“…and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.”

“The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society.  They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment — under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics.  This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.”
Presidential Proclamation — LGBT Pride Month, 2016
The White House

I came out after college.
…and then kept coming out, year after year and to friend after friend.

My first memories of feeling and being, “out,” surfaced when I moved to Los Angeles at 22 years of age, shortly after I graduated from college. I was picked up at the airport by two of my new roommates and coworkers, and halfway through our ride home, one of them noted, “Oh, and you’re going to love West Hollywood and all the gay bars and night life,” assuming I was gay.

My new roommate had assumed correctly, and I let the moment pass. I still consider this my first experience as, “out,” and it was a critical part of my process – it was the beginning. I enjoyed West Hollywood, and all Los Angeles had to offer me as a young, gay Oklahoman, still desperate not to come out to my friends and family back “home.”

I soon moved away from California, and so began the process of coming out to my friends and family. I lost some really close relationships during that time, some that are still broken and bruised today. And as a result of that pain, for many years, I delayed going to any summer LGBT(Q+) Pride events. At that time, I felt the opposite of what the celebration stood for – I was anything but proud.

I was embarrassed, grappling with years of discomfort and shame. It was something I didn’t talk about, and something I didn’t know how to talk about. I had a friend in graduate school once tell me she thought (assumed) I had been out and proud since high school.

My response: “I wasn’t brave enough.”

I wasn’t brave enough. 

poster

I finally felt brave enough in 2012, when I decided to fly to Atlanta and celebrate Pride with one of my best friends who grew up with me on my Air Force Base.

I was nervous about the trip, and kept it quite coy on my social media platforms. That is, until my friend posted on my Facebook that she was excited to see me in Atlanta, and for Pride. It left me quite anxious, and within minutes, I received a message from someone very close to me at the time.

“Why are you going to Atlanta, and what is Pride?”

I sat with this message for about an hour, and finally, I responded the only way I knew how: honest and up-front.

“It’s an LGBT festival for queer people, celebrating who we are.”

“Please tell me you aren’t going,” they quickly responded.

That was the end of our conversation. And I sat at my desk and erupted in tears. I didn’t know what to do from there. I felt trapped, and I felt helpless.

But I went to Pride.

And I forced myself to be proud.

And within hours, I felt liberated – within hours, I felt free.

I was raised in a space that taught me to be shameful of anything related to being gay or queer culture. I was taught rigidity. I was taught the black and white version of social justice – minus love, minus understanding and acceptance, minus peace and dignity for all. And as summer appears each year, I am quickly reminded that progress truly does keep marching on, and we have to march along with it.

Let the Proclamation I cited at the beginning of this piece resound:

“There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character.”

I believe in this. I connect to this.

We need this.

Come out, this season, any season. If not for yourself, come out as an ally so others in your life can see and believe they are loved and supported. If able and safe, come out so you can pave a new path for others to feel that their most authentic self is just as valued and valuable as any other.

As a 30 year old, I’m hearing some family and friends be vocal for the first time in my life. And while I love and value this personal progress, I am also conscious of the others who face a similar absence as I did for so many years growing up.

Do this for them.

Healing is ongoing. For me, and for you.

Be present. Show up. Be bold and proud. And most of all, spread love.

Make amends with family. Make amends with religious dissonance. Find peace in your heart, be settled and be free from shame and guilt and self-destruction. It gets better, and it can continue to evolve (whatever, “it,” might represent) – you (we) continue to evolve.

Please, beautifully, evolve. I recommit to justice every single day. And today, I’m asking you to do the same.

Love, love is all you need,

Michael

“During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.”

pride flag

Retired Extrovert Does Conference Season

I’m going to lean into vulnerability for just a moment.

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Earlier today, I boarded a plane and took a deep breath. I knew that, as soon as I landed in Montréal, I would be hit by a wave of insecurities, anxiety, and fear. You should know, despite initially coming off as comfortable and confident in conference and large-group settings, I am actually typically living in a constant state of fear.

The anxiety is real. The fear of unpredictability is raw.

It wasn’t until I ran into an old friend from a job I held before graduate school that I realized this feeling was actually something others experience as well. In a sea of thousands of people, it’s not abnormal to experience this dissonance.

I received some needed peace in that quick conversation.

