Down With O.P.P. (Other People’s Perceptions)?

Down With O.P.P. (Other People’s Perceptions)?

You down with O.P.P?

Yeah, you know me!

You down with O.P.P?

Yeah, you know me!

All of us have come face to face with family & friends who do not agree with, and quite often do not understand, what we are doing and what we are about.  They are sure what you are doing is wrong and you will only wind up hurting yourself, others, and (even worse) them!  Breaking through your defenses with knowing smiles and furrowed brows, they hide behind their super-friend guise of concern and offer up an unending stream of advice.  When this fails to talk sense into you, their “friendly” advice becomes more pronounced… aggressive… sometimes, even threatening.

How can you be so blind?!

Can’t you see what you’re doing—how you’re hurting yourself and everyone around you?

How can you be so selfish?!

You Bastard!

Sound familiar?  It does to me—even the “bastard” part.  (Okay, maybe I’m paraphrasing… taking poetic license and being a tad overdramatic.  But, that’s how it sounds in my head.)  All the high dramatics aside, I’m here to tell you…

“It’s none of your business what other people think of you.”

(In “quotation marks” because many others have said this before—“I stand on the shoulders of giants.”)

It is human nature to want to keep the status quo.  Home & office, friends & family—there is a hierarchy, a pecking order if you will that most people strive to keep.  Office politics and corporate hierarchy often dictate that their denizens jockey for position like nobility at court.  The same can be said of your friend and family social structures.  No matter where you are in life, each group you come in contact with has its Alpha, its Beta, and even its Psi & Omega.

Then you come along….

With your highfalutin ideas about changing your life for the better.  It’s not “good.”  It’s not “normal.”  Others certainly don’t want you altering things… especially if this means they’ll be moving down a few rungs on the social ladder.

Is this true?

Some yes.

Am I telling you this so you can be pissed off at the injustice of it all?

Mostly no.

Mostly I’m telling you so you will understand why it happens, recognize it when it happens.  It doesn’t affect you.  At least, it doesn’t have to.  Why?  Because you see it coming and you can steel your self-esteem against the onslaught of their crippling barbs & jeers?

No.  Well… some, but mostly no.

It doesn’t affect you because…

“It’s none of your business what other people think of you.”  Still.

There is a story I’ve heard about crabs in a bucket.  It seems you only have to put a lid over the bucket when you have caught only the first one.  After that, when you have more crabs in the bucket, they do all the work.  Even though safety, freedom, and a much longer lifespan reside on the outside, the remaining crabs pull the would-be escapee back down to their level.

To the bucket.

To their doom.

It is human nature to do the same thing…mostly without the impending doom.  Mostly.  You see, this behavior has spelled the death of many a dream.  Pull them down enough and creative types will finally come to their senses, leaving go of an inspiration that “probably” wouldn’t go anywhere anyway.  A crushed spirit can lead to a safe & secure J-O-B.

Remember, others forcing their Perceptions and Opinions on you = Peer Pressure.  This was a big pain in the butt during high school & college.  It’s time to begin growing past this now.

Are people actually holding you back?  Physically?  Really?!  Or could it be that you value their opinions over yours?  You’re worried about what other people might think, so you buckle under the perceived “pressure.”  You hold your tongue instead of offering your brilliant suggestion at the board meeting.  One week later, you watch Johnston submitting your idea, receiving all the praise.


That idea-stealing, dream-crushing glory thief.

He kept you back.  He held you down.  When you shared your idea with him he physically… did nothing.  Other than physically open his mouth, suggesting your idea “outlandish.”  You did the rest.  Worried about what your coworkers might think, you kept your mouth shut.

You did it.


Instead of worrying about what anybody else thought, Johnston stuck his neck out and offered up your idea.  Sure, he’s not going to win Team Player of the Year, but who cares?!  He’s on his way up & out of the bucket and you’re not.

Next time you have another brilliant idea (don’t worry, you will; you have them all the time), speak up.  Whether it’s about your job, some creative spark, or a dream you just can’t quit—make your move.

Don’t worry about what others think.

Why should you?  They’re not worried about you.  Not really.

People are too enmeshed in their own lead role to worry about your bit part in their life.  Everybody’s got their own stuff going on.  Their world, and opinion of you, is colored by that.  It’s not personal.  Remember, everyone is hip deep in their own sheep sugar and the smell is why they’re making that funny face—not you.

But, what if they’re right… and you’re not!?

