Dear Kelsi,

Standard

wpid-img_56087780786199.jpeg

Dear Kelsi,

I feel compelled to write you and give you some encouragement. I know it’s been a rough week for you and I know you are contemplating many things right now. I can sense your wheels are spinning nonstop much the same that mine do when I’m trying to figure this crazy life out. Anyway, all that to say, I notice. I cannot promise that you’ll get the answers you’re looking for soon—or ever for that matter—but I can desperately challenge you to never stop searching.

You see, the world is made up of people who are blindly regurgitating information that was planted in their brain by some other person or institution. These people are easily guided from one direction to another without so much as one original thought of their own. They are told what to do, what to think, and what to buy—and guess what—they do it. They give very little resistance to the powers-that-be in their lives and they prefer to stay in their comfortable cocoon.

The exact opposite kind of people are few and far between. They aren’t satisfied with the status quo, they question authority, ideas, laws, norms, and tradition. They aren’t afraid to speak their mind even when their voice is shaking. They’re used to feeling uncomfortable, alone, misunderstood, longing for deeper community and richer dialogue. They set trends. They refuse to take the same path as everyone else because it’s been “proven” to work. History was radically changed by these people. Their bravery to stand up and suggest a long-held idea was wrong—even in the face of cruel ridicule or death—has changed the world for the better. These people have pushed progress forward even when progress seemed like a dirty word. These people are badasses!

wp-1486584236157.jpg

There is much debate in the scientific community about free will—whether we have it or whether we don’t. The arguments on both sides are extremely compelling. Some people assume they have free will but act like they don’t: meanwhile, others act like they are stuck with no choices in life but they have plenty of opportunity to change the trajectory of their future if they would simply choose it. I haven’t made my mind up yet as to which side of the argument I fall, but I’m beyond grateful to even be contemplating the ideas in the first place.

I bring up free will as an example because our knee-jerk reaction is to just say of course we have free will. But do we? How do you know? Where do your thoughts come from? Who thinks those thoughts? Who put them there? Sometimes I have thoughts that are disturbing and I wonder where they come from because they obviously aren’t from me. Other times I think peaceful and loving thoughts and I am certain those thoughts are from me and they are me. I believe you get the idea.

wp-image-1377644343jpg.jpg

Here’s my point in all this: never apologize for your greatness! You are amazing and your dedication to discovering your truth will pay off for you in so many ways. You may feel like nobody understands you, and you may feel alone at times, but trust me you are on the right path. Please keep searching and sharing what you are learning. The world is full of people who are walking zombies and they need your help waking up.

I have believed in you since day one and I believe in you now more than ever.

Let me forewarn you; there will be people who might not understand the things you say from one day to the next. Well-meaning people may suggest you are misguided for saying things they don’t believe are true. Good for them. Politely thank them and then keep on being a badass. Small minds won’t understand much of what you are trying to say anyway. They may talk behind your back and they may outright tell you you’re wrong. All the while, they will be secretly jealous of your courage and their lack thereof. This doesn’t make you cocky because we both know that cockiness is nothing more than an overcompensation for insecurity. Instead, you will continue to grow in confidence—not so much in your ideas you present—but in your ability to formulate and communicate your ever-changing ideas.

dd853aa63c96e13d3c6479ed8d28a6ab

It’s a great big world with countless opportunities. There is a long history of people you can learn from who have changed their world for the better. You can be one of those people. You already are one of those people. You will walk among greatness because you choose every day to be great. I applaud your effort and I’m more proud of you than you could ever imagine!

One last thing, your tribe is out there. You are not alone. There are people out there who are changing the world for the better and sharing their ideas. They are your tribe and you belong in their company. Trust that you’ll meet each and every one at the perfect time. Watch in awe and wonder as the mysterious flow of life puts you in the company of the movers and shakers of our time. I have no doubt.

76711_427448107326901_1051949319_n

Keep your chin up and keep writing your ass off! You never know who is reading your writing who needs to hear exactly what you have to say that day. Never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop writing—and most importantly—never stop being you!

I love you!

Dad

IMG_1914

20170524_220755

20170301_175721

When I Truly SEE My Children 

Standard

When I truly SEE my children

I’m astonished every time.

Behind every attitude,

questionable behavior, 

snotty remark,

dirty bathroom,

fender bender,

late-night emergency, 

or unplanned interruption;

there stands before me

the greatest gift this

lifetime could ever bestow.




When I truly SEE my children 

I’m humbled every time. 

Behind every curious question,

light-hearted conversation,

comfortable silence,

or bold proclamation;

I’m reminded we’re all

spiritual beings having 

a human experience:

learning together,

growing together,

loving one-another.




When I truly SEE my children 

I’m thankful every time.

For they singlehandedly 

chipped away at the 

fortress of protection

I worked so hard

to build around

my vulnerable heart. 

