The Impact of ACEs!

The Impact of ACEs
Here is where I need to use the word REVOLUTION. I believe the greatest possible impact for using the ACE Study to improve the lives of our entire world today lies in the Pediatric segment. There have been some breakthroughs in this arena…but to my way of thinking…not quick enough. And no, it’s not the ACE score of the children I am referencing, but the use of the ACE questionnaire with the parents…ALL parents!
The only way to change the direction of our society that continues to pass on dysfunction and simply throw more resources at future social services is to suck up our courage and find the understanding to give every incoming pediatric parent the ACE test. Then and only then will we pierce the veil of shame and vulnerability that prevents us from facing the rising epidemic of lost and lonely children that are dropped off at our schools…not ready to learn because of their ACE issues. I reference the Children’s Clinic of Portland, Oregon as the test case for the new wave of caring put into Healthcare. Doctors Teri Pettersen and RJ Gillespie initially used ACE testing on parents and now all 37 doctors follow their regimen. Their practice is not just about sore throats and fevers…they are there to support families! They found that instead of feeling a sense of invasion of privacy with the parents, they found a sense of relief. There are few parents who have a child with the sole intention of harming that child physically or emotionally. But if that is the only childhood that you knew, who, how and where are you supposed to go for help in changing that behavior? The caring manner that is used in this approach is the most important issue in parenting and healthcare in our country today. I challenge every single pediatric practice to look into the success of the Children’s Clinic of Portland. There are lives in the balance today of our newborn children who are in need of proper guidance, love and support. Once we find a way to let each child grow up comfortable in their own skin, we will find that the teachers of our country will have the opportunity to teach children who are ready to learn.
Secondarily, as the original ACE Study found, it is imperative to have a full view of the patient sitting in front of you. Only seeing the physical person leaves a great deal of emotional data out of the picture. I believe that every single phase of healthcare, from pediatrics to cancer to dietary counseling needs to utilize the holistic approach that the ACE Study allows. It is no different than buying a new laptop computer, having it get a virus and expecting it to perform well. I see in the near future that the ACEs REVOLUTION will become a standard in our world and healthcare can benefit from it in the most significant ways. There is no denying the data is helping to treat the whole patient and not just the symptoms that get treated without knowing the whole picture of the patient’s life.
Many of my family members were teachers. Every one of them could tell fairly quickly which children were getting the proper care and support at home, that made them more ready to learn than others. Telltale signs like wearing the same clothes every day, lack of proper cold weather clothing or forgetting to pack a lunch were the obvious ones. Yet, before the first report card was sent home, they could tell who was having someone reading to them or doing anything that prepared them as they began their formal education.
Bullying is the topic that points to the epidemic nature of ACE issues in the schools systems across the country today. It has been making the evening news for years and yet the source of this bullying seems to confound educators. Wake up! Bullying comes directly from ACE issues that begin in the home. The psychological term that fits here is displacement. When the stress of life at home becomes too great to bear…the overflow valve that blows is acting out with mean or unkind behavior to a weaker person. It’s the parents who are responsible in every case.
Now though, through the use of ACE trauma based treatment, schools are waking up to the fact that the last thing a stressed out student needs is to be suspended. That only exacerbates the problem at home. The most visible example of this trauma based treatment in the educational world today is the new movie by Jamie Redford titled “Paper Tigers.” The movie follows students who attend Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington. Jamie has been surprised and delighted with the response the initial screenings have generated. He partners with Tugg online to allow for screenings to be secured for your school or community.
Trauma informed communities are finding in the long run that it is much wiser to heal…than to punish. That goes for the cost factors involved in dealing with long term ACE issues down the road. We continue to throw BILLIONS of dollars at social services that are needed to deal with the individuals that have not been treated or counseled about the traumas of the childhood ACE issues they faced. I believe that many of our ADD and ADHD diagnosed students are simply youngsters with impactful ACE scores. More hugs and less drugs needs to be the way we deal with these issues.

Insurance Companies
I believe that if we could get the insurance companies to partner with the healthcare world in actually being proactive in the use of ACE Study data to treat children and adults at an earlier age, we could make a significant impact on premiums down the road. The longer we allow ACE issues to fester and cause multiple problems in our communities, the more expensive insurance will be in the long run. I actually wrote an email to the CEO of Aetna to see if I could earn an hour of his time to discuss the matter. My wife works for Aetna and said the CEO was a big supporter of the lives of employee’s welfare. I didn’t hear anything back as yet, but would love an opportunity to discuss it with him. You know, that’s the funny thing about people who learn about the ACE Study. It makes such simple common sense, that you want to tell everyone about it. That is because once you see the thread of logic…it amazes you how it applies to every phase of your understanding about how things work in your head and heart. And you can’t help but want to save the next child from that trauma that can have lasting effects for the rest of their life.

