Thursday, April 27, 2023

50 Lessons of 50 Series

Back in 2021 I created a series of articles titled, "The 50 Lessons of 50 Years" -- tools for finding peace. purpose, and pleasure while getting older.  Along the way I never completely archived the series,  nor ever had displayed all the articles indexed in one place.  So two years and one-hundred Tub Talks later, I am finally compiling a list of all the ideas with links in one entire post.  I hope they support your journey toward finding joy, meaning, passion, and play as you age as well. 


Turning 50: Let's Do This! 

50. Sex Doesn't Have To Be Scary 

49. This Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

48. It's Okay Not To Feel Okay

47. Forgive Them Father 

46. Just Show Up

45. "It’s Like Something Is Choking Everybody. Only They Don’t Know They’re Choking."

44. Words Shape Experience 

43. You Can Love Yourself by Rethinking "Love" and "Self" 

42. Pain Is Inevitable, Suffering Is Optional

41. "Don't Listen To That Old Bitch In Diapers"

40. Social Media Has No Inherent Power 

39. Life Is Better As A Purple Turkey 

38. Fitting In Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

37. There Is No Universal Consensus Of Sexy

36. No One Opens Their Mind Or Heart When They Feel Shamed Or Attacked

35. Look For The Helpers

34. Helping Others Feels Good (or "Grab A Shovel") 

33. Cause & Effect: The Key To Reduce Suffering

32. We Are All Harm-Reductionists Now 

31. The World Is Not Ending Tomorrow...

30. Consequences Over Cancellations

29. The Simple Joys 

28. You Can Start Again

27. The Dinner Table Approach To Dating Will Leave You Starving

26. Drugs, Distractions, and Decisions: The Three Paths To Peace

25. If You Are Good At What You Do You Will Be Attacked

24. Your Work Vs. Your Job 

23. Stay Open, Remain Curious 

22. I'm Still Here, Dammit (Thank You, AARP) 

21. Love Is Infinite, Only Humans Set Limits 

20. No One Can Make You Feel "Special"

19. "What About MY Voice?"

18. Black Lives Matter To Me

17. Humans Need Touch 

16. Coerced Monogamy Does Not Work 

15. Do You Want To Be The Leaf Or The Tree?

14. Compersion Is Caring 

13. Find Your Role In The Cycle Of Lonely 

12. The Fear Of Fat Is A Gay Rights Issue 

11. The Four Kingdoms Of Consciousness 

10. We Can Be Heroes: 12 People Over 50 Changing The HIV Epidemic

9. Hurt People Hurt People 

8. Compassionate Conversations Are Critical 

7. Joyfulizing vs. Catastrophizing

6. I Stay Up At Night (And Other Space Oddities)

5. Lose The Should To Feel Good 

4. Great Sex = Safety + Agency + Discovery

3. Someday I Will Die

2. Now Is Our Time For Fun

1. The Joy Of Aging: Power, Purpose, Pleasure 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist helping individuals and couples enjoy life with peace, purpose, and pleasure. His books "Absolutely Should-less" and "Rational Relating" help people experience connection with joy, serenity, and meaning. His work has been featured on ABC, CNN  The NY Times, MSNBC, USA Today and more. He can be reached at or 347-227-7707.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Tub Talks With Damon Episode Guide: Season One

Tub Talks With Damon debuted on September 13, 2021, as way of engaging serious conversations in a silly situation.  70 baths later, we are posting this episode guide to celebrate the people who have shared their insights, experiences, life lessons, and lots of lots of information about sexual health!  Join us for another dip (click on the title to go directly to the episode):  

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Bathtubs, Boosters, and Bears, Omicron!! [A Holiday Update]

On November 24, 2021 I decided to get my fourth shot of the COVID19 vaccine.  The first two doses (Astra-Zeneca) were administered in a vaccine trial in November and December of 2020.  The next single shot (Johnson & Johnson) was given in May, 2021.  Did I medically need a fourth shot in order to have the maximal protection from COVID and its variants?  The answer involved a lot of math, a lot of probabilities, and a lot of maybes.  Ultimately I opted to receive the next dose (Pfizer) because it removed uncertainty, cleared up my ambivalence, and helped me to feel in control over what happens to my body. 

When I made this pre-Thanksgiving announcement on Facebook I received much support from family and friends.  One person, however, whom I would describe as vaccine ambivalent, privately reached out and asked, “So what does this mean?  That you’re going to keep getting booster shots over and over?” My answer:  YEAH!!  I will happily get COVID booster shots as long as it takes.  You’re talking to the same guy who regularly uses PrEP to prevent HIV and doxycycline to prevent STIs.  The idea of utilizing biomedical interventions to enhance my quality of life and reduce harm is hardly an unusual concept for me.

