My Trusting Place . . . . and Joanne

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“We give most to others when we are fully ourselves. ‘Don’t ask what the world needs,’ philosopher Howard Thurman once said, ‘Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.'”

Theo Pauline Nestor in Writing is My Drink

I spoke for over two hours on the phone yesterday with my dearest friend from Boston–Joanne Susi.  I first got to know Joanne in a life coaching class I was taking several years ago.  Thankfully for me, Joanne was the instructor that facilitated our learning every week.  I’ve often said, watching Joanne lead our life coaching training was similar to watching Michael Jordan sink a last second shot for an NBA title, or like watching Wayne Gretzky slice through the entire opposing team to make a miraculous wrist shot through the goalie’s legs. Basically, watching Joanne use her gifts and talents gave one the feeling they were witnessing greatness.  I told her all this in one of our classes and in front of all her students, the ever-so-talkative confident Italian lady was stopped dead in her tracks.  She was speechless.  There was an eerie silence amongst the class so I took that as my cue to continue.  I asked her–no I basically begged her–to please continue to share her gifts and talents with the world because if she’s off doing some menial task then she’s not doing what she does best.  This planet needs the Joanne Susi’s of the world to spread their gifts and talents as far and wide as possible.  I told her if there’s a task she doesn’t particularly like to do that’s draining, pay someone else to do it for her.  I also told her we needed her to do as much of what she does best as often as possible.

After a couple sniffles and a short pause, Joanne said, “Thank you, Travis” and we’ve been fast friends ever since.

Being great friends with a phenomenal life coach has many advantages.  The first and most obvious advantage is the wisdom and clarity she brings to our conversations.  She flawlessly switches hats from friend to coach and back to friend without ever blinking an eye.  The next thing I admire about our friendship is her unwavering love and support for me.  There is nothing in the world I could say to her that would cause her to love me any less.  When you receive that kind of love–without any conditions or strings attached–you really feel like you can make it through anything.

Another thing I love about our friendship is we have a continual ebb and flow of helping one another.  She helps me and I help her.  We are both here to serve the other any way possible.  For instance, Joanne had a vision of writing a book but she felt lost trying to gain any traction on it.  I asked her to please send me what she wrote so far to which she agreed to do.  She emailed me about eight to ten different documents that each had a good deal of writing on them.  My first thought was to compile all these documents into one so we would be working on what appeared to be a whole book.  I then started the process of proofreading and editing the entire book for her.  There were days when I called her and told her she needed to expand on what she wrote.  I pleaded with her to dig deeper and share more of who she was with the reader in certain places.  She agreed and I’m happy to say her book is now on the market!

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After her book–BRAINSTORM: From STROKE To My TRUSTING Place–was published, Joanne told me she was done writing.  I said, “Really? I believe you have a lot of books still in you just waiting to be written.”  She replied with a thank you but graciously said she had no desire to write any more.  I didn’t push but I simply left the possibility open with a gentle, “Okay, we’ll see.”

I say all this about Joanne because she said something to me yesterday that is very important.  We talked about my blog, about me writing a book, and about my own trusting place.  She mentioned how writing truly is my trusting place where I recharge my batteries and where I have communion with God.  Whenever there is anything going on in my life, I can turn to writing–my trusting place–in order to find comfort and solace.  No matter what I may be facing, as long as I have my fountain pen and journal in tow, I’m certain to find relief.

Something else I have learned along the way is what happens when I neglect my trusting place for too long.  If I let a week or God-forbid two weeks go by without wrestling with some idea through my pen or the keyboard, then I turn into a complete ass.  I get grumpy, impatient, bitter, and fatalistic.  I lose sight of who I am and why I’m here.  I forget about my intention for writing in the first place.  My intention (in every aspect of my writing) is to help people be more comfortable with their humanness.  If I’m having a difficult day or being a touch on the insensitive side, my wife has a wonderful way of asking me if I’ve written anything lately.  I then begrudgingly tell her no and then sheepishly sneak off to my trusting place the first chance I get.

I say all this because I never really understood the concept of my trusting place until Joanne and I talked about it.  And there’s no doubt in the world that writing is my trusting place.  Writing is where I meet with Divine.  Writing is where I come face to face with life and what it means to be human.  Writing is where I make sense of our existence and why we are here.  Writing gives me energy, it creates a spark and changes my outlook on life in ways I can barely begin to describe.

I created MysteriousFlow.com back in 2012 as a place to share some of my trusting place with others.  I only post a small percent of my writing here.  If I posted all my thoughts that gets wrestled with in my journals and on the computer you might consider me a lunatic or schizoid (not that you don’t already).

