Let Us Not Be a Caravan of Despair


This the first of several blog posts written by contributors to our men’s anthology that update key developments in the authors’ lives since publication of our book in 2011. I will post the other guest blogs during the next few months.

-Jim

This blog post is offered by Rev. Rudy Gelsey.

In the year 2000, my life took a new turn, from being a Unitarian Universalist Minister for some 40 years.  That summer, I experienced a tipping-point when attending an interfaith retreat in the high mountains of New Mexico. At the end, the leader, on the basis of what I shared, commissioned me to become, henceforth, a servant to the people of the planet

Mending Our Broken World book coverIn 2004, I completed my book, Conversations with Sacred Masters: Bringing the World Together. That led me to writing Mending Our Broken World: a Path to Perpetual Peace (MOBW).  MOBW provides a practical guide to help in the formation of a World Federal Union.

The idea for Perpetual Peace Initiative (PPI) came about in 2011-2012 when I led a Jefferson Unitarian Church (JUC) series of monthly study-action groups on war and peace.

We give presentations and we reach out throughout the world to Presidents, Prime Ministers, Political, Religious and Spiritual Leaders to join forces rather than fighting with one another as has been ongoing for hundreds of years.  Presidents of countries that have veto power in the United Nations, as well as ministers of Foreign Affairs and U.N. delegates received our book.

Reading several hundred contemporary books on peace, I noticed they tended to address partial, short-term rather than global, long-range solutions. Today’s issue of bringing about world peace is mostly looked at from the angle of what will benefit this or that country rather than the world community as a whole. My innovative approach is inclusive rather than selective. I also propose religion and spirituality as important foundations for world peace, including 2,800 years of Perennial Philosophy.

This gives us the hope and inspiration to actively participate in helping to create a new spiritual paradigm. Vision, inclusiveness, spiritual depth, and compassion are its most essential building blocks.  If those terms are unfamiliar to you, you can acquaint yourself with the book, MOBW.  It will open your eyes.

Several factors drew me to the specific need for a World Federal Union. Having been a student of history since my youth, I learned of the brutal pattern of wars. Born in Austria, I lived through the horrors of World War II. That, coupled with my life’s work in the ministry, convinced me that the only antidote for perpetual wars is perpetual peace.  In my graduate studies at the University of Geneva, I learned that the federal system was the best political structure for human government, encouraging popular participation.  In 2004, I became totally blind. I continue my pursuits unabated.

As Martin Luther King, Jr., said:  “… all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

Read full story Comments { 0 }

Passionate Warriors for Love

soulful_couples_banner

During our “Secrets of a Soulful Marriage” retreat at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO over Valentine’s weekend, my wife, Ruth, and I invited couples to give themselves playful and/or empowering names. We dubbed ourselves Passionate Warriors for Love, as are intentional in our efforts to give and to receive love and to spread the “good news” (no specific religious connotation).

Love, in its various forms, is probably the most common theme in literature, songs, movies, etc. What does it mean to be an advocate of love and to be a full-on lover? These are quintessential questions, as most of us would agree that love is the primal force that drives the universe. However, differences abound concerning the main ingredients of love. Paradoxically, while love is ubiquitous, it often shows up as mysterious and elusive. Love, in its various forms, is probably the most common theme in literature, songs, movies, etc.

I assert that to truly love your life partner, you must first love yourself, then continually develop spiritual (not necessarily religious) connection and love humanity.

Here are some significant questions regarding love to contemplate, followed by examples of my own responses:

1. What core qualities do I celebrate in myself?  spiritual, compassionate, warm, introspective, inquisitive, creative, playful

2. How can I promote my overall well-being?  become less reactive to stress; eat less sugar

3. What are some ways that I relate well to my wife and others?  listen deeply and empathically; offer verbal affirmation; provide comforting touch; offer a lot of perspective, including through humor and playfulness

4. Which of my patterns do I want/need to reduce or release in my relationships?  express myself more simply; find out what Ruth or my kids are doing before talking while entering a room; better manage my temper