Life is a game, meant to be played—an experiment where you try new things.  Often you will fall flat on your face…and that’s okay—great even!  This is how we learn how to do this thing called Life.  As long as you’re not hurting yourself or others, muck things up a bit.  Take chances.  Ready, fire, then aim as you go.  It’s okay—you’re doing fine!

Only you can decide what your life is about—what’s important, what’s not.  At the end of the day, Y-O-U are responsible for your own experiences.  That means you can make mistakes and….

You can fix them!

These are your lessons.  You have to learn them, to go through “the fire” sometimes in order to Level Up Your Life.  When it comes to your life, you are responsible—yours is the opinion that matters.  I’m not going to tell you that everything will always work out the way you want.  In fact, often, when you get what you want, it winds up not looking anything like you thought it might.  Is this some cruel cosmic joke?

No.  Maybe.  Sure.  Who cares!

Whatever happens, isn’t it better to follow your passion?  To attempt even a few of your “crazy” ideas?  Rather than suffer a life of “quiet desperation”?  You might surprise yourself.  You will fall flat on your face…a lot.  But, that’s okay.  That’s why you’re here.  To run and fall and skin your knees… and create a great life for yourself.

So, what do you say?

You down with O.P.P.?

No way, not me!

You down with O.P.P.?

No way, not me!

You know what?  Me neither.

“I took the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference.”

~Robert Frost~

For more on this topic, check out the podcast >>TOSOL #55 – Down With O.P.P. (Other People’s Perceptions)? <<

Cross the Finish Line

Cross the Finish Line

Cross the Finish Line

How many projects do you have open?  Ever begin a new one while there was still sooo much left to do on the others?  Because you had to, right?  If you’re anything like me, you have multiple projects going at one time, most of them somewhere just below or above the halfway mark of getting done.  They’re sitting there, lounging about in various stages of undress, thumbing their noses at you and beckoning the rest of the world to have a looksee at how disorganized you are….

…Or is that only me?



Misery loves company.

Projects are not the only things I collect.  Apparently, I have a penchant for Internet Browser Tabs.  They’re addicting.  I mean, sure, I tell myself that I leave them open as a reminder.  A 21st Century trail of breadcrumbs, leading me back to the land of unread articles and ignored interweb pals in desperate need of a witty reply.  But, that’s just an excuse.  I’m pretty sure I’m a Browser-Tab Hoarder.


Another thing I like to collect, this one falling more on the plus side of my Mordant Habits, is To-Do Lists.  Short ones, long ones, day–week–month ones…I’ve got a bunch.  Just recently I set myself up with yet another Master To-Do List.  (Yes, there have been others.)  I’m really proud of this one.  It’s three columns wide—enough to fit my Tortuga Twins, Mordant World, and personal to-do stuffage.  Then it breaks down into recurring tasks, weekly, and people I need to contact.  I take something from each of the columns and put them down on an index card.  Those items are the ones I’ll be working on for that specific day.  It appears a little convoluted, but it’s not that complicated…not really.  My brain seems to like it and I’m getting stuff done, (yes, this blog is on the list) and that’s what matters.

I could delve more into To-Do Theory, but that’s not what this blarticle is about.

(Please stop applauding.)

The reason I bring up such things as to-do lists & browser breadcrumbs is to share a bit of my own mental clutter and let you know I’m guilty of everything I’m chatting about here.  That is why I’m sooo knowledgeable on this subject—firsthand experience.  Mental clutter isn’t the topic either.  Then, why have I “wasted” 383 words (as of last sentence) talking about it?  Because those aspects of mental clutter are part of a long list of things that keep you from completing your work/finishing your projects/achieving your goals.  They get in your way, delay and trip you up, preventing you from being able to…Cross the Finish Line. Btw, this is what this blarticle (blog-article—so, sue me) is about.

Busy is the new Lazy.

Often insidious, sometimes distractions & excuses come cleverly disguised as work.  You heard me.  I believe that one of the things we do to keep from Crossing the Finish Line is busy work…or, more specifically Busywork.  You know, those day-to-day things we “have to” get done.  It may be some other project or a task you’ve been putting off.  It could even be something that, once you begin working on it, opens doors to various forms of distraction.

Social media anyone?  No?

When was the last time you “just checked” your Facebook for a minute…

10 minutes…

Holy crap, where’d that hour go?!

