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As A Writer I Had To Find My Writing Voice – To Become A Writer

At the beginning of 2011 I said to myself, "I am now a writer". The easy part was over. I now set about finding my writing voice. I had to understand how to use my experience and learning.

I entered the third third of my life and started my third career. I have previously been a theatre lighting designer and an architectural lighting designer. These are both creative professions, so I thought it would be easy to become a writer.

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Getting Old? Absolutely Not!

Graham Phoenix refuses to get old and expects to become a cantankerous old man.

My parents-in-law are visiting: it’s their first trip to Spain. They have the resigned look of people waiting for life to fade out. They fit in here, in this seaside town full of English ex-pat pensioners wondering what to do with their lives and their money.

I am just a few months away from becoming an official ‘Old Age Pensioner’ (a UK term for the more gentle US term ‘Senior Citizen’) myself. I will be grateful for the State Pension, having paid into it my whole working life, but I don’t feel old. I am the same age as many of the tired people I see in ‘Koi’, my favourite cafe, but I feel as I’m from a different planet.

I am overweight and find hill-walking difficult. I no longer run, perhaps more through laziness. My hair is white and I enjoy more rest than I used to. I need glasses to read but I don’t feel my body failing. I don’t see age sucking me down into its abyss. I don’t think about death or what might have been.

I think of the future and all the things I want to do and I trust that I will have the time.

Some men in their fifties see their lives fading away. They start to count the physical failings and see them as ticks of a clock winding towards midnight. These old men make me sad and they make me angry. They feed the paranoia people have about getting old, encouraging people to think that fifty is the start of the end.

I laughed last year when I read a blog post from a 25 year old girl who was worried that time was running out on her being able to achieve what she wants in life. The fact that she was approaching thirty was a sign of impending doom for her.

Staying young in your mind is not about positive thinking. It’s not about pushing the future away and pretending to be younger than you are. I see many men in jeans and tee shirts who are pretending, and they look even older. They are not accepting what they are: they are refusing to acknowledge the signs.

My secret is to fully accept who I am, fully accept the age I am and fully accept the opportunities that await me. A year ago I started my third career and I intend that I will be as successful in this career as I was in the previous two.

I left school at eighteen and ran away to the theatre. There followed many hectic and exciting years working in drama, ballet, opera, even in a strip club. I was a Stage Manager, an Electrician and a Lighting Designer. I travelled, worked, drank and, occasionally, ate and slept. I had fun and I didn’t take care of myself. I swirled through life until one day I found I was in my thirties. I was married and was about to start having children and I knew I couldn’t carry on living as I was.

I faced that old question,”What am I going to do?” I had been working for around 15 years and I had no real career to follow. Could I catch up? I looked at my age and worked out that I could do everything I had done, since I left school, twice over before retirement. That didn’t even account for the additional years I might enjoy. My uncle died when he was 94, almost 30 more years beyond retirement age. On that basis I could do it all another 4 times, as long as I was physically able.

The remaining 30 years of my life so far has been taken up with a new career and family. I became an Architectural Lighting Designer and established a large body of work and a reputation. I loved what I did and I made lots of friends amongst colleagues and clients. I always vowed to retire from the job at 60, but not to retire from life.

When I left lighting design, I began a career as a writer, teacher and mentor, something I have always wanted to do. This is a great time to start it: with a wealth of experience behind me and opportunity in front of me. If I live to my nineties, which I fully intend to do, I will have the same length of time doing enriching work as I spent building my last career. Writing, teaching, and mentoring do not rely on physical ability, unlike both my previous careers. As long as I can type and use the internet, I can work.

My children have learned that I am independent and capable of looking after myself. I think they expect me to become a determined, cantankerous old man, not someone that can be put down in a old people’s home. If they do not already, they will find out.

Men can carry on being physically potent and can enjoy sex until they die, if they look after themselves, and can become fathers into their eighties. Women have a clock ticking inside them. I know from living with women what the menopause does for women, psychologically as well as physically. The women say they have to accept it and adjust to it. It’s said that men have something similar to menopause. Maybe it’s true, but it doesn’t have the physical immediacy or intensity of women’s experience.