5. How do I serve my beloved?  initiate a wide variety of household chores; earn my share of money; spend a lot of quality time with her; console her when upset and tend to her when sic

6. How do I serve others?  through counseling, coaching, speaking and group facilitation; help Ruth care for our granddaughters at least weekly; kinship leader for my spiritual community in the front range of CO; facilitate meditation classes at our temple; donate money and labor to several charities

7. What are some ways that I could better serve my family and others?  visit with my mom and friends more often; develop more patience; be more generous with money and gifts

8. How forgiving are you of yourself and of those who you feel have wronged you?  better than most people, but not as much as I’d like to be in either case

Although a solid start, this is just a sampling of factors to consider in enhancing your ability to love. You can inquire into other key areas, such as how you manipulate and create barriers to intimacy and regarding your romantic/sexual attitudes and behavior.

Then, what are a couple of specific changes you are willing to adopt this week and this month to elevate your love?  For example, I am currently taking on being less reactive to stress and being more materially generous.

Another glorious paradox:  the more love that you give, the more your love expands!

 

 

Read full story Comments { 0 }

Hooray for Committed Couples!

My wife, Ruth, and I feel so blessed and privileged—and I mean this with all of my heart—to be able to work with couples who are intent about healing and expanding their relationships.

We just returned from facilitating our signature marital enrichment weekend retreat, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage at Sunrise Ranch Conference and Retreat Center, in Loveland, CO. Ruth and I were deeply moved by the sincerity and dedication of each of the participants, which served to create a growing love field and synergy as the weekend progressed. The many forms of diversity, such as ages, length of marriage, cultural backgrounds and occupations, provided vivid color and texture to the group energy, in addition to folks learning a lot from one another.

Dante_Claudia_retreat

I was especially heartened by witnessing two key phenomena:

1) Without exception, the retreat couples repeatedly expressed and demonstrated various ways in which they support their partners’ overall well-being. Beyond the ordinary considerations of daily welfare, they championed each other’s career satisfaction, goal-setting and risk-taking, emotional and spiritual development, etc.

2) Each participant was earnest about becoming a more balanced, integrated person. Traditional gender roles were blurred, as many of the men regularly cook, clean, wash dishes and/or do laundry. An athletic man loves the domestic, caretaking responsibilities of being a stay-at-home dad, while his wife works as a medical doctor. One of the most romantic men in the group is a master craftsman who is passionate about engaging in extreme sports, such as motor cross. Another quiet, gentle guy scales some of the world’s largest mountain peaks. A couple of the sweet, sensitive women are rabid hockey or football fans. A radiant, dynamic woman serves as a massage therapist, yoga instructor and facilitator of shamanic journeys, yet also enjoys intellectual pursuits.

Marriage_Retreat
Ruth and I are thrilled to recount the ways we have observed couples evolve since doing couples’ therapy, teaching marriage seminars and leading marital retreats for nearly four decades. The retreat weekends have become especially powerful and enjoyable for us and for the retreatants. We are facilitating our next one at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico March 28-30.

Read full story Comments { 0 }

A Powerful Little Word

I met with a mid-40’s male client yesterday who tends to be intellectual, philosophical and overly analytical. He recognizes that he can bog down to the point of creating paralysis through analysis.  During our session, “Joe” proudly reported that he had come to realize how much peace he could attain by accepting himself for who he is, being grateful for what he has, and living in the present.

I acknowledged the relief that Joe felt by relinquishing the intense striving that he referred to as “digging like a badger.”  He had been comparing himself to so many people in various ways and kept coming up short in his own eyes. As the old saying goes, he had been trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” and was depleted and depressed from feeling like he was “never enough,” despite persistent efforts.  Contrary to Joe’s self-deprecating perceptions, many who know him and I view him as a kind-hearted, sensitive, spiritual man who is a deep thinker and a very talented artist.
ampersand_symbol_heart

While strongly affirming Joe’s recent decision to embrace himself, his current life and the power/beauty of presence, I offered Joe a “magical” three-letter word:  and. And serves to include, to connect/join; “but” tends to detract and diminish. I suggested that Joe could “have his cake and eat it, too.”  I referenced for Joe a saying that I like: “Wish to be who you are right now.” I essentially added, what if you felt okay about who you are, fine with what you have, and savored each moment, and stretched yourself for the fun of it.?! Play with dreaming and gently challenge yourself to journey toward fulfilling some of those dreams, goals or visions. I offered Joe the opportunity to see life as an adventure and as an exciting set of games or opportunities. Failing in an endeavor does not make him a failure as a person. Joe is already wonderful as he is—he is the cake, merely desiring the icing and cherry on top.

