It’s a cold snowy day a few weeks ago, and you can see a group of male guests standing outside around a fire pit with Senior Case Manager Eugene Smalls. You can see that words and emotions are being exchanged. What brought them outside into the cold that day was the Micah Center workshop, “No More Excuses.” Smalls says, “We talk in great detail about how we use excuses to keep the finger from pointing at us and to justify why we are still stuck.” The primary purpose of the workshop is to hold men accountable and to challenge them to get rid of the excuses they use that keep them from moving forward and growing.
When asked what was happening outside around the fire pit, Smalls explains the process, “Guests write down what they need to let go of, and when it burns, they leave it there. They don’t have to share what they are releasing, but they are asked to think about their journey at St. John’s and their excuses for why they are not moving forward. A lot of what comes out is how others are not helping them or doing things for them; staff are often scapegoats for not overcoming their barriers.” There is a healing power in the burning ceremony. Fire and burning the excuses leaves the excuses in the fire and allows guests to move beyond to set and achieve goals. Some guests, Smalls says, had multiple cards of items they needed to let go of.
When someone is full of blame, they can’t move on. They may blame relationships, social service agencies and assume the victim mentality of “no one wants to help me.” What the workshop focuses, Smalls says, is that “help means first helping yourself.”
The outcome of the workshop for guests is the ability to identify their barriers, set new goals, and move beyond them. Their excuses no longer are the barriers to their success.
“I hope people realize how powerful they really are; they are amazing in themselves,” says Smalls.