From Privilege to Purpose

I’m writing this on Martin Luther King Day….a day when I’m reminded how overwhelmed I feel with respect and awe of his courage and the courage of his family and those who stood with him.

I also find it hard to breathe when I think about it all.

There are moments when I'm filled with such anger at the injustices of the world.

There are moments that I feel deep shame for my privilege.

There are moments when I feel helpless in my advocacy because I'm not even clear on the words that I want to put to the feelings and convictions I have.

I guess I'm afraid I'll be misunderstood

OR even worse, understood and rejected

I realize I’m afraid to be judged by the diversity of community and family that I have. Am I Christian enough, am I evidence-based/scientific enough, holistic enough, liberal enough, conservative enough, environmental enough, feminist enough, traditional enough, angry enough, loving enough, present enough, rich enough, poor enough, speaking enough, living enough, sharing enough, giving enough, smart enough, passionate enough, strong enough.

For me, I reconcile all of this by trying to lean in to the hard conversations, listening first for understanding and then trying to formulate my own thoughts and opinions.

I'm not always good at this. In fact, sometimes I feel completely paralyzed or I act out with some level of rage.

I try to wake up each day asking....where can I use my privilege for purpose?

How can I lift others up?

How can I use this life to be an example of what is possible?

And then I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to even be able to ask these questions and I’m overwhelmed again.

I know this overwhelm, confusion and fear of being judged is just a distraction to keep me “safe”. I know that many others don’t have the luxury of choosing when they think about the world’s injustices because they are living it everyday.

While my life experiences and relationships have provided a unique window to viewing this world, I have no doubt that my understanding barely scratches the surface on other people’s day to day reality.

I have studied the nature of change and the characteristics of change leaders and I believe to successfully create change you need a clear vision, the drive for resolve, and the ability to cultivate resilience along the way. When I think of Martin Luther King’s journey…his example reflects this perfectly.

I am so humbled by his vision, drive and resilience. When I watch his Up To The Mountain speech - I’m both inspired and afraid that I will never have that kind of courage in my life.

But I want it. I want that kind of courage and resolve.

I share in Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

I want our country’s practices to reflect what is written in our declaration of independence.

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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

So in the spirit of cultivating courage, vision, drive, and resilience-

(married with some humor in pursuit of happiness)….

I want to share with you the dream I have for the world I want for my grandchildren and yours.

Here it goes…

Deep breaths. ——

ALL people have access to clean air & water, a home that reflects their dreams, healthy food, an education, mental & physical healthcare, childcare, meaningful work, a family to love and be loved by, a community to give to and receive from, security in their retirement, wild lands to play in, and horses and puppies to walk and talk with (ok, throw in some unicorns and rainbows too).

*No offense to cat people….I’m allergic, so they aren’t in my ideal world but I want them in yours.

If I haven't lost you yet, there's more…

All people can love who they love without judgement or oppression.

All people can practice their freedom of religion and faith and demonstrate it rather than imposing it on others.

All people are respected and honored for their gifts, talents and contributions and have the same opportunities for education, training, and career advancement regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status.

Women don’t need to fight for a seat at the table or equity in pay because they’ve made the seats at the table and are creating powerful economies that support the health and wealth of their families and communities.

People who make more money, give more money.

People have lives that they don’t want to hide and buffer from through overeating, overdrinking, overworking, excessive use of screen time, drugs, sugar, sex…you get the point.

All people love themselves, feel safe, have clear and respected boundaries, and the right to be heard and make choices with their own bodies.

Those charged with crimes have fair representation.

Oppressors and offenders are held accountable for their actions and have a pathway towards rehabilitation.

Guns are not a symbol for freedom.

Freedom is the ability to start a business, to create art, to grow food, to travel and see the world, to attend concerts of your favorite musicians, to cheer your favorite team, to ski the highest peaks, to feel safe walking alone in your neighborhood or on your nearby trail, and to feel safe sending your kid to school or attending your place of worship.

Humans, animals and the earth are not exploited for power or greed.

Conservation and stewardship of our environment is a universal practice.

All people honor each other, the earth and the great spirit of the creator that connects us all.

Our borders reflect healthy boundaries and building bridges.

Our veterans are honored for their service by having the same benefits our elected officials receive


People use their privilege for purpose and elect leaders who reflect this vision.


If I was a ten year old writing this, I have no doubt you would listen and probably praise me at some level for this vision.

Because I’m a 46 year old woman writing this…I wonder what lens you will read this through and what thoughts and judgements, fears and labels will come up for you?

And as I brace myself for this….I can make some guesses, because I’ve heard them all before. In fact, I realize I have trained my whole life for this. If I make you uncomfortable, I get it. If you need to unfriend or unfollow me, I get that too.

But know…. I want all of this and more for you too.

With deep love and hope and commitment toward a vibrant future for all our children, Jen

"I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bare." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

P.S. If I could have one more thing…

We all live in a musical and people dance in the streets just because they had a good cup of coffee.