Group 13 – Men!

group13men_shepfinalgroup13men_jasonfinalgroup13men_tylerfinalgroup13men_chrisfinalgroup13men_stevefinal

Everyday we seem to hear of another shooting.
Mass shootings in schools, in clubs, in theaters, in malls, in places too numerous to count. Individual shootings over petty matters, whether by everyday citizens or by those whom we’re supposed to trust with our security and safety.
It’s no longer a matter of if a next one is going to happen, but a matter of when the next one is going to happen.
Without going into all of the politics behind why these things happen, I am reminded of one key element here: male aggression. Men are so often taught from the time they are small children that it is not okay to express their feelings.

It is not okay to feel sad…it is okay to be mad.
It is not okay to cry…it is okay to throw a punch.
It is not okay to show affection…it is okay to show rage.
It is not okay to be insecure…it is okay to bully others for things we see “wrong” with them.

This theme of being “masculine” and how it is essential to combat anything even slightly detected to be “feminine” in order to be such, it seems to permeate society right now. There is something completely wrong with this picture.
That is why I absolutely love when men agree to participate in this project. A project with the main focus of showing vulnerability. Not holding back, but, diving in. I am constantly reminded that there are so many men out there who are comfortable enough with themselves, with their feelings, that they can have a conversation about them. They can be brave enough to discuss their insecurities and their fears, not just with me, not just with each other, but, even be brave enough to put them out there for you, the public, to read.
This is the second exclusively male group I have conducted in the 3 1/2 years since I began this project. I look forward to conducting many more, as the conversation with these men always blows me away. Their openness, their vulnerability, their compassion for each other, their introspection, their positive and encouraging words for each other and themselves…it is all so beautiful to watch unfold.

I always seem to write incredibly long introductions to these blog posts concerning each group, but, I’m stopping myself here this time. Instead, I’ve put my focus into including videos from this night, so that you can get a taste of what we experienced and what these men shared. How they were affected by hearing these things from each other. How they were affected by hearing the words of their friends and family (if you are reading this and are someone who wrote in for them, a million thank yous to you. This project doesn’t work without you. I appreciate you so much.) I encourage you all to watch these videos, especially to see how these guys (who previously either did not know each other, or only knew each other slightly) showed empathy toward encouraged one another. And how they each reacted, not only when others’ words were read for them, but for each other.

Please do comment and share anything that may have touched you after reading their stories and seeing a bit of our night. A caution for you, however…I will NOT accept anything other than kindness and positivity directed at these men. I frequently quote Brené Brown regarding this, and I’ll do it again: “If you are not also in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

(Thank you to Ian for filming the night {and all of these nights} for me, to Jennifer, for taking behind-the-scenes photos for us {to be found at the bottom of this post}, and to Steve, for providing a venue in which we could meet!)

Previous groups can be found here:
Why this project began
Group 1, Part 1
Group 1, Part 2
Group 2, Teens!
Group 3, 55+!
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7, Men!
Group 8
Group 9, Moms & Daughters! (featuring Melissa & Lily)
Group 9, Moms & Daughters! (featuring Liz & Caitie)
Group 10 – Couples!
Group 11 – Decorah, IA teens!
Group 12 – Reunion Group!

 

Dgroup13men_shepinswavid (Shep!) – Insecurity ~

“My body, it’s hard to look at myself and feel good sometimes. My weight has drastically fluctuated my whole life and that sort messes with my head a little bit.”

(Video: discussion about Shep’s insecurity)

What do you find is the biggest challenge for men these days?

“The need to be strong and invincible. The fact that you shouldn’t be vulnerable because that would be weak…”


If there is one thing women should know about men, it is…

“That we are so different than you…..”

