Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

The Cure

We think we get over things.
We don’t get over things.
Or say, we get over the measles
but not a broken heart.
We need to make that distinction.
The things that become part of our experience
never become less a part of our experience.
How can I say it?
The way to “get over” a life is to die.
Short of that, you move with it,
let the pain be pain,
not in the hope that it will vanish
but in the faith that it will fit in,
find its place in the shape of things
and be then not any less pain but true to form.
Because anything natural has an inherent shape
and will flow towards it.
And a life is as natural as a leaf.
That’s what we’re looking for:
not the end of a thing but the shape of it.
Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life
without obliterating (getting over) a single
instant of it.

–Albert Huffstickler

This poem was posted by, Mark Fleming, a colleague who I met and worked with many years ago. I have had no contact with Mark other than the poems he posts on social media.

Today this poem had a profound effect on me.

I the past couple of hours I have read this poem over and over again. The emotions, memories and visions of my life that this poem evoked have been unnerving and at the same time liberating and strengthening.

To be told there is a “cure” for trauma, hurt and grief, has always enraged me. To the told “get over it” has enraged me even more viscerally than being told there is a cure for what I feel and experience.

The profound effect of this poem is the affirmation in seeing the natural flow of life, the good and the bad. There is something in me that bursts with joy, power, strength and courage when I can shift my mind to seeing the “WISDOM” that can be found in experience. The “WISDOM” that can be found in every form of the experience of life, pain and happiness, rejection and acceptance, peace and chaos. Each of these expressions of life has a form and when I can nurture the experience, the expression rather than obliterating, “getting over”, I am able to bring myself into the flow of life and experience.

Perhaps this poem, and remembering the words, savouring the meaning, will allow me to be able to find the “form and shape” in the pain that that has flowed through my life. Perhaps in remembering this poem, I will be able to bring my pain IN, allow my pain to be a part of me, rather than “getting over” my pain and “obliterating” my pain.










Loving you from here.


About Albert Huffstickler ~

“In 1988, Richard Lance Williams wrote in The Austin Chronicle about Huffstickler’s poetry, commenting that “travelling [had] instilled in him a great tolerance for the diversity of human behavior and a deep understanding of how a rootless life can drive one to insanity.” As Williams noted, “his poetry reflect this diversity.” “Long or short, elegies or curses, comic or obscene, sad or jubilant, but always in his vocabulary of ideas,” Williams continued, “his poems speak to the longing of a human for an understanding of their place in this strange, dangerous universe.” After another interview with Huffstickler in 1989, Williams commented on Huffstickler’s interest in “the artist’s blessing, the curse; why artists have to create because the terror is so great, the universe without them so incomprehensible, too comprehensible….” As he requested in a poem, Huffstickler’s ashes were scattered in an arroyo outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and by chance or fate, the arroyo turned out to be on Hyde Park Road. As Williams’s eulogy concluded, Huff remains “a soul who even now is on a bus somewhere between here and eternity.”

Photo of Albert Huffstickler, taken in 1999

Photo of Albert Huffstickler, taken in 1999











An EXTRAORDINARY opportunity
A new group gathers at the Awaken Studio – Explore – Connect – Integrate – Empower

Wise Men Sharing – a Wisdom Circle for ALL Men

  • Share Wisdom
  • Share Experience
  • Share Inner Knowing

A Group of Courageous Men Speaking and Witnessing from their Heart. Willing to Share from their Life Learning and Experience

  • Create Connection
  • Relieve Isolation
  • Trust Intuition

Monthly 2nd and 4th Wednesday Afternoon 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Sharing Circle – Speaking from the heart of Life Experience

Wednesday Afternoon events designed to expand information and open participants to new inner awareness, internal integration and community connection.

Talking events will take place in a traditional talking and sharing circle. Communication and sharing utilizes a compassionate and respectful communication technique. All participants are encouraged to participate with any sharing as they wish and have the right to pass.

Attendance is at the participants discretion, drop in attendees are welcome. Regular attendance is encouraged and rewarded. Those who attend regularly are more likely  to reap the full benefit of attending. Fee structures are on a sliding scale. Attendance fees are as follows: Drop in is suggested at $25.00. Those who commit to attending regularly and register on line pay $20.00. As always with the Awaken Studio sharing  circles, those who are unable to pay the suggested fees are welcome to attend and pay what they know is available to them. These fees go directly to supporting the space and continuing the work of building community for men.

As always if you have any questions, concerns or curiosity about this event please let me know via email at or you can call me or text me at 416-557-7312. If you call please make certain to leave a message and a telephone number where I cam able to reach you.

