A New
with Men

Michael Taylor is a dreamer, revolutionary, an entrepreneur, author (A New Conversatoin with Men), personal development coach and motivational speaker who has dedicated his life to empowering men (and women) to reach their full potential. He does not consider himself to be an expert or guru. He does consider himself to be extremely knowledgeable in the field of personal growth and development. The fact is, he is an ordinary guy that made a commitment to live an extraordinary life and he wants to challenge you to do the same. E-Mail or www.anewconversationwithmen.com

Bouncing back from divorce
Chasing Dreams
Emotional Healing
The Four Freedoms
I Know I Love My Wife!
Is Love Real?
Living with joy!
A New Conversation about Faith
A New Conversation about SEX
The trials and triumphs of a joyful black man in America
Why do men get married?
Why are men so uncomfortable watching “Chick Flicks”?

Chasing Dreams

For as long as I can remember I have always dreamed of being an entrepreneur. I remember when I was only 8 or10 years old I said to my grandfather, "One day I am going to be a millionaire". "How are you going to accomplish that?" he asked. "By owning my own company," I replied.

It is my fervent belief that every human being has a divine purpose. I believe that intuitively we know what this purpose is, but, because of a society that discourages individuality and dreamers, we simply lose site of our dreams. We then begin to conform to society’s versions and definitions of success and begin wondering why our lives feel so empty and meaningless. In other words we stop listening to our own inner wisdom, we simply forget how to tune in to our own souls.

At the age of twenty-three I was living the American dream. I had a very good paying job, a beautiful wife, a nice house, three kids and every credit card you can imagine. By societies standards I was successful. Although externally it appeared that I had it all together, internally there was a deep feeling of emptiness and a longing for something more. By the age of twenty-nine my dream became a nightmare as I experienced divorce, bankruptcy and foreclosure. I had gone from having everything to having absolutely nothing in the span of only six years.

So there I was in unfamiliar territory. I was bankrupt and alone and had fallen into a deep state of depression. One night during the darkest period of my life I had an epiphany. I was thinking about all the things that had gone wrong in my life and I was trying to find a way to gain a sense of hope and optimism. All of a sudden I had this thought. Actually it was more than just a thought it was more like a divine communication. The communication was in the form of a question and it said, "What would happen if you took all of the energy you’ve invested in trying to get rich and focus that energy in simply trying to be happy?"

As simplistic as it sounds that question that propelled me to begin to rediscover my dream of being my own boss. To begin chasing my dream I had to begin asking myself some very deep questions. The first question I asked was "What is it that really makes me happy?" Next I had to ask myself, "What am I really good at?" And finally yet importantly "How can I take what makes me happy and combine it with what I’m good at and then make money?

After some deep self-introspection and a few years of participating in a series of personal development seminars and workshops, I found the answer to those three all-important questions. Because of my own personal development I came to realize that I really enjoyed teaching. I have always had a deep love for learning new things and I discovered that it brought me a lot of joy to share what I learned with others. I also learned that I am a very good communicator and have a gift for public speaking. Although public speaking terrifies most people I found out that I absolutely love the intellectual challenge of being able to relay my thoughts, ideas and beliefs to others in a passionate intelligent and conversational style. I am filled with excitement and energy when I speak in front of groups. I can’t really put the feeling into words but part of me connects with a divine presence that always guides me in my thoughts, words and actions. It’s as if I’m not actually doing the speaking. It feels as if my spirit is giving me the words. It is a very powerful and enlightening experience to say the least.

So now that I have answered the first two questions, what makes me happy and at what do I excel - all I needed to figure out now was how I could convert this knowledge into a career that would allow me to make an adequate amount of money to live my dreams and be comfortable. During this time I was experiencing extreme burnout at work. I knew that I really needed to do something different but I was still unsure as to which direction I should go. A part of me was excited about trying something new, yet another part of me was scared to death about giving up my secure position and career.

After months of asking myself what I wanted to do next I decided that I wanted to write a book and start my own publishing company. In addition, I could become a motivational speaker that targeted my products and services to the African American market. I had spent years participating in workshops and seminars dealing with human potential and personal growth and I noticed that there were very few African American participants. I had found an unfilled need and I decided to fill that need with my new company. Once I decided that I wanted to start my company I had to face the reality that I did not have the financial backing to get started. In fact, I was so far in debt that starting a company seemed like the last thing I needed to do. However, despite being completely broke I knew that I had to figure out a way to make my dream come true.

The first thing I needed to do was actually write the book. Therefore I committed myself to completing my manuscript. Amazingly I was up late one night watching Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous featuring a famous romance writer. I do not remember her name but something she said really stuck with me. She said that every day she writes ten pages of text. No more and no less than- ten pages everyday. She said that sometimes it takes her twelve hours and sometimes it takes her ten minutes. She writes ten pages a day, no matter how much time it takes. When she finishes she goes to the beach or just relaxes and find other things to keep herself busy. After listening to her, I decided that I would attempt to write only five pages each day. In my mind it seemed like a realistic goal. The next day I sat down to write. It took me over nine hours to write my five pages but commitment resulted in it’s completion. Although there were tons of errors in my writing it did not matter. What was most important was that I kept my commitment of writing five pages. I continued my commitment and within ninety days I actually completed my manuscript. Boy was I relieved when I finally finished. Though challenging it was very rewarding to finally complete the project.

Then the issue of money (actually lack of money) came up again. I decided to ask some of my friends what they thought of my idea about starting my own company and to see if they might be interested in investing. Although most of them were supportive, none of them was willing to invest any money into my company. Their biggest fear was not that I did not have the commitment, perseverance and knowledge to start the company. Their greatest fear was that African Americans would not buy my books. Repeatedly, I would hear comments like, "Black people don’t read or black people don’t spend money on personal development programs. How many people are going to purchase a book titled Brothers Are You Listening? Don’t you know that black men are the last people to purchase these types of books? Although I must admit that I was a little surprised by their reactions I completely disagreed with their conclusions. I knew there was a need for personal development books written by and for African Americans and although most people disagreed with me I decided to pursue my dream any way. In fact their rejection inspired me even more. I knew that if I could overcome all of the obstacles ahead of me it would give me even more credibility and ultimately help me sell more books. It would make my story even more inspiring.

Now that I had completed my manuscript I needed to get it edited, copyrighted, printed and bounded. Once that happened I would officially be a published author. Boy, that sounded good. Michael Taylor published author.

Since I didn’t have any money I decided to try to get my book published by a major publisher first. If I could get a publisher to accept my manuscript I could get a small advance to cover some expenses and then they could help promote my work and me. I mailed out over a hundred query letters to publishers all across the country. Each one was returned with the polite rejection letter stating that my book did not "fit" into the genre or target group of their company. Although some people dislike rejection it actually inspires me. I knew that these rejections were not a reflection of my work; it was simply the closed-minded attitudes of people in the publishing industry. I simply needed to stay focused and eventually I would get my big break. After over two years I realized that my big break was not going to come through any publishing company. I knew that it was now up to me to get my message out and I needed to redirect my energy in a different direction. I began doing research on self-publishing. I read several success stories about people who had self-published and I decided that was the way I needed to go. Although it sounded easy to do, the down side was that it was going to take a substantial amount of money to publish my book myself.

During this time I had been listening to a series of tapes by a person named Wayne Dyer. I had been reading and studying his work for over ten years and I actually consider him one of my favorite mentors. The title of the tape series was The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny. In this series Dr. Dyer talks about the importance of meditation and focusing your thoughts on what you want. He talks a lot about visualizing the dreams and goals that you have and trusting that you are connected to an Infinite Universe that will support you in manifesting your desires. I have learned to trust and accept this concept so I began focusing my attention on getting my book published somehow. Another thing that Dr. Dyer teaches is the concept of synchronicity. This simply means that everything in our lives happens for a reason and if we will simply learn to recognize the divine synchronicities in our lives they will guide us to our ultimate destiny. I was doing my meditation and being aware of the synchronicities in my life when I experienced a divine miracle. I met a woman at a bookstore and we immediately became good friends. We had a lot in common and shared the same beliefs about the Universe and synchronicity. Actually, she was a huge Wayne Dyer fan just like me. One day she invited me to go with her to pick up some gift cards that she was having made. When we arrived at the printers she introduced me to the owner. He was a very nice guy that had been doing printing for over twenty years. After our introduction I asked him exactly what his company did and he told me that he handled all types of printing. I asked him if he also printed and bounded books and he answered yes. Wanting to know how much he would charge to print it and bind it; I begin telling him a little about my book. He gave me a price and I told him that I could not afford to pay him at that time. He asked me to tell him a little more about my book and after our conversation he was so impressed that he offered to pay for the printing up front if I would be willing to pay him back in monthly installments.