What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

“Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end…”
group13men_shepschoicewShep’s friends & family ~

“Hey buddy, you’re probably going through some tough emotions right now and I’m supposed to be all nice and gushy right? Well, in the infamous words of my wife and mother-in-law, buck up, buttercup. People love you, in case you didn’t know. Who wouldn’t love my jolly ginger friend? The thing you have to realize about yourself is that you actually care when people tell you their life story. And that’s why they come to you. Anyone that looks in your eyes can immediately see one of the most genuine souls the world has encountered. See, you do have a soul!! People will do anything for you because of that. Hell, I drove all the way across the country in 4 days with you because of it. Time for an experiment, just because I’m at work writing this and I’m a nerd. Will Alana actually read this part? Whoa, did I just break the fourth wall? Can you do that in a letter like this? Look Shep, I can make her say anything right now from my desk at work. Like Briar Cliff sucks! Or, I love the wieners you cook! Haha, she just said she loves your wiener. Simon says stand up and hop on one foot (wait for him to do it then go rustle that ginger hair of his) ….. I guess back to the real point. I love you, brother, gimme a call after this and let me know how it went! I’ll be waiting to hear from you.” -Lefty

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“Batter up”
“Oh, my dear friend Shep. Shep has been such a solid and wonderful friend to me for so many years; it’s crazy to wrap my brain around the fact that we have known each other since junior high! I would have never imagined way back then that he would end up being like family to me! Shep is one of the most easygoing and hardest-working guys I have met. There are days that he has worked long crazy hours and still manages to keep a positive attitude and a smile on his face. But, even when he puts in long hours, he always finds the time to be a supportive and loyal friend. Shep is that ear to listen, that helping hand at the drop of a hat, or just a big ol’ Sheppy hug if someone needs it. I mean, with all the weird, negative shit that goes on in the world, it’s so great to know there are people like Shep. With the willingness to spread love and positivity to the people he cares about and even to the people he has just met, giving all of this kindness while asking for nothing in return, that is truly inspiring! My buddy Shep, he is a rare flower in a bed of weeds and I couldn’t be more stoked to call him one of my best friends!” – Erika

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“Please, always remember you’re loved, and that you should only accept people into your life that are willing to love you as much as you do!”

 

“Shep, you have never failed me. Not once. You have never judged me for anything I have ever said or done. You have never turned your back on me even when there was 10 miles of reasons to do so. When I am around you I know I’m safe. You continue to offer me love, respect, and your knowledge of the world. I can’t picture my life without you in it.” – Jack

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about themselves, it is this:

“You inspire the people around you to become better people themselves. That is a FACT.”

(Video: Shep hearing some of what his friends/family wrote)

group13men_jasoninsw Jason – Insecurity ~

“Authenticity. Honesty. Truth. These are the things that I think about. Worry about and try to live by each day.

In 1985 I was in a small Pierce County town. 7th grade awkwardness, and a whole slew of new faces. 9th graders seem like adults and one wants to fit in. I began skateboarding, along with several other friends. Our crew was small, but included kids from each grade. One 9th grader, a kid I looked up to, as he was my sensei’s right hand, was super stylish, talked about surfing (who surfs in Sumner in ‘85?) and was a decent skater. We all want to impress, especially as a 12 year old, and I was no different. I worked hard to learn. To fall. To develop my style. I never heard Chad (the stylish kid) say it, but he apparently called me a poseur to our friends, our crew, repeatedly.

That stuck with me. Me, an awkward kid growing more gangly each week. A kid that wants to fit in. I saw Chad twice a week at Kung Fu, where I was learning how to use my new, growing body, as well as each day at school and when we skated. I never said anything about it to Chad, he wasn’t too kind to me, deciding instead to prove him wrong, to outlive his perception of me.

Later that year, it seemed that Chad skated less and less, high school rapidly approaching for him and involvement in a sport that was more likely to get a “skate or die faggot!” than a high five. I kept skating along with the rest of the crew, the lot of us getting better each week and pushing each other further. I still thought about the poseur comment daily. Shit, I still do.

I transferred schools in the middle of 9th grade so I never had the opportunity to see Chad through high school, though he hung up his skate, went to UW and became a police officer. Definitely the opposite of what we all were working towards as young kids. Was Chad authentic? Was he a poseur? Am I a poseur?

