The Little Boy, Authentic Self, and a touch of TMI

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Do you ever wish you could soak in all of the world’s wisdom in one day? In one week? One year? In a lifetime?

As I sit in my office and I look at my bookshelf behind me, I’m moved by the wisdom that resides in my house.  Men and women who took the time to put their ideas out into the world.  Human beings who decided to make a difference.  They sat at their desk or their kitchen table and they purposefully wrote down their ideas to share with all of humanity.

Some authors state that what they wrote about wasn’t really what they had in mind; but instead the ideas simply flowed through them as though they were basically the vessel for the idea to be born through.  They talk as though all they did was take dictation for the idea to share itself through them.  It makes me wonder what ideas want to be born through me or through you?

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When I think back on my life, I rarely find much to regret.  I have lived a joy-filled forty-plus years on this planet and have many fond memories.  Sometimes I turn the clock of my memory way back to my childhood and watch an insecure young boy trying his darnedest to figure life out.  I wish I could report to that little boy to not give up on himself or on seeking wisdom and eventually he would figure life out.

That little boy was resilient!  He was handed a rule book for how he was supposed to conduct himself but unfortunately that rule book was blank.  So that little boy decided he would pay attention and try as hard as he could to fill the rule book himself.  Certain things he did were met with a harsh scolding so he wrote down his behavior in order not to do that foolish act again.  Other times his behavior resulted in spankings so he tried real hard to not forget those rules.  The little boy eventually filled the rule book up pretty full and learned when to talk and when not to talk, when to be funny and when to be serious, and the final most important lesson he learned was to make sure he was everything everyone else wanted him to be.

With that lesson firmly in place, he lost all contact with his authentic self.  For a long time, that young boy did nothing but try to survive by being whoever he needed to be just to get by.  He had genuine glimpses of his true authentic self and even attempted to share that part of himself with his family and teachers.  But more times than not, being authentic was strongly discouraged; and usually with a belt.

That little boy didn’t give up though.  He kept playing the parts he was expected to play.  He said what he was supposed to say, did what he was supposed to do.  But in the back of his mind he still held out hope that one day he would throw away the rule book he so carefully filled.

Eventually when the little boy became a teenager, he realized that some things were worth breaking the rules for–mainly girls.  The seductive and sensual taste and smell of the opposite sex caused the young boy to rethink his position on keeping ALL the rules.  Surely he could relax on some of the rules for his own enjoyment as long as he skillfully continued to APPEAR he was on the straight and narrow.

When that young, robotic, rule-keeping boy discovered the female body, something in his heart woke up (Okay, thanks Captain Obvious, yes I know something else woke up too).  But instead of feeling guilty like before when he broke the rules, now he felt more alive than ever.  His experiences catapulted him to a whole new level of personal satisfaction that could never be attained by just sticking to the rules.

Life has a funny way of calling out to your heart and inviting you to stop faking it.  Even tho you think you’re living authentically, your heart never lies.  Opportunities along the way call out to you–sometimes scream at you–and mysteriously pull on your heartstrings.

I recently read The Five Levels of Attachment by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and he discussed this authenticity.  “There is a moment when the Authentic Self becomes no longer an abstract term, but an experience.  I believe we all experience such a moment.  It could be during meditation, while painting or dancing, working or working out, lecturing or talking, making love, eating, or playing.  It’s the moment when judgment stops and pure harmony takes over.”

You could say when that young man first experienced the long and slow touch from his high school sweetheart he also discovered his Authentic Self.  The sensual act unleashed something in him that was more than just sensual or sexual.  For the first time in forever, he felt alive!  He felt like he could conquer the world–or at least die trying.  Sure, he was experiencing new and exciting things, but more importantly, his Authentic Self was coming to life.

Fast forward five years and he was still playing the roles and living by rules that he did not write for himself.  In his early twenties, he made the assumption that he was supposed to get married. . .

. . . So he did.

After he was married for a while, they thought they were supposed to have children. . .

. . . So they did.

A couple years after that he grew sick of playing by everyone’s rules and wanted to do his own thing. . .

. . . So he did.

His actions were less than exemplary for a loving husband and father so his wife warned him she would leave. . .

