A New Resource for Men

If you like Journey of Integrity… you should truly enjoy: www.owenmarcus.com.

For the past year and half I have posted a couple of time per week on men issues, men’s groups and relationships. The popularity of the blog continues to grow.

I moved to posting on this new blog to build my platform for the book I wrote, Grow Up, Men: Your 9-step Path to Releasing the Remarkable Man Inside You. My premise is that as men we aren’t bad or broken – we never got to learn how to be the man we want to be. Most men had more exposure to women when they grew up than they did to men. My dad was gone 12 hours a day when he wasn’t traveling.

Don’t get me wrong, I love women and I think they did a great job raising us. Yet, something was missing. We didn’t have men to model. So today I see with many successful men missing something. Often the effect of that missing thing doesn’t show up until they are successful. They hope success will fill that missing piece. When it doesn’t they start looking for what it is and how to fill it.

It can be as simple as having a men’s group to go to learn from the other men. He also gets to enjoy the friendship of men like he did in college or the military.

Sandpoint Men’s Groups has its seventh year anniversary (with over 350 meetings) in a couple of weeks. Two weeks ago Brad, one of our members had a feeling there were other men in our small town that wanted what we have. A week ago he packed a room with 20 men who wanted what we have. Their first group meeting was a couple of days. Men left saying it was more than they could have imagined.

Brad is using the protocol I created to start and run a kickass men’s group. You can get your free men’s groups guide from our nonprofit, Men Corps. In a less than a month you can be sitting with a group of committed men. Go for it!

Check out www.owenmarcus.com. If it interested you, sign up for our “Toolbox of Change” (newsletter) and get a free book on the 7 Lies and secrets of Being a Man. There is an extensive resource page for men on the blog. I would love to hear from you. Comment on a post.

Photo by Joe’s-Photos

Commiting to Whole Conversation

Angry man
Image via Wikipedia

I often have inspirational thoughts in my head that I hope will help me have a better life. Sayings like “do one thing today that will change your life” or “speak your truth from your heart” or “listen to be heard”. The problem is most of these don’t stick. I suppose they serve their purpose and then fade away.

There are a few, however, that do seem to stick. And I am really aware of one of them right now in my life. My inspiration is “I will commit to showing up for a whole conversation in my significant relationships (and sometimes my not so significant relationships)”.

What this means for me is that whether it takes 5 seconds or a life time I will keep showing up until I feel connected and resolved. Specifically it means:

I figure most of its about me anyway and it ties to this other manifesto I have which is to have the courage to see myself more clearly, everyday. By staying in the conversation, by not leaving when I am mad, or fustrated, or hurt I give myself the opportunity to grow, heal and learn. In other words I get the lesson.

The beauty of the lesson? I do, for the first time in my life, consistently feel close to my spouse. We have had many of the traditional challenges of other couples who have not stayed together. There was plenty of anger, disappointment, sadness, etc. to go around. But we kept showing up. Neither of has yet said I am done. (Even though in my anger I really wanted too) I am also lucky my spouse Jody kept showing up too.

As an aside I have to give some credit to an old adviser Timeto. About 15 years ago he said to me, right in the middle of one of the most stressful times in my marriage, “you will know its time to go when you can do it with out anger and regret”.

Right now I am experiencing this with my men’s group. Something has shifted in our dynamics. What once felt safe, fun and really was something I looked forward too each week no longer was any of that for me. I still love the men in the group but I found myself not wanting to come.

We are talking about it. Its started several weeks ago and the conversation continues. It is hard and stressful and challenging and I want to stay home. If I stay home I don’t have to speak about my anger or judgments. Nor do I have to hear others judgments of me or feel their anger.

But I know if I did I would be walking away with sadness, anger and regret. I would not get the healing. And most importantly I would miss growing closer to men that I care about.

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The Power of Seth

Cover of "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable...

Cover of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

If you have not yet come across Seth Godin I highly recommend him. He just thinks differently about the world and is a constant inspiration for me to break the mold and do it differently.

