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When I was young, my Dad would say to me: "Man proposes and God disposes." I did not understand what that meant. Much later, as an adult, I read David Richo's book, "The Five Things We Cannot Change." One of those five is that life does not always go according to plan. John Lennon reminded me in his music that "life is what happens while you are making other plans."
So, what does all this mean? It means that things happen that we don't expect. It means that we can not always prepare for the future. It means that we sometimes are going to be disappointed, sad, overwhelmed, confused and resentful.
These months of serious illness, isolation and unpredictability challenge our hearts and minds. We don't know what is going to happen. We try to make sense of so many people ill and dying. Why now? Why there? Why here?
Some people believe that God is in charge, and this plague is serving some Divine purpose. Maybe it is a wake-up call to see the Oneness of all. Others believe that we are being punished for something we did as human beings. For still others, it is a reminder of the fragility of life.
I am reminded of the Passover story, where God sent ten plagues to the Egyptians because they enslaved the Jews and would not let them go. The worst of these plagues was the killing of the Egyptians' first-born sons. Jews were to put blood on their tents, so the "angel of Death" would pass over their dwellings, and not kill anyone there. Hence, the name Passover.
As we try to make sense of what is happening, we can only hope that this virus will "pass over" us, so we can live and be free again.
We are told to stay home, avoid crowds of ten or more, and practice social distancing. We can do that. Some of us will, and some of us won't.
One thing we must not do is trivialize the impact of this plague, this virus that has already affected half a million people and their families.
Someone told me today that Minnesota is the number one state in the nation in following the health guidelines, keeping one's distance, and washing hands regularly. I hope this is true. I'd like to believe that Minnesota nice means something more than passive/aggressive behavior. I hope it is about common sense, compassion for others, and willingness to work hard and sacrifice when necessary.
I am a member of Unity Minneapolis, a church that is now closed for a while. This church believes that we have a God part inside us to connect us to ourselves, others, and spirit. The church provides a "First Aid Kit" of services while being closed to the public. Ministers are available to phone visits. Weekly and other services are being live-streamed. Prayer chaplains are ready to pray for us. Silent Unity, a national prayer program, exists for prayer support. Service angels are available to shop and do errands for the susceptible elderly among us. Feeding the hungry continues as a mission.
In this time of distance, it is vital to feel connected -- emotionally and spiritually. People are reaching out others. Many of us make phone calls daily to friends and family. I have received more than ten offers from friends to go to the store, or do other errands.
However this situation turns out, I want to believe that it brought out the best in our people -- honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, compassion, and love. Maybe this is the ULTIMATE message. In Brene Brown's words, we are "vulnerable, daring greatly, and rising strong."
I am grateful for those who take this virus seriously, and act out of respect for scientific experts' knowledge, self-love, healthy boundary-setting and loving concern for the common good.
When I was growing up, my mother always said, "This, too, shall pass" when times were bad. But in the meantime, she did all she could to make life work the best for all of us.
Love and blessings,
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This is a 21 minute problem / solution style message. The problem is abandonment (and its relatives) and the solution is oneness consciousness. Click play below to learn more.
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Mike Obsatz in the news, friends! The Star Tribune published a question and answer style article in September 2018 where Mike talks about his mentoring work in light of current events.
Check it out here!
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"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things."
The mountains teach us this, friends. Whatever you're looking for from the mountain, (and it doesn't matter how noble or how you petty that aspiration is) you will have to work for it. You will have to make it happen. No one can do it for you. You have to take action.
It works for every pursuit in life. Set a course. (In the case of the photo above, it was the summit of Long's peak.) Get yourself prepared. Do the work, and MAKE it happen. It is earned, not given.
Another thing that the mountains teach us. You do not and you cannot vault straight to the summit. You take one step, and then another, and then another. You must repeat this thousands of times. Little step by little step is the way to reach the summit and back.
Now. How will you happen to things today? Do the work. Take the action. Get after it. 3, 2, 1, GO!
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Strategy IS important. If you don't know where you're going, chances are you'll never get there. By all means, set your strategy first. The trouble is that for a great majority of situations in life, it's very easy to decide on a strategy.
"I want to earn more."
"I want to be more fit."
"I want to finish my degree."
"I want a better relationship with my kids."
"I want to climb a 14,000 foot peak."
Great. That took a minute or less. Now. How are you going to get there? You get there with tactics. That's where 95% of the time and attention you spend on getting a particular somewhere in life needs to be spent.
To whatever extent I've been "successful", much of is due to preferring tactics over strategy.
Now. Go out there, and getcha some.
What can you do today that will move you just one small bit closer towards your goals?
