8.28.2009

Blessings to You, Uncle Dick

My Uncle Dick made the transition to Spiritworld at 9 am EST today.

He blessed me with heart, honesty, humor, gentleness, great stories, love, eldership, and a look at what "man" looks like.

I ask you to look toward New York City and raise your voice to honor this sweet man.

Richard Larson!
Richard Larson!
Richard Larson!

Aho!

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

8.27.2009

Lost Boys



Earl Hipp, from his Man-Making blog, says, "OK, just for a moment, withhold all your judgments about this man. Try to get past the glamor and his late life history to listen as he begins to touch on his very real pain and speak some truth about lost boys. The clip is from his 1993 acceptance speech at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards. Can you find some compassion for him? There are hundreds of thousands of lost boys like him.

In the ManKind Project, men take a look at how they show up in the world. They look at where they come from and where they are and where they think they are going.

Are you ready to take that look?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

8.25.2009

Following Your Compass

One of the strong points of being a part of the brotherhood known as the ManKind Project is the space I create to follow my compass or mission.

My mission guides me to creating and living my life in way that serves my soul purpose. Mission is my goal; like a compass leading me to a goal. I choose my mission. It does not choose me. I can keep it static, rearrange it, succeed at it, and fail at it.

My mission is to "create a world of love by loving." What does that mean to me? It means I create the world as I want it to be. I don't stand around waiting to be loved. I love. I share my love, create space for love, nurture love, notice love, listen for love. I "be loving."

A great leap in my loving myself came when I jumped, in a leap-of-faith, into the New Warrior Training Adventure. I didn't grasp it at the time, but for my soul and piece of mind, the training was my first step in creating a world of love by loving.

Changing the world, one man at a time. Will you step into the change at a training near you?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

8.21.2009

Fighting Fire

"We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it"

Billy Joel, from We Didn’t Start The Fire off the Storm Front CD, 1989

So, we didn't start the fire, but aren't we supposed to try to put it out? Aren't we, the men, supposed to make the world a better place?

My work in the ManKind Project is to make my world, the world, a better place. A better place looks like men who are engaged in life; not passengers to the pain and damage of the past. A better place looks like you engaged in your life enough to make a difference in it.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

8.18.2009

It's Inside

"They tell me the gates of hell
That you shake and you rattle
Are secretly locked
From inside"

Kenny Loggins, The Art of Letting Go from Unimaginable Life (1997)



For me, the ManKind Project is about looking inward at what works and what doesn't in my world.

When I stepped up to attend my New Warrior Training Adventure weekend, I was afraid of what was on the other side. What would it be like after the training weekend? Would changes would stick or would I see any changes at all in my world?

What I found was more about me than I could have imagined. During the weekend, I took a hard look at the gates of hell that I shake and rattle from inside. It was hard work and it still is. I tend to resist change and therefore sometimes resist my own best interests.

I offer that you can find a place among men who care about your journey in the ManKind Project. I am one of those 43,000 men. I will stand with you while you look at your gates of hell.

Jump in with both feet...men are waiting.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

8.10.2009

Living an Accountable Life

This article, from the Financial Mail, talks about the ManKind Project, New Warrior Training Adventure, and how it works for these South African men.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf



Mobilising male energy

How do SA businessmen relate the holistic, nurturing concepts of the ManKind Project with the hard-nosed practices of the corporate world?

By Hilary Prendini Toffoli, from Financial Mail

The ManKind Project (MKP) came to SA from America eight years ago. It was one of the men's movements spawned by Iron John, the bestseller by American poet and activist Robert Bly that promoted nurturing brotherhoods and got Bly on to the cover of Newsweek in the 1980s.

Behind these networks lay what one reviewer described as "a brooding conviction that the emotional isolation and violence of American men masks a hunger for fathering and male mentoring, lost in a time of soaring divorce rates and single-parent households".

Since MKP's launch in SA in 2001, 958 men have undergone one or more challenging weekends of initiation and self-examination designed to develop mature masculine selves. They range across the board from the unemployed to captains of industry.

