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

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


I’ve Struggled with Relationships Lately

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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

 

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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

Almost Daily

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I need to remind myself–almost daily–that just because someone looks different, thinks different, believes different, talks different, votes different, or behaves in a manner I’m uncomfortable with; that in no way makes them wrong, bad, or less-than. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that I have confirmation bias. I seek out information that agrees with my position and proves my way is RIGHT! This bias makes me dogmatic and judgmental. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–to remain present, aware, focused, and in the Now. I beg my mind to be with me in the moment. If I’m in the dentist chair and my mind is having an imaginary conversation with someone I disagree with, then I’m not present. I’ve left the Now. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that no situation is bad, wrong, or impossible to handle. My reaction to the events I find myself in are the best indicator of my own mental health. I cannot control what does or does not happen in life, but I can control my response. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–that I am not my conditioning. I am not my culture. I am not my religious upbringing. I am the outpouring of the Divine and a brief reflection of eternity. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily–not to be attached to any outcome. By staying open, I allow life to flow freely around me and through me. I am continually in awe and full of gratitude for my experiences in this mysterious flow called life. 

I need to remind myself–almost daily. 

~Travis

Eleven Facts About People

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I recently listened to Your Brain on Love by Dr. Stan Tatkin. He gave these eleven facts about people:

 

 

  • There’s nothing more difficult on the planet than another person.

 

  • All people are, by nature, annoying.

 

  • There is no such thing as a low-maintenance person.

 

  • Romantic relationships—or primary attachment relationships—are burdensome.

 

  • In love relationships, nobody comes pre-trained. As a result, partners need to train each other.

 

  • The need to be parented never really ends.

 

  • Romantic partners are responsible for each other’s pasts.

 

  • Most of the time we don’t really know what we are doing, or why.

 

  • What we don’t know, we make up.

 

  • Our brains are built more for war than for love.

 

  • In order to succeed and fully thrive in the world, we need to be tethered to at least one other person.

 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Tatkin’s facts about people?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

 

Thoughts and Questions About Suicide and Depression: Part 2

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In case you missed Part 1, here it is. 

My response to my friend:

I have finally gotten some time to reply to your last reply. Instead of trying to make excuses about how busy I have been, I’ll spare you the sob story and just dive right into responding.

First, I am so sorry you have to deal with all this. I wish I could take this pain and struggle away from you so you can enjoy your life. I am thankful, though, that you were willing to reach out to me. I feel honored, really, that you chose me to talk to and I sincerely hope our talking makes a difference.

I don’t know how many yet, but I have a few favors to ask of you throughout this process. By favors, I’m mainly going to be asking you to shift your thought patterns ever-so-slightly to see if it makes any difference. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with you—I love you right where you’re at and just the way you are—I’m simply going to offer a different perspective perhaps. By the way, if I make some assumptions about your thought processes and I’m wrong, I apologize. Just disregard what doesn’t suit you and try to use what does.

My first favor to ask of you is this: would it be possible to shift your thinking from judgment to curiosity? My assumption is you have a constant recording playing in your mind on repeat that is full of judgment. Over and over again you’re telling yourself you’re unworthy, not good enough, a failure, etc. This continuous judgment goes on day after day and it comes in many voices (some you may recognize and some you may not).

The reason why this is my number one favor I’m asking of you is because I believe curiosity was the biggest thing that helped me. I’ll explain how: I decided to go on a journey to figure myself out. I obviously had been telling myself a story about my experience up to that point. I carried around so much judgment of myself, of family and friends, of everything really. It wasn’t until I truly was curious that I slowly sensed some relief.

I’ve heard it said we can only connect the dots of our lives by looking backwards. In order to do this, we have to give ourselves permission to be curious and then stubbornly give ourselves self-love throughout the process. I believe that going on a journey of the heart that is full of curiosity and free from judgment takes boatloads of courage. It’s a journey that requires vulnerability because we may have memories we would rather leave in the past.
Here’s a good question to ask yourself often about your thinking: Am I being curious or am I being judgmental?

Just the initial question, “I wonder what that’s about,” instantly shifts your perspective from judgment to curiosity.  Think of it this way; your son throws a temper tantrum and your gut instinct is judgment (“he shouldn’t be acting that way!”). But instead of judgment you try being curious (“I wonder what he’s going through right now? What could he be struggling with?”). Can you see how the two different perspectives make a huge difference? One way is sharp, cold, and dismissive while the other is warm and caring.

I use a child in the example because most times we are dealing with our own inner child. Even though we are all grown up and expected to act like adults, our inner child is the one driving the bus most days of our adult life. Offer your inner child the same amount of curiosity and warmth and I promise you she will start to offer you warmth and kindness back. As much as possible, turn down the volume of your judgment and turn up the volume of your curiosity.

I believe your statement in your short response about feeling very alone and completely irretrievably broken is a wonderful place to start being curious. I think it’s wonderful and beautiful that you’re willing to be open and honest about your story.  And, trust me; your story has so much hope and power behind it. I understand you have been working through real deep matters of shame, abandonment, heartbreak, blame, abuse, forgiveness, resentment, and many more I’m sure.