The Government
They recently held a meeting at the White House labeled…”Rethinking Educational Discipline”. That’s right, even at the government level they are seeing the long term advantages of Trauma Based Community thinking. Think of how much money could be saved in the future if we did our best to motivate the Pediatric practices around the country, as I described earlier. I only mention money first because that is how you get the attention of our government. Me, I only know the joy of being a ZERO ACE score fella and have been trying to pay it forward all of my life after I realized not everyone was blessed with parents like mine.
If you are starting to see the all-pervasive value of understanding the righteous nature of ACE infused thinking, now apply it long term to the issues that we face with Medicaid. Everyone complains about the out of control costs related to Medicaid. Imagine for a moment that we are twenty years down the road and have applied ACE Study disciplines to all of our communities. The lower income and less educated communities across the country seem to use the ER as their primary doctor. What if we found a way to integrate into those communities a system that approached the issues of ACE into the fabric of early education and community outreach? Maybe with bold moves to break the patterns of early pregnancy we could slow the rate of teen pregnancy that seems to be the norm in those communities. Again, the pediatric world has to be at the forefront of this effort, since they are the first to know of a pregnancy.

At Work
In the perfect world…without PRIVACY issues…wouldn’t it be great to know the ACE score of all of your employees? How about new hires? If we could get over the shame and vulnerability thing related to ACE scores, wouldn’t it be a win-win for all concerned to have that knowledge? Knowing the ACE score and issues of your employees could help companies counsel and guide employees to personal growth that would make them happier and more productive in the long run. My success in the business world was simply that I treated everyone like family…I didn’t know any other way…and it was a joy to change clients lives with my words and heart. That’s why when I speak or write I always use as my compass the thought…”Does it feel like Family?” And now to make a point for those who didn’t know a family life like mine, we need a new definition of family.
Definition of Family: ANY environment where we have the opportunity to watch over each other.
As I review the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for List each year, there is a common factor that stands out above all others. Somewhere in every description of the company’s best features is an employee or leader who says “it feels like a family here.” The amazing difference in long term growth of earnings is directly related to the pattern of employees who say “I come to work because I want to…not because I have to.” The significant expense of hiring and training is dramatically reduced by treating the employees like you would in a functional family. They go out of their way to make allowances for family issues and healthcare occurrences where exceptions are the standard rule. Some companies are even extending that to vacations…take what you need! If you do everything possible to make that employee feel safe and cared for…do you think there is a chance they might be more productive in their daily effort? Matter of fact, they would be on the lookout for other candidates that would fit into the fabric of the company as a new hire! What better source of new talent than a personal referral from a happy employee?
Okay, now picture within that happy family you were safe enough to ask about an employee’s ACE score. Not from a nervous position, but from a perspective that would allow you to know what issues may keep them from being the best that they could be. It’s similar in context to the pediatrician talking with the new parents. You could use the information to find ways to help that employee confront, face and heal the issues that make for a hard day at work. I have heard many consultants say that simply holding a daily ten meeting before the day begins seems to give the impression of caring about the employee and their life, not just an automaton that needs to man the phones for the day.
What if that family attitude reached the level of caring that would allow for each employee feel free to bring up personal subjects that others might give perspective on to help ease the burden of feeling so alone in our daily effort to find happiness? Belonging is the word that seems to surface every time I consider the hunger that most folks have for their lives. It’s the same all the way through school, at work, in the neighborhood and most importantly in the family. Those employees that do not have a good family connection, and you know how prevalent that is, are thrilled to be part of a company that makes it feel like a family! Read for yourself this year or any archived year in the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work for List…I promise you will see that thread!
At Home
My life changed a decade ago at a third grade teacher’s conference with my wife and son in attendance. The teacher said that in 22 years of teaching she had never had a student quite like our Jared. She said that he watched over the entire class with a spirit that said “shouldn’t we all be watching over each other?” She went on to say that she had checked with my son Austin’s first grade teacher and he was already that guy for her as well. My eldest son JC was the same guy who was seven years ahead of those boys, with a gap that was the birth and death of only 13 days for our daughter Megan Grace.
Let it be clear here…I am not a psychologist or a clinician of any type. Yet, repeatedly in my life people take me aside to let me know the impact and impression of caring that my boys use as a daily effort is different than they are used to seeing and feeling. That exists today in spades. As a single proof statement to back up that claim I will share one recent story with you…not bragging…simply to let you know the way I became the Greatful Dad.
Here is the story:
On a cold Sunday morning in February of this year, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning with my wife Colleen. It was 8:35am and my cell phone went off with an 881 area code. I considered that it could be a telemarketer, but heck it was Sunday morning! I took a chance and was surprised and concerned that I heard my youngest son Austin’s voice. He was in Chile guiding and filming at a fishing lodge so remote that it was 2 ½ hours from the nearest electricity! He immediately let me know that everything was all right and he was on the satellite phone. After regaining my breath I asked what was so important to be using the satellite phone…and here is what he said, “I am sitting having a cup of coffee with the owner of the lodge Skip, and he insisted that I call you this morning. He wants to invite you to be his guest at the lodge for a week in the next few weeks while his kids are still here. He said that after two 90 day seasons of my guiding here at the lodge, he has found that he is a better dad, a better host for all of our clients and generally a happier person all around. He said he wants you to come and meet his kids and let him give you some love in return for the effort you made in raising me the way you did. He said you have changed his life with the love you gave me…”
I was absolutely sobbing at this point…I had to hand the phone to Colleen because I couldn’t catch my breath. She was concerned but somehow could tell it wasn’t a sad or tragic sobbing. Austin repeated to her the story and she put her hand on my head to console me. Three weeks later after 5 flights and 2 full days of travel…I got that love from all concerned. His kids were a delight, the staff was exceedingly friendly and all the people I met in the area that week greeted me as a lost son returned home. Do you know what made that happen? Austin had treated them all like family over the two years and I was reaping the rewards of his love!!! A brief addendum to that story, I need to share my airport departure at the end of the trip. Christian the head chef at the lodge was going to give me a ride as he had to get supplies in town. We had a great chat and listened to some chill music on the way. As we arrived at the airport, he insisted on helping me with my gear and standing in line with me until all arrangements were made for a smooth departure and seat assignment with some leg room. I walked hem back ot to the truck to say goodbye and gave him a big hug. I reached into my pocket for some cash to tip him. With a very serious look on his face he said, “No Juanon, Austin is my brother.” I was nervous that I had hurt his feelings, but he just gave me a big smile and an even bigger hug. Our time together at the lodge did feel exactly like being with family. That is what all my boys accomplish with their caring and love in every phase of their lives. My parents would be proud of the legacy I have passed on.
That is what the rest of this book is about…how, what, where and when you can show your children how much you care for them. I have taken every little thing that my folks gave me so freely as a child, that I have passed on to my children…and any other person that was curious about that kind of love. I have been driving for Uber for the last two years, and if someone asks what brought me to Nashville, I tell them about being invited here for a PBS TV show based on my writing, NPR radio, YouTube videos and my music. My sponsorship fell through as I arrived here, which was a bad surprise, but in my daily effort I have found that many, many people are starving for the kind of connection I have been writing about. There have been a few tears in my car…and many hugs. The psychic compensation from touching just one heart a day is something that has enriched my soul. I have had phone calls from far away asking for 20 books from a dad whose son gave him my book as recently as last week. He said it had changed his life and wanted to share the books with family and friends who he knew were struggling. My favorite hug was from a sweet young woman named Jennifer who I had driven to the airport months before and was excited to see me again because after reading the book I gave her…she made 5 other people read it and said it had made a deep impression on her and that positive vibe had her moving to Nashville!
So here is my challenge to all of you. I will offer a money back guarantee on this book if you have the courage to read from here on OUT LOUD with your children/family/friends. I have been told repeatedly that instead of a private cognitive moment by yourself reading the book…reading it out loud with others it will start conversations of an intimate nature that makes people share the feelings that have been left unsaid and that the love by assumption I talk about simply does not work well. Anything that leaves doubt or fear in any relationship and most importantly with your children, is the potential source of ACEs in the future of those relationships.
I have no other agenda.
I wish every child could have the love and support that I had. It allowed me and my brothers and our whole tribe to share the legacy of love that Vernon and Grace Trayser gave us so beautifully. In that way…you can live forever. They are alive in us. Please take the chance that I am giving you a gift that is priceless. Live a life of joy…filled with NO REGRETS. Thank you mom and dad for loving us and each other the way you did. It was a joy to behold…




