Monthly Archives: February 2014

Love & Privilege

DSC_0247Hello friend,

I just had a conversation with an old, dear friend, during which he shared the wonderful news that he had fallen in love.  There is very little in life that I enjoy more than talking with someone newly in love.  It is that exuberance, that giddiness, that total intoxication with life and all of its new possibilities.  The heart feels as though it could burst open with joy, and you want to shout about it from the rooftops for all the world to share in.  The enthusiasm is infectious to be around.  I appreciate it all the more knowing how rare it is.  For most of us, we are blessed with this crazy, blissful, intoxicated, falling-in-love feeling only once or twice in our lives.  I am grateful to have had my turn to shout and shine, and now I enjoy sharing in the new love stories of my friends and family.  Love is to be shared, and there is no more thrilling time to share your love story than when you are in that early, passion-filled phase.

So, why did I even have to ask my friend if he had told anyone else his exciting news yet?  Why did he tell me that, even though it has been a couple of months, that I am the first one he shared this amazing, soul-stirring life event with?  Why did we have to strategize about the best way to share this great love story with his family, who have always tried to set him up or get him into online dating to find “the one”?   With all of the happiness he was feeling, why no rooftop shouting?  Because he fell in love with a man.

We finished the conversation with me telling him how happy I am for him and urging him to enjoy the ride, reminding him how rare and breathtaking these moments are in our lifetime.  I was thrilled for him and proud of him at the same time.  But as I processed it more and more—of course, with the great help of my journal—I recognized an air of sadness about me surrounding our conversation.  The more I wrote and thought about what might be the source of my sadness, the more I kept circling back to the idea of privilege, in this case heterosexual privilege.

Privilege is an enormous, can-of-worms kind of issue when it comes to conversations around social justice.  Frankly, it makes most of us who are privileged feel very uncomfortable and defensive, as we generally live in denial of the existence of privilege.  Ironically, that very denial is one of the privileges of being privileged.   Let me explain.

Privilege can probably best be defined with examples.  As a White person, I can walk through a store without being followed by clerks.  I can move to a neighborhood almost anywhere in this country and expect people to be neutral or pleasant to me.  I can answer a question in a class and never be considered the voice of my race.  When I read a history book or watch a television show, I can be sure that my race is well-represented.  If I happen to swear or act badly in public, I don’t think people are going to attribute my behavior to the poor morality of my entire race.  And I have the privilege of not being aware of these things.

As a man, I have the privilege of having both a career and kids without people thinking I am selfish for not staying at home with the kids.  If I choose to not have kids, my masculinity won’t be called into question.  If I drive poorly or make bad financial decisions, people won’t attribute that to my sex.  I can sleep with a lot of women without serious social disapproval or name-calling.  My decision-making ability will not be questioned based on what time of the month it is.  Very little time and expense are expected of me when it comes to personal grooming.  And I have the privilege of not being aware of these things.

As a heterosexual, I have the privilege of being open about my sexual orientation without worrying about my job.  My masculinity isn’t questioned, and nobody calls me straight in a mean way.  People don’t ask me why I chose to be heterosexual or why and how I came to be open about it.  I can be sure that my schoolbooks have examples of other heterosexuals.  I never leave a gathering feeling outnumbered or isolated.  I am not defined by my sexuality, and I can go for long periods without anyone calling me straight.  I can be pretty sure that the people I meet and know will be comfortable with my sexuality.  I have no fear of the ramifications of my family finding out about my heterosexuality.  And I have the privilege of not being aware of these things.

But I am becoming aware of these things as I write them, and I am understanding why I am a little sad after hearing my friend’s wonderful news.  Not at all sad that he is in a relationship with a man—Love is Love, and my Maker is nothing if not a being of pure Love—but sad because we had to talk about how to tell his family about what should be a shout-it-out, sing-it-out life event like falling in love.  Sad that he will have to think about all of the aforementioned privileges and wonder why, simply because the love he found had one chromosome different than the one we expected him to find, he has to live on the other side of those privileges.  In being his most authentic self and being open to love however it showed up—what should be a totally liberating life event and admired by all—he is forced to carry around our societal baggage like a yoke around his neck.  That is a heavy load to carry simply for living his Truth.

My hope is to do my part to make his load lighter in whatever way I can.  My wife is a Black woman; that is a mighty load, too.  It is daily work to try to lighten her load as well, whether that is just being a sounding board for the offenses of the day, or allowing her to educate me so that I can pass it on to you (she provided the examples of privilege I mentioned—they hit close to home in my house).  I feel compelled to make whatever changes I can in my little sphere of influence, not to erase my own privilege but to spread that privilege to all.

