mental health

Redefining the Man-Cave: My Mental Health Discovery.

A few years ago, I bought a shoe rack from Ikea to accommodate my growing shoe collection. For those of you who don’t know me, a seemingly simple assembly of a shoe rack was (and still is) a daunting task for me. And when I say daunting, I mean red-in-the face, F-bombin’ daunting!

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I was never good at assembling furniture or building anything of any sort. I mean, I loved playing with Lego as as a kid, but let’s face it, assembling Lego doesn’t translate into building coffee tables, dining room chairs or shoe racks by any stretch.

And the same can be said about my relationship with cars and electronic devices. With cars, I couldn’t tell you if the BMW FT-260 model is any different than the SE 5000 model if my life depended on it.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I just made up those model numbers because that’s how little I know about cars and the mechanics behind them. I never could understand and relate to my buddy Vince whenever he talks about cars and his dream of getting the F59-ST Mustang….which I also just made up. I just nod, smile like an idiot and pretend I know what the hell he’s talking about.

Finally for the longest time, I owned a CRT television, years after the flat screen not only became affordable, but when CRT’s were phased well out of production. When I finally got myself a flat screen, I pathetically tried to sell my CRT and eventually resorted to giving it away for free. Guess what? No takers…I think it’s still sitting somewhere in storage waiting for it to come back into fashion.

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I hate the term Man-Cave. Am I even spelling it correctly? Is it Mancave? Or man cave or “Man cave”. You know, that place downstairs where men are supposed to hang out in, watching TV in their high tech surround sound system, talking about their cars and new construction projects? I’m sure that’s not always the case. None the less, the term man cave feels a bit sexist to me. Ironically, maybe it was a man who came up with that term. It paints a picture of a male neanderthal who was limited to grunting, belching and doing “manly things”.

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For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out my place as an Asian single dad in his 40’s living in the suburbs. After some major life transitions, sparked by my realization about my poor mental health, I was determined to change my unhealthy belief system. I became an author, a public speaker for mental health, a facilitator for workshops and now an online instructor for a mental health workshop on Udemy.

My teenage son who has the daunting task of learning to manage his mental health, demonstrated his raw talent in producing the awesome videos in the workshop. We had a whole mini studio setup in our tiny apartment, but boy was it ever fun! We wrote, recorded, edited, tested and planned the entire workshop together.

Along with my book promotions, blogging and planning for speaking engagements on mental health, I realized this is my place in this world. The creation of videos, blogs, books, speeches, workshops and meetups are my “things.”

There’s nothing more engaging and stimulating to me than to have a meaningful conversation about mental health, life and one’s journey. Throw in some rib-tickling jokes, a beer, a pleasant walk with a nice meal to follow and I’d call it a perfect evening.

Thus, I peacefully reached the conclusion that the term “man-cave” isn’t about men belching with their hands down their pants while watching sports. Man-cave to me means a space for men to do the things that we enjoy. It’s a space for self-care and to recharge our mental well-being. For some, it is a space to relax in while watching sports. For others, it’s their space to craft and build things. For me, my man-cave is a place where I can write, blog, innovate and find creative ways to stretch my arms as wide as they can go to inspire others around the world and to raise mental health awareness.

Jason

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Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Dragon. Photo by Kristi MacFarlane Photography.

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