Discipline and Encourage


Discipline and Discourage


A great source of confusion in human beings can be generated by the fear of doing wrong. The problem is…we ARE human. We make mistakes. One of the great moments in life is learning not to make the same mistakes twice. If your child is frightened of making mistakes because of the way you react to those mistakes is with anger or physical abuse, you can count on possible permanent damage to the character of that child.

As a parent, you will find that love and support, used in the right manner can have amazing results. In this area of behavior, the ability to be kind when mistakes are made can actually drive a number of different behaviors in a positive direction. Mostly you need to learn that children are supposed to act like children. We are often upset with them when they act like children if you consider their learning curve. If you raise your voice or your hand early in their lives, you can count on fear being a motivating factor in a number of ways. You will discourage their desire to experiment with their abilities and personality that are DNA driven.

Somehow my parents were champions at this. Sure there were stern words when we tested their patience, but before bedtime there were hugs to be had and a gentle “angels watch over you” as we laid in our beds. There must have been something I did off the charts at least one time, because I do remember getting a decent swat on the behind one time as I cowered on my bed. But honestly, that’s all I can remember in the way of physical punishment. If you were smacked around by a parent, I’m sure you can remember the feeling of fear that pervades that time. If you can stop for a moment and realize that you surely would have preferred different treatment, I pray you have found the wisdom to not re-create that horror of body and heart.

The even greater concern is the fear that is generated by the physical act of striking a child puts a marker in the brain that will do anything to not have that happen again. You will diminish the comfort factor that is so necessary in the early years, that allows growth of the heart and soul of a child.   It’s strange that if this happens in an alcoholic home, there is a certain leniency in recrimination in that the “he only does that when he’s drinking” attitude seems to make it acceptable and demon alcohol is at fault. Frankly, that is pathetic. Any excuse for the abuse physically or mentally of a child is criminal behavior and should be dealt with as such. There are enough resources these days to reach out to, including removing the child from a home, that makes anyone not reporting in equally at fault.

I cannot remember striking any of my boys at any time regardless of the circumstance. I did use my parent’s punishment trick…disappointment. With the depth of their caring for us on a daily basis, I have to tell you that the face they made when we stepped out of line was a real killer for me. But like everything else in our lives, the cumulative nature of that feeling was earned by the trust they built by loving us so completely. You could feel the ache inside from upsetting them. It was also what allowed us to reach out to them as we got older and needed a good word of counsel or guidance as well.

