How REAL manhood has been hijacked and what you can do about it

Heading into 2017, it is increasingly clear to me that there is a very real problem in our culture when it comes to manhood. By and large, men have ceased to be men (and I’m not just talking about Bruce Jenner). Households with absentee fathers are an epidemic; men use and abuse women, abandon their own children, and get upset when a court makes them pay child support. The level of arrogance and entitlement among young men today is staggering; most expect something for nothing and want to benefit from the labor of others while doing little to no actual work themselves. Able-bodied men are all too often given handouts and allowed to believe the lie that society at-large owes them something. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you probably know someone who fits this description. And if you’ve had to work hard to get where you are, men like that probably drive you crazy. But the degradation of manhood goes even deeper than work habits or bad attitudes; it cuts to the core of a man’s identity and has far-reaching influence throughout all classes of men.

I believe there are 4 main areas of a man’s life in which this trend is most evident and pervasive:

Work   Men used to go to work every day, work through pain and sickness, in harsh conditions and for people who cared little about their safety and well-being. They descended into coal mines, worked on farms, in factories, rail yards and hundreds of other places that usually offered difficult and dangerous work. Even if the job wasn’t dangerous, most men would show up on time, day-after-day and year-after-year for decades, thankful to have a steady job that allowed them the ability to provide for their families. If they didn’t particularly like their job, that was fine—if a better one came along they may consider it, but company loyalty was the norm. But somewhere along the way, showing up every day, doing your job and going home tired but thankful became the exception rather than the rule. I’m sure your grandfather didn’t always love his job and probably knew some men who were bad employees, but for the most part, you went to work, worked hard and honest and thanked your employer for the opportunity. Times have certainly changed since then and so has the job market, but so have the men. I believe there are many more men today who either won’t go to work at all, show up to work and complain the whole time, or those who have no idea what company loyalty looks like. Often what I see are men who have an allergy to overtime and always have a chip on their shoulders, or men who are workaholics at the expense of their families and personal lives.

The bottom line: Men were created to work and work is supposed to be creative and good and fulfilling. However, your day job is not always going to be easy or be the fulfillment of your dreams; but it can help you provide for your family and work toward your dreams and goals if you let it. Go to work every day, do your job well and with a good attitude and be thankful for the opportunity. If you don’t like your work, take steps now that will allow you move toward doing work you love later. Remember that no one owes you a thing—even if you have a college degree—and if you want something really worth having you’re going to have to work for it.

Sexuality Men are sexual beings because they are human beings. We were created in a certain way for a certain purpose—and this design is good and pure. But when I look around at the young “men” of my generation and see how they use their God-given sexuality, I am astounded and ashamed to even be classified in the same category. Young men take something that was created to be holy, beautiful, and unifying between a real man and his wife and use it merely as a means to selfish gain; they use a woman as if she is a tool to complete a task rather than a person. I know the male sex drive is generally more active than the female counterpart, but it doesn’t mean we need more sex, more often, with more women; it simply means we need to work harder at loving our wives and making them feel safe and loved—if we get this right, better sex is bound to follow. Additionally, sex has no place outside of marriage—not with single men and single women, or married men with women who are not their wives. It is a union between one man and one woman in a life-long marriage commitment; anything else is a counterfeit deviation and misses the mark.

The bottom line: If you are a man who wants to be a REAL man, you must start to believe that you are more than just a sexual being—you are a dynamic, complex and multi-faceted human being who was created for so much more than just sex. Forget what pop culture says about sex because its wrong—it goes hand-in-hand with marriage and if you think otherwise, you’re really missing out. Wherever you are now, commit yourself to seeking out and living out the true design and purpose of sex.

Marriage & Relationships The greatest relational accomplishment a man can achieve is finding a good woman and convincing her to marry him. The only thing better than falling in love and getting married is figuring out how to make it last a lifetime. When it comes to marital commitment and faithfulness, men are epic failures. I know ladies play a significant part in this area, but men are called to love their wives passionately, sacrificially, and with unwavering commitment. Far too many men have fallen because of their pride, their anger, or their lack of self-control. Sexual temptations often get men derailed from the right track in their marriages; although their own arrogance is often the true culprit. Men need to stop being so lazy and apathetic about their marriages and step up to the plate. We need to take our rightful positions in our marriages, in our homes, and in our communities and swing for the fences.

