I believe that one of the core needs that everyone shares is the need to connect deeply and authentically with ourselves, with each other and with a sense of purpose. Sadly, we are living in a world of increasing disconnection and separation, behind our many masks. We have become addicted to screens on our phones and desktops and have lost that joy of face-to-face connection. I watched a movie last night titled “The Mask You Live In” and I was profoundly disturbed by its message. It describes in painful detail how young men have been trained by culture, parents, peers … Continue reading
Growing up is about developing Emotional Intelligence (understanding of human emotions) and Emotional Maturity (EM), the ability to use and apply Emotional Intelligence (EI) to connect more deeply and authentically with yourself and others. Peter Vajda does a wonderful job of explaining the process of growing up in his article on Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Maturity. In his article, he points out that although Emotional Intelligence is important, the real work lies in applying EI to the process of growing up by realizing that many of the coping challenges we face as adults lie in the experiences we had as … Continue reading
There is a process we use in our men’s work called a “Clearing”. In this process, we separate data, judgments and feelings, then look for shadows that may cause us to project an unhealed wound onto someone else. A clearing may be needed if, for example I yada yada yada Although a clearing can be done with an empty chair, it is most effective if it is done with the person I have the charge with. Let’s call that person my “Mirror”, because they are the target of my projections. And yes, virtually all clearings are about projection. There are … Continue reading
The Victim Triangle The Victim Triangle (also known as the Karpman Drama Triangle) is a simple but profoundly useful way of looking at dysfunctional relationships in action. I was introduced to this model by Garth Alley who was my counselor in the late 1990’s. He used it to describe what was happening between me and my partner. I would get upset with something she said or did and wanted her to change her behavior. I blamed her for something and she tried to turn it around and blame it on me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but blame … Continue reading
My wife and I have been married for over 40 years, and we have had countless conflicts in that time. And we are still happily married and quite in love with each other. What’s our secret? It’s simple. Here are some basic principles that have worked well for us: Fight to resolve, not to hurt. Remember that I can be right or I can be in relationship. I can’t have both. Hang in there, Drop my defenses. Own my shit. Fight to Resolve Conflict in a relationship is not a zero-sum game. It should never be about winning. Instead, conflict … Continue reading
Accountability is about keeping an agreement I make with someone else. Integrity is about keeping an agreement I make with myself. Accountability is external to myself while integrity is internal. Wikipedia defines Integrity as “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.” I define integrity as the alignment of my thoughts, words and actions. What happens when accountability and integrity clash? Let me answer this with a story. In October, 2004 I staffed a Mankind Project New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) … Continue reading
In more than 40 years of marriage, I have made plenty of mistakes. My partner may have made a few too, but that’s for her to decide, but if I think she has made some mistakes, I have a choice to make: do I want to hang on to my judgments about the mistakes I believe she has made… or not? Jack Kornfeld is a well known Buddhist teacher. He defines forgiveness as “Giving up all hope for a better past“. I think this is a very wise and useful perspective. In essence, it echos the Eagles song, “Get Over It!“ … Continue reading
A number of years ago, I was traveling to a Mankind Project New Warrior Training Adventure on Vancouver Island in Canada with three other men who were helping to staff the weekend. We got to the Canadian border and the border patrol officer started asking our driver a number of questions. We were ordered to park and enter the administrative building for further questioning. Ultimately our driver was ordered to turn around, but the rest of us were allowed to continue… without our driver’s car. I called my wife who was at work in Bellingham and asked her to drive … Continue reading
Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow or pity for the hardships of another while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another. Although compassion is often welcome, sorrow and pity do not enhance connection. All three are reactions to the plight of another, but empathy is sitting down with someone and feeling remembering the experiences you have had in similar circumstances. When my brother’s wife died of cancer, I felt sorrow and compassion, but because I had not yet lost someone so close to me, I could not empathize with him. All I could do was sit and hold space … Continue reading
I have been an engineer for almost 50 years. I have been a recovering engineer for the last 25 years. My engineer uses my mind to solve problems. My recovering engineer used my heart to connect with my feelings. My head and heart battle frequently. My head thinks. My heart feels. My head speaks loudly, often drowning my heart. My heart quietly informs me that this analytical deconstruction has been brought to you courtesy of my head. My second awakening started in 1991 while I was working at Microsoft. I was part of a brand new team that wasn’t clicking. … Continue reading
In 1990, I was hired by Microsoft as a Director of their Core Consulting Team for Microsoft Consulting Services. I sold my house in San Jose and moved my family to Redmond, WA in September and dove in. It didn’t take me long to realize that the powerful currents at Microsoft were pulling me under and I was into a political situation that was way over my head. My boss also realized that his team wasn’t working well, so the whole bunch of us went off for a weekend to do some “team building”. During the weekend, something profound happened … Continue reading
I attend yoga every Sunday morning that I can because Paul Millage bookends the yoga asanas with kirtan and afterwards many of us sit in circle and explore the spiritual aspects of yoga and our lives. In this morning’s circle, a young woman with tears in her eyes asked us to pray for the people in Israel and Palestine.
Shift Happens I ordered some clothing from a website in April and by early June, most of the order was still missing. I was angry with the vendor and had some pretty clear judgments about the obvious problems with his business so I called him today and brother, what a lesson I learned. I told the man in clear terms that there were real problems with his business, and his response was, “Yes, and I am the problem.” “How is that?” I asked.
(With thanks to my wife, Donna for the title and the poem) I awoke this morning feeling fuzzy and low energy and started the day slowly by listening to Krishna Das sing Kirtan. The phone rang, jolting me from my peaceful reverie. It was Ron Roesler reaching out to help me plan and pull together the Second Annual Gathering of the Tribes, an event I am leading that will take place in just over a month.
In September, 2013, I staffed my 33rd NWTA weekend. I am considered a senior staffer, one who knows the weekend quite well. I was asked by the weekend leader to step onto the leader track for the weekend because he didn’t think there were enough experienced men. I have staffed with this leader before and it worked quite well, so I stepped on as a leader in training (LIT)… for this weekend only.
I was initiated as an MKP New Warrior at Camp Melacoma in November, 2001 and I have been active in MKP ever since. I became a certified PIT leader in the Puget Sound Community by around 2006, joined the MKP I-Group Council and lead the rewrite of what is now the MKP PIT manual. I have done 32 (or 33) NWTA staffing, been on the Leader Track twice (busted myself both times) and considered Ritual Elder, but it just didn’t call to me. I started an I-Group in Bellingham in early 2002 and it is still meeting every week and … Continue reading