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A New Mexico Men's Page!


Umberto Eco said, "Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth and to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth."

Men’s Weekend
September 20th to 22nd
    Once again (this is our 9th I think) we will gather on Friday (the 20th) for an evening meal and then go into the kiva for drumming and our getting-to-know-you and opening ceremony.
We’ll talk about what shape Saturday will take too.
    Saturday we will Greet-the-sun, have breakfast, and begin our “work” day. I DO have at least one topic in mind.
    What I would like to happen is that each of you come up with a “topic” and we will select a few to work with. (one year we talked about our relationships with our dads….that one never ebbs).
    I’m in favor of a Power-Dance workshop as usual unless we would rather not. We will work with the Tarot and Intuition and will do a no-sweat Saturday evening. (Problem with an actual sweat is that it takes too much time away from work in the kiva….setting up, doing and then cleaning up.)
    Sunday we will tie up loose ends (if there are any) and do a Give-Away and a closing ceremony. Probably done by 1 for you plane catchers. After that we will all go out for a meal at a local (gourmet) diner (not Denny’s or Sonic).
    (Hope you plane-catchers will allow space to join us, it’s another good “wrap-up” opportunity.)
         This is a camp-out experience though there are alternatives.
There is a new four story motel (Comfort Inn) in Edgewood (13 miles south of us) and there’s a B & B in Cedar Crest, (about the same distance).
There’s plenty of space in the kiva too, as long as you have sleeping “stuff”. (We have a couple of sleeping bags and plenty of pads as well in case you’re traveling light.)
     All meals (Friday through Sunday morning) are provided.
    Bring something for the Give-Away ceremony….it should have some intrinsic value but most importantly, have special meaning and history for you. You will place it on the Give-Away blanket and when it is selected by someone be sure to pass its story along with it.
    Cost: $175.00 (+ any donations you’d like to make….and if you’re “strapped” for cash, don’t worry about it.)

Questions? Email––coyotecall@spiritpath.net or coyteshere@gmail.com
Or call: 505 281 4824

Men's Health!
(Mine anyway)

    I was about to pull this piece off when I got a message from Jack Hebrank, a fellow TURPer (see below) who told me it was good info. for a friend who had just gone through the procedure. So here it stays along with latest up-dates. c

    The “lessons” began with this question, Why is there blood in my urine? (This is what I was asking myself as I peed into the toilet.) and that question subsequently led into all kinds of exploratory adventures which included a decision to accept a bit of doc ordered intervention, which I initially refused to buy into.       

    “You’ll need to wear a catheter and a bag for four weeks.” (This determination was made by the young doc at the Urology Clinic in Albuquerque after an exam showed that I am a urine retainer and at that moment had two liters of urine in my savings account bladder. Not good.)
    “I’m not doing that doc. I’ve done it once before and it was an infection producing nightmare.” (This happened years ago, maybe seven, when I wore a VA provided cath & bag for 14 days.) “I’ll just cath myself (not a fun experience) a few times a week.” Uh-huh. (This ego declaration shows how much I knew about how my body works urine-wise. Five times a day is usual.)
    This response produced a bit of a tussle but she gave up and sent her assistant in with the lethal looking self-cath equipment, a handful of hard plastic rods.    
    However while she was out of the room Elizabeth and I talked it over calmly and came to the conclusion that I would, in reality, probably avoid doing my self-inflicted torture and should probably give the bag a shot for right now.

    This made the doc happy, I guess, but not me. Wearing a cath and a bag is, even if temporary, a life changing experience. One must wear a bag strapped to a leg into which urine that would usually go into the bladder drains into an external bag…..all the time.
    At bed time the leg bag comes off and you then hook yourself up to a larger “floor” bag via a three foot tube and you drain into that all night. Next morning, detach from the floor bag, which is full with about 28 ounces, and hook back up to the leg bag. Fitful sleep is normal, intermittent stabs in the head of the penis, something like a sudden needle attack, is also "normal" under these conditions. So is blood, both in the bag and on the tube and around the head of the penis…and down the leg. And there is that constant awareness that there is a tube inside of a very delicate place. Yes, it hurts now and then when you least expect it but mainly I try to describe this as “discomfort” so as not to feed my hysterical self.

