My Purpose Over My Relationship?

by Chris Kyle

I came across this quote from David Deida (author of Way of the Superior Man) a couple of days ago:

“Admit to yourself that if you had to choose one or the other, the perfect intimate relationship or achieving your highest purpose in life, you would choose to succeed at your purpose. Just this self-knowledge often relieves much pressure a man feels to prioritize his relationship when, in fact, it is not his highest priority.”

I have to say right off the bat, that when I first read this quote I thought to myself… do I have to choose one OVER the other?

And then another part of me stood up (in my head, of course) and said “that’s right, achieving my highest purpose would definitely rock!”

Clearly there’s a conflict running inside me regarding how I prioritize living my purpose as a man, and where I place my relationship.

So, as I look at my own life to investigate this question of the priority of purpose, I do see that I am most alive, engaged and passionate when I’m doing what I love, giving my gifts and bringing my purpose forward to serve others.

And if I decided to choose my relationship OVER living fully into my purpose, I think a part of me would shrivel up. And I know that my power and confidence would be diminished in the world.

And at the end of the day, I don’t want living my purpose to hurt or damage my relationship with my wife. I know that I can give my full presence and heart to my relationship without sacrificing my purpose.

But real juice and fire in our relationship comes from me making bold choices to follow my heart and gut, and give my gifts, my purpose with passion and without apology. And my wife finds this super sexy and is proud of me even during the times I am putting my purpose work above our relationship time.

The twist here is that in my experience living boldly into my purpose, with all the triumphs and failures that goes with that, my relationship thrives.

And of course, my purpose as I shared it above applies to my wife as well (she’s a “being” too), and so I can be in my purpose through supporting her on her path of growth.

What I hear from many men that I work with is that they are trying so hard to make their relationship work or to please their partner so they can have a more harmonious and “easy” life.

The challenge of putting their relationship above the full expression of their purpose, is that it diminishes the energy, fire and confidence in themselves that could infuse the relationship with much needed passion or juiciness.

So here’s how I have learned to hold this priority tension between relationship and purpose. I give my full presence, attention and heart to my relationship whenever we are together. I am not half-there or checked out because I’m thinking about work, or half-listening to her because my purpose work is invading my thoughts and it’s THE PRIORITY.

Rather, when I’m engaged in my purpose work, I’m there fully and making that a priority in my life even if it means making some difficult choices about the time I spend with my wife.

I find that the natural balance arises when I am passionately engaged in my purpose AND I bring that juice and fire into my relationship with full presence and an open heart — regardless of how much time we have with each other (days or minutes).

And you know, I still reserve the right to make my relationship the focus of my purpose at any given time if it needs it and demands more of me for a period of time. How’s that for a slick caveat — and it’s been true at specific times in my life.

Keep working your purpose edge, bring full presence to each moment, keep your heart open and you’ll see your life soar… in both your purpose AND your relationship.

CK

P.S. What do you think? Leave a comment!

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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The World Needs More Elders

Category: Fatherhood, Men as Elders 

By Donald Clerc

What’s the difference between being an Elder and being elderly?  I never really thought about that question until joining the ManKind Project two years ago.

I’m 57, have three grown children, one young grandchild, and own my own business.  So I’ve “been around the block” a few times and have learned a thing or two along the way.  But no one had challenged me on what I can do with that experience and wisdom in this second half of my life.

What are the characteristics of an Elder?  We all know of older people who do not behave in an Elder way.  And we also know of younger people who already exhibit Elder-like qualities.  Here’s what I see are some of the qualities and behaviors of an Elder:

•       Speaking the truth with authority and wisdom.
•       Speaking with kindness and a fierce authenticity at the same time.
•       Having a gracious and open heart.
•       Standing for higher values and strong standards of behavior.
•       Drawing the line against counterproductive behavior.
•       Giving, serving, honoring and blessing others.
•       Standing in responsible support of leaders.
•       Knowing when all you need to do is be present and listen.

Old-PeopleBeing an Elder is not the same as being elderly.  Just because you are older doesn’t make you wise.  And if you don’t share that hard-won wisdom with others, then you are not benefiting society as an Elder.

Being an Elder is not the same as being a leader.  The Elder looks out for the leaders and the lead alike.  The Elder uses his wisdom and experience for the good of everyone.  His honesty and values help the young to mature and help the already mature to stay in touch with their core values.

Many other societies honor their Elders.  It seems like our materialistic society only honors those people (young or old) who buy things, make things, or do things.  How does one get honored for being and sharing wisdom?  Elders can help the younger generations focus on developing their core values and stop being overly focused on material things.

Where can today’s Elders practice their craft?  I grew up in a Presbyterian church, which is run by Elders by design.  But outside of organized religion, schools and businesses, where else can Elders give of their gifts?  If our communities can learn to utilize all of this elder wisdom in an organized way, everyone benefits.

What stops older people from stepping into the role of the Elder?  The first obstacle to overcome is the assumption or lack of awareness that one is already an Elder simply because one has already experienced a half-century or more of life.  The second obstacle is a lack of training on Elder-like behaviors.  These behaviors are not difficult to learn – what most people need to learn are how to undo the negative habits that inhibit or cover their natural Elder qualities from coming out.

In conclusion, young people need more Elders in their lives.  They grow up easier and with more maturity.  I think it’s time for older people need to step into their roles as Elders.  This gives them a greater sense of fulfillment and contribution to society than continuing the consumerist behaviors of when they were younger.

What we still need are a way to train more people in the second half of their life to embrace their inner Elder.  And we need to develop more avenues in society where Elders can give of their gifts to others.

Donald Clerc is a computer technologist and entrepreneur.  He has over 30 years experience working with computers, and started his own computer consulting company 16 years ago.  Before that he was an associate school psychologist.  Donald is married (for over 35 years), has three grown children and one grandchild. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2011 and is a declared Elder in the Houston MKP Community.
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How we feel emotions in our Body

by Boysen Hodgson

from Discover Magazine

Research done by a group of scientists, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals some interesting facts about how human beings experience emotions in their bodies. For men involved in the ManKind Project, it was a nice affirmation of what we’ve been teaching and practicing for nearly 30 years.

In the ManKind Project, we see and hear men struggle to describe or name what they’re feeling. Mad? Sad? Glad? Afraid? Ashamed? They frequently have an easy time saying what they think, or making statements that express judgment about what is happening around them, but when asked to name the emotional state they’re experiencing … many men are stumped. For most of us, this is a result of being raised in families and in a culture that doesn’t teach or model emotional literacy.

To help men learn what they are feeling and be able to name it; without expectation of changing it or shame for feeling it, we teach men to look their bodies for clues.

“What sensations are you feeling?”
“Where are the sensations in your body?”
“What color (shape, size, texture) might it have?”
and finally …
“If you were to give it a name … mad, sad, glad, afraid, ashamed … what would you call it?”

This basic template for exploration begins to tease apart the stories and narratives in our minds from the raw physical experience we are having in our bodies. Often this is the first step in decoupling habits of reaction so that men can make changes in their behaviors and beliefs about themselves and the world.

Emotion – the felt sense, the hormonal and neurological chain-reaction set into motion by thoughts and experiences of the world – is one of the most powerful sources of information we can harness to improve ourselves and have a positive impact on the world. Many of us create habits of denial, repression, and avoidance of our emotions that have wide ranging personal, interpersonal, and cultural impacts in our communities.

