A Voice of Initiation, Reconciliation, & Gender Intelligence


Speaking of Robert McDowell

Robert McDowell is known for his dynamic talks, transformative keynote addresses, and stimulating workshops that awaken the visionary doer in each of us, inspiring deeper listening and an evolving consciousness of life’s diverse spectrum.

McDowell’s compassionate story-and-poem–telling clears obstacles, opens windows, and encourages more effective communication in personal relationships and at the office.

His programs are available as short talks (20 minutes), keynote addresses (45 minutes and up), half-day seminars (up to 5½ hours), full-day workshops (up to 9 hours), weekend workshops, and weeklong workshops and retreats.

McDowell always adapts his presentations to the issues and needs of your particular group.

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Topics for Talks & Speeches

Note: Robert is also happy to craft a speech, talk, or workshop to fit the particular needs of an audience.

Man in a Woman’s World

Women are increasingly reasserting the Divine Feminine by taking on roles of power in the family, business, culture, and relationships. As we create the new paradigm, women and men are discovering new ways to be with each other as mutual inspirations, coworkers, and partners. And yet, we have far to go. How can men join and support women in new ways? What do women require of the new Man (or Wowman)?

Fathers & Daughters, Fathers & Sons

Our modern Western world often eliminates the rituals and rites of passage every child needs to pass through to become an adult. What can fathers do to change this pattern? What can children do to have better relationships with their fathers?

How to Change Course: Narrative Medicine and the Spirit Horse in Each of Us

Usually white or gray or occasionally black, the Spirit Horse appears throughout the planet’s stories and cultural histories. But the Spirit Horse also grazes and gallops in every one of us. The Spirit Horse is the messenger, the bearer of news we ignore at our own risk. Whenever the Spirit Horse thunders across our interior prairie or rears up on a hilltop before a full moon, we are faced with a transformative moment we’ll never forget.

A major illness may creep into your life. Maybe you turn dangerous opposition at work into beneficial collaborative energy. Perhaps a career change demands your attention and action. You may meet an opportunity to heal an old family wound. The Spirit Horse appears at pivotal points in each of our lifetimes. The key is to be willing—and ready—to change.

Hold Your Breath and Drown Without Dying: A New Strategy for Survival and Success

At the moment of your death, perhaps an angel will appear to tell you, “No, it’s not time—there is still work to do.” This happened to Robert McDowell and a friend in the icy November waters of Monterey Bay. But what of their life stories after being saved? What about yours?

Three Wrecks: What the Interstate Can Tell You About Your Life and Work

What is the universe telling you when you improbably save a toddler from death on a sledding slope and are first on the scene of three horrible accidents in the course of five weeks? Robert discusses the many transformations that took place in his life as a result of those epic five weeks. Through workshop, he leads participants through discoveries and examinations of their own signature transformational moments.

Job Loss: How Meditation, Alec Baldwin, and David Mamet Got Me Fired and Changed My Life

Suppose you teach drama and English at a high school in Klamath Falls, Oregon—a conservative, hunter’s paradise. In the first week, you become aware that the school’s principal is shadowing you. Though colleagues and students enjoy your work, the principal stalks you daily, hoping to find grounds for dismissal.

When you begin some classes with two or three minutes of guided meditation, he calls you into his office to tell you the school board and parents will not look kindly on you bringing “Communist Eastern Buddhist stuff” into your classroom. A few weeks later, he warns you that “churches are talking about this.” Then three months later, he suspends you with pay after you show a film clip from Glengarry Glenross to your drama students. At your administrative hearing, you’re assured that the school board will fire you at the next meeting if you do not resign. What would you do?

This talk focuses on how one endures the worst of times and rises above one’s baser instincts to become a better person and employee.

Time To Wake Up: Driving Through Woods on a Summer Evening at 65 mph

One summer while driving on a cross-country trip at 2:00 a.m., I awoke to find myself speeding through dense trees as my companions slept. I had fallen asleep at the wheel, left the interstate, and entered a wooded area that seemed endless. I was terrified, and I knew we were all about to die. But somehow, I hit no trees. And then I steered us back to the interstate, up an embankment, and onto the highway. I stopped at the next exit and sat shaking until my friend woke up, yawned, and asked if it was his turn to drive. Shell-shocked and wide awake, I spent the next few hours thinking hard about my life, which had indeed flashed before my eyes in the trees. I thought about why I was still alive and sought to discover my deeper purpose.

The Soul-Poem of Work: Cutting Turf and Harvesting Seaweed in Ireland

Two occupations we don’t hear much about in the United States are turf-cutting and seaweed harvesting. While living in the west of Ireland, we heated our home with oil and turf. In the early spring, a neighbor and his 10-year-old son worked long hours below our seawall hauling seaweed from the boiling offshore waters. On several occasions, I traveled inland to visit the nearest turf fields, where cutters stocked up in much the same way my neighbors in the Pacific Northwest logged forest plots. I also sat at our kitchen window for hours watching the seaweed harvesters until I gathered the courage to speak with them.

Whether they worked the land or sea, a spiritual power emanated from them and their work. It had something to do with their pacing and their simple, sturdy gracefulness. They were patient people, and reverent, too. Perhaps this last is the most magical component of soulful work. Whatever we do, it’s important to consider the soulful aspects of our work, the part spirit plays in the work we perform, and the importance of reverence in the tasks we set our hands and hearts to.