February 27, 2006


Thinking about priorities is hard. It requires that I consider everything I do and wonder if I am doing it to the level at which I wish to do it. For example, Circle K is a priority to me. It provides me a way to serve my community, helps other students to see active service, provides them an opportunity to serve others and become a leader and all the while it builds friendships and relationships that will help define each of our lives. Circle K is important to me and sometimes that importance is overshadowed. It is overshadowed by other things that aren’t as important but still pile up together somehow to block out my energy from getting where I would like it to go. Pre-Med Allied Health Honors Society and being an RA are important to me, but they aren’t as important as Circle K. Being a successful and developed honors student in the field of biology is important to me, but sometimes that is overshadowed by how much time I spend on the Student Advisor program or a developing recycling program at Campbell. I have choices and difficult times of priority that require decisions about what I want to be remembered through. These things show how well I use my time and challenge me to be a full person instead of a half of a person doing a lot of things. Like Bilbo said, as Chase reminded me, I feel 'like butter spread over too much bread.' That is difficult. I think it’s time I spread myself a little differently.


Love is more than an idea when you talk with people, hold on with people and make memories with people. Love is more than an idea when you look into someone’s eyes and stare, deepening your understanding of them and yourself at the same time. Love is beautiful and moving when people surprise you, moments take you to somewhere you have never been and when all the things you used to know come together in very new ways to create a brand new experience.
I love being around people, especially special people; special people who know me for who I am and who I hope to become. These people encourage me and hold me and somehow they help me define love in a very real way.

February 26, 2006

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

February 19, 2006


I am open to the guidance of synchronicity,
and do not let expectations hinder my path.
– Insight from the Dalai Lama (February 18th/19th)

How is it, that this was the quote for this weekend? I read it as I returned to my room (the entirety of which was post-it noted by my friends, I will write more soon) and I read it in a state of awe. I have been talking, writing, thinking and puzzling over this exact idea for the past two days. I wrote two huge entries on expectations and sychronicity last night while everyone else was asleep. I thought today, all day, about being right where I was and letting things happen as they seem to need to happen. Now, I write this after looking up the definition of sychronicity.

Sychronicity (noun) : The coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality. (Webster’s)

I didn’t even know this word and it was exactly what I was talking about. Danielle, Anna and I talked about déjà vu for hours, I wrote about it for hours, I thought about it for days and I have been having more of it recently than in any time in my life. Somehow and for some reason maybe, I have been picturing myself where I am. I have been feeling coincidences over and over again and I have been experiencing myself right where I was, weird as it is. It’s exciting and it’s crazy, but it definitely feels very real. I feel like I am receiving guidance of synchronocity and somehow the less and less I let expectations hinder my path, the more and more I seem to experience every step.

February 18, 2006


I am sitting in a wonderful city within a wonderful hotel, attending the 45th Annual Carolinas District Circle K Convention. It has been a wonderful trip and I have received a lot of wonderful rewards, and most of those rewards have come from two very special women.
Anna and Danielle have made this trip wonderful and I really feel like I am right where I am when I am with them. I stay up late, I go out late, I come to things late, I turn in things late, I arrive to things late and somehow we are always right on time. They are beautiful people who think very hard about the good in themselves and in others. They bring people up around them, they inspire others to be great and they make me feel wonderfully lucky to be sharing the same space with them. They are addictively attractive in their personalities and their behavior, being playful, serious, contemplative and ridiculous all at the same time. They make me feel like I should explore all kinds of wild adventures with them and at the same time, I feel like we can just stay right where we are and talk for hours upon hours. Somehow we do both.
As I think about special people in my life, I think about what they mean to me and what they will mean to me in the future. These are trick questions, trick expectations, trick thoughts. What do they mean to me right now? They are my friends. They are people whom I have invested my time and energy into and with whom I have shared many wonderful adventures. They are beautiful, wonderful, helpful and special human beings whom I am better in myself for knowing. They have shown me sides of myself that I needed to see and helped me to answer questions about myself that I have always wanted to ask. They are my friends. They don'’t have to live forever to mean all of these things to me. They don'’t even have to live until tomorrow for all of this to be true to me. I don't even have to live until tomorrow for all of this to be true. I am friends with Danielle and Anna and we have been friends through an exciting time in our lives. They are a part of my continuing development as a happy and balanced person and I am a part of their continued development as happy and balanced people. I feel very thankful for every moment I have spent with them. I feel very thankful for every thought we have been able to share, every song we have been able to sing and every feeling we have been able to discuss. I want them to know that I care about them both deeply, that I love them for who they are and that I accept them for everything they are and dream of becoming, as well as for everything that they may do that they will regret. I hope that I will be here as a friend and as myself, to help them when they need help. I want to be available to them and I want to care about them so that they can come to me when they need to and when they want to. I want to be their friend. I want to be me. I want them to be them. I want to sit right here and reflect on a wonderful trip with two wonderful people, in a wonderful place surrounded by wonderful things. I want to and I am. I am.