Against my better judgment, I’m choosing to share a corny joke with you that my and message conjured up.  What is God’s name?  Answer: Andy. Andy walks with me; Andy talks with me.

Yes, I can be a cornball, and let’s end on a positive note by considering that the world could use more  “that, and…” in lieu of “yes, but…”

Read full story Comments { 0 }

Football Testosterone

Denver-Broncos-vs.-Seattle-Seahawks

With my home-team Broncos taking the field against the Seahawks in today’s Super Bowl, I ask you, what constitutes an excessive display of fan testosterone? I’d welcome your comments in the below comments box and I’ll publish my favorite responses.

You may simply list, in priority order, the number corresponding with these themes, and/or offer your specific thoughts and feelings.

  1. Attending the “Big Dance,” even when doing so far exceeds your budget
  2. Yelling and cursing while watching the game on TV
  3. Partying hard throughout the game.
  4. Decorating your house, car and/or workplace “to the nines” in your team’s logo and colors
  5. Dressing from head to toe in team paraphernalia and painting your face/hair
  6. Painting your chest and/or back in team colors
  7. Badmouthing your losing team for weeks following a Super Bowl loss

I didn’t bother listing some all-too-obvious items, like brawling at the game or rioting/looting afterwards.

Outlandish, yet realistic responses are definitely welcome.

I’ll confess where I land (and occasionally feel guilty):  definitely #2 and likely #7. In fanatical Broncos land, I regard myself as a relatively tame and sane big fan.

Have fun with this, but please be honest and not overly sensational.

Thanks for checking in.

Enjoy the Broncos’ victory today, along with me.

Read full story Comments { 0 }

New Whole Man Programs

As the founder and organizer of Whole Man Expo, I am very pleased with the programming that we have had the privilege of offering during the past three years for the Front Range of Colorado. We were extremely blessed with numerous high-caliber, dedicated presenters and with so many conscious men and women who participated in the events.

At this juncture, I feel it is time for more consensual planning of future activities that bring together men and women who are devoted to wholeness and to human evolution. On January 25, I met with a preliminary team to brainstorm new possibilities for this year’s offerings. The unanimous vote of the group was to promote one program monthly for a year or so, culminating in a weekend retreat during the spring of 2015. We will meet again in early March, adding a few invited others who were unable to attend the initial meeting.  During the March meeting, we would like to hone in on some specific, diverse events, as well as a new business name (I already have one in mind).

Our group would really welcome your input about topics that you feel would be particularly worthwhile and/or that you would be inclined to attend. Below are general themes, listed in random order, that were suggested by participants yesterday. You can select from this list and/or add some of your own. Feel free to mention a particular topic, or even a catchy title.

  • Communication (especially across genders)
  • Leadership
  • Financial power
  • Building internet businesses
  • Marriage/Family enrichment and parenting skills
  • Hobbies and creative fun
  • Sexual enhancement
  • Spiritual development
  • Nutrition and cooking
  • Increasing one’s Emotional Quotient (EQ)

Please post your feedback in the below comments box. I will be sure to present them at our March meeting. Thank you!

Read full story Comments { 0 }

Taking the Rut out of Routine

 

man_hamster_wheel_lg_nwm1

Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive. ~ Edith Wharton

As the meaning of the word “routine” implies, many daily regimens are a part of daily life:

sleeping, eating, brushing our teeth, relieving our bladder and bowels, dressing and undressing, working—and for some of us, much more. Regularity is helpful in various ways. Routine provides structure, organization and stability. In implementing our familiar activities, we gain a sense of ease and comfort. Many of our set behaviors come to feel like a “soft shoe.”

