The Man Code



Join us on a creative journey using art, reflection, photography and a dash of inspiration

No experience required!

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       This course is about self discovery. It is designed to help women bring out the very best in themselves. It will help you to strengthen your voice and your resolve to live more fully and authentically. It can help you to release yourself from confusion and uncertainty. This course is about taking back a power that I believe already resides inside you. This power lies dormant awaiting your permission to be released. This power lives in your inner adolescent girl-self. It is my belief that by learning about her you can grow in ways you never imagined. I think that by releasing and embracing this power you will come to see that discovering this part of yourself not only benefits you but has a ripple effect, i.e. it benefits the family and community who depend on you to guide them in these often confusing times.



   Q:    Who should take this course?


   A:    Any woman who wants to learn more about herself.


   Q:    Should you still take this course if you didn't like this stage of your life or if you have had trauma during your



   A:    Yes. I believe that by exploring this stage of your development you will be able to review any of the events that affected

   you negatively and reassess your original take on them. For example, perhaps what you once defined as weakness was

   actually bravery. I also think that in doing this course you can heal from earlier difficulties.

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    I believe that the inner adolescent girl is a potent part of every woman. Sadly, as we age we learn to silence her. Western culture allows girls freedom up to a point and then we are taught to conform. We are sucked into a vortex and spit out in an ill fitting barbie suit. We look around and see that everyone is doing as she is told. She is either being a "good" girl or rebelling and being a "bad" girl. One way of another we are in reaction to the annihilation of a very potent self, the early adolescent girl. She is the part of us that knows how to have fun. She knows how to be free. She knows how to fight back. She knows how to sing, laugh and dance with abandon. She holds our potential, our hopes and dreams. She doesn't care what you think. She is brimming with her own ideas. She speaks in code to her friends who all understand her even if the rest of us don't. Her energy and vitality unnerve those who do not live as she does. She lives in us all and we need to reclaim her. We need to allow her to take her rightful place in our lives. We can call her forth and she will come. We have to drop our agenda and listen to her talk, listen to her energy, vitality and beauty. We must trust her. I believe that she knows what we need even when we don't.



    It seems to me that prior to a girl hitting puberty she is the most free. I read once that a preadolescence girl could walk down the street behind her mother doing the King Tut and no-one would pay much attention to her. However, once she hit puberty everything changed. I think of this transition in a girl's life as a vortex. It is a swirling, whirling, force like a whirlpool that she gets pulled into where she is expected to look, sound and behave according to a cultural script. Lots of girls are unhappy about their body changing. Lots of girls fight this transition. On some level they know they are losing something important and are being pulled into something bigger and more powerful then themselves. Once they are pulled into the vortex they change, they lose their freedom. 



    On the other side of the vortex I think of the girl as being spit out in a barbie suit. What I mean is that she is forced to see how she measures up to a suit that none of us fit into. In other words, is she thin enough, tall enough, Blondie enough, pretty enough, pleasing enough...? The barbie suit is a measure of the outside of a girl. It isn't about her inner beauty, strength and character. It is about how she fits into the cultural expectations, i.e., is she sexual enough but not too sexual? Is she the bride or the perpetual bride's maid? Remember that prior to puberty she could walk down the street being goofy and no-one much cared, least of all her. And that is the point, she didn't have to care much about who was watching or judging. She was free to be whatever she felt like being.

     I think that when an adolescent girl first comes out on the other side of the vortex she still has part of herself. She has not been transformed completely by the barbie suit because she still remembers her former freedom. She still knows what she thinks and is ready to share that with everyone. However, people judge her now rather then listen to her the way they once did. They express impatience and irritability when she described what she sees because a girl with a well-fitted barbie suit would never do that. It is my sense the the thing that upsets us the most about adolescents is that they have not learned to edit themselves. They are notoriously honest when it comes to their opinions of the people around them. And they especially like to  point out when those people are being hypocrites.

    This is what I call the pissy part of the adolescent girl. I think that this pissy part is an important part of her. I think that this is her way of expressing a loss that she intuitively feels. This loss is felt like a death. However, it is a death without a body. So there is no way to openly mourn. No-one understands what she is crying about. They just chalk it up to hormones She doesn't know why she is crying either and hasn't got the ability to articulate what she is experiencing. This is the case because what she is experiencing has no name. It isn't called a right of passage. It isn't celebrated as a girls entrance into womanhood. It isn't recognized as a loss. It goes unmarked. When we do not name things we have no power to understand them, never mind change them. 

    This passage into and out the other side of the vortex is about a girl leaving herself behind. She is expected to put away her own ideas. She must stop laughing and singing loudly, and stop dancing with abandon. Now everyone is watching and judging her. She is expected to edit herself at every level in order to please those around her. No longer is she permitted to walk down the street, doing the King Tut, without a care in the world.



    What we are going to do in this course is mark this transition. We are going to remember, reveal, release and reclaim our inner adolescent girl. We will reveal her strengths and uniqueness, release her potency and voice and reclaim her vitality, and freedom to be who ever she wants to be.

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 About The Man Code:

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     Through my work as a therapist I have counseled hundreds of couples. It never fails to amaze me that much of the conflicts lie in simple communication breakdown. I often say that I am an interpreter, i.e., I translate what her words mean for him and what his words mean for her.

     Often couples' values and philosophies are the same but given how complicated, and busy, life has become the first thing that breaks down is the time couples spend listening to each other. This is made more difficult because of how we describe our experiences and feelings differs depending on whether you are male or female.

     A male counselor once told me that men don't have a reflective dialogue in their heads about themselves or their relationships the way women do.

     This means that when we ask them what they think or how they feel about things they may not know how to put it into words that we understand. Then we get frustrated because we think they are blowing us off or being difficult.

     It is my observation that the world that boys and men live in has a whole set of rules and codes that are entirely different from the rules and codes in worlds of women. The problem is that neither of us realize this and so we misunderstand each other all the time.

     I think that if we have a means of understanding the differences we can rebuild the communication and enjoy our relationships with men and boys more.

     I have designed The Man Code to do just that, i.e., to help women learn about the world of boys and men.

     Using a photo journalism format we will learn to see what we usually overlook or misinterpret. We will gather photo evidence of the habits of men and boys. Next, we will use these images to piece together an understanding of the world they live in. Like anthropologists we will be exploring a culture that exists right under our noses.

     We will gather these images ourselves from the world around us through a series of photo challenges. Then we will learn to read and interpret what these images mean. By the end of the course you will see men and boys in a whole new light, one that is filled with curiosity, wonder and affection.

     We will come to appreciate our differences, find humour in them, and best of all bridge the communication gap. I can't think of a better gift to give ourselves or the men and boys in our lives.

      I guarantee that you will learn something you didn't know before about boys and men. So come on out and join us and see the world from a whole new perspective.

      You don't have to be a photographer to take this course. You don't need a fabulous camera, even a cell phone camera will do. Nor do you need to be a great writer. All you have to do is be willing to join us for four weeks and learn what The Man Code is and how it works.


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Images designed by Tracy Olan. -

Video directed and produced by Sage Irwin. -