Night One of this current conference experience: I find myself nervous that everyone else came with someone else, and that capacity is limited. Even with thousands of attendees, conferences can be some of the loneliest spaces for young/professionals. Even with thousands of attendees, conferences can be scary oceans with every type of fish imaginable – feeling like the tiniest and most fragile fish in the sea is a heavy burden. As a reformed-extrovert living in a nervous state-of-mind, I’m forcing myself to swim. Swim fast. Swim intentionally. Just swim.

Tomorrow is a new day, and today is not yet over. Here’s to schedules and programs, here’s to structure. Here’s to confidence.

Swimming,

Michael

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#ACPA16 in Canada – excited for the learning ahead! 

“This isn’t supposed to happen. People aren’t supposed to be accepting.”

“It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.”

If you remember President Barack Hussein Obama’s State of the Union this year, you’ll recall this powerful part of his speech.

“courage”

“love”

“overrides”

This rhetoric is particularly notable, and upon the completion of his speech, I found myself close to tears, triggered by the reality of a sitting president connecting with a constituency that has long been ostracized by larger communities.

About one year ago, I shared a story about a conversation I had with one of my really good friends with whom I went to college. Here’s a quick grab of that flashback:

Several years ago, I visited a really good friend on the west coast. We had a phenomenal week together, and on my last night in town, we decided to hit up a really nice sushi place to let the goodbye commence. Midway through the conversation, we started talking about religion, and the dissonance between Christians and the gay community. It was great. This particular time in my life, I lived as sponge-like as possible, and I soaked up every bit of knowledge and (#)perspective from those around me. It was important, and still is today.

Seeing a natural opportunity for the inevitable, I posed the following question:

“Do you think being gay is a choice?”

Pause.

“Honestly…yes. I do,” she asserted.

Now, inside I was ready to burst into tears, however on the outside, I kept it cool and appreciated her for her honesty. “How do you resolve that feeling, having so many close, gay friends?”

She thought for a moment. I did too.

Eventually, my friend stood by her initial assertion, and I quickly finished my sushi to, “give me enough time to pack and rest before heading out in the morning.” I was hurt. I wanted my friend to say, “Fuck what I’ve been told, read about, experienced,” and, “You are worthy and beautiful, and did not choose to be gay.” Instead, she validated her faith, and reminded me that I am loved (despite the small caveat living with the confines of her religion). And, truthfully, I don’t fault my friend. At all. In fact, I appreciate her honesty, and the direct approach to our conversation.

But I was still hurt, and I did leave with a huge cloud of Christian guilt over my head (and, my heart). This was when I revisited the religion vs orientation debate going on in my head. For several years leading up to that trip, I had mostly just paused on religion. “Agnostic,” was my response when asked how I identified, and, “Questioning,” shortly after. I’m still questioning. Hell, we should all be questioning.

Moments after this particular post went live, the friend I mentioned in the piece sent me a text to follow up. We went back and forth for a bit of time, and I left the exchange feeling utterly guilty for airing our laundry for all to see online. At the same time, I felt totally inspired by the idea that we are all processing various conversations and interactions in a space and time for which we’re ready (emotionally, physically, mentally, intellectually, and, of course, spiritually).

You see, in so many ways, I expected my friend’s initial response. I provoked her. Where we come from (I talked a bit about this upbringing in a previous post), and at the time, I received very few supportive identity affirmations. I set my friend up. It was unfair.

I also set myself up. I benchmarked my expectations of acceptance around the very areas of self-worth where I was struggling most. Specifically, I existed with an assumption that every person would and should be critical of my identity as a gay man. I know this feeling now (self work is hard, and all of that), as it was further revealed/validated to me, by me last summer when I met my partner’s parents.

It was only over the course of a morning that I spent with them, however it was a first impression, and alas, a terrifying task. We had breakfast, we discussed the beautifully surfaced array of first-impression topics, and we prepared to part ways until the next time I joined them as a kind-of-and-almost-family-member.

As I said goodbye, I was startled by each parent extending their arms to provide a big hug. Two big, tight hugs.

As I was hugging his dad, and just as we walked toward the car, in my head, I couldn’t help but replay the lines, “The isn’t supposed to happen. People aren’t supposed to be accepting.” Much like how I felt as President Obama uttered the words, “It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught,” I was overcome with raw emotions.

This isn’t supposed to happen. People aren’t supposed to be accepting.

For so long, I lived in a world where the mere act of someone accepting me, or accepting those around me, was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. And I’m barely able to keep up. I did this to my friend when I asked her the question about Christianity/choice. I did it to my partner’s parents. And I did it to President Obama (sorry, Barack!).

