Model the Way

I posted a piece a few months ago where I challenged people to live their truth.

Specifically, I argued that representation, authenticity, and example all matter greatly as (if) we aspire to make the world a better place. And it looks different for each of us. The minute I realized I didn’t have the science or math gene to find the cure for HIV or cancer, I shifted my mind to think about my own sphere of influence. I quickly realized I had untapped and incomparable skills. I was (am) my own person.

Life started to fall into place. Peace happened. I learned the power of courage.

This time around, in a Vol. 2 of sorts, I am challenging folks to model the way.

With each day, I find it essential to continue pausing in appreciation for all those in my life who are changing the world, their world(s), and living their truth every single day. I am in complete appreciation for all those folks who are modeling the way. And while I do not know him, I am also humbled by Mizzou student, Jonathan Butler, #ConcernedStudent1950, and his current hunger strike. In reflection of the advocates and activists I do have in my life, I am pausing on the following humans, as they are truly committing to make this world one where we can be proud to live.

Take some time and check out the following friends who are inspiring to not only me, but also the communities and world around them (with lots of links below).

Dr. Myron Pope, University administrator and student affairs practitioner

Dr. Pope via UCO Black Male Summit

Representative Cyndi Munson, leader and advocate for all

Cyndi Munson

Namrata Kamath, Dubai blogger and friend to food 


Nam more

Namrata Kamath

Blayne Alexander, broadcaster and role model


Brandon Schenk, spin instructor and LGBTQ+ economist

Brandon Schenk

Gracie Hellweg, faith-filled human and passionate soul


Danny Rothschild, playwright and pioneering creative


Crissy Caceres, educator and impacting facilitator


What is your truth? How do you know it? How are you living it?

Check out the folks above, and all the clickable links included. These friends represent various capacities of change and influence, all with powerful nuggets to hold on to. A share, follow, link, or favorite are all appropriate – and including the individuals below who were part of my first round of truth-living inspiration.

This is a great bunch of humans (with many others who are not listed in this piece).

Now, build your own list. Who inspires you? How do they inspire you? What inspires you? Make your own moves and waves. The world thanks you, in advance.



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Dear graduates, you’ve been fooled…

Do you ever end up on a website, only to look up after two hours and find that you’ve actually fallen down a rabbit hole of content? This happened to me recently, while trolling the confines of Humans of New York. While I remain addicted to Humans of New York, there was something about this past trolling that made me more reflective and more life-aware (“life-aware,” is a new concept I am flirting with, pausing and pushing myself to live in the moment – it’s a, “YOLO,” for old people, if you will).

I recently posted a piece addressed to upcoming graduates, and in a love letter-like fashion, challenged all who are taking the plunge to, above all else, pause and reflect.

Though, I must add, you’ve all been fooled.

Well, we’ve all been fooled. In general, graduation is scary and terrifying and real, and following my post, I received quality feedback from friends and colleagues who assured me that they, too, were still grappling with some of the moments I highlighted in the piece. And some, even ten or so years later. The transition is ongoing, and if we can fully embrace this reality, it doesn’t come as such a slap in the face. You see, graduation can seem like an “end” for many people. And it certainly did for me. I remember standing in front of my entire community of friends, family, and university staff, all in attendance for my graduation reception, and sobbing mid-speech because it hit me in that very moment that my college days had ended.

And mistakenly, I assumed college ending also meant the end of gaining knowledge, making tough decisions, having fun, celebrating with friends, and the list went on and on. But as I have grown older, and now a few years from being a decade away from college, I am realizing that these moments appear much differently than how I was socialized as an undergraduate. And the learning and life-having exists outside of the safe bubble that higher education often provides. Needless to say, some new feels are hitting me today, and to honor my HONY time-suck, let’s begin here:

HONY job-happiness photo

“When I was 20, I made a plan to get a good job and be secure. Now I’m 35, and I need a plan to be happy.”

Now, I will not be addressing the happiness piece too deeply, as I am finding happiness to be incredibly subjective and contextual (and have actually felt this way for a long time). I will note, however, as graduation nears for many (and nostalgia rears its head for the rest of us has-beens), life-awareness and self-awareness are more important than ever. The post above hit me hard, and caused a hailstorm of “ah-ha” moments to follow. With the help of my Humans of New York binge, please pause and consider the following post-graduation (and general life) permissions:

Permission to be You

“We’d been having a sort of tacit conversation about it for a couple years. Then one day, his sister, who already knew, was teasing him about having a crush on a boy at school. And I heard him say: ‘Well, maybe it’s true!’ So I said: 'Son, we’ve never really talked about this. Are you gay?’ And even though he was 6'4”, he came over to me, curled up in my lap and just sobbed and sobbed. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, actually.”

