Purpose

After years of blogging – I have finally realised why my website exists at all: It is to help husbands.

Initially, I thought this blog was about music, or maybe psychology, or maybe self-improvement – but now I realise that it is actually about the situation I found myself in.

6 years ago, I moved in with my wife after our wedding and I felt frankly lost. There had been so much celebration and planning for our married life, but once it actually happened, there were several problems; I had nowhere to call my own space (interior design and marriage negotiations). I had no creative outlet (personality type). I had no sense of self (again, psychology and personality type). I was getting unfit and unhappy fast.

The themes of Design, Negotiation, Psychology and Creativity have all been catalysts for change in my married life. I have decided to take responsibility for my own marriage and my own health. I write and create podcasts centred on these themes.

There will be lots more people who can relate to this. To date this site has only helped myself, but from now on Chimpwithcans has a purpose – to enable a husband’s health in the home. 

Not a lot will change, but I will treat this writing and podcasting as more of a job and you can expect things to become a bit more professional. There will also be Patreon content created and available to Patrons only.

Happy Wednesday Chimps.

Love and War

King of your realm? Everything in its place? You will inevitably receive a challenge to let the spirits of War or Love come in through the front door. Accept the challenge and then everything changes. You have a choice to let them in or not. To stay where you are, or to take on the responsibility.

Years ago we let a dog through the door. A long haired mutt called “Trumpet” – Hair and damp spots grew in the realm. We fed him, changed his name, took him to school, gave him haircuts and a bed of his own.

Other spirits heard our doors were open and started to arrive in different forms. We let in more dogs, fish, grownups and finally children.

If you let them in, Love and War can take over the realm. This is not ideal and can lead to eternal battles that will burn the realm to the ground leaving nothing but scorched earth. So what to do? It is tempting to enforce discipline on the spirits no matter what. To shout and push them around. This works to a point, but the realm loses something in the process so too much discipline and fear will hurt the realm. Once upon a time we shouted and ordered spirits around for three whole days and the realm turned grey. No more color was left. It was as if the realm was sick with a cancer.

Instead we recommend you provide a stage in the realm for Love and War to play out their fantasies. This stage needs to be thought out to a degree, but really you just need a snug place to sit, some open space as a stage with sunlight to light up the spirits, and some clean air. Maybe a bit of music in the background for atmosphere. Once the stage is set, sit back and watch for the magic. Note that this can be messy and cleaning up after a performance will be up to you, but pay attention when the play is on because the magic is oh so beautiful. Carry a glass jar to capture some of the magic if you can. Then you can hang the jar on a piece of string and let the children sleep easy under its light.

This will come with practice.

Making it interesting

Check out this passage from a book I am reading:

The eardrum is connected to three tiny, loosely hinged bones inside the middle ear. Each bone is delicate and exquisitely shaped. One looks like a hammer and is called by its Latin name, malleus. The next, the incus, looks like an anvil. And the third, the stapes, looks like a stirrup. When the eardrum vibrates, these bones vibrate in tune with its movement and with the movement of the air.

Three bones make all the sound you hear in your head! This sort of thing blows my mind, and yet I gave up biology at 15.

Maybe if my biology teacher had linked it all to music I would have paid attention.

Buildings through different lenses

One way to view a building is through the lens of a developer. Using this lens, a building is a foundation, a frame, and finishes (interior and exterior — windows, doors, penetrations) plus the surface finishes (floors, walls, ceilings, interior doors, rest rooms, mop closets, central plant) and the HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, controls, elevator systems.

Buildings can also be linked to health and emotion. A house can be a safe space and a home full of joy, or it can be full of anger, the scene of a divorce. Creative spaces can give you a sense of freedom and purpose. Pressurized space characterized by disjunction and poor design can give you a feeling of unease – it may even make you sick.

Depending on what you want to achieve, it helps to have the right lens. For example right now I need to sort out several functional things in our old house such as the garden lawn and the crumbling driveway. Developers lens helps here. I also have to manage a big family’s needs and expectations with my own. Seeing our home as a space for emotional fulfillment, health, and personal development is perhaps the lens to use here.

Contrast = interesting to humans

I once asked my dad why he liked The Rolling Stones so much. His answer was that they understood the need for highs and lows in a song.

