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Look at Me! Look at Me...The Ugly Side of Social

I'm a man, a father, a husband. In that order. Not by priority, but chronology. There was a time I really, really, really, really wanted to succeed as a full time blogger. Why not? It was a marriage of so many things I enjoyed - writing, technology, creativity, and of course unknown opportunity. And man, did I go in. I did everything back then that everyone now is calling one-to-one consumer engagement. I experimented with Twitter until I finally got it. I toiled and tooled around on Facebook until I got it. Pinterest, Google+ (yes that too) and LinkedIn. Even Friendster, just to get really real with you. And the better I got at promoting myself - my products (writing and my particular brand of storytelling) - the more positive responses I began to get. And by no means do I have the followings of some of my peers in the game but by myself I have more followers across social media than many of the companies I've worked for. And if I don't, I connect with my fans without effort. There is no strategy, no management, no analytics. It's just me and my people. Of course there is, but it comes naturally to me.

And here's where everything went screwy. So here's the deal, full disclosure, EPayneTheDad has, for many years, been in pursuit of meaning, self, identity, purpose and reason for being. It has angered me, frustrated me and many days left me depressed, unable to function, relate or be any good to the people who depended on me at the time. But all the while I was promoting myself in an effort to get ahead, pull even with my wife, find acceptance somewhere where acceptance has been just out of grasp for as long as I can remember, first grade to be exact. And where I wasn't looking for it, I found it - acceptance. From the sea of avatars that populate social media that have over time seconded my mellifluous musings here on this blog and anywhere else. Being just as human as anyone else the affirmation from the nebula of the Internet triggered my ego and inflated it so at times it has been difficult for my head to get through the door at home. It's made me never wrong and hardly unapologetic because in my mind I have been wrong for good reason and deserve to be cut the slack as anyone completely out of their minds should. Via Social I actually tricked myself into believing I was better and occasionally holier, than thou. Now that I know this I can't even imagine what it has been like to live with and for that matter, attempt to reason with me - the self-declared Mr. Good Guy who actually isn't that good at all. I shared with a fellow married man as recently as this morning that my motivation for doing things for others hasn't been for the good of others but rather for how it would make me look or seem in the eyes of others and the shocking realization for me is that I have been doing this for YEARS! And I can only recognize this now because after seeing firsthand the pain and brokenness I've caused (which never made any sense to a guy like me - figured something was wrong with everyone else) and spending time in intense prayer and personal reflection I've recently moved into a space where I am doing things purely for the well being of others and I'm here to state that although it feels a bit foreign, it also feels pretty darn good.

Be warned, especially men: hanging out on social is cool if that's what you want to do. If it's your job that's fine too. But be sure keep your mind and your heart guarded and maybe more importantly have real friends - ones who are in the flesh who will hold you accountable and keep you and your ego in check.


March 8th is International Women's Day: A Call To Action For Men

It's been many days since I've written here. I've spent a lot of time exploring me and trying to shift my thinking from self-serving and rather negative, to one that is more open and less self-righteous.

Today is International Women's Day. I've written about more than once here on the blog. It was cool, I got the gist of it of the day. One year I shared a video starring Daniel Craig. I figured his scripted piece was better than my own thoughts. Then a couple years later, I wrote about my daughter's amazing light but spent most of the post writing about my role as a father to facilitate this and my viewpoints as a man watching women not being considered equal.

There's a lot of talk about equal rights and equal pay in the press. Most recently, Patricia Arquette made quite a splash at the Oscars with her comments, potentially on the heads of other groups that continue to seek equality. There are plenty of grand global sweeping statements on what needs to happen. Most of them start with, "It's time we start..." It makes you feel good. The heart may even flutter. But there are no real actionable steps to accomplish anything.

I woke up this morning with no plans to write anything, especially here. But as I was looking at some of the Women's Day posts on social media I was literally struck by a very simple notion that came over me: It starts at home.

It Starts At Home
As a 43 year old man, I've come to believe I know some things about this world and yet the more time I continue to breathe, the more I recognize I do not. I have made it my business to surround myself with men. Men's men, strong men, successful men, accomplished men. There are times when we talk, often in circles, about ourselves and how we can be better men. For those of us who have daughters we talk about them as if they are priceless possessions and in the same breath we speak of our women as wholly human - flawed, challenging, at times a handful, and at times burdensome. What gives? The best place to start making a change for International Women's Day is across the dinner table with the one whom you share your life.

How often do we go to work, watch the news, hear stories second-hand about women not having their equal rights and equal say and shake our heads, only to come home and casually dismiss, ignore or reject our wives because we think we know better or because we think we can handle it. And we do so with male indignation.

At times, throughout the course of this blog I have marginalized and even villain-ized my wife and then conducted myself with smugness as being a great father and man. One any woman should be happy to have in their lives. My wife has read everything I've ever written, opting to remain silent, burying the pain caused by my sometimes callous insights on her and often over-inflated insights of myself. What women or rights of women am I celebrating if I am not first celebrating the woman in my home? Sadly, none. If anything I am embodying the definition of hypocrisy and so are many of us, men who don't hold our wives as equals in our lives. This isn't about the ages-old leadership debate, but rather simply holding the one you claim to love in the highest regard as possible so that you can actually see who they are, versus focusing constantly on who they are not.

With that said, today on International Women's Day I'd like start at home by celebrating my wife because she is:

  1. Absolutely Brilliant 
  2. Electric
  3. Determined
  4. Amazing
  5. Potent
  6. Courageous and Brave
  7. A Force of Nature
  8. Adventurous
  9. Thoughtful and Giving Beyond Measure
  10. A Loving Mother
In all honesty, my life is truly better because of her. She is a testament to strength and perseverance to everyone in my family. Being completely transparent, if I spent more time focusing on just these 10 things and less time on what I have perceived as shortcomings there's no telling how much more traction this blog would have as an empowerment tool to not only men and fathers but also women. It pains me to think that this blog has done anything less, especially as it relates to my wife. For this the blog and I owe her a tremendous apology.

For husbands reading this today, here's my call to action: 
  • Lift up the women in your lives. 
  • Hear them out. 
  • Trust them. 
  • Appreciate their perspectives. 
  • Understand they are just as right as you. 
  • Honor them. 
  • See them for their amazingness, not just what they could or should be doing better. 
  • Understand that they are not you. 
  • Celebrate their successes. 
  • Be there for them during their struggles. 
  • Promote them - tell them they matter to you and the world - everyday. 
  • Love them.
This is your duty. Take care of home before you set foot outside your home to entertain Women's Equality.

Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father..
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