top of page
  • Valerie Hope

Ep. 22 - Time to Come Alive: "The Truth of Who You Are" With Special Guest Al Dawson, Training Specialist And Reiki Practitioner

Updated: Jun 7

Not Quite Strangers | Authenticity

Listen to the podcast here

Time to Come Alive: "The Truth of Who You Are" With Special Guest Al Dawson, Training Specialist And Reiki Practitioner

Welcome to the show. Every week, we get together so that we can become even more conscious of ourselves, be even more connected to others, and then ultimately be more creative as a result of all of that. I bring to you interesting individuals with whom I've had amazing conversations. In a moment, I'll introduce you to this fascinating individual that I'm sure you'll enjoy as much as I have.

Before we begin, a couple of things. One, if you are online, please make sure that you post on your social media for your friends, family, and colleagues to join us on the show. Forward them the email or whatever you use in order to log in. That way, others can join you, and you can be even more connected to them.

I also recommend that once you read this, you post it. Repost it so that others can also benefit from some of the things that you're thinking and reading about. That way, you can engage in more conversation. Throughout the session, I encourage you that if there are moments, conversations, or insights that you're having, tweet about them.

We would like to start off our program here with a little mindful exercise to help us with the reading for this session. I'm going to ask if you are in a safe place. Make sure that you're seated comfortably. Find yourself being supported by the seat that you're in. If you're standing, make sure that you're planted firmly on the ground. I'm going to invite you if you're in a safe place to close your eyes. You may do so. If not, soften your gaze so that you can gaze inward throughout this moment to help us center.

It might be helpful to take a nice, long, deep breath or two. We're going to spend some time connecting to our senses. As you take a breath, I want you to do a mental scan from your head all the way down to your toes. As you do that, notice any sensations that you might be experiencing in any part of your body. As you find a sensation, see if you can name it in your mind. Is the sensation cold or warm? Is the sensation pulsating? Is the sensation radiating? Do you feel tightness? Relax. Notice it.

I also challenge you not to judge the sensation. It's not a good or bad sensation. It's not a positive or negative sensation. Allow it to be there. Place your attention on the location or the intensity. It's often difficult for us not to create stories about sensations that we are experiencing, judgments, or justifications. Allow it to be there. You are in conscious awareness of its presence. Take another couple of deep breaths. You may open your eyes or refocus your gaze.

One of the reasons that particular exercise is important is because, throughout this conversation, you might experience some bodily sensations as we do in every conversation. A part of telling the truth about ourselves is not to build a story about the sensation. It is to be with the sensation as it is with no judgment and no evaluation but just a curious awareness.

That curious awareness is one of the reasons why my special guest has drawn me to invite him to have this conversation. I want to introduce you to Al Dawson. Al and I know each other, first of all, because we attend the same church. In any organization you belong to, you might know people because they belong to the same organization.

There was, in particular, a meditation session that we hosted at the church once. Al was performing reiki and some energy treatments. She performed a mini session of Reiki during that meditation session. I remember by the time he got to me in this large group, I was seeing stars. I'm like, “Who is this guy that does this energy work where I would experience something like that?”

Since I knew very little about Reiki at the time, and I still don't know tons, I decided I wanted to reach out to Al and ask him more about his work with energy as a facilitator of meetings and a coach about how that might benefit me and my clients. Since then, we've had a couple of really phenomenal conversations. I was pleasantly surprised that our conversations were less about the techniques and the study of his practice and more about us as human beings. Al was so open and generous with sharing himself with me that I was like, “This is something that we have to share with the world.”


Al, welcome to the show.

How are you doing?

I'm doing fantastic. What would you like to say to be present?

We were going to do this inside. You made the suggestion because we chatted and I was outside. You made the suggestion that I might come outside. I'm enjoying the feel of the wind. When you talked about sensation, I felt the wind on my skin, I heard the sound of the birds. I have my favorite tree. I'm so happy and pleased to be with you.