However, becoming routinized is also fraught with a number of serious downsides. Set patterns and rigid habits can put us in a trance, insidiously robbing us of vitality and spirit. We become prone to falling asleep at the wheel, just going through the motions—at worst, spinning like a rat on a wheel.  The result is that our energy gets depleted, our senses become dulled and we develop “tunnel vision.” Without realizing it, we can look, sound and act jaded or lackluster.  Unwittingly, we limit, often greatly, our inner and outer life experiences. Obsessive-compulsive patterns (OCD) serve to control anxiety, but usually are debilitating and stifle the lifestyle of many OCD sufferers.

The good news is that by focusing on changing just a few habits and routines paves the way for gradually modifying others, just as doing one or two push ups can eventually lead to the ability to do five, then ten…. Here are some simple examples:

  • Change the hand with which you perform an ordinary task, e.g. brushing your teeth, combing/brushing your hair, or dialing phone number.
  • Vary your morning or bedtime rituals a bit.
  • Attune to your body as you take several deep breaths.
  • Occasionally engage in “responsible rule breaking, “ e.g. return from lunch 5-10 minutes late.
  • Eat slower and savor your food in the process.
  • Alter your touch and patterns in sensual and/or sexual lovemaking.

As you develop fluidity with habit change, you acquire deeper awareness of yourself and greater presence with other people and your environment.  New neural pathways may even develop! You are likely to experience a wider range of feelings and your bandwidth of colors, tones, etc. may increase, leading to more alacrity.  Gradually, you become more open to new new realizations, trying some different activities, and more tolerant of people. Another predictable byproduct, especially if you remain receptive and very patient, is a greater state of happiness.

Hut, hut, drop the rut!

Read full story Comments Off

Big Boys Do Cry!

Knowshon Moreno Sports Illustrated Cover. Photo from nfl.si.com.

Knowshon Moreno Sports Illustrated Cover. Photo from nfl.si.com.

 

At the end of their 1962 hit song Big Girls Don’t Cry, the Four Seasons concluded that big girls do cry. So do big boys and grown men!

I was very pleased to see that Sports Illustrated magazine ran a cover story about Denver Broncos’ top running back Knowshon Moreno in its January 13, 2014 issue: “The Truth Behind a Bronco’s Tears.”

Moreno’s two conspicuous streams that gushed from his eyes as the Star Spangled Banner was sung at the start of the Dec. 1, 2014 game in Kansas City soon became a huge topic of conversation that swept the nation. For example, in addition to being aired live, Moreno’s emotional display was shown that night on Sports Center and was tweeted ad nausea. Many of his teammates taunted him about his prolific release of moisture.

During his Sports Illustrated interview, Moreno volunteered that he has often become choked up or cried during the playing of the national anthem as far back as high school. Amidst the stillness during the singing, he takes the opportunity to express thanks to the Lord for “letting me play the game and for everything.” He typically gets emotionally stirred by his prayers.

Moreno’s life has been a Horatio Alger story, in which a poor boy from New York City and New Jersey became a star running back at the University of Georgia and ultimately attained success in the National Football League (NFL). In his youth, Knowshon was shuffled from home to home, sometimes weekly, and at times was homeless.

For me, Moreno exhibits some qualities of a balanced or “whole” man.  He manifests a noble range of deep sensitivity and humble gratitude to tough, hard-nosed performances as a professional football player. He demonstrated a positive attitude and persistence during his first few years with the Broncos, during which he was often considered a “bust” and scoffed at with derogatory names like “No Show” Moreno (including by me). Relegated to the Broncos’ practice squad for a number of games last year, he accepted his situation and worked very hard to receive a chance to redeem himself.  Since the latter part of the 2012 season and throughout the current one, Moreno has risen to be regarded as an integral part of the Broncos’ consecutive division-winning teams. During one game this year, he carried the ball a rare and punishing 37 times.

