Living Brave the Daring Way for Men — April 4-5th in Seattle

I love men—they are my people. I have a husband/partner and loving companion who has stuck by me through good times and bad for over 30 years. Two adult sons who are the light of my life, a brother who I adore, and male clients by the dozen who inspire me and teach me and touch my heart on a daily basis.

I KNOW we live in a culture that is dominated by toxic masculinity – a president who emulates it- an economic system that supports it- a culture that teaches it.

What I have learned from the men I care about and for is that the “Man Box” requires a strict set of rules they are forced to adhere to In order for them to “fit-in” or belong:

  • Suffer pain in silence
  • Have no needs
  • Never lose
  • Show no emotions other than bravado or rage
  • Don’t depend on anyone
  • Don’t do anything that could be construed as weakness

And this narrow set of rules is killing our men’s ability to connect authentically to the people they love. It inhibits their ability to find joy and satisfaction in life, and it threatens the very fiber of our culture which depends on compassion and empathy.

The men I know are longing to be seen and heard and appreciated by their partners. They long to feel connected to their children. They long for a safe place to bring their feelings and fears and questions and concerns. They are tired of feeling alone in their struggle to “get it right”. And they want to be able to risk enough to make a mistake or go after that big dream without the fear of failure that inhibits it.


How do we teach healthy masculinity? The kind where men don’t have to fit in a box labeled “masculine” that limits their choices and emotional expression?

That is what my new program LIVING BRAVE THE DARING WAY™ FOR MEN is all about. 

Based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Brené Brown on authenticity, resilience and whole-hearted living this program will teach you how to:

  • Communicate your deepest desires, feelings & needs to the people most important to you without shame or guilt or fear
  • Find ways to manage strong emotions and feelings so you can use them as information about your needs, rather than getting hijacked by them or stuffing them down
  • Bring your authentic self into your relationships, so you can lobby for your needs and desires in direct and clear ways
  • Let go of the “struggle for perfection” and feeling “just not good enough” so you can translate those stories into stories of striving for excellence and feelings of worthiness
  • Gather with other men just like you who long for authentic connection and offer a supportive group to begin the process of change
  • Rise strong after struggle, disappointment or loss and use the knowledge you gained to help you find a resilient new beginning.

That’s my dream—to build a world where we ALL have the skills to share our hopes and dreams and desires with each other where we operate from mutual respect with boundaries, integrity and honesty. And where we can begin to live, love, and lead from a place of worthiness.


Find out how here »

Grateful for the Transformative Journey and Invite You to Join Me

As we close out this holiday focused on gratitude I am keenly aware that one of the things I am most grateful for in my life is the incredible gift I have through my work to witness amazing transformation in the lives of real people day after day.

It is possible to live freely and whole-heartedly ~  with joy, a sense of deep connection, and meaningful purpose. I know that from my own lived experience. And those who decide to walk this path with me are forever changed.

Here’s what some of those who have walked the path of transformation with me have to say:

What a thrill to finally arrive at that place of knowing that deep down inside I am enough- I can ask for what I need and people will be there for me. I can soothe myself when I get triggered and find my way home

Every step along the way taught me something about myself and my capabilities- about how to stand in my vulnerabilities and learn from them. About how to trust my inner mentor and speak my truth and live authentically from what my core values and beliefs are. I wouldn’t trade those lessons for anything in the world.

As women we work so hard to tend to others and rarely take the time to consider our needs, or desires or our dreams. This workshop gave me the time to explore my core issues, the beliefs that are holding me back, and to connect with my inner wise mentor the one who knows how to help me move forward on a more positive path.

I came away with a plan for self -care that will encompass my physical, emotional and spiritual health.

I invite you to take this Journey to Wholeness with me……… I have two opportunities for you to explore the best of what I have learned about finding your truest path into an abundant, rich and meaningful life. 


LIVING BRAVE Weekend Retreat
Whidbey Island February 1st-3rd

I’m so excited about this new workshop I have created which combines the” best of the best” of what I have learned from my incredible mentors and teachers.

From Dr. Brene Brown, we will learn how to access our core values to counter the negative shame based paradigms and fears that hold us back

From Tara Mohr– author of  Playing Big – we will learn to quiet the inner critic and access our wise inner mentor to guide us in finding our true path

From Tara Brach we will experience the peace and contentment that comes from developing a deep meditative practice and a mindful approach to life

From Kristen Neff we will learn self- care practices that will nourish and heal

And last but not least from Sherrod and Phyllis Miller– we will learn a tool called the Awareness Wheel that will transform those difficult conversations into meaningful connections.

