Sunday, March 29, 2015

You don't want to miss this!

I know this is ironic, you are about to read something online that certainly has disdain for the amount of time some individuals spend online, I get it. Having stated upfront the obvious I have a need to still say what I am about to say.  It may or may not apply, it may or may not be meaningful to you but I want to write this and I have a need to communicate if even if for my own sake and to remind myself of something that too often I can fall into the trap of.  What I am stating is this:  be mindful of spending so much time reading about the lives of other people that you neglect your own.  Put down the smart phones, lock the Ipad, close the laptop lid and look around you, perhaps even look into the eyes of the people who you love and who love you most dearly.  Lets face it many of us have set out to scroll facebook or instagram for a quick second only to find that 10 minutes later we are transfixed on the latest lip synch by an average Joe to some Bruno Mars hit single.  I know I know that’s quality entertainment but perhaps what you are missing most is the real thrill?  The playful eye contact from your spouse or the smile from that kid that is growing up way too fast, or maybe even the chance to engage in a conversation with a family member that could be a memory maker that you would cherish from now on.

I have worked with grieving individuals for almost 12 years.  I have learned so much from what I have heard from family members who are hurting; they long to see the ones they love who have died.  One thing I have never heard in 12 years is someone say: “Oh how I wish one more time my loved one could sit on the couch beside me while I stare endlessly into my phone and watch another funny cat video!” Nope not even once have I heard that, I know that is hard to believe but I haven’t heard it!  Instead almost every conversation is filled with “how I wish I could see their face again, hear their laugh, hear them speak my name and for me to tell them that I love them!”
So if when someone is gone and we spend so much time wishing we had more time with him or her, then maybe we should learn to enjoy the time we have?  I promise there is not one awesome pic of your friend’s new haircut that will ever compare to the touch of your partner’s embrace or the smile upon their lips.  That my friends is something that social media can’t capture.  You will not regret the moments you spend together and the stories you share, for they will comfort you in darker times.  Please don’t allow the need to keep up on everyone else’s life make you miss your own amazing truly wonderful moments.  I’m not saying drop off Facebook, cut the instagram cord, or put the twitter in the cage.  I’m just saying be mindful, manage your social media and do not allow it to manage you.

So yes please put down the smart phone.  Go listen to your children laugh, hear that absolutely hilarious line that comes out of their mouth!  Then, please don’t go and post it so the world will know.  Just go to your loved one and tell them they mean the world to you and that you love them so!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Its time to talk

I never thought I would turn into “that” person.  “That” person, being the people I remember from childhood who would talk about the aches, pains, and arthritis.   It seemed as if “that” person would spend countless conversations explaining their ailments and how they indeed hurt worse than another poor soul whose name gets dragged into the conversation.  To my horror last week I was talking with someone and without even being aware of it I brought up my joint pain!!  I wasn’t at the doctor or at the massage therapist’s office, there was not a real valid reason I was discussing this!  After I ran to the bathroom and splashed my face with water screaming for myself to wake up from this horrid dream, ;) I quickly changed the topic.  I mean come on Travis, as you age you can’t turn into “that” person! J

Of course I use this tongue in cheek self-deprecating story with some humor.  But my experience led me to think about something deeper, which is when something consumes our lives and is a constant force its hard not to allow what ever consumes us to occupy all of our thoughts, conversation, and awareness.  I mean when something is powerful, at times maybe debilitating, it’s almost impossible to allow one’s thoughts to get past it.  Perhaps that is why so many people become “that” person, they have a need to take conversations to their pain because honestly it’s hard to see an existence or remember an existence outside of the present trouble? 