This is a great time to bear witness to the cultural awakening that is underway.

Men’s Work – the difficult and fantastic process of waking up, growing up, and showing up in the world for the benefit of humanity – is main-stream. As soon as this article was published, ManKind Project men from around the world were sharing it with quips about printing it out as a quick reference guide for men beginning the exhilarating process of connecting ‘head’ and ‘heart.’

Here is the link to the article:
How we feel emotions in our body

Boysen Hodgson

Boysen Hodgson is the Communications and Marketing Director for the ManKind Project USA, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Boysen received his BA with Honors from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, after completing 2 years of Design coursework at Cornell University. He has been helping companies and individuals design the change they wish to see in the world for 15 years. He’s a dedicated husband.

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20 Diagnostic Signs That You’re Suffering From “Soul Loss” . Article by Lissa Rankin

by Gonzalo Salinas

I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Lissa Rankin. I think she saved me by helping me understand what was happening in my life. I was training for a triathlon, and I wasn’t feeling good. My body couldn’t take it anymore and when I went to three different doctors, they each ran some tests, and the result was the same: Everything was all right.

But I wasn’t feeling good. One night as I was leaving work, checking my email, I found a video in my inbox, I can’t recall now who it was from. The title was  The shocking truth about your health by Dr. Lissa Rankin. It was a TED talk from 2011 (I included it below). After watching the entire video, I was hooked. I ordered her book Mind Over Medicine, and I started a healing process that was more related to a daily practice of my passion than to a pathology.

Lissa Rankin is a brave soul fighting against a system that treats our bodies like machines. Her armament to fight the battle: LOVE. She says her mission is to highlight the “care in the health-care.”  I consider her work an amazing opportunity for every doctor, healer, therapist, shaman, people involved with medicine or any kind of healing practice to learn and grow in their practice.

She is on a mission. And she is being recognized. I pray that she continues healing humankind.

Here is a link to a great article she wrote. Check it out, and consider getting involved:

20 Diagnostic Signs That You’re Suffering From “Soul Loss”


 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

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McDonald’s Drive-Thru, 8:23am

Category: Fatherhood, Memoir 

by Wentworth Miller

McDonald’s
Williams, California
December 23, 2013
8:32 AM (approx.)

I pull into the drive-thru, empty except for the giant white Suburban ahead of me, coming abreast of the callbox, like a yacht docking. When the window rolls down I can see the driver in his side mirror. Male, bald, mid 30s.

The intercom crackles as a McDonald’s employee pitches whatever it is he/she’s been ordered to pitch at the top of the order. Given the season, presumably something holiday-ish. High on fructose.

My window’s rolled up so I can’t hear their exchange, but I can see the man’s lips moving, his eyes grazing the menu. He turns away from the callbox, addresses someone inside the Suburban, asking what they’d like for breakfast. Presumably.

That’s when I notice how many people he’s got with him. A literal carload. I see multiple heads. Most of them small. This guy’s got four or five kids in there. At least. Plus the wife. All of whom want breakfast. None of whom have ever been to a McDonald’s, apparently, because the man behind the wheel is talking them through the entire fucking menu. Every last item. Apparently.

The intercom crackles again and I glance in my rearview mirror, see two cars waiting behind me, their exhaust commingling with mine as the seconds tick by.

I look back at Suburban Dad, silently willing him to hurry it up. He does not. He’s smiling, taking his time, making sure he’s getting everybody’s order right.

I imagine his voice in my head.

“Yeah… can I get a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit? No wait – Lexie’s allergic to cheese. Can I get a Bacon & Egg Biscuit no cheese? No wait – can you make that a McMuffin? Can I get a Sausage McMuffin with Egg? No cheese. Lexie can’t have cheese.” (McCetera.)

All I want is a large coffee with 2 creamers on the side.

Unfortunately for me, Dad, Mom, Lexie, and Lexie’s thirty-six brothers and sisters are going to need several more minutes to make up their minds.

I sigh and look to my left, try to distract myself with the view outside my window. But there’s nothing to see. Just a flat, dry expanse stretching to the horizon, a bleak winter vista of grays, browns and beiges in this Dust Bowl Created By Congress (if the billboards lining the 5 are to be believed).

I turn my gaze back to the Suburban, zeroing in on Dad (again), still framed in his side mirror. He’s stroking his chin, looking over the menu (again). Considering His Options. I didn’t know people still stroked their chins.

I look in my rearview mirror, see there are now three cars behind me. Here comes the fourth.

Several scenarios run through my head.

1st Scenario: I tap my horn twice. Beep Beep. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I smile. Shrug. Like, “Could you hurry it up, please?”

2nd Scenario: I violently stab my car horn. BLAP. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I lift my hands. Shrug. Like, “Whoops – didn’t mean to hit the horn. But while I have your attention, could you hurry it up, please?”

3rd Scenario: I violently stab my car horn. And hold it. BLAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPP. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I stare him down. Like, “Yeah. You heard me.” He sticks his head out the window, looks back at me. “You gotta problem?” Maybe he actually opens his door, gets out and walks back to my car, wants to find out what my problem is face to face. (This scenario could lead to violence. Fisticuffs. A McFlurry of punches.)

4th Scenario: Someone behind me taps THEIR horn. Beep Beep. Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror. His brow furrows. I lift my hands. Shrug. Like, “Hey – wasn’t me, buddy. But while we have your attention…”

My fingers drum the steering wheel.

Then, at last, he’s done. Miracle of miracles. I sweep in behind the Suburban the second it moves forward, colonizing the space it so recently occupied. If it were a seat it would still be warm. Now it’s mine. All mine. I have my window rolled down. I am breathless with impatience. Ready to order.

“Hi and welcome to McDonald’s! Would you like to try our new -”

“Can I get a large black coffee with two creamers on the side?”

“Will that complete your order?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Your total is f – ”

I drive past the callbox and up to the first window, the window where you pay. Or at least I try to. But the Suburban’s still there. Idling. Of course. I can’t tell if Dad’s paid and waiting for change or if he’s still digging around looking for exact coinage.

I lift my weary eyes to the top of his vehicle, spot a rooftop cargo carrier. Black. Sizable. I wonder what’s inside. Body parts maybe. Or Christmas presents. Body parts wrapped as Christmas presents. They’re probably on their way to Grandma’s house. Or a vacation cabin. (‘Tis the season.)

I see movement out of the corner of my eye, catch a McDonald’s employee handing Dad back his credit card and receipt. Dad says something in return (thank you?). Smiles. This guy’s all fucking smiles. A regular chucklehead. Apparently.

Dad says something else to the employee (Merry Christmas?). Then, instead of driving forward and keeping the line moving, instead of showing a degree of awareness and/or respect for the fact that he/they are not alone in this drive-thru and/or world, Dad stays where he is. I see him looking down at his lap, fussing with something. His credit card maybe. He’s putting it back in his wallet. THEN he’ll move forward.

For fuck’s sake.

One of the kids must’ve said something funny because now Dad is laughing, hard, head thrown back. I see gums in the side mirror, a small black gullet ringed by tiny white teeth.

The 1st Scenario pops into my head again, the one where I tap my horn twice. Beep Beep. Watch as Dad’s eyes meet mine in the side mirror, brow furrowing. I smile, shrug. “Could you hurry it up, please?” Dad gives me the stink-eye but pulls forward, allowing me to pay for my coffee at the first window. A minute later I’m back on the 5, nursing my cup of joe and listening to some tunes, inner monologue re: the family in the white Suburban being rapidly replaced by thoughts re: me. And lunch. Then me again.