Don’t beat yourself up too much—my good intentions have led me down this self-same road.  The problem with Busywork is its ninja-like ability to sneak in under your distraction-detecting radar, keeping you sooo busy that you don’t have time to do the really important things—for your family, your dreams/goals, even the J-O-B.  Sinister & sneaky, Busywork is the Sith Lord of distractions.  You’re spinning your wheels, exhausted from all the quality work-time you’ve spent managing various “necessary” tasks.  Yet, at the end of the day, you’ve done nothing to further your goals, level up beyond your current circumstances, or enrich your quality of life.  You’re stuck—finish line in sight, but lacking both the drive & energy to sprint those final meters and cross.

Crossing the Finish Line is something we all struggle with from time to time.  You’ve done it; I’ve done it.  The good thing about all of us being in the trenches together is we can share our experiences, both positive and negative, and the wisdom harvested from them.  Below are four steps I use to help me get over the hurdles and across the finish line.


MAKE A TO-DO LIST:  No, I’m not kidding.  This really works.  Not only is this good for you & me, but it’s grand for other highly successful people.

“I have always lived my life by making lists: Lists of people to call, lists of ideas, lists of companies to set up, lists of people who can make things happen.  Each day I work through these lists, and it is that sequence of calls that propels me forward.”

~Sir Richard Branson~

Jot down the “to-do” you want to work on for that day and number each task accordingly.  Begin a task and finish it.  Try not moving on until you’re done or have “hit a wall” (i.e., need someone else to “do their part” before you can take up the reins again).  *Tip: Let’s not live or die by this order—if you’re on #3, but you’re moved to knock out #7 or can do it with alacrity, feel free to make that Quantum Leap.)

TURN OFF YOUR “DISTRACTIONS”:  Facebook, television, video games…your phone—turn them all O-F-F!  There’s nothing more hindering than being pulled out of your flow by a buddy with an oh-so important message for you or the *ping-ping-ping* siren call of new emails.  Set aside your creative time for being creative.  The world and its catastrophes will be there when you plug back into the Matrix an hour or three later.  Meanwhile, your Real Life, the life you are meant to have if only you would do whatever it takes to make it your own, is waiting for you to crank up the power and go get it.

MAKE IT A GAME:  The only person you’re really in competition with is yourself.  Why not use this attitude to your advantage?  Find a way to have fun with even the most mundane tasks.  How?  Try setting various deadlines and rewards for finishing early.  (You have a week to complete your task.  For every day before your deadline you finish, give yourself a little sumthin’-sumthin’.)

People like to be scared.  That’s why rollercoasters and horror flicks do such a big business.  Why not discover enjoyment in facing those things that challenge you?  I was a touch fretful when going to invite singer/artist Afua Richardson to guest on The Other Side of LIVE!  I’d never met her before and I wasn’t sure how she’d take this motivational blonde guy with the Tony Stark goatee.  (*Spoiler Alert* — I can be shy sometimes.)  I decided to walk my talk and Fail Forward.  Though nervous, I sought her out and asked her to be on the show.  She said “Yes,” and I even managed to vlog the moment.  It was scary.  It was outside my comfort zone.  It was fun and I’m sooo glad I did it!  As long as I kept it a game, I was able to play through all my doubts and negative self-chatter.  In the end, I both lined up a guest for TOSOL and deposited some serious cred into my self-esteem account.  You can, too!  Just make it a game and remember…

“Have fun dammit!”  ~Cindy Lu~

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE:  Don’t forget your Why!  Instead of looking at all the crap you have to go through to get to where you’re going, stay focused on the accomplishment and its benefit.  While working as a painter’s apprentice, I had to walk a narrow ledge to get from one painting site to another.  I was fine as long as I kept my eyes on where I was going, my destination, my goal…not on my feet and where I was walking.  Relaying this story to writer/aerialist Allison Williams, she told me that this was true for aerial performers of all varieties—especially the tightrope walkers.

Your Why (your reason for doing those crazy-wonderful things you do) is what keeps you going when all about you is chaos.  When the doubts creep in and you’re not sure you’ve made the right choice in pursuing your dream, your Why will keep you Crossing the Finish Line when others are quitting the race before they’ve even worked up a sweat.  Your Why is the “reason for the season,” folks.  It is, literally, why you began running your race in the first place.