    The doc also turned her nose up at a medication I’ve been taking for twenty plus years for this prostate enlargement condition (Terazosin) and offered this other stuff (Rapidflow). Well why not I thought, though I got an intuitive hit (it may have just been a suspicion) that she had been sold on it by a drug pusher.    
    When I checked it out on the Net the consensus was that there was not a dimes worth of difference between the two except for one thing, the one she was boosting cost five times as much! A three month supply of Terazosin runs about $50 max. Same amount of the new stuff? $245.

    On to the “more to learn” part.
    Did I mention my fear-and-panic response to all this?
    Oops! Left that out.
    Initially I thought, “Probably a UTI.” And stayed relatively calm with that idea in mind. But the culture turned out negative, NOT a UTI. Decidedly bad news. Immediately did some research on all other possibilities, most of them quite bad and having a big “C” attached to them. Anxiety mode ensued.
    By the way, I’ve had this tendency to store urine for quite some time, maybe for the same twenty plus I’ve been on the Terazosin. In all that time I’ve had TWO UTI’s. One caused by the V.A. cath, the other by––––well who knows, maybe the swamp of stored urine, but it also seems that I must be regularly draining and replacing the urine in the swamp ‘cause it hadn’t been causing much of a problem……up to now. (If that indeed WAS the problem.)
    With all the onrushing darkness created by my imagination over this issue there was one small beam of light. Because each liter of urine weighs two pounds I lost four pounds (and a few inches in waist measurement) in about ten minutes. I don’t recommend this approach for weight loss but it was, “one small light”.
    Two days after the cath & bag initiation while in the midst of dinner, I realized something about my character. For quite some time now while eating, especially for the first bite of food, I experienced almost choking on the first mouthful. I thought maybe I had some kind of blockage in my throat or maybe a bubble of air I had trapped somehow. Sometimes I felt I was strangling. That day I realized what it was, I would take a bite of food, and before I got it down my gullet I had already taken another bite and it was in my mouth and on its way down following the first. I was gulping my food. I had no idea I was doing this. I mean I did notice I was usually the first to finish a meal but I thought that was because I am a light eater. But on checking this out with Elizabeth she said she had noticed that, “You do eat fast.” I then determined to slow way down, take a bite and put the fork down and wait till I had swallowed it before picking up the next forkful.
    But this wasn’t just about a bad eating habit, which is why I’ve brought it up, this was something I did with all of life, rushing ahead with a current experience barely digested to begin biting into the next. I did it in conversations, I was a “quick-wit” after all, with arguments (jumping to conclusions before all the facts were presented) with all kinds of life experiences. A let’s-get-this-over-so-we-can-move-on sort of thing. And now this, I was, without any further information, already making assumptions about my inevitable slow and painful death because of my fear-based leaping ahead.
    Note: Pause here and join me in a leapfrog into the present (all the above was written at the onset of “the problem” which would be June-July of '17. I am writing this now two and one half months later.) I have now returned to the care of the V.A. because we could see that any further pursuit of this thing with the Albuquerque clinic was going to run into Big Money. I get free care at the V.A.

    Before I get into what has most recently transpired I should mention that when this scary stuff first showed up Elizabeth talked me into seeing a “Chinese Medicine” practitioner, an herbalist actually, and we started down the path of “alternative medicine” which, I determined, we would use in conjunction with whatever the V.A. came up with. I now have a regime of eight different bottles of pills most of which I take two of three times a day. Are they making a difference? To date I’ve noticed no change in anything…however, I am assured, this approach takes time and one must, as all Chinese philosophy teaches, be patient.
    So, I persist, adding to the pill intake another version of Terazosin called Tamulosin, which doesn’t have the side effect of lowering blood pressure, and a small blue pill, Finasteride, which promises to shrink my prostate (someday), the possible culprit in both urine retention and the inability to pee.
    Oh! Did I not mention that? Yes, as a result of any number of things, maybe the in-dwelling cath, maybe just more swelling of the prostate, I haven’t been able to pee since June. This has resulted in the necessity of the “ceremony” of self-cathing. This is not the same kind of ceremony as flossing. This involves a far more elaborate dance–––––and a good deal of relaxation and concentration. Oh, and SLOWING way down.