To this day I strive to be as real as I can. To be as honest with myself as I can. A number of years ago I wasn’t being honest with myself, ergo I was not honest with my family. It cost me a friendship, a marriage, an alternate reality. I was a drunk. I was lost. I lived my life with youthful abandon, which culminated in a mild stroke. It took a horrible relationship to knock some sense into me. Then, I met Jayme. Early on she said to me “I want you to be the best YOU you can be”. That really stuck. It was the beginning of Posi Vibes for me. Each day I strive to be real. To be as authentic and as honest as I can be. To be positive and supportive as much as I can. If that’s a poseur, I’m a proud poseur.”

(Video: discussion about Jason’s insecurity)
What do you find is the biggest challenge for men these days?

“I think it’s the same for everyone: being the best you you can be.”

If there is one thing women should know about men, it is…

“Right or wrong, most men work from a “logical” mind-set. They can also certainly manufacture “logic”.”

What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

“Be yourself and try to avoid situations where apologies are required.”
group13men_jasonschoicewJason’s friends and family ~

“I love Jason’s passion for music and cooking. I love how Jason is not afraid to voice his opinion, even if it may not be popular. I admire Jason’s courage to fight a disease that tried to take him down once before and was unsuccessful.” – Gretchen

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“You are beautiful and strong. You are loved.”
“First off, Jason is a passionate participant in most all things he involves himself in. He occasionally gets carried away by his passions, even, but there is something very magnetic about a person who immerses themselves so deep into a culture or process that they cannot fathom your facile appreciation. Secondly, he is one funny motherfucker. I have laughed hard, until tears stream, more than once while in his company. We share a similar gallows humor, and when times have been abysmal for me, he knows how to tap into that to lift me up, and I see him draw from that same well to bolster his own spirit now when he needs it most. Thirdly, he is an unflinchingly honest friend. His critiques can be hard to take sometimes – he does not mince words, and does not often suffer fools – but he is patient with those he values and unafraid to let them know when they aren’t living up to their own potential. On top of all of that the guy has always just had raw talent and taste to spare; he’s sharp and his abilities are mutable to the task at hand.” – Sean

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“While not everyone “gets” you…the ones that do count you among their most loved and cherished friends, and even those who don’t get you know there’s something special going on wherever you happen to be.”
“When I first met Jason he was a banker. Literally, Jason was a guy with a suit and tie, sitting behind a desk, helping kids understand overdraft fees. The more I got to know him the less his job made sense. He loved local music. He went to shows all the time. He played in several bands. He was a former snowboard salesman who even had his own campaign, “Trust Jason Locking”. And he loved cooking. I think one of my favorite first memories of Jason was when he cut me off a chunk of perfectly roasted pork; He broke into a huge smile when he saw my face light up. Working at the bank was what most people consider a good job, but Jason hated it. So, he quit and went to work for Boeing. For many people a Boeing job is a life sentence. You get in, you do your job, you make money, you buy a boat, you get married, you have kids, you get divorced, you buy a jet ski, you buy cars, and you do all that over and over again until you’re 65 and you retire. There aren’t many people in the world that would quit a Boeing job to become a line cook at a local bar. But Jason fucking hated Boeing. Hated the monotony of a joyless work life. And so, he decided to quit and become a cook. That was a dark time. One thing people love about Jason is his easy smile and his hearty laugh. That stuff all seemed to have blown away as the storm clouds gathered. Deep changes force us to reconcile ourselves. Force us to face our demons. You can only run and hide inside a bottle of whiskey for so long before the demons crawl in there with you. I saw so many angry people around him at that time. People pissed off that he wasn’t living up to their expectations. Their expectations. That’s all he had done for so long was live up to other people’s expectations.
It was at his most depressed that he had a stroke. He was a young man, too young for those sorts of medical problems. But it was a reminder that life is short. I think more than most of us Jason knows that we only have one life. That it’s short and sometimes bitter and that we need to find joy in what we do. Maybe it was the stroke or maybe it was the fact that he had cancer when he was a teenager. It made him confront the fact that we are all ephemeral. And most important, that we need to express ourselves. To be ourselves. And what Jason wanted to be was a chef. So, he did that. I don’t know how you just decide you want to do something and just go do it. I should ask him! But he got a job at Hotel Murano, learned how to cook for hundreds of people, and when a sous chef job opened up a few months ago, he applied and got it. I’ve never seen Jason happier than when he was cooking. He made beautiful food. And he loved it. So, of course, he had to go and get cancer again. It’s like the universe telling us “fuck you, you’re not allowed to be happy.” Maybe that snowboard campaign all those years ago was prescient. Maybe they just knew that no matter what happens in life you just keep going. You just keep following your dreams. Maybe all we get is that one moment of joy in an otherwise somewhat boring and bleak existence. And that what we need to do is follow his example. We need to Trust Jason Locking.” – Tim

