Ten Things I Want To Remind My Children on Father’s Day 

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Ten Things I Want To Remind My Children on Father’s Day. 

10. You only get out of life what you put into it! The world is full of could’ves, should’ves, and would’ves who tell their sad stories of why they aren’t happy. Somewhere along the way they bought into the idea that life is magically supposed to work in their favor without ever putting in an honest effort. The world is also full of people who are wildly successful because they never gave up on themselves. Never forget you are your greatest asset! 
9. You’re the expert on you! You don’t need an authority or institution telling you how you should live. Not even your mother or me are the experts on you. We would be happy to give advice and suggestions, but ultimately, this is YOUR life. Speak your truth—even if your voice shakes. 
8. Always be curiously skeptical! Never accept anything at face value without your own litmus test. A word of caution here; don’t discount too quickly those with more experience and knowledge—just ask for proof via battle scars, degrees, or financial statements. Everyone has an opinion, but cherish those whose advice is battle-tested. Research all sides of an argument yourself. Well-meaning people can be very convincing and yet still be very wrong. Check it out yourself. 
7. Drastically limit your consumption of sugar! This one has been my nemesis for years. Our brains react the same way towards sugar as cocaine—the food companies know this and the government turns a blind eye since they are paid handsomely to do so. Ever wonder why you’re still craving more after you already ate? That’s sugar! Enjoy the dessert, just don’t let sugar control your life. 
6. You don’t need to desperately search for a partner to complete you—you’re already complete! While your friends are all love-struck and can’t live without their current fling, enjoy this time of your life when you don’t have to answer to anyone. Sure, if love knocks on your door, let them in for a cup of tea, but let them know early and often your standards are high, your patience for drama is thin, and your confidence doesn’t depend on whether they stay or go. 

5. Carve out time for the things that make your heart come alive! This took me some time to learn. I’m not me when I’m not learning, growing, and writing. If I allow even a week or two to transpire without learning, growing, or writing; I tend to throw colossal hissy fits. You may have witnessed this a time or two. Only YOU know what makes YOUR heart come alive; if you have doubts, try several different things until you do. 
4. Work your ass off at what you’re passionate about! This ties in with number 10. If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Of course, that’s if you have any stinking idea what you’re passionate about. If you’re like most teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings; heck, EVERYBODY, you may have to figure out what you’re passionate about by trying a bunch of different things until one thing gets most of your attention. I can tell you this; when you’re doing something and you lose all track of time and truly enjoy it, that’s something you’re passionate about. 
3. Never lose your sense of wonder! Lay out under the stars. Contemplate how and why you find yourself floating through the galaxy on a big rock. Where did you come from? Where are you going? What is the meaning behind all of it? You could literally astonish yourself every day if you ask yourself the right questions. There is a mysterious flow to life that cannot be put into words. 
2. When in doubt—CREATE!! No matter what it is, create. Write a song, make pottery, paint a landscape, write a novel, shoot a movie, learn an instrument, build a barn, construct a sculpture, piece together a mosaic. Nothing speaks on a soul-level more than creating. You never know how your creation will affect someone else. The random idea you decide to create could be exactly what someone needs to see. 
And the Number One thing I want to remind you is…… 
1. Being your dad has been the greatest joy and biggest honor of my life!! Simply put, I’m not me without you! Because of you two, I questioned everything I was ever taught, I dug deep into my psyche to discover my true self, I learned what it means to be selfless, I had the courage to take a journey of the heart, and I discovered what true love looks like. Sure, one could argue I may have eventually got there, but I certainly cannot imagine my life without either of you in it! I could not ask for two better humans to co-create with during this lifetime! 

I love you!! 

Dad

San Francisco and The Egg

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San Francisco!

While I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to experience a new place, I can’t help but offer up thankfulness for my own home. Around every corner of this city is someone who is clearly without a home. I am reminded on a daily basis of all I have to be thankful for!

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Life is full of ups and down—good days and bad. But when I look at my life collectively, I have been blessed more than one man truly deserves. And yet, I still believe more blessings are right around the corner. I still look forward to learning and growing every day. I am still mesmerized by the little things in life. I am still blown away by the unique people I call my friends and family. I am still awestruck when someone chooses to open their heart and share their delicate stories with me.

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I am well-aware that life is not perfect.

