ROOTS & WINGS:  Celebrating the Connectedness of All

The  25th New Mexico Men’s Wellness Fall Conference
October 22-25, 2009
Ghost Ranch New Mexico

Co-leaders Lawrence Cook and Michael Wilkinson invite you to the 25th NMMW Fall Conference.

How connected would you like to be to yourself?  To others?  To the world around you?

Using experiential activities and exercises, creative expression, large and small group settings, and reflection, we invite you to explore with us the possibility of connection, and celebrate the innate joy, peace and creativity that come from an understanding of the relatedness of all things.

The conference opens on Thursday Evening, October 22nd and concludes midday on Sunday, October 25th.  Registration fees include three nights accommodations and meals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center near Abiquiu.  Fees are as follows:

  • Early Bird (postmarked by September 8, 2009): $275.00
  • Regular (postmarked by September 21, 2009): $295.00

Registration is limited to 90, so be sure to register early to ensure your place.

Click on Fall Conference 2009 Registration Form to download your registration form.  It is an Acrobat PDF document that can be filled out on your computer and printed (or printed and filled out by hand).

To spread the word about the conference, we also have a printable flyer (click on 2009 Fall Conference Flyer to download) that can be shared with other and/or posted.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact the co-leaders:

Kite in the Clouds

Kite in the Clouds

As one of the planned activities, we will all be making and flying kites like the one shown above.  (Photo and conference logo courtesy of Joseph Woods)

Dear Men€™s Wellness Leader:

The New Mexico Men€™s Wellness 25th Anniversary Publication is being compiled for presentation at the Fall 2009 Conference. We want to include current comments and insights of all the conference leaders and have attached a short questionnaire as a guide. You may, of course, respond in any way that best captures your feelings and experience as a conference leader.

It is our hope to receive responses by the first week in September. Anything you can send before that time would be appreciated. (You may also attach images €“ preferably with dates and content info.)  Please email to me at An attached Word.doc is fine, or you may just lop off my intro letter and reply in text within the email.

Those from whom we do not receive a response will be included in the conference listing with their year of leadership and the theme. If you are one of  the former leaders who responded to my request for the 20th Anniversary project (which I never completed) I thank you and can certainly use that material. Even so, I would appreciate your up-to-date insights and comments for the 25th.

Thank you for your many contributions to Men€™s Wellness and for your response to the questions listed below.


Patrick Sauer

Guide to Response:

  1. Name
  2. Profession, job, passion
  3. Year you were conference leader
  4. Theme you chose and why
  5. How and when you were introduced to Men€™s Wellness
  6. Challenges, satisfactions, insights, disappointments etc. in leadership role
  7. Memorable events, outstanding or poignant moments at your conference
  8. Ideas about the present and future of Men€™s Wellness
  9. Anything (or anything else) you wish to share

(The following letter from Christopher King is being shared on as “Men’s Musings” blog post, and a variety of replies are being posted as comments.  We are planning to share the post and associated comments at the 25th NMMW Conference at Ghost Ranch where the theme of the Future of NMMW will be a significant part of the “Roots and Wings” theme.  Please register at this web site and add your input to the discussion.  – Jim Connolly, Webmaster,

Dear Men of New Mexico Men’s Wellness,

I am writing to share some ideas I have been incubating for the last few weeks. I have had the opportunity to share some of this with our fall conference leader, Lawrence Cook, and I promised him at the time something in writing.  So I decided to craft a letter and send it to a bunch of my comrades in NMMW (a partial list for sure). I welcome your responses all–regarding our beloved organization’s mission and future. Please forward this to other men in NMMW who might find this worthwhile.

I am of two minds. I am deeply concerned about the future of New Mexico Men’s Wellness. I have zero concerns or worries about the future of New Mexico Men’s Wellness.

Are you familiar with the Shriners – those grey haired guys with the funny hats who have raised money for decades – to build and fund hospitals for children with severe illnesses?  At a St Patricks Day parade in Tucson about 5 years ago I watched their remarkable street performance – each man wearing a tasseled hat driving a motorized go-cart – about six of them at a time moving in tight formations.  Very low to the ground, they weaved deftly and flawlessly in and out of each other in cloverleaf patterns. The parade moved on – lots of red haired and freckled kids and adults riding floats and waving to the robust crowd. A while later a second group of Shriners appeared in go-carts half the size of the first ones. And their finale was a third group – riding even smaller carts – roughly the size of a toddlers ride-in sports car.  The men in all 3 groups were clearly having fun – while executing their choreographed motorized dance – with focus, humor and grace.