Make the phone call.
Lift the weight.
Register for the class.
Complete the assignment.
Buy the hiking boots.
Study the material.
Talk to the expert in X.
Place some funds in the savings account.
It's never too hard one small step at a time.
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This is an article about evolving fathers. Fathers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, with different backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, and belief systems. While men and boys have also experienced abuse, neglect, and harassment at the hands of others, this piece will focus on how evolving fathers can teach people, including their children, to respect and love girls and women.
There are many types of fathers — single (never married), married, widowed fathers, divorced fathers, stepfathers, separated fathers, fathers in prison, and father figures.
In this day of greater awareness of inequality and oppression, we are learning more and more about the mistreatment of women and girls. Unfortunately, some people are making much money off the degradation of girls and women. There is sex trafficking of girls and women, pornography, prostitution, sexual abuse, objectification of women in the media, harassment, and emotional abuse. This message will focus on the ways in which evolving fathers can counteract these abuses, and create a more loving and respectful world for all, including girls and women.
Here are some action steps to take:
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We hear a lot about abandonment. Infants are abandoned in front of churches. Victims of bullies are often abandoned when they come forward and tell their truth. Some of the elderly are abandoned by their families and spend their last years alone. Some marginalized kids are abandoned and left to cope on their own.
So what does abandonment mean, and what forms of abandonment exist? Abandonment is about being left, deserted, and without support. Abandonment is being cast out, being an outcast. This can take many forms, and have many consequences.
1. Physical abandonment is the the most obvious type. It involves the absence of the physical being of a real person. Statistics tell us that 36 million American children live without a biological Dad in their homes.
2. Emotionałphysical abuse abandonment means that a person is not valued, and not treated with respect. This abuse can include physical attacks, emotional shaming and ridicule, and neglect.
3. Abandonment through entitlement is another type. This means the individual is led to believe that he/she deserves to have everything without having to earn it. Some people become grandiose and think only of themselves. When people experience this type of abandonment, they may have a rude awakening that the world does not owe them a living.
4. Another aspect of this is called “lack of guidance” abandonment. An individual is being thrust into situations that he or she is not prepared to handle. The person sometimes fails, and blames themselves for the failure.
5. Social exclusion is another type of abandonment. It is usually done by one’s peer group, but not always. People ignore, ostracize, or exclude certain people who don’t fit in some way.
6. Self-abandonment occurs when a person pretends to be what they are not, living a life. Or, they may be so out of touch with their own needs, feelings, and capabilities that they have no clue as to what they are about.
7. Some people also experience societal abandonment. Some examples of this include children who have no rights, children who are homeless or live in poverty, children with no health care, groups of marginalized people. Society as a whole can abandon a group of people. All genocides are about abandonment.
Why does abandonment exist?
Some people have been so emotionally and physically damaged themselves that they lack skills. It does not occur to them to care for others because they don’t believe that they are responsible for them.
Other people lack empathy and compassion. They are self-absorbed, and do not think about the consequences of their behavior on other people. It takes a level of maturity to see the big picture-- and begin caring for those in need, those who have little or nothing.
Still others, out of laziness, don’t want to handle the responsibilities of caring for others.
How does abandonment relate to trust?
Psychologist and author Erik Erikson said that trust is the cornerstone of emotional development. In the first years of life, a child is dependent upon the consistency and care of adults around them. When a child is abandoned, it is difficult for the child to trust anyone.
How do some people feel about being abandoned?
They suffer in pain, and sorrow, missing what they have lost. Many numb themselves. Some close up, and become martyrs, not trusting anyone. This grieving can take many forms, and go on forever.
How do some people respond to abandonment?
Some are very hurt, and some bitter and hostile. They go on to do violence to others and themselves. Some engage in self-sabotaging behaviors. Others may be suicidal or depressed. Some mask their hurt feelings with addictive behaviors that temporarily numb them and give them a high, such as drugs, busyness, gambling, food, shopping, or codependency.
How can we help abandoned people?
We must first notice them, and see who they are. We have to listen, pay attention, care about them. This is difficult to do for some abandoned people are not pleasant to be around. Abandoned people almost always need therapy, skills training, support groups, and opportunities to realize that their abandonment was not their fault. Spiritual practices which validate the value and worth of every person can also help.
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When I was a little boy, I was repeatedly shamed and bullied. I was hit and hurt, and told that I was not a "real," guy. I was put down, ridiculed, made fun of.
Being shamed regularly was an attempt to control me, and make me feel bad about myself. The more worthless I felt, the more the bullies and shamers could feel happy that they accomplished their goal. It has taken years to overcome that early shaming and bullying. Emotions I felt went ranged from anger to fear to sadness.
