Teeco71′s Holiday Gift List for the Guys in Your Life

The Elephant Pants provide fashion and comfort with a social good spin

I’m always hearing people say that their fathers are difficult to shop for when it comes to holidays and birthdays. I also hear people say it’s hard to figure out what to get their husbands or boyfriends. I’ve been to a few events where I got to meet vendors who have some amazing  products and as an added plus, many of them are small businesses and some even incorporate social good by donating proceeds to charity or causes. This year, I thought I would put together the very first Teeco71 Christmas Gift List to highlight some of the items I’ve seen over the year.

Most of the products I come across are thanks to Celebrity Connected, do I’d like to shout them out! You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what they are promoting AND to see some of your favorite celebrities supporting these companies during Award Season. You can see all of the posts pertaining to these events by following the hashtag #CelebrityConnected on Twitter and Instagram as well.

I’m going to list my finds in no particular order because they are all so fantastic, I can’t really pick my very favorite. I think they are also so diverse that you can find something for every guy in your life and ladies, you are definitely going to love some of these for yourselves as well!

Let’s start with The Elephant Pants, this company is pretty awesome and they’ve actually been on Shark Tank, so you know this is quality stuff. It’s also a social good company because they are doing their part to help save elephants. The yoga/harem pants make for great lounging wear for men and women, plus I think the kimonos would be perfect for guys too! I actually ordered myself one after I met them and they gave me a pair of the pants. Head over to their website to see all they have.

Here’s a great gift for him but fun for having friends over too! It’s Watch Ya’ Mouthand

Watch Ya Mouth isn't just for the kids anymore! They have a #NSFW set of cards!

now they have an adult NSFW version plus a redneck version. It’s sure to create some silly fun as you try to guess the NSFW phrases your partner and/or friends are tying to see with the mouth guard in place! You can play with 2 to 10 people so it makes it perfect for date night or friends’ night. It’s available where games are sold or you can order it straight from their website.

Fancy some sweets for your sweet? How about organic, vegan, fine chocolate with a social good spin? Hemp Love has been crafting the finest organic, vegan ( and might I add delicious) chocolate since 2012 and now they also pledge twelve percent of its net profits to to Animal Assistance Programs that service the elderly, ability-limited, ill, combat wounded, emotionally distressed and first responders. Pretty cool gift that you can both enjoy too!

After enjoying that chocolate, a workout may be in order. How about Some gear to inspire and motivate? The people at Second Skin have compression gear to assist in your journey to get wronger, faster, or fitter. The prices are very reasonable and yes, they have plenty of stuff for men AND women! See, ladies, I can’t leave you out even when I’m trying to concentrate on my fellas….

My next suggestion may not be for every taste but it can be for everyone. Do you want to spice up your sex life a little? I know this isn’t what I normally talk about but it has become a huge part of our sexual health and activities. That’s right, I’m suggesting sex toys because our sexual health is important and shouldn’t be embarrassing at all!  In particular, I was introduced to a company called SVAKOM at the last few Celebrity Connected events. Visit their website when you aren’t at work and see all they have for you!

MAHI Leather Messenger Bag can be personalized for extra class

Another company I have been introduced to, which also has a social good aspect is a leather company called MAHI Leather. One dollar and fifty cents from each bag sold goes to FRANK Water Charity. You can choose a duffle, backpack, satchel, tote, toiletry bag, MacBook sleeve, iPad sleeve, and more. They are classic, classy, and can be personalized. Check out their website for styles and their reasonable prices. They have bags perfect for travel and weekend getaways… see, you can plan a weekend getaway too so it’s another gift that is good for both of you!

Speaking of style, Oko Lifestylehas some really cool clothes for guys and women! With

Oko makes you look good and feel good with their social good spin and comfy fabrics

each item you purchase, you are helping them to equip people to overcome, demonstrate acts of kindness, and you are giving opportunity to those who need it most. Each article of clothing is hand cut and sewn by once impoverished men and women in the Dominican Republic. Head over to their website to check out some quality style you can be proud to purchase!

Is your guy into wine? I have a couple for you to check out. Both are from California and both are delicious. One is made from honey, Pearson Brothers Private Reserve Handcrafted Saccharo. It’s such an interesting and refreshing flavor. The other is Volatus, who offer crips white wines and rich reds. He (and you) won’t want to share this with company but if you do, they are both sure to impress!