It took every ounce of strength in me to keep from jumping through the roof. I was so excited that I actually gave him a hug to say thank you. I knew immediately that my meditations and prayers had worked and the Universe was supporting me in manifesting my dream. After approximately six weeks I had my first printing of books delivered to my home. I can’t even begin to express how happy and excited I was. However, I knew that the work was just beginning. Now I had to prove that I could sell my books in addition to repaying him for printing them for me.

Fortunately I have always been a salesman so I did what I do best; I began selling my books to anyone that looked interested. I sold books to people on the bus, I had a few friends that owned beauty salons who allowed me to sell in their shops, and I even sold a book to a female police officer that wrote me a ticket. I was a selling machine. After a little over a year I sold my first thousand copies. This was pretty phenomenal considering I did it with no advertising or marketing. This happened over ten years ago and today I’m still selling my book. In fact I am almost finished with my next book, which should be available in 2007.

Although I have not reached all of my financial goals I can say that I am now living my dream. I am currently an entrepreneur, a writer and personal development coach that loves to empower others to live their dreams and create a life worth living. As I mentioned at the beginning, every human being has a divine purpose. The question is whether you are willing to look deep within yourself to find yours. If you have been inspired by this story and would like more information about my company or me, please visit www.creationpublishing.com The site is designed to educate, motivate and inspire you to reach your full potential. Check it out and let me know what you think.

In the meantime remember that dreams really do come true but you must be willing to put forth a whole lot of effort to make it happen. Take Nike’s advice. JUST DO IT!

The Four Freedoms

As a tribute to the 4th of July celebration I would like to share my four freedoms to happiness. In addition to watching fireworks and eating bar-b-que, why not contemplate these four freedoms and find out if you are truly free.

1. The freedom to be me. As simplistic as this sounds, I believe this is the most important freedom we have as human beings. To know who we are and why we are here is the foundation of the human experience. Unfortunately, very few people experience this freedom. The reason for this is simple, it’s because we are conditioned to believe that in order for us to be free we must have “stuff”. Most people believe if they simply purchase a new car or new house and lots of material things then they will be free. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, most people feel trapped and overwhelmed when they accomplish this. The lesson we all must learn is that it is impossible to feel free if you are burdened with debt and responsibility. So if you believe that money and material things will make you feel free then you are sadly mistaken.

The only way to experience authentic freedom is to engage in a journey of self-discovery that allows you to uncover any subconscious issues that may be keeping you from knowing who you really are. Once you discover your true self then you will be truly free.

2. The freedom from scarcity There is absolutely nothing wrong with accumulating wealth and having lots of money. The challenge is to recognize that it does not take money or material things to be truly happy and free. Having money allows you to enjoy life and definitely can alleviate some of the stress and discomforts of living, but abundance is really a state of mind. Freedom from scarcity means that you do not engage in “poverty” thinking and you know that you have the ability to create any level of wealth you choose. To experience this freedom you must understand the law of attraction that says what ever you focus your attention on you create in your reality. By focusing your attention on wealth you will be free from scarcity.

3. The freedom to connect with Spirit One of this country’s greatest freedoms is the freedom of religion. Unfortunately too many people are trapped by religion because they have not taken the time to come to their own truth and understanding about God. They accept religious teachings that may have been passed on for generations without questioning those beliefs. In order to be free, a person must ask themselves deeper questions and be open to the possibility that their old beliefs about God may no longer suit them. When a person listens to their own soul and expands their understanding about God, then they open the door to an expanded concept of God, which creates spiritual freedom. This is definitely the truth that will set you free.

4. The freedom to give back In order to truly be free, you must be willing to share your unique gifts and talents with the world. By sharing yourself with others, you give them the freedom to do the same. By encouraging and supporting others you lay the foundation for a more compassionate and caring society. It’s been said that what ever you give you also receive, so be sure to give of yourself so that you receive the gifts of others.

These are my four freedoms to happiness. If they resonate with you then share them with someone else. If they don’t, that’s all right too. Just make sure that you are being completely honest with yourself when you ask yourself the question, “Am I really free?”

So in the words of the document that gave America it’s freedom;

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

Did you notice that it said the “pursuit” of happiness? There are no guarantees that you will find it but I hope you do.

Good luck and live free!

Why do men get married?

According to some statistics, fifty percent of marriages will end in divorce. With odds like that why do men take the chance on marriage? As I think about people who have been married multiple times (myself included) the question arises once again, why do we do it? Why get married? Isn’t it more fun to be single and free? Why do we subject ourselves to the possible emotional and psychological trauma of marriage and commitment?

As a talk show host I have the opportunity to listen to a myriad of opinions on all sorts of topics. Amazingly, the topic that generates the most calls are the ones concerning relationships and marriage. Sadly enough, most of the calls are ones that express sadness, hurt and misery. Comments range from, “I really feel trapped in this marriage” to “I really hate my spouse”. Once again I pose the question, “why do we do it”?

Rather than wallow in misery and pain in this discussion, I thought I would take this opportunity to answer the question and provide some valuable insights into why we get married and how we can make our marriages work.

First I’d like to begin by sharing a few of the wrong reasons to get married.

1. GSSS (great steady safe sex). This is the reason so many marriages fail. Men who experience “great” sex often times believe that having great sex will insure a great marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason this does not work is because these types of relationships are based on physical pleasure not emotional intimacy. You cannot sustain a great relationship on physical pleasure alone. You must have emotional and spiritual intimacy in order to truly connect with another human being. If you have the emotional intimacy first I can assure you that you can (and will) have great sex.

2. Loneliness. Most people will not admit this but I can assure you that there are people who marry because they are lonely and afraid to be alone. This is a recipe for disaster. When a person feels isolated and alone, and needs someone else to make them feel whole the marriage really can’t work. A lonely person is operating from an emotional deficit and nothing outside of that person can fill that void.

3. It’s the right thing to do or it’s what I’m supposed to do. This is the illusion that I was trapped in when I married the first time. I was moving up the corporate ladder and thought that by being married I would exude maturity, responsibility and commitment. I honestly thought that it would help my career. Sad to say but that is the truth. It takes courage to admit this but I know there are lots of people getting married for this reason. Make sure that you don't make the same mistake I did. It's easy to get caught in the societal illusion that we are "supposed" to be married. Never marry out of duty and obligation. Marry for love, it's the only thing that works.

These are just a few of the wrong reasons that people get married. Take a moment and ask yourself if you are using any of these reasons to get married. If so, my advice is to rethink your marriage proposal and take some time to yourself and understand what is driving your desire to get married.

Now I would like to suggest a few reasons why you should get married. (If you choose to)

1. If you have taken the time to fully understand yourself and feel happy and complete just as you are, then you are ready to consider being married. If and when you are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually healthy, this is a great time to consider finding that special person to share your completeness and wholeness with. Remember that you must be willing to remove your own personal baggage (yes men we have baggage) if you ever want to create a rewarding and fulfilling relationship.

2. When you find someone that shares the same core values that you do in regards to money, sex, children, health and spirituality then you are ready to unite in marriage. The key is to recognize that it is the internal values that will dictate whether or not the marriage will work. If your potential partner shares the same core values as you do in these areas then there is a very good chance that you can create and maintain a successful marriage. If you are focused on external qualities like physical appearance, financial status and educational background only, then chances are, you will not be able to develop a relationship of any depth or intimacy.