Sexual potency is one thing that changes differently in men and women, in my experience, but the world of the mind continues, and the body will carry it where the mind wills, in men and women, alike. A friend of my mother had been a Girl Guide Commissioner and a very active lady. She lived on her own in her late seventies after her husband had died. She was planning a trip to China to visit some remote areas. Her daughter came to visit because she was worried about the trip, considering her mother’s age. Her mother stopped her as she was persuading her against the trip. The mother said, “I’m sorry, dear, if I inconvenience you by dying on the trip, giving you all the bother of shipping my body back home, but rest assured if that happens you will know that I died happy!” The daughter shut up and, of course, the trip went well with the mother having a fabulous time.

May you all, men and women, look forward to years of fun and danger and may you scare the wits out of your children. As a man I have been gifted with an ability to keep going. I fully intend to honour that gift by being everything I can be until I drop dead.


—Photo credit: Linda Cronin/Flickr

David DeAngelo/Eben Pagan Finally Finds Love

I received an extraordinary email from Eben Pagan recently. That’s Eben Pagan who made millions as David DeAngelo of Double Your Dating.

He is the man who is famous for popularising dating and The Game amongst men, in his own words,

“… probably helped more men around the world how to be successful in dating than anyone else. Millions of men have read my newsletters, watched my videos and purchased my books and dating success programs.”

He said, in this email,

“Even though I had as many dates as I wanted (and occasionally a relationship that lasted a year or two) it just didn’t seem like it was ever going to really happen for me. I had actually “accepted” that I was probably going to be single forever…”

I didn’t dknow this but it didn’t surprise me, not because I know anything about Eben, but because I don’t believe all that stuff about dating. Continue reading →

Why Do Men Cheat – The Dirty Lowdown Of The Affair

Man On The Lookout

Women seem to talk constantly about why men cheat. There is a perception that men cheat all the time, is this true? It creates an impression that men are not to be trusted, do you find this?

When both men and women are asked why do men cheat, the immediate responses are often,

… men cheat to get back in touch with their inner caveman.
… men cheat because they like to play with fire.
… men cheat out of boredom.
… men cheat because they want more sex than women do.
… men cheat because the wife always nagging.
… men cheat just because they can …

These answers come mainly from Urban Myth, are they true, are there any facts to back them up?

Since 1950, when the famous Kinsey sex study found that 50% of American men cheat, the number cheating hasn’t changed much, even with all of today’s opportunities at our fingertips, including the internet and chatrooms.

Why Men Cheat – Is Infidelity A Given?

How true is the idea put forward by men that ‘It’s our biological nature‘?

Scientific research has taught us that there are three hormones inside our body that determine how monogamous we are: oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, and testosterone.

Oxytocin makes people want to stay together. It is the hormone that forges the bond between a mother and her new-born baby.

Arginine vasopressin supports the desire to support your mate or offspring, an important aspect of bonding between couples.

It’s the receptors for these two hormones in the brain that determine us as monogamous.

Then there is Testosterone, associated with libido and sex drive, and also male characteristics such as muscular structure.

Testosterone conflicts with the bonding effects of Oxytocin in driving a person to seek more sexual partners, to be single-minded and to take risks. Men usually have up to ten times more of it than women.

Our brain makes constant, calculated guesses regarding the consequences of our actions. A high level of testosterone seems to influence our calculation in favour of the satisfaction of the immediate desire.

Does that mean men can blame their Testosterone level for the fact that they cheat? Absolutely not, although influenced, we still are responsible for deciding whether to act upon our impulse. So hormones are not the answer to why men cheat.

What other reasons do men have for cheating in relationships?

Many men have difficulty talking about their feelings, let alone showing them. Sometimes it can feel safer to meet with someone new than to speak up at home and perhaps jeopardise their long-term relationship.

Often men are cheating because they don’t know how to be in a successful relationship. Instead of dealing with their hang-ups, like fear of connection or fear of intimacy, they entertain the idea that an affair remains superficial and, therefore, safe.

There are men who cheat because of their own feelings of loneliness, or suppressed anger. Instead of stepping up and addressing those issues they run away and hide.