Join me and an intimate group of like minded soul mates on beautiful Whidbey Island to begin your journey. Your ticket includes dorm style lodging, healthy organic meals, and our own private yoga instructor! Don’t miss this brand new island retreat!

Learn More About Living Brave

Register Now


RISING STRONG Weekend Retreat
Whidbey Island – March 29th-31st

It not always an easy path- this journey within. To get to your deepest truth sometimes means walking through your pain. But what you find on the other side is your power – your inspiration – your truest potential.

Rising Strong is based on the work of Dr. Brené Brown in how to develop resiliency after a loss or disappointment, a failure or a trauma, or just the old paradigms you are ready to let go of. Sometimes we need to make sense of our past before we can move forward into our future.

This research based process shows us step by step how to rumble with our past and transform it into nuggets of golden opportunity and growth. How to write a new ending to our stories of loss or grief or disappointment.

How to let go of our fears and to LIVE BIG – with Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity – so we can live a Whole-Hearted life full of joy and adventure, realizing our true potential.

Each time I experience the transformative work in Rising Strong- I learn something new about myself and how to move forward in my life, and I’m excited to share this life changing process with you. In the beauty of the island, participants find restoration, healing and a new path forward. Your ticket includes dorm style lodging, healthy organic meals, and our own private yoga instruction!

Learn More About Rising Strong

Register Now

Let Your Inner Love Shine

It’s February and love is in the air.

I’ve decided to focus on love this month – in my communications and in my thoughts and meditations and inspirations!

Won’t you join me?? Let’s have a LOVE IN!

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.” – Brené Brown

I had an experience recently during a meditation class I was taking where the leader led us through a guided meditation on love.

She got us in the right frame of mind – grounded and centered and relaxed. Then she asked us to imagine someone or something that we truly loved. To bring the person or animal or place to mind and focus there for 5 minutes, taking in every detail-and experiencing fully the feeling of love and appreciation we had inside us.

Then she asked us to remember a time when we felt fully loved and appreciated by someone.

It could have been a friend or a parent or a partner or a child. She asked us to focus in on that experience, taking in the full measure of that feeling and focusing there for the next 5 minutes.

Pure. Bliss.

I realized in that moment that I could feel love and loved all by myself.

I didn’t need anyone in the here and now to offer me that. I could conjure that up all on my own! Like magic.

Valentine’s Day can be a hard one for many people who don’t have a special someone in their lives right now…

But what if we focused on love all month?

What if we allowed ourselves to give in to that delicious feeling in the various forms and places that we find it? Sort of like gratitude but with a bit more juicy-ness.

There are so many times where I have experienced loving moments both big and small. I hold in my heart the times I looked into my husband’s sweet brown eyes and shared the love we had for our newborn baby. I remember the love I felt as I sat with my lifelong friends as we grieved the loss of our dear sister to cancer. I remember the love I felt for my loyal and faithful doggie as she gave me her wet-nosed, tail-wagging lip slurping welcome each morning.

I think back to the love I have always felt from my Mom as she tended us all in such sacrificial ways. I savor the unconditional love I experience as I sit in my pew at church and the words and hymns pour down their full measure of grace on my sometimes weary soul.

I’m going to be sharing on my Instagram and my Pinterest account this month the things and people and experiences I love with you. I invite you to do the same.

Share with me what brings that full- bodied experience of love in your life. Share with me your peeps, your pups, and the places that bring you joy!

Here’s to love in all it’s many forms and splendors!

Looking for a little more self-love skills, to quiet that inner critic a bit so you can let your own inner shine? Join me for the Rising Strong Island Retreat on Whidbey Island in April. Get all the details here »

Announcing the Living Brave Book Club

I’m so excited to share this new addition to Living Brave – Stories that Inspire with you…

The only thing I love more than reading a great book…

Is talking about it with my friends and colleagues! And that’s why I’m so excited to launch this new virtual Book Club with each of you…

As you know each month I have highlighted the latest book on my nightstand.

But now we can engage in the Living Brave private Facebook group about the book, it’s ideas and content, your take-aways and how you’re applying the concepts in your life.