Are jewelry and accessories his thing? Nikolina Designs has something for your man and a few things for you too! Check them out at Nikolina.ca. They gave me this necklace at Celebrity Connected and I think it will make quite a statement at my next event or on my next red carpet!

Everybody needs some good skincare products and natural is always best. Naked offers all natural healing aids for Piercings, Tattoos, and Cosmetics. Their soap, salve, lotion, and body tea smell great and feel luxurious.

Also, one of my very favorite product lines is Body Merry and they have excellent products specifically for men but all of their products are perfect for men who want to take better care of their skin without all the fuss. You can also feel confident that the ingredients are all natural.

We all know we like our guys to have a soft touch, so to take care of those hands that we actually want on us, Wise Hands has salves that are made with exclusively organic and eco-certified ingredients. They are rich without being greasy, smell amazing, and will leave his hands (and yours) feeling touchable and soft.

Once you’ve both gotten all pampered and looking your best, you are ready for date night! Bonding Bees delivers fun dates to you in a box each month via a subscription and you can get 10% off by using BEES10. You can both be surprised each month with a box of activities to make date night interesting and enjoyable!

Everything on the list so far is perfect for straight men & women, and gay men and women but here’s one for my gay guys and couples. I love my subscription to Next Gay Thing. You can get a pair (or a few pairs) of underwear and some samples of some amazing products each month sent right to your home. This will keep you up to date with sexy underwear for trips, dates, or just hot nights at home.

 

Third Wolf Designs are all hand painted

Third Wolf Designs – Hand-painted and sustainably made T-shirts and comfy sweats. Check out their styles and designs. You’ll definitely have some unique items to add to your wardrobe.

I hope you check these out for yourself and as gifts for that special guy in your life. (but let’s face it, I can’t make a list and exclude anyone so these things are all just great for everyone!)

Please feel free to comment and let me know if you are familiar with any of them AND if you have recommendations of your own. I’m always looking for new things and new gift ideas. Also, let me know if you try any of them.

AND I also have to add that one of the best LGBT!Q TV Series is now available for digital

I am so proud to be an associate producer on this. Check it out!

download and purchase. Eastsiders Season Three would make a great gift for the holiday season. Be sure to get some snacks, comfy blankets, and settle in to binge watch the entire season!  Head over to Amazon, you’ll find a familiar name in the credits as Associate Producer too! I’m so proud of this and so glad it is here for the holidays!

One last thing I wanted to mention. The holidays are all about kindness and social good. My friend Boy Toy Jesse (Jesse Lozano, mornings on @star941fm in San Diego) and his radio station have this amazing Random Acts of Kindness advent calendar. There are activities you can do to help make someone else’s day a little brighter. If you do any of the things on the calendar, take a photo and use the hashtag #ActKindly and you may be gifted an Amazon Show!

 

Huge thanks to Celebrity Connected for their truly awesome events and all of the vendors who participate! Happy Holidays to all of them and all of you!!

 

The Art of Leaning

I haven’t done a musings article in a while and I know I don’t blog as much as I should these days. But I try to publish when there is something or someone I feel I want to talk to you about. I could go on about anything and nothing but I’ll leave that up to someone else. I prefer to come to you when something juicy or poignant is in my scope. I’m not sure about you, but I have tuned out many of the personalities who are trying too hard to be chameleons. You were an awkward young gamer and now you’re an older, equally awkward cook? The cuteness is wearing off, but somehow the onesie pajamas stayed.. I’ll just shake my head and move on. There is another post to do there, perhaps. Enough wine and I can do it!

But, don’t let me digress off of the topic that brought me here. 2016 was a very odd year for many of us. I know there were some terrific moments for each of us personally, publicly, privately, individually, and collectively but overall it seems to have left a bad taste in our mouths. What does that have to do with the title I chose for this post? Glad you asked, I’m getting there. In all that was going on in the news, with my family, with friends, and with myself, I began to notice a few things. Even though we have become SO much more social and socially aware, many of us are still so guarded with our feelings, emotions, and circumstances. So much so, that we can’t even articulate some of this to those closest to us.