“We’d been having a sort of tacit conversation about it for a couple years. Then one day, his sister, who already knew, was teasing him about having a crush on a boy at school. And I heard him say: ‘Well, maybe it’s true!’ So I said: ‘Son, we’ve never really talked about this. Are you gay?’ And even though he was 6’4”, he came over to me, curled up in my lap and just sobbed and sobbed. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, actually.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Michael Anthony Goodman post without some sense of, “live your truth” (and associated demands). But I believe this, and with all of my heart. You see, (most) colleges and universities foster a phenomenal space to be brave and free. Consequently, not every space inside that brave zone shares this same value, and many students will graduate college still feeling as though they were not able to be their true self (fraternities/sororities, student government, athletics, just to name a few sub-environments). Sometimes we need to be a 6’4” closet-case, and to curl up on someone’s lap and sob and sob (metaphorically or literally, and on any or all accounts). If you are itching to be your true self in/as whoever you may be, and you don’t feel you can be that wonderful and beautiful you in college, know that your time and permission is coming.

Permission to Take a Coffee Break

“I’m working from 8 AM to 8 AM. But I do get a coffee break.”

“I’m working from 8 AM to 8 AM. But I do get a coffee break.”

Graduation often brings a sense of wanting to prove yourself. I remember my first job out of college, I worked early morning to early evening, volunteered for nearly every special event, and talked work/task/project with my colleagues at any given moment. It was obsessive. And sadly, this habit is (was) hard to break. Even within the past five years, I often have to stop myself when I’m out with friends, as for many, the last thing they want to hear or talk about is work. And the hours are part of that stability, as well. Professionals cite this as, “work/life balance,” and I just like to view it as life. Sometimes you’re going to work and talk work from 8AM-8PM, and sometimes a coffee brake is enough. But you have to give yourself that coffee break. Take that coffee break.

Permission to be Shirtless

“We’re doing an annual fun and sexy memorial run for our friend Joe. Joe’s still alive though. He’s actually perfectly healthy. We’re just trying to raise awareness for him. Awareness of Joe.” “So wait, are you raising money for something?” “Nope. Just raising sexy.”

“We’re doing an annual fun and sexy memorial run for our friend Joe. Joe’s still alive though. He’s actually perfectly healthy. We’re just trying to raise awareness for him. Awareness of Joe.”
“So wait, are you raising money for something?”
“Nope. Just raising sexy.”

Before you strip down and blame me for your indecency, pause. There is something really liberating about shedding your insecurities, or coming together in community. The shirt can be real or representative of something you need to let go of – and either way, let it go. Have fun, build community, celebrate the people in your life. And above all else, feel sexy and free. Losing my hair, finding greys in my beard, and having to work out twice as hard to achieve what I want for my body are all quite exhausting. And confidence is essential. And I’m working on this every single day. Lose your “shirt,” gain your worth, and dare to be a bit more wild, spontaneous, and free.

Permission to be Random

“I love her randomness.” “Tell me about a time she was random.” “Three hours ago. I went to pick her up, and I found her double-dutching on the sidewalk with some kids. Then she went inside and came out wearing this.”

“I love her randomness.”
“Tell me about a time she was random.”
“Three hours ago. I went to pick her up, and I found her double-dutching on the sidewalk with some kids. Then she went inside and came out wearing this.”

First, if ever given the chance to double-dutch, get your ass out there and jump that rope. When I was a kid, I could do a round-off back-handspring into a turning rope – it was awesome, and it always shocked people. Go, shock people. Be random, surprise those around you, and most of all, have fun. Date people, and reconnect. Be present, wear many hats, and be exciting at every stop. There is nothing more boring than a person from whom you know exactly what you are going to get. And go on dates. Seriously, go on lots of dates as a young adult.

Permission to Self-Doubt

“When I told my mom that I was going to rehab, she was about to catch a flight to her 40th High School Reunion. I told her: ‘I guess you won’t be bragging about me to your friends.’ She said: 'Actually, I’ve never been prouder of you.’”