Building that path with your heart means that you will have friends for life. It comes down to choosing happiness over fear. As life flies by you will find that if you have maintained the friendship part of your love for your children, it is where you will find the true riches of life. The One Commandment rises once again here in the simple thought of what you would have preferred growing up as a child. If it was fear that was used…what effect did it have on your life and if you could change it…wouldn’t you? Build that trust from day one by using discipline and encouragement and the path your children so richly deserve will lead right back to your heart.




Forgiveness & Healing

Forgiveness and Healing


Forgiveness is about choice. The conscious choice of happiness over frustration…calm over the constant replay of sadness that comes from the feeling of abuse; either physically or mentally. The part I struggle with is the complete waste of time that anger and sadness generate by the loop of thought that is created by the constant replay of tragic thought. The moment of clarity to step back and visualize life without that replay is a hard one to achieve. Yet, one must realize that the longer you hold close the feelings that manufacture the painful vision loop, the harder it will be to let it go.

For that reason, confrontation of those feelings with a resolve that can make a difference is a giant step toward your long term happiness. Like many other facets of your life, the cumulative nature of reliving and replaying your personal trauma over and over will take a great deal of your mental bandwidth.

Let’s use a simple analogy that I came up with. Consider for a moment that you have a bad tooth. It causes you pain every day. Your dentist, after viewing your x-rays let’s you know that there is a real problem with the decay surrounding the nerve in that tooth. What are your options? You can tell yourself that you can stand that amount of pain for a while and do nothing to fix it. You can start drinking cocktails early in the morning to self medicate some of the pain away. You can start taking some readily available pain pill medication in hopes that it will quiet the pain to a level that you can live with. You can man up and pull that tooth with your own pliers after a dozen beers…in the Old West I believe whiskey was the common denominator of choice. That option is going to leave a gap that will let you spit water better if it is in a strategically place location. Or, the last resort is a root canal procedure that actually can eliminate the pain and save the tooth. It is the most expensive route of choice, maybe because it takes a while to eliminate the pain permanently and that takes some real work, effort, skill and healing.

Now consider instead of your tooth, we are considering your soul. Due to some chaos in your upbringing and general family attitudes, your soul has some decay that causes you pain. After one meeting with a therapist, she suggests to you that she can feel and see the pain that surrounds your heart. What are your options? You can tell yourself that you can stand that amount of pain and do nothing to fix it. You can start drinking cocktails early in the morning or whenever the pain becomes too great. You can use a variety of drugs, legal or otherwise, to deaden the pain on an as needed basis. You can man up and feel the pain each day and become someone who chooses to live without joy or kindness because the pain sets you in a direction each day that does not allow you to give yourself away. The wall you have created with that pain will remain in place for as long as you can stand that level of discomfort. Or, you can CHOOSE to confront that pain and work hard enough to eliminate it and then perchance actually heal it.

Sound similar? Let’s just take wild shot here as to why our country is undergoing an epidemic of pain pill related deaths. Are you aware that more people die each year in the U.S. from pain pill overdoses than die in automobile accidents? It is the painful truth. Why don’t we hear more about it? Could it be the drug company lobbyists are doing their daily best to keep a lid on the situation? Nah! That couldn’t be…they want to heal you…or do they? Where do you see healing anywhere in the equation of taking pain pills? In this era of immediate gratification that we are accustomed to, why not just pop a pill to feel better? And I have heard they really do make you feel better. Add a little alcohol and ALL your problems go away…or do they? Healing? Where is the healing part of that equation? IT DOESN’T EXIST! Your physical heart actually takes a beating from drugs and alcohol from any study that you might find. So you have only added to the pain long term from my perspective…and it is still there if you find the strength to quit the drugs and/or alcohol.

Consider what it takes to fix your heart when the constant pain of sadness and longing for love overwhelms your daily thought. What is that will fix the pain permanently? Here’s where CHOICE rears its head once more. You have to WANT to feel better. You have to want to choose happiness over long term pain. And if you could possibly buy into my philosophy of “your happiness…is my happiness” you NEED to do it for your children. And frankly, the pain will not go away by itself…period.

My belief is that a combination of forgiveness and understanding are the essential components for the first steps on the path to recovery. There are a number of ways that forgiveness can be found. The short cut to forgiveness can happen if two parts come together. First of all, courage is an essential emotion that needs to be summoned to complete this first part…and timing is all important. If the person who is the source of your pain is alive, you can summon your courage and have a face to face discussion where it can be possible to gain the understanding of how and why that person has passed on the chain of dysfunction. And that is where it begins. Most situations that create unhappiness are not generated by design with the sole intent of causing harm I believe. They are passed down through generations of anger and longing from loneliness and abuse mentally or physically. The likelihood of abuse is dramatically greater in families where abuse has been passed down from other family members. For me…I wish the death penalty was used in clear cases of physical abuse. To me there is no greater transgression in life than this. The ultimate source of trust turned against one’s own family needs to be derailed. The wall that is created by this abuse is the definition of criminal in my eyes…and should be dealt with as such.