3. If you are truly committed to your emotional and spiritual growth you recognize that if a relationship isn’t growing, it’s dying. When you can make the commitment to yourself and the person you love to make sure that the relationship keeps growing, then you are ready for marriage. This means that you take the time to nurture the relationship by being emotionally open and transparent with your thoughts and feelings and you commit to doing whatever it takes to stay connected to your partner. You must make the commitment to recognize your emotional needs as well as your partners so that there is always open and honest communication. This takes effort but I can assure you that it is well worth it.

The intention of this article is to simply provide fuel for contemplation for anyone who may be considering marriage. To sum it all up, the reason we get married is because we all want to be loved and accepted by a special someone in our lives. As human beings, we are social creatures that literally need the connections that are created in relationships to be happy. My belief is that there is nothing more important than having loving, supportive and nurturing relationships in our lives. Marriage is the ultimate expression of relationships and should only be entered into when we are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually whole.

If you choose to take the plunge, know that great marriages are possible but they definitely take effort. Ultimately, creating a great marriage boils down to the simple principle I mentioned earlier, “if it’s not growing, it’s dying”.

Commit to growing your relationships or marriage and watch your joy grow exponentially. Good luck!

Living with joy!

After I completed a seminar, a gentleman who apparently disagreed with most of what I had said approached me. I could tell by the look on his face that he was obviously unhappy. The topic of discussion was joy and I knew that this man could not relate to the topic. As he approached me I knew that I would practice what I preached by being friendly and courteous to him.

“Hello” I said.

“Hello, I was listening to your topic and I have to disagree with what you said”. Stated the angry looking man.

“What part of the speech did you disagree with?”

“Most of it actually. I don’t think men are supposed to be joyful. Not only are they not supposed to be joyful I do not think that they are supposed to smile so much. I don’t trust a man that smiles so much”.

“What is it about a smiling man that you don’t trust?”

“I’m not exactly sure but I know that men who smile so much are usually up to no good. My daddy told me to always look out for men who smile all the time”.

“What if your daddy was wrong? What if there are men who smile a lot and are also trustworthy? What if you were one of those men?” “Do you think it’s possible for you to be happy and smile every now and then?

“I really don’t have any reason to smile. Life is tough and I think that it’s important to be prepared for the worst. That’s why I keep my feelings to myself and not act like a sissy by smiling”.

“So you think that smiling makes you less of man”?

“To some degree I do”.

“What if you’re wrong? What if you could smile and be joyful and still maintain your masculinity?"

“I don’t think that’s possible but I’m sure I’m not going to change your point of view. I just wanted to express my opinion. I appreciate you listening. Have a nice day”!

As the angry man walked away I felt a little sorry for him. I knew there was a part of him that really wanted to be happy but I also recognized that he did not have the emotional tools to access his joy. I wanted to embrace him and let him know that he could find his joy if he really wanted to but I knew that he would not have been receptive to any type of embrace or physical contact.

Our conversation confirmed the need for men to create a new dialog about what it means to be a man in today’s ever-changing world. Amazingly, there are millions of men who feel exactly as the angry man felt. They have bought into the illusion that feeling and expressing joy is for women and that somehow it makes us less than men if we express our positive emotions. The truth of the matter is, expressing our emotions is our birthright. It isn’t feminine to express emotions and it does not make you a “sissy”. It takes a lot of courage to be emotionally open and honest in our current paradigm of masculinity. Our country is paying a terrible price for this antiquated way of thinking and behaving and the time has come to create a new paradigm of masculinity. In this new paradigm we learn to connect to our joy and our happiness. We give ourselves permission to be creative and artistic without fear of being labeled “gay” or “feminine”. We would also recognize that men who smile all the time could be trustworthy and that smiling has lots of health benefits in addition to making you feel good.

So the next time you see a man smiling don’t accuse him of being weak or too sensitive. Recognize that he just might be filled with joy and the only way that he can release it is to smile and be happy. If you are really courageous walk up to him with a smile on your face and say, “It’s really nice to meet a man that is living with joy. I know exactly how you feel and that is why I have this humongous smile on my face. I am living with joy and I absolutely love it!”

I Know I Love My Wife!

Recently I went to see Chris Rocks new movie I Think I Love My Wife. The movie is about a guy who has a beautiful wife, 2 adorable kids a great job and a nice house. By societies standards he is a pretty successful guy. On the surface he looks like he has it all together, but like too many men, he is unhappy and unfulfilled. Not only is he unfulfilled; he is absolutely bored to death. He and his wife are having marital problems, which results in them not having sex. He has a very sexy and seductive female friend who is continuously trying to seduce him which makes matters even worse. To top it all off he has begun asking the question that is the precursor to most divorces and failed relationships, “Would I be happier if I were single again?”

Whenever a man gets to this question it is usually the beginning of the end. Either the relationship will end or the relationship will have to change. This question means that there are unresolved issues that have not been addressed and the man is preparing himself for either one of two things,

  • He is already considering leaving the relationship or having an affair.
  • He wants to fix it. He is really committed to the relationship and wants it to work but does not know how to improve or repair it.

As the movie progresses the man is faced with some very difficult choices. Ultimately he finds the answer to his question and then chooses a path that works best for him. I don’t want to give the plot away but the movie made me start thinking and asking questions.

For example: Why is it that when we get married our relationships become more and more difficult? Why do most people have less sex after they get married? Why do we even get married in the first place? Isn’t it more fun to be single? Why do we say we’re in love, get married and then fall out of love? And last but not least, how do we know when we are truly in love? What exactly is love any way?

These are questions that I have been asking myself for the past twenty years. And although I do not claim to have all the answers I have been able to answer them for myself and as a result I now have a marriage that really works for me. Although my marriage may not be perfect, it is perfect in it’s imperfection and I will admit that I absolutely love being married. I’ll take the married life over the single life any day.

So I wanted to take this opportunity and share Michael Taylor’s five ways to know if you really love your wife or spouse or girlfriend. These are five ways that I confirm that I love my wife and that I am happily married. Try them out and see if they work for you.

  • If you truly love your wife you can be completely honest with her about how you really feel. This means that you can tell her when you are angry or you can tell her when you are sad or afraid. If you really do not like those new shoes she bought you can tactfully be honest and say you do not like them. You can express your self openly and honestly when things aren’t going well in your life as well as when they are going well. In other words you can truly communicate with each other.
  • If you truly love your wife whenever something significant occurs in your life she is the first person that you want to tell. Whether it’s a new promotion or a devastating car wreck she is the first person that pops into your mind. You know that you can count on her to be there for you through thick or thin and you accept her support in all ways.
  • If you truly love your wife even when she gets on your last nerve and you’re mad as hell you still know that this is the woman that you want to spend the rest of your life with. You never think about leaving and you know that you can work through anything. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass” and you recognize this divine truth. You recognize the difference between who she is and what she does and you can be angry temporarily at what she does, but you are never angry with who she really is. You understand that relationships are perfect in their imperfection and you accept her imperfections as well as your own.
  • If you truly love your wife then you commit to spending quality time with them. This does not mean that you have to take them out or spend any money on them. It simply means that you give them your undivided attention and share in their interests some times. It’s amazing how the most important relationship in our lives is often neglected and then we wonder why we end up in divorce court. If you really love your wife why wouldn’t you want to be with her?
  • If you really and truly love your mate you are never tempted to stray even if the woman who may be tempting you looks better and has a better body than your wife. There will always be someone better looking than your mate. If you truly love someone it is about more than their physical beauty it should also be about their inner beauty and when you connect with that, your love will truly flourish. True love is more than just a feeling. It is a commitment and an action that says that you have dedicated your life to this person and this person only. Your commitment is to be faithful. Isn’t that the reason you married her in the first place? You must realize that a temporary attraction is OK as long as you do not allow yourself to act on that momentary attraction. If you really love your mate then there is no way you could ever cheat on them because you would be able to feel the hurt and devastation that betrayal causes and you would never want your wife to feel that terrible pain. Some men rationalize (which means they tell rational lies to themselves) that as long as they provide for their families it’s ok to be unfaithful. The truth is that they may love their wives on the surface but they are definitely not in love with them. That is the distinction that most men really struggle with.