"Every man going on an MKP weekend does so for his own reasons. It's all about taking account of your life, acting responsibly and being in touch with yourself and others," says Andrew Page Wood (48), MD of VideoIQ Africa, a CCTV surveillance company. "For me it was a near-fatal car accident. Before that I'd felt invincible. I'd worked and travelled extensively, earning big bucks in IT. But after the accident I began to ask questions I never had before."

He went on an MKP weekend after seeing the profound impact it had on a friend's life. "The challenge of facing my deepest, darkest self was absolutely terrifying, yet doing this with a group of men who have done the same themselves was a beautiful experience.

"There were twice as many facilitators as delegates - 40 of us and 80 of them. The youngest delegate was an 18-year-old Xhosa man, the oldest a 76-year-old English speaker - and there was everything in between. Christians, Jews, Muslims, black, white, rich, poor. I got to know all of them better than I know my mates. I left knowing where I belonged and what I had to do. And I now have a group of men I can trust and reach out to anywhere in the world because MKP is international.

"It's all about taking account of your life, acting responsibly and being in touch with yourself and others. My problem in business was always that I was never hard enough. MKP gave me the ability to say No' with confidence, to access my feelings about something or someone, and tell them. This is powerful. Also, I have managed to balance my life."

He's since moved to a small farm between George and Knysna, where he's started a business school for the poor, grows veggies, spends time with his family and travels on business to Jo'burg.

"We are a diverse society with deep wounds," says Rurik McKaiser (40), CEO of The Phoenix Group, a Cape Town-based marketing and distribution company for food ingredients. "The black-white divide of racism and internalised oppression is very real. But what is beautiful about the MKP brotherhood is that we have these hard conversations in a fierce yet loving and healing way. The issues relating to money, privilege and sexuality are also real, and I must honour the men of MKP for the constant appetite they/we demonstrate - by fiercely facing up to these conversations."

McKaiser has been involved in MKP since 2004 and done more than 30 training weekends. "My first training was definitely not pleasant, but it eventually grew on me. I am constantly experiencing emotional and intellectual growth because of my exposure to amazing men.

"The weekends allow me to weave the theoretical concepts of living and of leadership into my psychic DNA. For instance, a core pillar of the MKP ethos is related to living an accountable life. I have walked away from many deals and clients, and recently dismissed two of my colleagues for lack of accountability and unethical behaviour."

The challenge for him is that MKP is voluntary. "We do not have a fat bank account and offices, and we have zero employees. All is done by us for us. "

Benjamin Kodisang (38) is MD of Old Mutual Investment Group Property Investments, the largest real estate company in Africa. He's only done MKP's initiation weekend. "Time to be committed to MKP processes is a challenge."

He heard about the network through his coach on the UCT Graduate School of Business's Emerging Leaders programme. "Her husband had done MKP and she had witnessed what good it did for him. She advised me to be open, non-judgmental and trust the process. It was with this attitude that I arrived for the initiation weekend and the experience was life-changing.

"But facing your demons is never an easy task. The main thing I learnt was to unlearn the lesson that expressing my feelings was a sign of weakness, and to learn that life is about being authentic, being who you are and having the courage to show it, regardless of the consequences.

"Business leaders who utilise only the hard-nosed intellectual part have been found wanting. Today business requires leaders who are connected to their customers and their stakeholders at the emotional level and who bring their being to every engagement."

One of MKP's main goals is to attract men from all race groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, says Craig Carter (48), who has staffed several weekends. He's the chief operating officer and director of JSE-listed Purple Capital financial services company and its subsidiary Global Trader.

"We have been successful in attracting men from varying backgrounds but have struggled to keep them involved in the MKP community on an ongoing basis, largely because of transport and communication difficulties. The Soweto iGroup trainings are our most recent attempt to bring MKP to the men we are trying to reach.

