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It’s my week to host our men’s group. Guys I talk to often ask me “what goes on” in the group, so I thought I’d sketch out what a typical meeting is like.

We’re a group of 6-7 guys (one guy is currently living out of state for a few months) who meet for a few hours every other week on a weeknight. We take turns hosting at each of our respective homes in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties, and we often car-pool. We arrive at 6pm, share a meal, and then have out meeting from 7-9pm.

Whoever is hosting provide the meal – most of us like to cook, and some cook quite well, but even the best cooks resort to take-out on occasion due to time constraints. These meals seldom include alcohol, but one a few special occasions it has been offered by the host. Those assembled try to help the host in whatever way they can, but it is his night.

After we’ve enjoyed our meal and helped clear things away, we move to the living room (or whatever space is available) for our meeting. To get ‘centered’ and shed distractions, we usually go through some sort of relaxation exercise. One of our guys is particularly good at leading a relaxation meditation and enjoys doing it, so we often avail ourselves of that gift.

When we’re ready to start the meeting, the host welcomes everyone and asks if anyone ‘needs time’. Men may have something that they’ve been thinking about recently, been burdened by, had an epiphany about, or otherwise wish to share with the others. Not every man is required to share at each meeting (though there is the expectation that, over time, all men will share with the group). Then the host asks who would like to go first.

When a man shares what he has brought to the group, the other men listen. The point is the opportunity to be heard and to share feelings (“I feel” instead of “I think”). Sometimes the man speaking may not be clear or what is being shared is complex – the other men can occasionally interrupt to ask a question or clarification, but it is important to allow the speaker to continue where HE is going with his stream of thoughts and feelings.

When he has relayed what he brought to the group, if moved to do so, other men can respond. They can speak from their own perspective (“when I feel that way, I . . .” instead of “I think you ought to . . . “). Advice is occasionally requested directly by a man, but it should not be a primary assumption that a man is seeking advice in all cases. Often just being heard is enough.

The man of focus is asked if he is ‘done’ (said all he wished and heard enough responses) – if he is, another man starts his share. It is important that men assess the urgency of other men’s need to share at a given meeting since time may run out. It is also useful of the host can monitor the group to make sure we’re staying on task and not wandering aimlessly and wasting valuable time.

What have men shared? Anything and everything. Residual childhood issues, employment problems, relationship struggles, insecurities, anger, shame, dreams & nightmares, the burden of aging parents, raising children, monetary problems, etc. In all cases, the other men will encourage the man speaking to say how he actually feels about what he is sharing and not just the explanation of events (from which feelings are to be inferred). Each man’s experience of an event is unique, so we try not to make assumptions, but to get to that man’s reality.

What I find most interesting about all of this is learning that other men experience many of the same struggles and challenges that I once thought were mind alone. And some men have significant challenges that dwarf my own in comparison. The perspective provided is enlightening.

We try to make sure and wrap up nicely by 9pm. If one guy really missed sharing something, we might decide to run over or at least make a note to allow him to start off our next meeting. As a ‘close’ to our meeting, we gather in a tight circle, arms on shoulders, looking down at our feet, and chant three ‘ohm’s in unison (the sound and vibration is quite primal and brings us into a sort of synchronicity with each other).

Then its hugs all around, thanking our host, and departing for home.

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Former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Lydon Murtha pulls back the curtain on what he saw and what he’s heard of the relationship between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, from the locker room dynamic to that now-famous O-line trip to Vegas

Playing football is a man’s job, and if there’s any weak link, it gets weeded out. It’s the leaders’ job on the team to take care of it.

Incognito and Martin

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“Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate,” McCain said after the bipartisan deal was announced.

Pryor said that people sometimes like to joke about women in leadership, but he is a huge fan of his female colleagues after watching them negotiate. “The truth is, women in the Senate is a good thing,” he said. “We’re all just glad they allowed us to tag along so we could see how it’s done.”

“The 20 women in the Senate have formed such strong friendships of trust, even though we come from different places, that I’m very hopeful as we go forward with Patty Murray, head of the Budget Committee, Barbara Mikulski, head of Appropriations,” Klobuchar said. “Those relationships are going to make a difference as we get into what matters, which is the long-term budget.”

huffingtonpost.com article & video

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We will be meeting Monday, 2/14, from 7:30-9:30pm
Out topic will be work.
What you do with your time, energy and will is your work. For most of us our work is also what we do to get a paycheck, it’s our career, our day-job.  Our sense of identity is frequently tightly wound up in what we do for work. If we are lucky we find fulfillment and joy in our work. We find meaning, pride and ownership.  We may also struggle with work, feeling stuck, limited, or uninspired. Work may feel like a burden, something we “have to” do, rather than expression of love. We may struggle with what we do and who we feel we are, or the potential we are unable to release. Work may simply be a means to an end.  As men work is perhaps the most single important role definition we struggle with. It is culturally assigned and poorly modeled.
  • What does it mean to work? Are there positive or negative connotations for you?
  • How much of your identity is wrapped up in what you do for work? What other identities do you claim?
  • Is there work you do that isn’t how you make money? How is this different from your “day-job?”
  • What is holding your work back from being rewarding, meaningful and important?
  • If you have work you love, what is it that makes it this way?
  • Where did you learn to work? What values did you adopt around work?
I look forward to meeting with you

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We will be meeting Monday, 1/24, from 7:30-9:30pm
Our theme for the evening will be friendship.
When we were children making friends kind of just happened. We ended up playing with the kids down the street, or the kids who attended our school. It seemed easier to find people who shared our interests, who we liked and they liked us back. These early friendships may have continued into adulthood, where they either maintained or we grew apart. But as we entered the “grown-up world” making new friends, at least for most of us got harder.  We didn’t know how to connect in that wonderfully easy way, to spend hours together just having fun and playing. As adults it’s more complicated. We’ve grown accustomed to our own private preferences, we have stronger opinions, more experience and less time. It’s harder to make shared time with work, family, and relationships. So what does it mean to make and have friends?
  • What has your experience been in keeping and making friends as an adult?
  • What does it mean to be a friend? How to do you meet new ones? Why is it harder?
  • If all these people you know aren’t friends, then what are they? What is the difference?
  • How does introversion and extroversion affect friendships? How does gender? Race?
  • How to be successful in making new friends? How to practice at being a better friend?
I look forward to meeting with you

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