These are my five keys to knowing if you truly are in love with your wife. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Drop me an email and let me hear your comments

A New Conversation about Faith

My earliest recollection about having faith and going to church begins back in the early seventies. I remember the look and sounds of the church I attended and the apparent power that the minister had over the congregation. In my young mind the minister was a direct representative of God so I came to the conclusion that the minister was definitely closer and more connected to God than any one. Although I was too young to really understand everything the minister was saying, intuitively I felt that something was wrong with his message. I remember having lots of questions that no one would answer directly for me. This led to skepticism about God from a very early age.

The event that I remember most about God as a child was being force to get baptized. When I say forced I mean that literally. I definitely did not want to participate in what I considered to be a useless ritual but I did not have a choice. My grandmother threatened me with bodily harm if I didn’t go through with it and I knew that she would keep her word of “tearing me a new behind” if I did not go. According to the grownups in my life I had to be baptized in the name of the father the son and the Holy Spirit if I wanted to save my sinful soul.

Without question my greatest fear about being baptized was drowning. I was terrified that the minister had talked to God and found out about some of the sinful things that I had done. Now I was going to be punished. I just knew that he was going to hold my head underwater until I drowned and then say that it was an accident. Or maybe he would say that God called me home to be with him. Either way I knew it was the end for me.

As the minister motioned for me to step into the pool I wanted to turn around and run. Unfortunately there was a deacon standing behind me that would not allow that to happen. As I walked toward the minister I could hear the music in the background. It sounded more like a funeral than a baptism and that simply amplified my fear. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as sweat continued to run down my face.

As I approached the minister I decided that I would trust the process and hopefully come out of it alive. As he grabbed my forehead and began saying his baptismal prayer I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. In an instant I was dunked in and out of the water and I was still alive. Hallelujah Jesus! I was still alive! As the minister finished up his prayer he detected a smile on my face. I’m sure he thought that I was filled with the Holy Spirit but the truth is I was simply glad he didn’t drown me. I’ve heard some people say that they experience a profound spiritual feeling after being baptized. The only thing I felt was cold. The water was freezing and I simply wanted to get out of that pool and dry off.

As I think back in retrospect this one event probably shaped my perception of God more than anything else at the time. As a result of this experience I concluded that God;

  • Only spoke to ministers.
  • Created all of the pain in my life.
  • Would only listen to you if you prayed in church and paid your tithes.
  • Was someone/something you should be afraid of.

As I moved through adolescence and into my teenage years my skepticism and doubts about God continued. I didn’t know exactly why I did not believe in God there was just something in me that needed concrete irrefutable proof.

As my doubts about God continued to grow I had an experience that challenged me to question my beliefs about God. One Sunday my mother and I were sitting in church and I noticed that she was crying. When I asked her what was wrong she said “nothing.” As I listened to the sermon I did not detect anything in the ministers words that should have made my mother cry. I assumed that maybe she was sad about something that she just had not told me about. Either way I still wanted to know why she was crying. When I asked her once again why she was crying she answered “because I feel joy in my heart!” “What do you mean you feel joy in your heart” I asked. “Aren’t you crying because you are sad?” “I’m not sad at all. I feel lots of love and gratitude in my heart right now and that is why I am crying” she said. This really confused me because I had always related tears to sadness and I had never felt so joyful that I cried. As I sat there and watched her weep I could feel the love in her heart. Somehow she was experiencing the presence of God right next to me. After that experience I decided that maybe I needed to rethink my beliefs about God and if I were lucky I would have the opportunity to feel the joy that she was feeling.

Isn’t it amazing how seemingly simple events can completely shift your perceptions and perspectives about things? As a child, I grew up being afraid of God and denying its existence. As I grew older, I became open to the fact that my beliefs may have been incorrect and I became willing to look at things from a different perspective. This is what I mean when I talk about a new conversation. It is simply being willing to see things from a new and different perspective. The amazing thing to me is that it took my experience with my mother crying to change my mind about God. As a result of that experience I made room for the possibility that there was a God and that if I wanted to truly experience it I would have to get out of my head and into my heart where God really lives.

I must admit that I did go through a period in my adult life when I made a choice to become an Atheist. During this time I was experiencing several hardships in my life and it was difficult for me to be open to the existence of God. I had attempted to go back to church to alleviate some of the pain I was in, but, it simply added to the pain I was experiencing. I had so many unanswered questions about God that I simply concluded that there was no such thing.

After a few years of trying to convince myself that God wasn’t real I remembered the experience of my mother so I set out to “feel” the love of God the way my mother did. Because of my commitment, I became willing to do whatever it took to feel the love within me. I participated in several seminars and workshops that assisted me in my emotional healing. As a result of that healing, I reconnected to my feelings, which resulted in my ability to feel and experience God within me. I am now able to feel the love within me that has always been there. Because of this newfound understanding I have come to some new conclusions about God that I would like to share with you.

  • God speaks to all people all of the time. The question isn’t to whom does God speak; the real question is who will actually listen.
  • God is literally Love. Love will never cause you pain or sorrow. If I ever experience pain I am the source of that pain not God. The only thing God is capable of is love.
  • You can have God without religion. It doesn’t matter which faith you practice or what God you serve. God goes by many different names and when you are comfortable with any of the names you are definitely connected to God. There are many paths to God and just because someone is on a different path than you it does not mean that they are lost.
  • There is absolutely no reason to be afraid of God. God is love so you should never be afraid.

Of course these are my truths and I am not trying to convince you otherwise. I accomplished my goal of “feeling” the love of God within and I am happy and content with my relationship with my creator. My hope for you is that you seek out your truth and experience all the love God has in store for you.

If you have unanswered questions about God then it is up to you to find your own answers. Do not rely solely on ministers or gurus. Take some time and come to your own personal truth and understanding about God. Read books that offer insights and wisdom that may seem unconventional but speaks to your own spirit. Do not be afraid to try a different religion or belief system. Learn to trust your own inner wisdom to find the place that is right for you. If you are willing to look deep within yourself I can assure you that you can find the truth that sets you free.

The time is now for a new conversation about God. Are you ready and willing to feel it for yourself?

Emotional Healing

In 1989 I was experiencing a series of traumatic experiences that were beginning to take their toll. My divorce and separation from my kids were extremely painful and had begun to negatively impact my life. I had slipped into a deep state of depression and was barely able to function on a daily basis. As my depression deepened I went into isolation in which I literally shut myself off from the outside world. Although I was able to go to work and function in that capacity, I was completely disconnected from any social settings. I was not dating. I did not socialize with my friends. I had difficulty sleeping. I would rarely eat and I had began to lose weight which was rare for me being a former personal trainer that took excellent care of my physical body. After several months I began to have fleeting thoughts of suicide and it appeared that my situation was hopeless.

In an effort to alleviate some of the pain, I begin to read books dealing with depression. As I read them I could see myself in some of the stories. I definitely had all of the symptons of depression and I knew that I had to deal with it head on if I ever wanted to get my life back on track. After reading several books I realized that I was still deeply depressed and had not really began to deal with the issues that were causing my depression. Instinctively I knew that I needed help and I decided that I would go to therapy.

After making the decision to get help, another series of challenges surfaced. First of all, how was I going to find a therapist? How would I know which one to choose? What if the therapist couldn't help me? Would I be able to change? Could therapy "fix" me? What about the money? I was completely broke and definitely could not pay someone to listen to my problems. What was I going to do? These are just a few of the questions that were going through my mind. My greatest fear was wondering what would happen if my employees found out. As a manager, I was considered the leader and I definitely did not want to appear weak in front of my co-workers. I believed that I needed to keep this a secret so that I would not lose the respect of my employees. In addition, I did not want my superiors to know because I thought I might lose my job if they found out.

After a few months of agonizing over these questions I knew that I had to take the chance and try therapy. I didn't have any other choice. It was seek help or die. There was no grey area. I decided that I definitely wanted to live and I somehow gained the courage to go to the therapist office.