I am well-aware that I have shortcomings and responses that are not always politically correct.

I am well-aware that family and friends may look at aspects of my life and question my judgement or my motives.

I am well-aware that the life presented on social media is far from the real thoughts and emotions people feel when all their distractions are silenced.

I am well-aware it’s easy to look at another’s life and know exactly what is best for them—we’re all experts on everyone’s lives but our own.

I am well-aware of all our imperfections, and yet, I choose to believe we are all perfectly imperfect.

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All of this deep thought today reminds me of something Kelsi shared with me a couple weeks ago. It’s called The Egg by Andy Weir. It’s actually mind-blowing and will have you thinking for days too……

 

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

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Apparently there was an active shooter situation here in San Francisco earlier today. A guy walked into a UPS warehouse and opened fire. I struggle to understand what leads someone to believe violence is their only option. When does inflicting pain on another ever make the world a better place to live? Could this person have talked to a counselor and worked through whatever was bothering him? Life is so short already!!

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We all have to do whatever it takes to nurture our own mental health.

We have to find what sets our soul on fire otherwise we could lose our sanity in the process.

With so much beauty in the world, how could we waste even one minute focusing on the negativity?

Because what we focus on grows, I choose to focus on creating a life full of joy, love, happiness, laughter, abundance, growth, and positivity.

I am truly thankful for this life and each new day I am given to experience!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

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Dear Kelsi,

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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When I Truly SEE My Children 

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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


Gone,  But Not Forgotten… 

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I was listening to something–a book on Audible, a podcast, NPR–something. Then I heard the common phrase Gone, but not Forgotten

Then they turned it around and said Forgotten, but not Gone

I instantly shut the audio off and began reminiscing about wounds I’ve forgotten, but are never truly gone. Just because I’ve chosen to deny them, ignore them, bury them, or eat them away; doesn’t mean they are gone. 

Forgotten, sure. But not gone???

Forgotten by my brain in the present moment, maybe, but my body keeps the score. My childhood wounds can be pushed so deep that they only surface in my conscious mind when I least expect them. 

The five senses are a blessing and a curse all at the same time. Scents, sights, sounds, feelings, flavors, landscapes, dirt roads, freshly plowed fields, movies, songs, books…… 

Forgotten, but not Gone

I finished another class tonight on my way to a counseling degree. All the reading and learning I am engrossed in moves me deeply. I am humbled to be in a position to help others with their wounds. I am humbled to sit with another and delicately unpack those difficult memories  that have been strategically shoved to the depths of their consciousness. 

And yet, they bubble up, when we least expect. 

Our minds may have moved on. We may have been told to suck it up, get over it, forget about it, turn it over to God, let it go, or simply deny it ever happened. But guess what, it’s still there! 

Forgotten, but not Gone

My wounds are real, and they affect me still. I’m more gentle with myself than I used to be. I’m patient with that little boy still asking a million questions inside me. I assure him we’ll  figure this all out together, he’s not alone, and his questions and genuine curiosity are always cherished and always welcomed. 

Life has a funny way of helping us work through our difficulties. Just when you think you’ve outsmarted your wounds, they tap you on the shoulder when you least expect it and demand to be dealt with. It may be scary–and it may feel like it will split you in two–but I promise you there is freedom on the other side of your healing. 

Forgotten, but not Gone

Peace my Friends! 
~Travis

Greatness

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I’ve  had this sense that something wanted to come out of me for a while now. And, yet, there have been so many distractions lately. So when the Universe woke me up this morning out of a dead sleep at 4:10 and I instantly had the thought I should go write; I instantly jumped out of bed. I am not a jump-right-out-of-bed kind of guy, though. So I suspect something larger than myself is trying to be born.


I have been blown away recently by The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. His story is one example of extraordinary event after another happening to him. He surrounded his life with amazing people as a result of simply listening to the Universe and ignoring the voice inside his head. He started with simple meditation then realized the harmful affect the voice inside his head had on him. So, he became addicted to meditating and drowning out that voice as much as possible. Instead, he agreed to surrender to the natural flow of life and anything the Universe presented to him. Even though the voice inside his head may be screaming all kinds of objections, if life presented him with an opportunity, he surrendered and said yes. What an amazing way to live!