Keep your eye on the prize, trusting your feet to land where they’re supposed to land, and you, my friends, will Cross the Finish Line, accomplishing every fantastic thing you set your mind to do.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

~W. Clement Stone~

Click here for the Cross the Finish Line:  >>>Podcast<<<

Click here for the Cross the Finish Line:  >>>Vlog<<<


Here I was, cresting the wave of this high I’ve been on lately.  Smooth sailing all the way, with nothing but the open seas before me.  When all of the sudden I run smack-dab into the wall that is my Comfort Zone.  Actually, I’m not much of a boating person; this is only a metaphor.  The wall?  That’s a metaphor, too.  My Comfort Zone, however, and me needing to be on the outside?  That’s all too real.

What actually constitutes a “Comfort Zone”?  According to Alasdair A. K. White in his research paper “From Comfort Zone to Performance Management”:

The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.


Put love first.  When you concentrate on your job, you succeed.  When you invest time learning about a career skill, your favorite sports team, even more about your friends, you become an expert in those fields.  What about the Arena of Love?  Don’t you think you should spend more time and effort in that area?  You do want a fabulous love life…don’t you?  When it comes to your relationship, are you the student, reluctant to crack your textbooks…or the connoisseur?

It’s no secret, your relationship is not something you can set & forget, just “wishing” for the best.  You have to do something about it, growing the intimacy in your life…even when you’re not in the mood.  I’m not saying you should look at this like work.  Love isn’t a chore…though sometimes it may feel that way.  Have fun with cultivating deeper intimacy in your life.  Treat it like a new fascination, looking for opportunities to get back to romantic playtime.  The feelings will follow, especially when you and your partner begin to turn up the steam.

When you put love first, you concentrate on it, you focus on it.  You’re putting God and the Universe, as well as yourself and your partner on notice that you’re serious about having intimacy in your life.  Begin doting on your relationship as you would a favorite hobby.  Have a weekly Date Night, where you and your mate get back to your romantic roots.  Read up on the latest regarding intimacy, relationships, and—yummy—sex!  Create a Dream Board with your partner, pasting pictures of what you want your relationship to look like on a board suitable for framing.  Do whatever voodoo you need do, but…


R. Mordant Mahon

There’s been some confusion of late, as to what you should call me. You’ve seen or heard me throw out the names “Mordant,” and “Raphael,” and “Riki”—and perhaps a couple others tossed here and there into the mix. What’s up with that?! What should you call me and where do all these names come from anyway? I’m a little public for the Witness Protection Program, so it’s not that. Probably. Perhaps I’m just eccentric (read: weird), and like the thought of a ton of pseudonyms. You know…having so many people in my head that I don’t ever feel alone. But, that would be just a little too whack-a-doodle, don’t you think? The voices in my head agree with me, so it must be true.

I was adopted at birth and given the name Ronald Richard Robinson. My family goes by their middle names, and that’s where Riki comes in—from Richard. (Much better than the other nickname I could have gotten from Richard, believe you me.) It’s always been Riki and it’s always been spelled the way it is. In my teens, I tried to shorten it to Rik, but my mother said, “No! You’re name’s Riki.” And so, Riki it is.

Until I became a Tortuga Twin.

In 1987, I co-founded a comedy troupe. Known mostly as a trio (there are currently six of us on the roster), but back then we were a duo. We were portraying twin gypsy brothers looking for their lost princess—a brilliant way to meet girls according to our twenty-something minds. We needed a catchy name that sounded ethnic. The Tortuga Twins fit all that.

At the time there was an independent comic book known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (you might have heard of it). Tortuga means turtle in Spanish. As a play on words, and to pay homage to our geekdom, Jef took the name Donatello (he later changed it to D’Angelo), while I took Raphael. Besides, it began with an “R.” I have a fondness for “Rs.” Go figure.

To mix things up even more, if you ever happen to find a lost cell phone of mine, you’ll see the name Riki Tortuga on it. That’s how I’m known by most on the renaissance festival circuit. Again, go figure.

What does all this have to do with Mordant? Don’t worry, that’s next.

In 2003, I reconnected with my birth mother, Mary Mahon (her maiden name). While spending time with her—first in Florida, then in Spain—I asked her what name she would have given me. Being British of Irish descent, it would have been a doosie. John Edward Antony Noel Mordant Mahon, after her late brother. Wow.

As I was the only of her children that she had contact with—there is another that I know of—she asked that I do something to carry on the family name. Thus R. Mordant Mahon was born. I especially like it because “Mordant” is a reagent used on color in the dyeing process (“it makes things stick” as a friend of mine recently pointed out). Also, in literature, it is “a biting reply.” Not too shabby for a writer if I do say so myself.