Once they allowed the

light to shine through, 

my heart and soul 

joyfully sang hallelujah.




When I truly SEE my children

I’m overjoyed every time.

My beautiful daughter,

so cunning and courageous,

refuses to accept the

status quo for herself.

My handsome son, 

so kind-hearted and gifted,

lights up a room with

his presence and smile.

Each one opens my heart

in ways I thought impossible.




When I truly SEE my children

I’m able to clearly SEE 

all of the world with my

eyes and heart wide open.






Peace and love, 


~Travis


I’ve Struggled with Relationships Lately

Standard

We feel jaded when someone treats us poorly.

 

We are furious when someone acts different than we think they should.

 

We pull away from those who have hurt us because it makes sense to protect ourselves.

 

We carry life-long grudges for minor disagreements.

 

We attempt to control and manipulate those around us.

 

We desperately seek genuine love from others even though we’re disingenuous.

 

We were hurt, broken, used, abused, traumatized, betrayed, and nearly shattered.

 

And, yet, we continue to push forward, timidly trusting the motto Love Wins.

 

 

Last week, I spent two full days in training for my next profession. I took part in The Gottman Institute’s Level 1 Clinical Training: Gottman Method Couples Therapy. I’ve read several John Gottman books in the past and gained a lot of insight so I was sure the training would be well worth my time and money. Throughout the two days, my mind kept wandering to so many people that are struggling relationally. So many of us have issues with either our mates, our families, our friends, or our coworkers. Relationship issues are at the core of nearly every emotional difficulty we experience.

 

 

For the better part of two decades, I have been reading and studying most anything I could get my hands on. My studies generally encompassed human developmental topics like self-help, religion, philosophy, writing, and relationships. Because of my thirst for knowledge, I strive to learn as much as I can for my own sake—not because I want to have all the right answers, be the smartest, or prove people wrong—I genuinely love learning and growing.

With all that knowledge and experience, one would think I have a pretty good handle on what it takes to have good relationships. Often when someone is having relationship issues, it seems like human nature to instantly blame the other party or disregard your own shortcomings. That wasn’t where my thoughts went. Instead, as I went through the training last weekend, I kept being reminded of ways I fall short.

 

 

So. . .

Anytime I’m wrestling with something, I find it most useful to write about it; so, in the spirit of self-disclosure, this was the outcome:

 

 

You struggle with relationships!

 

 

You struggle with women. Somewhere along the way, something was shattered in you. Somehow you consistently attempt to be man enough for a woman but fail miserably. A marriage dashed on the rocks, one on the ropes, and multiple shipwrecks in-between. You’re smart enough to know it’s more than just picking the right one and crossing your fingers (or holding your breath).

You have uncertainties you take to a woman and then punish her when she’s helpless to answer them. When things get difficult, you bow and try to sneak backstage, away from the bright lights and scrutinizing eyes. When it’s your turn to speak your lines, something in you detests having to play the part. You’re perfectly fine saying your lines inside your head thank-you-very-much. It seems like a fine approach, but the audience and other cast members are left guessing what you think, how you feel, why you’re mute. They know your lines, they could say them for you, but they are supposed to come from your lips just like you rehearsed so many times. Say them!

 

 

You struggle with family. You have so many relationships with one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel. Each of your family members would love to talk to you and you could benefit from their relationships. Why do you withdraw, bow out, keep quiet? Some of them could use some support, a listening ear, a friendly hello. What holds you back? How do you expect them to get to know you better if you don’t communicate with them? How might they explain to you their perspectives on life, love, and happily-ever-after if never given the chance?

 

 

You struggle with friends. So many times, friends have fallen by the wayside because you allowed the friendship to wither and die. As soon as the friendship required something significant from you, you crawled back into your shell. Your fear of being wholly known for who you truly are keeps you silent. Life is messy, relationships are messy, love is messy, feelings are messy, emotions are messy, being close friends with others may get messy. Don’t shrink. Take the risk of being authentic. Say what you mean and share your experience with others.

 

 

You struggle with being a father. Remember when you were growing up and you had no idea about life and what to expect out of it? You simply did the best you could. You did what you thought was right whether it was right or not. You faked it til you made it. Guess what, you have a million life experiences your children could learn from. Tell them. Speak up. Start talking and keep talking. The best decisions are always made when we have the most information. Why would you not give them all the information you possibly could? Just because you had to figure everything out on your own doesn’t mean they should. Tell them stories every chance you get—you won’t regret it and neither will they!

 

 

Just because you struggle doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Practice makes perfect. Being authentic isn’t always the easy option but it is the right one for you. If anyone can turn these struggles into triumphs, it’s you! “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” E.E. Cummings

 

I would like to share more about the Couples Therapy training but I’ll save that for another day. In the meantime, I want you to know that if you struggle with any relationships, you are not alone. I fully support and acknowledge your desire for love and belonging.