Great Expectations

Expectations can often be a disabling challenge. When I have expectations of a certain outcome, I am met with often two simple results. In one situation, the results do not meet my expectations and the good I thought would happen doesn’t. Not only does this mean that something good didn’t happen, it also means that I made something bad even worse. I turned a possibly neutral situation into a negative one just by expectation. In a second situation, the results meet my expectations, but the good that I thought would happen is only still as good as I thought it might be. For example, I thought I would win the President of the Year Award. I hoped I would, I expected I would, then I did. Somehow, however, I began to take it apart because of that. I didn’t enjoy it like I might have, I was so nervous, I was so anxious about losing, I was so worried about who might win, I was worried about what it would mean if I lost. Now that I won, I can sit here and worry about if I had good competition, if I tried hard enough, if the award is really worth anything. Over and over again in my head, I can think through what could have been. I can rethink what was, I can overthink what has been and I can experience almost everything under the sun expect for one thing…the exact moment I am in.
I didn’t stand there and receive the applause, I didn’t look in Alec’s eyes like I could have and appreciate his congratulations, I didn’t take my time in thinking through my feelings and the moment and my emotions and my great fortune in being right where I was that moment. I thought about where I was going, I thought about where I had been, I thought about what else was coming and I was thinking about what it took to get to right where I was. Why wasn’t I where I was? Why am I having such a hard time being me, Travis Craig Hellstrom, during the 128,567,679,657th second of my life, give or take 1,000, just doing the best I can? Why am I everywhere but here? Where am I?
I think I’m growing. I am learning and becoming a better person little by little. It’s exciting and wonderful and requires, I think, a great deal of reflection on my part. I have learned a lot about who I want to be, and I have mostly learned a lot about who I really am. It’s confusing, honestly. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I am and that seems to be often one of the most concrete things that I should know. Maybe that’s just it though. Maybe the key is to ask myself right where I am, am I doing everything I need to do? Am I living my life like the dream that it can be, like the wonder that it is, or am I creating for myself a nightmare of confusing, second-guessing and numb experiences. Often I’m doing both. Not so often do I sit back and enjoy right where I am, right now. Just like right now.

February 15, 2006

This He Believes

This He Believes. Dr. Ben Carson is a doctor whom I have watched, a speaker whom I have heard personally in Washington, D.C. and a family friend with whom my friend Zoe has eaten dinner. He is a normal man in many ways and an extraordinary man in others. He received world renown for his work with pediatric neurosurgery and is regularly one of the most sought after professors at one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools, Johns Hopkins. Hearing him speak, reading about him in stories and hearing about him from Zoe has kept me interested in him for years now. After all of that, now hearing his “This I Believe” means all that much more to me.
Dr. Carson believes in his mother. He believes in parenting, he believes in teaching and he believes in helping others become great. Around us, all the time, people are here to help us and teach us if we are ready and willing. I appreciate hearing what Dr. Carson had to say, and in thinking myself about people who have really made my life great.

