The Men I Know: A Highly Unusual Men’s Group

I form groups, I just do. And I do it well.

I connect people who don’t know each other yet, but upon meeting feel as if they’ve known each other for years.

Sometimes it’s just organic in nature, but here’s how it typically works: I get to know someone really well through my work with them – I hear them discover and share what matters most to them, what they are longing for, and where they are confused, scared, and feeling alone. They are vulnerable with me, telling me things they have never given voice to before – not even to themselves, let alone another person.

From where I sit, having heard similar stories, feelings, longings from many other clients, I know they are not alone. So as the opportunity presents itself, my one-on-one work with people begins to evolve into experiences I offer that connect those people I know. Generally, those people – and the audience for which I design experiences – are women.

The Men I KnowBut more recently, the men I know have been be asking for them, too.

I’ve been waiting for years for someone – a man – in my community to offer up an experience I’m envisioning for men.

But I’m tired of waiting. So I’m just going to do it.

Which, admittedly, is highly unusual: for a woman to design and facilitate a men’s group. But there it is. I tend to be highly unusual, myself, so maybe it’s a good fit.

Because here’s why: The men I know tend not to fit or be drawn to traditional men’s experiences. The gatherings of men they hear about tend to fall into two categories – either the new-age, spiritual realm or the therapeutic, healing realm. Neither of those seems to fit the bill for the men I know. But yet they are still craving connection, community, and kindred spirits that “get them” and share their similar desire to discuss and explore life and what matters most to them now – at this age and stage of life.

The men I know:

  • Are comfortable being a man, but are craving more substantive connections with other men (kind of like the conversations they have with women) – something beyond sports, work or drinking.
  • Have a tremendous amount of respect for and easily relate to women – many of them are in loving and vibrant relationships, are proud fathers to daughters, fiercely loyal brothers, or recognize the strength of the women who raised them.
  • Are established and accomplished professionally, but are interested in fostering the other parts of their lives (the life beyond work)
  • Are increasingly hungry for some new male friends.
  • Know a woman – or many – who has participated in one – or many – of my experiences and is craving something like that for men.
  • Like to laugh, mix it up, and be irreverent.
  • Have really full and busy lives, sometimes feeling like they are rushing from one obligation and responsibility to another, like their life is too often about a schedule or a routine.
  • Are seeking some inspiration, fresh perspective, or wanting some intellectual stimulation…but don’t want to go to church, back to school, or join a drumming circle.
  • Are happy, successful and relatively content…but also want to stay awake to their own life and continue to explore beyond – or deepen – their current experience of life.

Those are the men I know. And from where I sit, they want to meet each other.

So this fall, I will be running a five-month circle experience for men. It will be designed with the same intention and spirit as my women’s circle, but with the men I know in mind. That is to say, this group will be gathering one evening a month, beginning in November 2014, and will be running throughout the dark of the winter, wrapping up in March 2015. The group will consist of five to eight men that I know – either by direct work experience or through referral, but screened to ensure a solid fit with the group that is forming. I will facilitate the group and will be compiling relevant themes and resources we’ll be using as springboards for our monthly conversations.

Details, monthly themes and exact dates are listed below. Men who register for this circle are asked to commit to the entire five-month experience (signing up for a singular month is not an option.)

November 12, 2014
Stoking The Fire: Taking Stock

This first gathering will be about doing a metaphorical stop, drop and roll individually and collectively as a group of men as a means to lay the foundation and prepare for this five-month journey. Beyond setting the context and going over the logistics of how we’ll come together each month, we’ll make space for you to share what drew you to this experience, why it feels relevant to where you are now in your life, and what you are seeking as a result. In doing so, we’ll also acknowledge that this experience might be new, unusual – even awkward – and explore why that is for men, and discuss ways you can customize this experience to have it feel more comfortable and of service relative to who you are and what you need.

December 10, 2014
Brotherhood: Being A Man Among Men

At some point in your life, you were indoctrinated into the world of men and taught – sometimes overtly, often by suggestion – what that entails and what is expected of you. Given the pace with which our society moves, there isn’t often an opportunity to consider those lessons and see if they align with what is true for you, which can contribute to a sense of isolation, confusion, and even shame among men. This month, we will take that time, chewing on and digesting different (sometimes conflicting) perspectives of what “being a man” means in today’s society and how that intersects with our notions of how the masculine/feminine energies present in all of us are held and expressed. We’ll move that conversation beyond the lens of the individual, and look at how your life experiences as men shape and inform your relationship with other men and how that impacts men’s sense of community, friendships and brotherhood.

January 7, 2015
Outlets: Plugging Into What Feeds You

This month we’ll be exploring the topic of balance and how you stay whole in the context of all the competing and never-ending demands of a full life. We’ll acknowledge the “broad shoulders” of men that can grow exponentially out of a sense of responsibility, providing for a family, being of service in the community, a steward of the earth, and a productive member of society. We’ll recognize the depletion of the mind-body-spirit that can come from over-use and the sense of isolation that can occur as a result, looking what you desire that might provide on-going restoration, fulfillment and wholeness. Rather than fixing a problem or seeking to solve an impossible puzzle that has you pitting one side of your life against another, we’ll clarify more clearly what you’re hungry for and explore alternate perspectives on holding seemingly conflicting demands that allow for a more integrated life.

February 4, 2015
Something More: Looking Beyond What Is

There are chapters and moments in life where we can so easily get lulled to sleep by our lives – our routines, our daily schedules, our tasks and sense of accomplishment at the end of a day, month, quarter, year – especially when time seems to blur, moving faster and faster. Resting on the assumption that a basic human desire is to be fully awake and alive to the presence of life, this fourth gathering will have you look at the arc of your life from the lens of what matters most, the legacy you will leave, and your desire to have an impact. While acknowledging those chronic factors that can contribute to settling, numbing, or dumbing down our passion, dreams and drives, this conversation will invite you to root around, unearth, and give voice to your deepest desires and inklings for something more – even if they are vague, half-baked notions, or feel ludicrous or far-flung. This conversation will seek to illuminate the seeds that will grow into your answer to that universal question: “what’s next?”

March 4, 2015
Everyday Embers: Living With Intention

As the final gathering in this series, this discussion will ask you to reflect on your insights, awareness and experiences – inside and outside the group – over the past five months, distilling the most relevant parts you want to pocket and take with you into this next chapter of your life. As we seek to gain closure from this experience, we’ll open up possibilities for you – individually and as a group – to maintain consciousness and connection to what you accessed through this experience. Embedded in this final group conversation is an invitation to further commit to yourself as a man – clarifying what that means, why it’s important, and what it might look like – so that your connection to yourself and others will grow beyond the scope of this men’s circle.

Logistics & Cost

Meets Wednesday evenings on the dates listed above at SheChanges in Portland, Maine
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $550 for series of five circles (yes, monthly payment options are available)

This group is nearly full, but there still might be room for you or someone else you know if he is a good fit. For more specifics about how the circle is run and what you can expect contact Lael.