 

Peace,

 

~Travis

 

Travis Quotes4

As the Sun Sinks. . . .

Standard

Screenshot_2016-01-28-10-43-26-1

Our property we are blessed to call home is surrounded by water.  The beautiful Portage River flows along the entire east and south sides while a small creek flows into the river on the west end of the property.  A pond we dug while our house was being built sits a couple hundred yards out our front door.

2016-03-07 08.55.34

The sun peaks through the trees in the morning warming our hearts and home with its reminder of a glorious new day.

IMG_20160304_073742

Screenshot_2016-03-08-18-54-22

In the evening the sun sets over the pond and open field on the other side of the creek.

image-9df0ae6ad74c000501f8f05c7b6e9baa212da1d541ae10bd0c7c063fce45e246-V

Nearly every night is a spectacular reminder of this amazing life we are here to enjoy.

photo 2(5)

photo 1(3)

photo 3(3)

photo 5(1)

As the sun sinks below the horizon, I shift my gaze inside our house.

Screenshot_2015-10-17-18-59-13

The beautiful souls I share this space with teach me more about love and life than I could ever learn from a million books.  My heart fills with all the beauty outside our house; but my heart overflows with joy and wonder when I share the present moment with my family.

wpid-2014-04-15-18.58.09.jpg.jpeg

I could lose every material possession this world offers, but my family will always be the music that makes my heart sing.

screenshot_2015-12-19-15-43-15.png

Some days are cloudy, but if you choose to look hard enough you will find the sun amongst the clouds.

photo 5(2)

In closing, I would like to share a passage of The Beloved from Kahlil Gibran. It speaks to my love of words and why I long for you to be comfortable with your humanness:

“When secrets straiten the heart, when eyes are made raw by hot tears, and ribs nearly crack from the swelling of what is hidden in the breast, man can find no comfort but in words and complaint.  Sorrow, my friend, is eased by complaint.  The lover finds solace in words of longing.  The oppressed finds pleasure in seeking mercy . . . So I write to you.  I have become like the poet who sees beauty and who records, compelled by the power of his divine nature, the impressions of that beauty in verse.  I am like the poor and hungry child who, driven by the bite of his hunger, pleads with his mother for succor, unmindful of her poverty and destitution.”

image-fe9c1218ed5e4098482c594d8d69482bb2b017d057ed6c7113697d478df5cc73-V

No matter where you’re at in life, please know you are surrounded by beauty and love!!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

Love Actually IS All Around

Standard

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think of the Arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy. But it’s always there.
Fathers and sons.
Mothers and daughters.
Husbands and wives.
Boyfriends.
Girlfriends.
Old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were messages of love.
If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that love actually …. IS …. all around.

Love Actually

12688231_10153500686409150_5675885061863490543_n

It’s Valentine’s Day. The day in February that men and singles have grown to despise. The day when we’re supposed to shower our significant other with gifts and love.

I have held the opinion a long time that holidays are barely any different than any other day of the year. My sometimes grumpy scrooge self says they are all man-made holidays meant to push the economy forward. But the more thought I gave to these holidays, the more I began to see their significance.

We are all creatures of habit. Our brains are hardwired to create—and keep—the same daily habits day after day after day. Eventually we can basically sleepwalk through our lives without even so much as a speedbump until something comes along and jolts us out of our slumber.

Holidays help do exactly that. They help us remember what we so easily forget.

Valentine’s Day is all about love. I can’t imagine anyone having any objections to remembering the love they have in their life. Not just one single love, but ALL the love they are surrounded by.

Sure, our society portrays Valentine’s Day as a “couple’s” holiday. I get that. But to me it’s so much more.

When I am jolted out of sleepwalking through my daily routine, otherwise known as my life, I take a few minutes to reflect about what really matters to me. Instantly, without a doubt my mind turns to my children. Their lives fill my heart with more pride than anything else on this earth. Sure, they’re teenagers and they have different ideas than I do sometimes. But truth be told, I learn just as much from them as they do from me. They each possess so much wisdom and a deep knowing more than they realize.

When I think about Valentine’s Day and when I think about love, there is so much that comes flooding into my mind. I have literally been walking around throughout the day pondering what love is to me.  When I think about love, I think about ……

…… Sharing this adventure of life with my wife. We have both been learning and growing so much over the years. I’m blessed to be married to a partner who isn’t afraid of the growing pains.

…… My parents who just celebrated their 50th Anniversary last August. I could sit and listen to their stories for hours of all the crazy, amazing, funny, sad, silly, emotional events they have been a part of over the years.