People Who Take Care

I received this poem today through Finding Meaning in Medicine, a program run through Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. I found it very moving, along with the thoughts of the person who posted it named Martina Nicholson.

People Who Take Care

People who take care of people
get paid less than anybody
people who take care of people
are not worth much
except to people who are
sick, old, helpless, and poor
people who take care of people
are not important to most other people
are not respected by many other people
come and go without much fuss
unless they don’t show up
when needed
people who make more money
tell them what to do
never get shit on their hands
never mop vomit or wipe tears
don’t stand in danger
of having plates thrown at them
sharing every cold
observing agonies
they cannot tell at home
people who take care of people
have a secret
that sees them through the double shift
that moves with them from room to room
that keeps them on the floor
sometimes they fill a hollow
no one else can fill
sometimes through the shit
and blood and tears
they go to a beautiful place, somewhere
those clean important people
have never been.

Martina wrote: This poem grips me. I was surprised that some people did not like it, were "bummed out" by it, considered it a "downer", and not appropriate to share in the physicians' listserve. So what is it about this poem that is so hard for people to accept? To me it is true that the caretakers are poorly paid. And that our society has not valued the work of the caretakers. And yet, more of us are going into medicine, and more of us are aware that the work we do, this humble work, is very holy; perhaps the holiest work there is. And so we are people with unclean hands, with hands blessed with body fluids, and not in any glamorous way. And yet, we are blessed by the work. And there is some gift in the work that takes us to the beautiful place, the heavenly place, where the sacred is recognized.
I think a little about mothering and nurturing, and compassion. I think some of the womanly qualities of care-giving are being added into the mix of doctoring, as well as nursing. We are realizing there is a jigsaw puzzle of healthcare with all of us in it; and all of us important in the team of care-givers and compassionate community-builders who together make up the circle around someone who is sick, or frail and elderly. So this poem is a very interesting conciousness-raiser about these thoughts. And I guess I want to say "I love you" to everyone who wants to be standing in this circle with the body fluids and effluents on our hands and in our noses, and feels still that this is holy work. I want to welcome us to the brotherhood and sisterhood in this work, and to the feeling of sharing it together. Which is hard to do, because we have almost never used the kind of language which would help to define this. We talk about the blood counts and the technical lab values, but not the holiness. We forget to mention the sacramentality and wholeness it gives us. If we lived in a pre-technological culture, it would not be so hard to talk with normal words about the holiness of our work.
So I guess I am lucky for the time I spent in the Peace Corps, and in traveling, so that I could step away from the strictures of the technological empirical bindings. And say hello, whether you are a patient or a caretaker, because in the field in which we are standing, we are sharing something that feels very precious to each of us. It is not hierarchical, and it is extremely human. Bless you. Amen.”

Amen Martina. Amen.

February 12, 2006

Book One

Marcus thanks friends, family, teachers and gods in his life for all of the good he is able to enjoy. He specifically outlines what he has gained from these people and what he is thankful for. Of the seventeen thank you’s, five were to family members, eight were to friends and two were to teachers with the last two being for his father and the gods. Thinking on my own life, that is quite impressive. It is difficult to think of everyone I would like to thank, and for what I would like to thank them. Although several of Marcus’s friends mentioned were from when he was younger, atleast two appear to be from when he was older. Sextus and Maximus are mentioned as great examples of fathers and citizens who taught Marcus a lot. They each receive lengthy paragraphs where others received only a few lines of mention. Greatest, however, were the mentions of Marcus’s adoptive father Emperor Antoninus Pius and the gods. He goes on to describe his father as a great leader and father who taught him “strength, steadfastness, and moderation on all occasions, a spirit perfectly balanced and indomitable.” (I.16) As far as the gods go, Marcus lists thanks for “good grandparents, good parents, a good sister, good teachers, good companions, relatives and friends – almost all of them good.” (I.17) Last, he goes on to thank the gods for “the fact that my body has stood up so long under the strain of the life I lead…for not having done anything I would later regret during one of my frequent fallings-out with Rusticus…for a wife like mine…for an unending supply of excellent teachers for my children…for dreams that cured me from coughing up blood and from vertigo and for the guidance of the oracle at Caieta, ‘It’s up to you!’” Ending Book One, Marcus writes “All these good things came “from the hand of God and with the help of Fortune.”


Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 C.E. He was born in 121 to Emperor Hadrian but was adopted by the new emperor when Hadrian died in 124. Growing up there as adopted son of Emperor Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius became a Caesar at the age of 18 and served along with his adoptive father with tribunician power from 147 to 161. Emperor Antoninus died then in 161 and Marcus assumed the role of Emperor.
Known as the last of the “five good emperors” Marcus was, in the words of the translaters C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks “in many ways, the fabulous realization of Plato’s dream of a philosopher-king…never again would civilization reach these heights under one ruler.”
Most recently made popular by the movie Gladiator, Emperor Marcus Aurelius epitomized sage wisdom and reflection. He “seemed impossibly good” in his reputation according to the Hicks brothers and I am inclined to believe them.
“Our work habits, daily concerns, and brotherhood allowed us to imagine a certain sympathy with the probable practice of the second-century philosopher-emperor-general. An hour or two of written thought exercise, stolen at the end of a day managing people, fulfilling social and religious obligations, and being husband, father and citizen, can revive the spirits. The refreshing candor with which Marcus voices his daily frustrations and the vigor with which he admonishes himself won our hearts and inspired us to bear our much lighter burdens with less complaint and far more gratitude.”

I must say the writings of the Emperor, thus far, have certainly done the same for me as well.


For some time I have intended on reading Meditations by Emperor Marcus Aurelius and after sifting through different translations over the last few months, I have come across the translation with which I wish to begin. The Emperor’s Handbook, written in 2002 by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks, outlines in general language the feeling of Meditations as they believe Marcus Aurelius originally intended. They cross-referenced current translations of the book in English and French and then rechecked their own translations with the original Greek, doing whatever they could to express what they believe was Marcus’s original meaning. I have been throughly impressed so far with what I have read and from all of its glimmering reviews I believe I will be impressed by this translation of the book until the very end.
In no certain time frame, I plan to read through each of the twelve books of Meditations and then write a brief review of each book including my thoughts. I will post each review as I make them until each book has been read and then that will be that. Or atleast, that will be that for here. Like any handbook, I imagine The Emperor’s Handbook is likely to be picked up again and again. As the Hicks brothers write in the Introduction:
“Everything about The Emperor’s Handbook suggests that Marcus used it to remind himself of his guiding principles and to hold himself accountable to them. These are not merely thoughts “recollected in tranquility,” but they contain the landmarks and lighthouses by which he navigated a life, the life not of a saintly recluse, but of a general, administrator, legislator, husband, father, and judge beseiged on all sides.”

It is this handbook which I intend to study very carefully and which I expect to enjoy very thoroughly.

Antwone Fisher

I think Antwone Fisher is a movie about psychiatry, strength, family and personal growth and I also think it is an incredible motion picture. Directed by Denzel Washington, winner of the coveted Travis Hellstrom Inner Peace Award, the movie was everything I hoped it would be. Denzel plays Dr. Jerome Davenport, a naval psychiatrist evaluating naval seaman Antwone Fisher, played by Derek Luke. Together they travel through Antwone'’s past and help him to confront everything from childhood abuse to adult anger.

As a student planning to go into the medical field and maybe even psychiatry, the movie Antwone Fisher especially hit home with me. I think it would be quite an honor, to be able to assist someone in such a difficult situation. I am certainly more spurred on now to continue to look at psychiatry as an area of interest, maybe just as much as I am spurred on to watch as many Denzel Washington movies as I can get my hands on. An accomplished actor, budding director and overall great person, Denzel Washington has never disappointed me. I couldn'’t be prouder of my foresight in choosing a recipient for the Inner Peace Award, and I couldn't be more eager in recommending this movie to my friends. Thank you Denzel. Keep up the good work.