. . . So she did.

He heard once a man regains his freedom he could party like a rock star and sleep around all he wanted. . .

. . . So he did.

Then he heard from a dear friend that told him he was a great guy and if he wanted a great girl he would need to start being a man a great girl would want. . .

. . . So he did.

At that point he realized he needed to start reading books and changing his life. . .

. . . So he did.

He learned all about the ego, his Authentic Self, breathing techniques, people who were revolutionary characters, how people shape their beliefs based off their accumulated knowledge, how people are human beings not human doings, how real joy and happiness can be found in life only in the present moment, and how our society and environment shape our opinions and outlooks which cause our unintentional shift away from our authentic selves.

He also learned that his relationships with women were unhealthy–He was either trying to manipulate them to sleep with him or he was . . . well, he was basically trying to manipulate them to sleep with him.  Furthermore, when it came to women, he had a tendency to pick the ones who never liked him for exactly who he was.  He always seemed to pick the reflection of who he was on the inside.  If he wasn’t happy with himself, he picked girls that weren’t happy with him either.  He attempted to heal his wounds relying on women who were incapable to offer him healing.

I’m not bagging on all the females that crossed his path or trying to blame them for his shortcomings.  He dated many phenomenal women who were wonderful people, but his mistake was taking his ultimate question to them for an answer.  He didn’t ask them directly and most of the time he rarely comprehended he was even asking them anything at all by his actions; but, nonetheless, he took his question to them anyway.

Am I Good Enough?!?!?

It wasn’t until he answered the question for himself (with a resounding YES, by the way) that he was able to steer clear from the nagging external approval he so desperately sought.

I think it’s safe to say that little boy who desperately longed to know all the rules and lived his life for everyone else’s approval has finally grown up.  Through the help of years of counseling and a decade of deprogramming, I feel more authentic now than ever.  I still have a ton to learn and a lifetime of authors yet to read, but my Authentic Self is finally in the driver’s seat for the rest of this journey.  I’ve taken that young boy by the hand, thrown away the rule book, and gave him just one rule to remember–first for himself and then for others–LOVE!!

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Peace,

~Travis

What Women Want: A Special Note to the Men

A Special Note to the Men
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While making our way to Part One of What Women Want, I’d like to take a second and share some thoughts with the men.  Ladies, of course you have my permission to eavesdrop (I know you would even if I told you not to). 🙂

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Men, your woman needs more from you. You have to be more engaged with your wife; you are communicating even when you think you aren’t. Your passivity speaks volumes.  Your silence speaks louder than your words.

I have learned I need to make a conscious effort to actually speak out of my mouth what I’m thinking in my head. For too long, my life was lived in my head so my wife had no idea what I was thinking because I rarely told her. I still struggle to speak everything I’m thinking but I’m working on it daily.

Your wife becomes adept at reading your mind by watching your actions and sadly your actions aren’t saying a whole lot either.

We must open our mouths and verbalize our thoughts. We must push through the uncomfortable awkwardness of putting ourselves out there. Our wives are not responsible for our frustrations about how our lives have turned out. As much as we want to blame our wives for our mess, it’s not their fault. We project our frustrations about life and our feelings of inadequacy on our wives so we don’t have to feel the weight of it. Regrettably, though, the weightiness never goes away. We can’t escape it.

We try to escape our frustrations and our inadequacies but they’re always there, just beneath the surface. We escape into sports, hobbies, television, or work.  Instead of facing ourselves and confronting our inadequacies head-on, we shrink and look for excuses. We walk around every day with a knot in our gut because life hasn’t turned out like we planned. We saw ourselves as important managers, business owners, or sports professionals—more successful than we are—and it eats away at us. We’re getting older and we begin to wonder what’s the point. Our lives of quiet desperation erode little by little internally. It’s as if we have a parasite that is eating us slowly from the inside out.

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The first thing to realize is this feeling is not your wife’s fault. She is not responsible for this knot in your gut. She’s not responsible any more than the mirror on the wall is responsible for what you see in it. The mirror only reflects what it sees and your wife only responds to what she sees and hears from you. She serves as your mirror—a living, breathing mirror that projects back an honest portrayal of yourself. If you don’t like your wife very much, it could be you don’t like the reflection of yourself that she’s mirroring back to you.