Meanwhile – still 1st Scenario – the Suburban’s back on the road as well, but now Dad’s mood has soured. He’s still thinking (brooding) about that asshole behind him at McDonald’s, the one who honked his horn. The one who wanted him/them to hurry the fuck up. That honk felt personal. Like an insult. Dad thinks maybe he should’ve gotten out of the car and walked back there, found out what that guy’s problem was face to face. Yeah. Maybe he should have. Dad knows he ought to let it slide but can’t, has never been good at shrugging things off. His fingers drum the steering wheel.

Dad’s wife sits next to him, tense, eyes front, shoulders climbing up to her ears. There’s been a change in the weather and she knows it. She’s heard this record before. She gives her husband a look, assessing the situation, finger to the wind, waiting to see where this will go. But she can guess.

Lexie and her thirty-six brothers and sisters sit behind them, subdued now. There’s been a change in the weather and they know it. They eat quietly, trying not to crinkle their Sausage McMuffin with Egg wrappers too loudly. To no avail.

One of them is an hour and 42 minutes away from getting slapped.

It might happen sooner. It might happen later. But it’s happening.

I sit in the drive-thru with my foot on the brake, staring at the backs of those little heads in the Suburban in front of me, wondering which of them it will be.

Do I know for sure that honking my horn means one of those kids is getting slapped?

Of course not.

Would I really be responsible if the former resulted in the latter?

No. That’s absurd.

Ish.

If Lexie and her thirty-six brothers and sisters are growing up in an environment where slapping occurs, slapping will occur, no matter how quietly they eat their breakfasts. No matter how many drivers refrain from honking at Dad, palms will meet cheeks.

Guaranteed.

But I don’t want to be a link in that chain.

So I still my fingers on the steering wheel and leave my horn unhonked. I will wait the extra 5 minutes for my morning coffee. I will let Dad – still chuckling, by the way – pull forward to the pick-up window when he’s good and ready.

Fine by me.

When he does I follow behind, moving well under 5 mph. When I stop next to the pay window, I brake so gently I can barely tell I’ve braked at all. Or that I was ever moving.

I’ve got my bills and exact change ready. $4.34. I extend my closed fist toward the window as it slides open, revealing a ponytailed teenager in a McDonald’s visor and faded parka. She smiles apologetically, nods toward the Suburban in front of me. Shrugs. Says, “Sorry about the wait. That guy took forever, huh?”

Wentworth Miller

Born in England, raised in Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of Princeton University, Wentworth Miller is a compelling and critically acclaimed young actor whose credits span both television and feature film. Learn more about Wentworth Miller at IMdb. Miller is a member of the ManKind Project USA, Los Angeles Community.

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Embrace Bad Experiences Like a Warrior

by Shawn Rhodes

What I remember most about the first time someone tried to take my life was how good the water tasted.

It was spring of 2004, and I was in a cargo vehicle full of infantry Marines. We headed out to protect an overpass used as a supply route to Baghdad. It was being shelled regularly by the local Jihad constabulary. The big, clunky vehicle pulled under the bridge and we waited for further orders. Apparently, it’s a bad idea to park a vehicle in a spot the enemy has plenty of experience hitting. We immediately began receiving incoming mortar fire.

I heard the order to abandon the vehicle, and I was two people from the rear hatch. The man closest to the back jumped the 12 feet from the truck bed to the ground, rolled on the pavement and ran for cover as the rounds rained around him. The second man followed, and was peppered by shrapnel along the right side of his body. The rounds came in half-second increments, and when they hit the pavement around us, it was like geysers opened. Smoke, gravel, and pieces of steel sprayed up and out like jets of black steam. I jumped from the vehicle and a mortar exploded underneath me.

The next thing I remember was swinging from the rear tailgate of the huge truck as it lurched forward. One hand gripping the steel while the rest of me banged around against the bumper. I dropped to the ground and checked myself – no wounds. When we finally settled in for the night, I realized I’d never been so thirsty. That lukewarm, stale, chlorinated water tasted like it had come from the Swiss alps.

I share this story because I want to jog your memory. I want you to remember the elation that comes from surviving. More importantly, I want to share with you a key principle of living a life with Shoshin, Beginner’s Heart:

The best moments occur when you push yourself (or are pushed) beyond what you think you can handle. It is what you do with that victory, however, that defines the rest of your life.

Trauma is a well-recognized and ancient way of bringing oneself to the brink of what we think we can handle. If someone survives, it changes them forever. Many of the veterans I fought with are still coming to terms with what they experienced on the battlefield. These folks were certainly physically stronger than I was, most were smarter, and our training desensitized all of us to violence. So why do some of us return after these experiences re-dedicated to fulfilling our life’s purpose, while so many leave their life’s passions in the desert sands?

People hurt us. Others are taken too early. What do we do with the emptiness echoing within? The solution may surprise you – it’s not forgiving and forgetting, and it’s certainly not pretending it didn’t happen. If an event in life challenges your reason for living as fully as possible, pick up the mantle of the warrior again. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a warrior, the spirit of service lives within you. It is your human calling and it’s a way to embrace challenge in life.

Think of the most traumatic events in your life, and the details involved. Remember of how things felt or smelled. Record it on a piece of paper. If these memories don’t feel like an unhealed wound, you’ve already done the healing work of a spirit-warrior or your life is blessedly free of trauma.

What do you want to invite back into your life? Playfulness? Unbridled joy? Trust? Write it down. If it’s stumping you, ask friends or family who knew you before and after the event noticed any changes.

If the event re-played itself in your mind every hour (and it does for some of us, doesn’t it?), what would you do to make the memory bearable? This is assuming you’re tired of avoiding the memory and are ready to regain what you lost.
Warriors are called to live a life of excellence. Striving to be fulfilled brings lessons of both victories and defeats. What separates a warrior from a victim is what they choose to do with the rest of their lives. Like all life-issues, the faster you run, the faster they pursue. Warriors don’t run, hiding behind alcohol, drugs, or pretending something didn’t happen. A warrior does what they love – they revel in playing on the battlefield of their lives.

Of course, the events that shaped us no longer exist, except in the past and in our memories. You see, the place warriors reclaim lost parts of themselves is within their present moments. It’s there we walk the path. Remember, a warrior is one who serves a higher calling. If you’re reading this and you’ve survived the traumatic events of your life, it’s safe to say you want to make the most of your present moments. Your higher purpose, your passion, your call to live with your own beginner’s heart is echoing through you into your empty spaces so that you can act on it. You deserve to live an excellent life.

So how do we bring what we’re missing back into our lives? As any martial artist will tell you, once you learn a ‘difficult technique’ it’s a forehead-slapping experience when you think of how much you struggled to perform something so simple.

But that technique, that missing piece and that life you dream about will never materialize unless you begin practicing. You have to send out what you want to bring into your life. Start now. Laugh at every opportunity. Trust in small increments until you can turn your life back over to the universe. Practice giving others the things you’re missing and savor the return as it flows back into your life. Seize those moments and taste them; drink deeply.

As John Turturro said in O Brother, Where Art Thou:

“Come on in boys, the water is fine.”