“It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.”

Do you have the courage to override everything you’ve been taught?

Do you have the courage to declare your worth? To live unapologetically?

Do you have the courage to love yourself unconditionally? Authentically?

Do you have the courage to be still?

Reprogramming,

Michael

IMG_3911*photo of doors, outside of Luther Place Memorial Church in Thomas Circle, Washington, D.C.

“We will not be shaken.”

I often do this thing where I play Christian praise music, and listen over and over until it moves me to tears. This happens around once per year, and instantly brings me back to my upbringing. Church, or some type of display of faith, has been part of my life since I was a wee tot. I went to church every single Sunday while growing up. And while I know this does not make for the perfect religious observer, I invested so deeply that at any given time, I was leading praise and worship in my youth group’s band, running Childcare programs during the church service, or serving a brief stint as an acolyte.

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that this year has been a year of reflection around religion and spirituality. From my own journey, to the possibility of finding a church, it has been a year of ups and downs. Even more so, it has been a year of difficult conversations with some of the most important people in my life.

And the conversation continues to appear.

Have you ever been abandoned or rejected because of who you are at the core? Or as a result, have you ever faced that rejection in light of someone’s faith or religion? What did you do? How did you move forward? Did you make amends?

Could you make amends?

Let’s pause here for a moment.

Regardless of one’s tenure in DC, when your best friend visits from Miami, you do all the monuments, museums, and food outings as humanly possible (roughly, an average of 20k steps on the Fitbit this weekend, if you’re wandering what my version of, “humanly possible,” means). We started our Tour de DC at one of the newer national monuments, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Just as we were walking up to the beautiful cut-out of Dr. King moving through the rock, I was distracted by a mass of people singing on the other side of the granite. I temporarily separated from my friend, and decided to follow the music.

In the crowd, there were people of all races, sizes, shapes, backgrounds, ages, and abilities. It was powerful, and my body was instantly covered in goosebumps. There is something really spiritual about museums and monuments to begin with, and encountering a church service at the start of this intended-powerful day was something that truly caught me off guard. Eventually joined by my friend, we witnessed each person in the group of 75-100 having an impacting experience.

“Everyone is experiencing healing in some way,” my friend whispered to me.

This is when I started to cry.

He was absolutely right. Everyone was having their own moment. And looking around the group, each person was truly in their own space – whatever that space looked like for them. It was there space alone. And I was in mine.

“We will not be shaken.”

Again, “We will not be shaken.”

This lyric resounded over and over, and I looked around the crowd with tears continuing to fall down my face.

Belief. It’s a powerful thing. And no matter what you believe, the same can be found in various environments and capacities. This one just so happened to reflect a huge part of who I used to be, and also so much of what I was searching for this year (in the most edited, amended, enhanced, and different way).

The way in which religion appears as a support or antithesis to justice is a cause to pause on. I often do. And I did in that moment.

The unapologetic raising of hands. The worship. The community.

Loudly, “We will not be shaken!”

Despite the dissonance, and through the continued questions around hope, fear, and failure, I found myself in tears yesterday. Typically coming from a place of guilt, more than anything, these tears reflected hope. And the only way I knew how to fully capture my feeling in that moment was by quickly typing into my phone the aforementioned questions:

Have you ever been abandoned or rejected because of who you are at the core? Or as a result, have you ever faced that rejection in light of someone’s faith or religion? What did you do? How did you move forward? Did you make amends?

Could you make amends?

Will you make amends? 

While I sit at a trendy coffee shop in NW DC, I am extra aware that today is Sunday. And this day, for so long, meant so much more than it does in this very moment. And I am at peace with this discovery. Instead, Sunday has transformed into a day of writing and reflecting. Pausing. Sunday is a day for peace. My peace. 

What will you make of your day? Of your reflection? Of your heart?

Will you make amends?

Shaken,

Michael

What kind of world do you want?

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

I believe it was Malcom X who coined this provocative and relevant thought (and if my citation is inaccurate, I’m sure Malcom X said this at some point, while living this philosophy as his truth). And it’s so accurate, right?

I am obsessed with great content, and especially when that content assists in creating real and raw perspective. For example, when Kerry Washington accepted the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Awards this past weekend. Pause and listen to her speech. This speech is incredibly valuable, and something which should be replayed over and over – there is a lot more we can be doing, and a lot more inclusion we should be observing. I’m curious to see how Kerry continues the dialogue.