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“I love that you’re an iconoclast.”
“Jason, you’re a fantastically intelligent person, and what I most enjoy about you is the way your mind works. Every time I have a conversation with you, whether we are talking about music, politics, sci-fi books, getting dumped, music, food, aliens, comedy or even music, I invariably walk away from the encounter feeling enlightened, with my mind grinding away on new ideas and perspectives that I didn’t have before. I also really like that you’re the kind of guy that – no matter how many friends you have around you (tons! every time!) – you always give me a hearty shout and a hug whenever I run into you. It isn’t easy for me to get out and be social, but when I see you on the invite list for some gathering, it gets a lot easier. I’m sure you remember the conversation that we had when you got that job at BOKA. I was feeling stuck in place in my job, and I sent you a note telling you how inspiring it was to see you step off the career path that wasn’t making you happy, and achieve something that you’d worked so hard for, that you loved doing. You told me that you had been similarly inspired by a big career change that I’d made many years ago. I had to laugh. And so the wheel goes around, sometimes you’re up and sometimes down. People come and go in your life, but I’m glad you’ve been a constant in mine and I want you to know how much I love and appreciate your friendship.” – Chad

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“You burn bright, my friend. You’re the best of the best. The realest.”
“His determination, his outlook and his wanting to not let anyone down because of what he’s going through is baffling to me and inspires me. He is at times in pain and not able to play music with us and do what he loves to do. This is hard to watch and we yearn for a way to help and make him feel better. Instead he turns around and keeps US positive every time. He cares for people immensely and has been a good friend, often going out of his way to include others when they are having a hard time. All of this while having to deal with cancer and feeling the horrible effects of chemotherapy. I have been inspired to look at my life differently and change my outlook to a more positive one, thanks to Jason. I love his love for music and the electricity and spark that resonates when he talks about it or plays music. I am privileged to have that connection and watch his eyes light up when we are hella shredding so hard. I also enjoy his laughter and his really really crappy jokes.” – Justin

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“Your compassion for others and your push to keep your friends positive has touched me personally many times. You have helped me up when I’m down even though you are having a hard time yourself. The world would be a better place if others were as giving in this regard. I’m so appreciative of this and grateful to call you a friend and bandmate. ❤”
“Hi, My name is Luke. I have known Jason for what seems like a lifetime. But, in fact, it has been a decade of love and loss that has cemented our foundation. I was a boy when Jason and I first started playing music together, following his reply to a cardboard advert looking for a bassist. What followed was a harsh but true career in music and life. We both found that no matter how hard life, love, and the pursuit of both led one to the present tense; blood runs deep. Blood works in strange ways. It keeps us alive and it kills us. Those of us with a heart pumping too much blood go in two directions; one kills and one survives. Jason taught me that I could be a boy lost in a city with a home. He brought a familiarity to my life I thought was a bullshit vibe only found through iPhone apps. God made dirt, and dirt fills the holes. I don’t believe, but I believe in this: Jason was there for me when I was a piece of gravel in the yard, and I landed myself in his tire for a while. That was the best journey of my life. Life will kill us all, but I hope I lived like Jason.” – Luke

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“Through the garrulous waves of life, vexed and debated, this is the hour for which we waited.”
“At your core you are a decent man with fierce loyalties to your friends that have really become your extended family. I admire your ability to connect with people on such a deep level and proud that you are such a wonderful friend to many, including me. You have endured the lumps and bumps life has offered up with a sarcastic comment and a clenched fist to the sky; you are a warrior and you are my hero. Also you are handsome, talented, funny and smart.” – Marilyn