Millions of boys are shamed into fitting into a model of masculinity. They are called sissies, wimps, wusses, momma's boys, etc. if they don't conform to a cultural norm. In the process of conforming, boys lose a part of themselves, and spend their lives grieving these losses. Rather than being allowed to authentically develop into their true selves, they are coerced into a narrow "blueprint" of masculinity. Herb Goldberg, in his book "The New Male," written in 1979, says that "blueprint for masculinity is blueprint for self-destruction." This shaming process means that boys experience loss if they do fit in, and if they don't fit in. It is a no-win proposition. There are at least twenty-five messages that boys are taught. They include the following:
Maintain a strong image
Prove manhood by taking risks, even if foolish
Sexualize affection - all touch is sexual touch
Have many sexual conquests
Don't be a virgin
Don't be vulnerable
Don't express fear
Don't ask for help, guidance or directions
Don't trust anyone
Be disposable - be willing to die for your country
Pretend to know even when you don't
Be in control
Devalue what is "feminine" in yourself and others
Be emotionally detached
Tough it out
Don't take care of your body
Win at all costs
Abuse your body
More is better - money, sex, food, alcohol
You are what you achieve or accomplish
Boys who are close to their mothers are shamed. There is a fear that boys will turn into women if they are not tough enough. The losses that boys experience as a result of this process include:
Loss of intimate connection to mother and father
Loss of emotional outlets - crying, showing fear
Loss of trust in other males who betray, tease or shun them
Loss of the option to be gentle, nurturing, vulnerable
Loss of the freedom to make mistakes
Loss of internal awareness - emotional disconnection
Loss of learning opportunities - empathy, other "feminine traits"
Loss of power over one's own destiny
Loss of support
Loss of freedom to give and receive non-sexual affection
Loss of ability to connect non-verbally
Loss of trusting one's own intuition
Two aspects of the grieving process are anger and depression. Many men respond to these losses by becoming hostile and angry. Other men become isolated, lonely and depressed. There are many costs of the boys and men, as well as the larger culture due to men grieving over these losses. A few of these include:
Violence against men, women and children
Deaths due to foolish risk-taking
Addictions to numb out pain
Depression, isolation and loneliness
Injuries and deaths due to men's sports - racing, boxing, etc.
Father absence - over 36 million children live without biological fathers
Hierarchy, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, etc.
Unhealthy families, and unhealthy male-male and male-female relationships
Child abuse and neglect
Sexual abuse against women
Shame-based systems that are perpetuated from one generation to the next
We must ask why there are such narrow definitions of "real manhood" and where they came from? Men have had to be strong for societies to survive. In many cultures, men were previously hunters, but aren't anymore. Men still fight and die in most of the wars. Men are expendable and disposable. Since they are considered stronger, they are the supposed protectors. But women now are in the military, and in some countries, serve in combat situations. If the man is not a protector or hunter, then what is he? He provides food, shelter, and clothing. But women are also providers now, so men are not the sole providers.
So, we come to the question of what makes a man a man. It is his genetic make-up, hormones, brain development, and body parts that make him male. Why does there have to be an emotional component that defines him as different from females?
My guess is that we haven't been willing to accept the fact that little boys are masculine without having to prove anything. To prove masculinity is to be accepted by a group of peers or adult males as a "true male." This is as opposed to a woman, or a pseudo-male. This proving is based on fear, and controlled by a gender that is fearful that it is not okay. If males feel inadequate, they will put more pressure on younger males to prove adequacy. Shame-based masculinity is fear-based masculinity.
The alternative to this is holistic manhood, when the boy matures into manhood from the inside out. This authentic process, learning about oneself, and then loving what one learns about oneself, would make boys into healthy, whole men. The men who achieved authentic manhood would not be easy to manipulate, dominate, or control. A man would know who he is, what he stands for, and what his life is about. Such men are a threat to shame-based systems and hierarchical structures. They would not need to drink alcohol or drive fancy sportscars to prove manhood.
The following are the traits of healthy manhood. They are:
Power for and with, not over
Knowing one's purpose gives one's life meaning and direction. Whole manhood requires commitment and goal-setting.
Real power is power for others, to help others, and sharing power with others. It involves faith in oneself, assertiveness, and compassion.
Passion is being alive, with vitality, energy, sensuality, healthy sexual energy. It involves cherishing as well as grieving, and allowing oneself to fully connect emotionally.
Paternity involves helping others, children, and animals, mentoring, and stewarding the earth.
Piety is about wonder, gratitude, reverence, humility and spiritual connectedness.
Persistence includes endurance, resilience, responsibility, and follow-through.