The bottom line: If you love a good woman but you’re afraid to get married because it will tie you down, its time to get over it, man up and marry-up—you’ll be a better man for it. If you’re already married—no matter for how long—count your blessings and love your wife with reckless abandon, putting her needs and desires and dreams before your own, and trust that if you first love and lead her well, she will not let it go unnoticed for long.

Parenting When did it become a feminine attribute to be a good parent? Why is it that men are usually expected to do very little when it comes to parenting their children, while women are expected to do approximately 95% of the day-to-day parenting tasks? The rise of feminism has contributed significantly to this problem, as much of society has been duped into believing that women are in fact superior to men and should be treated as such. When a woman has children in 2017 America, she is often confronted with the pressure to choose between caring for her children most of their waking and sleeping hours by being a stay-at-home mom, or virtually abandoning them to pursue her career (or at least that’s what she feels like). They are told they not only can, but should be able to do it all and do it well, whereas men are led to believe all they have to do is be a sperm donor who provides a paycheck. Young men and women are usually influenced strongly by their own fathers and tend to repeat their mistakes; that is why it’s vitally important for men to step up in this area of their lives as they hold the key to their children’s confidence, sense of security, and how well they can adapt to the world around them as they grow up. Don’t get me wrong, being a dad is tough and challenging, but real men rise to meet their challenges—they don’t run from them or let them fall on the shoulders of others.

The Bottom line: If you’re a man who has children then you’re technically a father; but it takes much more effort to really be a dad. Show up for your kids, lead them well, and put to death the notion that parenting is primarily a mom’s responsibility. Research shows that parenting is done best within the bounds of a healthy marriage by two people working as a team. Step up to your calling as Dad.

I’m sure you can think of several other ways in which men don’t act like men anymore—share some of them with me in the Comments below, on Facebook, or shoot me an email.

*Look for further development of this topic to come on tylerjbrooks.com

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Transformed by Faith: an interview with Guy Smith

It is my mission to motivate and encourage you through the content I create on this blog. I think I have a lot to offer through my own thoughts and writing that may help you. However, I don’t want all of the content here to be 100% me, sharing my thoughts and opinions only because I realize there is always something I don’t know and experiences I haven’t lived. One way I will do this is by periodically sharing ideas, wisdom, and stories from others whom I trust and respect. Today’s post is in a question and answer format with my friend and pastor, Guy Smith. He studied marketing in college and worked in his family’s business for 6 years before deciding to make some significant changes in his life. I’m sure you will glean some wisdom as he shares some of his journey to finding purpose and contentment in both his personal life and in his work.

guy smith
1) Briefly describe what your life used to look like (before tipping point, before change started to occur, etc). What was life like at the beginning of your journey?
I’ll share two descriptions of my life before the major change occurred.  
 
First, I had spent the majority of my post-high school years serving and worshiping God.  By all standards of ‘hey-look-at-me’ Christianity I was doing well.  Attending Christian gatherings and mission trips had become my lifestyle.  Throughout those years I expected to eventually end up where I am today, but something awful happened to me:  I burnt out.  Yep, I burnt out on ministry at the ripe old age of 23.  I couldn’t understand what happened to me.  I was so passionate before.  Now I wanted nothing do to with it.  In fact, I wasn’t even sure I believed in Jesus.  Looking back, the reasons are obvious.  While I was doing good for God, I had done very little with God.  The relational aspect of my faith was nearly non-existent.  Bible study, prayer, and fellowship were an idea, not a practice.  The result of my isolated attempt at faith was sin on top of sin on top of sin that led to burn out.  
After burning out, my second description of life is moving home to work at my father’s business.  The coolest thing about a good family is when life blows up and you’re lost they take you back to help you up.  After moving out of state for college, traveling and working throughout North and Central America, I had found myself once again sleeping down the hall from mom and dad.  Here’s how awesome and easy my life was:  slept in my sister’s old bedroom (no bills), I walked 50 feet to work (no fuel), mom brought dad and I lunch everyday (no packing), mom made supper for us every night (no restaurants), and on top of that I was paid well (pay off debt and save fast).  My dad and younger brother loved the business and still do.  They couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  I envy them.  I tried so hard to be like them.  The freedom and comfort of a family business looked so good, but no matter how hard I tried I could not get settled.  I wanted out, but had no idea where to go.  Six years passed by slow and fast until I had effectively spent the bulk of my twenties in the perfect job I struggled to enjoy.  That’s where I was when God woke me up.  I lost the depression weight, met my future wife, and moved into an apartment.  The changes I needed to make were finally happening, and they were happening rapidly.
 