All the best and with LOVE


A philosopher is a wise man
distinguished for wisdom and sound judgement
while a sage is a wise man
distinguished for wisdom and from experience.
~ Unknown

Join the Wise Men Sharing Circle at the Awaken Studio

Wise Men Sharing - a Wisdom Circle for ALL Men

Wise Men Sharing – a Wisdom Circle for ALL Men

Rejection – Pain -♥- Sweet Juicy Heart at the Awaken Studio Toronto

A voyage through pain, from many sources, to a simple discovery.

Today. Monday June 13, 2016.

Today a day of feeling so much grief, so much loss and so much pain.

Yesterday was a full day. Holding space for a gathering of men sharing from the heart, at the same time, containing my knowledge of this terrible, terrible rampage of hate and violence and murder and compounded by the weirdness of being separated, for the day, from my husband, my love.

There were so many emotional and thoughtful elements yesterday that I went to sleep with a huge burden of emotional confusion. We had spent the day speaking in our ritualized circle and what I came away with, were twinges of memory around family and secrets and how mostly it was to be a gay boy child. Spending dinner in a quiet gathering instead of what was usually a raucous and vocal group. After cleaning up, I had of course, looked at social media and read the reactions of anger, seen the pictures of the gatherings and witnessed over the internet, the pain that glowed in the candlelight, being present to the terror and the fear and horror of not knowing who was alive and who was dead. As I prepared for sleep I wondered why I was feeling so detached from the events of the day. I was numb, a state unfamiliar to me.

In the night, I dreamt, dreams that I can not remember. I woke up with a resolve to not dwell in the ever repeating world of the “news”. I resolved instead to spend the day in introspection and wondering about my own feelings and my own process.  I began the day, fixed myself a cup of coffee and looked at the newspaper. Unrolling this printed bundle of stories, the first that I read was the tormented and powerful text conversation of a mother receiving the love of her son, as he told her he was going to die and begged her to call the police and get help. The day turned solemn. All seemed hollow after reading of this parent’s love. My heart opened as I realized that I know my mother loved me in this way.

Going with my husband to lunch and not being able to speak with ease as we have in the past had this terrible confrontational conversation about gun control in the United States. We totally misunderstand each other and this creates some level of pain within me. The reason we go to lunch together is to prepare ourselves for the counselling session that we will be attending as a couple. During lunch I wonder how things will go. Just after lunch at the counsellor’s office which is just across the street we begin our conversation. My mood being as dark as it has been in a long time, my emotions running in a rich and dense pulse through me and my wanting so much to be understood.

We proceed in the session. Our conversation is deep and the love that we have for each other very present. The pain that we each had a sharp and constant draw of the blade. Our conversation continues, our understanding deepening our connection, solidifying who we are together. The sharing we create assisting each of us in going a little deeper. Our conversation falls from the torment of the present to the pains of the past.

Through the conversation the depth I reached was not surprising, as much as terrifying. I think I truly scared myself as I revealed the suicidal thoughts, the dark and horrible pain and the frustration of not sensing that I could reveal myself. The pain of being in relationship and not feeling that I could be me. The truth came out. The truth of hurt and loss and self-deprecation and sublimation of self to get acceptance and love. The joyful and uplifting part was that no part of this torment was actually coming from my husband. This torment came through me and my own process, and is a direct result of the many rejections that I have experienced and felt in my life.

In this session, I discovered that rejection can create pain, in the mind and in the body. That from rejection, humans can feel pain on emotional and physical levels. This pain not unlike the pain that comes from a cut or other physical violence. This pain, in me, so awful and so old. This pain connected in the most surprising places. Places that I had not connected before. Places that I thought were far in the past and if not from the far past that I had dealt with and survived. These rejections that had caused so much pain came from the rejection of who I was as a boy by my father, a myriad of rejections as to who I have been in my life as a male, rejections from contemporaries of my body and my way, of being and finally the most visceral rejection by the director of the American corporation that I had worked for over a five-year period.

All of this caused me to seek out some information about rejection, emotional abuse and pain. My quest for information, not surprising, given the myriad bursts of pain that I feel. Pain that is intensified when I am insecure about who I am. This pain can become greater when I am in the visceral act of separating myself from the perpetrator and the agents of the rejection and ostracism. I wondered about how this connected in a historical way, especially with my father, the experiences in school and the life I lived as a gay boy in a small rural setting. The information for me, from me, was that over time and space those old pains had settled. The new pain, the pain that I felt the strongest, was the pain and emotional violence from the most recent abuse. The cause of this pain and the perpetrator of the rejection was very obvious. Next was to search for the trigger of this newest wave of emotional pain.

