Monday, July 25, 2011

"If You're Looking For Sympathy,..."

it's between shit and syphilis in the dictionary."

Wise words passed on from father to son which the latter shared with me a while back.  I've heard a few nuggets like this "suck it up, buttercup", "why don't you go back to your mommy, little boy", many, like these ones are offered as an antidote to a perceived emotional disease. 

Apparently that disease is contagious if unchecked or corrected.  It's certainly uncomfortable to be with which is why men, and women, fathers, and mothers, are so quick to make sure boys, and girls do not 'wallow in their misery."  What good could possibly come from steeping in a feeling, right?  Most of us never know the answer to that question because our social messaging tells us to stay away from feeling deeply the same way it tells us not to open the closet door in a horror movie.  You just don't know what's in there and whether you'll make it out alive if you open that damn door.

Sometimes these wise words are offered as a kind of tool to help someone fix what is obviously broken.  Ideally a tool is designed to make a job easier, more efficient and effective.  In so many ways these types of words are like throwing a bucket to someone who is drowning. 

And so a thought becomes a story which after time becomes a belief - parent to child.  Bell Hooks, alludes to this in her book "Men, Masculinity and The Will To Change".  In her view this code of emotional silence is a pervasive component of patriarchy that both fathers and mothers buy into and promote so little boys grow into strong men and little girls grow into strong women.  Hooks targets patriarchy as the culprit - for me, I think the origin is more primal.

A good friend John Giffen is involved in an incredibly brave organization which aims to counter this social evolution with a pivotal, mentoring process for teenage boys (ages 13 - 17).  Boys To Men,( runs a process called a Rights Of Passage Adventure Weekend and there's a weekend coming up in Vermont in August, which, those of you who know some young men who are searching for some answers and guidance, I would encourage you to check it out and spread the word.

Sometimes a guy's deepest fear about coming to a mens' group is that he is going to encounter a bunch of "wimps sobbing and crying in their laps."  What I say to those guys is that my experience of mens' group is that every guy has the opportunity to feel anything and everything he feels fully.  That last word is the key.  Fully.  No limits.

It's the one place a guy "can get it all out."  It's the one place where a guy may not only receive useful tools and maybe sympathy, but more importantly empathy.

Our next 20 week session of mens group begins on Tuesday, August 9th, 2011, at 7 p.m., and we will continue every Tuesday evening until December 20th, 2011.  Give me a call If you're interested in joining us and please send this to a guy who you believe would benefit from the experience.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Power Of A Story

I love stories.

It doesn't have to be a good story to capture my attention and engage me. Any story which has me see a part of myself is a story worth reading or listening to in my books. As you can imagine I hear a lot of different stories. Every day I'm blessed to have the opportunity to listen to many different people and their stories. The experience is enlightening - I think people would enjoy their lives more if they spent more time listening to other peoples stories.

And not because I could listen to a person's story and feel happy, or think that I'm somehow different or better -precisely the opposite; anothers story is a doorway into my own story.

There are a lot of men and stories out there. There are soldiers returning from war, there are police officers, firefighters, paramedics wounded from front line experiences, there are husbands going through separation, fathers missing their children, executives burning out on the job, sons burying parents, and many guys who wake up every day hoping they were somewhere or someone else.

A guy came to see me the other day and spent the better part of his time trying to convince me that he was broken. "Look," he said, "here are all of the the things I've done and had done to me which prove that I'm broken. Why won't you believe me?" "Can you fix me?" he asked.

"No," I replied, "I can't fix you because you're not broken. I can help you but I won't be able to fix you"

I'm not sure if he'll come back - by the look on his face I'm not sure he believed me.

For me, men are not broken, or bad, and we don't need fixing. We are however able to be:

Disconnected, from people we love, our work and our bodies

, of our relationships, our feelings, our behaviour, and our image as perceived by others

Afraid, to be honest, to trust friends or family, to be perceived as weak or incapable, to 'get it wrong'

Confused, by how to talk about what is happening to us in ways others can understand, relate and connect to

, in what we believe, understand, and feel.

I remember believing I was broken and experiencing feedback from people around me who told me I needed to be fixed. Being broken never felt quite right to me because I knew that deep inside I was no different than anyone else and rationally speaking, we couldn't all be broken right?

There's a new session of Mens' Group beginning on Tuesday, August 9th, and it will run weekly, every Tuesday until December 20th. In Men's Group we bring together good men and in twenty weeks we give them tools and experiences to experience that inside feeling; the one that knows they are great.

Call me if you're interested in joining us, or if you would like to know more about Group -and, please tell a friend who you know carries a thought that he is broken. You will be changing his life.

journey well,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Awakening - What It Means To Know You Are Waking Up

This is an excerpt of a reading which a client recently forwarded to me - keep this with you

The Awakening

A time comes in your life when you finally get it. When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks, and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out - Enough! Enough fighting and crying or
struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, you blink back your tears, and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening. You
realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that your partner, if you have one,
isn't perfect. In the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter), and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you; and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance. You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are.... that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself; and in the process a sense of newfound confidence is born of self-approval.