Shawn Rhodes

As an award-winning Marine war correspondent, Shawn Rhodes traveled to more than two dozen countries fighting alongside U.S. Marines. His stories and photos have been featured in TIME , CNN and MSNBC in addition to major wire services. He was a top combat reporter in the military and recognized by Congress for sharing the warrior’s lifestyle with the public. He then lived and trained at a martial arts temple in Japan, learning how the warrior’s mindset could be used for victory in battles and boardrooms. Currently he is a successful speaker and coach, teaching people to achieve success and happiness using the methods he learned from warriors around the world. He was initiated at the NWTA in October of 2013. Find out more about Shawn Rhodes at his web site: Shoshin Consulting

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Resolutions? Changes? A New Endeavor? Remember this…

Category: Men and Mission 

guest post: by Patricia Clason

Thinking about “growing” some goals, making some changes, starting something new? Whether you are making changes for growing your business or a having a more satisfying personal life, you may want to remember this story.

Wanting to fill his yard with the smell of lilacs, the man planted several bushes in his garden. After a few weeks, he was frustrated because they hadn’t blossomed and he pulled them up and replanted them in another part of the garden. “Perhaps they’ll get more sun here and then blossom,” he thought. A month later, they still hadn’t blossomed.

So he pulled them up and replanted in another area of the garden, this time angrier than before. In the fall, the bushes still hadn’t blossomed so he pulled them out and threw them away!

Immediate gratification. American society is programmed for it – a pill to take away the headache, a candy bar for instant energy, a credit card so you can buy what you want right now. We want what we want and we want it when we want it.

We forget that the world is made of cycles and processes. The lilac bushes needed a season to settle into the earth and send down roots. Nature gives us the wonderful example of seeds needing to build root systems before they sprout above ground and grow into the plant they were meant to be.

In your business or personal life, have you been pulling up the roots, replanting in what you thought might be sunnier spots, only to find that you aren’t getting the blossoms you yearn for? Perhaps it would be best if take the time to nurture a root system.

Get grounded. Explore through books and seminars the possibilities and potentials available to you. Make sure that you are not operating out of anxiousness, frustration, anger, stress or fatigue. The choices we make at emotional times are often not well processed through our “root system” and therefore don’t usually reflect Who We Were Meant To Be. Instead those choices reflect the chaos of the storm going on around us. Allow the storm front to move through. Just notice the emotions, feel them at the moment. There is no need to take action, other than to protect yourself if necessary from the elements that might be dangerous to you. When the storm has passed, the calm settles in. Review what has happened.

Before making decisions to sprout into the new business, relationship, home or whatever new directions you are choosing, remember the Chinese bamboo, Moso, takes several years to build it’s root system before ever appearing above ground. However, it’s root system is so strong that it will grow to 60 to 75 feet tall in the five years following it’s appearance. The bamboo will grow to a strong and powerful eight inches in diameter.

Gib Cooper is a bamboo gardner. He offers this saying for us to ponder…. The first year they sleep. The second year they creep. The third year they leap!

When you approach a new endeavor, you would do well to consider the wisdom of the Moso gardner. Take the time to plant and nurture the seeds of your new endeavor, choose wisely the plant you wish to become and then watch as your power and strength grow in proportion to the root system you have developed. Give up immediate gratification for the long term pleasure, satisfaction, and strength of the moso forest!

A professional speaker since 1975, Patricia has created over fifty workshops, speeches, and keynote presentations highlighting the skills of Emotional Intelligence. A host for both radio and television interview shows for ten years with an extensive background in business and education, Patricia makes strong connections with participants from private, public and non-profit sector organizations, as well as associations. Emotional Intelligence is at the core of all of her work, helping people develop their self-awareness and social awareness skills to build effective, collaborative relationships personally and professionally. Her website gives more details and contact information.

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Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love

Category: Men and Love 

By Gonzalo Salinas

SunOn the Tiny Buddha site, I found an amazing article by Joanna Warwick, a writer and a therapist who writes about Love, Emotions and Relationships. The article talks about the brave action of opening your heart, even when life has taught you to close it. Great reading!

Letting go came with what seemed like an ocean of tears and unchartered anger, which I shouted, screamed, swore, prayed, talked, and physically used to punch my bed; but gradually the light started to creep in.

Click Here to read “Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love.” Enjoy!

 

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‘Man Up’ and Beyond … Malik Washington

Tarik Washington

Malik Washington

by Boysen Hodgson

When Malik Washington joined the “Man Up” program at Howard University as a freshmen, it was because he wanted to make sure he had what he needed to succeed. “Man Up” was a space where Malik, and many other young men like him, could get things off their chests that might distract them from being successful in their studies.

For many men, this makes a big difference. When Malik started at Howard it was expected that nearly half of the young African American men who were starting school wouldn’t finish. And often it’s not academics that get in the way, it’s added stresses outside of school that push many young men to drop out.

Man Up” is a place to deal with those extra stresses and get support from mentors and peers. As New Warriors, the format for the circles would seem very familiar, with some similarities to our I-Groups.

Now, only a few years later, Washington is using some of what he learned in those men’s circles, and his subsequent MKP experience, to break the cycles of violence and poverty in communities all over the northeast as the CEO of the William Kellibrew Foundation.

From the Kellibrew Foundation’s website:
The William Kellibrew Foundation is an advocate, bridge and community driven partner dedicated to breaking the cycles of violence and poverty. The WKF harnesses and provides resources to both victims and similarly focused organizations through prevention, intervention, education and outreach. By sharing the stories of survivors we give voice to victims, raise community awareness and empower people working to rebuild their lives, families and communities. 

Washington now manages and creates groups for both men and women, with a focus on providing trauma informed care and needed services to a large network in the DC area. He is also traveling to other cities in the northeast to setup similar programs. William Kellibrew’s story is intense, heart-breaking and hopeful.

Congratulations to this Peaceful Warrior – on living a powerful mission of service in the world.

The Howard University ‘Man Up’ program has had deep involvement from a number of New Warriors in the Greater Washington DC community including Lincoln Brown Jr. and former DC Center Director Darryl Moment.

Boysen Hodgson

Boysen Hodgson is the Communications and Marketing Director for the ManKind Project USA, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Boysen received his BA with Honors from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, after completing 2 years of Design coursework at Cornell University. He has been helping companies and individuals design the change they wish to see in the world for 15 years. He’s a dedicated husband.

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Mission is not “mine” – releasing the power of mission

Category: Men and Mission 

By Stephen Simmer

You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to you. Come, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run. –Augustine

 
Too late I came to love you, both so ancient and so new! Too late I came to love you – and you were with me all the time . . .
–Augustine
 
 
The spirit is so near that you can’t see it!
But reach for it. . .don’t be a jar
Full of water, whose rim is always dry.
Don’t be the rider who gallops all night
And never sees the horse that is beneath him.
–Rumi

We stand up in a circle and say, “My mission is. . .”  But to me there’s something wrong about calling it my mission, like it’s a possession that belongs to me.  My mission is not my possession, like my car or my I-phone.  It possesses me, like spirit possession.  My mission is greater than me.  I belong to it.  It grabs me by the neck.  The etymology of the word mission connects it to the word smite.   It is something that smacks me and knocks me down, refuses to be ignored, makes me change my life.

When I speak my mission for the first time, I may have a sense of deja vu, as if I am saying something I have known all along.  Like Augustine says, “Too late I came to love you, and you were with me all the time.”   It is as if mission has been whispering in my ear my entire life, but I hadn’t been listening.  It is as if I have had a companion from the beginning, but I was turned the other way.