I thought that the trigger was in something to do with colliding groups and conflicting values, all present in my day on Sunday and with the group that had gathered and all the energy that was brought forward looking to family connections. My next discovery was surprising. The pain that I have been feeling is not connected to this old pain, the pain comes directly from being told, by the director of the school that I had worked for, that I was “IRRELEVANT!”. The pain was being inflicted on me by the voice and actions of that inhumane, corporate director who said that what I cared for did not matter. Who I was was irrelevant. That my vision and my dream was not relevant to his business or the community that I was working from. The subsequent corporate bullying and the legal threats that ensued, were all backed up by the director’s partners, created an intensification of the pain then, and now.

All this emotional violence, the pain of isolation, the pain of having my voice muted and the pain of ostracization were flooding in me. I had worked so hard to contain the discomfort and distress perpetrated by my tormentor. The wound that I had so carefully addressed was irritated by all the recent vulnerability and was running close under the surface. The most painful part was that further below was the volcanic pain of being in the face of hatred and rejection. This intense pain of rejection and isolation was deeply triggered by the senseless hatred, violence and murder unleashed against the innocence of a group gathering to share in the dancing and loving and pure joy of being themselves in that nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The conscious spirit streaming in me that needs to be myself, clashed with the historic message that I was not allowed to be who I truly was. This message of rejection most recently delivered by that managing director, I had worked for and then reinforced by his business partner. This rejection subsequently compounded and further reinforced by the forced ostracism and shunning by many of those I had worked with over those five years. My voice had been silenced. My vocal chords cut away by the threat of legal action.

Time has not healed this slash. My anger at being silenced and shunned has not dissipated. The wound has not been salved by loving self expression.  The hurt and pain has not been replaced by the good works of years of dedication to self and conscious acts of self care. The flow of love that has calmed the pain of all those decades ago, has not calmed the hurt from this most recent rejection. The pain of that rejection inflamed and intensified by watching the senseless hate filled murder of those who are like me, those who were simply being themselves.

I wonder now, several hours later, what self-loving acts it will take to let me be myself, free of the pain of conformation. Secure in the fact that the world that I create loves me and accepts me. Will it be more of the practice of kindness, compassion and grace that I instill in the groups of men that I gather? Will it be more of the excitement and joy that is created when I can work with a man and create an experience that fulfills his deepest dreams? Will it be more glorious dancing? Will it be simply in the beauty of self expression and the great freedom that unfolds when a gathering of men can come together and practice loving kindness with both themselves and others?

From my musing today, I know that there are somethings that will ease over time. There are some things I will never forget. I know that there are somethings that I can forgive. Finally, I know with all of my heart that I simply can not forgive the senseless violence that is perpetrated on the earth, I can not forgive the murder of innocence nor the slaughter of fellow human beings.

I know, in every atom of my being that I deserve to be on this earth. I know, that my voice and my love will persevere through all of my work and all that I create. I know, with every fiber of my physical form that those who dare to be themselves will never be extinguished, will never be eradicated from this earth.

I look forward to the day when life is free from pain and we can be gloriously loving, gracious and kind human beings.

Wondering today about heroes and I looked to Eartha Kitt.

Listening to Eartha Kitt I was struck by an act of generosity bestowed upon me by a man who I admire. This man has lived a life that I can not imagine. There was something that brought me to the life of Eartha Kitt. Reading about her life I realized why she was such an icon to Gay Men in the 60’s and 70’s. She was such a rebel and came from such a strange and tormented beginning.

There are so many elements that I can identify with as read the life and history of this beautiful and passionate woman and I mused and was inspired by the generosity of the man who took me to dinner last night.

Heroes - Acceptance - Rebellion -♥- Awaken Studio Toronto

Heroes – Acceptance – Rebellion -♥- Awaken Studio Toronto












Born in 1927 in a rural and poverty laden environment Kitt must have wondered what it was like to fit in and as well know the absolute and horrid bluntness of being rejected.


The particular element that stood out and had me in tears over my coffee was this quote:

“In a 1992 interview with Dr. Anthony Clare,  Kitt spoke about her gay following, saying:

We’re all rejected people, we know what it is to be refused, we know what it is to be oppressed, depressed, and then, accused, and I am very much cognizant of that feeling. Nothing in the world is more painful than rejection. I am a rejected, oppressed person, and so I understand them, as best as I can, even though I am a heterosexual.”

