hammer down. Let's say a man leaves his McDonald's wrappers all over the car. The woman is angry that he's inconsiderate of her desire to drive without bits of cheese, pickles, and dried ketchup stuck to the steering wheel. What should she say?

"I see how organized you are by the way you keep your desk, which is why I'm a bit surprised about the wreck our car is." Because she has first acknowledged the big picture -- "I know you're a neat guy" -- the criticism doesn't sting. And if she keeps the whole thing light, she'll get a laugh out of him before he heads out to clean the car.

I'm not suggesting that women spend their lives enabling and patronizing. This is not about telling a man he has the brightest gold chain or the biggest penis. Emphasizing a man's positive qualities is acknowledging the complete picture of who he is and what he has already done right.

Burford: After nearly three decades of counseling men, do you think most really want to please women?

Carter: Oh, yes! And I believe that a man will feel even more motivated to please a woman he loves if he knows that, in general, she already thinks the world of him. Once a woman tells a man how responsible and caring he is, he'll usually do all he can to live up to that image. Just to make her proud, he'll rise up and move mountains.


Dr. Phil's "Man-ual"

Dr. Phil's "Man-ual" | From the June 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Dr. Phillip C. McGraw on men

You probably have one of these at home, or you're considering acquiring one—an adult human male. Here, Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., provides a consumer guide to your model's inner workings. Don't start him up until you've read these instructions fully.

Women, how many times have you looked at the man in your life, shook your head, and wondered, Can he really be that stupid/insensitive/tuned out/selfish/clueless? The answer is, "No, he's probably not that bad." But he is, shall we say, different. And some of the things that cause you to question his mental or emotional acumen are pretty easy to explain. I'm going to give you the inside scoop that will help you get more of what you want and less of what you don't from your Y-chromosomed partner.

Before you judge the man in your life, figure him out. Anyone knows that if you're going to train bears, you need to understand bears. If you're going to train penguins, you need to understand penguins. So let's take a peek behind the curtain of maledom. Let's look at what makes these boys tick, what makes them do what they do, and not do what they don't.

Your Personal Man-ual
If you're looking for a "sensical" explanation for what seems like nonsensical male behavior, you'll find some important clues here:

• What Currency Do Men Value?
• How Do Men Operate in Relationships?
• Do Men Live Male Stereotypes?
• Competition? What Competition?
• How is Your Man a Hunter?

What Women Can Do

What do men want from us? How can we fulfill their most intimate desires—and also get what we want and need? Dr. Phil's got some ideas:

• What Men Want from Women
• What Never to Do
• How to Find the Good Ones

Men Express Their Feelings Through the Currency They Value.

Currency is what matters to people. It's the reward that motivates people to act in particular ways—to engage in certain behaviors and to avoid others. If you want to influence a man, you need to know what he treasures. Maybe it's money, time, his car. Maybe it's his daughter from a previous marriage. Maybe it's some secret or fear he has guarded closely all his life. If you want to know how a man really feels, pay attention to how he treats what he values. Whatever it is, if he gives you what is precious to him (whether you value it or not), he has performed an act of love that may mean much more to him than any words he might say.

How This Affects You
When people expect A but get B, they're upset. When they expect B and in fact get B, they're not upset. Exactly the same outcome, yet two very different reactions. So many women are upset about what their men do or don't do—not because what they do or don't do is wrong, but because it is different from what the women expected. Women express emotion verbally, and men express it by using their currency. The result is the same; the reaction is different.

What You Can Do About It
Start by answering this question: Do you want your man to really love you, or do you want him to love you the way you would love you? If it's the latter, you need to recognize that in many ways, you're dealing with an alien life form. If you insist on measuring him with your yardstick, he hasn't got a chance. Now ask yourself:

• Am I wanting and expecting the wrong thing?
• Am I failing to recognize that he is giving me what I want?
• Am I asking this man to give me something he just doesn't have?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, part of your solution may be very much under your own control, if you'll just recognize it.

The lesson here is twofold: Identify what he values, and determine whether he is sharing that with you. Watch what he does with his "personal accounts." If his currency is his time, is he sharing it with you? If it's his car, does he let you drive it, or are you instructed to stand ten feet away? If his currency is his daughter from his previous marriage, does he encourage you to interact with her—or are you excluded from any kind of relationship with her? Either way, you can be certain that he is communicating his feelings by deeds rather than words. You need to hear what isn't being said.

Men Make Choices in Relationships Based on Fear.
Men invariably protect themselves. If they believe that they are in some way inferior, inadequate or undesirable, they will do anything to avoid having that deficiency highlighted.

How This Affects You
Men adopt a "get them before they get you" mentality. They definitely believe in the old saying from sports that the best defense is a good offense. Result: If they suspect that for some reason they're not your Prince Charming, they will actively seek to alienate you so they can say it was their choice and not your rejection that created distance in the relationship. Bottom line: It stands to (his) reason that if he doesn't put himself—his feelings, his ego, his desires—on the line, then he can't get hurt.