Healing from this situation takes the ultimate courage. Face to face understanding of how this trail of tears and fears has perpetuated needs to be dealt with while the offending party is alive if possible. The eyes of the perpetrator will most likely turn away in shame when confronted with truth. There is no defense I am aware of that justifies this abhorrent behavior. Simply saying it was done to them is not a good enough excuse in my world. This is where someone has a chance to break down a wall for generations to come. It confounds me that someone would bring a child into the world and then guarantee future sadness by committing an act so heinous. Anyone who is aware of this abuse and stands idly by is just as guilty in their silence. Healing comes in the form of forgiveness and understanding…followed by the desire to give one’s own heart away to others. Closing the door with sadness is a life not worth living. Joy is stolen for good. Wholehearted love is not possible. I believe the only way to win in this situation is to truly find the path to completeness by living with a vulnerable heart again. The road to this path of love is a bumpy one that requires support from any source that can make safety of the heart the primary goal. It may be driven by professional help, but emotional victory can only come from within. Happiness can only be achieved by rising above the pain.

I found some sensible and forthright ideas that can lead to a beginning of healing that made sense.

Here are some steps to make forgiveness happen:

  • Set aside time to discuss the issue one on one. Make sure it’s a good time to talk.
  • Identify the problem or harmful event. You must both agree that you’re ready to discuss the issue.
  • Fully explore the pain and concerns related to this issue for both of you. Talk openly about what has happened that harmed one or both of you. Don’t try this unless each of you is motivated to listen and show respect for each other’s viewpoints.
  • The offender asks for forgiveness. A sincere apology is a powerful addition to a request for forgiveness. “I’m sorry. I was wrong–please forgive me” is one of the most healing things that can be said between two people.
  • The offended agrees to forgive.
  • The offender commits to refrain from doing the thing that caused the offense.

Expect forgiveness to take time. A relationship has the best chance to heal when each party takes appropriate responsibility to make things good again in the relationship.


I am not a trained professional in this area. I am a motivator. My goal is to find hearts that need support and love and supply a jump start of belief, that life can be better and brighter. If you need a hug or a look of recognition at the beginning of your fight…I WILL BE THERE FOR YOU. That is why I declare that I am “ALL IN” for the remainder of my life, where other’s happiness is the goal of each day’s activity. I will help you find resources that will can start your journey to wholeness. My dream is to have a network of Greatful Dads that can be counted on to share access to their hearts, so that you can see that it is possible to have a relationship that can be stable and loving with NO fear at the core. Love at its finest is unconditional and can be learned through support and understanding. It is a shame that more parents haven’t mastered the simplicity of this love.

The other predominant source of pain which can be more difficult to deal with is apathy. Apathy is the quiet killer of children’s hearts. It shows up in a variety of manners. These days, going back to my equation, lack of time that is invested in a child’s life in the early years becomes a lethal dagger that can last a lifetime. Making a child feel not worthy of love is incredibly cruel. Having that happen as a result of chasing the American Dream, with material goods at the core, is incredibly hurtful and way too common. The lack of understanding that the formative early years are beyond priceless is the center of my message. There is no “do over” in child rearing. You have to make that time count. The cumulative effect of caring begins here. The opposite is also true. The cumulative effect of apathy creates a “stolen childhood” where emotional bankruptcy is created. Money does not buy happiness and a family that believes that everything is okay because they have the resources financially to do anything they desire…can be bankrupt emotionally from top to bottom. Again…spending twice as much time caring for one another…. and half as much money is a good tenet to live by.


I found a resource that makes sense to me as a way to find forgiveness through commons sense ideas and heartfelt discussion.

Marriage and family therapists James Harper and Mark Butler offer additional help in forgiving and seeking forgiveness from others.

Seeking forgiveness from others:

  • Engage in self-confrontation – regularly examine your actions and motives. Ask “Is it I?” – be the first to confess and apologize, and, if appropriate, reconcile and restore your relationship.
  • Self-disclose – share your feelings and story with family members or loved ones.
  • Avoid confessions in which you blame or fail to accept responsibility (such as saying, “I’m sorry, but if you wouldn’t have said that . . . . ).Search for solutions instead of blame.

Forgiving others:

  • Live your own forgiven-ness – we all have experiences where others have forgiven us.
  • Remember that every person’s sense of worth is important – realize that by forgiving them you aid in their personal experience of forgiveness.
  • Seek with all your heart and mind for anger to be lifted. This may often include prayer, meditation, or some other activity to rid yourself from anger’s poison.
  • Develop empathy and emotional understanding for the situation of your offender. For example, do they have parents or children? What were the circumstances surrounding what they did?
  • Avoid unnecessary retelling of the offense – dwelling on such reinforces an unforgiving heart as well as solidifying the event in your mind.
  • Remember that forgiving rarely entails memory loss but freedom from preoccupation with the offense – do not let your thoughts, emotions, and reactions be consumed by the offense.

Forgiving one another from our hearts helps restore the peace and contentment that can be a part of every family. But forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. By forgiving another, regardless of the actions of others, you do yourself a great service. You let go of bitterness, contempt, vindictiveness, and desires for revenge that sap you of mental and emotional energy you could use in other areas of your life. It is important to let these things go because if you don’t, the other person – even if you never see them again – continues to hold power over your emotions and your thoughts – and you.

They give this template I believe as valid starting points in overcoming your pain. The key remains in my eyes…you’ve got to really want it to make it happen. That’s when ICE comes into play once again! Believe that there can be a brighter day and YOU can make it happen. What is the alternative?

