This week's blog post was written by Sean Mizer, one of the beadsmen who appears in the MKE Beard Book! I had an open beard photo call at my studio and Sean showed up and brought his A-Game. Sean owns a company called Studioworks which provides innovative solutions for experiential marketing, trade shows, exhibits, sculpture, and design.
As a boy I recall trying to grow up fast way too fast. There seemed an honor in it; at least I thought that’s what that was.
My beard has meant many different things, but at the end of the day it’s just a beard, not to be confused with the yielding heart within the person behind it.
Early on, my beard really pissed people off or just made them uncomfortable. My family and kids would badger me daily! “When you gonna shave?” “Why do you want to look like that?” “You know you look crazy! “When you were a kid did you always want to look like a biker?” My reply? “Fuck yeah!” I could walk into some busy hipster coffee shop and part the people there like the Red Fuckin’ Sea. Haaaaaa! Man, if you are that uncomfortable with me, what does that say about you?
So, yes, the beard started as a shield, an extension of my attitude and my insecurity. It was a Fuck You. It was LEAVE ME ALONE. It was Don’t Fuck With Me. A good portion of my life was. I was on an island and I put myself there. I now know because of PTSD and a mood disorder, I was being hyper vigilant. Growing up, my life was about survival and I couldn’t navigate. So, [I created a] shield wall! I’m very good at surviving, maybe the best, and it comes with a growl. My defense became an offense. Hence, the shield and sword. Talking with friend awhile back she asked, “If you have a good shield can you put down the sword?” I’ve since learned and replied, “You don’t need either.”
A few years back I went back home for my best friend's funeral. It was a pivotal moment that opened the door to where I am now. It was a death of a king for me. I was seeing people I hadn’t seen in ages. We were a clan. As I flew to New Jersey from Milwaukee, the words brother and warrior would not leave my head. When I met up with another old friend at the funeral, he said, “We have to bury him with a sword,” which made me realize it wasn’t just me who felt the tribe connection. As I listened to the priest speak, I quickly realized that the guy didn’t know my friend and I found myself needing to defend and honor my brother. I gathered my energy and stood. My energy filled the room. Nothing would get past me in that moment and then I felt something new. I was proud! My beard, in that split second, made me aware that my true self was present. I ended up getting all of my childhood friends to chant and howl, right there in the church. “Let him hear it on the other side!” and we all channeled an inner growl. “Aaaargh!” Perhaps it was just my way to cry, but there was magic in my grief. On that day, I learned to stop being nervous or intimidated or shy. My beard suddenly represented my roots.
I have always been a fan of warrior movies (Braveheart, Gladiator, The Dragon). I have a soft spot for the underdog. The funeral changed my thoughts about not only my beard, but also the course of my life. Since then, my life has transformed. I have hiked the Grand Canyon twice. I have participated in drum circles, yoga, a sweat lodge, and a few gong baths. My beard has become a teaching tool for my children to be themselves and not change for the approval of others. Be yourself and don’t follow. The more self-mastery, the less approval you need.
The beard is no longer a shield. It is a celebration of my spirit.
To learn more about Sean, please visit https://seanmizer.com