So, my challenge to you today is to get out your instrument of choice—journal, laptop, scrap paper, Comments box—and write about your privileges.  Think deeply about this, because chances are, you haven’t before.  And go beyond the categories I mentioned; add religion, socioeconomic class, and anything else you can think of.  Explore the many ways in which you are privileged, and try to imagine being on the flip-side of that privilege.  Feel that pain of injustice and the full weight of society’s ignorance.  Next, think about your own sphere of influence.  Write down a few ways that you can do your part to make your little corner of the world more enlightened, more loving, more just.  It may seem like too big a task, but remember, it all starts within you.  If you have read this far, you are already well on your way.  If you take me up on my challenge, I know that change will be made.  I believe in you.

Keep thinking & keep writing,


What is your Bliss?



Glowy Clouds 0135Hello friend,

“Follow your Bliss.” This was the concluding advice of the brilliant Joseph Campbell, a student of all of the world’s spiritual traditions.  These three words mean so much to me that I put them on my holiday card every year, right next to the pictures of my kids.  Follow your Bliss.

What does it even mean, though, your “Bliss”?  For me, it means that thing that lights you up inside just thinking about it, that thing that you feel called to do from a place deep within you.  It is the thing that you can stay up all night doing or reading about because of the adrenaline rush that it gives you.  Can you think of the last time you met someone—or read an article about or saw on television or whatever—and were absolutely captivated by their profession or hobby?  You went away thinking, “She’s got the best gig in the world.  I would give anything to do that every day.”  Can you remember what you were doing in the moments of your life when you felt the most happy, most connected, most alive?  Ever thought about what you would do if you had only two years to live?  Or, try it this way: if every job in the world paid the same amount, which one would you choose?  Your answers to these thought experiments are pointing you in the direction of your Bliss.

When I was writing my first blog post a couple of nights ago, the adrenaline rush I felt was absolutely amazing, better than any drug I could imagine.  Even as I spent the previous week setting up the website—and believe me, I am awful at that kind of thing and am in no way called to work at The Apple Store—I was so thrilled to be building this thing that was going to help me put out my message and lead people to know themselves better and love themselves more.  Even as I type these words now—and it is well past my bedtime—I am so energized by the idea of sharing them with you and the thought that you might use them as inspiration to write a journal page that will help you see yourself more clearly.  The sheer exhilaration I feel in writing and teaching indicates to me that I am, indeed, following my Bliss.  If I had two years to live, I would surely choose to write to you in hopes of helping you live a better life.  The interviews with writers and life coaches are the ones that captivate me most.  When I imagine myself writing blogs and books, giving inspirational speeches in auditoriums full of eager listeners, conducting workshops for small groups, and coaching individuals to greater happiness and fulfillment, I tingle all over.  That tingle is communication from my soul.  It is the still, small voice inside me that is my most authentic guide to fulfillment.  I haven’t always done the best job listening to it and letting its message get through, but it has never stopped trying.  I am listening to it right now.  The tingle tells me so.  I love that tingle!

So, what makes you tingle?  What lights you up?  What would you do for free if you could afford it?  What is your Bliss? Right now get out your pen and journal or open up a Word document on your computer; it is time to start writing.  You don’t have to pick just one answer, and don’t judge.  Just write.  And then share.  Hit the “Leave a reply” link above and tell me about your Bliss.  Let’s get the conversation going.  I can’t wait to hear from you.

Be happy & write often,


Why I Journal (and want you to)

Headshot Vertical 0658I have been journaling for 20 years–daily for the last 17–so I must get something out of it, right?  A little over a year ago, I decided to go back and read my story, one entry at a time, for the 47ish volumes I have filled in those 20 years.  As I got into the second volume, it occurred to me that it would be cool to somehow make a book of my mind’s evolution, choosing entries that were representative of the different chapters of my life.  I would be the book’s author and then its sole audience member.  I kept reading the entries, and gradually I started believing that perhaps my kids or grandkids might be interested to read my tale one day, that maybe there was some value in the lessons I learned and the way I processed my world every day.  I am, after all, an unusually happy man, so maybe my innermost thoughts could actually teach them something, or so I was thinking.  So I dug out a notebook and started  jotting notes down about each entry, putting stars by the ones I considered interesting.  I began to call it “The Journal Project”, or TJP for short.  The more I read, the more fascinated I became.  Yes, it feels odd and conceited to say that I was enthralled by my own mind, but I truly was.  I was learning so much by reading the entries.  One of the things that struck me was how much I needed the journals, how much they held my hand and guided me along the way.  It wasn’t long before I even wondered if it could help just about anyone to read my tale, not because of my interesting life or my goofy thoughts, but more because it could  show them how journaling could help them.  I started to fixate on this idea of getting others to journal in order to know themselves better and hopefully, as a result, love themselves better and be more grateful for everything in their world and more connected, both to themselves and to others.  The more I read my entries, the more sold on the idea I became.  It is now my mission.