    The tube, about one eighth in diameter and a 18” long, must be inserted in the penis and (slowly) fed through the urater into the bladder. This must be done at least five times a day. One of those times usually occurs around 2 or 3 AM because our bladders are filling all night long and should be emptied before max capacity is reached. (That, in an average male bladder, is about 18 ounces. I had been retaining as much as 32 ounces.) After awhile you just learn how to do this thing and develop a tolerance for the whole routine. BUT! Care must always be taken lest you contract a UTI. (Which, it seems, is almost inevitable given the number of times you are being invasive and the pervasive existence of germs in the environment. So, now and then a course of anti-biotic is necessary.)
    This brings up the choice between just keeping the in-dwelling cath going or getting it out and selecting self-cathing. Each has its pluses and minuses. In-dwelling means you don’t have to get up at 2 AM, and don’t have to go through the “ceremony” five times (or so) a day.
    (Research says that in-dwelling causes more UTI opportunities than self-cathing. I found this to be true. In 5 months of self-cathing, 5 times a day on average, I had one UTI.
    Self-cathing sets you free of a bag-on-the-leg all day long and a 3’ tube connecting you to a bag at night, which means you can only sleep on your back and one side.
    Some choice.
    By the way, the Finasteride could begin to solve the problem of a swollen prostate so I could pee on my own without resorting to surgery. (more on this later) BUT! It takes up to 6 MONTHS to begin to work. (I thought the Chinese stuff was slow.)
    In the meantime at the V.A. I’ve been through a cystoscope procedure, that’s the camera in the penis and into the bladder, which discovered two “lesions”, these can also be called “tumors” but this word conjures up more demons than the former so should not be uttered by the attending doc……but is…..and was.
    These were small and seemingly benign. But they had to be biopsied and the site cauterized by a procedure called a TURPIB. (Trans-urethral-resection-in-bladder.) This happens under general anesthesia and is not fun. The procedure itself is painless, the recovery is a bit of a challenge….another in-dwelling cath for about four days, blood-in-the-urine, general discomfort as recovery from major surgery can be, for about five days.
    A C.T. Scan was also undergone and this was good news at least. No cancer in my kidneys or associated structures. (A little easy breathing took place here.)
    Assuming that the biopsy turned up nothing threatening, we still had to deal with the inability to pee….and after talking to a friend who has been through some of this, my PSA was, and has been, about 4.7 for years, his was 20! He underwent the TURP (Trans-urethral-resection of the Prostate) and he swears by it.
    I am now, if there are no other problems to deal with, on that road.
    So! Attention all men reading this
(and the partners who support them). Men are big into one really bad habit; denial. I have men in my men’s group who are getting up three and four times a night and are not dealing with what this means. This is a “sign”, and not a magical one. This is a swollen prostate! And as you age, you will have to deal with it. Maybe not as intensively as I am having to but odds are you may indeed be on the same track if you live long enough. Men over 65 have an 80% chance of wrestling with all of this. My advice, catch it early before you’re holding an 18” tube in your hand and fearing the worst.

    Post biopsy of bladder “lesions”,  “High-grade Papillary with no invasion”, meaning they didn’t grow through the wall of the bladder. (that’s the good news). Also good news, they got it all. Bad news? This stuff has a tendency to come back. Treatment to prevent this, or at least postpone it is radical (of course). But not quite as bad as traditional chemo. Now it’s about a 90 day wait till the next look into the bladder to see if it has indeed come back, at which time this option may be put into play.