What You Can Do About It
The best strategy you can undertake to deal with a partner who is motivated by fear and self-protection is to talk about this fear openly. Be warned: Men will jump through fire to avoid this conversation, because their egos won't stand for them to admit that they fear something. What you can do is deal directly with their fear of rejection.

To prepare for this conversation, you need to ask yourself some important questions:

• Are you in fact rejecting him?
• Are you sending him messages that say "You are inferior and undesirable"?
• Are you making him so low on your priority list that he has no choice but to conclude that he is undesirable and has been rejected?

Please understand, I'm not recommending that you just admire your partner unequivocally or encourage behavior that isn't worthy of admiration. I'm saying that you must consider whether or not you are playing into his worst fears. His worst fear is that he's not good enough for you, and that you are going to dump him.

Reassure him that while there may be issues that need to be discussed, you're not putting the relationship on the line over those problems. If you let him know that you have no intention of withholding your love, affection, attention or sexual interaction in a punitive way, you can reduce his fear of rejection.

Men Have Been Raised to Live Out a Male Stereotype

A lot of the disconnect between men and women has to do with the fact that men have been socialized in a way that runs counter to the way women do things. This "masculine code" is something that women simply have to be aware of to interact effectively with men. Think of these beliefs as deeply rooted rules of behavior, part and parcel of what it means to be a man:

Big boys don't cry: We hear it at football practice—"Get up and shake it off; that's not a bone sticking out, so get going." It takes some men a lifetime to learn that maybe big boys don't cry, but grown men do. It's an incredibly difficult lesson for us to learn.

Linear thinking is all: Most men tend to insist on a rigid chain of logic from A to B, B to C, C to D and so on. By contrast, most women are more intuitive. They're more likely to say, "Something ain't right here," even though they may not be able to identify specific, logical steps that point to that conclusion.

It can always be fixed: The male's reaction to conflict is usually something like "You got a problem? Here's how you fix it," whereas the woman involved may not care anything about the fix. For her, knowing that the problem has been recognized and that her emotional circumstances have been acknowledged may be all the fix she desires.

Power + Control = Success: Men are socialized to measure their own value in terms of how much power and control they have—not how sensitive they can be or how deeply they can connect with another person.

How This Affects You
Every single way in which the world makes a man is at odds with most women's definition of intimacy. Relationships in general, and intimacy in particular, are all about taking down your defenses. Intimacy means trusting people enough to give them the power to hurt you. And that is absolutely contrary to a man's nature.

What You Can Do About It
To help a man overcome his fear of vulnerability and intimacy, you have to demystify the whole area for him. He knows that his emotional self contains information that could potentially be used against him, so you have to convince him that he can trust you with it. Teach him that when he allows himself to be vulnerable with you, he can be assured of a good outcome.

Also, you tend to get what you give. If you're open and honest, and you reveal true things about your intimate self, you're much more likely to have that behavior reciprocated than if you simply demand that he do so.

Men Tend to be Highly Competitive.
I've heard so many men talk about this lately, true to that masculine code that we talked about earlier: They need to feel that they're in control. It's as if men have never stopped wanting to be the knight in shining armor who saves the damsel in distress.

How This Affects You
A lot of men will tell you candidly that they are indeed threatened by women's competency. An ambitious, bright young male in corporate America will be identified as a go-getter; he's labeled as a young lion on the move. A woman who demonstrates exactly the same degree of ambition will be labeled as a hostile, aggressive bitch.

What You Can Do About It
You can let your man know that just because you are a successful, independent, financially self-sufficient woman, you haven't stopped being vulnerable. A woman has to be willing to show her needs and not be afraid of them. If his attitude is 'I've got nothing to offer you,' let him know that he does. You need him to be a partner and a soft place for you to fall.

Men Are Hunters.
As a result of the substantial differences between men and women when it comes to sex—differences that are psychosocial, biochemical and neurological—trying to get a man to function according to female standards is like trying to get a pig to fly. It's just not going to happen. That old but often accurate notion that men are hunters seems especially applicable here.

How This Affects You
Men have less of certain hormones and more of others than women do, and that fuels us to respond in different ways. For most women, sex is primarily an emotional thing; for most men, it's primarily physical.

A man often fails to see how sex and other aspects of the relationship are intertwined. I have always counseled women that there are times you make love, and there are times when it's purely recreational: Wham, bam, thank you ma'am—just a complete physical release, and cover me up when you're done. Men and women both need to recognize that there's a range of feeling when it comes to sex. If you don't acknowledge that range, the two of you are going to have a problem.

There is definitely a double standard with men when it comes to fidelity. If they are having an extramarital affair or an extra-relational affair, they'll probably look at it as if they are going and taking something from a woman, not giving something of themselves away. There's no emotional investment there.