I'm happy and pleased that you're here too. I’d like to jump right in. One of the things that I took from our conversations was that over the last I don't know how many years of your life, you've been peeling back layers of yourself. That's what I even wanted to call this episode, but I thought, “There's something else that's beyond the peeling.” You developed some layers that you found over time peeling back. I'm curious to know. What had you built layers to begin with?

We build layers as a result of living. We come into this world and we're pretty much an open book. We're receptive to all the things that are around us, the things that we see, and even the things that we don't see. As a result of living, we start to build these layers up as protective mechanisms that, naturally, we start to bring on to ourselves. We're taught to bring these things on. We're taught, “You can't be a certain way. You can't be as open. You can't be as trusting. You can't be as loving,” as what we naturally are. As a result of that, we have these layers that we bring on.

Not Quite Strangers | Authenticity
Authenticity: We come into this world and we're pretty much an open book, receptive to all the things that are around us.

It's when we start to become aware of these layers that may no longer serve us in the ways that maybe they did in the past. In some ways, they are very beneficial, but as we start to become more aware of who we are and what we are, perhaps we say, “Maybe I don't need this anymore.” You start to take those layers off. It's something that comes to us naturally. In my life, I've started to see where some of those things don't necessarily serve me anymore. I am trying to be conscious of what those things are and allow those things to go away.

Would you be comfortable sharing an example of a layer that was not serving you anymore and what the impact of that was?

One of the layers that I grew up with for a long period of time was this layer of acceptance by others. I've been playing around with that quite a bit. Being an African-American gay man, in my life, I felt like I needed to be accepted. I needed to conform to a certain way in order to be something in society that was seen as valuable, worthwhile, or whatever.

I keep having this thing come through my mind that it's none of my business what other people think of me. It's this thing that keeps coming up. When I started to keep hearing that over and over again in my mind, I started to lose that layer of pleasing and that layer of being what I thought others wanted me to be. It seemed like my life became lighter as a result of that.

It’s a process. It’s a work in progress. It's something that I'm still learning because I went through quite a bit of my life thinking otherwise. With 50-some-odd years, I'm starting to let go of some of those things. It's really an interesting feeling. It's very different. There's a lightness that comes with that. I've been curious to experience that and see how that feels on a day-to-day basis.

When did you notice that the efforts you were making or the things that you were doing were all about pleasing others? How did you come to that realization?

It's hard to say that it happened at one particular time. You get flashes. At least I get flashes. You get bits of knowing, is the way I put it. It is where awareness will come up. For me, it comes up and you’re like, “What is that?” I've been a little bit more curious about things. I wasn't always as curious about the thoughts, the images, and the messages that come, but I've become a little bit more curious. I think about maybe actions or things that I say, things that happen, or interactions. It becomes, “Was that in your highest interest? Was that something that was beneficial for you in a way that helped your growth?”

I try to do that from a judging standpoint because there was a time when I would put a judgment on that. I would say, “You shouldn't have done this,” or, “You shouldn't have said this.” I'm more curious as to, “What is the result of that? How do you feel as a result of that?” That was a shift. It has been something that's been happening probably over the last couple of years. It reveals itself in subtle ways. Things are revealed to us when we're able to process it. These things have always been there, but I wasn't at a place where I could process it in the way that I'm processing it, if that makes any sense.

Things are revealed to us when we're able to process them.

It does make sense. Going back to something you said earlier about those layers and how, at the time we created them, they were for protection. I remember there was a time for me, and I didn't realize this until several years ago, when I would go into a public place. If I saw a man was looking or checking me out somehow, I would, all of a sudden, have this little plexiglass that acted like a little protective shield. Part of it is I had this story that if I was being looked at physically like that, it was unsafe. There's a long story behind that.

I remember when I first became conscious of that's how I was interacting. I was like, “I'm such an open, curious, and confident person. Why would I have the need for this?” I understand how to engage or disengage in ways that are more appropriate as an adult. It was interesting because I would start to pay attention. I'm like, “I'm not making eye contact,” or, “I'm not smiling,” or I would lean back when somebody was leaning.

