Courtyard Conversations

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Courtyard Conversations, through which we will be building more intentional community around UnTangled, discussing ideas related to a book manuscript I’m working on, and together developing an approach to living increasingly authentic and joyful lives.

courtyard conversations

Photo Credit: Andy Watson1 via Compfight cc

What are Courtyard Conversations?

A courtyard is defined as a gathering place in the center of a community, usually protected by walls on all sides and open to the sky. So, first, I want our web conversations to feel like a courtyard—a gathering place for our community, a place of safety and trust, and a place of openness. Second, the conversations will draw heavily upon the metaphor I used in a letter to my son, in which I describe the ego as a castle wall with cannons on it. In this sense, our true selves are like a courtyard within the protection of our egos, and the goal of the Conversation will be to systematically learn how to find our center and live from it.

The Conversations were initially called Google Video Hangouts but, like all living things, they have grown and evolved over time. We have switched from the Google+ platform to, where you can participate by video or phone. Furthermore, while “hangout” was an accurate description of the first four meetings—a loose collection of topics and discussion related to the true self—going forward, we will be working through more intentional series of conversations.

By the way, I was going to call them Courtyard Web Conferences, but a past participant in the Hangouts suggested it sounded too corporate and not reflective of the interactional nature of the event. She suggested Courtyard Conversations, instead. I thought it was a fantastic idea, so, ironically, a conversation led to them being called Conversations!

What are people saying about past Conversations?

“The UnTangled Hangout proved to be an incredible platform on so many levels. First, Kelly is the real deal. Honest and genuine, he asks great questions and really wants feedback. Second, the whole concept of bringing people together—appreciation of the ideas shared in the blog—allows participants in the Hangout to feel like they are already part of a community. Third, it IS great community. With folks sharing their genuine thoughts about the topics Kelly raises, we all gain in new perspectives and opportunities to grow. The hour literally flew by and I took away great enthusiasm and creative energy.” —Deb

“What I realized…is that I would like a mentor/community to expand my thoughts and experiences…someone who is enlightened…then life could have an even greater meaning.” —Diana

“I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m glad that I showed up for the Hangout and I plan to be a part of the future ones.” —Scott

What is happening in future Conversations?

On November 23rd, 2014, we concluded our first series of six Conversations entitled, “Dancing in the Courtyard: How to Find Your Center, Live From It, and (Almost) Never Leave It.” This was the first organized series of Conversations we’ve done, and you brought so much wisdom to the gatherings. I’m grateful, and I’m excited to begin a new series of conversations with you in the new year.

Our second series of Conversations began on February 15th, 2015. It is entitled, “Hanging in the Balance: How to Live with a True Self and a False Self,” and it is focusing on how we can become less ego-driven and more soul-oriented in the midst of specific life circumstances. The first conversation focused on balancing our soul and ego in our closest relationships with friends, the second focused on finding this balance in our more peripheral relationships, the third focused on setting boundaries with our soul rather than our ego, the fourth and fifth conversations focused on how to cultivate through mindful awareness the ability to positively respond with the ego rather than negatively react, and the sixth conversation focused on the process of befriending our ego. Our next and final Conversation in this series will be on June 12th, 2016 at 2pm CST. It will focus on what it takes to raise children with healthy egos, and how to apply those same principles to the “raising” of our own ego.

If you need to calculate the time in your time zone, click here. To receive updates about the upcoming series of conversations, follow the instructions below to guarantee you are on the mailing list.

How do I sign up for Conversation updates?

If you are an existing subscriber, go to the bottom of your weekly email and click on “update subscription preferences.” On the preferences page, click the “Video Hangouts” box and then click “Update Profile.” You will automatically receive any future updates about the Conversations, and you can unsubscribe at any time by changing your preferences again.

If you are not yet a blog subscriber but wish to be, you can click here to subscribe, and then click the “Video Hangouts” box on the subscription form. In addition to receiving updates about the Conversations, you will receive my weekly post by email and a free PDF copy of my eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down.

How do I join a Courtyard Conversation?

First, make sure you are on the Video Hangout mailing list (see above).

Then, when you receive the update email in the days prior to the event, you will be given all the information needed to participate. On the day of the event, simply follow the instructions. No registration required. You can attend the meeting using the microphone and/or video camera on your computer, or you can call in by phone. If you are attending by computer, it’s as simple as clicking the link I will provide in the update email. If you are attending by phone, in the update email, I will give you a phone number to call and a PIN number to enter the meeting.

If you would prefer not to talk, you can feel free to just listen in!

I’m excited to continue connecting in this way, and I’m excited about what we are all going to learn about how to live authentic, joyful lives from our true selves.



Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Hi Kelly, I’d like to know how to get a copy of your Marriage Manifesto since I’m already a member of your blog. I’m also interested in joining your courtyard conversations.

  • drkellyflanagan

    Hi Jenny, We would love to have you join the next Conversation! In the email you received this morning, click on the “update subscription preferences” link and then when the subscription page pops up, check the “Video Hangouts” box and the “Update” button. That should do it! As for the book, I’m happy to send you another copy if you missed it in the original confirmation email. Just email me (link on the About page), and I’ll pass it along.

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  • Joyce Kaiser

    I would like to join the video conversations, but not receive the blog emails. I receive my blogs in my aggregator ( rather than my email inbox. Helps keeping me from being on overload. Is there a way to do this?

    • drkellyflanagan

      Joyce, I will look into whether or not that’s possible given the way the email service is structured. In the meantime, please feel free to email me so we can discuss this upcoming Courtyard Conversation further. A link to my email address can be found on the “About” page.

      • Joyce Kaiser

        Thanks! I did subscribe pending an alternate solution, but did not receive a reminder of today’s conversation. {sad face}

        • drkellyflanagan

          Joyce, it looks like the only way is to receive the main email list and then also subscribe to this sublist. If you’d emailed me, I was going to just forward the information onto you privately. But no worries, we’ll decided today we’ll be starting a new series of conversations in January, so you can get in on them from the beginning!

          • Joyce Kaiser

            Hi Kelly! I think I’m already on the list, how do I confirm? I know we’ve been on a hiatus while you work on the book … I’d like to participate in this month’s discussion.

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  • I wasn’t able to attend the last conversation.
    Do you have a replay available so that I can keep up on them when I cannot attend?

    • drkellyflanagan

      Hi Emily, thanks for asking about this. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the last series, we agreed not to record the Conversations, so participants would feel more comfortable to share openly and not worry about where the content might end up. I hope you can make it to the next one! Right now, it is scheduled for April 19 at 2pm CST.

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  • Carrie

    My schedule is finally allowing me to join the conversation, and I see that I needed to update my subscription preferences ahead of time. 🙁 Bummer. It’s updated now. Maybe next time.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Definitely next time, Carrie! Now that you’re signed up, you’ll get both of the update emails prior to the next conversation. It will be on March 6 at 2pm. Looking forward to talking with you!