My first attempt at therapy did not go well. I walked into a therapist office and pretended that I was seeking information for a friend. I'm sure the people there knew this but they allowed me to walk out with some of their brochures and a phone number to their suicide hotline. To be honest I was absolutely terrified. Although I was scared, deep down I knew that I would have to gain the courage to try again. I waited a few days and tried a different therapist office. This time I had a completely different result. As I walked into the office I believe the receptionist picked up on my fear. I had begin asking her questions about depression and whether or not they had any books that I could read. All of a sudden a therapist walked out and began asking me questions. "May I help you?" she asked. "Not really, I'm just looking for a little information about depression" " Are you depressed?" "I'm not really sure" I answered. "Why don't you come inside and lets talk a little. Is that alright?" "I guess so."

As I followed her into her office it felt as if my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I was so nervous and afraid that I was literally dripping with sweat. She obviously picked up on this and began to put my mind at ease.

"What is your name?"


"Well Michael I can sense that you are a little nervous so let me start by asking what I can do to help you. Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Well maybe. I have been doing some research about depression and I think I'm depressed but I'm really not sure."

"Do you feel depressed"

"Based on what I've read so far I think I am. But to be completely honest I'm not sure I know exactly what depression is supposed to feel like. Does that make any sense to you?'

"It makes a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately most men do not recognize how they feel. Men have been conditioned to disconnect from their emotions and that makes it extremely difficult for men to express how they really feel. Most men will tell you what they think but they usually do not know how they feel. You apparently fit into this category."

"I'm not sure if I really understand what you are saying but a part of me thinks that you are right."

"You just validated the point I made. You are currently speaking from an intellectual perspective instead of an emotional one. It sounds as if you are disconnected from your emotions."

"Lets assume that you are right. If I am disconnected from my emotions how do I get reconnected? Do you have any books on how to do this?

"Unfortunately you can not reconnect to your emotions by reading books. In order for you to reconnect you have to relearn how to feel. This can be accomplished through therapy with me or any trained therapist"

"I really don't understand what you mean. But if I decide to relearn how to feel how long will it take?

"I really can't answer that question. It's really up to you and how committed you are to doing the work."

"What do you mean doing the work? What kind of work is involved?"

"In the therapeutic community we use the word work because it takes a considerable amount of effort to heal yourself so that you can reconnect with your emotions. Doing the work means that you become willing to opening yourself up on an emotional level. This can be quite difficult at times."

"Well I beleive I'm ready. I'm really tired of being alone and I definitely want to experience some fun in my life again. I think I can do this so how much will it cost?"

"I operate on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. The most important thing is for you to make the commitment to yourself to heal and we can address the money issue at a later date. Are you ready to begin? Let's set up a date and time for you to begin your healing."

"I just wanted to thank you for being so nice and understanding. The truth is I was about to run out of your office before you showed up. Now I am really glad that I came because I really believe that you can help me."

"That is a great attitude to have. I'm glad that you trust me enough to work with you. Just remember that I can guide you but you must be willing to do the work. As long as you believe that you can heal I can assure you that you will. Just stay committed and trust the process and you will be just fine. The truth is you have already done the hard part by showing up today. It takes an incredible amount of courage to be here and I'm proud of you for taking the first step."

As I left the therapists' office that day I knew that I had just taken the biggest step of my life. I did not know what to expect but I knew that I was willing to do whatever it took to heal my emotions and relearn how to feel. I became committed to my own healing and I can now say that I am emotionally healed and connected to my authentic self. As the therapist mentioned, it was not easy but it was definitely possible. It has been one of the most challenging yet most fulfilling journeys of my life. I can not put into words the joy I feel on a regualr basis as a result of doing my emotional work. My relationships now work, my creativity and sense of reverence is enhanced, my love of nature has been rekindled and my professional life is rewarding and fulfilling. I took the road less traveled and it has made all the difference in the world for me.

I wanted to share this story because there is such a negative stigma about men and therapy that I believe it's time for a new conversation. In this new conversation men will recognize the importance of healing their emotions and they will put forth the effort to do their healing work. When we learn to support each other in our growth we can remove the fear and stigma of being emotionally vulnerable which will ultimately result in us being happier human beings. I personally believe that this is the most important work men can participate in and we must begin supporting each other through this process. If we will gain the courage to do this work we will see a decline in domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism and random acts of violence.

The time has come for a new conversation about our emotional healing. Are you willing to join the conversation?

A New Conversation about SEX

It is probably the most pleasurable experience that human beings have. It excites us, delights us and drives us absolutely insane. We write songs about it, make movies about it, tell lies about it and even daydream about it. By some accounts men think about it every 52 seconds. It is the incredible experience of SEX and nothing gives us more pleasure and at the same time causes us more pain.

If you watch our media you should notice that we are constantly bombarded with images of sex and nudity. As the saying goes, “sex sells” and the marketers and advertisers make sure that they take every opportunity to take advantage of this adage. Companies use sex to sell everything from golf clubs to chicken wings and each year the advertising seems to get more and more provocative.

With this over-proliferation of sexual images one might conclude that everyone is engaged in sex 24 hours a day seven days a week. Not only do we assume everyone is doing it, we also assume that they are actually enjoying doing it! But if sex is so wonderful and pleasurable why are so many people so unhappy with their sex lives? Why is it that married couples tend to have less sex as time goes by? Why do people have affairs for sex when they should have access to all the sex they want if they are involved in a committed relationship? Why do men put so much emphasis on sexual conquests as gauges for their manhood? Why do people have so much difficulty being honest about how they really feel about sex and have to lie and make up excuses for their sexual behaviors and appetites?

Although there are numerous answers to these questions I have come to the conclusion that there is one answer that really covers the gamut of most of these questions.

This one answer is so simple yet so complex very few people will grasp it’s implication. The answer is so profoundly simple you probably will not believe it. If you have ever wondered why men obsess over sex yet remained unfilled I have the answer. If you have asked why people have affairs this will answer that question. If you get caught up in power struggles over sex this answer will shed light on the reason why. And if you have ever wondered why it is so difficult to maintain a fulfilling sex life I have the key.

Would you like the key that will unlock the door to great sex? Are you willing to contemplate this answer so that you can create and maintain a wonderful fulfilling sexual relationship with your partner?

Here it is, the million-dollar answer you have been waiting for. The reason so many people are so unhappy with their sex lives is because our society has conditioned us to believe that sex is purely a physical experience when in truth it should be an emotional and a spiritual experience! Without the emotional and spiritual aspect of sex, people will always feel as if something is missing. It does not matter if you cause your mate to have powerful orgasm’s that send shivers up and down her spine. It does not matter if you have two-hour erections (dream on) that would make you an instant star in a pornographic movie. If your emotions are not involved, sex will always be empty and unfulfilling. You may experience temporary pleasure but ultimately if you will really examine your feelings you will feel in your heart that something just isn’t right. This is why so many men are uncomfortable with cuddling after sex. If you are emotionally and spiritually connected with your mate then cuddling is a continuation of the sexual experience. Opening your heart and mind to the experience will always bring you closer to your mate. But most of us are very uncomfortable with this type of openness and vulnerability.

The reason so many of us are unhappy is because we seek physical pleasure without emotional attachment and that is a recipe for addiction. In order to truly experience lovemaking and intimacy we must be able to feel the energy of love moving through us as we connect with our mate. We must learn to open our hearts and expose our true selves so that our partners can emotionally and spiritually unite with us. This may sound like something out of a romance novel but it is an attainable experience if you focus on the emotional aspect of your sexual encounters. Most of us are so committed to “getting laid” and simply “getting some” that we miss out on the most important aspect of sex which is sharing yourself with your mate in the emotional and spiritual act of lovemaking. The time has come for all men to learn to make love to our mates and not just have sex with them.

Although most men will probably not admit this, we can be terrified of this level of intimacy because in the back of our minds we may be afraid to surrender our hearts to the people we love. Some of us keep up emotional blocks because we are too afraid to have that type of trust and connection.

It sometimes seems easier to simply sleep around with multiple women to prove our manhood but the truth is we pay a heavy price for this detached way of behaving. A real man will take the risk and open his heart because in the end he recognizes that true love is about openness and surrender. He takes the risks to love and he is rewarded with love and connection.

Did you know that you could make love to your mate and never physically touch them? If this sounds impossible then you are trapped in the illusion of physical sex. True love is a function of the heart and mind and has absolutely nothing to do with your penis. If you really want to make love leave your penis in your pants and learn to take out your heart and share it with your mate.