Healing again comes from achieving a life that works at creating a path to your own heart. That vulnerability is the core that allows you to feel safe to share your fears, your joy, your tears, your pain, your disappointment, all of your emotions with others. That connection is what makes life complete. Hiding behind the wall of pain is all too common and virtually guarantees a life of longing and loneliness. That is the source of so many unhappy adult children. They have given up the hope that joy can be theirs. When I find myself having my own pity party, I have found that picking up the phone and asking someone “what can I do to help you today” is the way to crawl out of that lonely despair. I learned that from my mother who taught me by example that filling up your own cup was done by giving yourself away. That is where God lives for me. Giving away my love for free with the sole goal of brightening someone else’s day for no good reason. Losing yourself in love. Watching over others became the way of life for my children in the single digit years of their lives and is perhaps the greatest gift I could have given them. The unforeseen byproduct of that is they do it for me…almost on a daily basis. That is why I have tried so hard to share that message. It works in two directions and lasts a lifetime. Loving with no regrets is the ultimate use of your heart and time. Find that way and the path you create can last for many generations to come. It’s the only way I can see to live forever…

Teaching Parenting- The Future of Hospital Wellness- Learn Your ACE score!

Teaching Parenting- The Future of Hospital Wellness- Learn Your ACE score!

As I sit here in Nashville, the nation’s capital of Healthcare, I have been trying to start a dialogue in the hospital world, where hospitals begin to realize that many illnesses are caused by stress.

There was a dramatic moment for me two weeks ago when I heard as NPR radio series related to some clinical research done by a doctor from Kaiser Permanente years ago in San Diego that established a scorecard of early life experience of his patients. It is called an ACE score…Adverse Childhood Experience. He discovered that when he asked his obese patients more about their childhoods, not just their medical history, he found to his great amazement the high percentage of abuse in their lives. Abuse comes in a number of forms and he established a grid of ten questions outlining those various manners of abuse. He found that if his patients scored four or more yes answers to life events, the percentage of increase in MANY bad health outcomes was staggering.

Much to his amazement, the research done and the significant trail of illnesses discovered fell on deaf ears. After hearing the NPR radio shows related to this, I found that there is starting to be a wave of interest in the subject once again. There are a number of groups like ACE Connection and ACE’s TOO HIGH that are promoting the idea that it has to be only a matter of time before the healthcare world incorporates this data into their mainstream strategy of approaching WELLNESS.

Everyone agrees that children are showing up for school less prepared for learning than ever before. I read yesterday that many believe that many of our ADD and ADHD cases could simply be those children who are at risk at home and are suffering from the onslaught of ACE issues. If you haven’t seen or heard of the dramatic number of kids on drugs like Ritalin in early school years, it would stun you for certain. I have been saying out loud for years that you can tell pretty much right away which children are getting the proper help at home and those who aren’t. I used to help edit my wife’s 1st grade report cards and just from her comments about a child’s behavior and learning skills, you could hear in her voice clearly how often after the first parent conference, she could tell why a child was struggling with their learning.

We all see the tide turning worse in the primary education world. So where is the strategy to make the changes necessary to turn the tide in a better direction. Where and who are we going to look to help reduce the number of social services and steadily increasing costs of healthcare that are a result of high ACE scores? The only pragmatic place I see is the hospital. When a mother shows up for a pre-natal appointment, why not have an ACE questionnaire be part of the initial screening. Without that first effort, we will continue to pass on dysfunctional behaviors simply because they don’t know what a good environment looks and feels like.

Billions of dollars are being wasted in healthcare costs and social services because we are not that focusing on prevention of ACE, instead we treat the symptoms that show up as a result of poor parenting. We know that parents will dedicate some time in pre-child care…like Lamaze classes. Yet, we are still in the dark ages of nervousness about being honest about our childhood experiences. Candor in the hospital community about these issues needs to be addressed.

Funny thing, an old client of mine, Richard Umbdenstock, is now CEO of the American Hospital Administration. I had a brief conversation with him a few months ago regarding my efforts to help change the tide of childhood painful life. I read one of his latest speeches and it said the AHA was going to focus on reaching out this year for more Community involvement. Why not start by doing a bit of research on ACE scores for ALL of their patients. Once the community sees that they are not alone in their shame of a dark childhood past, we can begin to address the issue by inviting the parents to a meeting where someone like me, only because I had the proper support as a child, to share a template of what a functional family looks and feels like.

I beg for the opportunity to speak in a lighthearted way about the joy of good parenting and family happiness. I know people are hungry for that connection. Imagine looking forward to Thanksgiving for a change!!! So, join me in learning more about ACE research and finding a way for hospitals to be the true WELLNESS resource they have to be to turn the tide of sadness into a life of joyfulness and comfort for each child born into our crazy world.

You wouldn’t buy a plant and not feed it or nurture it would you? You wouldn’t expect a new computer that is fed a virus on the first day to work properly would you? It works the same for our pets and our children…only YOU can start a child’s life with all the advantages that love can bring to a new heart and mind!

If you believe stress can cause illness…you might want to read further!

If you believe that stress can cause illness…you may want to read further.

I have been told that there are incentives in the Affordable Care Act for healthcare institutions to become a place that promotes wellness as a way of doing business, as opposed to exclusively being a place where the sick are treated.

My name is John Trayser and I am known around the country as The Greatful Dad. In my 65 years of life, the hard truth I see on an almost daily basis, is how sad and unhappy people are from the way they were raised by their parents. The stress that causes in their daily lives is the source of most alcohol and drug abuse I believe. Those key formative first five years of life are crucial to the core of belief that they are loved and supported, which allows each of us to have the opportunity to become comfortable in our own skin. Without that support, life can be fraught with hardship. The hard truth is that is just as easy to pass on dysfunction as a way of life as it is to pass on kindness, guidance, love, support and happiness.