When I form a mission statement with a vision and an action, in my opinion it’s like trying to cage the Wild Man in the Iron Hans story.   When I recite it, I put my mission on display, and pretend that I’ve captured it and put it in the zoo.  But that caged creature isn’t the real Mission.  It tricks its way out of my definition.  It needs to be on the move, alive and changing.

The Latin word missionem means “sending, releasing, setting at liberty.”  If there’s no movement or sense of freedom in it, it’s not really Mission.  It scoops us up on its back and carries us into the forest, like in the story.  When I ride on mission’s back, it’s deciding where we go, carrying me to places I’ve never been.  As Augustine says, “Be our fire and our sweetness.  Let us love.  Let us run.”

If I let Mission carry me, it takes me to a place where all things glisten with golden beauty.  My life makes sense, there’s value in what I do.  In the Iron Hans story, the wild man carries the boy to a pool that changes everything to gold, and the boy sticks his wounded finger in the pool.  Even my wounds have gold in them, become an essential part of my mission work.  Before, I hid my wounds out of shame, or out of fear that the pain would start again.  Now, my wounds glisten with gold.  No, I don’t wait for them to heal before I begin my mission work.  My wounds as they are become my bridge of compassion, my connection to the wounded world.  Then my wound is not must mine, it becomes the place where I can feel the pain of the world.

 

Stephen Simmer

Steve Simmer, for those of us privileged to know him, lives his life in the midst of the constant stream and theme of mission. Appropriately enough, one of his formal mission statements is that he “creates a world of freedom by encouraging men with my courage to do all that they can be and to be all that they can do.” By profession a psychotherapist, he works continuously to inspire men to actively find and engage in their own mission in this world. Dr. Simmer completed the New Warrior Training Adventure back in 2001, and has never been the same man since.
To learn more about Steve and his work you can visit his website

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Message from your Inner Warrior

by Gonzalo Salinas

 

Dear Warrior:

You don’t work on your mission to get things. You don’t work on your mission to get a desired outcome: Not fame or fortune, not a brand new car, nor the girl. You don’t condition your mission to an outcome.

What if you work in your mission to get things and when you finish, you don’t get the thing? Or even worse, you achieve the goal, you get the thing but you don’t get the fulfillment? …

You know better than that.

Deep in your heart, this is what you really know: You work on your mission because this is Who You Are. Period. You know that your mission will either saves someone’s life or will make this planet a better place to live.  So you wake up, you work on your mission, no matter the amount of time as long as you do something related to your mission today.

And then you realize that the little amount of work you put on your mission today, is enough reason to authorize yourself to be happy right now. Tomorrow will be another day.

Love,

Your Inner Warrior

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

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Mensaje de tu Guerrero Interior

Category: Men and Mission 

por Gonzalo Salinas

Querido Guerrero:

Tú no trabajas en tu misión para obtener cosas. Tú no trabajas en tu misión para obtener ningún resultado. No por fama o fortuna,  ni por un carro nuevo ni para conseguir una mujer. Tú no condicionas tu misión a un resultado.

¿Qué pasaría si trabajas en tu misión y al final no obtienes el resultado que esperas? O peor aún, ¿Qué pasaría si luego de trabajar en tu misión, obtienes la cosa y ello no te llena como esperabas?… Tú eres mejor que eso.

En un lugar profundo en tu corazón, esto es lo que sabes: Tú trabajas en tu misión porque eso es quien TÚ eres. Así de simple. Tú sabes que tu misión salvará la vida de alguien o que hará que este planeta sea un mejor lugar donde vivir. Entonces te despiertas, trabajas en tu misión, sin importar el tiempo que le dediques tan pronto como hagas algo por tu misión el día de hoy.

Y luego te das cuenta, que ese pequeño monto de trabajo que pusiste hoy en tu misión, es razón suficiente para autorizarte a ser feliz ahora mismo. Mañana será otro día.

Con Amor,

Tu Guerrero Interior

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

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The Legacy Letters, powerful lessons for living

A Good Man

A Good Man


EDITOR’S NOTE by Boysen Hodgson : Barry Friedman emailed me to tell me that I HAD TO get this book, The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz, and read it immediately. He felt this was an important book for New Warriors, a book that speaks to our values as conscious men, and to the importance of taking action now to make sure that the important things we have to say are said. 

I suggested that Barry get in touch with Carew, and reached out to make the connection … and as usual …  Barry jumped right in and OVER-PERFORMED … putting together a great interview with Carew including a special reading by his son of a particularly poignant section of the book.

It’s a powerful story, full of wisdom, wonder, gratitude, and blessings. Listen to the interview, read the excerpt below – and order yourself a copy of this incredible book. Carew is sure to become a big name. He’s already out on the road doing book signings across the country.

Interview by Barry Friedman

Click for the Interview.

Excerpts from the letter:  On My Boy Becoming A Man

for The Mankind Project

(from The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz)

My Son,

As your papa, I have so much to tell you, to show you, of what it means to become a man.  Trying to answer all your curious-boy questions about the day’s mysteries and wonders with the perfect papa-given mix of accuracy, simplicity, and clarity.  Watching you fall and stand and then fall again as all boys must do with such ferocity and perpetuity, to occasionally pick you up but not too often.  Leading you through the long fire that is baptism of my son becoming a man.  And somehow I must do all of this through the mortality of my words.

By your mom’s grace and nearness, your sister will learn her mother wisdom.  In one way or another, my Son, I must find a way to be next to you.  Flying across a massive canyon of memory and time, hoping with all the strength, clarity, and love I can forgather as your father, I hope these words will wisely guide you toward someday becoming your own man.

Somehow, my Son, in our breakneck lust for the future of now, we got it into our heads that, like pushing a button or dialing a number, becoming a man is easy.  Just devour a few dozen man-becomes-hero movies, pick-up a fast-looking car, make out with a girl or girls, pocket a few bucks, and do whatever you want whenever you want—easy.  As a consequence, we turn out the perfect someone who looks like a man, talks like a man, and even sounds like a man but somehow acts like a Jack Sprat Billy-boy stunted at the pinnacle of his manly maturation, somewhere between the hormonal apex of twelve to twenty-three, who has no want, inclination, or motivation to earn his stripes and become a full-fledged, grown-up, thinking, thoughtful, good man.  Now I’m not saying you have to be the Pope’s boy scout or John Wayne’s muleskinner, but if you’re not learning or wanting to someday become a man, then you’re forever practicing to remain a boy.

***********************************************************

So when do you become a man, my Son?

Do you become a man by running around buck-naked in the wilderness for a week, waiting for some god-vision of three crows riding bareback on a bull elk at sun’s rising?  Do you become a man by going to war to bludgeon, shoot, bayonet, or shish-kabob some dumb kid your own age on the other side who also thought going to war would make him a man?   Do you become a man by souping up the latest Chevy with a 327 under the hood and whipping some poor sod in a midnight street drag?

No, you become a man when you first decide to put away the things of childhood, the talk of childhood, and the thoughts of childhood.  You decide because you cannot be treated as both a man and a boy.  Because you are either one or the other, but you are not both.  And it doesn’t matter your age—you can be a child at fifteen or forty.  Only when you as a boy decide you’re done waiting for the man you want to be and start being the man you want to become, do you begin to become a man.

When do you become a man?

When you become your own man.

When other men trust you to do a man’s work.  Trust you with their name, their reputation, their thoughts.  Trust you to watch their backs and trust you with their lives.

