Life is Heavy. Life is Sheer Joy.

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“Friends eventually forgive and come back together because people need people more than they need pride.”  Hugh Prather said that and I believe it to be true.

I have realized this in my own life.  I have allowed my pride to keep me from people who were very important to me.  Eventually, I realized my pride (ego) needed to sit in the back seat and my heart needed to take the wheel.

Relationships are messy business.  Sometimes we make mistakes.  Sometimes our friends or loved ones make mistakes.  Sometimes we get wrapped up in the choices and business of our friends and loved ones.  We think we know for certain all the ways they’re doing it all wrong.

Assuming I know what’s best for someone else means I am out of my own business.  And, trust me, keeping my nose squarely in my own business is a full time job.  Interestingly, it always seems easier to focus on other people’s shortcomings than it is to deal with my own shit.  I feel so much smarter when I know exactly the way someone else should live their life.  If I simply focus on my own life, though, I remember that decision making and this-thing-called-life aren’t near as easy when approached genuinely and honestly.  Focusing on my own life means I stay out of your business and stay in my own business.  I trust that you are an expert on you and I stay unattached to the outcome of your life.

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I talk to various people almost daily about the burdens they carry with them.  I have days when I assume I know what’s best for them.  Those are the days my pride sneaks into the driver’s seat when I’m not looking.  When I get my ego out of the soup and put my pride back in check, that’s when I am the most use for my friends and loved ones.

How can I possibly help someone if I already assume I know what’s best for them?

Putting myself in another’s business means I’m out of my own business; and the results certainly won’t be pretty.

I have people close to me who are dealing with some real heavy stuff!  Some of you know a few of the stories I know and you’re aware of just how heavy they are.  I have heard many other stories of heavy stuff that most would never fathom.  People carry burdens that are deeper, darker, heavier, and uglier than we could imagine.

What good does it possibly do to pass judgment on someone else?

It would seem easy to get down on the world with so much pain and heartache around every corner.  Trust me; I get it.  I understand why people get depressed, use drugs, become alcoholics, or escape to their favorite vice.  It’s so much easier to cheer on your favorite team or yell at the politicians on TV that need to get a clue.  Running away from the pain and resigning to the heaviness of life is completely understandable.

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We are all afforded this one opportunity to make the best life possible.  Why do we let our pride get in the way of having a great life?  Why do we allow people to continue to hurt us time and time again without putting a stop to it?

What would it take for you to believe you are completely worthy of the best life possible?

Even though life can be difficult and ugly, it can be simply amazing and beautiful at the same time.  When we can strip away all the negativity and stress of our day-to-day lives, we are able to see the absolute gift that is our lives.

Last week my beautiful niece, Lyla, was brought into the world.  There is NOTHING more precious than the gift of life.  Sometimes it takes looking into the face of an innocent newborn to remind our adult brains that life is nothing short of a miracle and a gift.  When we start to view our life as a miracle, it’s amazing how fast our judgments and problems disappear.

People need people more than they need pride.  I agree!  Don’t you?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

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Baby Lyla with big brother Jackson   🙂

New Year, Same You

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There’s an interesting thing that happens the older you get.  It seems like time picks up speed with each passing year, and before you know it a year feels like a day and a decade feels like a month.  Time flies.  We all know this but it’s definitely more apparent the older you get.

We attempt to give certain days more significance than others as a society. New Year’s Eve is one of those days.  “Out with the old, in with the new,” we tell ourselves.  We believe we can leave our old self in the past the way a snake sheds its skin and moves on.

But something peculiar happens a few weeks into the new year; we look into the same old mirror and see the same familiar face that greeted us there last year.  The same ugly warts and the not-so-pretty habits snuck into the new year without our permission.  We so desperately wanted this new year to be different, but sadly it’s not.

What if there was another way to consider?

You are the same glorious you on January 1st as you were on December 31st.  Sure you may be feeling a little hungover or bloated, but nothing has changed about you specifically.  Your unique brilliance, your beauty, and your mysterious presence in the universe is a gift to all of us.

What if you considered this new year–that no matter what day it is–you’re perfect just the way you are?  How spectacular would your days be if each day started with large doses of self-love?

The secret to remember is whether you’re 17 or 70, time progresses at the same rate for all of us.  Except the older you get the more history your brain has to recall.  Right now, I have forty-two years of experiences to recall at any time; and yet the only reality I truly can hold on to is this very moment.  When I see the perfection of this present moment, I’m free to lay the burdens down I have carried around long enough.

Maybe that’s the beauty of the new year; it gives us an opportunity to let go.

Leaving the past where it belongs creates the perfect space for us to remember that Life can’t be won, it can only be played.  And in the process of playing at this beautiful Life, you will find that joy meets you in each moment.

The calendar is nothing but a man-made invention to help us organize our history.  A day, a week, a month, or a year can all be categorized and ordered to tell a story about our species.  But how do you categorize and order the mysterious flow of the eternal Now?

You are part of the greatest story ever told and you bring a uniqueness and perfection the world has never seen before.

May 2016 be the year you let go of the burdens that weigh you down and may it be the year when you fully grasp your greatness!

 

Peace my friends!

 

~Travis

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My Favorite Authors — Part 1

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Frankl

 

In his world-renowned book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl says: “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a Worthwhile Goal [caps and bold added for effect], a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

I believe what Frankl says is true for several reasons. First, I have witnessed the outcome of this in my own life. Whenever I find myself anxious or depressed due to some tension in my life, it’s most certainly a result of neglecting my Worthwhile Goal. I have experienced the “call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled” and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the direction my life is going. But once in a while—more often than I care to admit—I find myself forgetting my Worthwhile Goal. If I know this about myself, why let life’s tension and stress get me down?