It seems that cheating can be closely connected with men’s inability to address issues in their lives.

Five Types of infidelity

It is recognised that there are a number of different types of infidelity. Each type of infidelity indcates a different cause of why men cheat:

Opportunistic Infidelity – You have a partner but give in to the attraction you feel for someone else. Driven by lust in the moment, the time is right and usually a little risky. Many men specifically enjoy this type.

Obligatory Infidelity – Based on the fear that not giving in to the sexual advances of the other person will result in rejection by them. This stems from the need for approval.

Romantic Infidelity – You are lost because your relationship is petering out and you look for a replacement, look for affairs. To quote the legenday B.B. King, the ‘thrill is gone’.

Conflicted Romantic Infidelity – You have a strong sexual desire for several people at the same time, as well as being in a committed intimate relationship. You feel confused and that confiding in the intimate partner is not an option, unless you are in an ‘open relationship’.

Remembrance Infidelity – When you fall completely out of love with your current partner and want to get back to when you were in love.

Who Are You Really Cheating, Your Relationship?

Usually you are cheating yourself. Most infidelity involves pretence and lying to yourself. Personal honesty is key to preventing this. Don’t promise to be anything that you are not. If you like hunting women, if that is you at your core, stay true to your word. Don’t start creating false pretences by telling women you always want to be with them. Because you know you don’t.

Remember you will always feel the pull of polarity. The decision to take it further, however, is always yours to make or not. Your Testosterone creates urges, it does not control you.

Your Masculine Features – They Drive You

For men it’s important to get in touch with the maleness that they were born with, their masculine features. The sense of being a man that was imprinted in their brain in the womb.

Many men struggle because they believe the lie that it is all a social construct. They believe the story that is told that we are all the same. They believe that we are all masculine and feminine inside. They believe that, in the core, there is no difference. They believe there is no such thing as inherent masculine features.

I am not arguing the biological or genetic pros and cons, that’s for another day, I am speaking from my experience. Continue reading →

10 Annoying Things Men Do (Or Are They Endearing?)

Men make up around half the population and the other half seem to get annoyed by them most of the time. Why are men so annoying?

Maybe you love men and find their little habits endearing and lovable? Here are the habits that I see that women find difficult to take (or are they just annoying things men do?)

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Alexander The Great – Visionary And Reader Of Omens

Recently I went on a trip to Turkey to look at some of the ancient sites connected with Alexander the Great. The lessons from Alexander are powerful for all of us.

He had an amazing vision of what he wanted to do in life, what he wanted to achieve. But, as we all know, moving from vision to reality can be a trial. You need certainty that what you are doing is right and you need to be able to bring your followers along with you knowing they will trust you.

Alexander used the gods and omens to confirm what he was doing as he was putting his vision into action. He deliberately modelled himself on Achilles the great mythological hero. Aligning himself with Achilles gave him stature and helped him get total respect from his men.

He would interpret events around him as omens for his battles ahead, before the great battle of Gaugamela he saw an eagle flying high in the sky, for him an omen of coming success.

Yesterday I was sitting outside after eating lunch talking with Urmila about my plans for my new product on Graham Reid Phoenix. I am bringing out an online course for men teaching them ‘How To Love A Woman’ and ‘How To Be The Man Who Can Be With A Woman’. The details are finaling coming together and I am getting excited about the possibilities of marketing it to the wider world.

Just at that point Urmila stopped and pointed to the sky. There was a hawk flying high in the sky, circling on the thermals above the valley below.

We have been here over a year and this is the first time we have seen anything like this.

It circled higher and higher and flew over the top of us before flying off into the distance. This was an omen, there is no doubt in my mind. It shows the success that is lying in wait and it shows that on it I will fly higher and higher.

The effect has been amazing. The commitment is total.

Below is a video from the trip to Turkey where I talk about Alexander’s lesson for me.

Love Yourself – Get To Know Who You Are

To grow as a man and learn how to be with a woman you need to start with yourself.Knowing yourself is great beginning, but loving yourself is the end you should aim for.

Loving yourself may not seem very ‘manly’. It may seem a little soft or ‘new age’ to you, but believe me it’s absolutely essential if you want to gain self confidence and become more grounded.