To become a man is to carry out your word because you gave your word.  And your word is you as a man.

You become a man the moment you understand that responsibility is a real and vital commitment to yourself and others, and not some lazy-dog, all-agreeing grunt.

Becoming a man means doing the right thing even though it may be hard or difficult.  Boys do what is easiest.  A man does what is right, whether easy or not.

***********************************************************

And what type of man should you be, my Son?

A good man.  Above all else, strive to be a good man.

And you do not become a good man overnight.  Much like a big, solid Douglas fir you must learn to withstand all manner of wind, rain, lightening, sun, and even fire—year after year after year—and still stand tall and true.

A good man, in your papa’s book, is a great man.  One who constantly strives to be the best of men, to himself and to others.  Because the world can never have enough good men.

And what makes a good man, my Son.

A good man is being fair.  In both your words and your actions.

When you admit being wrong.  And then right that wrong.

A good man knows when he’s been humbled, and learns from his humility.

Being a good man means to speak with sincerity, and love with certainty.

A good man will try to act wisely by thinking first and then acting.

A good man tells the truth.

A good man lives for the joy in life and the happiness of being alive, not shackled to the wants of the future or the regrets of the past.

A good man defends those that cannot defend themselves.

And a good man knows the difficulty of being a man, knowing the fall from grace is always near at hand, and thus is always striving to make himself a better man.

And as I quickly grow older, my Son, I see that the becoming a man and the being a man are eventually and truly one in the same, and the tests and the testing never end.   I know in my father heart, and in all the other places I cannot go to at this moment, that I believe in you with all my love, even as time now disappears before me.  And I know someday you will become a man to make your papa proud—your own man.  Walking true to your own beliefs, carrying your name proudly, ever loyal to a valiant heart, and believing that being a good man in this life is a great endeavor.  And on that day, I will somehow be with you.  And somehow, I will have been your father.  I love you.

Papa

FINAL NOTE!

If you want to get a Hard-Cover version of this book … AND … a 20% Discount, use MANKIND1

 

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The Twin Brothers, The Horse Twins

Category: Poetry 

by Rebecca

 

The Twin Brothers, The Horse Twins

The Ashvino
The Horse Twins
The Twin Brothers
Tall, strong,
Long black hair flowing
They are the Ashvino
Call to your brothers,
And they will lead you on your way.

Nobody knows where the Ashvino Twins live.
They make visits to villages
As they roam free.
When they enter a town,
The children are the first to know.
They go running on their little feet
Pattering, laughing, spilling with delight.
The Ashvino Twins,
glowing softly bright like the afternoon sun,
Brown eyes bright,
Play with them, laugh with them.
They pick the children up to their shoulders, and hold them tight.
They speak true words to them,
Speaking to them,
never above them or below them,
As children always want to be spoken to.
Children everywhere call them,
Our Big Brothers.

They enter into homes
In the late afternoon
When the sun is high and golden,
When women are baking bread
And making supper.
The women always welcome them in
Because they know what the Ashvino are.
They love them,
In a way different from their husbands,
In a way different than their sons.
The Ashvino bring their children with them.
They bring a quiet, strong joy that lasts long.
After they leave,
The earthen walls speak long after they have gone,
A deep vibration,
Soothing, saying things that words could never speak.
In a house where the Ashvino have sat,
Disease will not lodge
And the fortune of long, lasting happiness will come.
The Twin Brothers bring a warm, contented, deep peace.
They bring fortune that money or riches
Could never bring.
The women know this.
They know about the Ashvino
They know about the Twins.
And that is why
The women are always happy to let the Twin Brothers in.

No one knows where the home of the Ashvino is.
After they pass through a village,
They walk past the outskirts
Out into the rolling plains,
And the Two Brothers
Change into Horses.
They run free in the grasses,
In the wide expanse of the world.
In thunderstorms,
They revel in the pounding rain
Their hooves are like the thunder
And their speed is the lightning.
Their black manes are the wind.

In their bodies runs the strength of a horse.
They know what it feels like to be prey
but they have the mind of a good human king.
They’ve felt the spikes of fear in their own bodies,
And they are sensitive as horses—
they are gentle because of it.
And they know sensitive assertiveness
is better than timid kindness—
they know without it,
the heard falls into fear and strife.
They know what it is to be a predator,
And that as men they are only animal on earth
That has a choice about it.
They are a horse and a man in one,
the best of both.
They are the Ashvino.

Women always love them.
But what men think of them
Depends on the Man.
A jealous man says,
“Get out of my house! Stop messing with my woman!”
An insecure man sees the Twins’ easy, warm confidence,
and feels empty.
A men who thinks himself strong,
but only makes an image of strength on the outside, judges and says,
“They are not really strong. They are too gentle, too kind.”

But a man who strives to be free, wild, kind, and strong,
His heart yearns after them
From deep in his soul.
He wants to be like them.
He wants to run free like them.
He wants to be strong like them.
He wants to be kind like them.

Call to the Ashvino
And the Horse Twins will come running
Quicker than the lightning
Rumbling deep and long like thunder in the earth
With the easy warmth of the afternoon sun,
With the heart of a Horse
And the mind of a Man,
They will come
As your Brothers
And lead you
On the way you yearn to go.

 

Rebecca is a woman who heartily supports the Men’s Movement. On her words: ” We need it now more than ever. I am deep into Jungian studies, and I work daily towards living a responsible, full, conscious life. I have written this piece in the place where men’s and women’s journeys intersect. We often do the same thing in our inner life, while looking at it from slightly different angles. The Ashvino Horse twins are an ancient Indo-European  tradition that I want to bring alive into our world again.”
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All/You/I, a poem

Category: Poetry 

by Dave Klaus

All/You/I

don’t give me a pitch
don’t tell me a story
don’t serve me pie in the sky

tell me the truth

the dark parts
the hard parts
the parts that don’t want to be told, the parts that hide from the sun
(toothy little things, hungry for blood, hungry for love, hungry, hungry…)

tell me the sad parts, the parts where you’re afraid, really afraid. Trapped in Amber.

tell me the parts when you gave up, just gave up,
because you were tired, and it was too much

the parts you wish were different

I want to see the shadows.

I want to see them, bold and stretchy, looming and translucent.

trans/lucent

because behind those shadows is a shining light
and though I can’t look straight at it (like the sun, you know)

I know you

and I feel the Light shining through

I feel it there and it warms me and I am safe,
and it adds to my light:

with your light my shadows

fade,

a bit,

flickering,

pensive.

I want to see the shadows because inside them I see the rest of you,

inside them I see the All of you.

inside them

I/All/you.

I have no exit strategy, no plan for the door, no escape route in mind

I am here. With You.

I have no reason to doubt,
no reasonable doubt
(well a few, maybe; a few, more than that; ok yeah, I got doubts)

but there’s NO doubt I/you can hold what I/you got,

because I/you am large and I/you contain multitudes

I/You

I have a willingness to suspend disbelief, a willingness to be-lieve

I have a faith that treads water over 50,000 Fathoms,

head above it, mostly,

but not always, sometimes under

we will tread together and I’ll brush the wet hair from your eyes.

And when its time I’ll mop your brow,
and I will sit with you,

just sit,

and hold your hand,

I/you.

only so many breaths.

only so many.

so don’t give me a pitch.
and don’t tell me a story.
and don’t serve me pie in the sky.

I want the All of You.