“When I told my mom that I was going to rehab, she was about to catch a flight to her 40th High School Reunion. I told her: ‘I guess you won’t be bragging about me to your friends.’ She said: ‘Actually, I’ve never been prouder of you.’”

If I have learned anything in the past decade, it’s that we don’t always see in ourselves what others see in us. Additionally, and more times than not, our own perception of self is often much harsher or more critical than how others see us. And this is more than a confidence moment. It’s about courage. Have the courage to step back and critically evaluate your current reality. And beyond that, examine who you have in your corner – even the ones you thought you might be disappointing most. Have the courage to give yourself some grace. You deserve grace.

Permission to Invent a Fart Gun

“I’m going to be an inventor. I already have some good ideas.” “Oh yeah? What are they?” “I had an idea for an electronic cigarette with a whatchamacallit in it that makes mist so you feel like you’re smoking but you really aren’t. And also a toothbrush where you put the toothpaste in the bottom and it comes out the top when you’re brushing.” “Those are some solid ideas. Anything else?” “A fart gun.”

“I’m going to be an inventor. I already have some good ideas.”
“Oh yeah? What are they?”
“I had an idea for an electronic cigarette with a whatchamacallit in it that makes mist so you feel like you’re smoking but you really aren’t. And also a toothbrush where you put the toothpaste in the bottom and it comes out the top when you’re brushing.”
“Those are some solid ideas. Anything else?”
“A fart gun.”

Sometimes a first job can often feel stifling. And for those who have a huge imagination, please remember, you are not defined by your ability or inability to create. Never, ever, lose your sense of wonder (and yes, in the most, I-hope-you-dance-and-feel-small-by-an-ocean, kind of way). Furthermore, never lose your sense of wander. Be silly. Have fun. Explore and create. And dream. One of the best things a potential employer or supervisor can tell you is, “It’s okay to dream here.” And when you get to dream, allow yourself to also create, and fight for the opportunity to create. Sometimes places don’t realize they are stifling someone’s creativity, and all they need is for that person to speak up and say, “Hey, I want to try to make this happen.” And then, make it happen.

When I started this piece, I noted, “you’ve/we’ve been fooled.” And the more I think about this assertion, perhaps we’ve only fooled ourselves.

Is post-graduation really the “end?”

Is a “dream job” and “dream hours” and “dream scenario” shortly after graduation fair or realistic?

Is this just?

Are we talking about grace?

I graduated college seven years ago, and I still wrestle with these questions even today. I still get choked up, just as I was standing before my friends and family, balling my eyes out. I still wonder if I’m good enough to take on the world, and brave enough to be my true self in this big, scary universe. But I’m hopeful. And I’m scared. But most of all, I’m hopeful – for both you and me. And I am confident that, if you give yourself enough credit/grace/positive energy, you, too, can beautifully navigate through this transition.

You don’t always get a map. And sometimes the map you do get isn’t any good anyway.


With hope,


*Photos have been pulled from Humans of New York… get lost

So, you’re graduating…


I recently had dinner with a former, student-turned-good-friend, who is about to graduate next month. She was in DC for a few days, and between her visit schedule and my continued attempts to figure out this new city, we met and caught up over dinner. Amidst war stories on love and life, and a dip into current events and politics, I knew one thing was missing from our conversation: the individual in front of me would be a college graduate in less than 30 days.

As a higher education professional by trade, I knew graduation was near. May is upon us and college students everywhere are experiencing their “lasts” and “never agains” and “I can’ts.” I tried my hardest to refrain from forcing the conversation (preparation, reflection, anticipation, procrastination) upon her, though to my surprise, she brought it up in the most casual manner.

“And, this whole, I’m-almost-graduating-Holy-shit, transition has actually not been all that bad. I think I’m ready.”

This came out of nowhere.

“Tell me more,” I responded, as best and as counselor-like as possible.

“I mean, I’m sad and all of that, but I’m ready. And I’m proud of myself and all I have accomplished.”

I agreed and validated her, and not even because I am supposed to as a friend and fan, but mostly because she was absolutely right. She really did have a lot to be proud of, and no amount of training or theory or literature can provoke students in such a way. For that, I was left thankful.

I walked home, pondering our conversation and thinking about the hundreds of thousands of brave souls who, too, are in this moment of transition. And as I took a moment to honor these individuals and all of their accomplishments and accolades, I also jotted down a few notes. Just as I addressed those entering college just last semester, consider this my gift, my love letter to all those about to take the plunge from college and into the big, scary, real world.