About 24 hours later media headlines started swarming around the World Health Organizations’s announcement of Omicron as a “COVID variant of concern.”   At the time of this writing, there is no clear evidence that Omicron is more likely to lead to illness than the other variants, nor how well the current vaccines protect from this new strain.  But I do know that having an additional booster shot offers me a way to feel proactive, responsible, and empowered about my pleasure and protection, in the midst of more panic and uncertainty. 

Damon in Mike Enders' Tub
This theme of seeking medical and mental safety in times of turbulence and trauma has come up frequently in my new “Tub Talks” series.  The idea of doing naked interviews in a bathtub came to me years ago, when I saw my buddy Mike Enders, aka as “The Accidental Bear” holding court in his tub in San Francisco.  I begged him to let me be part of his show, and we filmed a very fun episode in early 2018.  Mike was already moving beyond his bathtub to focus on animal activism by that point, and I thought eventually I wanted to host a similar type of forum for discussions, dialogues, and deeper lessons about resilience and hope. 

After finishing my 50 Lessons of 50 Series last Spring, I began planning  “Tub Talks With Damon" -
Kareem McJagger In The Tub
...featuring naked conversations with thought leaders, artists, healers, creators, bears, and people who just fascinate me.  All have generously shared experiences of vulnerability, as well as lessons learned from surviving pain.  Everyone who has visited my Tub has deepened my appreciation for overcoming obstacles, fighting to gain a sense of safety and control after dealing with traumatic setbacks, and using their experiences of adversity to help improve the lives of others. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Tub Talks With Damon Premieres Today

On this pilot episode of Tub Talks, Damon learns from Matt how he transitioned from occupational therapist to sex worker. What are the pros/cons of doing porn and sex work, and how can we celebrate the beauty of our bodies as we get older? 
Plus - Why the heck are we doing interviews in the bathtub? 

Monday, July 19, 2021

10 Years Of Taking PrEP

I began using PrEP 10 years ago today.  I'm clarifying some myths, fears, and inaccuracies in this statement.  Please take time to learn more at PrEP Facts: Rethinking HIV Prevention and Sex!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

1. The Joy Of Aging: Power, Purpose, Pleasure

I was 14-years-old when The Breakfast Club was first released in theaters and I would end up seeing it many times during its original release.   As much as I enjoyed it, I did disagree with a central premise of the film, and seemingly all the John Hughes angst films in that genre.   In a scene where all five characters discuss their fears and vulnerabilities, Ally Sheedy’s character laments, “It’s unavoidable.  It just happens. When you grow up, your heart dies.”  I remember thinking, “No, it’s not unavoidable.  That doesn’t have to happen!” 

I am turning 50-years-old today as I'm writing this filled with more heart, more gratitude, more optimism than I’ve had before.  One of the benefits of living this long is knowing that when I feel hopeful it’s not coming from idealism or naivety.  I’ve seen good and bad, I’ve seen highs and lows, I’ve experienced the best and the worst.  I’ve seen beauty and miracles unfold in this world.  And in the last 14 months I believe I’ve seen the ugliest humanity has to offer.  Nevertheless, I write this carrying a strong rational faith that there is much joy ahead.  

About two decades ago I came to understand that most feelings aren’t about what happen to us, they are about the meaning we give to the events that happen to us.  If you don’t like the feeling, change the thinking.  So the faith I’m feeling today isn’t about things going well for me in my future, it’s about knowing that my reactions to what’s unfolding around me are largely guided by an energy of love, forgiveness, peace, and resilience.  I trust Damon now in a way I didn’t when I was younger, I like Damon now in a way I didn’t before. I’ve respect who I’ve been, I dig who I’m becoming.   This is very different from the scenario of adulthood described by the kids in The Breakfast Club. Over the past 49 days I’ve shared lessons I’ve learned that have helped me to reach fifty with my heart in check, my soul aligned, my body ready to take action.  All of the previous entries were building toward my “trifecta” of focusing on the power, purpose, and pleasure, that can help us to age with ascension, confidence, and lots of fun.   Here’s what each of these looks like to me:

POWER:  This is not power over others as it is typically described in capitalistic terms.   My concept of power here is about the true power that lies within us, our connection with that God or Spirit or Higher calling that is not contingent on another person’s validation or attention.  It is the connection we foster and maintain within ourselves, ways we tap into the abundant energy of love that is in us and around us.  This is basically the opposite of what we are conditioned to do in the United States, which is use blame, shame, criticism, and attack, to respond to fear or discomfort.  Our true empowerment is something we were born with, it is a beautiful force we already carry.  You don’t need therapy or a drug to find it, it’s already a part of who you are now.  

