Mainely Men 84 — Fall 2023

The MM84 gathering was held
October 69, 2023

What to expect at Mainely Men Gatherings

Scroll down for complete workshop information, workshop schedule, weather, and menu!

This gathering’s theme was Clearing Our Paths

Water Off a Duck’s Back: Dealing with Setbacks, Big and Small

Life often brings us setbacks, roadblocks, and failures. How do we manage these pauses in the progress we strive for? How can we turn negative experiences into positive learning opportunities? We shared how seemingly negative events have often led to positive outcomes down the road. We heard your stories about those uphill climbs, bumps, and forks in the road of life and how you navigate through them. This primary workshop was led by John and Charles, our MM84 pinkies. (See below for a picture of John and Charles and an explanation of what a pinky is.)

Other workshops on this theme included:

  • Anticipation, Worry, Fear . . . and Our Comfort Zones – Anticipation, worry, and fear are powerful influences on our lives. How do we let the question of “What if…?” affect our decision-making? Do we push the envelope and take risks, or do we stay in our comfort zones and hope for the best? Worrying about the future can be debilitating for some, yet others seem to let go of worry and live happily in the present moment. Which camp are you in? Led by Dave, who has facilitated workshops at previous Mainely Men gatherings.
  • Grudges: Forgive, Forget, Let Go – How we hold feelings of hurt affects us through how we perceive the offending person and through self-talk about our own righteousness that in turn inflates our ego. We triangulate with others and want them to take sides. We find the more stubborn and indignant we are, the other pushes back with the same or even increased energy. I will ask participants to come prepared with an example to work through in a role-play, pairing up in small groups and working through a simple do-over or in a more in-depth role-play where you will be asked to play the part of yourself, then try on the hat of the other and see what resolution may come. Things to think about: Why do I bristle and attack? What is the dance going on here? When I become defensive, what is the underlying feeling? Let’s share our efforts to resolve differences and let go of grudges. Led by Keith, who has some experience with conflict resolution.
  • Looking Forward – How do plans and upcoming events keep us forging ahead through the bumps and challenges of daily life? How do the routines of a morning cup of coffee, talking with a dear friend, a meditation practice, a hobby, a daily walk, keep us grounded in the present? What would it be like to live without being tethered to the past or obsessed about the future? We’ll be focusing on the positive: what anticipation is putting a smile on your face, right now? Led by Howard, artist and retired historian, who has facilitated many workshops for Mainely Men.
  • Our Family – How did our upbringing shape our lives and who we are today? What influences do we keep and what do we throw away? Let’s delve into our experiences with our families of upbringing and our families of choice. We will begin with an exercise where we declare, for example, “I am from [smells or sounds from your neighborhood; sayings or phrases you heard growing up],” borrowed from Beverly Daniels Tatum, President Emerita of Spelman College. Led by Jon, a member of the Mainely Men board of directors.
  • Stop Should-ing All Over Yourself – This workshop will explore how we get “stuck” in situations that may keep us trapped in unwanted, unhealthy patterns of behavior, thought, and challenges to our self-esteem. Too often in our society, we receive negative criticism and feedback to decisions we make in our daily lives. While we are susceptible to the judgment and criticism of others, our toughest, most critical judge is usually ourselves. When things don’t go right, all too often we find ourselves engaging in “should-ing all over ourselves…” (“I should have done this…,” “I should have said that…,” “I should have been stronger…”). While this practice is not a therapy group, I will offer skills to help you start on a pattern of change toward a more positive sense of the power within you to effect change and rise above the challenges and fears of being stuck in situations in which you feel powerless – but in which, in reality, you possess all you need to lead a more dynamic life! Led by Bill, a member of the Mainely Men board of directors.

Below are the other workshops that were offered at MM84. Workshop slots were 90 minutes in length and limited only by the imagination and creativity of the facilitators. Whatever your skills, interests, or issues of importance, we encouraged and welcomed contributions to our workshop schedule. If you have never facilitated a workshop, this was a great place to start. Mainely Men is an opportunity for risk-taking with plenty of encouragement and support.