"SA is a particularly patriarchal and male-dominated society. Many men took part in the bush war, either for MK or the SADF, and still carry the baggage of their traumatic experiences. In addition we have the burden of apartheid which most of us still carry. In MKP we help men look at these shadows and to try to lead more conscious lives. For me, interacting with men from all race groups and economic backgrounds has fundamentally shifted my world view."

Andrew Fulton (38), director of Eighty20, a management consulting and data analysis company, has staffed 10 weekends, and facilitates group work after the weekends. He says MKP is not about trying to change others, but about "living with yourself in light of the decisions and choices you've made. So I try not to get too upset when people act without integrity. I think a lot of people who do the weekend come back with an over-exaggerated sense of accountability that just doesn't work in this world. You have to temper it.

"For me MKP's greatest gift is just making it possible to sit in a group of men and share something deeper than how I felt about last night's soccer match. Women will tell their deepest secrets to their hairdresser. Men sometimes take decades to move beyond basic grunting with each other. MKP accelerates that ability to trust and share."

He found trusting the hardest part. "I was so jaded and cynical. And men in MKP let me down regularly. We aren't perfect. But I would say they're usually aware enough to acknowledge it."

In one of the groups he recently facilitated, he briefly involved his neighbour's four-year-old son. "It was incredible to see how a nervous four-year-old came out of his shell and felt safe in a group of male strangers. For the men it was a visceral reminder of why this work is so necessary - to get an opportunity to be the father/uncle/friend you would have liked to have in your own life when you were younger.

"My company deals with statistics daily, and with more than half of all mothers in this country being single, and some of the highest murder and rape statistics, SA men certainly need something more than they have."

* The cost is R3 800/weekend. But since MKP don't turn anyone away, there are scholarships for those who can't pay.

WHY NOT JOIN

The ManKind Project's next training programmes take place on August 14-16 at Habonim Camp in Onrust near Cape Town, and August 28-30 at Magaliesberg Retreat near Johannesburg.

8.06.2009

What Was Your Rite of Passage?

This piece used to appear on the Louisville ManKind Project Center's Web site. Since it no longer appears there, I thought it should be on the Internet somewhere; no better place than here.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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What Was Your Rite of Passage?

Composed by Ed Cash and appended by Ernie Perry (Elders - MKP Louisville Center)

Men, if you can complete the following statements in one minute or less, then you needn't read any further.

(1) The event in my life that was my "rite-of-passage" into manhood was...
(2) As a man among men I...
(3) My life's mission is...

Men who have completed the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend for men have their answers on the tips of their tongues.

It's been said that it takes a woman to nurture an infant into his boyhood .... but it takes men to guide that boy into his manhood. Most tribal cultures have known this for centuries. The "rites-of-passage" that their boys experience, have been deemed necessary and are supported by the entire tribe. The boy completes a process, is honored by Elders, and returns to the community to take his rightful place.

We seem to have lost the knowledge that boys just don't automatically become men. It doesn't happen by itself, like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Human males are hard-wired to need the guidance, mentorship, and honoring by healthy older men ... in order to become the man their individual natures intend for them to be. When a boy doesn't get enough of these (or none at all), he is fated to wander in his boyhood for a very long time ... until he recognizes what's been absent, and takes action. This action can be taken anytime, at any age.

Many of us, placed a part of our manhood into a protective "lock box" long ago. The boys we were, may have had to do this to survive. As we become older and stronger, at some point it serves us well to find the "lock box", risk knowing what all is in there, and "reinstalling" the pieces. This can be a liberating, powerful journey.

Understand that the "manhood" being talked here is NOT about adolescent "macho" ... it's about whatever healthy manhood is authentic for you.

You might be one who would benefit from a "rite-of-passage" if a few of these fit you ....

1) your father was a passive man or not really there for you
2) you didn't connect with other boys whose friendship you wanted
3) your mother was strong and ran things
4) you feel distanced from strong men
5) you fear the power of your anger
6) most of your friends are women
7) your male friends won't talk about feelings
8) you see men that you admire, and believe they have something you don't

There are ways to get the guidance, mentorship, and honoring that you didn't get, in a safe way that works ... that honors and blesses a man for who he is.