Outside of this speech, and, of course, the previous posts I have used to articulate my thoughts on activism or the current reality in my home state of Oklahoma, I want to pause and show some appreciation for my alma mater, the University of Central Oklahoma. This past week, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UCO launched a campaign, advertising The Tunnel of Oppression, which is a phenomenal simulation to help students better understand privilege and oppression, and how these concepts impact everyone. Check out the posters below:

UCO Tunnel of Oppression - Asians..

UCO Tunnel of Oppression - Black Men...

UCO Tunnel of Oppression - Disability...

UCO Tunnel of Oppression - Muslims...

UCO Tunnel of Oppression - Gay Men...

UCO Tunnel of Oppression - Native Americans...

First, I want to thank these brave students for “coming out” in these posters. Whereas many people of color are already “out” as noted by race (being, “color blind,” is not a thing, and all of that), sitting with these search items is a heavy and intense moment – a reality faced by any oppressed or marginalized individual. Next, I want to highlight that these, “Societal assertions,” are very real and are played out for people every single day. And this should not be a surprise. In fact, if you gasped at the items listed in the search bars above, I challenge you to think about your surroundings a bit more critically. This is certainly the case following the OU SAE incident, and has been a theme in a lot of the conversations I have had with friends and colleagues now two weeks after the release of the video. We must challenge a little harder, and push a little deeper.

And this starts with inclusion. How are you integrating inclusion into your conversations and into your personal and professional engagements? As Luke Visconti argues, and I tend to agree, it is so much more than simply asking (expecting) baristas to talk about race in the 20 seconds they have with a customer at Starbucks. If we want inclusion, diversity, equity, multicultural understanding, etc. to be something that is espoused and enacted, it must be something that is integrated through every fiber of an operation. As Visconti points out, it must start from the top (and in the most, see-someone-to-be-someone, kind of way).

One year ago, I was a cluster facilitator at LeaderShape, a leadership retreat for college students. The university where I was working did a campaign to advertise this opportunity, and passed around various flyers reading, “I see a world where ______.” Individuals could write in what kind of world they see. For example, “people have clean water,” “cancer is fully treatable,” “we find peace,” and, “everyone has a puppy,” were a few of my favorites. When I filled out my own flyer to be hung on my office door, I thought long and hard. What kind of world did (do) I want to see?

And, today, I ask you this same question, among others:

How do you see the world? What kind of world do you want? What kind of contribution can you and will you be willing to make? Do you dare?

Engaging,

Michael

*I see a world with liberty and justice for all.

Coffee with a Christian

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A few years ago, I “dated” someone who hated Christians. Yes, “hated.” I know, heavy stuff. Thankfully, this was a short-lived endeavor, however, it was enough to show me that having Christian friends and dating someone who loathes Christianity is a recipe for disaster. Alas, this is not uncommon.

What’s the old saying, “Religion, Politics, Money, and Sex are the root to all issues in a relationship?” Maybe I made or messed that up, or one or two of those can be substituted. Either way, you get the point. Religion (or the lack of) is an important value to have congruent with your potential partner. As is faith. Faith is important, too. And, I do believe, these two experiences can be different – time and time again, I have friends validate me through their faith rather than their religion. And, of course, I’m thankful.

Though, I am still left with questions.

Moving forward, and as I continue to travel and meet other people like me (in all contexts), I am learning that the dissonance between the gay community and the Christian community is actually quite raw and more real than the aforementioned hostility. And, of course, this same dissonance is not solely reserved for the dating pool – on a daily basis, I even experience the struggle with some of my closest friends.

Several years ago, I visited a really good friend on the west coast. We had a phenomenal week together, and on my last night in town, we decided to hit up a really nice sushi place to let the goodbye commence. Midway through the conversation, we started talking about religion, and the dissonance between Christians and the gay community. It was great. This particular time in my life, I lived as sponge-like as possible, and I soaked up every bit of knowledge and (#)perspective from those around me. It was important, and still is today.

Seeing a natural opportunity for the inevitable, I posed the following question:

“Do you think being gay is a choice?”

Pause.

“Honestly…yes. I do,” she asserted.

Now, inside I was ready to burst into tears, however on the outside, I kept it cool and appreciated her for her honesty. “How do you resolve that feeling, having so many close, gay friends?”

She thought for a moment. I did too.

