Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How cold are we?

I must start by saying that I am not a huge fan of Zombie culture. I had a student once that was very focused on preparing for the Zombie apocalypse. It was fun to have discussions about it, but I do not seek out occasions to watch movies or TV shows dealing with the undead. One exception to this is if they are funny movies about Zombies. Not sure why this is better to me but two of my favorites are Zombieland (which makes me want some Twinkies even though I loathe them), and Shaun of the Dead (where I imagine having a Zombie for a pet to play video games with).

Honestly, the one thing that got me to watch Warm Bodies is the staring of Nicholas Hoult, of whom I have been a fan since About a Boy. This movie surprised me in several ways, one of which is that we get to hear the thoughts of a Zombie, narrating his own life. LOVED IT!!! I could not stop myself from giggling like a little kid every time he talked about what he was doing.

The other is the message that I got from the film, not that it was intended, which may have been but I don't know for certain. Basic plot is that a girl, in the wrong place during a Zombie attack, is "captured" by a Zombie in an attempt to save her from his flesh-eating pals. They then begin a friendship of sorts where he starts to regain some of his humanity. I will stop there to not ruin the movie for any potential watchers. To me the movie has a lot to do with second chances and not judging someone on their first or even second impression.  However, it inspired me to think about how disconnected from people we are. That some people are just beyond feeling and don't care because they believe no one reciprocates those feelings.

As a teacher I see this daily as my students enter the classroom and sit down to pull out their phones. Some talk to other classmates but most are on their mobile devices until I force them to interact with others. The main message of the movie for me was connection. While we try to avoid in some instances human connection, it is not possible to avoid it altogether. In certain cases, if done correctly, it can bring someone back to the land of the living where they can contribute their awesomeness too. After all, Zombies just want to be loved, right?!?!


In a desire for people to know who it is writing this blog, I want to reintroduce myself. My name is Travis Hawkley. I am a father, teacher, writer, reader, scholar of sorts, and a firm believer in human potential. I grew up partly in Texas and at 6 foot 6 inches tall and 280 pounds represent that things are bigger in Texas. The other part of my childhood was spent in Boise, Idaho, a place I call home and hope to return to one day. My younger years were spent reading, thousands of books on all different topics and from many distinct genres. I have lived in Russia and Spain and count those experiences as defining ones for me. I have a BA in Linguistics and a MA in Second Language Teaching. I love language and have taught ESL (all ages) and Spanish (college level). Language can be a great equalizer or divider if not used correctly. I am a bearded, Croc and old polyester tie wearing professional. I have an addiction to reading and purchasing 40's to 70's self-help books such as Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale, Alan Loy McGinnis, etc. I love Sci-Fi, fantasy, and many other genres. I am part Whovian, Sherlockian, Supernaturalist.  Above all, I love teaching and helping people succeed where they thought they couldn't. Any questions?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What do you control?

As a college instructor who teaches students to be successful both in school and their professional lives, I have several key lessons that I try to pass on. Most of them come from the teachings I received from my accountant father. I often describe him as "insane", given that he taught us very adult ideas at very young ages. The truth, however, is that his teachings, more than either of the college degrees that I hold or the countless books that I have read, have shaped the professional that I am. I love my father for what he taught and continues to teach me. I hope and strive to share that insanity

One of the main lessons that I feel I learned from my parents is to take responsibility for myself. To not blame others for my own problems. The idea that I share with my students is that "You are in control of yourself, and only yourself". Even as a parent, you only have control over your kids because they allow you to. As a manager, it is the same. Something I see every single day is that people blame everyone else for their own shortcomings (their teachers, parents, employers, co-workers, friends even.) They waste so much time talking about the external reasons for which they aren't successful and not looking at the damaged beliefs they hold that limit positive action.

Another lesson dealing with professional job searches and something else that I impart to my students is that you can do everything the right way, have an awesome resume, great cover letter, answer every interview question correctly, be the "best" candidate (if that exists), and the company can choose someone else. That is the way it is working with people. Very important to remember here is that this is NOT a bad thing. We all have the right to choose as we will. Sometimes that choice is used not in the best interest, whatever that may be.

My story: I just had the opportunity to interview for an awesome position and opportunity with my own company. It was for a director level position which I was hoping would give me the experience to keep moving up. Given that I teach people how to do this, my resume was great, my cover letter as well. During the interview I answered every question with ease and ability. If there was a question I had no answer to, or no good answer, I admitted to my shortcomings and gave an amazing answer anyway. I interviewed with the other directors, the national and regional directors. I felt like it was a lock and that they would make a decision soon. I was even told, without being told, that I was the probable choice.