Recently, my wife asked me if I knew what was my biggest deterrent to living out my Worthwhile Goal. Initially, I didn’t have a great answer for her but after pondering her question for a day or two I came back and told her “Drama.” Drama with her, with my children, with my ex, or with friends and family puts me into a place of forgetting my Worthwhile Goal.

In a poetic and innocent way, she simply stated, “Well, there’s always gonna be drama.”

Touche!

She was right, and Frankl is right as well. Taking away the tension or stress isn’t enough for my life to have meaning. The days when I wake up with a sense of purpose have nothing to do with tension, stress, or “drama” that might have spilled onto my lap. Whether I have to go “punch in” at a job that’s not very fulfilling, work through difficult family issues, or spend my entire day getting lab work done at the hospital; my days are always filled with meaning as long as I take one step closer to fulfilling my Worthwhile Goal.

Viktor E. Frankl might know a thing or two about what he’s saying here. If you don’t know, Frankl was plucked from his life and thrown into Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Finding meaning and purpose amongst such dire circumstances seems unfathomable. Frankl rightly quoted (and lived by) the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Don’t you find that true in your own life?

On the days when there’s no drama, no time clock, or no stressful appointments or obligations we should all be stress-free, right? Yet, are we? There is a sense of relief when stress is absent but there is also a nagging feeling beneath the surface if we’re not pursuing our Worthwhile Goal. Once again, the absence of tension or stress does not equal Meaning.

What about you? Are you struggling and striving for a Worthwhile Goal? If not, do you find yourself anxious or depressed at times? Have you considered that “a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled” by you could be the answer to your questions?

I believe many of us know our Worthwhile Goal but it gets lost along the way. Take a step today to get it back! One step forward is far better than standing still. Make that phone call, write that letter, inquire about opportunities you’ve been pondering.

Man’s search for meaning is unique to every person. I can’t tell you what your Worthwhile Goal should be any more than you can tell me mine. But I do believe we can speak truth into each other’s lives so I’m encouraging you to figure out for yourself what is worth striving and struggling for. You won’t regret it.

Drop me a line if you’re unsure and want to talk about your Worthwhile Goal. One of my goals is helping other people figure out theirs.

Feel free to comment as well.

Peace!

 

~Travis

What I’m Learning . . .

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I’m learning a lot about myself and life these days.

  • I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for what I need.
  • I’m learning that my dreams don’t magically come true without hard work.
  • I’m learning that my impatience or annoyance is more about my inner state of mind than it is about the one doing the annoying.
  • I’m learning that some people struggle being real and genuine and that’s okay.
  • I’m learning that I also struggle at times with being real and genuine and that’s okay too.
  • I’m learning that being vulnerable is risky but it’s also where the fertile soil is for personal growth and loving.
  • I’m learning that in regards to my diet and health, I’m either progressing or regressing: I’m rarely ever simply maintaining.
  • I’m learning that as a writer, writing doesn’t happen on its own.
  • I’m learning that the best of intentions are rarely ever good enough apart from taking action.
  • I’m learning that procrastinating rarely ever leads to greatness.
  • I’m learning the ability to follow through is more difficult than the rush of brainstorming.
  • I’m learning that time spent on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram does not necessarily count as online research.
  • I’m learning that my wife has the patience of Job most days and she truly fits the description of the better half.
  • I’m learning that sometimes the person in the most need of my love is me.
  • I’m learning that staying aware and present can be difficult when there are so many distractions.
  • I’m learning this world can provide me with awe and wonder every day if I slow down enough to look.
  • I’m learning that peace and contentment originate inside myself regardless of my environment.
  • I’m learning that my children teach me way more about life than I could possibly teach them.
  • I’m learning the answers to life’s questions usually come to me easier when I’m not so desperate to know them.
  • I’m learning that I’m never done learning as long as I’m alive and I’m totally cool with that!

I’m curious what you’re learning lately? Will you take a minute to comment and share?

 

Peace,

~Travis

PS. I’m learning that life is more enjoyable when I don’t take myself quite so serious.  😉

 

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What Women Want: A Side Note.

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Apparently this whole “What Women Want” thing has been on my mind for quite some time.  While going through some old files on the computer I came across this pic I took in 2007.

It reminded me I need to continue my series and expand on this topic.

I trust you are having a fantastic week!

~Travis

 

 

New Discoveries

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I just wanted to take a minute and say hello and share some awesome new discoveries I have made. My fascination with the Hungry for Change documentary has led me to Food Matters TV and I’m beyond excited to dig into the hundreds of documentaries that are available there.
Also, while getting on Facebook this morning to make sure I was spelling someone’s name right while writing a memory in my journal, I came across a post from one of my favorite authors, Dani Shapiro. She was promoting an interview with Jonathan Fields for his Good Life Project. Once I did a quick search for Jonathan Fields on YouTube, I was astounded to see hundreds of interviews that he has completed with brilliant people who all have life-changing stories.

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I am sharing this with you today to let you know if you are interested in growing and learning, these appear to be two wonderful places to start. There’s a whole big world of amazing discoveries out there for all of us once we take the time to look for them. Have a great weekend!!

Peace and Joy!

~Travis

PS. If you watch any of these Jonathan Fields YouTube videos or see any of the FMTV documentaries, I would love to hear your thoughts. Peace.

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.