2) What was one main catalyst for change in your story? What inspired you to pursue changes in your life?
The simplest answer to this is marry a pusher.  My wife encouraged me early on to be better, and she still does.  If you’re not married yet I recommend adding that to your qualifications list.  Oh, come on, I know you have such a list in your head at least.  It may be hard to believe, but a pusher is better than the girl who encourages you to play more video games.  Enjoy the games once-in-awhile, but build a life.  Be productive.
 
My one main catalyst for change was fully surrendering my life to Christ.  Through all those years of running and living in sin I had become stuck because it was all about me.  All about my pleasure. All about my future.  All about my career.  All about my money.  When I surrendered my life to Christ I was able to look at my day job and ask God if he had something different for me.  Don’t misunderstand me on this.  What I was doing for a living was not bad or sinful, it was good.  A good job at a God-honoring business.  I believe we are made to work and in our work we are worshiping God.  I also believe we are each gifted and equipped and called to specific types of work.  However, I don’t believe our work should give us purpose or fulfillment or identity.  Those things come from God.  That was one of my struggles before making a change.  I thought my entire life purpose had to be wrapped up into my work.  It doesn’t.  Yes, now that I’m in full-time ministry most (certainly not all) of what I do has purpose, but I’m not a pastor first.  It’s part of who I am, not all of me.  I’m a Christian, husband, father, friend, runner, beekeeper, and fan of all professional Pittsburgh sports.  Pastor of a local church is my calling, yes, but it’s also my day job, not my singular identity.
3) In what ways did your attitude/mindset/thought process change throughout your journey and how did it happen?
I really became a happier person to be around.  By leaving an industry that I had little passion for and entering into one I was more likely made for, I found a new excitement for life.  The process began slowly.  First, an opportunity came, and I took it.  As I took more opportunities I was able to discover how my gifts lined up with the career change.  That’s what anyone considering a change needs to do.  Get your feet wet first.  Don’t jump too fast into a new career before first understanding it.  The truth is every job has it’s share of fun tasks, boring tasks, and annoying tasks.  Even if you’re confident you were put on the planet to do it, it’s still work.  
4) What was the FIRST STEP you took toward changing your story?
My first step was to try it.  The last thing I wanted to do was quit my job only to find out the next job felt the same.  I like what Jon Acuff tells his readers: Be selfish at 5:00 A.M. 
Find time in your week to try something new.  Carve it out.  It’s there.  Be productive in your spare time.  Bump up your side hustle.
5) Briefly share about a failure you experienced along the way and how you moved past it or even used it to your advantage.
I have a bad habit of being a lone wolf.  I try to figure it out myself.  Just me and the internet.  For my whole first year at the church that’s what I did.  No mentor.  No leader.  No supervisor.  I was the only staff.  When it came time to do my first wedding I figured it out through the internet and a book.  Same for my first funeral.  My big failure actually came at a funeral.  I accidentally stole a funeral from another local pastor and she wasn’t all too happy.  For the record, funerals are not fun to attend or officiate.  Anyone who intentionally steals funerals is out of their mind.  In hindsight I would have passed on this opportunity.  Long story short, the experience was bad and the service did not go well because I made some comments I’d like to take back.  That was the weekend I decided to take my wife’s advice and seek out a mentor.  Having him to call on has been priceless.
 