There were some little things that I wanted to pay attention to, but you're right. When I was ready to deal with it, it was revealed to me that that's how I protected or created that layer for myself. That’s really brilliant. I wanted to take you back to something you said. You said you are an African-American gay man and you had this need or this particular expectation of living a certain way. Tell us about what that expectation was and where it came from.

It came from growing up. I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I was born in 1960. I’m 59. I grew up in the church. It was very beneficial for me because it gave me a foundation. I know some people who grew up in pretty strict religious, and I'm going to use the term religious as opposed to spiritual upbringings. They have a certain way of viewing the world. Be that right or wrong, that is the way that we were taught.

There were certain things that were expected of me. As a part of my church, I preached a couple of sermons because they thought I was going to be a preacher at one point in time. I was a part of the youth ministry. I was part of the choir. That was my life. My life and my family's life were really centered around religious activities.

As I grew up and came to the realization that I was gay, it was something that, number one, I didn't see other African-American men that may have been gay that I saw myself as. I'll put it like that. There was the pressure that that was wrong. We got sermons on a semi-regular basis in regard to what was wrong. Scripturally, that was something that was not right. You're getting all of these messages not only from your very close community and family, but you are also getting that from society as well.

I felt like I was supposed to get married and have kids. Those were all things that were a part of the script that had been written for me. I tried to adhere to that script as closely as I could and it created internal angst and anxiety for myself, which is something that I've lived with for a long time. All of those things and those expectations came from a very early age. Those are all things that run around in your head that are difficult to step away from. I could step away from those and look at them like, “That was harmful,” or, “That impacted me negatively.”

I am a true believer that all things happen for a reason. They bring us different perspectives and allow us to grow in ways that maybe we were not even aware of at that time. Even painful situations allow us to grow and expand in certain ways that allow us to meet the challenges that will come later in life. They give us wisdom that allows us to maybe help somebody else. I see all those situations as beneficial whereas before, I would think, “How horrible. How bad and how painful are those things.” I count all of those things as blessings.

Even painful situations allow us to grow and to expand.

They are, interestingly enough. We can go into this a little later because it could be a little esoteric about how things might be ordained. I want to go back to the script. You mentioned that there was this pre-written script that you felt you had to live into. Talk about how you lived into the script that you were given.

There were certain things. It was little things. As I was growing up, my father had a particular life plan that he had set for me.

What was that?

My father was an incredible man. My mother was an incredible woman. They were really amazing people. When I think back and look at them, given all the things that they grew up with and they had to deal with, I think of them as being very amazing people. My father, in particular, had this idea. I had asthma when I was growing up. I had really bad asthma. When we would go out, he would introduce me. He would say, “My son's going to be a pediatrician, and he's going to cure asthma,” which was nothing I had ever thought about doing. That was his dream. When I went to school and I wanted to do something different, he was a little disappointed that I chose the path that I chose.

What path did you choose?

He was okay with this one because it was a professional position. I originally majored in Architecture because I loved drawing and house plans. I would buy books on house plans. I would go through them, analyze them, and redraw them. When I was in high school, I went through all these crafting classes, engineering classes, and all those things. That was the path that I eventually ended up taking, but that was the path I chose. That was one of the things in one of the scripts that had been written.

The other script was that I would get married. When I was in college, I met my ex-wife, who I adored. We were a wonderful fit. You meet certain people in life with whom you have a really profound relationship and connection. I've been lucky in my life that I've had several of those people come into my life. She was indeed one of those individuals. We're still friends. I talked with her.

We got married. We had a good life together, but that was not the life that I was supposed to have because of my sexual orientation. It was because of that that we ended our relationship. It was very painful for both of us. It took a while for us to get to the place where we were. When we talk with one another, it's like we talked the day before. We catch up with each other's lives.

We love one another. It's interesting because some people don't understand it, which doesn't matter. I would hear stories, and I'm sure she has probably heard the same thing. They’re like, “Why are you still friends with Kelly? Kelly, why are you still friends with Al?” It's because our relationship and that connection between us goes beyond what we might identify or define as being a friendship or relationship.