I’m wondering, what or where is your trusting place?  Have you considered the idea that you have a trusting place where you go to recharge and breathe new life into yourself?  Where do you go to speak to Divine, to find your Muse, or to discover your Authentic Self?

My dearest friend, Joanne, had a stroke before she was able to find her trusting place.  Now she lives in her trusting place every day.  Her biggest desire is to help people find their trusting place without having to experience a stroke like she did.

Give it some thought and consider where or what your trusting place may be.  Is it painting? Drawing? Running? Cutting wood? Riding your motorcycle or other piece of equipment? Working out? Time spent in a busy coffee shop? A long walk around the block? A sunset in a pristine location? Traveling someplace new? A night with friends and wine? A moving church service? Yoga? Mowing the lawn? Sailing? Writing? Riding a horse? Golfing? Meditation? Fishing or hunting? Music?

Your trusting place could be one or several things that rejuvenates your soul and invigorates your spirit.  Even when life gets stressful and your job is taking you through the ringer, your trusting place is always right there to lift you up anytime you need it. My trusting place is a concept that has taken me years to fully grasp but now that I understand it, I hope you can see its importance as well.

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Family issues, relationship drama, disrespectful teenagers, stressful jobs, or annoying bullies all melt away when you’re in your trusting place.  Opposite the old slogan, “Calgon, take me away,” your trusting place is not an escape from your life, but rather a call to life.  Your trusting place is where you make sense of it all and find meaning and create purpose.  If you’re looking for an escape there’s always computer solitaire, television, booze, or tabloids.

So what’s your trusting place?  Do you have one?  If not, pay attention over the next few weeks and I’m certain it will reveal itself.  Oh, and if you don’t have someone amazing like Joanne in your life, I would highly recommend that too!!

Peace my friends!

~Travis

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

Guilt Sucks!!

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OK, so here’s what is going on with me: I’m wandering around the house feeling guilty for not doing several things at once. I feel as though I need to exercise, I feel as though I need to be writing, I feel as though I need to go buy some clothes for Hawaii, I feel as though I should go get a haircut, I feel as though I need to call my friend from Boston, and I feel as though I need to be cleaning the house. This overwhelming feeling leaves me paralyzed. While I struggle to decide which important thing I should be doing, I end up doing nothing. In order to work through this guilty feeling, I have decided to at least write about it so I’m doing one of the things I said I feel guilty about not doing.

It’s crazy; I sit and watch the clock tick away and I’m guiltier by the minute. I read for a little bit this morning, then made breakfast and sat down for a half-hour show and all of a sudden it’s after 10:00. Next thing I know, I’ll be off to get my son from school at 4:30 and I haven’t completed anything I planned on doing all day. That is not how the day has to go though. I can do things differently. I can write for a while, and then take the puppy for a walk, then clean for a while, then get my son from school. It all can be done with the time I have. As long as I stay out of my head long enough to not get sucked into some vortex of self-pity, I can do what I need to do today with my time.

Interestingly, I find myself yearning constantly about being a successful author who writes life-changing material for people to read. I dream about having long blocks of time to be able to pour my heart out on blank page after blank page. If only I didn’t have my day job I could become rich and famous for putting all these funny and quirky ideas that have been clanking around in my head like marbles in a pump into a readable format for the masses. Instead, I’m a poor helpless victim because I can’t spend the time writing that I wish I could. If only life were fair, I would be able to write every day in my boxers while sipping on coffee in the morning and red wine in the evening. While I’m at it; if life were fair I would be able to eat anything my poor little heart desired without having to deal with the emotional baggage that is making me overindulge in the first place. I should just be able to crinkle my nose like I Dream of Genie and all my issues would be solved. Right?

Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair and life does require something of me. I have to actually show up. I’m not going to randomly get a call from John Grisham’s agent one day and hear: “Yes, hi Travis, this is Agent Jim Doe, I understand you want to be a writer? I can’t wait to read everything you have been writing. You have been writing haven’t you?” That phone call is never going to happen unless I actually have been writing and writing enough to have something to offer the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been writing. But if my goal is to be a world-renowned author will I ever get to that point by only writing a paragraph or two every day? Sure, over the course of thirty years I might actually have enough to piece together a decent book, but if I want to enjoy the rewards of a fruitful writing career I have to go at it a little fiercer than a couple of paragraphs per day.

Given the struggle I have with my guilty feelings I mentioned earlier, I won’t become a successful author if I won’t sit down to write on the days I have extra time to sit down to write. Those are the days I can fill page after page until my ears are going to pop since the ideas are flowing fast. But truth be told, if I am dedicated to becoming an author, I need to write every spare moment I can get. I need to give writing so much focus that I can’t think about anything else when I’m awake except writing. If I’m not writing, when will I be able to write next? When I’m falling asleep, what do I plan on writing about when I wake up? Every spare moment I can steal away for the process of writing needs to be utilized in order to become the next great American author.