    Scary of course….BUT! I could claim at this point that I was cancer free. Have to be checked out every three months for a year to really be "cancer free", but catching it early is really not a huge problem. Yes, it's a surgical procedure but better than chemo.
    Dec 5th up-date: The follow up procedure on the 16th of November showed no return of cancer! (We celebrated!) AND, all "labs" show signs of very good health (we celebrated some more!) AND....now it was on to the next step.
    In order to be able to pee normally there had to be a reduction of the size of the prostate. Medication can shrink a prostate (Finasteride) but it takes 6 MONTHS to work, IF it works. I was into month 5 and no signs of improvement. Even if it can work you have to stay on this med for life. It DOES have side effects but nothing horrible.....lowered sex drive, yes even lower than the natural age related lowering, and there are some others.....and maybe have to continue some cathing.    
    The surgical intervention, the TURP, a kind of rotor-rooter of the prostate, works very well, according to a friend who has had one, and according to all the research we've done. So we decided, that would be next.

    The operation took place on the 7th (the "Day that would live in infamy!" but not for me).....and it's recovery time now. That means a few days of wearing an "in-dwelling" catheter (again).....not a lot of fun, but endurable, and a wait to see if all will work normally upon its removal.
    We pray.

December 12th up-date: Today the "in-dwelling" cath came out and I have, for the first time since June, been able to pee on my own! And for the first time in almost 50 years, this prostate problem will no longer be a nagging presence in my life! More to come....what a physical AND spiritual journey it has been. (and continues to be.)

December 26th up-date: I'm about through writing about this (thank God) at least I THINK I am. Everything is working according to plan. Had a (minor) set back last week, temp rise, chills, major vomiting for about 20 minutes. All of that passed in three days. Went to the VA today to submit a "sample" to make sure this wasn't some response to an infection (post-op). It's rare but can happen. Now, if all's well in that regard (won't know for two days) then a "follow-up" on the 6th. Then nothing till March when we check to make sure cancer has not returned. (If so, another surgery. If not, another 3 month wait.) So far so good. Looking forward to wiping this page out of my life.

February 4th up-date: My "follow-up" with the V.A. was an appointment with the doc who did the deed (the TURP) and he said; "You're the 'Poster-child' for this procedure!" in other words (though I liked the "child" part) I'm through it! No more pills, Chinese or otherwise. I'm chipping the porcelain, as we used to say in our 20's, (at least SOME guys said this) and good to go. (in every sense) Next is the cancer check in March, but that seems minor right now. We're giving thanks.