I am trying to change the world today and every day by inspiring people to see the hope that we can find ways to better connect with not just our families, but everyone we meet by watching over others. It is what my three sons do best. That is why I write books about the subject. Teachers in grade school years constantly pointed out how unusual it was to watch my children watch over other children on a daily basis. At a critical 3rd grade conference of my son Jared, a teacher begged me to write down what I had done to create that behavior. And I did.

Today at 29 years old, Jared is that same person. His boss took me aside this year and asked what I had done to create such an unusually caring young man…and that his behavior had actually changed his business in a way that he never knew existed. All three of my sons (I had a little girl who lived 13 days) and the children of my brothers as well, carry that same behavior and DNA that was given to us so unconditionally by our parents. I believe that this is something that can be shared and learned if presented in the right manner and at the right time…the early formative years.

Here is why I want to challenge you to create a paradigm shift in parenting. Your hospital connection is the RIGHT PLACE to begin a wave of change in helping create more safe and happy children. Most parents are willing to invest 6 or more blocks of time for Lamaze classes in order to have a good chance of a great birthing experience. For that amount of time, they get their child in usually one day right? Who, when, how and where do we invest time from that point on in ensuring the safety and emotional care of that child? Stop now and try and answer that for me.

My third book about these formative years is ready to be published…and yet, my brother Dave always very simply says, “You know what you know.” I KNOW he is right! But what if what you know is dysfunction and unhappiness? Is that what is passed on? Alarmingly yes, that is what is being passed on. And NO ONE says it is getting better.

To clarify, I am not a clinician, a psychologist or any type of trained parental expert. I am simply a GREATful Dad. All of my success in the financial services world, I was the founding member of Franklin Templeton Funds Institutional Group 30 years ago, was achieved by treating all of my clients like family. I often was accused of being more like family than my client’s own families. And to the chagrin of my competitors was often a guest overnight in their homes. I am still Uncle John on many refrigerators around the country. My boys are finding happiness and success sharing that same appreciation for the extra joy that comes from changing hearts one at time by watching over others.

I speak around the country in a variety of places. Schools, corporations, associations and the like find my message inspiring. Yet, you hold the key to the future welfare of our society. You can hold the banner of WELLNESS high and get the attention of the parenting world like no other institution. You are there from the very first day. I even talk about your institution at the very beginning of my presentations…

My core belief is this. When the father goes to the maternity ward to wheel Mom down to the front door of the hospital…God, whichever one you believe in, goes to the trunk of your car and puts a load of bricks in your car. When you get home…you have two very distinct choices as to what you do with those bricks. You can either build a path between your hearts for your child to walk safely on each day…or you can build a wall between your hearts.

The simplicity and honesty of that statement stops people in their tracks…because EVERYONE knows if they had a path or a wall. For the last ten years of my life I have been very busy trying to build paths and knock down walls with my daily effort. I was making just short of a million dollars a year in the finance world. Yet, when I started speaking and touching hearts, my world changed almost overnight. People would stand in line for almost 2 hours to talk and hug me after a presentation. But the real change came from people who tracked me down at home and called to say they took my advice and read my book out loud with their children. The first caller said she got up the courage to read the book out loud with her two teenage daughters. She said it took 3 1/2 hours to read the first two chapters because they were sitting on the floor in their room crying, laughing and hugging because conversations had started with the words that had been left unsaid for all those years…and that I had changed their family forever. FOREVER!

I quit the financial services business in the next few months. It had become unimportant in my life. I had built a fishing resort in The Bahamas, Bonefish Beach Club of Andros and hoped that it would allow me the financial freedom to change hearts for the rest of my days.

Someone sent a copy of my book to NPR Radio in Milwaukee and it started a chain of 8 years of Father’s Day call in shows. The host was suffering from a distant relationship with his own father and he called from time to time for help in knocking down his own brick wall. Business people are not sure what to make of my message until they stop looking at quarterly numbers and realize that creating a “Family at Work” culture is where sustained growth and long term success is where real value can be found. Almost every one of the Best 100 Companies to Work For List in Fortune magazine has created the feeling of being a family. Same goes for successful sports franchises…you hear it at the end of EVERY Super Bowl interview right? That’s why my core presentation is called “Does it feel like Family.”

I moved to Nashville last July because the people at The Renaissance Center in Dickson, the place where they produce the local PBS shows, offered me a TV show based on all my work. As will happen, things have changed and the center was sold to a college and my original sponsor had a change in management. So I have been trying to make efforts to find a way to change hearts more than one at a time…I am running out of time. I am absolutely certain that I was put on this earth to touch hearts.

I am reaching out to you after meeting and talking with an attorney that does acquisitions for HCA and loved my message. I also had an advocate at Centennial (F. Clarke Holmes) who was helping me with a torn muscle in my elbow, who tried to get me an appointment with the head of marketing. He loved the book I gave him and read it with his children. I am asking you for an audience as a group or individuals to see if we can find a common ground in creating a new wave of hope for parents who NEED A TEMPLATE when the day arrives for creating a path to their child’s heart. My son Jared has the same DNA of belief that he can touch hearts as well and we have been looking for an organization that would allow us to share our message together in a format that will inspire others to believe that paths can be created…and walls can be knocked down.

