One of my earliest childhood memories was sitting at the top of the stairs listening to my father yell at my mother and hearing her scream as he hit her. I felt helpless and scared and I promised myself I would never do this to my children. I took in a message that men with power will hurt people. I feared my own power. I didn’t want to hurt others. I gave my power away whenever I could. I feared leadership, but time and again I found myself in situations that demanded leadership. Sometimes I would step into leadership, but I was soft. I was constantly seeking approval from those I was leading. A little over a year ago, that changed dramatically. In the summer of 2012 I volunteered to lead the MKP Northwest summer elder gathering. Traditionally this gathering has been for elder MKP men. I took a leap and invited all MKP men and… women. The event drew well over 100 participants and about 15 women. It was a huge success. And it transformed me and a strong leader comfortable with my power began to emerge. On Sunday morning as we were wrapping up, the community honored me for leading that weekend. With the entire gathering around me, I took another leap and declared myself to be a “Community Elder”. I acknowledged that this position did not exist within MKP, and committed to defining and creating it. In the eight months since then, the concept of Community Elder has begun to take shape. Men are asking questions and coming up with ideas. At this coming summer gathering, we will continue this process and identify men who consider themselves to be Community Elders. As this happened, I found myself being included more by the leaders of our center. I was invited to step onto the emerging Area Council. I stepped forward to take on the challenge of communications within the center. And I decided to step back on to the NWTA Leader Track. I have been on Leader Track twice before and busted myself off both times. The first time, because I wanted to be seen. Wrong reason to be a leader. The second time I was told I was too old. I gave away my power and caved. Returning to the group of “Leaders in Training” or LITs is not as simple as saying, “I want in.” I had to get a blessing from my local community and survive a “hot seat” by the leader body. I asked my community to give me a hot seat instead of a blessing, hoping that the practice would help. It did. They roasted my ass with tough, deep questions for over two hours. And then they blessed me to step forward. A week ago, just before we began another NWTA, I sat for my leader body hot seat. I knew they wanted to have me back, but that didn’t translate to easy questions. They did, however say welcome back. Then the weekend began, and it was wonderful.