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“Sometimes you question your strength, you are incredibly strong never doubt that.”
“Jason is the strongest person I have ever met. Let me repeat: Jason is the STRONGEST person I have ever met. In his lifetime, he has been through more hardships and struggles than any one soul should have to endure, and somehow he still has it in him to be the kind, thoughtful and charming man he is today. He is a true renaissance man; changing paths several times in his life, he always follows his heart- something I think we could all stand to do a little more. He finds a way to achieve in all of his endeavors, and I believe that is a true testament to his strength as well. Whatever new challenge is placed before him (or he places in front of himself), Jason works so hard to not only overcome it, but to be the very best he can be. He is so naturally talented, and I admire his will to constantly grow, change and learn.
Jason’s positivity and seemingly bottomless sense of humor are things I most appreciate and love about him. Even through the low times, and there have been some seriously low times, his ability to bring levity through laughter has saved us both from the edge on more than one occasion. Jason makes those around him feel at ease, and he is so engaging… it’s impossible to ignore his energy in a room. It’s no wonder why he has an endless list of good friends and people who hold him in high regard. The guy knows A LOT of people in a lot of different walks of life, and all of them have great stories and a kind word to say about him. I love Jason, with my whole heart. I can’t imagine where I would be without him. He challenges me to be a better ‘me’ every day, and he makes me feel good about the woman that I am. He is my best friend, my confidante, my cheerleader and often times, my voice of reason. He is truly my partner in life. We’ve been on many adventures together, but with each one I learn more and more about the enigmatic Jason. He’s not perfect, and I’m glad he’s not. He’s real. He makes mistakes and owns them (most of the time). He doesn’t hide behind his past, but rather embraces it and uses it for fuel to become better than he was yesterday and that’s what I think I love about him best. I’m so grateful for his presence in my life, and I look forward to many more good times by each others’ side.” – Jayme

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“YOU ARE AMAZING. You are strong and brave and I am so proud of you. We all are.”

(Video: Jason hearing some of what his friends/family wrote)

(I recently did a shoot with Jason, documenting a day-in-the-life of his current fight against Stage 4 pancreatic cancer – you can see just how kickass he really is here: Fuck Cancer)

group13men_tylerinsw

Tyler – Insecurity ~

“My dad has never shown any interest in my life, unless it benefits him. Since I never got into football, dressed weird, and ended up w/ a lot of tattoos, he’s decided to focus on my younger brother. The star child. This is something that eats away at me daily. I find myself constantly questioning, “am I good enough?” That, on top of extreme abandonment issues. My dad has always been cold, emotionless & crude. I find these narcissistic traits surface in me from time to time, which makes me feel even worse about myself. Seeing the qualities in myself from a man who emotionally abandoned me. I have been estranged from my dad for 4 years now & he has given up all attempts to contact me. My hope is that his lack of pretense in my life will rectify these feelings of abandonment.”

(Video: discussion about Tyler’s insecurity)

What do you find is the biggest challenge for men these days?

“Keeping up w/ the status quo of what a man should be. Continuously judging one’s self on their own & other’s manhood.”

 If there is one thing women should know about men, it is…

“We are not all pigs & misogynists. Most of us look at you the same as we would anyone else. We are all equal & strive to make that evident.”

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t let anything or anyone change you. You will be loved by those worth loving back.”

 

group13men_tylerschoicewTyler’s friends and family ~

“Pratt is always someone who will make someone feel apart of the group. If you’re an outsider he will make you feel welcome.” – Jack

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“No matter how many times you fall down the stairs you always get back up and laugh it off. You aren’t going to let some stairs get in your way of having a good time.”

“Tyler has had to overcome adversity since he was a very small boy. He has overcome many obstacles and challenges to get to where he is today. He is a problem-solver and he is resilient. He has integrity, is an independent thinker, always sticks up for the underdog and is not afraid to take a stand against social injustice. Tyler is creative, talented and a gifted writer. I am so proud to be is mother.” – Jennifer

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“That you matter, you are loved, you make a difference, and you deserve the very best.”