There you have it. Call me Mordant. Some because I really like the name even if it doesn’t begin with an “R.” Some because as I brand it into the public consciousness, that’s how they’ll know me. But mostly, and honestly, because it pleases me dear mum.

R. Mordant Mahon

As An Addendum
Okay…to avoid FURTHER confusion – call me Mordant HERE. And when I’m out doing Mordanty things. It is my author name, but should not become a stumbling block for my old friends. The “R” in R. Mordant Mahon is for Riki after all. =)

We live in a society that vacillates between whether or not it is okay for men behave as gentlemen and women to act and expect to be treated like ladies.  In her book Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Judith Martin says Miss Manners has a puzzling time trying to decide why one courtesy is ‘demeaning’ and another is a ‘gesture of respect,’ and therefore would like to forget the entire symbolic aspect of this ritual. . . .  We agree that the opening and shutting of car doors will not be a test of character or physical strength. . . .”

Get into the practice of opening the car door for her—even if she’s driving.  Not just for her in specific, but all hers.  By doing so, you will set yourself apart—from all other sons, suitors, and spouses.  Walk over to her door and open it for her.  Hold it open until she gets in, and then close it.  Important Safety Tip:  Wait until she’s all the way in to close the door.  (You lose major cool points for catching her or any part of her outfit in the car door.)

If you want to stand out from the rest of your ilk, then make the strong choice to show courtesy—at least in this one aspect.  Make this a part of your regular routine.  It’s not sexist; it’s polite.  Open the door for any woman with which you’re riding.  Do it in spite of strange looks.  Do it no matter how many times she tells you it’s not necessary.  Do it until it feels weird not to.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what walk of life you claim as your own.  From Ivy Leaguer to Inner City Gangsta, you will set yourself at the front of the pack by performing this small courtesy.  You will be remembered.  First as that guy, then as that boyfriend, and then as that husband by all her friends.  If you’re not looking for a mate, then you are that fellow.  No matter what, you’ll be the guy with that special something.  At the end of the day, not a bad way to be remembered.

R. Mordant Mahon

The question keeps coming up: Why do real women drink straight tequila?  The easy answer is “um…well…um…”  Actually, that’s the thing that came to mind when my editor posed this question in preparation for my first interview.  Funny now.  Not so funny then.

Tequila is an opiate, a party-hearty painkiller for the working class stiff in all of us.  Sure, you can pretty it up a bit by drinking the high-end brands or slinging it to and from crystal containers…but in the end, it’s still tequila.  Gut-wrenching, mind-numbing, eye-crossing tequila.  So, why would a woman, real or otherwise, want to throw a splash of this vile nectar past her luscious lips?

Real women drink straight tequila because it makes a statement.  It declares an attitude of someone willing to roll up her sleeves and dig into the mud of whatever needs to get the job done.  She will bleed, she will sweat, she will slog on as the tears stream down her dirt-caked face until whatever is keeping her from what she desires—to have, to be—is out of her fervently feminine way.

In life, in love—wherever she may roam, a real woman drinks straight tequila because she has fought hard to get where she is and be who she is.  From child rearing to running corporations, to placing the necessary bandage on our skinned hearts and knees—do not doubt the power of a woman.  She has earned the right to do whatever she damned well pleases.

R. Mordant Mahon

Every time I bring up the subject of dating to my married and coupled friends, I get blank stares and we’re-out-of-that-game attitude.  Dating is something you should do your entire life.  In other words, it’s not just for singles any more.

A relationship is a living, breathing organism – not unlike a newborn that you must nurture and feed.  You can’t just leave it alone and hope for the best.  If you want your most intimate relationship to bring the best that life has to offer, you have to put in some time and effort.  In fact, you should spend more care cultivating your relationship than you did catching this “big fish” in the first place.  Oh yes, and it should be fun.  This is where Dating comes in – even in the bonds of a relationship.

Have dinner, take a stroll on a hot summer night, picnic in the park – anything as long as it’s the both of you, spending time together.  Don’t let anything get in the way of Date Night.  Nothing is more important than the relationship you will be creating by spending quality time reaching out to the person you call your most Intimate.

Go out on a date with your loved one – your spouse, your fiancé, your boyfriend/girlfriend.  It doesn’t matter what point you’re at in your relationship, you should date.  Intimacy happens when you spend a quantity of time in your love one’s company.  The level of intimacy depends on the quality of that time spent.

R. Mordant Mahon