Truth is it would be unnatural for individuals not to talk about what consumes them.  It would be unhealthy for someone to keep something so powerful bottled up inside.  Of course by now you know I am leading down a path that encompasses many more issues than joint pain.  I am also talking about the pains of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, addictions, and the list goes on and on.  I think one of the kindest things we could do for someone is to allow him or her to express their pain.  I believe in this so much that have given the majority of my life to a career that invites people to come to a non judgmental presence and allows them to discuss concerns that many people around them have long told them to “just get over.”  Let me let you in on a secret, you don’t “just get over” an illness.  Could you imagine telling someone who is suffering heart disease to “just get over it”?

You may or may not know that October is depression awareness month.  Unfortunately this is still one of the least talked about illnesses.  I mean we seem to accept that people who have rheumatoid arthritis or a disease like cancer need treatment.  I don’t think many of us would accept that anyone who has these illnesses should remain in darkness ashamed and that they should just hope to get better on their own!  So why is depression or mental illness any different?  It is an illness, plain and simple.  According to sources over 80% of individuals who suffer from symptoms of clinical depression do not receive treatment?  Along side pharmaceutical intervention social support and therapy can be effective in treatment.  As someone who has suffered from depression and also has family who suffers from this illness I can say that there is help and hope.

Sue Monk Kidd makes the statement in her book, "The Invention of Wings," "There is no suffering on earth that doesn't crave a benevolent witness."  Is there someone in your life who needs you to be a benevolent witness?  If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression there are some great resources out there.  One great place to start for information and resources is

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Its Always Changing

As I write these words today it is an amazing 61 degrees outside!  After a warm summer these temperatures feel great!  The chill in the air signals that a change is on the way, and fall has arrived.  I absolutely love this time of year, the array of colors in the trees, the crisp mornings, the feel of a warm drink on a cool day.  As with any change of season it seems that there are lessons for us to learn as we observe creation.  I can’t help but notice that as the leaves begin to fall the trees do not hang on with dear life but rather release.  I was thinking about that concept this morning.  The trees do not hold to the leaves of the past year but instead let them go.   Despite the fact that they will be bear, despite the fact that they have no clue how cold or mild the winter might be.  Instead without any effort to retain they release their coverings.  Perhaps the trees know that if they do not release the dying leaves they can never be prepared for the new growth that will take place in the spring?

The lesson in my life in this season of fall is to learn to release that which I can’t control.  Now that is easier said than done!  Having stated that confession up front, I will go on to say that it is necessary for new emotional, spiritual, and physical growth.  Letting go of something or someone is so hard.  Indeed there are times that we do not need to do so, but many times it is in the letting go of what we cannot control that we find hope.  It is in the releasing that we are opened up for the new things that God may be bringing into our lives.  What a tragedy it would be for the trees to hold on to all of their leaves!  For if they were unwilling to release the dying leaves of fall they would never be allowed to showcase the beauty and hope of spring.  Such is the case in our lives, we trust that the God who brings us to the places that we must release, will give us the help to do so, and will also be the same God who restores and makes all things new!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I don't even care

So I have often said that this blog will include confessionals, so here is one from yours truly.  I have spent way too much of my life trying to please others... Most of my life I have cared deeply about other people's opinions of me, from whether they liked my shirt to whether they thought I was too fat.  It really wasn't a conscious decision and had you asked me, I would have said, oh no I am my own person, I am not wrapped up in everyone's opinion.  Truth was, deep down, I was concerned.  I can remember when I was actively running and the cars would pass by I would think, "I hope they don't think I'm a joke, a pudgy boy trying to get some exercise." Also I would think "I bet these people are thinking "he needs some exercise!"

Yes, I have spent so much of my life secretly worrying about what everyone thought, until. I wish I could say I and some epiphany where I had a light shine from heaven and reveal to me how harmful my thought patterns were, but I didn't.  Actually it was just a new awareness, maybe it comes with age, maybe it comes with experience, perhaps it comes from feeling unconditional love from my wife, or maybe its all of these?  I don't know but as I was walking on a busy main st recently it occurred to me, I don't care!  I sincerely don't care!  I don't care if the people passing by are having negative thoughts toward me.  I don't care if they dislike my choice of shoes or if the shirt I am wearing clings to me and reveals my excess skin from all the weight I have lost.  I don't care!  For the first time I was just proud of myself, proud for actually getting out and moving, getting some much needed exercise.  I felt genuine appreciation and love for myself.  Wow, what a better feeling than shame, concern, or embarrassment!  