When we don’t cultivate and nurture our true power, we become a “leaf” that is reactive to the opinions and judgments of those around us.  This is especially in challenging for gay men who simultaneous crave attention, but perpetuate ageism.  If your sense of identity and confidence is contingent on men finding your desirable, then you are setting yourself up for much pain and suffering in the years ahead.  

There is an easier way!  Begin the process of decoupling the true self from the social self.  Actively nurture and maintain your love for your true self, knowing that that peace and confidence will affect the attention you get with your social self, not the other way around.  These techniques and tools were covered in Lessons 48, 47, 43, 42, 40, 33, 27, 26, 22, 20, 19, 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, and 3.  

PURPOSE:  We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  Or in some cases, maybe the afternoon.  Either way, it is important in all stages of life that we feel our lives matter, our contributions are relevant, our hearts are included.  I believe we all have “Work” we do that helps us to feel like we’re contributing meaningfully in the world.  For me that Work has always been related to mental health and service, but people can experience this through their artistic achievements, their sports activities, volunteer work, their hobbies or recreational interests. It doesn’t matter as much what it its you are doing, just so long as it maintains that there is a reason we are living on this planet at this time in this body, and our energies are called upon at this point to help somehow make the world a better place .

Without purpose people often feel obsolete and irrelevant.  If they don’t feel like they have a reason to get out of bed then they may not get out of bed.  I have seen people falter at these times, sink into depression, escape into alcohol or drug abuse.  We are living in an ageist society that continues to tell people they become less relevant and have less to contribute as they get older.  I think that might be changing, as more and more people in their late 70s maintain positions of significant political significance in government.  

Nevertheless we are taught it is the goal to “retire” and slow down as we age.  If that feels right to you then that is a beautiful thing.  But if you feel you have something to share, something urgent to say, something relevant to express, then it will be incumbent on you to find ways to channel that message throughout the different stages of life.  Different suggestions about finding purpose and meaningful Work were covered in Lessons 46, 44, 41, 39, 38, 36, 35, 34, 30, 28, 24, 23, 18, 10, and 8.

PLEASURE:   This almost always gets left out of conversations about aging, especially when we’re talking about sex.  Especially when we’re talking about gay sex.  Especially when we’re talking about a lot of gay sex with a lot of different partners that doesn’t result in some horrible catastrophe, and instead leaves all participants with a sense of connection, fun, and some groovy oxytocin.  But “pleasure” is not limited to the sexual realm — in my opinion it involves anything fun on the tactile level. It might be sports, it might be hot air balloons, it might mean riding horses, it might mean traveling to a new country.  Anything that heightens sensation and affirms your life experience can be pleasurable.

We know that babies need a consistent amount of affectionate touch and holding in order to physically and cognitive thrive.  At what age does that stop?  I don’t think it ever does, but I do think American culture discourages us from asking for physical touch, intimate connection, sexual vulnerability, especially as we get older.  When people are involuntarily celibate they often feel loneliness, depression, and express irritability and rage.  This need not be!

What if we normalized consensual touch and sensuality as a regular part of human connection at all stages of life?  What if we respected the role of human contact and oxytocin as an integral part of healthy aging?  What happens when we nurture curiosity to seek out fun and playful connections with others?  How would we feel if  we used our agency to clearly articulate our “Yes,” or “no,” and our “mmm, maybe.”  I explored these themes in great depth in Lessons 50, 49, 45, 37, 32, 31, 29, 25, 21, 17, 16, 14, 12, 6, 4, and 2.  

 [Thank you Adam's Nest]

I believe we have an unprecedented moment here.  As a gay man I have never lived in a time with this level of social acceptance, legal protections, medical advancements.  I am starting a new decade of life with the U.S. starting a new decade with great potential for recovery, healing, and growth. When we put together power, purpose, and pleasure we develop the limitless opportunities of expansion, enlightenment, and connection that lie before us as we get older.  I’m so glad to be on this journey, and continuing these ideas and conversations in the years and decades ahead.  
*Thank you Adam Singer for all the graphics developed for this series, and proofreading my typos!! 💜 

 Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist helping individuals and couples enjoy life with peace, purpose, and pleasure. His books "Absolutely Should-less" and "Rational Relating" help people experience connection with joy, serenity, and meaning. His work has been featured on CNN Health, The New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today and more. He can be reached at or 347-227-7707