One way that's available, is the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend for men. The New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) is a weekend Initiatory experience for men ... and a "rite-of-passage" Initiation is one of the main reasons that men enroll into the NWTA. Many men enroll to learn how to have meaningful relationships with men. Still other men may be battling addictions or other difficult situations and need a supportive male environment ... and some men enroll seeking to restore a sense of adventure and aliveness into their lives. The Staff is well-trained, contains men of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities; and each Staff man has completed the NWTA. Most Staff men are there as volunteers, giving back to the organization that made a difference in their lives. They offer their experience in support of your journey.

Every man who completes the NWTA weekend remembers what he did on that particular weekend of that particular year...for the rest of his life.

8.04.2009

Walking the Streets of Memphis

A great article that talks about why men get what they need in the ManKind Project, the New Warrior Training Adventure, and iGroups.

Men, here's the deal, you need to step up and participate in life. This is one way to that.

I think every man gets something from it...you included.

The time is now...step up.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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A small band of warriors called the Mankind Project battles the isolation that comes with being a man

By Christine Arpe Gang
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Small groups of men meet weekly in several locations in Memphis to talk about what it means to be a different kind of warrior; one who fights against the social, psychological and emotional isolation that they say often comes with being a man.

They are part of the Mankind Project, an international organization that provides training to help men get in touch with their feelings in order to live their lives with integrity and accountability.

"When men get married their social network of buddies drops away," said Ralph Chumbley, a founder of the Memphis chapter of the Mankind Project. "They look to their spouses for everything."

Because it isn't easy for men to trust each other enough to share feelings and secrets, they first go through a New Warrior Training Adventure. It's an intensive weekend that encourages men to look deep inside themselves.

"Men are not socialized to be introspective and intuitive," said Chumbley, executive director for continuing education at Southwest Tennessee Community College.

While women find it easy to talk about their feelings, men have to learn techniques and words to allow them to do it.

"The weekend gets you out of your head and into your heart," said Craig Nadel, who went through a training weekend in 2000 with his father, Dr. Alan Nadel. "We all got comfortable with each other in a short time and as we opened up, we learned that everyone has pain and we're all scarred in some way."

The experience improved the often-strained relationship between father and son.

"I'm now accepting of who Craig is and willing to hear his truth," Alan said.

Those who have been through the weekend training don't reveal a lot of details about the experience.

"We don't want men to think about it a lot before they do it," Chumbley said.

Every training weekend includes physical and introspective aspects as well as quiet time and fun activities.

Men may refuse to participate in any activity that makes them uncomfortable.

Intrigued by an ad in a magazine, Chumbley went through the New Warrior Training Experience in Kenosha, Wis., in 1988. Three men -- former Marine officer Rich Tosi and therapists Bill Kauth and Ron Hering -- founded the program there in 1984. It has more than 30,000 members in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

In 1991, Chumbley and a few other Memphians who had gone to Kenosha for training established a men's council here and offered the first New Warrior Training Experience.

Since then, about 800 men from a racial and economic cross section of the city have gone through the training, and many of them attend the weekly Integration Groups (I-Groups) afterwards. The groups are a way for men to continue to integrate what they learned in the training into their daily lives.

The meetings are held in various locations around town, in addition to a lodge house that the group rents on James Road. The local organization is also building a training center on property it owns near Somerville in Fayette County.

"For me the most satisfying aspect of being in the Mankind Project is my weekly men's group meeting," said Carson Owen, a lawyer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "These are the men who know me the best and have supported me through the years."

Whenever warriors meet, even at business-like board meetings, they take time to "check in" with each other. Each man tells the others in the circle where he is emotionally and spiritually. They also do "shadow" checks.

Shadows, a term introduced by psychologist Carl Jung, are feelings or thoughts that are hidden or repressed.

Check-ins are a daily process for Bert Dinkins, who works at home as a Web designer for a company owned by a fellow "warrior." Some of his co-worker are also "warriors."