It's interesting because of the three people, she probably knows me better than anyone else in this world. When I have conversations with her, she calls me on my stuff. If I'm saying things or doing things, she'll be like, “You know I know you. I need to check you on this.” When she's doing things, I can have that in-depth soul conversation with her as well. I treasure that. It's a really wonderful and beautiful thing to have.

How long were you and Kelly married?

Ten years.

At what point in that relationship did you realize that your sexuality wasn't compatible?

Probably early on in the relationship. When we got married, I was still very heavily involved in the church. In my mind, I thought that if I prayed enough or if I was involved in the church enough, God would take all this away. It was interesting because I really and truly loved Kelly. I loved her. I loved the relationship and the marriage that we had, but there was something that was innately who I was that had been suppressed and that was struggling to come forward. That became this push and pull until it got to the point where I had met someone who was in a similar situation to me. It got to the point where I knew that that's who I was and that it wasn't beneficial for Kelly, for me, and for anyone involved.

We came to the decision that we needed to separate and go our separate ways. It was difficult because even when all that happened, we still loved each other. That was the hardest part. As a result of that, I had to deal with a level of betrayal of trust and a level of betrayal of the vows that I had taken, which was very difficult for me. It was devastating for me and for her as well.

You mentioned love several times, the love that you and Kelly had, and the trust that that love generated. That’s such a loaded word. We don't always interact with that word with the expansiveness that you described. We have specific relationships in which love is expected and expressed. We dole love out to certain people in certain situations. I'm curious about what love means to you. I know this is such a big question, so I'm cautious of that. One thing you mentioned is you redefined love. What did love with Kelly look like, and what does love look like with your husband?

There are similarities between the two. With Kelly, it's hard to describe because there was this connection. Even the first time that we met one another, there was this connection.

There was a kindred spirit. There was something that superseded a definition. It was a friendship. It was a camaraderie. There was the physical aspect of love that went along with it. There was the mental because I really and truly respected who she was as an individual, how she thought, and how she viewed the world.

It was all-encompassing because there were so many different aspects of who she was that drew me in. There were those different aspects of myself that drew her in as well. That was how I saw love there. It's similar but different with Don. I love Don through so many different things. I love his sense of humor. I love the way that he sees the world and the way he views the world.

It was interesting when we first met because as we got to know one another, as with any relationship, these layers started to peel away. You start to see who the person is. In those first couple of months, you start to see glimpses and parts of who that individual is. As he started to do that, he brought to me a picture of a relationship that was very different from where I would've been. That builds on the relationships that I had in the past.

As I have grown and been in relationships, it prepared me to be in the relationship that I am in with Don. Love is the continuing thread through all the relationships. However, the way that I express love and the way that I receive love is different. That's because of the maturation and the things that have happened along the way. He's somebody who makes me smile. The way that he sees life, the way that he interacts with the people, the way he interacts with me, and the way he interacts with my family makes me adore being in a relationship with him. It makes me adore being his husband, which is not something that I ever thought I would do.

That was not in the script, was it?

It was not in the script that I was gay.

You went off-script for this. I got that. One of the things that you've mentioned in prior conversations was this notion of what your life would look like even for you. You mentioned that there was a time when you didn't think that you would be at this point in your life. Talk to us about that.

There was a point in my life that I didn't think I would be here at all.


Yes. This was probably when I was maybe around 32 or 33 years old. I was really struggling with coming to the realization of who I was, being married, and feeling guilty about all of those things. I didn't think I was going to live past 35 years of age. I don't know why 35 in particular, but I didn't think I was going to live past 35. It wasn't a situation where I thought that I was going to take my life or anything like that. I thought something was going to happen to me and that I was not going to live past 35 because I didn't really deserve to live past 35.

After Kelly and I separated and eventually got divorced, it was like starting life all over again.

It was about learning who I was. It was not within the construct or the script that had been written before, but having to identify and define who I was. It was very interesting. It was hard and difficult. I made a whole lot of mistakes and got a whole lot of things right. It's something that is still happening on a day-to-day basis. That’s for everybody. Every day, we have the opportunity to do whatever it is with this gift that we’ve been given. We can choose to do that either consciously or unconsciously.

