Tag Archive for: travel

Friday Waypoints- 1/25/19

What Your Children Remember

I’m spending time with my son this week. He lives in Colorado and is one of the kindest, most genuine person I know. And he is a hard worker. When he was living in Louisville, employers loved him. It’s no different now. He’s working lots of extra hours to support his wife and two daughters while she works on her college degree. I’m very proud of him!

We were talking about doing a family trip to the Grand Canyon next year. During our conversation, he reminded me that we took him to the Canyon when he graduated from High School. He backpacked down and out of the Canyon with us and he disclosed that it was one of the most memorable things he has ever done. I did not know that. I just remember his calf muscles cramping on the way out! I’m glad that this memory is still vividly with him! It’s that “repertoire of positive sentiment” that Gottman talks about. It’s like banking memories. Kids remember things!

What I’m Listening To

I started listening to “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry. It won the Pulitzer in 1986. This is my 6th or 7th time listening to it. People have often asked me, “What’s it about?” I simply reply, everything. It deals with life, death, love, cattle, horses, Gus McCrea, Woodrow Call, men, women, fate, and a host of other things. I always give this book for Christmas and to my graduate students when they complete their course work. Take a peek at it!

What I Hiked This Week

There is this amazing place to hike in Manitou Springs, Colorado, just outside Colorado Springs. It’s called The Incline. I do it every 3 months. It’s a 1-mile climb up the side of a mountain with a 3.5-mile descent down the Barr Trail. The kicker is, you gain 2,000 feet of elevation on the ascent. It usually takes me an hour and 15 minutes to complete this mile ascent. It has 2,800 steps! During the summer months, the stream of people is steady from the base to the summit (about 2,000 people a day). I use this hike to keep track of my level of fitness. It does not fail me.  

Desert Therapy

7:00 AM, November 13, 2018, EC-1 (Elephant Canyon –Campsite 1), Canyonlands National Park, Utah

There is nothing like the silence of the desert. This very cold morning (20 degrees) is only interrupted by the quiet hiss of the Whisperlite-butane stove heating my morning coffee.

It was cold last night. I had almost all of my cold weather gear on (Expedition this and Expedition that), and bundled up in my 12-degree sleeping bag. I awoke with frozen condensation on the inside of my tent. As I write this, I’m sitting on my 1 lb Helinox chair while the sun is rising.

As I gaze on the canyon walls, the cedars, the dry stream bed, I have a sense that I’m better than most people, but no, rather luckier than most people. Very few eyes, relatively speaking, have witnessed a morning like this, in this place. This place is only for those that are willing to pay the toll. And the toll for this place was a 4-mile hike with 60 lbs. on my back, scrambling in and out of canyons and over slip rock.

As I witnessed this new day in the desert canyon, I remembered that I had carried Edward Abbey’s book “Desert Solitaire,” with me, not the paperback, but the digital copy in my kindle.

And so, I spent the morning soaking up the sun and browsing Abbey’s work.

“Wilderness” he wrote,” is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

Abbey wrote his autobiography after spending two seasons in the late 1950’s as a park ranger in Arches National Park. He fell in love with the canyons and the desert. It became part of him.

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need—if only we had the eyes to see.”

The wilderness changed him and it changes anyone willing to spend time in it.

It can heal you.

I had come here for healing. Not because of the people and things in my life. But because I needed to become a better person for the people and things in my life: to be a better counselor, a better partner, a better parent, and most importantly, a better human. The water was boiling. The sun was warming me now. It felt wonderful!

Friday Waypoints- 11/16/18

Meaningful Moment:

Watching the Sun set on the second night of backpacking in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I had hiked into the Chessler Park area of the Needles District with 60+ lbs. on my back, through some beautiful and rugged terrain. Except for a few jet streams, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was facing a desert meadow with rock formations in every direction. I wondered how many people had been able to witness such a beautiful sunset, in such a beautiful place. It was a spiritual experience. It was an experience that had gotten me outside of myself and had made me feel that I was a part of something bigger, older, and a part of something that had been there for millions of years and likely will be there for millions more. I felt connected and at peace.

Book I’m Reading:

“A Guide to the Good Life” by William B. Irvine. This book was recommended by Tim Ferriss on his podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show.” I was completely taken in by this book. Irvine re-introduces us to the idea of having a “Philosophy of Life.” He begins by asking, “What do you want out of your life.” If you don’t know, you may be at risk of mis-living. This book is about Stoicism and Stoic techniques that help us find the good life. I’ll be reviewing this book and discussing some of the Stoic Techniques in upcoming blogs.

Podcast I Recommend:

Daily Meditation Podcast, by Mary Meckley. I like this podcast. First, it’s free. Second, It’s a guided meditation. You simply get into a meditation mode and listen to the podcast. Third, these are short, around 10 minutes. Give it a try!

True North Counseling Constellation Blog




When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

-Walt Whitman


I remember the time and place when I first saw Saturn. It was this past summer in Woodland Park, Colorado. My granddaughter was standing next to me. That’s what seeing a planet does to you. That’s what it does to them. She will never forget it, standing there, waiting her turn at the telescope, standing next to her grandpa.

We wandered into the dry-air night and looked up in perfect silence, at the stars and planets.

Kids need to know their neighborhood: their street, their city and state, their country and planet, and then farther. They need to reach out to the planets and stars.

We are made of the same material as stars. They are us.

Introduce your children to the sky and they will never forget it and they will never forget the person standing there next to them as they tippy-toe and gaze into space.

I offer two books to help you and your kids get to know their extended neighborhood:

Zoo In The Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations

by Jacqueline Mitton, Christina Balit (Illustrator)

This is for younger children. You will enjoy having them sit on you lap and introduce them to the constellations. And then go outside and look for them on a clear night. So much fun. They will never forget.

Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations–and How You Can Find Them in the Sky (Child’s Introduction Series)

By Michael Driscoll

This is for older children and has so much information about the planets and stars. Study this book with them. Become astronomers together. Buy a telescope and fall in love with the night sky…together!! Your children will talk about the experience with their children and grandchildren. You will reap what you sew!

True North Counseling Rememberance Blog

Who Changed Your Life?

Who Changed Your Life? George Flores Changed Mine.

My list is large. Of course, my parents and family are on my list. As a child, my bronchial tubes were closing and my sister, Shirley, put me under a homemade-steam tent. I was able to breathe. I was 8 years old.

Many of you who know me, know that I love hiking and backpacking. I love the Grand Canyon.

The person that introduced me to the Canyon was George Flores. He changed my life.

It was February of 2002. I remember it vividly. All of our equipment was rented from the General Store on the rim of the Canyon. We arrived at our first campsite and realized that we had left one of our tents in the store. There were four of us: two women and a child, and George and me. And now just one tent. We looked at each other and smiled. George and I spent the next 4 nights sleeping under the stars in the Grand Canyon. I’ll never forget it.

George passed away last year and we released his ashes into the Canyon. In between the time that he introduced me to the Canyon and the trip that laid him to rest in there, George helped me develop a hunger for the outdoors, and really, for life.

We fished for trout in the Sierra’s, cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge, backpacked in Yosemite, through the Tetons, up to Thousand Island Lake, and to countless places in California. We photographed at Big Sur, Monterrey, Death Valley and the Canyon. I am a photographer, cyclist, and backpacker in large part because of George.

We had a Victory-Beer outside the Giant’s baseball stadium the year they won the World Series.

All of it changed my life. He was my brother-in-law and a friend.

Was it the Canyon and those road trips, listening to the Eagles? Was it George? He was a teacher and he taught me many things. And I suspect that George learned a little from his friend and brother-in-law, Mark Neese.

Standing at Plateau Point and watching George’s ashes blowing in the Arizona wind, I thought of this beautiful poem:


Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep

I am a thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glint on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle, gentle autumn rain


Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep

When you awake in the morning hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight

I am the soft, soft starlight, starlight at night


Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep


I will never be able to look into the Canyon without thinking about George. And for that I am thankful.

True North Counseling Waypoints

Friday Waypoints – 9/14/18

Welcome to My Waypoints!

As I explained in a previous blog, Waypoints are significant events or moments from my past week that help me stay oriented as to where I am and where I’m going.

Lessons From Clients

I want to share, as often as possible, the things I’ve learned from my clients. This week, I was training a small group of Direct Care Staff on a Behavior Plan that I had developed for a very challenging young man. I could tell that they were exhausted. He had been verbally abusive to them. They were in crisis and feeling discouraged. I decided to stop the training and ask them a question. “What is our overall goal for Trevor?” (Not his real name.)

After a short discussion, I asked, “Isn’t it to help him grow?” And of course, they agreed. He was 24 years old. He had been in foster care his whole life, and now, these past 6 years, in a staffed residence. Because of his behavior, they had gotten stuck with thinking that their job was to get him to behave. I saw some hope and compassion in their eyes when I suggested that we were there to help him grow.

I learned from my clients that I too get stuck with trying to change behavior. Sometimes, we lose sight of our real purpose and mission, such as with Trevor. Helping people grow is so much more satisfying. I could see it in their eyes. They had a newfound joy. We continued the training.

Meaningful Moment

I spent some time this past week at the Gettysburg Battlefield. I have been to a few other battlefields. The Perryville Battlefield comes to mind. Standing in the place where 12,000 men stood, waiting for Pickett’s Charge, was heart-wrenching. I walked the battlefield, following the path that they took. A total of 20,000 men (Federal and Confederate) were killed or wounded that day. The tide was turned that day and the Confederacy never recovered. It was a moment, a day, 150 years ago, that changed our country forever.

Book I’m Reading This Week

“Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Become Your Own Therapist: A Practical Step by Step Guide to Managing and Overcoming Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Panic, and Other Mental Health Issues,” by Jessica Greiner.

I’ll be doing a review on this book later in the week, but in short, this is an informative and concise book on CBT. Ms. Greiner is not a mental health professional, but she has provided an excellent book for the layperson and professional. The three chapters focusing on “affirmations” are worth the cost of the book and can be used in conjunction with mindfulness meditation.

For more Friday Waypoints from True North Counseling, follow this link. Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA is the Principal Therapist at True North Counseling in Louisville, KY and will be posting Friday Waypoints once a week. 

True North Counseling's Crossroads Blog

Introducing Friday Waypoints

I do a lot of hiking and backpacking. I’ve backpacked down into the Grand Canyon 15 times. I’ve hiked in most National Parks and in many states. I know what a Waypoint is. Waypoints are places that you look for, that tell you where you are and where you’re going.

I’ve hiked the Knobstone Trail in Indiana. It’s about 50 miles long. When I’m hiking this trail, I look for Waypoints to help me stay oriented as to where I am. That’s what they do; Waypoints help you stay oriented. They could be roads, streams, a series of switchbacks, or anything of significance.

I’m going to begin sharing Waypoints with you each week. These are significant moments or events in my life during the previous week that help me stay oriented as to where I am and where I’m going.

I believe that everyone has a True North. It is a direction that you move and travel. Your True North is determined by what you value. And when you are living a life consistent with what you value, you are content, and yes, happy.

I value love, growth, living life to its fullest, giving, exploring, being physically active, family, friends, work, and many, many more things. When I am engaged with these things, I’m headed to my True North. Waypoints help me know where I am and where I’m going.