Each week I‘ll post questions for you to ponder and respond to and we can have our own virtual book club discussion.


I can’t wait to hear what your takes are on each new book and how you are living out the material in your own life. I know from my experience with “real-live” book group discussions – I always learn so much from what others have gleaned and their unique perspectives on the same material always expands my understanding and challenges my awareness.

Then tune in whenever the spirit moves you to see what others are saying about the book of the month! Contribute your own insights. Discuss important take-aways.

But to join in you’ll need to head on over to join the group »

See you there!

Cynthia Benge

Letting Go of What People Think to Become Authentically You The Journey to Whole-Hearted Living

Brené Brown defines authenticity as:

“The daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

So becoming authentic is about letting go of who we think others want us to be, and beginning to operate from a deep place that represents our truest self.

But when we have been programmed from an early age to care about what others think- it’s hard to let go of that. We struggle to embrace a new practice of honesty and forthright behavior.

And, as Brené describes it, it is a practice.

Much like learning to meditate or ride a bike or cook or learn a new language.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen” – Brené Brown

So it’s a practice and a series of choices.

The first part of being authentic is to let go of what others think.

And the second and sometimes more difficult part is to cultivate what you think. What you believe in and know to be true. This is where the work often comes in.


It means living purposefully from our values, and that takes some time and effort and contemplation, but I know from experience it is worth the effort.

When we can identify our 3 or 4 core values- and use those to make our difficult but daily decisions about how to live our life or allocate our time- our decisions become so much easier.

Authenticity Action Step:

Go ahead and take a moment to define your own core values…

Write down your 3 or 4 highest core values.

These might be things like love or social justice or integrity or family or relationships or hard work or honesty or a healthy lifestyle.

Keep it in a place you can refer to often.

Reminding yourself of your core values will keep you on track and grounded.


What to Watch Out For:

Where we often get into trouble is when 2 of our values begin to compete with each other.

For example one of my values is a strong work ethic and responsibility to my commitments.

But I also hold family as one of my top 3 core values- so I need to put family first and limit my commitments to work or outside activities to tend to that first.

This helps me plan my day and govern my decisions.

I can stand right inside my integrity when I have to say no to a volunteer opportunity or even the more difficult one of a promotion or assignment at work if it means taking away precious time that I have allotted to family.

We are so programmed to operate out of the “should’s” in our life that we sometimes don’t know what we would do if we “could.”

Embrace Life Whole-Heartedly in the Full 17 Day Challenge

Connect deeply and vulnerably with the ones who really matter... and finally be seen as the real you.

Cultivate a life filled with more happiness, connection, and courage as we walk through each step of The 10 Guideposts for Whole-Hearted Living, based on Dr Brené Brown’s piercing work into shame, resilience, worthiness, and the courage to keep rising back up.

Join the 17 Day Whole-Hearted Living Challenge!


Making the Choice to be Authentic

The choice to be authentic is a difficult one.

It sounds nice but how do we begin to do it- when we are so influenced by others around us?

One of the big questions I often use to ask myself- what would I do if no one cared?

What if I didn’t have to tell anyone what my decision or action was?

What if I only had myself to please?

What would I do then??


Now that doesn’t give us license to just go around behaving badly—because that’s not who we really are at our core.

It’s not our “best” self or our “worst self – but rather our most honest self.

We might ruffle some feathers when we bring our truth forward. We might get criticized or judged or even (dare I say it?) “left out”…. which is our ultimate and primal fear- being ostracized by the group.

But the greater risk is to go through life living a lie. To live in ways that are outside our internal integrity. To cut ourselves off from our deepest feelings, needs , and truths. This is the road to the slow death of our vibrancy, vitality and joy.

As E.E. Cummings says:

“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight—and never stop fighting.”

The fight to become the truest version of yourself is so important.

Because if you don’t, the world will miss out on your unique gifts, talents and contributions.

But more importantly you will miss out on the joy, fulfillment and connection that comes with allowing others to truly see you, know you, and appreciate you- which is at the heart of feeling deeply loved and living Whole-Heartedly.

Experience All 10 Steps on the Journey to Whole-Hearted Living

This article is excerpted from our 17 day Whole-Hearted Living Challenge…

Join us on our 17 day challenge as we go through each of the 10 Guideposts to Whole-Hearted Living and embrace life fully.

Click here to to learn more and join us on the challenge »


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