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Hostage

I was dishonest, I admit it. I lied about something that I shouldn't have and completely disrupted my relationship to the point where I have to accept that it will probably never be the same. It was straight chaos for weeks and what I think really exacerbated the dispute was that my girlfriend never thought I could ever do anything wrong. She thought I was perfect and would make a point to tell me that almost everyday.

But that's just it, I'm not perfect. I never was. I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. I sometimes say the wrong things at the worst times. Sometimes I forget to do things or I'm late for a date. And guess what, sometimes I even lie.

flower-370101_640I'm not proud of what I've done and I don't want this post in any way to justify me lying. My only goal is to say that we all have many sides to us. Both males and females can be equally caring and unemotional, headstrong and docile, angry and forgiving. We just need the maturity to decide when to best act on those emotions. No one person should be held hostage to being that one person all the time. We are multidimensional, emotional beings and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I still have a lot of growing to do myself. I'm slowly coming into the person I want to be but truthfully I'm not sure I'll ever get there. I may always be a work in progress, trying to balance each side of my personality while trying to consider those around me who matter most. Hopefully they're patient enough to stick with all of the "me's" long enough for me to figure things out. Guess I'll have to wait and see....

I Cried Today

Yes I cried today. For the first time since making that fateful decision to leave my daughter for university south of the border, scared that she would forget who I was and what I meant to her, I cried. Ask me why I cried and I can't give you an answer. It's just one of those moments that everything seems overwhelming and nothing seems possible. For me these are rare occurrences; I'm a dreamer who believes anything is possible and nothing is out of reach.

landscape-342149_640But today, right now, I just feel like crying.

And I don't want to stop. I don't want anyone asking me if I'm OK or if they can do anything to make me feel better. I don't want help, I don't want to feel better and NO everything not is OK.

I want to cry; let out all of these emotions that I would never let out publicly, let out this entire facade of pretending I'm in complete cowood-273825_640ntrol of my life and everything and everyone in it. I want to let all of that go, uncontrollably, until I feel like stopping or until the hurt stops.

I had this conversation the other day and someone asked me my biggest fear. Without hesitation I answered "being average." I don't even know what that means right now. "Being average?" Maybe I mean failing. Maybe I mean not selling a million books. Maybe that means not having the courage to live my life exactly as I want without concern of how others will view my decisions or my actions.

I actually don't know; and I don't want to know.

All I want to do right now is cry until I feel like stopping or until the hurt stops.

 

 

Ultraviolence

Sometimes I wonder how this even makes sense. If you know me personally, you know that I am half obsessed half addicted to Lana Del Rey's music. The connection was instant and grows deeper as her catalogue of music expands. It's difficult to explain, but listening to her music engages me in the same way as reading John Milton's Paradise Lost. I relate to her perspectives just as strongly as I do with Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid Mad City. And although I listen to Lana Del Rey mostly when I'm alone (I played one of her songs to my cousin once who asked if this was opera), the emotional connection I feel to her music is powerful.

But why should this be surprising? If there is one thing social media has taught us is that we share commonalities that extend beyond borders or oceans, race or culture, gender or sexual orientation. It shows that as unique as we all are, we are more similar in ways that cause someone like me to relate completely to songs like "Sad Girl," or "Money, Power, Glory."

This is the power of art, the power of expression. The fact that the writing of a 17th Century poet moves me in the same way as a 21st century singer speaks to that power.

And we all want it. Any artist, writer, rapper, rocker, dancer who puts their expression on display does so in hopes of transcending any obstacles, including time, and touch their audience in ways that impacts them deeply on some level.

For me, I hope to accomplish this through the written word. To use my gift of writing to touch people who I otherwise would never be able to reach. It's a tall task but one that motivates me every time my fingers touch the keyboard.

My goal in a nutshell is to inspire and to impress.

So I ask, how do express yourself? What are your goals when putting your expression on display? Is it completely self-serving or do you hope to be understood?

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Why Men Need to be Weak...Sometimes

Waking up today and hearing the story of the Mississauga man apparently taking his own life, along with the life of his two young children, ran chills through my entire body. The three of them were found in a burning vehicle near Barrie last Friday, and police have come out to say that they do in fact believe the father intentionally killed himself and his own children. All of this followed by news of a Texas man shooting and killing four of his children, critically wounding his daughter, and murdering two other adults that were present in the home.