Presence means being open, not judging, accepting others, and paying attention.
Patience means delaying gratification, impulse control, and being slow to anger.
Pardon means forgiveness and kindness.
Partnership includes collaboration, community building, and negotiation and compromise.
Pliability is flexibility, openness to change, willingness to see other points of view.
Playfulness is laughter, joy, lightheartedness.
Peacemaking includes justice-seeking, non-violent alternatives, and mediation.
Politeness means have courtesy and manners.
Perspective is being able to see the larger picture.
If we change the "p" in paternity to "m," we have maternity. Then we could discuss the qualities of healthy holistic womanhood. And guess what? Healthy manhood and womanhood involve the same character traits. And, believe it or not, men will not turn into women, and women will not turn into men.
Holistic manhood and womanhood would create a culture with less pain, less loss, and more interconnectedness. We can teach both boys and girls these traits of emotional and spiritual health through role-modeling and mentoring.
As we move away from shame-based and fear-based masculinity, we will discover that boys who don't have to prove themselves can relax more. Bullying will decrease, as will drug abuse. There will likely be fewer lonely and depressed men and boys, and fewer hostile and aggressive men and boys. Since males won't need females to prove their manhood and sexual prowess, rape and other crimes against women will decrease considerably. Men might live longer because they can admit that they need help from doctors. Healthier relationships, better parenting, and more compassion and empathy would most likely contribute to a better society.
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Boys growing up in America experience trauma. They don’t have to come from dysfunctional families, or poor neighborhoods. This is a rash statement, but from my 50 years of working with boys and men, I have concluded that the male socialization process can be traumatic for most boys.
Herb Goldberg wrote in The New Male, “Women bend and men break. The blueprint for masculinity is a blueprint for self-destruction.” Terrence Real, in I Don’t Want to Talk About It, claims that many boys and men are depressed and isolated.
When we look at the number of men in prison, men who are homeless, men who are drug addicts, men who are violent, men who lack meaningful relationships and connections -- we can begin to see that the old messages are still very potent in 2018.
Be strong. Be sexually active. Be straight. Be independent. Don’t ask for help. Don’t cry or show vulnerability. Focus on the goal, not the process. Take control. Be dominant. Be right. Pretend to know what you are doing even if you do not. Give up your life for your country.
I believe that men and women have different bodily and hormonal structures. Their brains are different. Michael Gurian has written about this in Boys and Girls Learn Differently.
But these difference do not take away from the fact that boys are whole people who give up part of their wholeness to conform to an image of masculinity that may make for good soldiers, or corporate employees — but make for poor life partners, fathers, uncles and friends. So boys and men grieve the loss of part of themselves, and project that onto resenting others, or putting others down who show vulnerability, sensitivity, and compassion. They become angry or depressed, or both, two aspects of the grief process.
The losses that boys and men experience in their early years leave lifelong scars and pain. Boys who don’t “fit” the traditional macho image, are marginalized, ostracized, harassed, and physical and psychically punished. Bullying results in trauma. Bullying is not easily fixed with band-aid programs and simple answers. While we acknowledge that some men are “nerds,” they are usually portrayed in sitcoms and provide lots of laughs.
The trauma that males experience is lethal, large, and hard to work through. Many men who have hurt others have been hurt themselves. Some men who try to control others have been controlled from the moment they left the womb. Boys are taught in the early years by mothers and female teachers who don’t have the visceral understanding of what it means to be a boy.
Michael Thompson says that some boys are viewed as “defective girls.” Men are taught they need to be reigned in by females if they want to develop any sense of morality.
Why do boys and men act out? They do so out of a gaping internal hole of despair. They have be deprived of their essence by a culture that does not value their “being-ness.” Capitalism, hierarchy and competition become the major ways boys and men get to prove their manhood.
It is foolish to have to prove manhood. One is a boy or a man. There is nothing to prove. And yet, manhood is defined by some type of bravery that transcends the normal every day way of living. Rising to the top means having to put someone beneath you. If you are not the winner, you are a loser.
Jennifer James wrote a book called Success is the Quality of Your Journey. It is not a destination but a process. Proving one is better or right results in people waring with each other, and nations waring with each other. Along with this is the notion of scarcity. There is not enough to go around so you better take yours before someone else does, or if they have taken theirs, take it away from them. War is trauma, and we have an incredible number of victims of war to prove that.
It is believed that society benefits from the all-powerful male image. The longterm losses include a wide array of suffering that gets passed on from generation to generation.
Unless men and boys are allowed to claim their wholeness — including their fear and vulnerability — we will have to live with the collateral damage. The core issue is about being whole.