For a lot of that time, I did that unconsciously. I made decisions professionally relationship-wise, that weren't necessarily decisions that maybe I had thought out at the level where I might think of things now. As I look back, all of those things were part of growing. All those things were part of that learning. It allowed me to be where I am. It's quite interesting to go from a place where you thought you wouldn't be around to a place where you are loving, enjoying, and relishing all that life has to offer.

That's fantastic. I have another question. In the meantime, those of you who have joined us for this conversation, I’d love for you to chime in. What are you getting from the conversation with Al so far? What questions might you have or comments or insights that you want to share? In a moment, I'm going to ask that you share them. We want to engage you in this conversation. If you didn't think you would live past 35 and that something would happen or something would take you out, what made it worth it to wait around and see and overcome all of those challenges?

I don't know if I would put it as a wait-around-and-see. Let's go back to the idea of layers. Once I pulled back the first layer of, “This is the way that you're supposed to live your life, which is not who you truly are,” and I began to live my life as an African-American gay man, a certain lightness came with that. It then became, “How do I live my life fully now?” I embraced that from the standpoint that it was almost like starting over again.

When people come out, it's this revelation. It's this opening of a door. It's allowing yourself to maybe live more authentically because, in many cases, we may hide. We may not allow individuals to see the true person we are or have been created to be. I was anxious. I was anticipating what life would bring me. I went from this place where life doesn't really hold anything. That was a lot about guilt, shame, and all those other things that had been internalized.

Once some of those things were free, it allowed some more positive energy to come in. It allowed some more positive influences to take hold in my life. I started to explore not just religion but to still hold on to embrace the things that I learned as I was growing up. Those were how I viewed Christianity and how I viewed myself, which is other than us, which is the creator of all.

I started to look at spirituality in general. I started to explore different forms of spirituality and different forms of religion. That opened up another world for me. I started to see all of these things that were around that provide support and love and allow us to connect with God in so many different ways. That started to reveal itself to me.

I was used to reiki and started to look at shamanic practice. At that point in time, I started to do my work as a psychotherapist. I started to work with other individuals. That all brought a different kind of me to my life. It wasn't that I was taking, but I was able to give back. I was able to utilize maybe some of the gifts that I had been given and some of the experiences that I had to help other people who were having some difficulty dealing with some of the challenges that life presents to us.

One of the things I really like about what you said, and this is the conclusion I'm drawing from it, was that as you peel back these layers, there is that certain lightness that you mentioned that you experienced. As we peel back layers, we become more authentic. Therefore, that weight, tension, and pressure that somehow builds up over life as we’re trying to fulfill the script that our society has said is most appropriate for us from where we’re from, our age, gender, culture, language, etc., from that script, we begin to tear pages out that are no longer serving us.

You replace them with other pages.

You start to rewrite.

You also said something that made me think about this thought. As we become more authentic, we become more permeable. We become more allowing. When we are open enough to allow it, we also have an opportunity to reveal even more or process it even better. When we’re tight, tense, or closed, we don't have an opportunity to even feel lightness or joy, nor do we have an opportunity to heal those places that might need that air.

That’s fantastic. I want to hear from those of you who've been generous enough to take your time to tune in to us. What's opening up for you? What questions do you have that continue to roll around in your head? Who would like to share? I might call on somebody. Ashley, tell us where you’re calling from.

I'm calling from my office in Frisco.

Frisco, Texas. That’s awesome. What are you taking from this, Ashley?

I am enjoying this quite a bit. Some of the things that stood out were getting rid of the layers that don't benefit or serve me anymore. He specifically mentioned others’ acceptance in that layer, which is tough for me. I was always taught that whatever people perceive is the reality. Whether it's true or not, that's what they believe. Trying to get past some of that, even in business, is difficult. I want to hear a little bit more about some steps that you took to start that transition of, “I don't need that layer anymore to make me me, succeed, etc.”