I’m not advocating that we give up privacy and post all of our trials, tribulations, feelings, and emotions. NO WAY. There is something to be said for privacy, personal space, and keeping most aspects of our personal relationships to ourselves. What I’m seeing is that even with people who are close to us (family, friends, people in our innermost circles) we are still a bit stifled when it comes to expression, especially if we think it will make us look weak or we think it may cause judgment. Where does this come from? I believe it is something we are taught growing up. Especially for men, showing emotions or vulnerability is oftentimes equated with weakness, behavior that makes you less of a man, or something you should be ashamed of.

It can also come from our own personal experiences. When you trust people a number of times and get burned, you definitely and understandably become guarded. Fear keeps you from reaching out, sharing, unburdening yourself of the things that are weighing you down.

The fear that if I tell you this thing that troubles me or the feelings I am feeling, this thing that scares the crap out of me, you will think less of me. We believe people won’t want to be around us or have us in their lives. We think the people we call friends or loved ones will abandon us because we are bad, weird, odd, troubled, tortured, weak. Maybe we think they will think we are too much work when in reality, if they love us, they are already thinking we are worth the effort.

In my experience, most times the thing that is crippling us more than the actual secret we keep is the fear of the reaction to our story or our feelings. If someone truly cares about you, no story you tell them will make you repulsive or undesirable to them, nothing you are feeling will be discounted by them. In cases where people have trusted me with their “thing” (and everyone has a “thing”) it has endeared them to me even more. When someone entrusts you with the very story or feelings that make them feel most impotent, it is a powerful moment between the two of you. I respect those friends who have pushed past that hurdle to speak their truth. I’ve watched them as they struggled with the words, looking at me for reaction because they just knew I’d shudder and then make an excuse to leave so I can get far away from them. They expect you’d never speak to them again. BUT, for me, it has had the opposite affect. I love them even more, I admire and respect them, I hold them in the highest esteem.

Unless you are going to tell me you have bodies hidden in places or you’ve tortured people in your past, I really don’t think there are many things I can’t handle hearing. I don’t think there are many hurdles that friends can’t help friends overcome. The sad part is, what I see and feel so often now, people are walking around with these things bottled up inside like their world will end if they give it a voice.

I think some friendships are actually lost because of a fear that a person can’t handle us at our raw, unfiltered base. Eventually, we start to push the people who care about us most away and sometimes we even realize we are doing it. It’s SO contradictory to say or think that someone we know cares for us deeply wouldn’t be able to handle this or do everything in their power to understand where we are coming from.

Again, I am not talking about posting such things on our Facebook pages, blogging about it, or tweeting it up, but I am hoping we can find a way to break through to the trust we need to have between the select few we hold dear because we know they are the real deal. I think it’s worth a shot even though the thought of it can be crippling. Opening up, learning the art of leaning on another human being, can be horrific if you think about it too much. Especially if you’ve trusted, leaned, and were left to fall. But even in those instances, we were taught that those people weren’t the lifers who will stand by us. We were given the opportunity to let them go or perhaps keep them around in a different capacity. Not everyone is meant to share burdens and that’s ok too. But no one is meant to carry burdens alone.

The other part of this is that when we get burned, we may allow the experience to cause us to unjustly judge someone else without giving them a proper chance to prove themselves. I don’t think everyone has the gift of empathy or knows how to tap into it but as someone who has experience with it, I can tell you that knowing someone is troubled who won’t share it with you can be a little distracting. This takes time to work through so that the empathic one can get past the elephant in the room and remain close to the friend, lover, or family member until they come around.

Have any of you experienced what I am talking about from either end? Have you been the one who knows something is up and is wishing the other person would trust you? Have you been the person who thinks someone is going to run screaming if you tell them your own secret? Have you trusted someone only to learn they weren’t the person you should have opened up to?

What advice would you give someone on either side of the situation?

Or are you of the mind that we should just keep it bottle up and maybe we don’t need to be so open and connected?

I’m curious to see where our enlightenment is headed. I’m hoping it opens us up enough that we can begin to remove the stigmas we’ve created around certain experiences that are becoming more common. Anxiety and depression are two things I can think of that still seem to be issues that shouldn’t be. I have a feeling if we were made to feel comfortable to talk freely about them, we’d find out almost everyone has experiences that are similar and uniting instead of dividing. I’m hoping 2017 is about broadening our knowledge of the situations other people are in and building bridges that give support to them rather than causing them to feel they need to stay isolated when it comes to certain topics.