    March 9th up-date: No cancer! I am NOT a cancer "provider". Despite the fact that a "High-grade" tumor has a 50-70% potential for a return, mine has not come back. So it appears that, as we suspected ("we" being Eliz and I) those tumors were caused by long-term urine retention. My next check will be in July, one year after this whole journey began, and after that? Well, maybe a yearly look-see.
I can't tell you how grateful I am for, first of all, that blood in my urine which led, ultimately, to that look inside my bladder. Without that intervention I would not have known there was anything going on that had to be treated. And! how greatful I am for ALL the medical people who kept at me to do the right thing and not avoid the list of "discomforts" (which I am prone to do). AND! for all the support, prayers and cheer leading from all the community I am surrounded by....and of course, for my long suffering and wonderful wife who was always there to support (and help empty the "bag"). And for all the (super-natural) aid from my spirit guides who kept me from going off the deep end with my tendency to become hysterical with fear. What a journey!
    May 14th: No medical up-date yet, just to say all's well in every way to date. Nice to be off ALL meds.....oh! and no pain, NONE! (In case anyone out there is worried about that.)
    May 15th: ....and what about sex? Alright, here are the FACTS about it......well, MY "facts" at least. Since the prostate has been virtually done away with as a "pump", no ejaculate will surge up the "tube". Right; nothing will come out of the penis. So that sensation is over. BUT! the electronics still work. i.e. there IS an orgasm, and it's very fine (as usual) whether or not any kind of erection is achieved. Can you live with this? Well I can, I don't know if you will accept this as enough. But the trade-off is really not that big a deal (again, this is MY perspective). I can pee and I don't have to take ANY meds to achieve that....and sex at my age (83) isn't high on my agenda of life pleasures any more.....still good, just not as important as a great relationship, my health, and an overall happy life. If you have come to that place, or would like to get there, then work on that and the sex in your relationship will fall into a "natural" place in the line-up. The TURP procedure has relieved a huge amount of pressure and given me, and us, a better quality of life.
    Of course it's VERY important that you and your sexual partner talk about all of this, about your  abilities and lack thereof. That way you will BOTH find support for each other. (Check out, Making Love Again. It's about having sex after a medical procedure that may have compromised "performance".)
    So; the best outcome? A mutually loving and supportive relationship, one that is the manifestation of that promise you made in the wedding vows (if you made them) "....in sickness and in health..." (if you didn't make that promise do it now, it's time).....this will create a fine outcome indeed....and an occasional good-enough orgasm is frosting on that cake.
    July 17th, latest cystoscope shows NO CANCER! (Scheduled for every 4 months now.) All's going well, even getting improvements in erections, nothing "huge" mind you, gotta be realistic here, but, as the saying goes; "Good enough!"
    November 8th. Latest cystoscope, again no cancer in the bladder BUT "something" in the wall of the tube that is close to, passes through, what's left of the prostate. Docs say they want a look at it and probably do a biopsy. So, it's back under the "knife" as of December 11th and now praying for a good outcome. No physical symptoms, but we DO have to look. (sigh) No, I don't want to go through any of this again...but better to catch something early if there's ANYTHING going on.
    December 12th. So the "something" was removed yesterday along with a general "clean-up" of the TURP (seems there were some "ragged edges" he didn't like and the prostate might have had some new growth. All would have been well if it weren't for the fact that I now have to wear a "bag" for a couple of days, not a big deal but not fun either. The worst part however is the recovery from the anesthesia. Hiccups set in in the Recovery Room and would not stop.The only respite happened for a time after a severe vomiting episode in the car on the way home which caused me to go into shock. We may all laught when we hear about hiccup "episodes" but believe me, this is no laughing matter. (At least I didn't find any levity in it). The "respite" was short-lived and they returned for the rest of the day and evening till at 7:30 we decided to get to the ER at the VA (an hour trip). Just as we got to the door, they stopped. So we turned around and went back home. They resumed at 9:30 but I determined I'd just tough it out till morning and then go back to the VA. As I lay down on my side..they stopped....finally, and as of today have not returned. If I EVER have to do this again I'll opt for the "nerve-block". Bag gets pulled out Friday. And of course we hope for the best re. the biop.
    December 13th, Requested and got in early (actually, full disclosure here) prayed there would be a cancellation today 'cause I was experiencing irritation from the cath. Prayers ended, phone rang, doc said "Can you get in here in the next two hours?" We flew to the VA, had the cath removed, completed the pee test successfully and got the biop news; "No cancer!" (Free at last.) Next appointment to check it all out; March. All along I was assured by my own sprit guides (or supporters) that there was no cancer. Of course as usual I made this into a test of faith. I try to avoid doing this but...it always goes like this, "Maybe I'm just wishful thinking......." etc., etc. Doubt is a never ending presence in my life.....probably in yours too huh?
    Of course I know (knew) that the answer would be a 50/50 thing, I have it or I don't....BUT, I have NEVER been misled. Ought to be good enough for awhile anyway.
    December 14th, First day "unhooked" and feeling free and healthy again. A good way to begin the Christmas season.
    January 23rd 2019. All bleeding has stopped and I can lift over 10 pounds again without paying any price. Next exam is in March. I'm praying for no cancer (of course). All's well today!
    February 3rd, Still no worrisome signs. All continues to be well. Re. sex, very low "drive", meaning desire, but this also comes with age as I've noted. Orgasim still happens but it's all "electrical", no plumbing in the mix. (Still quite fine though.)
     March 8th, Checked in at VA and it was decided not to do a "scope" this time. All seems go be going just fine. Next cancer check will be in June. I'll probably be on a 6 month schedule now 'sted of 4. Yes, I am producing a bit of anxiety about this 'cause I want to be sure there's nothing growing.....but no indication of anything now.
     June 24th, Checked in at VA and did the "scope" this time (with nervous 1st year med. doc rotating through Urology). A little uncomfortable...BUT...NO CANCER! again. I'm on a 6 month schedule now. They DO want me to come in for a full X-ray to make sure nothing is hiding anywhere, but it's just a prophylactic (says the main doc).
Phew! (again)
    August 14th, got the CT "scan"...I am cancer free! Next check; December. I'll keep breathing.....easy. (as will we all!)