That is still probably one of the largest and one of the biggest struggles for me. You probably know this as well. It's something that is deeply ingrained in us or at least was deeply ingrained in me. It's something that I have to check myself on on a day-to-day basis. I am looking at motivations for what I'm saying and motivations for what I'm doing. I’m like, “Is this coming from a place of truth and honesty within myself? Is this an expression of truly who I am?”

When you think about it, maybe people-pleasing behaviors and trying to do things to fit in or be accepted is a way of manipulating other individuals' perceptions, ideas, and thoughts. What I have to be very cognizant of is taking that step back, allowing myself to be true to myself, and trusting that there's something that's guiding me. That's the big thing for me. Behind all of these things is a presence that guides our actions, thoughts, and behaviors. I am trying to step into that.

Sometimes, it's easier to do that personally than professionally because there are certain expectations that we have that are given to us in a professional sense. It is learning how to balance the corporate or the business world's expectations that they have of us versus who we are. Many times, there's a financial or monetary attachment to that. Sometimes, there's a status attached to that if we're in a particular position. Learning how to go with who we are as opposed to the corporate identity that may have been given to us can have some consequences.

There is a balance in all of these things. It's being attuned to what I call spirit and allowing that to be that guiding force that helps to direct our path and our engagement with others. Our engagement with ourselves is really that first step. In saying all of that, it is not necessarily an easy thing. If it was an easy thing, everybody would be doing it. It's one of those things that you have to practice and be attentive to.

It is also breathing through all of that. When I get stressed or I get tight, I tend to not breathe as deeply as I do other times. Sometimes, for me, it's being conscious of my breathing and conscious of taking those deep breaths that allow that relaxation to take place in my body that allows me to be more present at that moment. When I'm more present in that moment, I can see situations and interactions differently, allowing me to act in my highest self.

Valerie, you and I were talking about being true and acting in what's higher self. The breath is a part of that. It is acting in our higher selves, being linked to the breath, and being able to breathe through the situation. Breathing through the situation, to me, is about taking that breath that allows me to center, to be present, to be able to see and hear those things that are there, and to respond in a way that is in alignment with who I truly am.

I want to add to that. That's such a wonderful question, Ashley. It’s not that we have a corner on this, but women, more likely than not, are explicitly told that our value is the level of pleasing. How pleasing we are to others equates to the level of value that we hold to that person, that relationship and that organization. It's a lot more explicit for women.


It’s really wonderful, Al, that you're able to notice that, whether it was spoken or unspoken for you. There were a couple of things you mentioned, Al. One was motivation. What I'm finding is as I become more clear about what's prompting me to want to please another person and I call it out, I'm afraid that this person is not going to want to talk to me anymore or that I won't be included in this event anymore.

There's usually a fear underlying the motivation to please, especially if it's not bringing us joy, it's not an expression of ourselves, or it's not something that's aligned with our highest value like, “I want to do this. I know it will be pleasing to the person and it will be pleasing for me to give.” You noticed that. The sensation of tightness usually will tell us whether or not that's something that's aligned with us.

The other piece is calling it out. In some relationships, I've learned that that's probably the best thing to do. It’s like, “I feel like if I don't do this, our relationship is not going to work.” That takes a conversation or the request to a whole different level. We get to the root. Some relationships may not be appropriate or we don't have that level of compatibility. I’m even calling it out to myself. I’m like, “I feel like if I say no to this or I say yes, this is why I'm doing it.”

You’re then taking one step beyond that. The word that you used, which is fear, is so appropriate. It is taking that next step. You’re like, “If that does happen, what does that mean? If you don't talk to me anymore, what does that mean to me? How is my life going to be changed? Maybe the fact that you don't talk to me anymore might be a good thing because if I've been doing all of these things in the past in order to please you or to be a part of your life that has constrained who I am, maybe that's a good thing.” That fear is there to maybe have us look at the consequences and benefits of that situation.

Not Quite Strangers | Authenticity
Authenticity: That fear is there to make us look at the consequences and benefits of a situation.

That's wonderful. Ashley, I know you have to run. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you.

