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.  😉

 

Learning

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.

WHY I WRITE

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WHY I WRITE

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There are a lot of reasons why people write.  I can’t speak for anyone except myself so I won’t even begin to speculate on the many reasons why other people write.  Obviously, the very good writers write for a profit and they are handsomely rewarded for it. 

I write for two reasons: to connect with myself and to connect with others. 

Writing to connect with myself usually means I’m writing in my journal and I’m getting as many of my thoughts on paper as possible.  I gather my thoughts so I can use them as clay.  Once they’re on paper, I can rearrange them, mold them, or shape them to better define what I was trying to say.  Rarely (ok, NEVER) do I lay down a sentence and consider it brilliant the first time around.  That is why Anne Lamott so knowingly called these “shitty first drafts” in her book on writing, Bird by Bird.  She suggested that all great writing begins with shitty first drafts. 

I write most of my shitty first drafts in my journal for a few reasons.  First, I love the natural flow I get into when my fountain pen lays the ink across the paper.  There is something very organic and original that resonates with me when I use a fountain pen.  I also write in my journal because I don’t want my mind to edit everything I say before I can get all my thoughts down.  I’m too tempted to edit myself when I write on a computer; when I read my previous sentences I find myself editing before I can move on to the next thought, which is a major flow killer.  With the journal, whatever I lay out there is there, until I type it into the computer later and start the process of editing afterwards. 

The other reason I write is to connect with others.  There is no greater feeling in the world than to truly connect with another human being.  The joy and honor I feel when I hear my writing has touched someone is astounding.  Knowing I’ve made a difference, if only for a brief moment, makes all the difference in the world.  Let’s be honest, there’s enough negativity swirling around our globe so when I can brighten someone’s day or put a smile on someone’s face it makes my early morning alarms worth it. 

Chicken-Shit, Bull-Shit, & Elephant-Shit

Fritz Perls (1893-1970) was a flamboyant psychologist who perfected a popular form of therapy called Gestalt Therapy.  His honesty about the present moment and his matter-of-fact attitude earned him quite a reputation among his peers and clients.  When people talk about present moment and share their experience honestly, Perls considered this genuine communication.  This style of communication is very rare, however, and even trained professionals struggle to stay in the present moment all the time.  In contrast, he came up with three types of shit that people use when they talk to people: chicken-shit, bull-shit, and elephant-shit. 

The easiest way people avoid any kind of emotional contact is by talking about chicken-shit.  Chicken-shit is the small talk about the weather, sports, or any other cliched conversation.  Talking about chicken-shit serves a rather important purpose for me since it keeps me safe.  I don’t have to risk being vulnerable when talking about chicken-shit. 

Another way to avoid emotional contact is by talking about bull-shit.  Bull-shit is the intentional lies I tell for three reasons: I lie to hide the truth and wrong-doing, I lie to protect myself or someone else, and I lie to gain something (like prestige, power, money, sex, etc).  Talking about bull-shit also keeps me safe since I don’t have to be vulnerable while talking about bull-shit. 

I’ve heard two explanations for elephant-shit and I like them both.  First, elephant-shit is when I talk about everyone else’s chicken-shit and bull-shit.  Elephant-shit is when I get together with my friends or family and talk about other people’s drama.  Or, more popularly known as gossip.  As long as you and I have our neighbor’s chicken-shit and bull-shit to talk about, we never have to be real with one another and talk about what is truly happening between us.  The second explanation I heard for elephant-shit refers to the grandiose plans I come up with so I never have to face reality or take responsibility.  In other words, I talk about what I’ll do once I win the lottery but I won’t even buy a ticket.  Either explanation works for me since they both give another example of how we avoid true connection. 

Since I heard this explanation of chicken-shit, bull-shit, and elephant-shit, I can’t help but say this internally when I’m talking to someone and listening to their words.  I really do long to make genuine connections with those around me but our society seems programmed to avoid these connections.  I totally understand life cannot be lived bluntly telling everyone exactly what we think of them in every moment.  That’s probably not the easiest way to win friends and influence people.  However, I do believe that life presents plenty of opportunities for genuine connection but it takes hard work to steer clear from the chicken-shit, bull-shit, and elephant-shit. 