Anyway, that’s what has been weighing on my mind for a better part of 2016. What are some topics that were weighing on your mind throughout the year? That still have you thinking?

It takes real courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable and any person worth your time should admire you for that. My hope is that we take time to have conversations with each other that go deeper than the usual pleasantries. That we find people who we can truly trust and that we are those people to someone. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to lean on someone and know that they got you and it is an equally wonderful feeling to be that person for someone else. Let’s learn the art of leaning………

 

Have You Met Julie Caitlin Brown, True Renaissance Woman

I hear people use the term “Renaissance” to describe people all the time and I have used it myself to describe people I know who are multi-talented and involved actively in so much. Now that I have researched Julie Caitlin Brown, I think I need a new term because she totally sets a new standard! Julie is an actress (Babylon 5, All About Evil, Thoughts of Suicide on an Otherwise Lovely Day), a musician (Sheddin My Skin, Struck By Lightening), A Talent Agent, and a Life Coach. Julie has also starred on Broadway in Tommy Tune’s “Grand Hotel: The Musical”.

I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t sung me her praises and that speaks volumes. I would love for you all to head over and give her Facebook Page a like, Follow her on Twitter, and check out her website.

Be sure to listen to her music, I believe many of you will find it inspirational and relevant to your own journeys. Julie basically taught herself how to play guitar at ten years old and performed her first original song at thirteen at a school assembly.

I think one of the reasons so many people relate to Julie Caitlin Brown is that she has been through her own trials and tribulations yet has managed to come out the other side to shine as she was intended to . She wasn’t the most popular kid in school but quickly learned that she could reach people with her talent and her music. She had the courage to pick up and move to New York Ci†y for the role on Broadway, she produced her own CDs, and had her own cabaret show in San Francisco.

If you head over to the website, you can also pick up some of her motivational audio books and experience some of her wisdom for yourself. I would be absolutely honored to bring you my own interview with Julie one day as well!

Here is a video of Julie performing so you can see how talented she is:

And her is an interview with Julie so you can get to know her a bit better:

Aris Has his Voice on the Pulse of Some Hot Tunes

I’m always honored to be asked to review the work of my artist friends. ESPECIALLY when I’m already a fan of their work. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been listening to Aris Ziagos’ new album Pulse on repeat since it came out last month. To be honest, it has been on repeat in a mix that includes Donna summer, Lady Gaga, and Tina Turner.

The moment I heard clips of the songs and a few full songs in a car ride with Aris, I immediately thought of Donna Summer. This actually began my renewed desire to throw on a few of my favorite Donna hits. The first single from Pulse has been out for a while now and it has been making me want to move since first hearing it. I have said that I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve probably listened to it but I am someone who has at least one ear bud in my ear even while I’m working. A good beat keeps me going and in a good mood no matter how much work I have to do or how intense it is.

I listen to very few albums all the way through without pushing past a few songs, even from my favorite mainstream artists so when I can thrown on one album and listen all the way through that is saying a lot. Pulse is definitely a collection of songs that is good for a long car ride, a hike, a workout, or just while you are cleaning and cooking.

The first song, Love (Thank you) features artist Paula Cole. It remind me immediately of Donna Summer’s hit I Feel Love with it’s sexy, breathy repetition and underlying sexy rhythm. Rain is a storm of emotion, desire, passion, and pain. I’ve said I felt like he was in my diary at some point, especially when I hear this one. It just feels that personal and I think it will to many people.

Speaking of Donna Summer, the title track has a sample of I Feel Love and I can actually hear Donna performing this one with approval. Handle It is definitely for anyone who has been wronged by a lover or just not appreciated for who they are. To me, it sounds like a dare to handle me in all my fabulousness if you think you can. But if you can’t, well the hell with you. It is reminiscent of a Beyonce empowerment piece. Basically, take me for what I am or everything you own will be in a box to the left.

Next, I want to talk about the Reborn remix. I do enjoy a good remix, especially when it is different version of the song that brings a new way to enjoy it. This remix does that for me by giving it a new beat. Make sure you check it all out for yourself at Aris’ website and follow him on social media because you are also going to want to check out his covers.