Eventually, my friend stood by her initial assertion, and I quickly finished my sushi to, “give me enough time to pack and rest before heading out in the morning.” I was hurt. I wanted my friend to say, “Fuck what I’ve been told, read about, experienced,” and, “You are worthy and beautiful, and did not choose to be gay.” Instead, she validated her faith, and reminded me that I am loved (despite the small caveat living with the confines of her religion). And, truthfully, I don’t fault my friend. At all. In fact, I appreciate her honesty, and the direct approach to our conversation.

But I was still hurt, and I did leave with a huge cloud of Christian guilt over my head (and, my heart). This was when I revisited the religion vs orientation debate going on in my head. For several years leading up to that trip, I had mostly just paused on religion. “Agnostic,” was my response when asked how I identified, and, “Questioning,” shortly after. I’m still questioning. Hell, we should all be questioning. Between the messy potential significant other and coupled with my good friend on the west coast, needless to say, the dissonance in my lfe is real. And outside of these two moments, my own personal journey has created quite the contention.

I grew up in the church. Real talk, I was the best church-goer there was (please, save the, “But going to church doesn’t make you a great Christian, blah blah blah,” I know, and I agree). But I believed, and I cared, and I worshiped. Yet, in addition to all the positive moments around my church-going experience, I also always knew there were some inconsistencies. Something wasn’t right for me.

Let’s pause here for a moment. I should also add that I went to a pretty conservative church. Furthermore, I acknowledge that there are Christian churches out there who are fully accepting and open to LGBTQ+ members (some still with the caveat, and many without). And again, this was not my own experience.

As I entered 2015, one of my goals was to explore this past/present struggle more, and come to some sense of resolve (while knowing a resolve may not be entirely realistic – the least I can do is get on the path to resolve, whatever that looks like).

So, where do I go from here? Of course, I am still questioning and challenging and inquiring (both, systems and my self), and I recently reached out to a friend’s husband who works at a church here in the Oklahoma City metro area. Outside of my friend being his wife, I have no real ties or social obligations to this guy. And this is ultimately why I asked him to meet with me instead of the few dear friends I have who are working in the same industry. He does not owe me a thing, and I can be as real and raw and critical as I like (need). I want to talk about religion. I want to talk about faith. I want to just talk about it, and without muted perspectives or fear of interrupting one’s true self/belief-system/outlook/heart. I need an unfiltered moment.

A starting point.

Reset.

I have no clue what this conversation will bring – maybe more frustration, more anger, more Christian guilt. Either way, it’s my responsibility to keep inquiring, keep digging, and keep learning and growing.

And yours, too.

Many of you who are reading are also carrying baggage about something – that, “something,” being related to today’s post or entirely different. I challenge you to reach out to someone and engage that conversation you’ve been dreading or questioning. Seek answers. Discover resolve. Flirt with dissonance (or dance with it, as a friend argues).

Are you dancing yet?

Seeking closure,

Michael

* Below are some ways to flirt with dissonance, as you process today’s post, with highlights from varying perspectives on this specific topic (if you have more, please post them in the comment section!): 

“New ‘Christian Conversation GuideReleased,” via HRC

Ten convictions I have about the church!” via Perry Noble

Homosexuality and Obesity,” via Perry Noble

10 Things Christian Parents Can Do When Their Kids Come Out,” via John Pavlovitz: Stuff That Needs To Be Said

* photo taken from Bianca Del Rio’s Insta or twitter

Some things I learned in 2014.

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And just like that, a new year is here.

Happy New Year. Happy 2015. Happy Thursday (that last one is for all those who went to bed at 10:00PM last night).

Before I even word-vomit all the things I learned (or can remember leaning) this year, I should first and foremost assert that, above all else, I learned, I don’t know it all. And, furthermore, I never will. For the first time in my life, I have absolute peace with this humbling reality.

Somehow over the past year, I managed to quit two jobs, travel through nearly a dozen states, live in two different countries, finish writing a book, and reflect longer and harder than ever before. I have said this time and time again, and although dramatic, I swear by the fact that writing has been more than just a form of expression for me this year. Writing has been therapeutic, and an opportunity to be still. Writing has contributed to the clearest mind I have ever experienced in my entire life.

