The love journey began four years ago when I was sitting around with some friends when one of them stated “she wanted to fall in love and get married.” I have heard people say this many times; but, on this particular day, it sounded like a fairytale and sparked the question, “What is love?”

The Love journey has become a focal point of my life, even culminating as the theme of my 50th Birthday celebration, an event I appropriately titled “The Love Train.” More importantly, the celebration served as a fundraiser for a private elementary school that I co-founded in Prichard, AL.

The ev​​​​ent featured special appearances from celebrities such as Rickey Smiley, Doug E Fresh, and Iyanla Vanzant. Of course, I spoke about the transformative power of Love and encouraged all of my guests to engage in their very own love project all year long.

I routinely encounter people too macho to say “I love you,” too cool to allow themselves the momentary discomfort and vulnerability of expressing this tender phrase to another human being. They may also be very unaccustomed to hearing it.

For example, I became close to an employee’s brother diagnosed with cancer. In my conversations with him about his faith and my prayers for the healing of his body, I always ended the conversations with “I love you.” He would never say it back to me. It was as if the years of conditioning had rendered him incapable of returning the simplest expression of human empathy. Determined to keep loving on him, I never stopped saying “I love you,” resolving that even if he never returned the sentiment, I would make sure he knew that I love HIM. Then, I progressed to rapidly saying “Love You Love You,” which sounded more playful and like a less formal expression of that important human expression. Finally, after several months of “love reconditioning,” he was able to say love you, love you; it was a mumbling word (as the old folk say), but it was a significant step for someone who for so long saw the “L” word as unspeakable.