Are you ready for this new conversation about sex?

Bouncing back from divorce.

“I WANT A DIVORCE!”. Although its been over eighteen years since I heard these words, I still remember the shock and uncertainty I felt when my former wife screamed them at me. Although I knew there were problems in our marriage I really didn’t believe that they were insurmountable. I knew that I was unhappy and felt trapped in a situation that I could not get out of, but now that I had a way out I was unprepared to deal with it. I remember sitting up late that night and pondering what my next step should be. Should I go along with it and end our six-year marriage? What about the kids? Should I fight for custody? What will my friends and co-workers think? Where will I live? Should I give up the house? These were just a few of the questions running through my mind and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to answer them.

The first few days after her divorce request were terrible. We would not speak to each other or even make direct eye contact. Although we continued to sleep in the same bed we were emotionally miles apart from one another. We would simply go through our regular routines and walk pass each other without saying a word. I could feel the tension between us but I felt powerless to do anything. Every time I attempted to even speak with her our conversations would erupt into a shouting match. It appeared that there was nothing that could be done to save our marriage.

After several days I was able to put my sadness and anger aside to try and make some rational decisions. I decided that it would be best if we at least attempted to save our marriage. There were several factors that prompted my decision. First of all there were my children. As a child, I remember how much I missed not having a father in my life. I always envied my friends who had fathers and I remember making a conscious decision to being a good father if I ever had children of my own. My children and I were very close so I definitely wanted to minimize any pain they would experience. Another reason that I thought it would be best to stay together was financial. I knew that if we were to divorce it would be extremely difficult for me to make it on my own while paying child support and possibly maintaining two households since my wife was a stay at home mom. Last but not least (and I’m not proud of this) I was really afraid of what my friends and employees would think of me. In their eyes I had the perfect life. I had created this image of having it all together and the thought of going through with this divorce would shatter that image. That really scared me and filled me with shame and embarrassment.

I convinced my wife to try marriage counseling. I told her that I really wanted to try and work things out so we should at least give it a try. She agreed and we began counseling. After several sessions it became obvious that our marriage was not going to work out. I discovered that I really wanted out of the marriage but I was too afraid to say it. All the reasons that I tried to make the marriage work were wrong. I never asked myself the two most important questions of my life. 1. Do I really love her? 2. Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with her? As a result of our counseling I realized that the answer was no to both questions.

Once we knew that the divorce was inevitable I decided to make it as amicable as possible. I sat down with her and said we should try to make this as simple and painless as possible. Fortunately she agreed and we were able to decide on how our possessions would be divided up and we were even able to work out visitation with the children. As a matter of fact our divorce was so amicable that we used the same attorney to handle the divorce. (If you are currently going through a divorce my suggestion is that you do everything in your power to separate on good terms. Although this is extremely difficult I can assure you that if you put your ego aside and try and work things out together everybody wins in the end.) I must admit that I am truly grateful to my ex-wife for being willing to work things out the way we did. I am forever indebted to her for never speaking badly to our children about me and for making sure that we worked together as parents to help our children handle the whole ordeal. Our willingness to work together to raise our children has paid off with three emotionally and psychologically well adjusted children that we are both extremely proud of.

After the divorce was final I found myself in unknown territory. This was actually the first time I had really failed at anything so major and life changing. I did not know what to expect but intuitively I knew that I would get through it. At the time I was somewhat isolated and alone. I really did not have any close friends to talk to so I simply kept to myself and tried to handle it alone. One of the first declarations I made was to never get married again. Marriage was a difficult and painful experience and I concluded that I did not want to experience the pain and loss of a divorce ever again. To avoid the potential pain of relationships I simply submersed myself in my work

After a few months I decided to break out of my isolation and at least start going out again. Although I wasn’t looking for a relationship I did want to at least have some companionship. The problem I had with going out was that I was still ashamed and embarrassed because of my divorce and I felt as if I had this huge neon letter D stamped on my forehead. My feelings of inadequacy and failure made it extremely difficult to really connect with anyone so most of the time I simply would go to clubs and dance a little without having much conversation.

Within approximately six months I started to long for a relationship. I was tired of being alone and I really missed having a partner to share life with. I decided to try and date to see what would happen. My first few relationships after my divorce were disasters. Although I did not know this at the time I was absolutely terrified of intimacy. I had all sorts of trouble connecting on an emotional level with women because I was still scarred emotionally from my divorce. After several failures I begin to recognize a pattern in my relationships. The first thing I noticed was that my relationships never lasted more than three weeks. Within that time period something would happen that would terminate the relationship. In most cases the women were the ones who were saying that they weren’t ready for a relationship. If they weren’t leaving I was the one making excuse about why I needed to end the relationship. I had devised some pretty good excuses for ending relationships like being too busy at work or trying to be a good father to my children but the truth was I was terrified of experiencing the pain I had associated with relationships.

After a couple of years I met a woman that I really enjoyed being with. We had great chemistry and had a lot in common. After dating her for over a year I began having deep feelings for her and decided that I really wanted to make a commitment to an exclusive relationship. When I told her how I felt her response really caught me by surprise. She told me that she really liked me a lot and would like to develop a committed relationship with me but she knew that I was emotionally unavailable to her so she did not want to invest her feelings into a guy that could not reciprocate her love. I felt rejected and angry and did not know how to respond to her comment. As a result, the relationship ended and there I was alone again.

The good news is that I really listened to what she had to say. I recognized that I was the problem not her. I was able to see that I was the reason my relationships weren’t working out and I decided to do something about it. I began my own inner journey to heal my heart so that I would no longer keep pushing women out of my life. I followed M. Scott Peck’s advice and took the road less traveled and I definitely became a better man as a result of it.

After being on my fifteen-year personal journey and learning to love myself I decided that I really did want to remarry. Since I took the time to understand the how's and the why’s of my past relationship failures, I was able to finally create loving and supportive relationships without the fear of intimacy or abandonment. As a result of my commitment to my own personal growth I was able to create a relationship that really works for me which ultimately resulted in me getting remarried and creating a marriage that really nurtures and supports me. I really enjoy the emotional security that comes from having a spouse that loves and adores me and I’m truly grateful that I took the time to understand the importance of having authentic relationships.

Great relationships take effort and commitment but ultimately they are definitely life’s greatest treasure. If you are having difficulty with relationships, been through or going through a divorce or have a deep fear of commitment take the time to heal your heart and it will open the door to creating great relationships.

Good luck!

Is Love Real?

If I have committed myself to the Creator, I am free to commit myself to another person in a way that creates the deepest kind of love between two human beings. Because my happiness is not dependent on you, I am free to love and serve you in the most joyous, exciting and most rewarding way. I am free to give you all my love because, through my foundation in my relationship with my Creator, I know that the more love I give, the more I receive and have to give. author unknown

After a divorce and a couple of failed relationships I was forced to ask myself the question. Is love real? For the first time in my life I had to admit that I really did not know what true love was. During the course of my six year marriage I thought I was in love. But the problem was in “thinking” I was in love rather than “feeling” in love. After weeks of self- introspection, I decided that I wanted to have the true experience of “feeling” in love. This decision took me on one of the most difficult yet rewarding journeys of my life. I came to a fork in the road and I decided to walk the road less traveled. This road would challenge me to look at all the beliefs and perceptions that I had about love. It would confront my views on masculinity and even confront my feelings of "blackness". Although it was a bit frightening to begin with, intuitively I knew that the keys to my happiness would be found along this lonesome road.

The journey began with me identifying my own emotional fears and concerns. As I traveled down the road of discovery I found that I had a deep fear of intimacy due to my lack of trust. This fear was the primary reason I had not been able to experience real love. It originated from earlier childhood experiences, which I had suppressed and was completely unconscious of. After recognizing that the fear was there, I chose to remove it. This is where my journey led me to my “emotional excavation process”. This process of emotional healing helped me reconnect to my feelings, which opened the door to finding real love. Without this process it would be virtually impossible for me to intimately connect with someone on an emotional level.