You may not feel strong, but the reality is you are amazing and strong. You have endured a past that most couldn’t comprehend and yet you’re still here, still trying, still putting one foot in front of the other. Is it easy? No! Is it perfect? No! Is it understandable that you’re struggling? Absolutely!

So please, my number one favor I’m asking of you is that you move away from judgment and move towards curiosity.

Along with being curious, and along the same lines of losing the judgment, I’m wondering if you could increase the dosage of empathy and compassion you give yourself every day. You have done the best you can! You have endured so much and have come so far. Offer yourself the same empathy and compassion you may give to a child who comes to you in need. You may struggle to see your own worth. Give yourself empathy and compassion. I know, I know, easier said than done. But can you see how it all starts with moving away from judgment?

You have done the first hard reality-check. You have taken account of your situation and it’s not a good place to be in. But here’s the thing, at least you can better orient yourself now that you know where you are. You have done the brave thing; you risked being vulnerable and told someone that life isn’t perfect and you’re sick of it. What a beautifully brave thing to do!
I’m not sure why, but there’s something written in our DNA that wants us to be happy and healthy. We are born perfect and whole and then our conditioning and upbringing causes us pain and heartache. We are constantly trying to get back to that place of perfection. You instinctively reached out to me because deep down you know things aren’t right. You also have a tiny glimmer of hope that things can get better. Trust this instinct you have. Stay curious about it. How did it get there? Where does it come from?

One last favor and I’ll leave you alone (for now). Can you please not give up? Can you trust me enough to believe me when I say you ARE worth it?!? I would be a complete fool to try and explain why life allowed the pain you experienced over the years. I don’t have the first clue why these things happen to some and not to others. But the main reason I don’t want you to give up is because I’m eager to understand why you have endured all you have. Only you can find a purpose and a meaning behind your pain. Only you can rewrite the story of your life from one of tragedy to a story of triumph. Only you can share your authentic story with others and create a better world for those who have endured similar heartache as you have. Only you can take away the judgment and shame you hear in your head every day and shift it to genuine curiosity and eventually loving acceptance. Only you can offer all these insights about yourself to me. I am intrigued and I am interested to hear what your curiosity discovers. So please don’t give up and know that even though you may feel alone at times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

I’m eager to hear back from you and I hope you have a great rest of your week!

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My friend’s response back to me:

I like what you wrote. I do believe questioning, trying to understand instead of just seeing the surface is MUCH more beneficial.

That being said, the truth is, I don’t blame or judge myself for where I am. And I have asked myself many questions, and it’s actually in finding the answers to those questions that I’ve gotten angry. I’m angry at my past, and I’m angry at the people who have damaged me.

And I ask myself, why did it have to happen to ME?

Why was I born to such a shitty mother?

And why did I have to get a shitty replacement mother?

I know I deserved so much better and there was nothing I did that made that happen. I care deeper, try harder, and understand more clearly than most people in this world, and yet here I am. There are millions and millions of people who have such a better quality life even though they don’t deserve it at all! Even some of the shittiest of the shitty have awesome lives.

I know it doesn’t help me at all to compare, but it’s VERY hard not to notice. And I know it’s because of the shitty people in my life that I struggle so much with depression. If I didn’t have to deal with this god awful depression, I would be so much further in my life. So it ends up making me angry.

But I also know my life could be so much worse. I know I could have been born in a third world country or in a country where women are treated as property, I know I could have been born with a truly severe handicap and so could have my children. And knowing that does help me a little bit…. I guess I’m just mainly frustrated at knowing how much potential I have and yet because of the depression, I haven’t even come close to reaching it. But also knowing I do have potential does give me hope for a better life once the depression subsides. I do have some hope. But it seems like every time I get close to a chance at reaching my potential, depression rears its ugly head once again and flings me back to where I was. It’s extremely frustrating!

I will say though, I am very thankful for my potential. I realize many people really don’t have much, and It’s knowing that I actually do that has kept me from giving up. I know the only thing that has stopped me so far is the depression and I remind myself of that often.
I also try to tell myself that every shitty thing I’ve been through helps me to understand and have compassion for others who struggle and it will eventually help me be stronger which will actually add to my potential.

I know I sound like I’m going back and forth between being angry and being understanding, but I guess that’s exactly what the depression is. It’s my damaged brain arguing with my inner self. I just somehow have to make sure that my inner self keeps winning the argument against my brain!

And then, a half hour later my friend replied again….

If you didn’t notice, the first half of what I wrote was written in anger. The second half was written in realizing that my life really isn’t that bad and it’s because I’m depressed that I think so negatively.

So thank you. Responding to you helped me see that. Actually seeing my thoughts written out helps me make sense of them more. 😀

As our conversation continues to unfold, I hope to add more. I’m so excited for the “aha moment” my friend had.

What a wonderful reminder for us all; by putting our thoughts on paper we can sort through them and make great strides in our self-discovery.

Give it a try!

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If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone! Reaching out can make all the difference.

Peace my Friends!

~Travis