This isn’t easy. It’s very difficult to admit we could be the issue and it’s not all her fault. Life seems easier when we have a scapegoat. Having to take full responsibility for ourselves isn’t fun.

Women are very intuitive creatures. They have an uncanny knack for feeling deep down what is happening in any given situation. Their men don’t have to say anything for them to understand they are not number one. She knows you are disengaged. She understands you’d rather drift through life without conflict from her. Unfortunately, she can’t sit idly by and watch you go through life depressed all the time. She nags at you because she cares. She points out you’ve been amiss lately because she longs to have the man back she fell in love with. She knows he’s still there deep down—she sees glimpses every once in a while—but she also knows the pressures of everyday life can get heavy. She’s not intentionally bothering you just to annoy you. She’s calling out to you in hopes that your true self will hear her.

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She wants you to know that it’s all right that you’ve changed over the years—she’s changed too. Life has a funny way of changing two people. It’s not the changes that concern her the most, it’s the drifting apart and complete lack of a connection—even once in a while—that eats away at her. She longs for you to turn towards her like you used to instead of turning away from her.

An important thing to remember is she’s just as uncertain about life as you are. She has doubts, insecurities, and regrets, too. She thinks about the course her life has taken and wonders if she went in the right direction with every decision she’s made. She doesn’t blame you for who she’s become. She’s made a choice to be with you and she still sees the good in you; so if given the chance 100 more times, she’d choose you 101.

I recently heard Garth Brooks’ Somewhere Other Than the Night and I think his words are appropriate here. Enjoy.

He could see the storm clouds rollin’ across the hill
He barely beat the rain in from the field
And between the backdoor slammin’ she heard him say
“Damn this rain and damn this wasted day”
But she’d been waitin’ for this day for oh so long
She was standin’ in the kitchen with nothin’ but her apron on
And in disbelief he stood and he stared a while
When their eyes met, they both began to smile

Somewhere other than the night
She needs to hear I love you
Somewhere other than the night
She needs to know you care
She wants to know she’s needed
She needs to be held tight
Somewhere other than the night

They spent the day wrapped up in a blanket
On the front porch swing
He’d come to realize he’d neglected certain things
And there are times she feels alone even by his side
It was the first time she ever saw him cry

Somewhere other than the night
She needs to hear I love you
Somewhere other than the night
She needs to know you care
She wants to know she’s needed
She needs to be held tight
Somewhere other than the night

To know she’s needed
She needs to be held tight
Somewhere other than the night

Peace and Love,

~Travis

 

PS. I’m intrigued to hear your feedback.

Crazy, Stupid, Travis

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Crazy, Stupid, Travis

 

Rarely does a movie come along that hits me squarely between the eyes.  Most movies are purely entertainment and get thumbs up or thumbs down immediately after watching and then forgotten about.  Once in a while a scene from a movie will stand out to me and cause me to think beneath the surface.  It’s rare, though, for a movie to resonate with me like Crazy, Stupid, Love did.  Anyone that knows me well knows I’m a sucker for relationships and chick flicks (I can’t help that is how I’m wired).  Having one character to relate to in a movie can be enjoyable but having 5 different characters I could relate to was definitely crazy stupid! 

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In case you haven’t seen it I will give you a 30 second trailer: The movie opens with Cal Weaver being told by his wife, Emily, that she had an affair with her coworker, David Lindhagen.  Cal and Emily have three children, Hannah (mid 20s), Robbie (early teen), and Molly (11ish).  Cal moves out and begins frequenting a bar where he voices his displeasure for his wife and David Lindhagen to anyone within earshot.  Finally, Jacob Palmer calls Cal over from across the bar and makes Cal an offer.  Jacob, being an expert at picking up women, offers to help Cal reinvent himself and get some of his manhood back.  Cal accepts Jacob’s offer and the transformation is a beauty to watch. 

I saw myself in many of the different characters in this movie for a lot of reasons.  While on the roller coaster of life I have been in the shoes of these different characters and it literally took me days to piece together why this movie hit me so hard.  I watched it again a couple days later and have watched it probably 6 more times since then. 