“Tyler is GIVER. A NURTURER. The STRONG, SUPPORTIVE backbone to all that he has PASSION for; whether it is someone, or something. He has such a strong DRIVE and DEDICATION to anything that he puts his head towards, a GO-GETTER. A hard worker who puts his all into everything he does. Whenever you’re around him, regardless if it’s your first time meeting him, or your millionth – he is so PERSONABLE, BONDING, JOYFUL, GOOFY, it’s hard not to smile. He’s the most PASSIONATE and ENTHUSIASTIC person I’ve ever had the pleasure to have in my life. That boy has a spot in a lot of hearts.” – Brittany

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“Passion. He shows such drive, dedication in everything he does. He never half-asses anything, always giving his all. In work, hobbies, love, goals, ANYTHING. Gotta love him.”

(Video: Tyler hearing some of what his friends/family wrote)
group13men_chrisinswChris – Insecurity ~

“One of my main insecurities is that I don’t believe I am good enough at anything I do to be considered good enough. I do not think I am good enough at being a friend, since most birthdays I have I am lucky if I have anyone besides my husband to celebrate with – that includes parties/meet-ups that I have tried to throw. Nor do I receive messages from people who want to hang out, which itself makes me feel like I am uninteresting or people just feel meh around me. I don’t think I am smart enough with regards to my job – I feel that I don’t retain all the information in my head that I should, despite studying for it in college. I am not good enough at making financial plans, so putting off buying a house and having a family seems all too distant. I am not good enough at making sure I diet and exercise right and won’t be at my ideal body ever (especially doesn’t help now that I found I have genes that increase obesity likelihood). I am just not good enough and I am so lucky that I had someone marry me despite this. To quote/paraphrase Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek – The Next Generation, “you can do everything right and still lose” – which is basically what everyday feels like.”

(Video: discussion about Chris’s insecurity)

What do you find is the biggest challenge for men these days?

“I don’t think there is a single biggest challenge, but, one of the biggest challenges I see for men these days is critical thinking regarding their own conditioning. After having society (or even some families) telling you how you are supposed to be or act in life – it has to be asked why something makes sense and what actual evidence is provided for that determination. Questioning conditioning isn’t always something that increases productivity – but, it certainly keeps you from accepting what you are told.”

 If there is one thing women should know about men, it is…

“That men and women both have insecurities, many of which are similar in nature.”

What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something, including being too tall to be a gymnast, as you are really good. Also, learn now how to invest.”

group13men_chrisschoicew

Chris’s friends and family ~

“His intellect, his sense of humor, his compassion. His love for food, music and art. His love of the Golden Girls.” – Del

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“You are loved.”

“Chris and his big, beautiful brain always make me smile. He’s got mathematical tattoos and understands so much about the natural world. I’m so encouraged by his love for the world and fellow humankind, and his fierce adherence to the greater good in all things.” – Tom

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

 He had the best wedding in the world. Everything and everyone was perfect.”

“Chris is super intense – he’s really an intelligent and analytical person, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of being a really deeply loving guy. He is just a kind person. It just comes to him naturally- I’ve always admired that about him. He makes being a truly good person look easy- and to be honest I have always felt that was something I personally have to try at more times than not.” – Calli

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“That he is loved by so many because he truly is “that friend”, one of the special ones❤”

“Chris Mooredrall is a very dear friend of mine. We met while I was married to a man and we hung out. We clicked right away! Chris and his husband were also some of my first art patrons, so they have a special place in my heart. I would describe Chris as sarcastically funny. I particularly value his sense of human consideration. Very kind-hearted and amiable. Sometimes he opens his mouth too much when he’s drunk, but it’s always a party during social occasions.” – Julian

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“He should always remember to keep collecting gemstones and minerals, and to come opal hunting with me.”

“Chris has a beautiful heart… it draws him to the beautiful things in life and he gets so much joy from sharing these things with others… whether its food, a beautiful jazz song or the love for his husband. I’m always so inspired by him. He is incredibly smart and so confident and a hard worker…. those are things I admire above many other things in my friend. He always has an encouraging word and always seems to know when someone needs a compliment and his heart again is so open and so giving… but, don’t cross him…he will tell you about your life…but, in the most politely stern way, lol.” – Najamoniq

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“People see you…and admire the way you’ve constructed a life of wonder, beauty and love.”