“You Americans and Your Guns….”

    ….sighed the Canadian border official as he was confiscating the two pistols I had forgotten I had behind the seat in my truck. I was traveling to Victoria, BC on a sightseeing venture after a Men’s Weekend on Whidbey Island, Washington. It was part of an extended road trip that originated in San Antonio and wound up through Chicago, Milwaukee, Casper, Wyoming and then Whidbey where I was the sweat lodge leader for the weekend. The guns belonged to my San Antonio daughter and I had totally spaced that I had stuck them in my truck and hadn’t really intended to be carrying them on this trip at all. And now they were gone, and they were sort of expensive and, as noted, didn’t even belong to me.
    Embarrassing, and a costly oversight. But what stuck with me, even all these years later, I’d guess that was in the early 90’s, was how we were seen by people outside of our culture. “You Americans and your guns.” Yeah. What th’ hell is that all about anyway?
    Well, we know damned well what it’s about. It’s about our being sold on the concept of fear beginning with the gun manufacturers, the gun lobby, the “Second Amendment” fanatics (and the gross distortion of that bit of our Constitution which serves their own ends) the fear-mongering media, the politicians who have their own vested interests to serve, and our romantic notions of what and who we are as a nation. i.e. we got where we are by virtue of having more and better guns (don’t forget “guts”) than the other guys. We outshot the Brits, the Indians, the Mexicans, the Spanish, the South, the outlaws, the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians….then we got outsmarted by the North Vietnamese…..uh, but let’s not get into that.
    Fact is, GUNS, more and better GUNS will keep us and our families “safe”. (It says that right here in this gun ad and in our Wild West culture.)
    No matter what the statistics say, we are all safer when we are armed and ready. “…..if we’re trained!” says one gun advocate friend of mine. (Let’s not get into the fact that cops are “trained” and yet that hasn’t prevented a few of them from shooting unarmed people when they feel threatened.)
    “All those mass shooting wouldn’t have happened if there had been some good person present who was armed!” goes another claimant. The fact that Gabby Gifford was shot when three “good people” who were armed stood around her and made no difference in the outcome doesn’t seem to enter into this pattern of thinking.
    When that border inspector said what he said, I (sort of) remember thinking, “Hey, I’m not like those gun nuts Americans. I just happen to have a couple of guns in my truck. I don’t do this routinely.” That was true in that scenario. But it wasn’t true a few years later when I did routinely carry a gun. And it changed me for a time.
    If someone got aggressive in traffic there was, somewhere back in my thinking, a thought that went like this, “Hey! You’d better not get pushy, I’ve got a gun.”
    That’s a different response than I would have had if I hadn’t had a gun. Sans fire power I would, and do, think, “What a clown. I’ll just stay away from that one.”
    As it turned out, I preferred the latter response because I realized that the only way the former thought was going to take me would be a road to greater and greater escalation.
    Seems our society is having the same experience.