He is the author of Linchpin, The Purple Cow, Tribes, Permission Marketing and other books.

His daily blog is www.sethgodin.com

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Why Do I Sweat?

Sweat lodge
Image by lierne via Flickr

No, I don’t mean that kind of sweat. I am a guy and I can sweat aplenty. I mean sweat lodges. We just did one on Wednesday night instead of our normal group. Over the years I have probably done ten or twelve sweats. I often also choose to be part of the fire crew which means I get a double dose of heat from the lodge and the fire.

For the un-initiated a sweat lodge can be hot. I don’t know how hot but compared to a sauna they are hotter. The heat and accepting are the challenge. I have always felt challenged by the heat in the lodge but never so challenged that I needed to leave the lodge before the sweat was done.

My most common experience was it gets hot and I would use the heat as a metaphor for pain and breath through it. I would participate fully in each of the four rounds (prayer for self, prayer for others, what I want to let go of and what I want to receive) and clear a lot of stuff going on for me and call it good. I also would have a dehydration headache because two hours of sweating even while drinking lots of water can be draining.

This sweat last Wednesday was different. Half way through the first round I wanted out. It was hot and the heat was making me feel claustrophobic. My normal approach of working with the pain and fear were not working. I made it through the round but it was close. Mostly pride got me through it.

The remaining rounds were better but still harder than I can remember. Part of the reason that I feel like it was harder is we did it just with the men in the group. No guests. We have been together for a while and can generate some power. Mostly, though. I think it has to do with where I was and my emotional openness.

The next day I recovered really well but found myself asking why do I go in to the sweat lodge? Is it worth the work and suffering? I so what happens that is worthwhile? My first answer was I don’t want to do that again.

However, with some time I am again reminded of how much healing can take place in the lodge. The combination of the heat and the intent of the rounds can touch levels in me that are hard to reach any other way.

A lot of this is hard to intellectualize as I feel more than I think it. After the sweat I could feel this strong anxiety and sadness. The feeling was not located in a specific spot but just a general feeling.

The heat and staying in the sweat showed my shit. I realize now it was work I was avoiding. The heat brought it to the surface. Once it is up I can heal. That is why I sweat.

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A New Men’s Site

I recently started www.mansmanifesto.com in part to apply what we do in our group on a larger level. Over the years of being in men’s groups I have learned a lot about not only myself, but also about men and how we change. I have seen that with coaching men that much of the change seen in the group can be fostered individually.

I also stated the blog as way to expand the dialogue about growing up to be the men we want to be. It takes a community to raise a child; it takes a planet to grow men.

Men’s Training

The ManKind Project
Image via Wikipedia

The ManKind Project for 25 years has put on a weekend training for men called the New Warrior Training Adventure. Up to 60 men volunteers pay to assist up to 40 men experience the power of journeying through their own initiations.

I did the training 15 years ago and was immediately impressed with the quality of men who staffed the training. They were caring man who wanted to make a difference. Over the last 15 years, I have sent in some form or another 50 men to the training. Every one of them got more than they expected.

Last year Peter Clothier wrote a good article for Huffingtonpost on the training – check it out.

Many of the men in Sandpoint Men’s Group have done the training. It is not a requirement to be in the group. Men do the training because it works.

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No More Mr Nice Guy

If you are going to do men’s work you absolutely need to have some foundational guiding ideas and ideals.

In SMG 2.0 we all began with Mankind Project as a model for doing the transformational work in our meetings and at least initially for the form of the meetings themselves, following their model for an I group.

Later we adopted and incorporated David Deida’s work principally by requiring the reading of Way of the Superior Man. Deida’s work has given us more guidance or direction to our understanding of what masculinity is.

Recently I have come upon another source for inspiration in our work as men, Dr. Robert Glover. Glover is a psychiatrist that gravitated to men’s work. He spent 6 years writing his book No More Mr. Nice Guy. It is the culmination of work he has done personally and in his No Mr. Nice Guy men’s groups.