Men are visually stimulated, which means if they are in a target-rich environment, they may well become aroused. This is not just a maturity issue; their brains are actually wired that way, which is very different from your own wiring. But this is not some involuntary reflex action over which he has no control. It is a choice. Men can be amazingly shortsighted on these issues, often failing to project ahead to the consequences of their actions on their wife or children.

What You Can Do About It
Discussing the matter of fidelity, before a crisis occurs, is crucial. Couples need to talk about what fidelity means to each of them so there's no confusion. Understanding that men fear rejection and therefore thrive on acceptance and are easily visually stimulated, you can program out a considerable risk of unfaithfulness by investing energy in what may seem superficial: your appearance and the level of sexual activity in your relationship. Please don't write to me objecting! I'm not saying this is fair, only that it is effective. Let the training begin.

What Men Want from Women: Validation
Men are definitely the weaker sex; your admiration is a huge deal for them. They need external validation, and validation from the woman they love is the kind they value most.

A man needs to know that his partner is proud of him and of what he does. He knows he's not the President of the United States, he knows he's not saving the world every day, he knows that he is probably just a cog in the machinery.

He can bluster all day long, he can brag 'til the cows come home, but make no mistake, when you look him in the eye or put your arms around his neck and say, "Have I told you today how proud I am of how you did such and such?" it will be worth its weight in gold to him.

What Never to Do: Judge
The biggest mistake you can make in a relationship is to be entrusted with potentially hurtful information and to use it as leverage in an argument. If your partner opens up to you about his fears, needs, desires and other secrets, and you turn that on him, you've gone to a place from which there is likely no recovery. You must be a good steward of his private revelations.

If you take a judgmental attitude and are always ready to condemn a man's every move, you may be right, but you'll also be lonely. Decide right now that your goal is to be successful rather than to prove yourself right and men wrong. Focus on understanding how men think, rather than why they do, and I promise you'll get a lot more of what you want.

How to Find the Good Ones: Take a Good Look
I hear both men and women say, "There aren't any good ones left!" Since both sides say it, it can't be true.

First ask yourself, "How are my recognition skills?" Do the qualities that initially attract you to a man make him a good long-term partner? If your answer is no, then change your selection criteria. They say that nice guys finish last. It may be that the ol' boy who's hustling you may not be the person you want raising your children or being there for you when you're sick.

If you just get up, go to work, go home, go to bed, then start the whole thing over the next morning, a guy would have to throw himself on the hood of your car to meet you. Lift up your head, broaden the criteria, and don't be too quick to eliminate candidates.

Printed from on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 © 2012 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Leftovers are such humble things,
We would not serve to a guest,
And yet we serve them to our Lord
Who deserve the very best.

We give to Him leftover time,
Stray minutes here and there.
Leftover cash we give to Him,
Such few coins as we can spare.

We give our youth unto the world,
To hatred, lust and strife;
Then in declining years we give
To him the remnant of our life.

- Source unknown

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coffee Obession

By Tony Ilbery

TO SOME COFFEE IS simply part of their morning ritual, to others it's more like a cult religion. Wherever you are positioned on the coffee lover's scale, one thing is the same for everyone - bad coffee is a darn crime.

On the global ranking of good and bad coffee, Australia proudly sits on the medal podium. Which colour medal would be up for hot debate, though we love the colour gold.

Ask anyone in Sydney 'who makes the best coffee?' and everyone has an animated opinion. Locals are so passionate about the highest quality coffee, their favourite barista and local coffee shops, it verges on obsession.

The Australian coffee culture grew from our Italian and Greek immigrants after World War II, so it's all spawned from the humble European 'espresso'. We do not have the North American filtered coffee pots, which was evident in 2000 when Starbucks opened 82 stores in Australia, only to close 61 stores eight years later because they failed to deliver equal quality.

For many travellers, trying to order a coffee in Sydney seems tricky, so here is a simple explanation of Sydney coffees:

Espresso: A single shot of coffee, 30m I with the all-important 'crema' on top, (the aromatic red-brown froth that is naturally formed when air bubbles combine with fine-ground coffee oils) also called short black in Australia.

Macchiato: 30m I espresso shot, 5ml milk and dollop of milk froth, also known as a Mac. The double Mac is the same, but with two espresso shots.

Long Black: 30ml single espresso shot and 60ml hot water. Also called an Americano, as it's the closest to their 'cup of coffee'.

Flat White: 30ml single espresso shot and 160ml hot milk with 5mm of foam.

Cappuccino: 30ml single espresso shot, 150ml hot milk with 15mm of foam and a dusting of chocolate powder on top.

Cafe Latte: Flat White: 30m I single espresso shot with 150ml hot milk and 10mm of foam.

Mocha: 1 teaspoon of chocolate power on the bottom, then add 30m single espresso shot with 150ml hot milk with 15mm of foam and a dusting of chocolate powder on top.

If you are walking around town and looking for a great coffee, simply look for the crowds - a great coffee shop or coffee cart has people standing on the street waiting to order and savoring the dark brown nectar of the gods they just bought.