Please excuse the length of my letter, yet I write like I speak…with passion and caring right out front. I am looking for advocates who might help the hospital world hear my voice. Help me help others!

John Trayser… The Greatful Dad!

A new wave of Caring!

One of the most important lessons I learned from my folks was…to fill up your own cup…give away yourself to others.

I now own the domain name…The Caring I bought it only a year ago and frankly was surprised it was available. I’m known around the country as The Greatful Dad, but this year I may have to change my focus to The Caring Guy. Why? Because caring and parents teaching caring seems to be a lost art and it is getting worse…NOT better. Ask any teacher.

With the Digital Age cascading into our lives, the simple art of direct conversation is falling to the wayside in a tsunami of technology. Go out to any restaurant tonight and count how many tables you see where the ENTIRE family is focused down on their own smartphone…and it is going on at home even more. And families are not even taking the time to sit down together for dinner.

That private time was invaluable for me growing up and also for raising our own family. Face to face…eye to eye…asking questions like…What was the most interesting thing you heard today? And then being quiet and listening and learning what was important in our children’s lives. And if you LISTEN…you will find out just who your children really are…and what is important to the DNA roll only they have.

If I could only ask one thing of your parenting effort this year…that would be IT! Dedicate your dinner time to caring enough to sit together and talk to each other. My baby is now 27…and it seems impossible that time has flown by so quickly in my life. I am beyond grateful for every minute we invested in our boys hearts. The payback has been incredible. They truly are my best friends.

As I held my father’s hand as he took his last breath…all I could say repeatedly was…Thank you Dad. That is my goal as well. Most parents work their entire lives hoping to leave something of value for their children. Many think it should be money or a house…I hope to leave behind my HEART. In that way I can truly live forever…

Should I Keep Trying?

It is difficult at times living at the edges of the Bell Shaped Curve.  I am either making a fortune…or nothing.  I am either ridiculously happy…or hiding under the table.

Lately, this lifetime dream of touching hearts is taking a toll.  Yet, when it does happen…it carries my spirit for days.  I have reached out a number of ways since moving to Nashville.  I’ve talked with Nashville Parent magazine.  I’ve talked with radio stations.  I’ve met some influential people in the music business.  I have made contact with people at Tri-Star Hospital group.  I’ve been in touch with other dad writing guys.  They have all expressed interest in helping move my project and effort along.

Then…no return phone calls…no return emails…and a sadness sets in that influences my entire day.  Actually, I described it as living a real life Ground Hog Day…like the movie…existence.  It makes enjoying a day hard.  I lose my spirit and joy until I find myself in another situation where a new face in need of a good word appears in front of me.

So, yesterday…on the way to the dentist…I see a car with its right tail light out.  Usually I would make the effort let that person know about it…because how else are you going to know about that…because you can’t see it for yourself right?  As fate would have it…the car comes along side me at the next light.  I actually wonder if it is worth the effort.  She might get nervous about me motioning her…why bother…no one cares about you trying to watch over others…yet, my darn parents lived every moment like it counted.  So, I rolled down my window and said…you might like to know that your right brake light is out.  She said…thank you…and your left one is out.  I laughed out loud and so did she.  Now, that’s funny.  Was it a message to keep trying?  Why wouldn’t she have done the same thing for me…because I know she wasn’t going to tell me unless I made the effort first?

The really funny thing is that my car is very new and I doubted that the tail light was out…the sun was very bright from behind us and she might have been mistaken.  When the wife came home I confirmed my suspicion…the light was working.

Yet, that momentary laugh out loud was enough to carry my spirit to my new dentist office.  I was my usual friendly self and made some new friends.  I even gave my new dentist…Dr Cheryl Snyder…a book and some friendly words and got a hug before I left.  Might have lifted a heart or two there.  Thanks mom and dad.

Later, a certified letter tag showed up in my mailbox…so I jumped in the car and went to the listed post office.  I was told that the carrier had the letter in her truck.  So, I returned home and waited for Dana to show up…it’s always nice to be friendly to the typically nameless people in your life.  She came to the door around 3:30 and had me sign for it.  I knew what it was.  It was a re-sent check and documents from my secretary Cathy Farrell-Katz from 30 years ago…wanting to help my project.  She wanted to make a contribution to my 501c3 because she often credits me with changing her life…still calls me on Boss’s Day!

Dana asked what project I was talking about…and described my Greatful Dad efforts.  The twinkle in her eye disappeared as she said she was struggling on recovering her relationship with her 16  year old son…and discovered that she had to change herself first.  I told her that was HUGE to learn that and that good things would come to her if she continued on that path.  I ran downstairs and grabbed a copy of my book and suggested she try reading the first two chapters out loud with her son.  I told her that the sweet lady sending this check called me one day and told me that it took 3 1/2 hours to do the 31 pages because her 13 and 14 year old daughters and they were sitting on the floor crying and hugging as they learned that words left unsaid had been healed.

So, I got a few big hugs and smiles from Dana as she returned to her truck.

How many people get a hug from their mail carrier and dentist in the same day?  I considered it a great day and will work hard today to make a difference…without thought of any return.  I continue to believe all love should be unconditional.  And so do my boys.

Thank you again Mom and Dad!!!