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

 

 

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.

What Women Want: An Introduction

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Life is mysterious.  Life can be frustrating.  Life most definitely gets messy.  And when I started out with honest intentions to ask What Women Want from their partner, I was a little overwhelmed by the wonderful feedback I received.  The last thing I wanted to do was rush together a list, publish it, and call it good.  Women are more mysterious and deserve more effort than narrowing them down to a simple list (which, I must confess, I do have a list thanks to your helpful suggestions).

Just because I have a list to choose from doesn’t mean I have to spew it back to you in bullet point fashion.  As I read through all the great responses I received from my initial question about What Women Want from their partner, the patterns didn’t hit me at first until I decided to take a pencil and put a star by the ones I felt were bare-bones necessities just to keep a relationship going.  Then, I drew a little triangle next to the responses that I thought were extra bonuses (or above and beyond bare-bones).  Next, there were many responses that had to do with teamwork so I scribbled a T next to them.  And, finally, the last group of responses were the added spices, or the whip-cream-and-cherry-on-top suggestions that you gave me.

I wracked my brain for a couple weeks trying to decide whether these four areas were pillars, layers, components, or all-encompassing and I finally decided they do build on each other.  So I came up with a pyramid that starts with the most important aspects of What Women Want from their partners as a base and then moves up through the aspects that are still important, but not as crucial as the first one.

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I feel as though I should state the obvious here.  I am by no means an expert on What Women Want.  Just ask my wife or any woman I dated in years past (actually, it’s probably best you don’t ask them about me). 😉  I have tried and failed miserably over the years and even now I struggle to grasp the larger mysteries of What Women Want. I attempt to be the best possible partner for my wife but even after all your helpful suggestions I still fail on occasion.  Some days it feels as though I’m chasing after the horizon.  Even though I chase after it, no matter how close it feels I may never get there.  But I try anyway.  Sometimes trying is half the battle.

I appreciate how Erich Fromm (1956) described this issue of love in The Art of Loving:

There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.  If this were the case with any other activity, people would be eager to know the reasons for the failure, and to learn how one could do better–or they would give up the activity.

Since I haven’t given up on love just yet, I have decided to be eager about some of my reasons for failure.  Thus, the deep interest in love and relationships.

Just so you understand where I’m going with this, I will give you a few examples of how I categorized your responses and narrowed them down.  In future posts, I will share in greater detail each aspect of the pyramid and give some insight for each one. As a teaser, here’s what I’m working on:

SHOW HER SHE’S #1

  • Be Honest with her
  • Be Faithful to her
  • Show her Respect
  • Show her Honor
  • Be Appreciative of her
  • Good communication (listening and sharing)

GIVE HER AFFECTION

  • Hold her hand
  • Kiss her
  • Tell her you love her
  • Small gestures
  • Smile from across the room
  • Show her passion

INVITE HER INTO TEAMWORK

  • Work together
  • Help her with the kids
  • Encourage her
  • Be Patient with her
  • Help her with daily chores
  • Thank her for every meal

OFFER HER THE ADDED SPICES (OR THE WHIP-CREAM-WITH-CHERRY-ON-TOP)

  • Be Spontaneous
  • Humor her, make her laugh
  • Have Strong Faith
  • Find new ways to woo her
  • Surprise her in and out of the bedroom
  • Please her sexually
  • Take her on vacation
  • Be adventurous

As you can see, I have a lot of information to unpack.  There’s enough here to fill a book, let alone try and write a simple blog out of it.  That is why I decided to break it up into installments.

I understand that all women are different and some things might be more important to you than they are to others so I’m not trying to minimize what might be important to you personally.  You might find the area you are lacking the most in your relationship is the area you would say is the most important.

For instance, you might have a partner that is great with the spices; he pleases you in the bedroom, makes you laugh, and keeps things adventurous. But he fails miserably with all other aspects of the pyramid.  He’s called a friend-with-benefits, not a genuine partner.

Your partner may do a great job of showing you you’re #1 (faithful, honest, respect, appreciates you, etc), but the spices are GONE and the affection is hanging on by a string.  This relationship is in jeopardy just as much as the relationship with the unfaithful partner.

Or, you and your partner may make a great team.  You take turns with the chores, you help one another with the kids, and you share the financial burden as equally as possible.  He may not show you affection like you wish and the spices might be stale but he’s a good man.  Some days you feel more like a roommate than a romantic partner.