"Every morning we do a check-in on the telephone," said Dinkins, who recently moved from Memphis to El Paso after his wife, Rebecca, moved her optometry practice there.

Dinkins, a recovering alcoholic, was drawn to Mankind 1997 to improve his relationship with his three children who were 14, 12 and 8 at the time.

"I thought I had to scare my kids to get them to respect me," Dinkins said. "After the weekend I felt safe in allowing them to see the real me. And I found out it's okay to show affection and tell them 'I love you.' "

Dinkins' father died when he was 22 and the father of a 9-month-old son.

"I felt like I didn't know how to be a man," he said. "The only emotions I saw from my father were happiness and anger. I never saw him cry."

Weekly I-Group meetings are now an important part of life for Dinkins.

"You bond so closely to these men over the training weekend. I feel I could trust them with anything painful in my life."

Being able to express their feelings in the I-Groups allows the men to be more honest with their feelings in other relationships.

The men report having being better able to communicate with their wives, children, extended families, friends and co-workers.

For Joseph Pegues, the Mankind Project helped him kick his addiction to alcohol and to regain the trust of his wife and children.

"It made me look at what was wrong with my life and gave me direction in what I could do to make it better," he said. "Now I'm not trying to cover up things. I don't have anything to hide."

Chumbley's daughter, Julene Simmons, was in her early teens when her father completed his weekend of training.

"He was more affectionate and more positive and affirming of my sister and I," she said. She and her sister also came to love and enjoy her father's warrior friends.

"They were all like big brothers or uncles to us," she said. "Everyone was so close and supportive."

When she married, she insisted on her husband, Ben Simmons, going through the training.

"He's from a family that is very quiet and doesn't talk about things," she said. "The men who come out of the weekend are different. There is positive energy that radiates about them. I told Ben he was out of his box."

Ben told her he had not only come out of his box, he had "crossed the street, gotten in a boat and gone down the river."

He encouraged Julene to attend one of the occasional Woman Within training weekends offered by the Mankind Project.

When their son Alex was born 2½ years ago, she asked the Mankind community to dedicate him into their circle.

Owen and his wife Sharon Trammell wrote the ceremony that blessed Alex and his parents and relatives and committed the Mankind community's support to them.

"They blessed us with joy and laughter," said Julene, who now lives in Chattanooga with Ben, Alex and Paxton, who is 1. "I see my father, my husband and my sons always being part of this community."

Zoe Nadel was inside the house observing her husband and son sitting on the deck right after they returned from their training weekend.

"I had never seen such contentment between them," she said. "Their bonding and friendship is the greatest gift I could have gotten."

The communication skills they learned over the weekend improved the family dynamic.

"Everyone is happier," she said.

Alan, who recently had surgery to get a pacemaker, sought support from his I-Group in overcoming his apprehensions of the procedure.

"When I need help I know they will be there for me," he said.

He saw how the men kept a monthlong bedside vigil for a fellow warrior who was dying of pancreatic cancer.

"It was difficult for all of us but we wanted to be there for him in whatever he needed," Alan said.

Every man who goes through the training creates a mission statement for his life.

Owen, a lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said his mission gives focus to his life.

It is: "I create love and joy on the earth while embracing and blessing my imperfections and yours."

Fulfilling it can be as simple as smiling at someone he passes in the street or as involved as helping someone achieve equity in their job. Participating in the training weekends is also a part of it.

"The men are in such a place of love and joy after the weekend, that being a part of that is important to my mission," he said.

After his own training, he learned to deal with the need for perfection lovingly instilled in him by his mother.

"I realized that I'm good enough exactly the way I am. I don't have to be perfect," Owen said. "I had been letting Mom control my life instead of me taking control of it."

The training weekend put life into perspective for Craig Nadel.

"I realized how lucky we are and that it is so much easier to love than not to love," said Nadel, who is now a music professional in Austin, Tex. "It is truly a magical experience. It should be a requirement for life. If everyone did it, the world would be a better place."