I may never become the next great American author for many reasons that will never be fully understood. Some authors don’t have the privilege of seeing their ideas supported during their lifetime while other authors experience waves of success that may seem undeserving in comparison. Nonetheless, whether success comes during my lifetime, after I’m dead, or not at all I must sit down and put my ideas on paper.

One of my favorite authors is Eric Hoffer because he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco by day but wrote nearly a dozen small books throughout his lifetime. He wrote a book that became a bestseller called The True Believer: thoughts on the nature of mass movements. His book was written in 1951 and attempted to answer how people could willingly give themselves to mass movements whether they were meant for good or evil. After Hitler and the Holocaust several people in the world started asking themselves questions about how we could treat one another so despicably. Hoffer did his best to describe individuals who gave themselves completely to mass movements. He says, “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves. The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

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I picked Eric Hoffer as an example because he worked full-time while he wrote his ideas. His sole income didn’t come from his writing and truth be told he probably didn’t make very much money from the books he did publish. Interestingly, though, this full-time longshoreman, part-time author, died in 1983 but his ideas live on many decades beyond him. When I think about being an author who may or may not sustain a respectable income from my ideas, I succumb to the fact that the income I receive is not my main concern. Sure, being rewarded for slapping the keyboard day after day seems like a fair and novel idea but the reward is in the life that was changed that I may never even know about. Decades, even centuries, could pass and the idea that I was brave enough to put down on paper could make a difference in someone’s life and could change the world for the better one person at a time. I may or I may not change the world, but if I don’t at least try I will never know.

Now that I have settled the writing part of my day and one of my reasons for guilt, I can move on to taking the puppy for a walk. Life is good.

Dream

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I have devoted myself to an idea. The readers of this blog are already over the hundreds, within a short time, my idea is this blog will be read not by hundreds, but thousands. I figured something out through trial and error. I figured out that in order to be a writer–one must actually write. haha Yes, I know, profound idea!!

I came across this quote somewhere online and saved it to my phone a week or two ago. It struck me as interesting when I read it but I don’t think I realized just how moving it was until today. I love when Mysterious Flow works behind the scenes when your conscience is totally unaware Flow has snuck in.

A couple weeks ago I devoted myself to an idea to simply write more. The next step was to make it happen, which I have. Sitting down to write is almost as natural as breathing especially when you’re in the flow. Not knowing what will come out of me when I sit down to a keyboard is half the fun of sitting down to write. The process of creating is in itself a very natural human experience. In The Tao of Writing, Ralph L. Wahlstrom said it best, “Creation is both the act and the celebration of this magic, the fleeting mystery that is to be alive. Creation is what we do while we’re alive, to be alive. Creation is what we do until we die.”

Next is to struggle on it. I have had my fair share of time struggling on it. No doubt the ugly process of struggling on it has been happening for a very long time. Sometimes when dealing with our dreams the struggling happens more internally instead of any external forces. Yes, some dreams are restricted by other people standing in our way. For example, having the dream to win the Daytona 500 doesn’t happen just because you make the race. You would still have 42 other drivers with the exact same dream going against you.

But for most of us, our dreams are more personal and require us to face the next line head on: Overcome Your Fears. More times than not, when we are obstructed from our dreams the largest obstruction is our own fears. I know I have written about this long ago but I was reminded to look it up again here. In the WAR of ART, Steven Pressfield puts it better than I could, “Are you paralyzed by fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. So, if your paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.”

I love the last sentence of the picture because it is so me. Smile. Don’t forget this is your dream. Anybody that has been around me at all knows I’m a smiler. I can’t help it. It’s in my DNA to smile (unless its first thing in the morning). 🙂 In other words, smile, take it easy, have fun with this, this is your dream so it should be fun. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish our dreams that we lose sight of the fun we set out to have.

So here’s where we are. I’m ready to smile big and dream big. My intention is to reach over a thousand subscribers to my blog. I’m not setting a timetable to it. I’m simply going to keep writing and keep smiling and let the mysterious flow take care of the rest. If you would like to be a part of the flow, I would be honored to have you along for the journey.

What is the idea you are devoting yourself to? Are you in the process of making it happen, struggling on it, overcoming your fears? If not, are you stuck? Or simply sick of dreaming because you have been let down too much in life? This is your shot! Life is what you make of it. So Smile! Don’t you forget: this is your dream! 😉

~Travis