Ending to the story: They chose at the last minute to not hire me or the other qualified candidates and reopen the search.  They had a reason. Was it a good one? Sure, kind of, but one they should have known from the beginning. They also did not handle it very well.

Moral: Am I mad? Am I going to sabotage the company to get back at them? Is my level of work or professionalism going to slide in my disappointment? Now, of course I am upset. I have been hoping for the job for a while, working towards it, being mentored in how to do it. I am not upset with any of the people involved though because it is their right to choose as they will. They feel justified in what they did because they are looking for the right person. I was not it. I am in control of my reactions. I am in control of my future actions that will allow me to be an amazing candidate and professional. I did everything I could. I continue to move forward.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hawaii Five-O

Over the past several years I have become more and more interested in television, due to the fact that more shows are beginning to deal with the themes that I find intriguing. Recently I have discovered a new favorite (not to replace my old favorite, simply another which is newer) in the show Hawaii Five-O. Now I must admit that I have not had the opportunity to view any of the old seasons. The new incarnation is amazing.

The show centers around Steve McGarrett, ex-naval intelligence, who returns home to Hawaii following his father's murder. With Dan, Chin and Kono, they do whatever it takes to chase down criminals. Not a far cry from many other shows on television, and yet this one charges my soul with the desire to make the most of myself. The difference is that these four characters are so intense and passionate about making sure that justice occurs and that wrongs are righted. They care about the families of the people who have been wronged. It is a fantastic showing of what can be done when people use their full abilities and resources for the good of everyone.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PMA aka Positive Mental Attitude

"We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible."

Vince Lombardi

Recently I have been reading a lot on the topic of psychology with a main focus on the idea of mindset. I struggle everyday to maintain a positive attitude and keep my mind open to the many possibilities laid out before me. One of the authors I have been researching for this is Norman Vincent Peale, who was a preacher and public speaker. He wrote the bestselling book "The Power of Positive Thinking", among others.
A main idea that I have gleaned from one of his writings is the need to drop certain words from our vocabulary. Words like "can't" and "impossible" really do tear apart our ability to believe in the miraculous abilities we have. Removing these words from our use can give us new perspective on what is really possible. It can also help us change the negative mindset that society has given us. Think of how many times you were told as a child that you "can't" do that because it is simply "impossible". Many ideas are tossed aside and many don't see the light of day because they are suffocated with the "can't"s and the "impossible"s. Entertain all ideas and if they seem "impossible", look past the cultural programming you've received and decide for yourself what is possible.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Beginnings

For a while now I have been neglecting what I feel is part of my personal legend. This part includes both writing and helping to lead people to media that will inspire greatness and progress. With this Easter season, I have been pondering on my own inadequacies and the fact that I have felt no inspiration nor progression since I ceased writing. So I am using this time to begin anew and start writing again. I know that I can not inspire anyone without working fully on my own potential. I invite all who read this to work towards their potential, find their personal legend and do all possible to complete it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Very Important Date...

It is not very often that I get so excited about a movie I just can hardly contain my innards from bursting from my body. Don't get me wrong, I love movies as should be evident by this blog that I write, but rarely do I get so psyched out that I want to see that movie that very second. Luckily for me one of the movies that caused such a reaction I was able to enjoy with my lovely wife just a week ago. I highly recommend the newest episode in the Potter saga as it is both fascinating and passionate. I do not wish to dwell here on the musings of JK Rowling, not that I wish to diminish them or belittle them since I believe she rivals in greatness most authors considered masters, but I have discovered something that has once again got my entrails all befuddled.
To some it may be known, and I shall put it here leaving it for all the cyberworld to see, that I have a huge man-crush on Johnny Depp. I have never seen a performance done by the man that I was not enthralled with. From Ed Wood, to J.M. Barrie, to Edward Scissorhands, to Willy Wonka, whose trailer bytheway caused the same fear of spontaneous combustion. The man is fabulous and deserves all the praise that could be piled upon him. There is one more name to add to the even larger list than I have typed here...and that name is The Mad Hatter. Since I caught wind of the new remake of the Lewis Carrol novel and that it was to be reworked by Tim Burton, another fascination of mine, I have been excited to say the least. Those who wish to take a peek should view the trailer only recently released during Comic-Con. Please let me know if you have the same reaction as I did.........(I've already watched it four times bytheway.)