This is where my masculinity and my cultural identity was challenged. First of all, men are not supposed to talk about “feelings”. I experienced a deep sense of alienation and being alone because most men would not speak openly about what was truly going on inside of them. As I shared my journey with some men I noticed that the overwhelming majority of them were not only uncomfortable speaking about this topic, they were also unfamiliar with the language of emotions.

Another challenge along the road of discovery for me was addressing my ethnicity. During this process I found very few blacks (if any) that were willing to discuss emotional issues. I was constantly accused of trying to be white and being caught up in the “white folks mentality” for being willing to address these emotional and psychological issues. I sometimes questioned my own cultural identity. Was I denying my blackness by being willing to go to therapy? Does this mean that I’m a sell-out because I want to experience deep levels of love and intimacy in relationships? Why aren’t more black people reading books about childhood trauma and personal development? There were so many questions yet so few answers.

As I pondered these questions I ran across a poem that would give me the courage and the strength to proceed on my journey. The poem was called The Invitation. In the poem the writer asks, “Are you willing to disappoint another in order to be true to yourself?” I knew this was the answer I was looking for. That one sentence challenged me to trust my own inner voice and proceed with my journey. I had to be true to myself despite what anyone else said or believed. I knew that I was completely responsible for my own happiness and I had to be willing to trust my gut feelings to find the peace that I was searching for. It had nothing to do with my ethnicity but it had everything to do with my humanity.

My journey helped me realize that I had always focused my attention on things outside of myself. I expended an incredible amount of energy on my career, my relationships, sex, my children, my money and my material possessions and even my physical body. It wasn’t until I looked within myself and addressed my heart and soul that I was able to experience real love and authentic happiness. I accomplished this by doing four things.

1. I made a commitment to healing my heart by going to therapy and participating in numerous workshops and seminars.
2. I read literally hundreds of books dealing with healing childhood trauma and personal development.
3. I learned how to meditate and developed a consistent meditation practice, which I still practice to this day.
4. I developed a spiritual connection that nurtures my soul and spirit.

I cannot put into words the joy and serenity I feel on a daily basis as a result of this journey. Now that I have healed my heart and spirit I am able to experience love on a deep emotional level. The key was in learning to love myself and letting go of any hurt and resentments that were buried deep in my psyche. By learning to love myself I am now open and able to receive love from others. I now know that love is real. It has nothing to do with age, ethnicity, gender or religious orientation. It has everything to do with opening your heart and being able to “feel” the love that has always been there. It sort of reminds me of the story of the Wizard of Oz. All of the characters in the movie thought the wizard could give them the things they were looking for, but it turned out that they already had those things inside of them. I had been looking for love outside of me but when I looked inside there it was all along.

It has been a beautiful journey so far and I look forward to continuing my quest for authenticity. I have come to the conclusion that love is definitely real, you just have to know where to look to find it. You will never find it outside of yourself until you find it within. So remember, “Seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given to you, knock and the door will be opened to you"”

I hope you choose to go on your own personal journey. I can assure you that you are never alone. If you look closely enough you might even see me along the way. Good luck. I’ll meet you along the road less traveled.

In the meantime, know that love is real. You will not find it in someone else until you find it within yourself. Look deep within and there you will find what your heart has in store for you. If you do not go within to find love you will always go without having it.

Go within!

Why are men so uncomfortable watching “Chick Flicks”?

For as long as I can remember I have always loved movies. As I reflect back over my teenage years some of my greatest memories include going to the movies. Of course back then my interest wasn’t always focused on the movie. In most cases I was more interested in using the movie as a way to get my date in a dark quiet place. If I were really lucky, I might even get a chance to “accidentally” touch her breast as I attempted to put my arm around her. Those were the good old days.

Now that I am happily married and do not have to accidentally touch my wife’s breast, (another good reason to be happily married) I can really focus my attention on the movies and their content. As I have grown older and become more enlightened I have come to the conclusion that movies are really metaphors for life and if we watch them with an open heart and an open mind they can assist us in our emotional and spiritual growth.

Steven Simon (author and producer of Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come) really encapsulates how I feel about movies when he writes, “Movies are the most electrifying communications medium ever devised and the natural conduit of inspiring ourselves to look into the eternal issues of who we are and why we are here.”

Now I’m sure most people reading this may not have such a serious definition of what movies mean, but to me that sums it up. Movies can inspire us and help us discover who we are and why we are here.

I love all genres of movies, Sci-fi, Action, Drama, Comedy you name them I love them. Like most guys I have a passion for action films. I enjoy the special effects and explosions and of course the ass-kicking martial arts films. I remember watching Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon and being so mesmerized by his martial arts. His body was like poetry in motion and the fact that he was able to fight off 10-20 guys at a time definitely made him a hero in my eyes. As a matter of fact I think I still have a knot on my head from trying to emulate his moves with my homemade nun-chucks. One thing that I like about my wife is that she also loves martial art films. She told me that if I had not married her she was going to marry Jet Li the kung-fu fighting ass-kicking king of cinema. Good thing I got there before he did.

Now I’m sure most guys may not admit to this but I also love animated movies. I love them so much that I do not even have to pretend to take my kids to watch them. Of course my kids are grown up now so I could not use them as an excuse even if I wanted to, but the truth is I have absolutely no problem going to the theater and sitting through an animated feature all by myself. There are two reasons that I enjoy animated films. First of all it keeps me in touch with my inner child and the feelings of joy that comes from that connection. Secondly, I really love computer animation and watching how technology continues to evolve and how realistic the animation looks. In my opinion computer animation is an art form. It is a beautiful creative expression that really moves me.

And now we get to the real reason I wrote this article. You see I have a confession to make. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of this and I do not feel like less of a man by saying this. Are you ready for the confession? Here it is. I love CHICK FLICKS!

That’s right I love them. Of course the appropriate term for the genre is romantic movies so I will use that term as I share why I enjoy them so much.

I must be honest and tell you that I have not always enjoyed romantic movies. Like most men they would make me extremely uncomfortable because I did not know how to express my feelings as I watched them. If ever I felt emotional I would repress the feelings and not allow my self to experience the appropriate emotion. Like most men I was unable to be that open and vulnerable so I would deflect the emotion with some unconscious attempt to not appear too sensitive. My defense mechanism of choice was laughter. If ever I would become overwhelmed with sadness I would crack a joke to deflect the feeling. If I were overcome with joy and happiness I would simply laugh in an inauthentic manner to keep from feeling the true joy. Whenever I feel deep joy I usually cry and that was a huge blow to my masculine ego so I never allowed that to happen. So rather than expose myself to the possibility of being emotional I used to avoid romantic movies like I avoid rectal exams.

But now things are different. As a result of my healing and inner work I am able to experience movies at a deep emotional level. I can now allow myself the freedom to simply experience whatever emotion I’m feeling and then express whatever feeling I’m having spontaneously and authentically. It amazes me how much of the movies I used to miss because I did not allow myself to feel and experience the movie. Now that I am open to all of my emotions it simply makes the movie going experience more enjoyable.

This is just one of many benefits of doing inner work and connecting to your emotions. Movies have more meaning; your sense of beauty is heightened, relationships are more rewarding and fulfilling, your spirituality is deeper and more connected and your sense of self is elevated.

So if you happen to be one of those guys’ that’s afraid of watching chick flicks ask yourself these questions;

  • Are you uncomfortable expressing your emotions?
  • Are you afraid that you might not be able to hold back the tears of sadness or joy?
  • Are you so insecure in your masculinity that you simply refuse to even consider checking out a chick flick?
  • Are you afraid of being called a punk, wimp or sissy?

Whatever your reason for avoiding chick flicks just accept the fact that it does not make you less of a man by viewing a movie. Know that real men are comfortable with their emotions and have no difficulty expressing them. And last but not least it’s ok to cry.

Ponder on this for a while and let me know what you think. In the meantime I’ve got a hot date with my wife to watch a chick flick. If I’m lucky, I might get that opportunity to accidentally let my hand touch her breast. I’m so excited!

See you at the movies!

