This week I turn 28. Twenty-eight. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I am that old. Errr. Yes, I am that young. Okay, maybe you weren’t thinking that. Maybe that was me thinking that.
Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently. For me, birthdays are always filled with emotion, almost always positive emotion. Now that I think of it, I guess that’s how my whole life goes. But there’s something about getting older, adding an additional number onto your age, that keeps your reality in check. This week will certainly be one of those reality check moments for me.
On top of the emotions that a birthday brings, this past weekend I attended the Essence Festival in New Orleans. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I am a white man. Yes, I did attend a black women’s festival. Okay, maybe you didn’t know what Essence is, but it celebrates the culture, empowerment and inspiration of black women. There’s a music festival, a convention and an empowerment stage with inspirational speakers. I went into the Festival thinking it would be a new experience to talk about and to force me outside my comfort zone, but I never imagined I would leave completely transformed by the amazing inspiration I found inside the festival. Sitting in one of the panel sessions at the empowerment stage, my mind drifted as I kept thinking to myself, I honestly don’t know why more white people don’t come to this. I apologize for the non-descriptive, non-helpful review, but it’s really hard to write down how deep the experience was for me.
I learned who Iyanla Vanzant is, heard her speak inspiration through the veins of a few thousand people, and I got to thank her in the airport the next day. I heard Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) sit down and tell the black community that if they wanted equality for themselves, they had to ensure equality for all peoples, especially the gay community. I got to personally meet Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights revolutionary who led the nonviolent Nashville sit ins that changed my home city, who also went on to be one of the original Freedom Riders and who marched with Dr. King. Congressman Lewis marched after having his skull cracked by those that said he didn’t deserve equality. I got to meet this man. I’m still blown away. And that is a glimpse into my weekend.
As I traveled back from New Orleans, I sat on the plane and thought deeply how I could translate these experiences back into my life in Nashville. I didn’t want to just have the feeling of a preteen at a summer Christian camp. I wanted to take the talk and put some pep in my walk. Many things stood out to me over the weekend, but one thing that was brought up by Niecy Nash during a panel discussion perhaps stuck in my mind as something that I could implement right away. She mentioned in passing about 30 days she spent having a negativity cleanse in her life. She used the time to focus on things that gave her energy, and dropping people and things that didn’t get her closer to fulfilling her own purpose. At the end of the 30 days, some things made their way back into her life, but some didn’t. Her life was better because of the things that didn’t and the things that did, because they were all purposefully there now.
Wow, I wish I had the courage to cleanse my life like that. After discussing with my friend, Melissa, who I was traveling with (and the reason for me being there), I realized this is what I needed. A negativity cleanse. To get rid of the sh*t in my life. Pardon my New Orleans French.
So, instead of talking about things I’d like to do, this is one thing I’m going to do. I’m starting my 28th year on this earth with a negativity cleanse. It includes things like dropping Facebook and several other things I thought I couldn’t do. I’ll explain how I’m doing it, and more importantly why, later on this week.
Today is day one. I’m not sure how it will turn out yet, although I am prepared to keep you updated. On my birthday (Thursday), I’ll post all about what this negativity cleanse is, what it’s not and how you can engineer one for yourself. Until then, send me any positive thoughts you can. :)