It is hardwired deep in your nervous system. The senses that we humans have developed over millennia of evolution – touch, smell, sight, hearing – are made up of nerve cells linking to our brain. These nerve cells respond better to a sudden change than they do to repeated stimuli.

What does this mean? It depends on the situation.

For Mick Jagger and the boys it means that their songs have light and shade. Quiet verses and soaring choruses. Jagger will whisper and then he will growl and roar.

For emergency response vehicles it means the loud sirens are designed to be varied, sharp and with many different patterns so as to be noticed over the noise of everyday traffic. This contrast works better than one continuous noise which is easily filtered out by the human ear.

For creative people, I think it means that if a piece of art is not getting the desired response, then one of the first things to assess is the use of contrast – light and shade, highs and lows.

Contrast = interesting to humans.

Balance the Sun

Too much sun can lead to DNA damage – sun burn and eventually cancer.

Too little sun can cause vitamin deficiencies – rickets.

Design yourself a living space with some sunshine. Not too much but definitely not too little. The Sun’s light impacts mood and physical health in a massive way.

Room design

I change the set up of my house quite frequently. It’s not something I thought I would become interested in, but interior design can impact your health, your mood, your daily movement.

The latest casualty is our bedroom. There is a small flight of stairs leading into the room. It used to be that as soon as you walked down the three or four stairs, our bedside table got in your way, then our bed got in your way. You had to make a hard left turn to get anywhere else in the room.

Now the bed and table are the other side of the room, freeing up the entry. The “Flow” of the room (ha! I’m writing about “room flow”) is so much better now that you can walk down the stairs and just keep on going. If you like you can keep going all the way through the room, unimpeded to the garden. It’s amazing how much difference this one change has made.

I also rigged up a sweet Hifi system in the bedroom using an old amp with Denon speakers and a chromecast. Check out the photos on the @chimpwithcans Instagram page if you like.

I can just feel the different vibe in the room. There is a “flow” as you arrive, and the music makes you want to stay.

Furniture

I never thought I would ever care about furniture. For my teens and twenties, furniture was just stuff to sit on or put things on…or lie on. Just stuff to use.

Now though, furniture has power. I have favourite pieces. I appreciate how things are made. I get a sort of mental clarity and peace of mind when furniture fits into a room the way I think it ought to. When it is comfortable.

I think this is born out of family growth and chaos. Like a little microcosm of the world, population explosion in my house has put pressure on resources and spaces. Furniture has become misused – a TV cabinet overrun by unicorn stickers – a lounge suite as a nappy changing station. Furniture gets in the way often – tables and chairs are moved around willy-nilly for little hands and feet to climb onto – nothing more than leverage to reach something high. Just stuff to use.

Interior design and furniture can impact your health and wellbeing. Kids don’t care, and there’s a beauty in their nonchalance, but I am becoming more and more convinced of the power that ‘things fitting into appropriate spaces for particular use-cases’ can have.

Happy work environment

A big, broad work desk. In a quiet and comfortable office. My ideal workspace is clear of clutter and has access to the net and electricity for the laptop. There’s light enough to see. It smells nice. I have art on the wall.

Setting up my office and desk multiplies out over months and years. Over time, being comfortable at work adds up to a career and my own personal health. In many corporates we are not given the option to customize our workspace, which is a shame. I’m very lucky to have an office at home which I can adjust.

Like anything, a work space is subject to atrophy and creeping chaos over time. Clutter builds up in the most annoying way. If the size of the desk is wrong, or the seating is bad, or the connectivity options are not there it can have a huge impact on what I can achieve on any given day. The balance needs to be maintained or else it will fall apart. Next time you sit down to work, have a run through your senses. What does it feel like, smell like, what can you hear? What can you see around you? (lets assume you eat somewhere else and leave taste for now!).

At one point, I had a bad work chair hurting my back, there was not enough light to see properly, and dead rats in my office roof were stinking the place out. I was one step away from a human rights violation in my own home!

A new roof, some lighting and an ergonomic chair means my big, broad work desk is far more inviting. I have art on the wall. I have music. I have electricity. I have the internet. Most satisfying.