The trials and triumphs of a joyful black man in America

“As a man amongst men, I create a world of Love and understanding by loving myself and understanding others." Michael “Powerful Tiger” Taylor. Land of My Grandfathers, July 2002

Growing up as a young black male in the inner-city projects of Corpus Christi Texas I was acutely aware that being “black” somehow made me different. As I watched television and looked through magazines and books I realized that the people I perceived to have all of the wealth were white people. When I asked my mom the reason for this her response was that there were lots of blacks that were wealthy, but the white people did not want to show that on television. When asked why not, she responded by saying that this was the way that white people could control the minds of black people and keep them from attaining wealth. Even as a child, there was something about that comment that I did not agree with. I wanted to understand how the mind worked and most of all I wanted to understand how white people could control the minds of black people?

As I progressed through elementary school I remember the tension and fear I felt as I interacted with white kids in my class. At the age of nine I had my first experience of racism when a white female classmate approached me after a spelling test. In this class the person who scored an A on a test would receive a gold star, which was then placed on a poster board in plain view for all the students to see. It just so happened that I had the most gold stars of anyone in the class and the teacher would always encourage me to do well and to be comfortable being at the top of the class intellectually and academically.

After this particular test the white female classmate came up to me and said, “my mom says that all niggers are dumb and stupid and even though you may have more stars than I do I am still smarter than you”. I stood there in shock and disbelief and was unable to respond. Even though I had the evidence to refute her comments, as a nine year old the pain of her words cut me like a knife. I felt angry yet ashamed because this was not the first time I had heard those words. But this was the first time that I had heard them targeted directly at me by one of my peers.

My most painful experience of blatant racism occurred when I was seventeen. I was in high school and I met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart. She was a wonderful supportive caring person that incidentally happened to be white. When we met, she was somewhat of a wild child. She came from a pretty wealthy family yet hated her father and was into drugs and rebellion. She was a C and D student that liked to skip school and hang out at the beach with her friends. After going out with her for a while I convinced her to turn her life around and give up the skipping school and abusing drugs. She changed her attitude and became an A and B student. We were extremely close and shared that high school infatuated kind of love that feels so deep that it stays with you for a lifetime. After going out with her for over a year her father found out that we were dating. One night I got a phone call from him and it was obvious that he was not happy. As he began speaking I knew that I needed to keep my cool and not disrespect him. I listened to his objections and gave him an opportunity to get everything off of his chest. When he finished, I made the mistake of telling him that he did not have the right to decide whom his daughter should date. I tried to convince him that I had been a good influence on his daughter and that he should be happy that she was doing so well. My hope was that I could get him to understand that I was a good guy that was actually good for his daughter. Of course he could not hear a word I was saying. He was adamant about the fact that he knew what was best for his daughter and I was just some young punk trying to take advantage of his little girl. After screaming his disapproval of our relationship for several minutes he then said something that completely caught me off guard. Although I knew he was angry I did not expect to hear these words, “There is no way that I will allow my daughter to date a nigger. I will kill you before I let that happen”. Although the words were painful, it was the venomous feeling of anger and hatred that came through the phone that ripped out my heart. Even today almost thirty years later I can still feel the hatred in his words. His anger came from deep within his soul and it was apparent that his anger wasn’t just about me but about all black people.

As I sat there in disbelief I immediately went numb. A part of me wanted to defend myself and curse at him and retaliate in some way. My initial feeling was anger, which I quickly subdued to avoid getting into a shouting match. Another part of me was extremely afraid because I did not know whether or not he would actually attempt to take my life. But the feeling I remember most after his comment was sadness. I remember a sinking feeling in my gut that was the result of being invalidated as a human being. I knew that he viewed me as less than a man and in his mind I was not good enough for his daughter simply because I was black. It was dehumanizing and demoralizing.

How could this man hate me so much and not know anything about me? How could he pass judgment on me without ever seeing me or speaking to me? Why could he not see the positive influence I had had on his daughter? Why was I not allowed the opportunity to meet with him and talk to him so that he could see how much I really cared about his daughter and that my intentions were to simply love and support her? So many questions so few answers.

I share these three true personal stories because as a black man I realize that my experiences are really just a microcosm of the challenges facing black men even today. I personally believe that our media still does an irresponsible job of portraying black people in general. The media generated perception is that being black is synonymous with being poor, uneducated, unmotivated and somehow a burden on society. Although I do not believe that the media can control how black people think, I am aware of the power that the media does have on a person’s perception. Since a person’s perception is their reality, the media definitely has an influence on people’s minds.

It is my fervent belief that people in general are not born racist. Hatred is not a part of a person’s genetic make up. Racism is something that is learned and people usually learn from the environments in which they are raised. Unfortunately there are still some parents that teach their children that black people are inferior as human beings and sadly enough some black people have accepted this as true.

As a black man, I realize that people are going to judge me and have preconceived ideas about who I am. I understand that no matter what I do the stereotypes of black men will precede me and somehow I will have to prove myself over and over again. I know that people will be afraid of me, will think less of me and put the label of “black” man on me no matter what I do.

So as a black man what can I do? How do I deal with the multiplicity of challenges that I face on a daily basis? Do I throw my hands up in defeat and give up? Do I accept the stereotypes and become just another black male statistic thrown into the ever-increasing prison population? Do I succumb to the pressure and lose my identity and try to become someone that I’m not?

In order for me to deal with the aforementioned challenges, I choose to first and foremost see myself as a man, not just a black man. If I see the world only through the lens of a black man I limit my perception of the world. When I let go of my attachment to being black first, I open the door to infinite possibilities for myself as a human being. This is not a denial of my ethnicity it is simply an affirmation of my true potential and my humanity. This awareness gives me an entirely new perspective on the world.

With this perspective I can honestly say that I absolutely love being a black man. I have come to this conclusion as a result of the past fifteen years of doing my emotional work and removing my shadows. I am now completely comfortable with who I am as a human being and I recognize that I am a man who happens to be black. I am proud of my racial heritage but the true source of my power transcends the color of my skin.

When I view the world from this perspective I begin to recognize that although there is ignorance and hatred in the world, racism in and of itself is actually an over-used word in our society that keeps us separate and in denial of our oneness. This does not excuse injustice and oppression for people of color it simply acknowledges that racism is a dis-ease of the mind. In objective scientific terms it isn’t real. It is a man made creation that exists only in our minds.

As I reflect over my personal mission statement:

“As a man amongst men, I create a world of Love and understanding by loving myself and understanding others."

I fully grasp the implications of what these words mean to me. By loving myself and removing any blocks to my awareness, I am able to understand others without judgment. This allows me to constantly be in the moment without being attached to things that have happened to me in the past. By healing my anger and forgiving those who have hurt me I can be fully present to people in my life. Therefore I do not think in over generalized statements and use words and phrases like those white people, or them and they. I live in the moment and address each individual situation in the moment. This is the beauty of healing your heart. It frees you from your past and keeps you in the present moment.

Life has taught me that you have two choices in response to anything that happens to you. The first is to become bitter or the second choice is to become better. I have chosen the latter and it has definitely made me a more joyful man. I live by the adage that “if it does not kill you, it can only make you stronger.” I am grateful for all the challenges I have overcome because I can clearly see how they made me a better man in the process.

My intention is for you to have a new perception about black men after you finish reading this article. The truth is we are no different than any other group of men. We are loving, caring, compassionate, sensitive, intelligent, forgiving and courageous. We love our country and our families. We deal with all of the same emotions and challenges as any one else. We do not all blame society for our challenges and we are constantly making positive contributions to America. We are definitely an asset to this country not a liability.

I am reminded of a lesson I learned from Wayne Dyer in which he taught me that I should never focus my attention on that which I am against. Instead, I must focus my attention on that which I am for and I will experience that as a result. So instead of being against racism I am for unity. Instead of taking a position against hatred I take a stand for love.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said. “We’re afraid of each other because we do not know one another, we do not know one another because most of us are separated from each other.” My intention is to remove the perceived separation and create oneness. This is the driving force in my life. I want to be the change I want to see in the world and I invite you to join me in creating a world of love, peace and unity.

In the immortal words of John Lennon, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.’

Won’t you join me?

©2009, Michael Taylor

Related Issue: January could be the cruelest month for men in relationships

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