Here is a link of one place you can watch the trailer:


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where have you been old friend?

I must admit that I have really missed writing this blog. It has been a while and I feel really depressed that it has taken me so long to return to it. I apologize to any who check this blog often only to find that I have not been here. Things are not going well in my life and most of that is self-inflicted. I find it difficult and perhaps a little hypocritical to be writing about inspiring media when I myself have not felt inspired. I feel a turn-around coming and I hope to begin it tonight with the return of a franchise that I have missed dearly.

Tonight my wife and I along with friends are going to see the sixth installment of the Harry Potter craze. I believe that I have written before on the virtues of the "Potter"-verse and the ever present "good versus evil" battle taking place. I find the whole series (books and movies) to be an amazing foray into personal exploration and the understanding of one's incredible potential. I expect nothing less from the showing tonight and will plan to write about it in the near future.

So to those new and old visiting this blog, I again wish to outline the mission of this blog: to explore media and discover that which inspires and teaches the world about reaching one's potential. I invite, no, I implore you for suggestions and comments. Search out the things that cause you to want to be your best self and achieve awesome things.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Without Limits

About a year ago I started to watch the movie "Without Limits" which is based on the life of Steve Prefontaine, American record holder in the 5000 meters. I did not finish it, but knew that it was going to be worthy of a place on my list. I finally was able to finish it and while it would have been good to watch it a year ago it would not have had the same impact on me that it did tonight. Pre, as he was called, was never one to win a race the conventional way and rejected any other way to win besides giving it everything from the beginning. His style of running was quite distinct from that of his competitors, as was his way of looking at life. Some considered him to be stubborn and unwilling to change. He saw himself as unwilling to compromise his belief in himself.
During the movie he falls in love with Mary, who attends the same university and insists that he is not her type. At one point after he shows his optimism about their relationship she says, "Are you always this positive about everything?" To which he replies, "Consider the alternative." This exchange really brought to my mind something I've been thinking about lately which is: What is the purpose of life? Is it merely to avoid pain and displeasure? Are we here with the point of just not dying or living as long as we can? The answer in my opinion is of course not. The meaning of life is not just to avoid pain but to have joy. It should not be the difficult, perhaps depressing or stressful times that define our lives. Our lives should be made out of a pursuit of "the better". Consider the alternative. If we live our lives only trying to not be hurt, sure, we will occasionally be happy, but overall important parts of life will be missed. Being positive and believing in oneself lends to a life full of amazing events, as it did in the life of Pre. He always looked to better himself and with that outlook he often succeeded.
Near the end of the film Pre's coach Bill Bowerman talks about his how Pre helped change his coaching philosophy. He says, "He finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn't to win a race. It's to test to the limits of the human heart." Another life metaphor can be drawn here as well, with life being the race we are all running. The purpose should not be just to finish, or even to finish first, but to put everything in to living as passionately and intentionally as possible.

On a personal aside, this past year, I have run a bad race, and have done very little by way of living intentionally. Passion has not run through my veins as it once did, which may have been evident in my posts. This movie now came at the right time to challenge my current way of living and remind me of ideals that I still keep guarded inside.
My hope, as always, is that we may all live passionately, and continue to be inspired by life around us.

Monday, April 20, 2009


It has unfortunately been about 6 months since I've felt truly inspired. I have hated not being able to feel the emotion that drives my soul. Recently I've discovered some feelings and causes of those feelings, and have made some decisions to alleviate my inner turmoil.
During my life-change I received an e-mail from one of my favorite professors from my Masters program. It contained a video that he said reminded him of me. The message and the video truly inspired me again and revived feelings that had been buried. For that I want to thank Tom. I needed to be revived so that I could actually do what I am supposed to in life.

The ingenuity and amazing talent these two have is awesome. How did they figure out they could do this?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I just realized that after having this blog for a while now I have not written about my favorite book and the one that for me has been the most impactful. I think at first I wanted to save it until I could really do it justice and then just forgot that I had not done it yet. The time has come and while that time is not today I will be writing about The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho tomorrow. I expect everyone to eagerly be waiting for my post and as such will try to write it early in the morning. Til tomorrow...

Bedtime Stories

My wife and I recently saw the movie Bedtime Stories which we feared would be just another Adam Sandler movie. I tend to like Adam Sandler movies and we were in the mood for something light hearted and perhaps a little crass. The movie instead turned into a wonderful tale of right versus wrong in a world of smug, demeaning jerks.