If we truly grasped our greatness and could wholly grasp that we are not in control, we would be so much further ahead. If only we could grasp that the same power that hangs each star and planet in its perfect place is residing inside us, too. This is the same greatness that poured out of Gandhi, Jesus, the Buddha, Mahammad Ali, and Lao Tzu. We can tap into this power of the universe any minute of any day. Yet we dismiss it because we don’t believe the greatness that other people have is in us too.


Some of us have had glimpses of this greatness but our lives are so busy that the still small voice gets drowned out by everything we assume is more important. When a voice inside Ali told him he was the greatest of all time, where did he get the audacity to believe it? That same power has tapped me on the shoulder and called me to write. Who am I to say no?



We assume our greatness is supposed to look a certain way, or sell a certain amount, or wind up in the hands of Oprah. But what if all our greatness is asking of us is to show up and surrender? What if greatness is less about power and control; and more about acceptance and surrender? What if greatness simply means being fully present in every moment? What if greatness is waking at 4:10 and listening to the deepest part of my being?


We have been conditioned to be distracted. The world will throw anything and everything our way to get us to take the bait. If the outside world can sidetrack us with enough stimuli, then our greatness will never come to fruition. Greatness comes as a faint whisper in the present moment that we can only hear when we’re not sidetracked by the world. The world throws everything but the kitchen sink at us to grab our attention; and just in case that’s not enough, we have what seems like a computer virus planted in our brain to wreak havoc from the inside as well.


You would think greatness would be all up in our face demanding we listen like a drill sergeant at boot camp. Instead, greatness is like that rare flower that blooms through the tiniest of cracks in the middle of a paved parking lot.


Greatness is not defiance or disobedience—yet it can be.


Greatness is not brute strength and force—yet it could be.


Greatness is not a demanding bully that barks orders at fretful followers. Greatness does not rule with fear. Instead, greatness is knowing deep in your bones that peace be still even while the storm is throwing your ship around like a ragdoll.


Greatness is shutting off the TV, turning off your phone, quieting your mind, and going inside yourself past the psyche that never shuts up.


Greatness is like water. It simply flows wherever it’s supposed to. Water can be calm and peaceful, or it can be violent and destructive. Water surrenders to whatever the moment is asking of it. Water is the perfect example of going with the flow.


What if we listened to the still small voice of our greatness? What if we dared to believe we were destined for more than just paying the bills?



We all have greatness in us. We all have the ability to change the world for the better. We all can tap into the same power that unceasingly burns at the core of the sun.


Greatness is surrender.


Surrender to life.


Listen.


Focus.


Be aware.


Quiet your mind.


Get to know the you that is the one who observes your life unfolding—the you that is behind your thoughts. The you at the core of your being.


Take away all the noise. Ignore every distraction. Disregard every temptation to get pulled into drama. Calm the monkey mind that jumps from topic to topic desperately trying to steal your attention.


Greatness is in you! Greatness is in me. It’s there for the taking but it’s a no-gimmicks, no-marketing, no-frills, no-bullshit, no-authority, no-religion, no-sales pitch or three-easy-steps kind of approach. Greatness is this moment. It’s only now! The power is there, greatness is there. It’s right behind the noise and distractions.


Greatness wakes you from a deep sleep at 4:10 and whispers “Come spend some time with me. Let’s see what we can create together.”


Greatness is consistently showing up moment after moment. Greatness is awareness. Greatness is paying attention. Greatness is surrendering to the mysterious flow of life—wherever that takes me. 


Peace my friends! 


~Travis

You Don’t Have to Try

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Last week, my daughter and I went to see Colbie Caillat perform at the Kalamazoo State Theatre. There were several touching moments throughout the evening Kelsi and I will never forget from my much-anticipated Father’s Day gift. With so many ego-filled performers to choose from, Colbie is a breath of fresh air whose mesmerizing voice is only outdone by her positive message.

The moment forever burned in my memory and heart was her performance of Try. With my beautiful daughter by my side, Colbie opened up about her very real struggles of being an awkward introvert and her terrifying stage fright. She slowly played the piano while introducing the song, and I felt the hair on my arms stand up. Leading into the song, she drove her point home that who you are is good enough. You don’t have to try.

And then she sang this song, Try . . . .

Why do we feel like we have to try so hard?

I agree with Colbie.

You don’t have to try!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

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