He has been leading these groups for many years, often 3 nights a week and clearly has vast experience with the work. From my reading I find what he has to say foundational to the work we need to do as American or Westernized men. Much of the book I found as familiar, the work I have been doing for the last 2 years and in many ways took me further.

The metaphor I have for reading the book is like reading the travel guide after the trip and realizing 1. how much easier it could have been if I had the guide book and 2. I want to go back and catch the sites I missed. I am recommending this book to all of the men in SMG 2.0. It talks to many of the concepts that we already use, and some ground we already cover and I believe that it will clarify and focus the work we have to do, particularly for the men who are joining the group and new to the work.

One particular awareness I received from the book was the idea of monogamy with mother. I became aware of my essence in my childhood being married with my mother. No masculine influence ever came in to sever this connection, the purpose of traditional rite-of-passage experiences. As a result I can see how I have looked to women for my affirmations. This has showed up in all my relationships with women, and of course women would tend to affirm my feminine qualities and values. By severing this connection with mother and being in the presence of men I am now receiving my encouragement and affirmations from men and expressing my masculine with the women in my life. I am more confident, expressive and powerful.

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Five Years and Growing

From out 5th year anniversary celebration: Brad Golphenee, Steve Holt, Wayne Pignolet, Kyle Mercer, Owen Marcus, Michael Welp, David Barth, front row – David Mabelle

We just celebrated five years of meeting every week. The new evolution of Sandpoint Men’s Group, smg 2.0 is currently eight committed men who continue to not only change themselves, but also affect everyone around them. Change is contagious.

In part of our work as a men’s group I started a new blog – Grow the F Up – Men. The site is the seed for a book I am writing on how to grow up as a man. It can be simple.

What Drama Takes You Out?

I wrote a three part post series on the Drama Triangle describing how the victim, persecutor and the rescuer take us out.

Often we see a man in the group stuck in one of these or possibly bouncing between a few of them. We don’t consciously always use this model to work with the man, but we can go back to it for clarity.

What is your favorite player?

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Where Is Your Menspace?

A man’s castle is often not his home; it is his private space. That place he goes to be alone, to create, to hang with his friends –a place to renew.

When a man takes on a partner, then a family he gives up a part of himself for something bigger. He invites others into his space – an act of generosity and love. After a while, what he might feel as regret I propose is not regret, but our instinctual need for space.

We are the hunters of the hunter-gathers. Our ancestors roamed, we need to roam by ourselves and with other men. We need to go on our quests. Business travel was the assumed domain for much of this journeying. Even when it was just men on the road, it wasn’t enough.

The past couple of decades of Harley Davison’s growth express men’s need to be free. We spend thousands of dollars to put loud pieces of metal between our legs in some ways to escape the other pleasure we put between our legs. Before Harleys there were horses as the vehicle of escape.

If we don’t want to ride our bike out of town, then we want to walk to our space.  Here in North Idaho men have shops.  Men escape to their shops to build, repair and just hang. Yes, often we escape to escape expressing our emotions. Yet, there is a light side to needing to escape.

Sam Martin spoke on “manspaces” at last summer’s TED Global 2009 conference. His need for space spawned him to put on a tool belt for the first time to build a studio. Being a writer, he wrote a book on menspaces. In his research the found beautiful creations that were much more than crude spaces with pinups on the walls. He discovered men whose spaces were works of art.

We need space. Men need it differently than women. I can see it now… there will be a “menspace movement” to create our space.

Every Wednesday night for soon to be five years, men have gathered in my house to cultivate in ourselves the men we want to be and seed the development of other men’s groups to do the same. Until seeing Martin’s TED video, I didn’t think much of how our group is also an expression of our need for menspace.

Our need for space is in our DNA. If we don’t create it consciously, we will create unconsciously – that is often not pleasurable for others or ourselves. How do you get space? Whom do you share it with? What are you willing to do to get and keep it? Let us know.

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