You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say, and that not everyone will always be there for you; and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own, and to take care of yourself; and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance. You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you
really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with; and in the process you learn to go
with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing; and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix.

You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries, and learn to say NO. Then you learn about love, romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away.

You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more attractive, more intelligent, more lovable or more important because of the partner by your side or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely. You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect; and you won't settle for less. And you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with loving caresses...and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect. You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen.

Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself; and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever, settle for less than your heart's desire.

And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand. You take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want

to live as best you can. Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.

This is your awakening....enjoy life!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stifling What We Feel

A simple scenario really. One that I'm sure you know as well.

Man comes into a restaurant with his female partner and orders himself a glass of fresh squeezed cherry juice. By the look on his face and his body language, (rubbing his hands together with great zeal), he's really looking forward to sipping this just squeezed goodness. Suddenly, his partner picks up the glass and with it lightly touching her lips, says, "May I? I don't have any diseases." " Go ahead he replies, your diseases are my diseases." What he doesn't say is loudly communicated with his body: his eyes are wide with surprise, his nose is turned up in disgust and contempt; his body is rigid, shoulders back, hands clenched on the table; and his head is thrown back quickly taking in the ceiling, and then there's the sharp inhale before he speaks his words.

So much felt, so much not said. A few seconds in a life.

What prevents this man from sharing in the moment what he is genuinely feeling with his companion? What are the thoughts and beliefs and conditioned behaviours which have him stifle all of this rich communication from his partner? How could she ever know, or trust the truth about him?

I don't know - I can only speculate and empathize based on my own life. My awareness of myself I've gained from sitting in many groups of inspiring men who were also attempting to understand more about themselves. The Men's Program is the group lab in which a man's most important social learning happens. Through honest interactions with others like himself every man gains an inarguable body of knowledge about himself. This isn't the type of knowledge that is self-serving naval gazing - it's the information which changes a man's life forever replacing confusion with clarity and emotional impaction with free flowing honesty.

On Tuesday Feb. 1st, 2011, The Men's Program is opening up our circle to invite men who have never experienced a group and those who are Men's Program alumni to join us for an evening. Group begins at 7 p.m., please be sure to arrive by 6:45 p.m. Our location is 323 Kingston Road, lower level. There is ample parking on Kingston Road and on the surrounding streets.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hey All You Sellecks, Chaplins, Fu-Manchus, & Handlebar Hanks

Movember, the World’s Largest Funder of Prostate Cancer Research, is Now Open for Registration for its 4th Canadian Campaign

Movember kicks off its 4th annual campaign in Canada today, challenging men across the country to show their support by growing a Mo (slang for moustache) this November. To help support Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (September 19-25), today, men and women across the country can raise funds and awareness for Prostate Cancer Canada by registering at Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting Canadian men; during his lifetime, 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with the disease, and this number is expected to rise to 1 in 4 within a decade.

Rates of prostate cancer in men are comparable to breast cancer rates in women, with a man being diagnosed with the disease every 2.7 minutes. According to recent findings, men are 40 per cent more likely than women to die from cancer due to the simple act of putting off doctor visits and failing to lead a proactively healthy lifestyle.

Movember, the month formerly known as November, aims to change these statistics by creating a global focus on cancers affecting men. Each Movember, men are challenged to start the month clean-shaven and grow a moustache. The moustache becomes the hairy ribbon for men’s health and the guys growing them become a walking billboard for 30 days. The growth of a new moustache sparks hundreds of conversations about the seemingly taboo topics of men’s health and prostate cancer.

Movember began in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The guys behind it joked about 80s fashion and decided it was time to bring back the moustache. In order to justify their “Mo” (Aussie slang for moustache), they used their new looks to raise some awareness and money for prostate cancer research... never dreaming their efforts would lead to a global movement for men’s health. To date, more than 627,000 Movember “Mos” have been grown to raise over $100 million to change the face of men’s health.

“Its hard to believe what began as a bit of a joke has turned into a global movement for men’s health. It’s humbling to see so many men and women passionately support this cause,” said Adam Garone, CEO and Co-Founder of Movember. “These days you can’t grow a moustache without people asking what’s going on, and that leads to amazing conversations about cancers that affect men.”

This November will mark the 4th Movember campaign in the Canada, which will continue to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC). In 2009, 35,958 Mo Bros and Sistas used the power of the Mo to raise almost $8 million for the PCC.

“For Prostate Cancer Canada moustaches have made all the difference. Thanks to the funds raised by Movember we are now in a much better position to focus on the elimination of this disease through research, education, support and awareness – and to better support those currently afflicted,” said Steve Jones, CEO and President, Prostate Cancer Canada, ”1 in 6 Canadian men will be affected by this disease in their lifetime, it is our job to ensure that they know the facts and have they support they need.”

Participation in Movember is not only fun, but simple. Starting today, men and women can register to join the campaign at Whether on their own or as part of a team, they have the month of November to grow and show their “Mo”. Friends, family, and colleagues can show their support by sponsoring the Mo-growing efforts and donating funds to support the PCC. Women who register to join the campaign act as ambassadors for the “Mo,” spreading the word and showing their support for the men in their life. Participants celebrate their “Mo” at the end of November, attending Movember’s official Gala Partés or hosting their own local event. The campaign is largely run online, making it a unique digital charity campaign.