The part of this quote that rang out to me was of course the opening and my total identification with rejection. I do know what it is like to be refused. I also can identify as the man who took me to dinner last night was a man who had been “accused”, accused of a sexuality that was at that time rejected. I could identify and be very empathic as there have been certainly points in my life where I was “accused: for being gay, a homosexual. The part where I identify more though is is the deep and resounding rejection I often feel from the “culture” establishment that surrounds me and the corporate culture that I totally believe robs each individual of their humanity.

All the more reason to simply be me. All the more reason to take a stand and hold forth for what I believe is the calling of humanity.

TOUJOUR GAI From the Broadway Show “Shinbone Alley” (1957) (Joe Darion / George Kleinsinger) Eartha Kitt (Broadway Production) – 1957 Tammy Grimes (TV Production) – 1960 Carol Channing (Animated Film Production) – 1971

TOUJOUR GAI From the Broadway Show "Shinbone Alley" (1957) (Joe Darion / George Kleinsinger) Eartha Kitt (Broadway Production) - 1957 Tammy Grimes (TV Production) - 1960 Carol Channing (Animated Film Production) - 1971 
My youth I shall never forget 
But there's nothing I really regret 
The years I have poured down the drain 
Have sparkled like gold in champagne 

It's cheerio my dearrio 
Prance and pirouette 
It's cheerio my dearrio 
There's a life in me yet 
Toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai 
Toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai 
I sing all my troubles away 

I don't care to cry with a king 
But with any old beggar I'll sing 
I'll dance in the sun or the shade 
To any old tune that is played 
I'll sing 'neath a bleary-eyed moon 
A rowdy and rollicking tune 
But no time for sleeping have I 
I'll sleep long enough when I die 

It's cheerio my dearrio 
Prance and pirouette 
It's cheerio my dearrio 
There's a life in me yet 
Toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai 
Toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai 
I'll sing away my troubles 
They'll vanish like bubbles 
I'll sing all my troubles away 
Toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai 
(Toujour gai, toujour gai, toujour gai) 

(Transcribed by Monique Adriaansen & Mel Priddle - April 2005)

Phillip and HIS Kind… The search for… Community.

It feels like I have been searching all my life for a group that is like me.

I have decided to give up that search. I feel like I will never find that group. I feel that I will never find a group of men that will not want to make me change to be like them.

There has been a process involved with coming to the realization that I simply need to stay within myself.

The start of the process was the never ending feeling, thoughts and stories that I gave to myself and took into myself that there was something “WRONG” with me. This is an ever ingrained story that I have been taking and then placing on myself for all of my life. I felt as a young child that there was something “WRONG” with me. I did not want to play the way the other children played. As a teen ager and as a young man I felt that there was something “WRONG” with me. I did not want to socialize and “date” in the way that seemed acceptable. I wanted to be with others who were like me. The longing to be with those who thought like me began at this time of my life. I believe that it is in my teen years that I really began to feel that I was damaged and I was at this time that I began to really feel shame about who I was. As a young man I simply felt freakish and sought out others that were freakish. Our shared freakishness was never the same. I was simply comfortable to be together with another group that seemingly felt the same push back from the world around them. As I grew older I isolated more and more and felt more and more separate from the world around me. I was fortunate in that I had a great partner and we have had a wonderful life together. The separateness and difference became all the more evident to me as I grew older and I simply could not identify with the roles. The names, labels, the identities that the world put on me never seemed to fit, I continuously worked to fit and see if I could “morph” myself into an acceptable form. The cloak of shame had hardened into a shell of resistance to the world and to those that would push their identity onto me.

There have been many “morphs” in my adult life, as I would work in earnest and deliberate ways to change myself to fit the role that I thought would work best for me to fit into the place that I was at in my life. There has been a lot of pain and emotion in this desire and effort to simply “FIT” in. I have never “FIT” in.

Time now, with this latest foray into yet another world of men, to stop working, efforting and trying so hard to “FIT” in. It is finally time for Phillip to STOP searching. Finally time for Phillip to simply surrender to the fact that he is perfect just as he is.

For all my life I have never fit in. I am well beyond the middle of my life. It is time to rest assured in myself. Time to come out yet again as a builder of safety, a powerful being and a man full of the skills of life that make him able.

I have lots of experience as being and feeling safe, powerful and able. It is now time to build on these experiences of being, time to stand steadfast in my knowing that I am here to assist others in finding their own safety, their own power and their own ability.

I am curious about how this newfound energy and newfound sense of direction will work to build more safety, power and ability in the world around me, as I share my gifts and the truth and beauty of who I am with the world and the men that grace me with their presence in my life and in the community that I live in.