Dear About-To-Be College Graduates,

So, you’re graduating…

To start, you should note, ‘back home’ is back, and you’re moving forward. Forward.

Move forward.

You’re going to have feelings, and those feelings are okay. Furthermore, some of these feeling may come and go, and some might appear while grocery shopping, taking a shower, or in my case, at my graduation party the morning of graduation as I sobbed through a speech in front of my 30 closest friends, family, and university staff.

“I’m fine,” I promised.

I wasn’t.

And that was ok.

It you’re not ok. That’s ok, too.

But some of you will not have feelings. Your friends will melt down around you, and you’ll be confused, assuring, “It’ll be ok.” Don’t forget, you’re processing this on your own terms. You’re okay too.

Moving forward, you’re going to get an apartment. And for some of you, you’re going to cook your first meal. You will burn something. And you will be surprised by your own culinary skills, even if that means a killer grilled-cheese. Be patient. And Pinterest. Always, Pinterest.

You’re going to love jobs and you’re going to hate them. You’re also going to leave jobs. And that’s ok. You’re ok. You have permission to leave jobs, and to be annoyed with your boss, and to toast to all things, “Happy Hour.” And to do brunch. Do a lot of brunch as a, college-graduate-turned-real-world, human. There’s something healing about brunch.

And in your healing, remember there are roadblocks ahead.

Specifically, your friends will get engaged.

Prepare yourself for this reality.

Your Facebook timeline will become filled with individuals who are changing their hair color, “trying out bangs,” traveling for work, reconnecting with old flames, and dating other friends who you didn’t know they even knew. Support them. Support curiosity. People are changing and growing, and as hopeful as we are that college is the vehicle for the greatest of change and growth, it’s not.

Many are changing.

And many, without you.

This is okay. You are still okay. And as a word of caution, do not project your own transition on others, and do not accept others’ transition as your own. Because you, too, are changing. Growing. Developing. Again, this is all okay.

And in the change which exists ahead, loss and grief will be part of the process. Both are scary and real, and both are incredibly raw. Grieve. Seriously, allow yourself to grieve.

You will lose friends and family, and others around you will too. And pain will happen. And it sucks. But never forget the people who support and love and care for you. Their love doesn’t stop after college. It just looks different. And you’re different. Receive this gift. Never forget that you’re young. And being young is still filled with insurmountable opportunities at your fingertips.

You have the world at your fingertips.

What will you do with this opportunity? How will you prepare for this dynamic endeavor? Are you scared? Good. Be scared. But be hopeful. And be curious. Lose your sense of direction and wander. Get lost. Learn. Grow. And be unapologetically you.

Graduates, as you prepare for the big day, pause and acknowledge that you are entering the world of privileged souls with a college degree. May it take you places, and may you truly understand its worth.


Your cheerleader,


*Photo from a former student, Mary Prusha, after taking a line from my poem, “There will be times…” Check out her creative Instagram here

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?



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

My love letter to incoming freshman…

*photo courtesy of the University of Central Oklahoma

*photo courtesy of the University of Central Oklahoma

I came across a photo of Old North this morning, posted by my beloved alma mater, the University of Central Oklahoma. Old North is the oldest building constructed for higher education in the state of Oklahoma (Oklahoma-territory back then, if my Tour Guide roots are serving me correctly), and just so happens to be a building I walked by for four of the best years of my life.

I sat at my desk for a few minutes and just stared at my screen. In that one minute of reflection (I do this a lot, force myself to be still, quiet, and just be), many college memories flashed before my eyes. Specifically, my first day of college, ten years ago from this very day. Ten years is a long time. In ten years I have seen many friends lose parents, lose their own lives, develop new families (sometimes even for a second attempt), and change and grow multiple careers.

My first class of my freshman year (ten years ago from today) was a class titled, “Lessons in Leadership.” On a leadership scholarship (yes, those exist), I, along with 25 of my freshman-peers, was required to take a leadership class with the President of the University. I walked in, in what I am pretty sure was khakis and a sweater vest, books in hand, and headed for the front row. I remember an upper-classman in the same scholarship program joke with me, “Looks like you’re ready to teach this class.” I always did dress beyond my years, which is quite comical because now it’s like a winning lottery ticket to see me in a tie, let alone a suit. But, in that moment, I started college. It began. And, as many seniors are reflecting today, I would probably, if offered, go back to that very moment if presented the chance.