  • Aging and Sex – This was a discussion where we shared the impact of aging on our sex lives in a very safe and supportive way. As with all workshops, confidentiality was required; no one’s personal information was to be shared following the workshop. Led by Mainely Men board members Mike, Mike, and Steve.
  • Answering Philosophical Questions That Stretch Your Mental Legs – As we get caught up in daily life we forget to stop and think about our world. Philosophical questions can help us think critically. Building a practice of thinking critically will empower us to make decisions that we feel confident in—whether it is in how we vote, spend our time, or use our resources. Philosophical questions often don’t have clear, straightforward answers. They typically involve human nature, the origins of the universe, morality, ethics, and the afterlife. Each man drew a question from the deck. Other men were permitted to comment. Led by Rudy, who has been attending Mainely Men for many years and has held multiple leadership positions. Many of his past workshops have dealt with introspection and self-discovery.
  • Blackout Poetry – Blackout (or erasure) poetry is the process of taking an existing text, selecting those words that speak to you and eliminating (blacking out/erasing) the rest. Blackout poetry was popularized by Austin Kleon’s book Newspaper Blackout. This way of creating your own poetry or prose is fun for writers, artists, and anyone interested in language and creativity. Blackout poetry is a great way to overcome creative blocks, find new inspiration, and play with words and language and art. Blackout poetry can be done by anyone; no experience is necessary. All materials and supplies were provided. Led by Thomas, an artist, craftsman, and designer. He believes in the power of art, poetry, and music to build community. His collage art has been featured in several literary magazines such as Rattle, Glassworks and Unlost Journal.
  • Gay TV/Streaming Shows/Movies – Which are your favorites and why? Each man submitted a title, and as a group discussed them. We also discussed how these shows work in a political climate where state leaders want to forbid any discussion of sexuality, gay or straight. Led by Ed, a resident of New York City and regular participant at Mainely Men. 
  • Genealogy and Genetics in Tracing Your Family Tree – This workshop was intended to get you started with tracing your family history. It doesn’t matter whether your family came over on the Mayflower or just arrived thirty years ago. I talked about the various computer programs that can help you trace and document your family’s history and the various local, regional, national, international, and online resources that can provide you with the information you need. I also surveyed the various companies that provide DNA testing, the different types of tests that are available, and the things you need to know before you decide to take a test. Be warned: genealogy can be addictive! Led by Wayne, an expert in genealogy and master of several world languages, including ASL.
  • Getting Past Superficiality – This workshop allowed time for us to really get to know each other. Yes, we had a few minutes to introduce ourselves at the Opening Circle. And Heart Groups are a good forum too. But in this workshop, participants had time to meet men they do not know. Pair up with a “stranger,” or someone you really do not know well. Be brave. Move out of your comfort zone. Risk. Share. Offer yourself. Led by Steve, a granddad and native of Austin TX who calls Maine home for most of the year.
  • Journeying to Greater Comfort in Same-Gender Intimacy – This workshop was an intentional, mindful exchange of non-sexual touch between men. The practice was based on hugging, holding, and being held, and it was accessible to men of any sexual orientation, gender diversity, relational status, or religious affiliation. The word “practice” signifies that our intention is to explore, repeat, and rehearse the experience of touching and being touched with an eye toward increasing awareness and skill. The more we practice being mindful in our bodies, the more skillful we become. We explored safe ways to negotiate, initiate, and process our need for physical closeness and intimacy in a safe, non-sexualized manner. In a large group and in more intimate settings, we undressed and were undressed, drank in our similarities and differences, engaged in dialogue, and explored physical forms of expression that may present challenges of engagement for each of us. Led by Bill, who has facilitated various iterations of this exercise for Mainely Men.
  • Line Dancing – Line dancing is a tradition at Mainely Men and results in a lively act at our cultural event. Session one was for beginners: learn basic steps and basic dances of varying styles and music. Session two was for those who already know some basic steps and dances. We used session two to practice a dance for the Sunday night cultural event show. Led by George, a skilled dancer and regular contributor to our cultural event.
  • Massage – Massage can take any form while you use your hands and elbows in creative ways. This workshop was a chance to give and receive massage. Massage can be received while covered with a towel or nude. Bring oil, a large towel, and your hands. Led by Ashley, who describes himself as a multi-talented artist, comedian, healer, singer/songwriter/producer of pop hits and PG-rated comedy.
  • Naked Gentle Yoga – This class was gentle and yet dynamic, with an emphasis on breath, ease of movement, and full-body relaxation. We enjoyed the freedom of a naked yoga session, complete with soothing music and a long, lying-down relaxation at the end. I offered modifications to encourage participation by everyone. Participation was limited to 8 because of space. Led by Eric, who enjoys staying active through bicycling and the outdoors and who holds yoga instructor certification.
  • Nature Walk – We took a leisurely walk to observe the local nature and find the miracles under our feet, right in front of our noses, and above our heads. Led by Mike, an outdoorsman who knows everything there is to know about plants, medicinal and otherwise.
  • Relationship IntelligenceWhat are the qualities of a loving supportive relationship? What practices will support you to live these disciplines daily? This engaging and interactive workshop was intended to better understand your own relationship intelligence, clarify what you are looking for in a partner, and find the confidence to make the changes needed to support a loving relationship. Led by Michael, who has been an organizational culture consultant, relationship coach, and team coach for over 20 years. 
  • Riding a Dark Horse: Holding Anxiety, Confidence, and Intimacy in Our Daily Lives – Whether climbing over a mountain range with friends, onto a motorcycle with a partner, or alone up a flight of stairs, self-confidence can unexpectedly turn into self-doubt. Intimacy can become clouded with anxiety. Can I do it? Do I have what it takes? What will people think? Challenges can leave us shaken and uncertain. What we think are great-looking opportunities at first can leave us baffled and afraid. How do we move forward when our fears push us back? How can we nurture an open and confident heart, both individually and collectively? This was a facilitated discussion of exploration and encouragement. Led by Bobbi, born and raised in the USA, who now resides in Budapest, Hungary with his chosen family. Part author, part artist, part domestic muse, he enjoys encouraging people to think outside their boxes and helping to make the world a safer place for all.
  • Tai Chi – This introductory class taught the basics of tai chi practice, including integrated whole-body movements, weight shifting, and footwork. Led by Mike, president of Mainely Men, chiropractor, and practitioner of Tai Chi.
  • Topic Raffle – A staple offering at our gatherings, this “raffle” was an open topic discussion. Each man anonymously contributed a topic for the group to discuss. Men then chose at random from these topics. With each draw, seriousness or hilarity ensued! Led by John, our co-pinky and facilitator of the primary workshop Water Off a Duck’s Back: Dealing with Setbacks, Big and Small.
  • “What Would You Do If . . .?” Bingo – How much do you know about the Mainely Man next to you? How much do you think you know about yourself? This was an opportunity to find out. Using a typical bingo card format, participants were asked mostly ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ and ‘depends’ questions that require some introspection into your moral quotient in order to get credit to mark off your bingo squares to win and yell out, “BINGO!” Led by Rudy, who is also leading Answering Philosophical Questions to Stretch Your Mental Legs.