That's really good. I can see going down to the next level and being able to see, “Would that be a good or bad thing?” In some relationships, the music's been playing for years and we all have the same dance and the same steps.

It becomes more difficult because we have more invested in it. It becomes, “What do I lose?” In a part of that dance, there's music that's always written. A part of that script goes away. You’re like, “I have to rewrite that script at this point in time. Am I willing to rewrite that script? Am I able to rewrite that script?” The answer is that you're able to do that, but it might not be something that you're used to doing.

When I think back on maybe the changes in my life, it was having to rewrite a script and not knowing what that script was going to look like. That could bring up some fear. Looking at that fear could be, “This is what you lived with before. You lived with fear, shame, guilt, and all of these different things. How do I rewrite the script that is more authentic with who I am?”

That could be the question that people ask themselves. They’re like, “How do I rewrite the script for myself? Once I peel this layer back, what do I now replace that layer with?” The thing is that we always have the ability to rewrite that and to be the author of that next story in our lives. Sometimes, society brings us into a place where we're not able to do that. We are dependent upon someone else to write the script for us as opposed to writing the script for ourselves.

I'm feeling energized by your comments because what you're pointing to is that we are 100% responsible. That's the moment. When we learn or realize and accept that we're 100% responsible for whether or not we memorize the script, whether or not we rewrite the script, or whether or not we decide that we don't want a script, any version of that, that's where the moment that we can start to co-create actively.

I shared with you, too, that one of the things that my boyfriend and I have been talking about was, “What's next in the relationship? What works? What doesn't work? How will it benefit both of us?” One of the most powerful conversations that he and I had was, “However we decide that the relationship's going to progress, we need to create it.

It can't be a matter of, “We'll see what happens with the job. We'll see what happens with the family. It has to be something that we create.” That doesn't mean that we dictate exactly to the minute. There's not an attachment to how or what exactly, but we have some sense that, “This is a path that we're going to move towards,” and that we feel responsible.

He had an intention.

There's an intention behind it. I'm curious because you also said to me a mind-blowing comment about the movie that you saw on Netflix.

It’s a TV show. What/If.

With what you think about what life means and how life works, can you share some of that? We want to be in on it.

There is this TV show called What/If. A friend of mine, Ty, who I love to death, always sees all these movies and TV shows and says, “You got to watch this.” We watched this show. In a part of the show, at the very beginning of it, there is an actress who says, “Everything happens for a reason.” The premise of this show or what I got out of it was that if everything happens for a reason, everything that we do is justified because it's a part of this whole plan that has been preordained. It's a part of something that is meant to be. Regardless of the actions or regardless of what the individual does, it doesn't matter. Be that good or bad, it doesn't matter because it's meant to be. It's a part of the unfolding that takes place.

It's interesting because, in the show, this person is not a very good person. She's an evil person. If we think about it from the standpoint of whether all of our actions and all the things that happen to us are meant to be, it allows us maybe a little bit of freedom to accept all of the things that happen in our lives, be they good or bad. All of those things are going to build upon our presence in the world, who we are, and how we contribute to other individuals.

It takes away that aspect of that level of maybe saying, “I should do this,” or, “I should be this,” or living by a script. It allows us to relax into life and to be a little bit more intentional. If we realize and think that everything that we do has a reason, then it makes us a little bit more conscious of all of the acts, words, and thoughts that we have because it does interact with this whole. We're all connected to one another. It reinforces that. I don't know if that show is trying to say all of those things. That's what I got.

We won't judge that. It's interesting. You mentioned how we can relax in life. At the same time, relaxing doesn't mean that we're somehow swept away alone. What you talk about with relaxing has less to do with being exerted upon rather than being more intentional, being able to make decisions, and being more responsible. Responsibility and relaxation can coexist, in other words.

Exactly. When I say relax, it is being more connected. That is the way that I think of relaxing. We're not resisting. We are going with the flow. You can go with the flow and be intentional about what you want that flow to accomplish or do. In a relationship, you might be relaxed into the relationship, but the intention is, “I'm going to be more loving. I'm going to be more caring. I'm going to be more supportive of my partner.”