So below, I offer my views of areas of NMMW deserving attention.

One – We have the opportunity to further define our mission statement. I know that we are about achieving spiritual growth and development, about raising our children, supporting our families, living life fully and down to the spiritual marrow – about reveling in the wisdom, humor and stories of other men, of avoiding harm to self and others, of assisting those men we encounter on our journeys to overcome inner and outer challenges.

Is there a clear written framework for our outreach?  Given the name of our organization, what is our commitment to touching men who are brand new to our state, as well as to men whose families have dwelled here for centuries, to men whose first language is other than English, and to men who are hospital-bound or house-bound – due to old age or infirmity – physical, emotional or spiritual.  Are we concerned with men who live in Clayton, Hobbes or Deming – as well as with those who dwell in our major cities.

Two – We have the opportunity to beef up our collective service endeavors.  The opportunities for serving New Mexico based men and boys and their families and loved one – at this time in history – have never been more varied and compelling.  I am thinking of the huge veteran population – here in Albuquerque, and spread throughout our rural communities. I have had the privilege of working with many of these men for going on 2 years. I can attest to the tremendous depth of their individual and collective suffering – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – as well as to their honesty, deep caring for others, their survival skills and their resiliency. New Mexico Men’s Wellness has veteran-members, and has assisted veterans in the past. I believe we can do more.

I am recalling our boys and adolescents – many of them growing up in chaotic settings where they lack a father a mother or both. They are doing the best they can with limited guidance – in confronting abuse, substances, peer pressure, hunger and despair. NMMW has helped these boys and teenagers in the past. I believe we can do more.

I am thinking of our men living under incarceration – men who have suffered, are struggling to survive, and are in need of love, spiritual training and healthy connections with men living on the outside. Men’s Wellness has assisted these men in the past. And yes, I believe we can do more.

Finally – We have the opportunity to develop our formal NMMW structure/organzation. At a post fall conference meeting, held at Phil Davis’ sanctuary in the winter of 2008, we engaged in some planning -around forming a board, refining our bylaws,  enhancing our nonprofit status, and putting our finances in order. And I believe there is more to be done.

Down the road we may lose critical mass in our organization – as older guys die or move away at a faster rate than younger guys join us. Eventually a man picks up the stick – perhaps at the summer gathering -and over the course of the next 12 months, is unable, despite major efforts, to recruit others for the event he has solemnly agreed to host, and so the tradition dies. The fall conference would likely be the last conference – with its status as flagship gathering – and its record of having the largest attendance among the 5 yearly gatherings – 4 seasonal plus Father-Daughter.

So in October we will celebrate 25 years of vibrant community and successful gatherings. What will NMMW look like in 2036?  One obvious possibility is that NMMW will have no gatherings, no ceremonies, no website, no board of directors, and no bank accounts.  In this case, NMMW would have a legacy – its remarkable history – the rich stories, oral and written, and sensory memories in the minds of the surviving members – memories of gatherings past, lifelong friendships, transformative ceremonies, and men’s groups spawned, forged and steeped in many settings.

I see a young bearded history buff fingering timeworn copies of Man Alive or perusing the Internet – having typed in a Google search – using the guidewords: men, spirituality, community, New Mexico. A friend of mine Iris Keltz, a writer and retired APS teacher recently crafted a book – Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie – that recounts the history of the New Buffalo Commune – during its early 1970s heyday at Morningstar outside of Taos. Perhaps someday there will exist a published definitive history of NMMW – and an avid historian NMMW guy will cart his boxes of hardcover editions to book signings at places like Bookworks in the North Valley – where he will engage his audience with a selection of spiritually rich and colorful male-intensive stories. The audience will listen raptly – while sipping decaf and munching on chocolate covered strawberries.

The coincidence I am living is that my smaller men’s group, aka the Gila Monsters, (started in 1993, currently 9 members strong) is going through its own evolutionary choicepoint. Having collectively identified and voiced a recent pattern of diminishment – in attendance, and clarity about our purpose – we have elected to confront the trend. In our summer meetings we are talking over our future as a men’s group – what are we about and how will we structure our future endeavors/gatherings?.  My hope for New Mexico Men’s Wellness Community is a similar conscious engagement – with the important issues of the times.

For myself, I am eager to add my hands, heart and mind to the collective enterprises of refining our mission and crafting our future.

Viva New Mexico Men’s Wellness!

With sparkling eyes and a broad grin,

Your brother, Christopher