“Chris is fucking awesome. He can sing, he can dance, he can recite pi to fifty digits and solve physics equations in his underpants. He makes me giddy and misty eyed with handwritten notes expressing his love for me in cosmic analogies. When he holds me, I know I am safe in this world. Thoughtful and sensitive, strong and compassionate, he is my handsome husband, and one day, coming to a future near you, a proud father. How he acts with our younger nieces and nephews, and our friend’s children, only confirms my suspicion that when ours arrives, he will be the greatest dad in all of the universes. There is so much about Chris that I love, I just want him to know that I see all of this, I know all of this, and that I feel all of this. A brilliant romantic, his laughter fantastic, a bit quirky and spastic: he is perfect as is, but I know! He will continue to grow at an easy flow – a slow burn of eternal beauty and power, and Chris, I hope you see what I see, foreverly I love you” – Nick

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“You are strange and beautiful. Embrace it all.”

(Video: Chris hearing some of what his friends/family wrote)

group13men_steveinswSteve – Insecurity ~

“I have sporadic, yet, constant flashes of self-doubt/paralyzing fear about not being “enough”; that I’m not good enough of a father, boyfriend, friend, brother, son, writer, photographer, historian, lodge brother, Cub Scout leader or bearer of the family name. Thank goodness, I am not the eldest son. I’m just the spare heir. These flashes come at odd times and range from shocks like I Iicked a battery to downright lightning bolts of terror. They then disappear and I continue with my day. But, sometimes they linger, like a bad haircut or nose zit before prom. I fear I don’t measure up, ever, anywhere, randomly. Most of all, that I don’t measure up to my family heritage and honor. My parents are proud of me, sure. They get a kick out of area notables asking if they are related to “The Steve Dunkelberger.” But in the end, I feel it is not enough. I don’t want to be memorialized in bronze, but I do want someone to say at my deathbed, “Steve was a good man. He mattered. He upheld the family name.”

(Video: Steve elaborating on insecurity)

What do you find is the biggest challenge for men these days?

“Not being “allowed” to be real, with each other or with their relationships. Women have the cultural acceptance to some degree of pampering themselves (retreats, spa days, girls night outs) and self-exploration and reflection. Men do not. So we don’t, and the world suffers from that.”

If there is one thing women should know about men, it is…

“We are all vulnerable and just like to snuggle on the couch. Some just don’t want to admit it.”

What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

“Making friends is easy, keeping them close is hard, but, well worth the effort. It is not how much time spent with them, it’s how real and rooted you are during that time that counts.”

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Steve’s friends and family ~

“Dear Steve:
You are not afraid to be who you are. You are you. No matter what people say, or think, you know the person’s opinion that matters most is yours.

You are quirky.
You are a nerd.
You do an amazing Hot Dog Dance.
You are Captain America.
You are an awesome Dad.
You are my brother.

Love you, poohbear!

Joel”

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“When someone tell you you’re weird say, “Thank you!””

Steve,

You are a man of amazing intellect, talents, and gifts! Your incredible wit and wisdom make you one of the most engaging people to talk with that I have ever met (a trait that I am extremely envious of). I truly enjoy hearing your insightful perspective on our world and the people in it. You see the goodness and the goofiness in everything around you and while you certainly see the bad (e.g. greed, power/fear mongering, and hatred), you don’t dwell on that; you instead share with others the beauty and humanity that you see around you. You are a fantastic human being! The world could use a lot more Steve Dunkelbergers!” – James

 

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“You see the things that others don’t!”

“What I admire most is Steve’s integrity. I love his sense of humor even when some of it is beyond my real understanding. He is a walking book of trivia and some useful knowledge, too.” – Constance

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this:

“To believe in himself and be true to himself.”

“I admire his positivity and ability to be in a cheerful mood even when it’s difficult. I love his generous nature, always helping out a friend or loved one. I love the way he supports me, never tears me down, always lifting me up. I love how I can talk about anything with him.” – Kathleen

If there was absolutely ONE thing you would want this person to remember about himself, it is this: 

He is worthy of love. He is the one I choose to be with.”

(Video: Steve hearing some of what his friends/family wrote)

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