Thanksgiving is here! I don’t know about you, but this year seems to have flown by for me. I find myself looking forward to life slowing down because this year has been a year full of twists and turns. Many people, myself included, are tired. I believe it is important that we all take a moment to recognize ourselves and to acknowledge all the hard work we have done and the challenges we have overcome; the best way I know how to do this is to engage in a gratitude process. Every time I do this, I feel a shift in my body and in my heart. There is no one ‘right’ way to do this so please do not be discouraged or feel that you don’t know how. I will share my way and feel free to adopt the same process or make up your own.
Gratitude for my privileges
I have deep gratitude for being a man! I even appreciate my identification as a tall, heterosexual, cis-gendered white man. I recognize that these attributes afford me choices and opportunities that MANY other people simply do not have. I choose to use these “advantages” to support others who lack them and this is deeply gratifying.
Gratitude for the women in my life who have taught me
The women in my family, namely my mother, sister, aunties, nieces, and cousins have all played a role in shaping me. There are numerous women who have supported me – and continue to support me – on my journey as an ally including leaders Jennifer Brown, Rayona Sharpnack, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. I am grateful for my first wife who had the courage to call me out on my behavior which served as the catalyst for my journey to be a better husband, father, leader and friend. And finally, my life partner and wife, Anna, who has held space and given me feedback all in the name of love for the past 22 years.
Gratitude for the pioneering men who I have come to know/who are advancing this work
I used to be able to count on one hand the number of men who were pioneering the work of men as allies and inclusionary leaders. Michael Kimmel, Don McPherson, Chuck Shelton, Tony Porter, Jaffery Halter, Dale Thomas Vaughn, and Jackson Katz. These men have been instrumental in leading the way and presencing the importance of Healthy Masculinity. Additionally, I am deeply thankful for the next generation of heartfelt leaders who are modeling an even better form of healthy masculinity. Men such as Justin Baldoni, Ashanti Branch and Mark Greene are integral in the continuation of the work seeded by their predecessors. I have deep gratitude for the relationships and support that I have received form these men and I honor their work.
Gratitude for all my friends and colleagues in DEI roles
I want to acknowledge my deep appreciation for your steadfast commitment to changing culture for good. I also want to acknowledge your courage in doing this work and for your commitment to finding ways to engage men as allies. Each of you play a critical role in meeting men where they are without shame or blame in order to activate them as allies.
Gratitude for all of you who are on your own journey to allyship
The Better Man Movement would not be possible without all of you. Whether it is attending the Better Man Conference, or simply reading the newsletter, I want to acknowledge each of you for making the choice to be an ally and inclusionary leader in whatever form works for you. Without you, there is no movement and there is no change. Like I have said many times before, we are better together and now more than ever I can share that I don’t feel alone. Thank you.
This week, many people will gather with family and friends. And there is an opportunity for us to be grateful that we have family and friends and to be mindful that having them THIS ALSO is a privilege; we must hold in our hearts those who are not as fortunate.
When family comes together, there can be heated conversations, unresolved conflicts, even some disconnection. What is important to remember is that, ultimately, we all want the same thing: to be connected with one another. The only way we can accomplish this is to live from our hearts. In order to do this, we need to remember everything that we are grateful for and I am confident that you will quickly see that GRATITUDE IS POWER.