Two weeks ago, after about 16 months of reading and note-taking, I finally caught myself up to present day.  In those 16 months, my mission has grown from that initial flicker of an idea to a full-blown wildfire inside of me, and consequently many lines of journal entries have thoughts about it.  At the rate I am going–I blame it all on my two wonderful but all-consuming kids, of course–it could be a few years before I actually type up those starred entries and make them into a volume you can read.  But the fire burns in me, and that is where “Journal of You” comes in.  I want to live my mission out loud as soon as I can, so here I am, writing this to you.  This is all preface to what I really want to say about why I journal, and I think I can share with you most authentically by quoting directly from one of my own entries.  This was taken from Christmas Eve of 2012, when I was just a few months into The Journal Project and was reading about the 1998 version of my mind–which happened to be unreasonably blissful and full of world-saving ideas–and was considering this burgeoning idea of using my example to inspire others to know themselves better through journaling.  Here it is:

“….I cannot imagine my mind without these journals.  I feel like they have allowed me to pursue all kinds of ideas, concepts, and emotions until how I think and feel–indeed, how I tick–has become so clear to me.  They have truly been the vehicle I have ridden on the path to self-knowledge.  They have kept me connected both to myself and to the Divine Source.  I simply don’t know if or how that would have happened without them.  I doubt it.  Certainly not to the degree that I am connected now.  These books have been a huge dumping ground and mixing bowl for my thoughts.  But that is just part of it.  They have also been a serving tray, as through all of the dumping and mixing, they have sent back to my mind neatly-dressed ideas and beliefs about me and about the world.  My mind is like this huge warehouse of random stuff that desperately needed an operations staff to get it all sorted, cleaned, and filed into a coherent system so that I can go through this world every day in complete happiness and gratitude.  These journals have provided just that service.  It is difficult to think of what level of happiness or clarity I would be living with (struggling with?) without them.  They came at an amazing time in my life and made it totally blow up in magic and joy.  Of course, looking back, I wish I had started writing them sooner–it would surely have changed my course–but I am also so glad that they came when they did.  How could I have processed that complete spiritual revolution without them?  No way!  I would have been a mental case.  So now they are simply part of who I am.  Part of my soul.  Part of my happiness.  Part of my gratitude.  I cannot imagine my world without them.  There!  When I lay it out like that in plain terms, it becomes so obvious to me why TJP–or, eventually My Journal, My Journey–is totally a service project.  I want everyone to feel as happy and grateful as I do; that I have always been clear about.  But now it has become so clear to me–an “AHA moment,” as Mastin Kipp would say–that perhaps the best way I can help deliver the main goal–guiding people down the path to fulfillment and Joy–is to provide them a good vehicle in which to travel the path.  That vehicle is the journal!  It is not lost on me that the way I just arrived at this clarity on the topic–this newly-arrived AHA moment–is exactly the way I am professing about: by dumping thoughts out onto this paper and allowing them to be purified and organized in such a way that I can then see so clearly just what is the Truth stored in them.  It is to journal.  The verb “to journal”.  How cool is that!  Synchronicity.  I am feeling the flow.  It is so grand, this moment.  My heart sings, so I know my soul is being listened to.  Loud and clear, baby!  I am so happy.  Life is beautiful.”

That is it.  That is what Journal of You is all about.  It is about YOU!  Your innermost thoughts, from the limiting beliefs that hold you back to the dreams that make you soar.  It is about knowing yourself deeper and better than you ever have before, and really accepting and appreciating what you have come to know.  It is about getting down to your authentic self, telling your Truth and enjoying how liberating that can be.

So, I am challenging you–starting today–to begin to tell your story.  Open up a blank Word document on your computer or grab a notebook and pen–or, better yet, treat yourself to an old-fashioned journal like I write in every day–and just start writing.  Put the pen to the paper and say whatever is on your mind.  Don’t judge it as worth writing about or not; just let your mind go and write.  Shake out whatever is rattling around up there.  Give yourself permission to say anything.  Get real.  Tell your Truth!

Then….tell me about it.  In the comments box, tell me how it went.  What did you write about?  Were you honest?  Did you surprise yourself with what came out?  Were you self-conscious?  How did it feel afterwards?  If you decided not to write to yourself but want to share your thoughts, the box is for you, too.  This is our space to become a community, so share openly and respectfully.  While you are there, I would love to hear what you want me to write about in upcoming posts.  I am so excited to go on this ride with you!

So, without further ado………………GO WRITE YOURSELF!!!