February 8, 2006


I was going to write about the Intelligent Design dinner and presentation I went to today, tonight, but instead I think I am going to write about friends. Tomorrow I will write about the Intelligent Design stuff.
Friends are an interesting thing, or interesting things rather. They are people that you meet for one reason or another, who you then spend time with and get to know, who you then trust and have intimate contact with and then in some instances who you rely on and look to for support, inspiration, fun and entertainment. Friends can be a lot of things, and can take a lot of time, but they can also be a challenge. Sometimes we can’t spend time with our friends like we would want. Sometimes we even forget to contact them, e-mail them, call them or visit them when they would like for us to. Sometimes we have regrets.
It can be a difficult thing, balancing all the other things life throws at us…plus friends. However, what really matters in the end? Is it best to have priorities ordered from spirituality to family to friends to work to clubs to hobbies? I’m a pretty big organizer and sometimes it’s helpful. Sometimes it is better just to have a feel for it though. Sometimes friends just feel like they need to be important, that friendship needs to be important. It’s a hard decision still, but it’s like Sean Covey says:
If you had to cross a beam between two skyscrapers, what would you cross it for? A thousand dollars? Ten thousand? A million? What about a family member? A friend?

He is testing us on priorities; what is of utmost importance to us as individuals. Sometimes I don’t know exactly. Sometimes I do.

February 5, 2006

Living in Harmony

I drove through a place called Harmony while in Florida over the summer. It seemed too perfect for a community, and maybe it was. The whole place had been manufactured as a whole. It was a town before the first person moved there and it has been constructed as a stand alone community within our new worldwide infrastructure. There are commercial, industrial and residential areas within the town limits all within walking distance. There are schools, elementary school through high school, again all within walking distance. There is a town center, plenty of parks, a nature preserve, a full-time community biologist, town administration and even a little dog park. It seems like everything is taken care of and everyone is taken care of too.
Is this our future? Is this how things are supposed to be? I'm not sure. I suppose there are many beautiful things which this community seems to exemplify and I expect there are also things which are a bit far from reality too. I've lived in different communities throughout my life and I'm still not sure what reality is. I'’ve been happy in many different places and I'm not quite sure what harmony is. Maybe by thinking more, listening more and living more I will figure out those things. Maybe I'll figure out if a place that seems perfect might just be that and maybe if I think it, I can help create it. Maybe.

Eagle Team EMS

Another wild week in the life of Eagle Team EMS. First Chase was eating too fast in Marshbanks and then Travis choked on an oatmeal cookie in the Rumley Center...well, actually those were just scenarios. Chosen for their realism and relevance to our cause, these two scenarios served us well today as not one, not two, but five Eagle Team members became CPR certified.
Anna “Mama Bird” Garrett, Danielle “Hawk-eye” Dolan, Amy “Hummingbird” Lee, Shaw “Albatross (Bravo Captain)” Rowe, and Travis “Eagle 1” Hellstrom all went through an intensive Saturday CPR certification training from 8am to 4pm and came out better people. Developing their skills in Infant, Child and Adult CPR, these five daring doers of good met with other friends from Campbell and practiced and practiced. We watched American Heart Association videos, hunted through our textbooks, pressed on dummies, breathed into bags, tooks tests (twice in my case) and left smarter, faster and more prepared.
Good work you goodie-two-shoeses you. We might not save anybody in the next few days, but then again…we might. Eagle 1 over and out.

Google Video

My newest favorite in the great line of Google products is Google Video. It allows you to upload video files of unlimited size, search for videos, send links to friends, download free videos and embed videos in your own website (such as Blogger).

Although the video does lose some resolution when transferred to Google, it is pretty exceptable considering you can upload large quantities and file sizes of videos. I currently have all 13 of my video productions live on Google Video, able to be searched and embedded just like this one below. I hope everyone gets to enjoy Google Video like I have so far. I think it is a great service and it was certainly a great idea. Thank you Google.