Starting a morning practice of LOVE.


This morning as I woke up and got ready for the day I noticed that something was a little off. I was in a hurry, I was anxious, I was distracted.

I realized that over the past while I had dropped a practice. I had stopped doing something that I had very much enjoyed doing.

I began again. I simply looked closer at the day and with each thought of the day looked to how I could bring more LOVE to that part of my day.

How could I BE more LOVE?

How could I bring more LOVE?

How could I deliver more LOVE?

How could I create more LOVE?

When I got to the idea that I am simply a creature of LOVE I was able to relax, slow down, and concentrate more.

Looking forward to bringing back my morning practice of looking at LOVE.


When you arise
in the morning,
think of what a precious
privilege it is to be alive
to breathe, to think,
to enjoy, to love.
~Marcus Aurelius

Bringing more LOVE to the world

Bringing more LOVE to the world

Sharing my Practice Today

Today amid the maelstrom of media and the currents of fear floating around me, I find that I must meditate and flow into my heart.

Flowing into and opening my heart I can find the spot that is away from the sadness, fear and anger and fan the flames around the place in my heart that is full of love.

From this place in my heart I can find myself in a more neutral territory.

From this more neutral territory I can find the place to offer a kind ear, a loving hand, compassionate care and joyful empathy. Counselling + Coaching + Bodywork Creating Sanctuary and Refuge for all men Awaken Studio Counselling + Coaching + Bodywork Creating Sanctuary and Refuge for all men Awaken Studio

Ecstatic Path
Opening Erotic Awareness
Experiential Embodied Erotic Exploration

a weekend experience 
Share a time of delight and information.
Pursue a pleasurable opening to heightened erotic states.
Follow the channels of the body into the mystery of spirit within 
a group of men willing to explore together: 
sharing erotic touch, emotional connection and
full-bodied awareness. 

October 31 to November 2, 2014 Join William McMeniman and Phillip Coupal as they lead a group of lovers and erotic explorers into heightened states of erotic awareness.

Information about Weekend Workshops

Register for the Ecstatic Path Weekend Workshop

Ecstatic Path Weekend Workshop for Men Erotic and Sex Education at the Awaken Studio Toronto

Ecstatic Path Weekend Workshop for Men Erotic and Sex Education at the Awaken Studio Toronto

YES, I have been searching! Searching for the TRIBE, you know that BIG GAY TRIBE.

The tribe that will teach me and the tribe that will take care of me and the tribe that I will be able to call my home, my community, my source.

Where is that BIG GAY TRIBE?

I have to say that I have been searching for a long time. I have looked and looked. I have joined in and I have offered, I have traveled far and wide, I have asked and sought in so many places . Well that BIG GAY TRIBE has been found.

“Where is it?” you ask. Well it has been hidden. Hidden for a long time, finally after all of this searching and all of this introspection and all of this sharing Ihave found the BIG GAY TRIBE. It is living inside of me! That TRIBE, all that I seek is inside of me and I have come to believe that it is inside of you.

Now all I have to do is share that part of me with that part of you and we will have a communion. We will have a sharing and we will have a beginning of something that will look like community.

Check it out… Queer Heart Talking Circle – Creating Radical Community

Searching for the TRIBE Queer Heart Talking Circle - Creating Radical Community

Searching for the TRIBE Queer Heart Talking Circle – Creating Radical Community

More about CREATING RADICAL QUEER COMMUNITY at www. or email Phillip at

Excited today.

A flash of awareness occurred to me over the weekend as I prepared for vacation.

This flash was about structure, the unpredictable and what surprise does to me. Surprise does excite me and stimulates me. Even BAD surprise.  BAD surprise, GOOD surprise they both pool together in breath… and lead to EXCITEMENT.

The excitement will only come through me when I have rid myself of the structure, have played in the unpredictable and been able to totally and viscerally swim in my POWER. This POWER is the POWER to choose. The CHOICE is always about choosing to know that I have POWER at least the power to choose the attitude that I will have towards the surprise, the unpredictable, the lack of structure.

Over time I have learned as well that if I can not adjust my attitude towards whatever it is that is blocking excitement then I really need to get curious. CURIOUS about everything! curious about all that is around me, my history, my present and my future. Curiousity is a great anecdote for my need of structure, my fear of the unpredictable and when I am lacking of surprise.

Treat yourself to a SURPRISE today and get CURIOUS. You might find yourself really, truly EXCITED.

Life is TOO important to be taken seriously.

Life is TOO important to be taken seriously.