I/All/you

All

163511_10151535429977350_1023836638_n

Dave Klaus completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in June 2010 in the NorCal Center, and things have gotten better and better for him ever since. He is a senior supervisor in the Alameda County Public Defenders Office, where over the last 17 years he has represented thousands of clients in cases ranging from petty theft to special circumstance murder. He is married and has two awesome kids. In his spare time, he leads a large Burning Man camp (www.bEEcHARGE.com) and is starting an art collective. This is his first completed poem.

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Healing from wounds

Category: Poetry 

by Michael Kullik

Healing from wounds

Wounded  Child

Crying  in  Corner

Lost  between  the  years

Crying  out  Silently
No  One  Comes
No  One  Hears

A  Prison  of  Silence
Surrounds  Me,
Into  an  Early  Grave.

How  do  I  start
to  Breath  Again?
Am  I  Someone’s  Slave?

A  Wounded  Child
grows,  As  Does
A  Wounded  Man.

The  Wound  Becomes  My  Sword.
Like  Tempered  Steel,
I  am  strong  again,  Oh  my  Lord.

A  Wounded  Man  Sat
Crying  Lost
Within  his  Years.

Silence  at  last  was  Broken
Shattered  Wounds  Turned
Into  a  River  of  Tears.

A  Sword  of  Anger  Broke  me  out,
As   I   Yelled
Screamed  and  Roared.

The  Prison  wasn’t
Mine  at  Last
It  Was  Yours.

 

Michael Kullik  is a teacher, professor, singer, and published poet.  He was first published in 2000 in a book edited by Jill Kuhn called “In Cabin Six”.  He has run writing and drumming workshops and retreats for male survivors of abuse.He has also volunteered his time running a group for survivors from 1999 to 2004.
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Dallas Chief Eagle – Lakota on the ManKind Project

“MKP has proven to be our most effective allies in eradicating genocide since the Cheyenne were to the Lakota 150 years ago.” ~ Dallas Chief Eagle

Dallas Chief Eagle

Dallas Chief Eagle

Brothers,

Dallas Chief Eagle blessed us at the Gathering last week.

He declared that after 100 years of no allies, the Lakota now have allies.

We, the men of the (Central Plains) ManKind Project, are those allies.

When he shared that with the circle, I felt as if the roof split open, a beam of light filled the room, and hearts were opened wide. A shift in the Universe occurred.

After a century of no allies, now there are allies.

I encourage each of us to look into Dallas’ deep insight. What does this word, ALLIES, mean for you?
Who are your allies? What alliances do you/we need to make?

How might our worlds shift if we saw the world in this way – a world of potential allies and alliances?

I know I will never be the same.

Gratitude to Dallas for speaking his truth.

Gratitude to Steve Ramm for calling this Gathering of the Central Plains so we can connect in common cause through the power of the circle.

Checking in humbled and deeply honored to be a part of this magnificent community of men,

Dan Pecaut

Member of the Mankind Project

EDITOR’S NOTE:

There is a growing community of New Warrior Lakota men on the Pine Ridge Reservation who are now holding the intention of bringing the NWTA to Pine Ridge.  MKP Colorado,  MKP Central Plains, and the ManKind Project USA, through the MKP USA Diversity Scholarship Fund, have provided financial and logistical support to help Lakota men attend the NWTA.

For more information about the role of men’s community on the reservation, see this story: Native Sun News: The Men’s Oyate – Going from pain to healing

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Mission: Just say Yes.

by Stephen Simmer

An MIT linguistics professor was lecturing his class. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn’t a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative.” A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

I spend a good portion of my life fortified behind a wall of Nos, sticking out from my soul like quills from a porcupine.  Even if I don’t speak them, people can sense the Nos bristling from me when I walk into a room.  No, I’m too busy.  No, I don’t see a clear benefit to that.  No, that doesn’t line up exactly enough with my values.  No, I don’t want to get too depleted.  No, I’m not the right man for that.  No, he would probably use the dollar to buy crack.  No, I would probably fuck that up if I tried it.  No, if I help she’ll only want more.

As I walk down the street, running the gauntlet of all those who represent the needs of the world, I can sense that these quills have two points.  One wards others off, defends me from the risk of Yes.  The other point presses into my soul, tightening me, scarring me, shriveling me.  I may use my kids and family as my excuse—I’ll save my life energy for those in my immediate circle, those I love.  But my painful truth is, my quills of No bristle at home, too.  No, I can’t make the game.  No, you can’t stay up late.  No, I can’t love you the way you want to be loved.  No, I can’t be fully present for you.

Years ago, Nancy Reagan started her famous Just Say No campaign to drugs.  In this, I’ve overachieved—I’ve learned to Just Say No by default to nearly everything:  insurance salesmen, telemarketers, yes.  But also needy street people, my dogs, unfamiliar options, my kids, friends, new experiences, even my partner Rebecca.  I walk through life a shriveled Scrooge clutching my life-energy parsimoniously, doling it out carefully by the penny, and then regretting that I gave any away at all.

The result is that I live life moving backwards, my path determined more by what I refuse or avoid than what I affirm.  The job I stay in is more determined by the possibilities I have refuted and rejected than what I have passionately chosen.  The assembly of relationships I end up with is the consequence more of chance than choice, as if we have each backed into this corner together by accident.    I amputate possibilities so routinely that I end up where I am, in a partial life that I haven’t chosen with intention.

I’m not talking here about the conscious, passionate, powerful No that I may use like a sword.  This passionate No can be an indispensable part of a powerful Yes—more about that later.  Here I’m talking about the No-program that boots up almost automatically when I open my eyes in the morning and runs in the background of my life all day.  I’m talking about the No that is the vestige of my fear, shame, and inadequacy, that keeps me closed to anything new, that stops me from leaving home, that pinches off possibility, that stops me from striding towards risk, that isolates me from the world.  I’m talking about the No that—in the name of safety—is the silent killer that stops me from living and loving passionately.

A yes-program is not the answer.  In my opinion, this can be as toxic as the reflex no.  Yes, I’ll do the job.  Yes, I’ll fund-raise for the team, I’ll help you move the piano, I’ll co-chair the committee, I’ll re-sod the lawn, I’ll help you move the fieldstones.  I become a yes-man, where the Yes is perfunctory, and I never truly decide where to put my energies.  Then I get spread so thin that I don’t follow through, don’t show up completely, or leave the job unfinished.  Or I take on so much that I become the lead sled dog, carrying the full weight, including the weight of the other dogs.  I don’t trust that others might help, might sometimes carry me.  Or I place a bet on every horse in the race, so I never really lose, but never really win.  As a result, there is no form to my character—no one really knows who I am or what I want.  And I may not know who I am or what I want, either.

My mission is a powerful sword that has always been buried in the stone of who I am. 

In the Arthur story, the sword comes out easily, with the flick of the wrist.  But for some, (and I count myself among these) extracting the sword of mission is a slow process, needing a lot of patient work and ingenuity.  Some of the alchemists spent their whole lives trying to extract precious metals from the dark matter, using thousands of different processes.  But—fast or slow—if I can pull this sword out, my life suddenly has a point and I’m living on the cutting edge.

Forming a mission and living it means saying Yes—consciously, passionately, with commitment.  I know my purpose, and can stride towards it. 