In the workplace, it can be, “I am going to be more connected and more focused on being a team member that allows the goals, visions, and mission of our department or our organization to be met.” You can relax into that and allow the contributions that you make to work with the other contributions that others make. You can create an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration. My belief is that once you start to set that intention and that energy, others build upon that. They're drawn into that. It becomes a cohesive effort that is not only an individual, but it becomes a group effort.

Once you start to set that intention, you set the energy that others build upon and that they're drawn into.

I love that. Relaxation is releasing the resistance. I spent a lot of my life on airplanes. Big chunks of my life where my work consisted of being on a plane, getting someplace on a regular basis. Not every single flight, for sure, but there was some level of turbulence in a significant amount of flights. I remember the beginning. My first experience on the plane was that I would tense up in my seat. I would grab the handles and sit tightly and upright in my chair, waiting for the turbulence to go away. In the meantime, I was being buffeted and dipping, and my stomach was sitting up and down.

As I became more experienced and realized that this is a part of flying and it goes away after a while, I found myself relaxing. The relaxation wasn't like, “I don't care about this resistance.” I found myself loosening up the muscles that were holding me so rigidly. Once I did that and I melted into the chair, it was like being rocked by the plane, but it was not resisting the rocking.

That image came to mind when you talked about life because life has levels of turbulence. Some are more extreme than others, but they’re all based on how well we’re able to deal with it. Some things that may feel like turbulence to you for me would be like, “What turbulence are you talking about? I don't feel a thing,” and vice versa. The level at which we're able to release the resistance and the tension that we experience when we're experiencing that turbulence will help us be even more joyful, more awakened, and more authentic in life. This is a fabulous conversation. Do you have any last thoughts or comments before we wrap up?

Thank you. We talked about my thoughts and about having this kind of conversation that's available and open to everyone. Thank you for allowing me to do this because it's who I am. When we share who we are, it reinforces that acceptance, relaxation, and openness to who we are and what it is that we are here to do. What we're here to do is that we’re here to support one another. We’re here to love one another. We’re here to share who we are with one another.

Somebody might see that turbulence and it's no big deal to them. What can I learn from that individual who goes through life’s rough spots? What can I learn from them that allows me to navigate that situation better? What can someone learn from me that allows them to navigate that situation in a different way? Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to do that.

It was my pleasure to do so.

I always love talking with you.

I enjoy all of our conversations. I see the impact that you've had on my life. I feel like the more we have these conversations not only with one another but with the people that surround us, the more connected we become and the more we help each other and support each other. Every week, these are the conversations that we have. I am fortunate enough to have so many fantastic people in my life.

On the 4th of June, 2019, we have Carson Thompson, who is a lifelong learner. He's an octogenarian. In his golden years, he has uncovered his purpose, which is to teach and share his wealth of wisdom, and he has done so generously with me. I am so glad that he's going to be joining us, so feel free to tune in for that.

In the meantime, go to your social media and please post that you've tuned in to the show. You can use the #TimeToComeAlive. Please comment. One of the things that we value so much is being able to hear what you're getting from the conversation and what insights you're having. We're able to really pour into one another by sharing that. Thank you all so much for joining us. Have a wonderful week.


Important Links 


Henry David Thoreau: "We are constantly invited to be who we are.”


Life has a way of taking us through all sorts of twists and turns. I bet our lives could even make good reality TV! How often do we step back and binge-watch the unfolding of our lives?


Al Dawson spent the first three decades of his life trying to fulfill the expectations set out for him by his family of origin, his culture, and his ethnicity. There was such a misalignment that he didn’t think he would live a day past 35. Tune in to find out how Al found a life worth living.



·         How to look beyond the motivation to please others and how to deal with it?

·         “Allowing” helps to uncover where we’re not being authentic.

·         The value of rewriting the script inherited from our past and live life on our own terms.


For past episodes go to 


Subscribe to my YouTube channel and access new and past episodes! To receive episodes in your inbox, subscribe at



bottom of page