This is important if you lack confidence in yourself or your relationship, or if you find it difficult to love for others. If you become grounded and love yourself you’ll take a crucial step to avoiding feeling awkward around women and you’ll gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Understanding how to love yourself will enable you to love others and create a feeling a certainty in those around you.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
(Maya Angelou)


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Men of Action – Make The World Go Round Or Cause Chaos

Do Men of Action make the world go round or are they dinosaurs who cause chaos wherever they go?

A recent email from a friend let loose about talk and inaction. It made me stop and think about what a man is at his core and question whether there are there common qualities in men. I’m not talking about the media view of men but a personal view based on experience and knowledge.

The email said,

“I feel angry and sad that coming up on a year we are essentially speaking about the same things we did when we formed – alignment, collaboration, purpose, and leadership. […] I want us to stop discussing, planning and analyzing. Either produce or move on.”

Those words resonate with so much that has happened in my life.

My eXperience of Men of Action

For the first decade of my working life I was in the theatre in practical and design roles. The key to the work was achieving successful productions. People could see the results and judge the level of success. There was a resistance to spend time talking: there was usually too much to do.

Later I moved into the construction industry, as a designer, and discovered a world of constipation and dissension. You could easily spend most of your time in meetings discussing endless details of design and cost, and forget the work that had to be done. People were afraid of action, afraid of the cost implications, to the extent that projects often lost that spark of imagination that great buildings are known for.

I have been known in my life as a man of action and have both achieved and caused upset. I often do before I think, even though I love logic and conceptual thought. The question is what is more beneficial to the world, men of action of men of thought.

Hugh Thomas Brown considered this in 1854 in a debate at the Dialectic Society on Men of Action. He said,

“It may however be said, by those on the other side of this question; that those ambitious warriors, and conquerors, who have swept some of the fairest climes of Earth with devastating armies, have done more serious injury to the human race, than the skeptical French philosophy, and they will no doubt parade this before you, as one of their strongest arguments. But It seems to me, that we have no right to decide on the motives of men in the abstract, but we are to look at, a man’s acts, and his life summed up together, apart from their moral quality, and see whether they were detrimental or beneficial to the human race.

Now there have been many ambitious heroes, whose aspirations were only for dominion and conquest, and who cared not how many widows and orphans were made in the accomplishment of their purpose; yet when we come to look at the ultimate result of their careers, they were, we find, decidedly beneficial to the world. It is a fact that all history, sacred and profane, teaches that the great Author of our being in the working of his misterious providence, does not always choose his owne—as instruments for working good to mankind.”

Brown was himself a man of action who became a lawyer, after graduating university and was killed as a captain in the Confederate army. He separates men’s achievements from the morality of their actions, a necessary device as action never considers its rightness or effect.

Alexander The Great – One Of The Great Men Of Action

Alexander the Great was, in many ways, a brutal man, but he carved an empire that had a lasting effect on Europe and Asia. He brought men together and encouraged them to see beyond their locality and beyond simple conquest. He elevated the nations he overcame and encouraged them to think and work together and to move beyond petty racism.

Carlyle said,

“Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies closely to hand.”

But Alexander turned that on its head and saw into the distance and into the future. No amount of philosophising and argument would have enabled his vision to prevail, only action was possible.

“Mark this well, you proud men of action! you are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought.”
( Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel)

Alexander was the instrument of Greek philosophers he had studied when young, but it was Alexander who showed the world what the men of thought were considering.

Action is a truly masculine quality. It is forged from base metals of focus, direction, power and strength. It sees far into the future and it sweeps aside petty considerations. What is important is achieving the end desired. People often question whether the end justifies the means, men of action certainly think so.

Femininity is less inclined to take precipitate action. Women are more caring and compassionate. They see the effects on people and that concerns them. It is right that they should because the world of men needs their balance. Great men live in polarity with great women who temper their action without dissipating it, they know how to love a man. This partnership is practically unbeatable.

Men look at yourselves and what you do. Do you take action or do you vacillate in thought and lose the opportunity you had? What would be better for the world, what would be better for you?