Thich Nhat Hanh says that when an enlightened person looks at flowers, he will also see through the flowers to the garbage that the flowers will become.  And when he looks at garbage, he looks through the garbage to the flowers that might eventually grow from this waste.  The sword has 2 edges.  In living mission, I say a joyous and passionate Yes.  But at the same time I say No in a way that defines me.  The sword is the point of convergence of this Yes and No, and in the end, mysteriously, these two are the same, so that when I shout Yes, the echo comes back No, and when I shout No, the echo is an unmistakable Yes.

Stephen Simmer

Steve Simmer, for those of us privileged to know him, lives his life in the midst of the constant stream and theme of mission. Appropriately enough, one of his formal mission statements is that he “creates a world of freedom by encouraging men with my courage to do all that they can be and to be all that they can do.” By profession a psychotherapist, he works continuously to inspire men to actively find and engage in their own mission in this world. Dr. Simmer completed the New Warrior Training Adventure back in 2001, and has never been the same man since.
To learn more about Steve and his work you can visit his website

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Men: From the Inside

Guest post: by Garry Gilfoy

I was recently asked to deliver professional development to some therapists on the topic of ‘men’s issues.’ I left my son’s football game to do so and found a gathering of about 60 people. The ten or so men attending were sitting on the periphery of the room.

I warmed up by reading a poem called Rain from Nowhere by Murray Hartin. It tells of a man with a young family. We catch him on the day he intends to end his life. After years of drought, he can’t see any way to hold on to the family farm. That same day he receives a letter from his father telling him of the tough times he’d had on the farm and how important it was to hang in there for his wife and children. Everything will be alright, assures his dad. It’s a heartbreaking poem. I can’t read it without tears rolling down my face. The whole room cried with me. When I composed myself again, I asked what it was about the poem that moved them. It was, predictably, the father-son relationship.

I then asked everyone to briefly consider some words they would use to describe God. Then to consider the same question about their fathers.

Before I could go on, one bright spark spoke up to say the descriptors of God and their father were the same. Others echoed their agreement.  A few chirpy women close to the front said some lovely words like “unconditional love,” “acceptance,” and “supportive.” I thanked these women, raised my eyes to the horizon and said “men?”  Out it poured – “distant, angry, non-existent, judgmental.”  The contrast was stark.

I’d been asked to speak to this group partly because I train therapists myself, but also because I co-host regular men’s weekends. They are powerful events – no booze or drugs, no experts speaking down to people, no theorizing, no therapy and no talking over people. We speak openly and honestly of our own life experiences. We welcome silences. Tears and laughter are profuse. Within hours, hugs are commonplace. By the end of the weekend we do an affirmation ceremony, each of us saying just what it is we value about the others. That’s the hardest thing of all – being acknowledged for what we bring to others.

When these events began, we thought it was our duty to create themes to guide the weekends. We needn’t have bothered. Regardless of what we thought might be helpful – relationships, our working lives, changing roles – again and again the topic returned to father-son relationships.

And there was something I noticed over the years of revisiting this inexhaustible well of grief. Time after time I was deeply affected by the emotions of these brave men who would talk and cry in front of people they often hadn’t met before. My own father, long dead, was emotionally detached at best. Yet he was not violent, not irresponsible, not an alcoholic nor emotionally abusive. The many conversations about fathers were not true for me, yet they found a very deep resonance within me. I began to recognize this as how we experience archetypes. These stories go deeper than our personal relationship to our father in this lifetime.

There is a very profound father-son archetype that lies at the root of our relationship to our own God, or higher self, or whatever you deem to be the part of us that needs desperately to shine but so often cannot. Rather than the popular Jungian struggle for dominance between father and son, I’d suggest the higher archetype can be found in the Biblical phrase, “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” It’s about recognition and acceptance.  And the damage or neglect that came from our own fathers is reflected strongly in this relationship with our higher self. We know deeply that this is not how it’s supposed to be. At some level we experience that great being of light at the core of our own self, and long for its expression in our lives.  When we struggle, we do so against the backdrop of unconditional love that we sense awaits us, yet is never quite attainable.

By the end of my talk I felt I had to affirm the many female therapists in the room. They struggle with their male clients, and many with the men in their private lives. I could only applaud them for caring so much and continuing to try. They know men are worth it, whether they see much evidence of this or not. Women are very often the first port of call for men who finally muster the courage to ask for help. Yet, in the end, I think that men need to make meaningful contact with other men. It’s only here that we can redeem our Gods and our demons.

Garry Gilfoy was raised in Canada and lives in South Australia. His formal education includes Theology, Education, Social Science (Counseling) and is currently a PhD candidate. Garry trains counselor’s, is author of The BIG Picture: Insights from the Spiritual World, contributes to The Huffington Post and co-hosts regular men’s weekends. His website is http://www.garrygilfoy.com.
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New Warrior Training Adventure: My first staffing

Category: Men and Initiation 

by Gonzalo Salinas

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to participate as staff for the first time on the New Warrior Training Adventure.

I had completed my own weekend in Central Florida in April 2013. I remember the feelings in my heart right before it started. Fear, excitement, anger, happiness, more … every moment was a discovery and I remember going through every emotion I’ve ever felt in my life.

I had similar feelings on my first staffing.  The staff arrives one day before the participants, to prepare the site, get staffing directions, and for a first-time staffer like me, to see the “behind the scenes” of the Weekend. I witnessed the huge amount of work that close to 40 other men were putting in as volunteers to help the men who would be arriving on Friday (often called initiates) have a flawless experience: Men of Service, Elders, the Certified Leader Team, the Lodge team, in general every member from the staff adding his gifts to accomplish the main goal: to offer a group of men what could be one of the most powerful weekends of their lives.

This time I was the one on the other side of the wall. On my weekend I was discovering and living my experience, but this time I was more concerned for every man in front of me going trough their process. Something that I couldn’t avoid, almost immediately I began to care profoundly for every man going through the weekend.

lover magician warrior king Talking with one of the elders about why I was feeling my staffing experience in a more heartfelt way than my own initiation, he said to me with a big smile:

“Now you have the privilege of being in service to your brothers.”

One by one, I saw men breaking through. Understanding the importance of accountability in their lives, seeing how every action, no matter how small, has an impact on our families, on our society, and on the world. Seeing how they had set themselves up, and seeing the way through to a new way of being as a man.

At the end of the weekend, driving back to South Florida, with fresh memories of the men going through their process, a thought hit me, and I fully realized what happened on the weekend:

“The cycle has been fully completed,” I thought, “some other men voluntarily did the same thing for me on my weekend,  and now I’m doing the same, so other men can realize they are complete, whole men, great men, strong and loving men that can exercise power and compassion, love and accountability in every act. Now they know what I only learned less than a year ago.”

The words of the writer Sam Keen were resonating in my heart:

“A man must go on a quest
to discover the sacred fire 
in the sanctuary of his own belly,
to ignite the flame in his heart
to fuel the blaze in the hearth
to rekindle his ardor for the earth”
 

After arriving in Fort Lauderdale, I went to my girlfriend’s house,

“How was your weekend?” she said, excited to see me, giving me the most tender hug.

I hugged her dearly (a long and a very strong hug), and the words came from my heart:

“My love, the cycle has been fully completed.”

She smiled and continued hugging me. Now I can return to the “real world” satisfied that I’ve witnessed many miracles on the weekend.

 

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is the MKP Journal assistant Editor for the ManKind Project USA, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL, and is committed to his development with the organization and the dissemination of the  message of the Mankind Project.

 

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