Introducing our Pinkies: John and Charles!

For those of you who are new to Mainely Men, Pinkies run the weekend (with a little help). They develop the theme, conduct the opening and closing circles, and are the main go-tos for anything a man might need while at a gathering. They are the face and vibe of the weekend. Pinkies change with each gathering, and for MM84 we are fortunate to have this dynamic duo, John and Charles!

A little about John and Charles:

John: No Mainely Men gathering would be complete without John. John is a master antique clockmaker and horologist, with his own business. He also pilots his own small airplane and is a talented folk musician. He leads the Topic Raffle and is a whole lot of fun. John lives in Cumberland, Maine.

Charles: Charles is somewhat new to Mainely Men, and we already cannot imagine a gathering without him. Charles describes himself as “a visually impaired 23-year-old with a vast fascination with antiques, specifically clocks,” and is apprenticing with John to pursue a career in antique clock repair. He’s also a darn good musician himself. Charles lives in Brunswick, Maine.

John and Charles, MM84 Pinkies

MM84 Weekend Schedule

3:00–5:45 – Greetings and Registration
6:00–7:00 – Dinner
6:30 – Camp Director Information / Board Introductions / Pinky Announcements
7:00–7:30 – Newcomer Orientation
7:30–9:30 – Procession & Smoke Cleansing / Opening Circle Ceremony / Heart Groups
10:00 – Quiet Time (Please be respectful of sleeping attendees.)

7:00–8:00 Breakfast
8:00–9:30 Workshop – Session 1
10:00–11:30 Workshop – Session 2
12:00–12:45 Lunch
12:45–1:15 Group Photo
1:15–2:15 Board Meeting Round Table
2:30–4:00 Workshop – Session 3
4:30–6:00 Angel Walk
6:00–7:00 Dinner
7:30–8:00 Heart Groups
8:00 Personal Time / Fire Pit / Board Games / Music Circle
10:00 Quiet Time (Please be respectful of sleeping attendees.)

7:00–8:00 – Breakfast
8:00–9:30 – Workshop – Session 4
10:00–11:30 – Workshop – Session 5
12:00–1:00 – Lunch
1:00–3:30 – Affinity Groups/Free Time
3:30–5:00 – Workshop – Session 6
5:15–5:45 – Heart Groups
6:00–7:00 – Dinner
7:30–9:00 – Cultural Event
10:00 – Quiet Time (Please be respectful of sleeping attendees.)

7:00–8:00 – Breakfast
8:15–8:45 – Heart Groups
9:00–10:30 – Workshop – Session 7
11:00–12:00 – Closing Circle Ceremony
12:00–1:00 – Lunch
1:00 – As-needed Cleanup of Pilgrim Lodge (cabins and Old Lodge)

Like Water Off a Duck’s Back…! Bring rain gear!

MM84 Workshop Schedule

Times or locations may change. Check bulletin board to confirm. Asterisk (*) indicates theme workshop.

MM84 Mainely Menu

(The menu is subject to change. If you have special dietary requirements, please speak to the cooks at the serving window.)

Friday, October 6
Dinner: Pizza and salad bar, dessert

Saturday, October 7
Breakfast: French toast bake, bacon, fruit, oatmeal with toppings
Lunch: Soup and sandwiches, salad bar
Dinner: Hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad, salad bar, dessert

Sunday, October 8
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, fruit, oatmeal with toppings
Lunch: Pasta meal, salad bar
Dinner: Chicken and roasted vegetables, salad bar, dessert

Monday, October 9
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos, fruit, oatmeal with toppings
Lunch: Soup and sandwiches, salad bar


Recent Gatherings