As I sit here on the dawn of a new year, I am both nervous and anxious for what exists in the twelve undiscovered months ahead. For starters, I turn 30 this year. Yep, let that sink in for a moment. And while this is only the beginning of a beautiful love/hate relationship with the rite of passage associated with turning 30, I am also taking this time to pause and memorialize the phenomenal year I have had. To do so, in some form or another, the following ‘ah-ha’ moments exist as my knowledge nuggets for the year:

10.  Forgiveness only works if you actually forgive. Until then, own the dissonance.

9.  Choosing to avoid certain topics with family can be just that…choosing to avoid certain topics with family. You don’t owe anyone anything, ever.

8.  A dog will make me happier in life. In 2015, I’m going to rescue a dog.

7.  Spending money and time to make friends matter is always worth is. Travel, is always worth it (whatever, “it,” might mean for each of us).

6.  Sometimes telling someone, “Thank you for sharing,” is enough. Pause, listen more, let people tell their own story.

5.  You can place “home” in quotations, and yet it still doesn’t make it any more or any less of your actual home. Be free, go your own way.

4.  Good, confident, and/or happy is/are enough. And that’s enough, too.

3.  Some of the best people are the best friends. Consequently, some of the best people are also the worst friends.

2.  When you choose your self, you win, always. Sure, people will shit on you, but you’ve still won, because you matter.

1.  You don’t know what you don’t know. But when you do, you do, and there’s no looking back from there.

Before I moved to China, a very dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful notebook to capture my journey. Just before finishing the packing list, that specific notebook was one item which unfortunately did not make the cut. Just as I arrived “home” (see note above, re: “home”), I found said-notebook and was instantly overwhelmed by a sudden and urgent need to use every line from such a thoughtful gift.

And before I could even dream up the endless opportunities fostered by the blank space provided, I realized this special notebook deserved something more active and engaging. And that is what I am going to do, be more active and be more engaged with my learning. I’m going to document everything. And this has become my challenge for all those reading today’s note: capture your growth.

Sure, I previously referenced resolutions and my belief and advocacy for such dreams, however this is different. This is real and raw, and, in-the-moment, learning. Capture these moments. Get a notebook, email yourself and create a special folder to file these specific emails, and share with yourself any and every learning lesson you experience in 2015. When you get chills, document it. When you have the, oh-shit-ah-ha, moment, save it. Bottle these up, and let them guide you, teach you, train you, and prepare you for the next round of life’s simple gifts. You owe this to yourself.

And if you’re willing to take your learning to an even higher level, share these moments with a friend. Find someone who is dedicated to growth, and use them as a means for processing. Set a bi-weekly coffee meeting (or, “coffee,” for those anti-), and swap notebooks – ask questions, challenge each other, support each other’s ah-ha’s. If you want to grow, and learn, and develop, be about it and do something to elevate your perspective. Be held accountable.

I have a friend like this, and yesterday as I crawled out of bed, we shared about two-dozen texts regarding the biggest learning lessons we had acquired over the year. And, since she so graciously shared her vision with the twitter community (you can follow her here), I decided to capture them for all those tuning in today. Please see her individual ah-ha moments as follows:

10. Reflection is good for the soul. I need to do it more often. So is learning/reading.

9. The golden rule is not lived by everyone. Values and morals are individualized and are able to change. Change is good. Don’t steer away.

8. Don’t be ashamed of who I am. Life has made me this way and there is an explanation for my characteristics. I need to remember that when engaging with others, and stop expecting change from an old dog who can’t learn new tricks.

7. There is more to life than a job and social media. I need to live in the moment, disconnected, make lasting memories and spend time with those I love.

6. Money does not buy happiness, but it does contribute to a happy lifestyle. Finding the balance is hard to do and takes time.

5. Conflict is inevitable. I will always work through conflict with someone I love and appreciate. But if they can’t do the same, it’s not worth the trouble.

4. You can’t help who you love. When you love hard, it is hard to let go. When you love hard, logic is non-existent.

3. It’s my life. When I think I’m fucking up bad, I’m sure my closest friends even have skeletons in the closet. #dontjudgemyself

2. Learn to do, be more free, and live in the moment. Right and wrong is subject.

1. Race will always be a factor in my interracial relationships: platonic, intimate or acquaintance.

BONUS. Relationships change and grow, but can remain the same if both individuals accept that fact and have realistic expectations of one another.

This is just one additional perspective. And the great thing is, just as my friend and I, you, too, are learning. Now, go. Do. Be about it. Grow, develop, change. And most of all, march on.

Thriving,

Michael

unnamed