First, Cal Weaver (played perfectly by Steve Carell) portrays a husband whose life has just been turned upside down.  Hearing the words of a marriage being finalized and then having those words sink in are definitely enough to make one jump out of a moving vehicle.  The numbing jolt experienced by this news wouldn’t be wished on your worst enemy.  The culmination of years of love, sneaking into years of indifference, slipping into years of contempt, sliding into years of regret, and finally free-falling into hatred is a process that I wish all couples could avoid.  If only there was an automatic loop that took both parties back to the beginning stages of love the minute they discover indifference has snuck in.  As soon as the slip-and-slide of contempt and regret take hold the relationship’s days are usually numbered. 

Cal reminded me of myself for several different reasons.  First, I saw myself in him as a husband whose life is crumbling apart due to a marriage that is disintegrating.  I have been there and they are difficult times to relive.  After the dust settled and Cal finally met Jacob he began the process of regaining his manhood and rediscovering himself.  I have been there as well.  I don’t remember going and announcing to the whole bar that my wife was leaving me for David Lindhagen the way Cal did but I do remember attempting to find a little comfort in a lot of bottles. 

Next, during marriage I found myself more in the character of Cal but while single I most definitely played the part of Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling).  Even though I never had the looks of Ryan Gosling (or his “photo-shopped abs”); I never let that stop me from meeting new people—and by “people” I mean women.  😉  I decided since life presented another chance at freedom I should take advantage of it.  I am not necessarily proud of every decision I made during that time of my life but every experience has molded me into who I am today. 

Third, David Lindhagen (played by Kevin Bacon) reminded me of myself because he was the “nice guy” trying to steal Emily away from Cal.  I have been in the “friend zone” a couple times trying to play Mr. Nice Guy waiting for the girl to realize I was the better option for her.  Being the nice guy who’s stuck in the friend zone doesn’t help the manhood much either.  Being David Lindhagen meant I made it too much about the girl and didn’t save any identity for myself.

It’s crazy now that I think about it.  Women rarely want the David Lindhagen, but they are always attracted to the Jacob Palmer, who usually ends up settling into Cal Weaver after years of marriage.  If the man continues to be a Jacob Palmer he never settles down enough to fall in love but if he settles down too much he risks turning into Cal Weaver.  I suppose this is where the movie hits me squarely between the eyes.  For the second time in my life I have experienced this transition in me from being the charming and confident Jacob Palmer to settling into the self-doubting Cal Weaver.  This is a mystery I hope to solve; especially knowing there are plenty of David Lindhagens lurking about just waiting for my wife to become frustrated with me. 

I also have to mention Cal and Emily’s son, Robbie.  I saw a very young and naïve version of myself in Robbie for obvious reasons.  Besides the fact that Robbie is discovering his manhood for the first time while being madly in love with his babysitter, he is also unwilling to give up the idea that he has a soul mate.  I often wonder why so many adults lose faith in the idea of a soul mate and turn cynical towards the grandiose possibilities of love?  It seems as though all of us guilty-as-charged adults could use some of Robbie’s persistent refusal to give up on love. 

There is also another theme with two of the characters that resonated with me:  The babysitter’s father and Cal both acting as a protective father for their daughters.  The lengths that a father will go to ensure their daughters stay away from the Jacob Palmers of the world are endless.  Truth be told, as fathers, we usually despise the Jacob Palmers because that is who we once were.  We can’t stand to see our daughters falling for less-desirable versions of ourselves.  I can only hope I have wisdom and patience with the Jacob Palmers that come knocking on my door to take my daughter out when she is allowed to date at 35.  🙂

So the moral of the story is Love is Crazy, Love is Stupid, Love is Love!  It seems as though real life never ends as gracefully as it does in the movies.  In real life, Love isn’t any less crazy or any less stupid—it is actually quite messy.  If there’s one thing I learned about Love, though, one must always keep a sense of humor.  I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout this movie.  Maybe that’s another reason Crazy, Stupid, Love resonated so deeply with me.  It made me look at how messy love can be and yet still gave me plenty to laugh at. 

I wish you all the craziest, stupidest love you can wrap your heart around! 

 

 ~Travis

 

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