As you can see, simply saying SHOW HER SHE’S #1 is the most important aspect of What Women Want is very misleading.  It isn’t the most important aspect but it is the base on which the rest of the aspects build on.

A quick note to the men that stumbled in here: Guys, if we don’t show our women they are #1, give them affection, invite them into teamwork, and offer them extra spices; we are headed for a world of heartache.  Life is mysterious, women are mysterious.  Life can be frustrating, women can be frustrating.  Life most definitely gets messy . . . you get the idea.  I can tell you this, guys, its easy to sit on a pedestal and keep our macho-man ego out of harms way, but there’s a lot we can learn from our partners if we let them influence us.

I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to scratch the surface of What Women Want.  Be sure to follow this blog so you don’t miss future installments.

I’d like to close with a direct quote from a wonderful lady who added a fresh perspective to this issue for me:

I think all women want to know they are the most important person to their partner… all women want to feel loved and cherished and important. When we don’t receive tenderness, touching, those little looks and genuine interest in conversation, we feel like we aren’t appreciated and loved.

I would love to hear your feedback.  I much prefer this (and future posts) to be a conversation about what we are learning from one another instead of me simply stating What Women Want.  So please, share your thoughts.  Share this post and invite others to give their feedback.

Peace and Love!!

~Travis

The Flow

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When we moved to our current property we fell in love with the surroundings. There were 9 acres complete with the standard old farmhouse with three out-buildings behind it. The old farmhouse was nothing to be proud of but anybody that stopped by always commented on the beauty of the property. The Portage River flows on the east side of our property then bends and outlines the entire south side as well. The entire west side of the property has a creek flowing into the river.

During the first spring of living at the new property there was flooding throughout Michigan unlike anything the state had seen in decades. Our river swelled up over its banks and flowed over the entire southeast corner of our property. Our new neighbors said they lived next door for 22 years and have never seen the river that high.

On a bright sun-filled day, I decided to get my waders out of storage and introduce myself to the river. The water flowing over the yard was up to my shins and was flowing pretty fast but not enough to disrupt my walking. Even when I stepped off the bank into the actual river there wasn’t a strong enough flow to slow me down. As I slowly progressed into deeper waters the current became stronger and stronger. What was usually a fairly shallow and smooth river had grown into a powerful force. Before I could get all the way to the center of the river I had to stop or the water would have filled my chest-high waders and carried me away. Holding myself up against the current without being swept away was more of a strenuous endeavor than I would have guessed. Pushing myself against the flow was unnatural and consumed large amounts of energy.

I mention this story to share what seems to be an obvious point. Going against the flow is unnatural and consumes large amounts of our energy. Going with the flow is simple. Time stands still when you are in the flow. I think of sports stars like Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, or Muhammad Ali being in the flow while they’re making their sport look effortless. I think of Stephen King or Nicholas Sparks writing a novel while in the flow. I think of a few of my favorite Scientists like Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Steve Jobs piecing together there theories while in the flow. All great discoveries and products in our society today are a direct result of someone being in the flow. Which begs the question: If its so obvious that living in the flow and going with the flow is so natural then why do we resist it?

I was fortunate enough to make a discovery this morning while being in the flow with my dear friend, Joanne! I discovered the biggest thing keeping me out of the flow was fear. I knew fear was an obstacle of mine in many areas but for whatever reason I never connected the dots that fear was keeping me out of the flow. No wonder the last two years seemed like such a struggle. No wonder I’ve been beating my head against a wall trying to be somebody I’m not.

Where do you find yourself today? Pushing against the flow and spending tons of energy trying to swim upstream? Going against your own Mysterious Flow will always lead to stress, anxiety, and failure. Sure, you might get a promotion or make some monetary gains but at what cost to your own well-being and the loved ones around you?

There’s one last piece of the story I need to share about the river; later that week when we canoed downstream, the higher waters helped us avoid most of the obstacles that would have normally been in our way. The flow was greater and stronger, and yet the obstacles were less frequent. Instead of fretting because the river in your life has flooded and is roaring over the riverbanks, take comfort in knowing the flow is moving stronger and faster to assist you to get to where you’re going. Open yourself up to the possibilities of your Mysterious Flow!

~Travis J.

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