You should get a mentor.  I never wanted one because I thought it was weird to be honest.  Mentorship doesn’t have to mean study a book together and spend an hour each week talking about strengths and weaknesses while the empty boxes of Puffs stack up in the corner.  That’s not me.  For me, a mentor just means a friend who has walked before me and is available to bounce ideas off of.  He’s there to guide me through the basic, day-to-day trenches of ministry when I have questions.  He’s there when people disappoint me and he’s there when people hurt me.  He’s there when I mess up and he’s there for the celebrations.  Mentor to me just means a friend who has walked a similar path and is willing to help.  I needed a friend like that.  I’d also encourage you to become a mentor to someone else.
6) List a few brief takeaways you have learned from your journey that you would like to share with others. 
  • It’s easier to make a change when your soul is at rest.  Start by surrendering these decisions to God.
  • Make a list of careers you have no interest in.  Mine was in my head.  For me accounting was out.  My math skills are sub-par. I just wish NASA would stop calling me.  Think this through for yourself.  I’ll wait.  See?  You know more about your likes and dislikes than you thought.
  • Get your feet wet.  This is huge…wait for it…if you think you’ll like something….try it.  Try it on a small scale then work your way up.  If I had preached five times and hated it and ruined everyone’s morning then I’d have moved on (hopefully).
  • There is hope for your future.  Change is going to happen and we get to control a lot of it.
  • Work has purpose and God made us to work, but don’t make work your purpose, and don’t make purpose your god.
Anything else you would like to share?
When I was stuck and depressed I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do.  I had no motivation to change my life because life felt hopeless.  Here’s what’s cool though: when you begin taking steps and start getting unstuck, the whole world opens up in your mind.  Nowadays when I look at the span of my life and things I’d like to accomplish I realize I don’t have enough time to do it all.  It’s exciting to dream now.  I hope everyone reading this can reach that place.
I would like to thank Guy for taking time share some of his story. To learn more about him or the church he leads, you can connect with him on Facebook, check out One Life Punxsy on Facebook or at onelifepunxsy.org 
If you have a story you would like to share that may benefit others, please let me know!
Send me an email, comment below, or connect with me on Facebook @tylerjbrooks2016

Part 3: Getting Clarity on Your Purpose and Taking ACTION!

Once you have discovered why you don’t know what you want and how to overcome your fears of failure and success, the next step is to get clarity on your purpose and take action! Clarity, for my purpose here, is simply a way of describing a clear vision or a focused idea. You know where you’re going. You may already have a lot of clarity on where you want to be, or you may just have a IMG_2615broad, general idea of what you want. Wherever you currently find yourself, a lack of clarity is often what keeps us from taking action steps. For example, I may say that I’m unhappy in my current work and wish I could do work that matters and have more freedom, but what does that actually look like for me? I’ve heard many people talk about how much they dislike their current work, but they never seem to focus on the kind of work they really want to do. An exercise that I try to do is to spend time thinking realistically about what I want my life to look like in 3 to 5 years from now. I think about big picture ideas like be a better dad and husband, have less debt, be a full-time writer/coach/speaker. Those are good starting points but it helps to get more specific with things like spend more time fishing with my son, go on weekly dates with my wife, pay off student loans and credit cards, publish 3 books, speak publicly once a month. Once you start getting specific and focused in your vision for the future, you can start to work backwards to set goals for next year, this year, next month, and next week. When you have a specific target, you can more easily see what information and activities fall in line with your vision and what doesn’t. Sorting through the books, emails, and blogs you read will help you gain even more focus as you hone in on where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Spend some time today trying to envision what your typical weekday could look like in 3 years from now. What do you want your schedule to look like? How do you want to spend your time? How do you want others do view you? How do you want your finances to look? Where do you want to be living? After answering some of these questions, take at least one more action step, such as the ones below.

Actions you can take TODAY:

  1. Start a blog/website (sites like WordPress.com make this super easy and cheap)
  2. Talk to a friend/colleague about your business idea
  3. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier for tomorrow so you have time to exercise/write/work on your business
  4. Call today to arrange a babysitter for THIS week so you can take your wife/husband on a date
  5. Buy a notebook to start writing down your ideas
  6. Start tracking the food you eat to see where you can make improvements.
  7. Make a purchase, start a conversation, or write out your plans and goals.

There are many more actions you could take depending on your specific situation and goals, but the point is to take just one small step now so that you can start the process. Gaining momentum and achieving your biggest goals and dreams starts with one step today, then another tomorrow, and again the next day and so on.

What one step will you take TODAY toward realizing your dream or reaching your goals?

I’d love to hear your response in the COMMENTS section, on Facebook, or by email.

In case you missed it, here are links to the first 2 parts of this 3-part series.