And add to this:
                                    Background Checks, the Political Manipulation

    Let’s face FACTS and not fantasies. Background checks will NOT stop all the gun violence in our country, in fact it won’t stop any of it. Few of these insane killers, “insane” because they did what they did not because they were necessarily diagnosed as such before the fact, would have been stymied in their search for these weapons of mass destruction with a background check. The guy who killed half a hundred in Las Vegas was not a raving maniac, he was a cold-blooded killer for no-one-knows-why. He had no history of “mental illness”.
    Short of confiscating every single gun in America, which will never happen, the only way we can at least make it more cumbersome for someone to carry out these mass murders is to make the tools they use less proficient. In short, stop the sale NOW of all “assault-like” rifles. (By the way, those opposed like to say “They are not really ‘assault weapons’ because they are not fully automatic.” and we’re somehow supposed to feel better about that) The fact is that even if they are not “fully automatic” they can be fired as quickly as anyone can pull the trigger and with high capacity mags. That means that 30 rounds can be fired almost as fast as you can say “Gee! That’s’ awfully fast isn’t it?” Yes, yes I KNOW that someone can load up on standard clips and slap them into a rifle or pistol quickly….so even banning h.c. mags won’t help much, but it’s SOMETHING, and if we can add it to the idea of BG checks, well hooray!
    More to the point, ban the sale and manufacture of these weapons AND of high capacity magazines AND of parts for those weapons…..and require that any current owners of such weapons register them, at a high taxation rate, just as any owners of machine guns must. If they won’t pay, confiscate them.         Period.
    And let’s not get into the stupid argument that gun ownership (of ANY kind of gun) equals “FREEDOM”. If you Mr. Gun owner want or feel the need of having a gun around then you may have one (or two or a dozen for that matter) but the type of gun WILL BE REGULATED….and you are free to stand on any street corner and argue about it all day and night…and thus your right to Free Speech will be respected. But there is no right to be armed to the teeth with high firepower for all….that’s why we don’t want anyone to have a howitzer or a bazooka for that matter.
    This “background check” b.s. is nothing more than a political game being used to buy off those of us who want something done about these killing machines in our society. We are offered the sop of background checks in order to turn off the spotlight and call off the dogs as it were and make us believe we’re getting somewhere…….yet if and when we finally win that fight we will wind up with NOTHNG. And “they”, the gun lobby and NRA supporters, will breath a sigh of relief that those who would “take our guns and our freedoms” have gone away.
Meanwhile, the potential killers will still be able to roam free with high powered weapons and we and our children will still be at high risk to those who will remain, until after the killing spree, unidentified.
    And “Open carry”! What are we teaching our children, mainly young boys? That’s it’s really a good idea, even “manly”, to be walking around with guns on our hips (and shoulders) all over town? Even in Dodge City in the 1800’s it was against the law to do that. And that was called “the wild west”!
And this crazy idea that “Guns don’t kill, people do.” The FACT is, SOME PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL LOTS OF PEOPLE and the only way to at least slow the massacre down is to give them less power and ammunition to do so.
    People driving cars kill people too…but at least we have them register their cars, carry insurance, get a drivers license and require that they be sober. All we do for the OC people is ask them to get a license to carry a lethal weapon into our malls, parks, public meetings…etc. That’s it!
    In response to the marches against gun violence some folks in Montana staged a counter march called, “For our guns”. Montana, the highest death rate for homicide and suicide by guns in the country. This gun worship is one crazy religion.