I celebrate that Knowshon’s tears were prominent enough to gain him national attention. Even in this era, our country needs role models of tender-hearted, yet strong men, especially in the ranks of the super-macho NFL. Cry on, Knowshon—you have won my admiration and respect, along with that of numerous fans and witnesses.

Read full story Comments Off

Committed Couples New Year Delights

couple-talking

Our goal-oriented culture instructs us to compose a substantial list of New Year’s resolutions at the start of each year.  Often, we accept the challenge with gusto and conviction, yet soon abandon much or most of the goals that we declare worthy of achieving. Rarely are committed couples encouraged to collaborate on joint resolutions.

My wife Ruth and I, who have been married 43 years and serve as couples therapists and coaches, really enjoy and recommend the periodic practice of partners asking each other “What would delight you?” It’s fun and stimulating to spontaneously brainstorm a bunch of responses to that very upbeat question. What’s then practical/realistic is to select and focus on just one or two of those items for the week, month and year.

Some of your proposals can be simple—they need not be challenging, time-consuming, costly, and so forth. You could also consider negotiating a quid pro quo exchange: “I’ll do this if you’ll do that.” The key is to have fun and to remain lighthearted and excited during the process, rather than being demanding or manipulative with your desires. As your endorphins are activated, feel the sensations in your body that emanate from inquiring into the positive/joyful possibilities.

Here is a sample of our recent proposals, some of which we have already acted upon:

  • Play Scrabble (We hadn’t played each other for awhile.)
  • Fulfill a sexual fantasy
  • Attend a vision-building program together
  • Find venues and media sources to promote our book, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage, which will be released by Skylight Paths Publishing Co. this spring.

The only one of these items that we readily agreed on was playing Scrabble. The others required some discussion and compromise. For example, Ruth wanted me to attend all three days of the vision-building event with her, but I only got on board to devote one day to it.

Several examples of areas that you might consider discussing are:

  • Special expenditures, such as travel, a new house or car
  • Recreation
  • Cuisine:  your own cooking and/or restaurant choices
  • Events:  concerts, plays, seminars

Enjoy and value the process!

Ruth and I wish you a very soulful new year—one full of vibrancy and love.

Read full story Comments Off

New Year Resolve

smart-goals

Firstly, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Wishing each of you a deeply fulfilling 2014, replete with a strong balance of loving give and take, in vibrant health. Thank you so much for reading my blog posts this past year; I hope that you have derived value from them.

I’d like to offer several keys for effectively working with your intentions and goals for the new year. Common practice involves cranking out a list of resolutions, taking on a few favorable activities for a short time, then abandoning the bulk of the goals. Each January, many guys who regularly work out at the gym joke about the onrush of new raring-to-go exercisers who virtually disappear from the gym by February.
someone writing

Here are my suggestions for increased satisfaction and success with approaching your formulated objectives:

  • For starters, just choose one or two character traits or attitudes and 1-2 behaviors to focus on improving during January. Write your goals and specifically how you plan to progress toward them. Ask at least one person to hold you accountable for your efforts. Acknowledge your daily accomplishments and perhaps reward yourself on a weekly basis. Doing so will “jump start” you.
  • Do essentially the same each month, building slightly on an incomplete goal or project, and deciding whether to take on just one additional focus for that month. Again, this allows you to progress in manageable chunks.
  • During the course of the year, consider taking on some brand new mindsets and activities that will “round you out” and add spice to your life. Some of these may feel like a “lark;” others will take you out of your comfort zone and involve a measure of risk.
  • Certain regular practices have proven very conducive for empowering success. These include daily review of written goals; nightly journaling of results from the day; visualizing further accomplishments; prayer; and requesting support from trusted others.

As you go through the year, continually strive to place your gains, however small, in the forefront of your attention and let your mistakes or shortcomings recede into the background. If you find yourself making great strides on many of your goals, you might decide to challenge yourself to “go bigger.” Conversely, you may elect to take some resolutions off of your “plate,” without chastising yourself in the process.

HAPPY GROWING in the service of yourself and of the numerous people you will interact with, impact, or “touch” this coming year.

I look forward to continuing to build our relationship and to remaining in communication during 2014.

 

Read full story Comments Off