Now what I'm about to say is in no way a justification for these monstrous acts of horrific violence, and I'm not going to argue the politics of gun rights and gun ownership (common sense seems to elude most people who can make changes to these laws). Instead, I use these two examples only as a springboard to pose a question: Who do MEN turn to before they reach these critical breaking points? And the bigger question: How do we create a culture where men can feel comfortable and secure in turning to these groups and asking for help?

The latter I feel is the more difficult. While there certainly aren't enough centres for males dealing with adverse stress, teaching men how to cope with the responsibilities and social 'duties' that are assumed of them, the bigger problem is how do we get to a place in our society where it is not considered weak or demeaning or odd for a man to seek refuge in these settings.

Where are all the ads for "male" empowerment groups, or centres for mentally abused men? Even writing these words and making these these inferences in some way feels taboo; like I am appealing to society to allow our men to be sensitive, which in most  instances would castigate our sex and place us among the weak.

But as I read more and more about these types of cases mentioned in my intro, then reading stats that the suicide rate among males is approximately 3-7 times greater than that of females, claiming an average of 3000 lives a year in Canada alone - with rates peaking when men reach their forties - it's difficult for me not to suggest that we not only need to allow men to be weak (if that's how they will be assessed), but we should encourage it.

Men need outlets just as readily as females, and not feeling free to express moments of weakness, instead internalizing these emotions until they reach an irreversible boiling point, is causing what has been referred to as a silent epidemic. We are murdering men, or in fact causing them to murder themselves when some intervention would have surely saved some of the men that felt desperate, alone, with nowhere or no one to turn to.    

So my call on society is let our men be weak. Not all the time, but sometimes a weak moment can be empowering and literally save a life.
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Written by: Kern Carter author of "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul," available in all formats at www.kerncarter.com

 

Now What....

Last week I went to speak at a Fundraiser specifically aimed at investing in youth culture. While it was a great honour to be invited to speak, the most fulfilling part of the night came in a side conversation I had with a gentlemen who was just curious about what I did. We spoke in all for about twenty minutes, but the most memorable part of the dialogue was the question he posed: "now what?"

Only two words, but oh so powerful. To add some perspective, the conversation was geared around how we as leaders could use our voice to uplift not only youth, but different members of our community. We spoke about running different camps, doing appearances and speeches, and a bunch of different outreach projects that could possibly have a positive impact. I was kind of feeling myself, the way I do when I make a few good points that garners some head nods and rising eyebrows. But near the end of the conversation he asked me "and now what?" AND NOW WHAT?

"What are you going to do? - What is your one appearance for two hours, or your yearly summer camp for two weeks, or your one hour book reading - how is that truly going to make a difference in the day-to-day life of the people you hope to touch?"

I paused for a while and thought about some clever response about "making a lasting impression" and "if I could touch just one person" blah blah blah. But I didn't say anything, couldn't really say anything. It was too real of a moment and I felt it required contemplation rather than input.

The question is simple...And now what? And now what, Kern? What am I going to do? How will I truly make an indent on the lives of everyone that hears my voice or reads my words. How will I make my voice powerful enough so my words stay with them every single day of their lives? 

The question has stuck with me, and those of you reading to get an answer will be sadly disappointed. I am still contemplating. I haven't completely figured it out yet but I know once I do my mark will be deep.

Lessons are learned everywhere, at any time. The mind just has to be open to receive them.

Defining Success

I spent half of my twenties being formally educated and sacrificed the other half so I can put myself in a position to be successful. I didn't take any vacations, didn't party excessively, and spent my money efficiently. And to be completely honest, it wasn't that difficult. I saw the bigger picture and knew who I was and who I wanted to be. I knew what I wanted to do with my life and my career and I lived every day with that knowledge.

Now I am finally in that position. I'm another step closer to having an impact on the world, which has always been my intention. Every day I said no to going to a club, every dollar I put into my career instead of a vacation package, every bullshit job I took so I could make ends meet while I worked on this book; now all of it is paying off. I always say this is just the beginning, but so much has been done already.

"Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" is out now and the real journey to success begins.

