Fatherhood and Living our Fullest Potential
with Ricardo Gonçalves

I offer guidance to men that want to live a fulfilling Life and claim their responsibility as Mature Men and Fathers
My Journey Into Manhood
Before I joined the Awakened Life Men's Collective, in the spring of 2011, I never really missed or dreamed about spending much time with other men, except maybe for the traditional playing of sports and a few other activities. And to be honest, it took me a while to really understand how important it is to be with other men in a bigger context of Trust, Vulnerability and Commitment. But even without really getting it with my rational mind there was always something deeply felt in me when I was physically present with Pete and the initially small group of men from this Collective, like a strong sense in my heart that "there is something very right here!" Today, I can sincerely say that the ever present guidance of Pete and the support of my dedicated brothers, has been one of the most important aspects of my growing into a more Integrated, Confident and Mature Man.

Another very important aspect of my own development has also been the birth and presence of my two kids.
I believe almost every father would agree that there is a life before and after having kids, and some things will never be the same again. Their presence, their constant demand, and also all the beautiful ways through which they melt our hearts and invite us to reevaluate our priorities, has been an invaluable gift with a profound impact on how I see myself and the world.

And last, but surely not least, the Continuous Presence, Love and Support of my Wife Teresa, that also shares the same context within the Awakened Life Project (and is also part of the Women's Creative) has played, and continues to play, an enormous part in dismantling many of my ideas and images about myself and showing me what Love really is.

Recognising that perfection is just an idea and acknowledging that I am, and will always be, a work in progress, I give myself continuously to be of Service to a Mystery that Transcends myself, but that I am also an expression of, with Humility, Courage and Strength.

When I first knew I was going to become a father for the first time, I was in shock, literally! First of all, because we hadn't really planned on having kids, but mainly because I suddenly thought that my spiritual journey was over, as being a parent didn't really go well with my ideas about a contemplative life of silence and solitude, in a remote ashram somewhere in the East… Little did I know how far away I was from the truth! Why? Well, one of the most important consequences of being a parent is that most of our focus stops resting on ourselves and shifts to another, or others, that rely on us for their well being. Being a father of a boy and a girl has also provided quite a diverse array of feelings, challenges and learning experiences that have been the catalyst for a profound transformation.

On the one hand my relationship with Miguel, my 10 year old son, has brought to the surface many cultural and gender conditionings that I have learned from my father and society at large.
It always strikes me hard when I hear my father through my own voice and I witness myself repeating things that I have always thought I would never do. But then, when I choose to see that as an opportunity to break a cycle, I apologise and become an expression of openness and intimacy, rather than the habitual insistence on contraction and fear. That has been providing the opportunity for me to deal with and to be responsible for my own sh*t, to cultivate our relationship with creativity and to find in each moment the best father I can be. On the other hand, with my daughter Clara things have been very loving and easy most of the time, maybe due to the fact that she is a girl and has the capacity to melt my heart with a simple smile and crack my whole being wide open with her happy character.

The more I let go of wanting to control my kids and open up to what they bring to me, the more I see them for who they are, and who they are growing to be, and the more I am in awe with the perfection and mystery of Life itself!

Living Our Fullest Potential
Most of us have been taught to obey, to follow the norm, not to think too much for ourselves and to comply! If that was the best way to live Life then most of us should be really happy! But is that really the case? Are we doing our best everyday, not only to cope with our chores and needs, but to be of service to a higher Good than ourselves, of our family or close community?

Particularly in the last 2 years, a lot of what has been said, preached and even demanded from society throughout the whole world, should be at least questioned. But rather than pointing the fingers out to someone out there, we should be more interested in what we can and want to do differently, in order to stand for what we believe and cherish and to be active participants in the creation of a Life and a World that is really worth living for.

How does that look like you might ask? There is not really a strategy or formula that fits all, we all have to find that out for ourselves. But in my own experience taking risks beyond my comfort zone, accepting failure as part of the growing process and trusting in the fundamental Goodness and Beauty of Life, are some of the most important aspects of this quest.

And I can assure you, once you taste the sweet and rich flavour of Freedom you won't be able to be satisfied with a conventional and uninspired life anymore.

If you are interested in resting more deeply in and living from the Essence of who you truly Are, to Own and Express your Gifts, to Care for your most Intimate Relationships, and you also resonate with what I shared above, please get in touch and let's find together how you can be the Best Version of Yourself!

For a big part of what I used to call "my life" I was simply following what was expected from me, from family and society, without even questioning much. Although sometimes there would be a subtle intuition, whispering that something profound was missing, and I would be out of touch with a passion for life and what I was doing, that was never enough to make me stop and question. It wasn't until I was about 28 years old, and for the first time really felt alone after a painful breakup, that i began to question. I would say most of us really need a strong, unpredicted and emotionally challenging event to wake up and truly face Reality, surely that was my case!

After some time of opening more to Life and trying new things, eventually I met my future wife Teresa and the Awakened Life Project!
Both played, and continue to play, a huge role in a big shift that I was dreaming about, but was too scared to make. With their invaluable support I was then able and confident enough to quit my job, move from the city to the countryside and start a new journey that today feels like a totally new Life.

Since then, I have been learning to live beyond my strong tendency to control everything and everyone, to feel the emotions in my body, to feel and listen to myself and others, to be in touch with and unleash a passion for Life, and through that Passion to experiment with creative ways to express, act and be of Service.

These days I live in a beautiful valley in central Portugal, close to the Ashram of the Awakened Life Project, with my wife and two kids, and the more I recognise myself as a Free Man, the more of an active role I play locally, in my own country Portugal and in the world.
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