The plot of the movie follows the life of Skeeter, the son of a hotel owner who raises his son to imagine and dream. Skeeter's father ends up losing the hotel, though Skeeter is allowed to keep working there as a handyman with the forgotten promise of the buyer of one day being allowed to run the hotel. Skeeter is hard-working and delightful with the hotel guests, much unlike the rest of the hotel staff who see themselves as much better than him. His sister is forced to go out of town to look for a new job and she asks him to tend her two young children. The fun comes when Skeeter tells his neice and nephew a bedtime story which comes true the following day. He then tries to use the stories as a means of getting his desired position at the hotel. Things don't go exactly as he plans which is expected in an Adam Sandler movie.

Again I will not ruin the movie for anyone, but do want to talk about why I find this movie to be inspiring, which surprisingly is more than just the fact that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" plays through several scenes in the movie. Skeeter is pleasurable and works hard to be kind and helpful to those around him. He is given the chance to become great and while he tries to take the easy route, ends up learning that he must act and do something in order to make great things happen.

As a side note, Jonathan Pryce who plays Skeeter's father, also acts as narrator for some of the movie. Those of you who know me well are aware of my feelings about narrators. Rarely have I met a movie with a narrator that I did not like.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Minor but important change

Those returning readers will notice that there has been a minor change made to the title and description of my blog. When I first began to post on this blog I wanted to share with everyone the different medium that I found that inspired me, and I hoped would inspire others, to reach my (our) potential. Since then I have returned to school for more education, specifically a Ph.D. in Communication Studies. During the past few months I have started looking at things in a distinct manner. Now when I watch a movie, read a book, or listen to music I am searching for methods, or the rhetoric, that the artists use to portray this idea of the human potential. What does this mean for the future of this blog...not much will change. As I review the books, music or movies that I find, or are recommended to me, I will focus more on how the idea of potential is communicated to the reader/listener/watcher.
As always, I look forward to your comments. I really hope that people will share their thoughts and recommendations with me as that will add volumes to the effectiveness of this work. Thank you all for reading.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

For the first time...

...I feel Wicked. My wife and I recently braved the Michigan winter weather to go see the Broadway musical Wicked. The musical is the story of the witches of the land of OZ sans Dorothy for the most part. I personally find the music to be amazingly inspiring but that is not what I wish to discuss here.
What I was even more impressed by were the performers. I could only imagine the amount of work that went in to their whole lives of practice and lessons to get to the point they are at performing in a Broadway musical in front of thousands of people every night. Their voices were amazing. The acting was pretty good. I am inspired by the fact that these people spend their energies to bettering themselves so they can do what they love and entertain people.
I think we should all give that much of ourselves to doing what we love so that other people know and can be equally inspired by our efforts.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Passionate Vampires

My reading lately has consisted mostly of school material, though I did take the time recently to read a recommendation from my wife. I had been wanting to and just had not taken the time to read Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I was amazed by my reaction. I must admit that even with the glowing praise from my wife, I was still expecting to find a semi-immature piece of teenage literature. What I did find was a passionate work that made me think twice about all things normal in my life.
The story centers around teenager Bella, who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington and meets the mysterious Cullen family. She is particularly taken with Edward, a strangely pale and yet charming individual who no one seems to know anything about. As Bella and Edward strike up their friendship, she discovers that he is more than a normal 17 year old boy. He is in fact a vampire. Suddenly what Bella knew as normal is turned upside down. Most of all she is confronted with the passion of living a life distinct from any she has ever known.
The reason this makes it onto my list is that this book is filled with Passion. The relationship between the two main characters is intense, though not in the immature high-school manner that most assume. Bella is not your normal teenager and Edward is obviously not in the slightest bit normal. This book challenges everyday life and causes the reader to look at things differently than they normally would.
Along with this book, the movie has now come out and while it is not as good as the book, though only slightly, it still does a fantastic job of portraying the passion. At one point Edward is showing Bella the world from his point of view. Bella says, "This isn't real, This kind of stuff just doesn't exist." To this Edward replies, "It does in my world." The reality is that they live in the same world just with differing perspectives on that world.
This is the difference between those who live a passionate life and those who live normal, boring lives. It is all about perspective and the walls that we construct so that we aren't able to move beyond what we have told ourselves are the acceptable boundaries of normalcy. Everyone should take the opportunity to change their point of view from time to time to stretch the boundaries of the mind.