In lieu of rewinding time, I have summed up my thoughts in this note to those starting college today, or soon for others:

To those starting college today (or insert whichever day makes for, “the big day”),

To those privileged individuals who have the opportunity to attend college, I challenge you this: acknowledge your privilege. You are entering the world of scholars, leaders, world-changers, almost-professional athletes, researchers, and other folk who generally just want to learn, know, acquire, and be more. You are one of these folk. You are more.

As you select and attend classes, navigate your social balance, and re/consider new and old friendships, I challenge you to take care of your college. Show up for class. Invest in class. Show up for non-class. Get involved, be active, and leave a print – a positive impact. Look around and listen. Challenge yourself to stop making assumptions and give others a chance – give yourself a chance. Free yourself, and free your mind. Do something unconventional.

As you learn more about yourself and your newly established freedoms, be mindful of the world outside of your intercollegiate-bubble. Be curious. Be adventurous. Take care of yourself, and take care of others. Take care of your campus. Show up. Pick up. Fail. Know that “high school you” won’t cut it in higher education. You have to be better, do better, and aim better. But, fail. And learn. Grow, always.

When you look ahead, remember that, at some point, you will soon be looking back. Be proud of what you see in that rear-view mirror. Create the outcome you hope most to achieve. Believe in yourself, your surroundings, and “your people.” Invest in your people. Invest in yourself. Education is a powerful thing, and our privilege allows this huge opportunity of knowledge and future-success. Do not take this for granted. Now, go. Do. Be.

Most sincerely,

Washed-Up Alum

Good vibes and good love to all those starting a new journey today, and/or soon. Take a mental picture, frame it, love it.

In bronze and blue,


Let us believe in community…

I have always been part of a community. Whether it was the community of military families on the Air Force Base I grew up on or the multiple soccer teams I played on throughout my adolescence, the concept of community has been an important component in my upbringing. And college was no different. I joined a fraternity (and other clubs), volunteered, worked at a camp, and later encouraged others to do the same. Invest. Involve. Believe. This was community for me. I have since mastered the art of “alone time,” however for years I was convinced that community meant being around people at all times. Exhausting, right? I quickly learned that community went beyond the idea of being around other people, and was more so an opportunity to meaningfully associate and engage with others. This was community for me.

One of the attractive pieces of my alma mater was the university president’s belief in, what he identified as, “The Three C’s: Character, Community, and Civility.” My entire college career was built around these foundational values, and I fully bought into this concept. I still do. And now as a resident of Bloomington, Indiana, I continue to be drenched in the belief that community is key, and also that it can truly impact lives.

A few friends and I went on a walk last week, and just as our workout commenced, we came across a tree two doors down from the house of a good buddy of mine. Outside of the house and attached to a large tree in the front yard, we found an outdoor library. Provoked by a simple disclaimer, the instructions to this literary treasure read, “This is a Little Library. Borrow a Book – Bring it back when you are done with it. Leave a book of yours if you want to share it.”

As our walk continued, we stumbled upon yet another outdoor library. I was shocked. Filled with books and an additional disclaimer, it was at this point when I realized that these masterpieces were actually beautiful symbols of community. This is community, I remember thinking. These simple and unique tools to connect represented the power of human interactions, relationships, people, and creativity. “Borrow,” “bring it back,” leave one of yours,” “share.” Connect, believe, involve, engage. This is community.

As these educational gems continue to resonate with me, I am left wondering why we don’t we have more things like this in our neighborhoods. And if we do, why aren’t we taking full advantage of what they can do for others, and what they can do for us? Why don’t I talk to my neighbors more? Why is a treadmill more appealing that a trail or path? What I love most about this city is that community is a huge part of surviving and thriving in this town. People care about this place. People care about each other. People care about people. This is community. I recently volunteered at a community garden, and one of the women in charge of the plots shared that many of the people who garden in that area use the food they are growing as a sole means for substance. This was a powerful moment. People giving time to help others eat (at the core of this essential value). Giving, time, others. Values exemplified. Community exemplified.

In this new week, let us focus on community. Let us foster community. Let us believe in community. Go outside, stretch, say hello. My friends from other parts of the country will often laugh at me because anytime I pass someone on the street or while jogging, I will almost always say hello. It’s what we do. It is not uncommon in Oklahoma to have a full-on conversation with someone you’ve never met. In fact, this is an expectation. June is here, and I cannot think of a better reason to engage others in a meaningful and impacting way. Build relationships. Build community. Just build.