Why all the moustaches? It’s time men and women understand the facts:
1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed.
1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. One new case occurs every 2.7 minutes and a man dies from prostate cancer every 19 minutes.
Rates of prostate cancer in men are comparable to rates of breast cancer in women.
The World Health Organization projects that in 2010, cancer will become the leading cause of death globally, surpassing heart disease and stroke.

Movember’s 2010 Canadian major partners include Canadian Club, Mercedes-Benz Canada, and Schick.

Movember is the world’s largest charity event raising funds for cancer affecting men- specifically prostate cancer. Each November, Movember invites men across the globe to grow moustaches (or “Mos”) while raising funds and awareness for men’s health. Movember aims to forever change the face of men’s health, by raising awareness and funds that will reduce the number of preventable male deaths by cancer. For more information please visit

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Smelly Feet and The Men Who Own Them

My boyfriend’s feet are gross. His toenails are long and dirty and his feet smell. I ask him to take better care of himself but he gets angry and tells me to let him be a man – is this true? Are men really like this?

H.M. Calgary

Yes, some men are like this and while they may pretend or even protest that their shoddy physical appearance is okay and perhaps more manly – they know the real truth they just don’t care. It’s not important to them and that is why they pay little attention to the issue. Remember, nothing gets in between a man and something or someone he wants. So if a guy has a blind spot in his personality or appearance it’s because he has taken his focus off of it. I’ve worked with many guys who pay great attention to their personal appearance and very little to other aspects of their lives. I’ve also met men who have success, great relationships, even their health and yet, their toenails are claws or they have fur growing out of their nose and ears.

Any guy who tells you that walking around like a Wookie makes him manlier is hoping you buy his weak excuse for a lack of focus and leave him alone. By shining a light on your boyfriend’s toes you are effectively telling him in his mind that he has a flaw. Generally men are not so good at hearing that they have flaws because many of us are doing our best to be flawless hence in vulnerable. So the best defense against being weak is to come up with a story that said behaviour is in fact manlier. It’s a pretty thin defense if you ask me and one which makes the man appear frail in character. I wish more guys would stand in the heat of the spotlight more often because they would learn something key about relationships with women. Women like to leave a man better than when they found him. So a woman who takes the time to lovingly suggest ways in which a guy can transform himself is actually grooming that man to be his best. Deep down no woman wants to be in a relationship with a man she can’t show off. So she spends a lot of her relationship focus nudging him to change. As a rule, when men get together we tend to pay less attention to how another guy looks or smells rather, we measure a guy by his commitment to values like honesty, trust, accountability, courage and kindness.

Your boyfriend is feeding you a line about his toes and in the process is proving that he is still a boy at heart. So, I guess you have a choice. Put up with it or, make it a deal-breaker. How the two of you deal with this though will set the tone for how you both navigate the difficult issues and problems that true intimacy will bring.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

He Who Never Gets Angry - GuyExpert Answers

I never get angry. I’ve been married for 20 years and my wife and I have never had an argument and I’ve never raised my voice to her. My friends tell me that I’m not normal – is this true?
B.G. Montreal

Well you’re not abnormal, rare perhaps, but not abnormal. I’ve probably worked with hundreds of men and I’ve met many who tell me they don’t get angry and I’ve only met one I believed. Out of the many who tell me they don’t get angry what they’ve discovered is that they weren’t allowing themselves to express anger because of either strongly held internal beliefs or, out of a reaction to a traumatic, childhood experience with anger. In my Anger Inc. TM workshops some of those men had their anger stifled as children by a parent or guardian while others discover they self-limit being angry as a reaction to witnessing someone being destructive and violent while angry.
Anger is a normal feeling that we are all hard-wired to feel and express. It is our most powerful feeling and the one that helps us identify when a personal boundary has been crossed or when we have a strong want or need, or most often, when we are in a perceived threat or state of powerlessness. Anger is the quickest route from powerlessness to a state of empowerment. Most of us are going to experience all of these types of anger triggers through the course of being in relationships with others. In fact, relationships by design are perfect hotbeds of triggers for anger as the individuals work through their intimacy blocks to form a tight, cohesive deep union. And if relationships are ripe with triggers, by extension so is life; reality is by definition ‘real.’ This means it’s not easy or smooth rather it’s bumpy and difficult. This is my primary reason for creating Anger Inc. TM, to help men learn healthy ways of coping with real life.
I wont’ comment on your marriage except to offer you that I’ve worked with couples who have told me they have never fought and those relationships are perfect on the surface. Just below that veneer is a minefield of experiences, history, and unspoken comments that each person has made a commitment to not expose. It’s like they’ve agreed to be best friends and roommates but not an intimately bonded couple. The interesting aspect of these relationships is that they while they lack conflict they are also empty of deep passion. Trading off conflict for passion may seem obvious in the beginning over the long term however, I think it’s a deal with the devil. Personally, I’d rather have a real, conflict-ridden, passionate, deeply loving relationship than one where “we get along great with each other.” That’s me, what is it you really want?