I want to let you know today it is ok being exactly as you are and feeling exactly what you feel.  I want to invite you to the place where you can embrace yourself and make changes for your sake not because of what others may or may not be saying around you.  I invite you to not care.  No matter whether your struggle is weight issues, the loss of a loved one, the grief of transition in your job or relationship, please accept yourself and what you are feeling in this moment.  I encourage you, surround yourself with friends and loved ones who love you like you should be loving yourself.  If they can't do that and they need to move on, then so be it.  Love your self to day and if others do not love you, don't even care ;)


Sunday, July 6, 2014

I never signed up for this!

I wish I could remember exactly how I Imagined my adult life would be when I was a child.  I am sure that I had aspirations of some fame and maybe a small fortune?  Or maybe I just imagined that it would be cool to set my own bedtime or to be able to drive my self down to the ice cream stand?  To be honest I can't remember, I wish I could, but I can't.  Even though my memory may be fuzzy here I am certain that I never quite imagined my adult life to be what it is today.  To be fair I have had experiences that have been amazing, breathe taking moments that still make me shake my head because I feel so lucky to have experienced them.  But also to be fair, I have had a lot of experiences that have left me broken.  Experiences that still cause fear and pain even in this very moment, as I write these words.   

It has been in these moments, the ones that leave life long scars that I have wanted to cry out, "I never signed up for this!!" Maybe I didn't "sign up for this," but I did sign on to this.  Sure we never planned for the pain.  Whether we contributed to its cause or it was completely out of our control, nevertheless it wasn't our plan.  However it is our life.  Whether our choice or not it is our journey (yes I realize how over used that phrase is in our culture) When as a child, I would lie under the stars on hot steamy July evenings in the foothills of upstate South Carolina, I never wished that "by the time I am 36 I hope that I can be divorced, remarried, have finical struggles, battle obesity, and wrangle with anxiety and depression!" Who in their right mind would dream of such!?  But this is my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

I find it peculiar about myself that I gravitate to the power of my fears and failures rather than my past successes. Whenever I have to make tough decisions, whenever I am faced with uncertainty it never fails that my mind is ravaged with thoughts of failure, mistake, and past regrets.  Once those thoughts cycle through I then project how terrible the future could be.  I love to play the "what if" game as I juggle future plans and decisions.  Of course some of this is just wise self-preservation, hopefully we learn from past mistakes, but so much of this for me is unhealthy.  So unhealthy that I can get so marred down that I can't move right or left!  But what about my successes!?  The reality is I have had some of those as well. 

I am at a stage in my life where I am challenging myself to live in possibility.  My personal work has been to summon up my memories of strength.  I know without a doubt that I stand at a crossroads today. (Ironic since my name means "at the intersection or crossroads") The joy I have is that I do not stand there alone.  I have an amazing partner in my wife, whose power, strength, beauty, and intelligence could never be adequately described with just words.  I won't even try.  I also do not stand-alone because I believe in a calling and I do believe in God.  I am not the one who quotes a lot of scripture or has nice padded sayings displayed but I do have a personal faith.  For those who know me you know that faith is hard to describe and it does not fit into many molds that we like to use when it comes to these categories.  This has led to much frustration for some whom both I love and love me.  Though I feel I have a faith firmly rooted in Christianity.  

Even though I stand at a crossroads and perhaps it is one of the most precarious crossroads I have ever faced, I do believe that that the God who loves me, and has guided me, and has provided the love in my wife and partner, will also be the God who continues to sustain and guide.  My hope is that I will make any decision as I move forward not based in the control of fear but rather informed by experience and ultimately in the belief that "I can by God's help succeed." Sure I may have not signed up for this but with all the twists, turns, dips, highs, and lows it has been an amazing ride so far.  I believe that it will continue to be so.  I never signed up for this, but I am sure glad that I signed on!