 The fallout for me from the Men’s Weekend, 2018

    You’d think, well I’d think, that by the time I hit my 8th decade in life I’d have it all figured out……the “all” being Life & Me of course. But no! It took yet another Men’s Weekend to dredge up some hauntings from the past and exhumations of long buried feelings to make things “interesting” yet again post gathering.
    To wit; despite being told, even assured quite often of late, that I, yes ME, I have made quite a positive difference in a number of lives it was only after “owning” that affirmation in front of people that I was then plunged into some deep work on myself.
    The circumstances were that in the midst of our regular Give-Away Ceremony at the end of the weekend I stood up to have my say about how I saw and experienced the event and somehow got around to admitting that maybe, just maybe, some people came to these things, Long Dance, Vision Quest, Men’s Weekends, etc. not only because we, Elizabeth and I, do interesting stuff, but because of me and what I have to give or “teach”, though I still shrivel at the “teach” thing…offer maybe, but teach, that seems like a stretch too far. Seems like hubris.
    Anyway, there I was, standing up in front of a bunch of people saying, not from ego but from honesty, that maybe some would come to experience……me! This is a tough claim for me to stake.
    Of course I know what I want to do ALWAYS is to be clear and authentic. I know I’m not really the brightest bulb in the Spiritual chandelier, maybe I’m simply a clever guy, not in the manipulative sense, just that I’m able to tell a pretty good story and have got a memory storage unit full for just about any occasion. (None of them fictionalized or embellished to suit some hidden agenda.)
    I’ve got some wisdom about life too, and I really, really want to help. I take that Emerson line, “…to know one person has breathed easier because you lived.” to heart. In the end I want that to be said about me. I can’t imagine a higher honor.
    And, as with any of us I’ve got some crap in the closet, so my work is to keep trying to clear that out, sometimes by ‘fessing up, sometimes by just letting it go. I chose what works best for me and don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.
    But my standing up there and saying that I MIGHT have to accept the possibility that some people being attracted by how I do me and thus how the workshops I, and we, present have some power to support change, seemed incredibly risky. But I did it………and then Pandora’s box was opened. By me.
    And here came the flood of guilt and shame.
    First of all, whenever I end an email to someone I close with; “Love from our OZ! to yours.” I capitalize both letters in Oz to create a picture of those emerald towers, and I add an exclamation to communicate its singular importance, i.e., that the Emerald City represented Hope, and that’s what I “hope” our place and what we create here represents for all who experience it. After all, that’s what it has been for us. But…!
    Yes, there was a “But”, a fly in the ointment, a shadow in the spotlight that always bothered me about that allusion. In the end, the Wizard was unmasked as a fraud and I wondered if deep down inside I wasn’t one too.
    Why would I think that? Because one of the themes of the weekend, or for that matter, many a weekend I and we have created, has been “Who do you THINK you are?” because in that question there is both the power of self-delusion and the potential for change. And who did I think I was? Over the years; a kid who was dancing as fast as he could, working on an honest choreography of life. A kid with so-called shameful secrets, in short, the guy behind the curtain. By the way, in my experience that “shameful secrets” thing is usually very subjective. Though there might be some things any of us would concur ARE things to be ashamed of, many are, objectively, quite ordinary blunders that we, standing outside the experience might see as having little or no real shame potential at all. Often confessions of these things to others might be met with, “What’s the big deal?” responses which are not helpful. Because though the event itself may not objectively seem to be something we would consider to be worthy of condemnation, the power of how we have felt about it, over time, becomes more and more discomforting. What may have been a small weed, fed with enough guilt food, becomes a sequoia.
    So! The guy behind-the-curtain; his being exposed as a fraud, I came to realize, wasn’t the end of the story nor was it how it turned out. In fact he was an honest man, a bit of a bumbler to be sure, but an honest man who had taken on the task of creating a place of Hope, and the job he took on was the promotion of that idea. He didn’t work for personal gain, unless you consider his role as The Great and Wonderful Wizard of Oz! a kind of ego payment. He felt the need to create that fašade because he had little confidence that his simple personage would be able to sell the concept. He wasn’t a “fraud”, he was a man with a great heart who wanted to help in the only way he knew how, with showmanship. We can fault the smoke and mirrors, but certainly not the intent.
    Well, that’s not me, i.e., I don’t do smoke and mirrors, I just do me and I hope there’s enough communicated about the value of honesty and the power of personal risk in the service of highest purpose to be worthy of the title, “The Wiz”.
    As my Italian grandmother used to say to me over and over again, “Non cha be shamed!” At the time, I thought is was something that came out of her experience of being an immigrant in a time when Italians were were seen as “….lower than Negroes.” (an observation made by W.B. Duboise). But now I know that it’s a one-size-fits us all.
    I’m owning that one, and gifting it to you as well. No matter what, when it comes to our self imposed and inflated sense of  guilt about ANYTHING; “Non cha be shamed!” and love from us here in OZ! and from the guy who stands in front of the curtain.

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