Part 1: Why you don’t know what you want

Part 2: Overcoming your fear of failure and success

To learn more about me and tylerjbrooks.com, check out my About page and this post.

Part 2: Overcoming your fear of failure and success

In the last post, I talked about false beliefs about ourselves and our lives that hold us back from pursuing our purpose. The reason these false beliefs hold so much power over us is because they are inherently intertwined with fear. What starts out as a seemingly small I’m not sure how well this will turn out, can quickly grow into paralyzing fear and self-doubt that says I’m sure I will fail so it’s not worth starting. Then your past failures will come to mind as “evidence” that your fearful thoughts are concrete truths, leading to a deeply-held false belief that you accept as the gospel truth. You may even realize all this is happening and know in your mind that your fear has grown into false beliefs, but you still find yourself living as if they were true. Every time you try to take even a small step toward change, fear crops up and tells you its not worth it. This can be a vicious cycle that goes round and round for years, causing you to give up hope altogether. I would like to offer some ideas on how you can break that cycle, get your hope back and start winning the fight against all the fear and lies. There are two fears that I would like to address.

Fear of Failure

The fear of failure when pursuing something you actually care about is probably the most obvious and common fear. You have thoughts like what if I waste my time and money and what if I fail publicly and embarrass myself/my family? These thoughts are rooted in your false beliefs and you need to confront them with truth. For example, if you’re worried about wasting time and money, time-1558037_640have you considered what it really means to waste something? Waste implies activity with no purpose from which nothing good or productive can come. Let’s say you chase your dream for a year, spend several hours a week working on it and even put up some cash to make it all happen and at the end of that time you’re still not where you want to be and decide to scrap the whole thing. Have you really lost that time and money and not evened learned anything? I certainly hope not. You would have 12 more months of experience, knowledge, and likely some clarity. As far as embarrassment goes, can you think of anything worse than getting to the end of your life and telling your grandkids you lived a life of regret and broken dreams because you constantly let fear win? Let’s do something about it now.

Fear of success

The second type of fear I want to address is the one that creeps in once we start moving past our fear of failure. Maybe you’re starting to believe you may not fail or when you do it’s not the end of your journey. But what if you do succeed, what then? What if you have tremendous success in pursuing your purpose only to wake up one day and realize that it wasn’t your purpose after all? Maybe you lived up to expectations of someone else and traveled a path to a place you didn’t really want to be. If you’re reading this, you are probably already living that reality to some degree—with or without some level of perceived success. This is a tough fear to overcome because it’s tricky and even manages to undermine our most positive and optimistic thoughts. In order to beat this one, you have to closely examine your definition of success. That term is thrown around so loosely these days that it’s difficult to pin down. What is most important is defining the word for yourself. Look at your personality, your values, and what is most important in your life. What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, or 50 years? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to leave behind as your legacy for your children? Although you may come up with a definition of success today (I encourage you to actually write it down), keep in mind that it exists on a spectrum—that is, it isn’t just a checklist or a task to be completed and you can experience various elements of success over time. As a matter of fact, if you take the time to define it honestly for yourself, you can experience success today (for example, spend time writing and creating or improve my health).

I encourage you to take a few minutes (right now if possible) and write out a brief definition of success for your life. It doesn’t have to be polished and refined; it doesn’t even have to be brief. Just get some ideas on paper (or screen) and start the process. Also take a moment to write down some of your fears and follow them up with what you know is or could be true. Whenever you feel afraid of failure, look at your truth. Whenever you fear success, look at your definition and tell yourself to quit being ridiculous 🙂

If you would like, let me know your definition of SUCCESS in the comments below, on Facebook, or shoot me an email

*Just in case you missed it, here’s the first post in this 3-part series Part 1: Why you don’t know what you want

To learn more about me and tylerjbrooks.com, check out my About page and this post.

Part 1: Why you don’t know what you want

Purpose of this series: I believe everyone has a purpose in life—something they are uniquely gifted and positioned to do—that can range from founding a revolutionary company that changes the world, to being an awesome dad who changes the world of his kids. There are countless variations of individual purpose (it’s obviously unique to each person) and millions of people trying to tell you how to find yours. Although I can’t tell you what your purpose is, I hope to share some clear, concise insight that will help you dig down to the roots of who you are, what you want in life, and what’s holding you back from pursuing your purpose. In this series, I will identify the false beliefs, fears, and distractions that you are allowing to derail your dreams, and offer a few practical first steps you can take to overcome them and get back on track. This content will by no means be exhaustive, but I hope it will give you a good start in thinking through your purpose and overcoming some common obstacles.