…… My friends Owen and Cara. To me, their love and their lives are a perfect example of what love truly is. Sure, their lives are full of many ups and downs. But the one constant that never waivers in their large home is the presence of love. No matter what life throws at them, love actually IS all around them.

…… My amazing Aunt who recently lost her husband. She may not realize it, but she is one of my heroes in life. Her vulnerability and bravery has been something that helped shape the man I am today. Every single time I have visited with her over the years, she quickly bypassed the surface talk and spoke to me straight from her heart. She loves deeply and shares honestly.

…… My friend Joanne who always loves me unconditionally and offers me so much wisdom. Our friendship is full of so much mutual admiration and respect. We love to co-create together and our hearts are always refreshed every chance we have to connect.

…… My nephew and his husband. These two beautiful souls continue to show me year after year that love knows no color or gender. Love is love is love. It’s breathtaking to witness and I’m honored to be a part of their lives.

…… My “extra” siblings I was blessed with since a young age. Bob and Robin have been a constant in my life since I was just a kid. They continue to show me love and support as if I was their relative by blood. And Jenny became the little sister I never had. Even though we haven’t kept in touch as often as we’d like over the miles and the years, we are both deeply affected today by the close bond we have always shared.

…… Several of my close friends who have been enduring different struggles. They are the brave ones. They trusted me with their struggles and were vulnerable about what they were going through. Vulnerability is the soil where genuine love can grow between friends.

…… Myself. You may laugh, but many people struggle with themselves. I am truly blessed to have established a wonderful relationship with myself. I spent several years pushing through an ugly depression (and we all know the high price that depression makes some people pay). Thankfully for me the heavy cloud lifted and now I continue to find ways to amaze myself and live in awe every day.

love-actually-andrew-lincoln

So, it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you have someone to call your valentine or not, I hope today can serve as a reminder to you of all the love you have in your life.

If you have a Valentine, show them your love.  But also ponder on all the other love in your life as well.

If you’re single, think about all the people you’re surrounded by and, if you look, you will see that love actually …. IS …. all around.

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

9bANyvaa7sPMmKZYqJnXMFKLAFu

It’s An Awkward Feeling

Standard

image

It’s an awkward feeling some days
Watching two portions of my heart
Walk freely through the world.
They each have their own mind
And both certainly think independently
As I always hoped they would.
But my blood courses through their veins.
My Love envelopes their every move.
And my heart is now split into three.
It’s an awkward feeling some days. 

image

Peace my friends!

~Travis

Grief and Christmas

Standard

I have an amazing Life! With each passing day my heart fills with more gratitude than should be allowed by one person.  I’m a firm believer that a specific day isn’t more special than any other day, but today–Christmas–feels more meaningful for some reason.

Let me start by saying it’s been an emotional week.  We laid to rest my Uncle who was a phenomenal man.  He lived an extraordinary life and loved fiercely in a way that changed everyone he came in contact with.  Even though he is no longer with us, it has been breathtaking to witness his presence shine through in the faces and hearts of those who love him.

Death feels so final at first.  It’s so hard to fully grasp.  But what I have come to learn this past week is just how much we are all connected.  We are all blanketed with Love and that holds us all together.  Our human existence is something we struggle to understand but when we see Love in action it all makes more sense.  I realize to some of you it may feel generic to suggest our only purpose here is to Love, but when you strip everything else away is there anything more important?

grief

We shuffle along in our day-to-day activities assuming our job, our mortgage, or our car payment are all so important.  We pick up extra shifts and lose precious time with loved ones because that’s what our society tells us to do.

This past week has been a wonderful reminder to me of what is truly important.  Spending time with my beautiful Aunt, telling stories around the table and laughing, writing letters to my amazing children and loving wife, gathering around the fireplace and Christmas tree to open gifts with my dear family, celebrating the life of an exceptional man; these are all perfect reminders to me that Love is why I am here.

I experience this Love the deepest and most pure by simply staying in the present moment.  My gratitude for my Life spills over from one moment to the next as I observe my children, my wife, my Aunt, my family, and my friends.

And then to complete my day of gratitude for my amazing Life, I steal away time for myself to press this fountain pen onto paper and reflect on all the Love I am surrounded by.  As my week of Grief and Christmas draws to a close, I’m thankful for you.  I’m thankful for each and every one of you–whether we have met or not–because Love connects our species even when we are confused and forget.

Christmas_Tree_in_Snow_Wallpaper_1280x720_wallpaperhere

May you hold your loved ones a little closer during this holiday season.  May you set aside differences long enough to see the Love that connects us all.  May you use the moments you have left on this earth for good, since we don’t know how many moments we have left.  May you have a blessed and beautiful holiday season with those you love.

Rest in peace, Uncle Ray.  I am a better husband, father, friend, and human being thanks to your influence.

I have an amazing Life!  So do you!

 

Peace my friends!

 

~Travis