Time has gone so quickly. As I step into the new year of 2014, I am aware that I am now 50 years old and that I have been working in men’s work for 20 years. I feel that this milestone needs some words – and a good cake – to celebrate this moment. The young boy in me loves to eat cake and I love to bake for him and stay in touch with this side of my nature.
Where did it all start? It all started back in 1993, after a group of men, including myself, decided to start a men’s group in Hobart, Tasmania, where I was living at the time. This group of seven men connected after attending a spiritual retreat together. We met every Tuesday evening for about two years. We met in a church hall belonging to the the All Saint’s Church – so we became the All Saints – a wonderful name for a men’s group.
Now, 20 years later, I can look back on that time as a time of new beginnings and insights into the wide world of men’s work and often reflect upon my own fears, challenges, struggles and naivety during that time. It was a time of exploring my own relationship to myself and to men and to what it meant to be in relationship with my wife and other people. I had three children at the time (now I have six) and I was trying to get a deeper sense of what life was all about. Steve Biddulph’s book – Manhood was hot off the press and men’s groups were popping up all over Australia and in other countries around he world.
The men in the group were from different walks of life, in terms of their social, educational, political and spiritual/religious beliefs and connections; each one walking their unique path in the world. Acknowledging and honouring our differences and learning to work with all of our different temperaments and personalities was an interesting journey. Learning to sit and listen, speak our truth, share our vulnerabilities, step into our doubts and fears and committing to meet each week was not always easy and yet we managed to do this for over two years. Some meetings were pretty layed back and easy going whilst others were, from my perspective at least, sometimes terrifying or very profound.
One of the biggest learning’s and gifts that I received from being part of the All Saints Men’s Group was allowing myself to be honoured by the other men and to honour myself in a new way. Allowing this honouring into my Soul has helped me to stand in my power and truth on many occasions when I have felt challenged in this area of my life. Being a facilitator of men’s groups is by no means an easy task, especially when the men choose, or are directed to go beyond being just a chat and share group. Had I not integrated this honouring into my being, I certainly would have given up this work (read – run away) years ago. Dealing with people’s reactions, judgements, projections, anger, rudeness, fears, doubts, whingeing, lateness, lack of commitment, lack of communication and a myriad of other things, is not always so easy when sitting in the position of a facilitator, and sometimes it takes a good deal of self-honouring and self-control to be able to sit in a space and experience this.
Right now, with this experience behind me, I am in a wonderful and fortunate position of being able to see and recognize where most men are in terms of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual journey as a man. This helps me to support and guide, and even positively challenge them in this work and to be an effective and clear facilitator. I love my men’s work and love to experience men stepping in and challenging themselves to grow and expand; this is a big part of why I do this work – this is what feeds and fills my Soul.
I remember one man, who was part of a group that I was running, turning up having never been to a men’s meeting before and breaking down in tears in the first five minutes. He was so overwhelmed with the energy and safety of the group that he let himself go and release years of pent up emotion. These moments are precious and very special for all men who get to witness such moments and it never ceases to amaze me how often and how easily men fall into their emotions once a safe and held space is created. It is a very empowering and sacred space – hence the names I use – Empowering Men and Sacred Men’s Circles.
After sitting in circle with hundreds of men around the world in different settings and feeling the need for much more of this work to happen in the world, I have made a decision to expand and deepen my men’s work and I look forward to meeting up with and working with many more men around the world. I know from my own experience and from hearing what others have to say about this work, that it not only helps the men who attend, but also helps their partners, children, families and communities.
Finally I would like to extend my gratitude and deep thanks to all the men who have chosen to sit in circle with me – it is always a privilege and honour for me and I do not take the position of being a men’s group facilitator lightly, as I know that it often takes a certain amount of trust and courage for men to allow themselves to be guided and challenged by another man.
Please take a moment to help me celebrate my 20 years of men’s work and perhaps even take the time out to make a cake from the recipe below and share it with other men (and women) in honour of all the men’s work happening around the world.
Ingredients: 3 eggs, 150 grams of sugar, 200 grams of self-raising flour, 150 grams of butter, 50 grams of grated chocolate, 30 grams of cocoa powder, few drops of vanilla essence, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 100ml of milk.
Method: Mix 150 grams of softened butter with the sugar and eggs and beat until creamy. Add grated chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla essence, cocoa powder and flour and milk into a bowl and mix until creamy and smooth.
The icing mixture is made with 75 grams of icing sugar, 50 grams of butter, a few drops of vanilla essence and 20 grams of cocoa powder. Mix it all together until smooth and creamy. Add to top and middle of cake after cake is cool. (You will have to cut the cake in half to add mixture to middle!).
To bake: Put cake mixture into a greased or lined cake tin (approx 20cms wide) and bake for approx 33-45 minutes at approx 190 C. All ovens are different so adapt to how yours works for you.
For more info on Adrian’s men’s work go to: www.EmpoweringMen.org