Travis (the one at the crossroads)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beyond Belief

Most all of you have heard them.  The catchy phrases used to try to communicate something that is hard to communicate with language.  Phrases like “let go and let God,” “when God closes one door God opens another”, or “It all happens for a reason, it will all work out.”  Maybe at times, you like me, have become angry when someone says this?  There have been so many times that I felt like saying “seriously… do you mean to tell me that this crisis moment in my life or another’s life can be reduced down to this catchy phrase and this will make me feel better!!?”  I have come to the conclusion that when this is said that it is not someone’s idea of being cute or just a small pep talk.  Instead, I think there are certain things that simply cannot be expressed with words.  Honestly, matters of faith are really hard to describe.  I mean how do we describe that which cannot be seen or touched?  Our entire ability to describe something is based on our senses.  Matters of faith defy all of that; some would say matters of faith even defy logic.  Logic takes us so far then there is that which we can’t be sure of.  Can I prove there is no God? No I can’t!  Can I prove there is a God?  No I can’t!  Either place someone finds themselves, whether to disbelieve in a God or to choose to believe, it is a matter of what is not certain.  
For me, there have been moments of what I can only state are, “sacred moments.”  Standing at the bedside when someone takes their last breathe, I have felt an energy present that charges the room bringing a sense of scared silence.  I have seen peace in the midst of sadness and loss.  Sacred moments when a child is born and the mother or father holds that child for the first time, can you put into words what that feeling is?  Can that be described?  I mean even the word love sounds flat when you use it to describe such moments.  Have you ever seen that water fall or sunrise that just feels so amazing that it catches you off guard or even causes a slight gasp?  It is these “sacred moments” that keep me hoping for more.  These are the moments that lead me past the places where my senses fail me.   Can I prove to you where those moments come from? No, I cannot, but I can tell you that there was a feeling that cannot be described and it certainly cannot be tested or easily reproduced.
 I remember as a child I traveled with a group of friends to a lake and there was this huge (well at the time to my 8 year old judgment it seemed huge) high dive.  I remember watching people scale the heights and take the plunge.  Soon enough I found myself wanting that experience too.  So I climbed what seemed to be a ladder to the stars!  I walked to the edge of the diving board and looked down…I was terrified!  All of my logic said turn around climb back down!! Climb down the ladder go back to what is known and safe and makes sense!  Go back to the ground you felt with your bare feet, where it is solid and safe.  Then there was this part of me that said “Jump!”  It wasn’t audible but it was a feeling, even at 8 years old I felt that if I didn’t jump I was going to miss out on something special.  If I didn’t jump I would regret it.  Not sure exactly what brewed inside of me but that feeling gave me just what I needed to take a deep breath and fall.  It felt as if I fell from the clouds and the feeling was terrifying yet so exhilarating that I couldn’t help but giggle and scream!  It was a risk, a risk of fear, a risk to defy what seemed logical, but a risk I have never regretted taking.  But there I go again, trying to use language to describe something indescribable….

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's your Deal!?

So here we are a new year! I know some of you have contacted me over the years and stated that my story has inspired you in some way. Thank you for letting me know this! Honestly now I am receiving inspiration from your SUCESS! Such is the ebb and flow of life. As I said in my recent post in November I have struggled but now I am trying to refocus. Thank you to you my friends, family, and followers I haven't even met for your inspiration. So I ask what's your deal? What are you hoping to achieve in 2014? For me it is weight loss and health but what's your goal? This blog has always been about health and wellness. So, what's your goals for 2014 to be healthier? Are they finical, emotional, physical, or spiritual goals? Feel free to comment below so we can encourage one another!

Til next time,