Why I Write

Back to why I write: I write to avoid the everyday, unimportant chicken-shit, bull-shit, and elephant-shit.  I write to promote genuine connections among myself and others I come in contact with.  I write with the hope of starting a conversation between people who have talked with chicken-shit, bull-shit, and elephant-shit their entire lives.  I write with honesty and integrity longing for just one person to say I made them think differently.  I write from a loving disposition because we are all learning as we go and none of us have all the answers.  I write the way I try to live my life; sometimes I put an explanation point where it doesn’t belong but I’m never ashamed to use a question mark. 

Many years ago I decided I would expand my mind by reading books.  I made up my mind to become a life-long learner and I’m thrilled I made that decision.  A large percentage of the books I read have to do with human relationships, memoirs, and different philosophical perspectives.  You could say I write now because after years of learning and living what I have learned, it’s time to share some of it with the world.  I write as a gift.  If I can make you smirk, smile, laugh, or cry, then I will consider my job successful.  My gift to you today is a smile.    🙂 

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Peace and Love!

~Travis

An Update on My Journey Back to Health: 160 (or so) Days In

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Approximately 165 days ago I watched the documentary Hungry for Change.  A coworker told me all about it so I went home that night and found it on Netflix.  It took me a few days, but after the message of Hungry for Change sank in, I decided to start using the My Fitness Pal app and embark on a journey of health.  I chose the My Fitness Pal app because being a guy that dieted on and off most my adult life, the last thing I needed was more unused products collecting dust around the house.  I weighed in at the beginning of September, 2013 and as of today I’m happy to say I’ve lost 41 pounds.  Using the My Fitness Pal app has been my saving grace from a life of yo-yo dieting.

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Unfortunately, 20 days into using the app I missed a day.  So, instead of having a 160+ day streak, today is my 140th straight day of logging what I eat.

Even though I didn’t lose any weight from Thanksgiving until after New Years, using the app made all the difference in the world for staying aware during a time when it’s easy to lose control.

I would say that’s the biggest difference the app makes: AWARENESS!  Even when I eat something high in calories, I’m aware of how many I take in every day.  There’s a button at the bottom of the food diary that says, “Complete Entry.”  When I click that button at the end of the day, there’s a message that comes up and says, “If every day were like today . . . You’d weigh XXX.X lbs in 5 weeks.”  This is the single-most eye-opening feature of the app because on the days I struggled, it helped me visualize why I gained weight in the first place.  Then on the days I stayed within my calorie count and got exercise in, seeing that number say what I could weigh in 5 weeks was an amazing motivator.

The biggest takeaway from Hungry for Change that has stayed with me since September is this:  this is not a diet!  My wife and I have done everything in our power to restrict processed foods and increase whole foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, eggs, and all-things-paleo.  We wouldn’t classify ourselves as Paleo/Primal “only” but we have crowded-out all the processed crap with as much healthy food as possible.  I am now aware of what foods make me feel good, what foods make me feel unaware and addicted, and what foods are nothing but wasted calories.  I am now aware the foods I ate before were really not “food,” they were food-like substitutes that were high-calorie, low-nutrient.  Now the food I put in my mouth is real food.  I eat high-nutrient, low-calorie foods as much as possible and I feel amazing as a result.  My greatest surprise has been discovering vegetables I now love that I didn’t even know existed before.

If you’re on the fence about changing your health, please watch Hungry for Change!  If you need a free way to track your calories and keep you accountable, the My Fitness Pal app is truly a lifesaver!  If you decide to try the app and want some encouragement along the way, we can be friends on the app and communicate through the app.  If there’s any other way I can be of assistance, please let me know.  Here’s to another 140-day-streak of health!!

Peace!

Travis