Why 25 is the New 50

When I turned 25 I remember feeling severely depressed that I hadn't accomplished all of my goals and that my life wasn't exactly how I had imagined it years prior as an eager university graduate. I felt like a failure, like if my time to be successful had almost run out. I thought I was alone in this, but apparently I was wrong. When finally opening up about my depression to other Millennial aged friends and colleagues, they said they had experienced some of the same feelings. At first I was excited to know that I wasn't crazy, but then I thought about how insane I really was for believing that not being financially stable in a career I love by my mid twenties meant that I was a failure.

I wondered what could have lead to this thinking and didn't have to look past the current culture that has been created; the NOW culture where news is instantaneous and stories of millionaire and billionaire tech start ups gives the illusion of normalcy. A culture where impatience is a virtue and if you're not up to date with the new social media trend then you're not up to date.

I had to seriously look at myself, analyze where I was in my personal life and my career; then strategize where I wanted to be. I had to rid myself of the notion that 25 is the new middle age and push past the culture that engulfed my thoughts.

When I did this, I was able to focus on all that I had already accomplished. I told myself that although I still had a lot to do, I should be proud of what I had already done. My mind became clear and I let the culture motivate me instead of intimidate me. I knew how I would impact the world and set out on a mission to do just that.

Maybe 25 is the new 50 in this wild world. But my journey isn't defined by age, it's defined by impact. And I plan to continue impacting the world one day at a time until I'm one with the earth.

Daughters

To all my fathers: YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Do not measure the worth of your influence by a monthly payment. You are so much more and should be so much more. I dare you to be PRESENT in the lives of your daughters. Be present to guide her, speak to her, take her to school, read to her, listen to her. Your PRESENCE means so much. YOU are the FIRST LOVE of her life and it will be up to you to make sure that love is healthy and beautiful, so you set the stage for every other man that enters her life after you.

Do not be afraid to be her friend, or to scold her for being rude. Compliment her for doing her hair by herself for the first time and push her to turn that "B" into an "A." Encourage her to be bold, opinionated, demanding, confident. And as many times as you will be forced to tell her "NO" show her a different way that is acceptable.

Be the parent she needs, the companion she wants, and the leader that is essential to her nurturing.  

Teaser

So since my first book "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" is due out any day now, I decided to give everyone a short excerpt. Let me know what you think....

I’ve been here before. Though I can’t remember exactly when or for how long, I know I’ve been here. My mother carried me in her womb hundreds of miles to this very place. And as I exited the airplane for the second time, I acted as if this wasn’t anything new. I watched curiously as my older brother got excited blowing cold air out of his mouth, though most of my attention was centred somewhat in the distance where a group of tall trees stood, their branches left bare, illuminated by the melted snow. The branch that kept me still, however, had kept all of its leaves. And as I looked at this fire red tree blaze in the midst of the cold weather I realized, even at that time, there was something odd about the entire scene. My daze was interrupted seconds later when my brother blew his frosty breath in my face. I chased him through the tunnel that led inside the airport. I remember looking back outside for that tree and not being able to see it through the window. Today I debate with myself whether it was there in the first place. If you knew me, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think I imagined the entire thing.

Tightrope

The other day I was riding around with my close friend John Amoah and he asked me about my book. "Isn't your book coming out soon?" I kind of nodded my head and proceeded to change the subject. He stopped the conversation and said something like "hold on, you have a book coming out and all you can do is nod your head? I would be going crazy right now."

I told John that I am excited, but will be more excited when the books starts selling. He still looked at me like I was crazy and reminded me that last year at this time, all I wanted was my book to be published. Now I'm a couple weeks away from release and I'm worried about book sales.

"Yeah" I told him. "I really want the book to do well." He shook his head. "Make sure you enjoy this," John told me. "This is already a huge accomplishment."

I thought about what John said, and thought about how I am always looking towards the future, always planning that next step. But I've already been on such an incredible journey and its gone by so fast that I often haven't taken the time to enjoy it. I've been completely caught up in the goal and haven't enjoyed the milestones along the way.

I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with me being focused on accomplishing my dreams, but there's also nothing wrong with stepping back and being proud of what I've already accomplished. I need to do a better job walking that tightrope, of finding the balance between ambition and living in the present.  Luckily I have great people around me to help me out from time to time, and as I continue on this journey to success, I'll depend more on more on these people to help keep me on that tightrope.

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