Here’s a quick summary of what to expect:

Part 1: “Why you don’t know what you want”

Part 2: “How to overcome your fear of failure AND success”

Part 3: “Getting clarity on your purpose and taking ACTION!”

Let’s get started!

Part 1: Why you “don’t know” what you want…

I’ve often struggled with asking myself the question “what do you really want to do with your life?” When I was a kid I went from being an aspiring artist, marine biologist, to a preacher, to famous actor, to “just a millionaire.” Growing up I always had a wide variety of interests and I was a quick learner. I believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be and I all I had to do was decide to pursue it. candy-588021_640But as I grew older, that concept seemed to become a sticking point for me. Like the kid standing in a candy store with a hundred choices before him, I found it difficult to make a choice on which path to pursue. I completed a full semester of college before I even chose a major. After graduation, I got a job in the exact field I studied, which I kept for about 18 months before changing careers and industries (twice). Even as I write this, my day job pays the bills but is not completely in line with my passion and purpose.

I have realized my indecisive behavior is rooted in fear and false beliefs that you likely share…

False belief #1: I can do anything I want

The truth is, there are a lot of things that I cannot do, but that’s OK. I was not created and uniquely gifted to do everything that a human could possibly do. I have a certain skill set, personality, likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses that are in line with some types of work, but not others. Coming to grips with this truth may be tough at first, but doing so will actually give you more freedom by knowing which paths are not a good fit for you. Accurate self-awareness is a worthy goal that we must always work on while pursuing our purpose.

False belief #2: I have to make a choice early in life and can never choose another path

This belief led to overwhelming anxiety in my high school and college years. I felt tremendous pressure in choosing which college to attend, what to study, what career path to take and ultimately who I wanted to be. Once I had a Bachelor’s degree I felt somewhat trapped in that particular path. The truth is, I loved my college years for the experience, relationships, the subjects I studied and how I grew as a person. However, the job prospects for my field were pretty bleak and didn’t pay very well without a master’s degree. Since I was married and started to have children shortly after college, I had to make some tough decisions just to pay the bills. The point is, just because you have a degree in one field or a decent-paying job, doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever if that’s not where you want to be. I knew a counselor in college who had a 5-year degree and was an engineer for almost a decade before he quit, got another degree in school counseling and became a counselor at my college. I guarantee he was a far better counselor than engineer and he was vastly more content in his work because it was in line with his personality and passions. Whether its a change in careers or discovering how you want to spend your retirement years, if you’re still breathing it’s not too late.

False belief #3: I will always fail

This belief is a very tricky one because it has elements of truth and we are really good at remembering our past failures when we think about pursuing a new goal. The truth is, if we chase after our dreams and pursue a life of purpose, we will fail. We will fail at meeting all of our goals, at doing everything right; we will fail at being perfect parents, employees, business owners. The hard reality of life is that if we try a lot, we will fail a lot. But we won’t always fail. The key here is to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm (I believe that’s borrowed from Winston Churchill?). Enthusiasm, focus, and perseverance are absolutely necessary to keep us going after we fail once, twice, or even a thousand times. All great success stories have moments of failure and heartache, but what makes those stories so good are the character and passion of the people straining toward something that seemed impossible—at first.

I have just shared three of many false beliefs that have often held me back from pursuing my purpose. There are others that I have and I’m sure you can think of more of your own. I encourage you to share some of them in the Comments below, on Facebook, or send me an email. Sharing these false beliefs with others helps take away their power to control you and reveals how false they really are. I look forward to hearing from you.

What are some false beliefs you have believed about yourself? How have they held you back from pursuing your purpose? 

Share your responses & thoughts in the comments section or on Facebook, or send me an email.

*Upcoming: Part 2: How to overcome your fear of failure AND success, Part 3: Getting clarity on your purpose and taking ACTION!

To learn more about me and tylerjbrooks.com, check out my About page and this post.