Where am I being kind and compassionate in my everyday life? Daniel Fava, a web-designer and online marketing strategist, is confronted by this very relatable question as he joins Gordon for the next conversation on the podcast. In this episode, Daniel explores with Gordon what he learned about kindness and compassion 13 years ago on a trip to India and how he is still applying it today. Listen in for an encouraging reminder that a small act, when done with love, can be the most powerful act of all.
Meet Daniel Fava
Daniel Fava was born and raised on Long Island, NY and is currently one of just five hockey fans in Atlanta where he currently lives with his wife. After using his skills as a web designer to help his wife launch a private therapy practice in 2011, Daniel decided he want to share those same skills with others. Thus, in 2016 he began a blog called Create My Therapist Website to help therapists learn how to use effective website design and online marketing strategies to launch and grow their private practice. Later he started a podcast to emphasize the importance of going beyond websites and employing online marketing and other strategies for private practice growth.
Coming in solidly as an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, Daniel brews his own beer. Meanwhile, bourbon is his love language—alongside a good hot dog, a good slice of pizza, and a good burger. He’s traveled to 12 countries, including a hike with his wife to the Mt. Everest Base Camp, and he also plays guitar, piano, drums, and bass.
On a Mission
Beginning with his first short-term mission trip to Ukraine in 2008, missions work has been a huge part of Daniel’s life, shaping both who he is as well as the shared vision he and his wife hold for their lives. When he steps outside his daily life and heads abroad on mission, he’s asking the questions: What is God doing in a different location? How can I serve? Share love? Do some tangible work, or help meet needs?
The Ultimate Act of Kindness
In 2009 during a mission trip to India, Daniel spent two days in Calcutta visiting one of the homes founded by Mother Teresa for those suffering with a long-term illness or disability who have no one else to care for them. That’s where he learned about what Gordon describes as “the ultimate act of kindness”—the ministry of presence. Like many of us, Daniel is often task-oriented. He’s used to waiting for directions and looking for someone else to lead the way. However, on his first day in the home, confronted by extreme poverty and human suffering, there was no one to tell him what to do. Self-conscious and out of his element, Daniel jumped in to cross-barriers of language, culture, class, and life-experience to connect with a man through physical contact and simply being present. With his own inner barriers broken, Daniel felt lighter on his second day in the home. He was better able to jump in and be present, even while helping out with a simple task or two—without being focused on himself and his performance.
Refueling our Capacity for Kindness and Compassion
As an introvert, Daniel was on sensory overload during his trip to India. There was no personal space. During this time, he relied on a few key practices that helped keep his inner reservoir of kindness and compassion full. This included getting up early before the rest of his team to journal and find time to be alone with himself and God. As he was faithful to these disciplines, kindness and compassion could continue flowing from his own reservoir to those around him.
Making Sense of Injustice & Learning through Diverse Abilities
Coming face-to-face with extreme poverty and suffering can force us to confront just how much the circumstances of our birth shapes our lives. Daniel wrestled with questions about social justice while he was in India, and while he didn’t find any clear answers, he believes that love and grace can make a difference.
Meanwhile, Gordon shared about powerful lessons he learned during Lent while listening to Henri Nouwen’s book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life. In the book, Henri shares about his experiences in a L’ARCHE community. L’ARCHE communities worldwide exist to form a network of relationships between members both with and without intellectual disabilities.
Give yourself the gift of perspective. Taking time out to connect with people whose struggles are different than our own—or perhaps more similar than we might think—can be life-changing. Daniel says we won’t regret making the time to step away and volunteer or spend time on mission overseas. He assures us that there’s a gift to unwrap through these experiences that we can’t receive any other way than taking our eyes off of ourselves and being present in the reality of another.
Links & Resources Mentioned
Private Practice Elevation – https://privatepracticeelevation.com/
Daniel Fava on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/DanielFava/
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) – https://ywam.org/
Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, by Henri J. M. Nouwen
L’ARCHE – https://www.larche.org/
Show summary written by Anne Milligan
Well, hello folks, and welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. And I'm, I'm looking forward to you meeting a friend of mine, Daniel fava, who I've, uh, I've known for some time now. And Daniel is, um, somebody that I've done some work with not only professionally, but just we're in the same space as far as consulting with people around private practices and the therapy, uh, realm and, uh, Daniel. Welcome.
Thanks so much for having me Gordon. I'm super excited to, uh, to hang out with you and, uh, and chat.
Yes. And, and Daniel and I were just kinda reminiscing before we started recording. We had, uh, both got to be at a conference together this first time I had met Daniel in person and it was, uh, it was the, the conference was called the faith and practice conference. So it was really geared towards therapists that, um, kinda liked to incorporate faith based kinds of things with their practices. And one of the things that I'll let Daniel tell more about himself here, but, uh, Daniel's wife is a therapist as well. And so Daniel, um, tell folks a little bit about yourself.
Yeah. So as you said, my wife is a therapist and she's a, she's a huge part of my story and really my career, uh, because it started helping her get her private practice online, back in 2012. So, uh, I have a website design and development background, and so got her business online with an online presence and a, and a nice website and helped her get some of those first clients, uh, into her practice. And then in 2016, decided to launch my own. Um, I mean, basically I was a freelancer back then, so I figured, oh, I can make some more websites for therapists and I can start a blog and all that stuff. And, um, so over the last, uh, six years or so, it's kind of morphed into, uh, more of a website design agency and SEO agency. And we, we live in Atlanta right now. We've been here since we've been married in 2010, so about 12 years and it's home, I'm, uh, born and raised in New York, long island. Uh, the New York Rangers are in the Stanley cup playoffs right now. So I'm super excited and that always pulls me back home and I love watching them play and listen to the chance at Madison square garden. So, yeah.
Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, it's a, yeah, as I've gotten to know Daniel, one of the things that I knew his background is part of his story, which is a big part of what I'm looking forward to him, kinda sharing with you, all that are listening is his work, uh, doing some mission work in India and the impact that made on his life and just really how he really changed his mind, maybe about some things. And I don't wanna put words in your mouth, mouth, Daniel around that. Um, but tell, tell folks a little bit about your story with that and just what a difference it made for you.
Yeah, so yeah, so missions work is a huge, it's really a huge part of my life and who I am and who, you know, myself and my wife are in our relationship. Um, and so first of all, I mean, before even getting into the story, Gordon, I just wanna say thank you for, for this project that you're doing with this podcast, for giving, giving people a space to kind of dig into compassion and kindness. Like when you invited me to be on here, it really, I, I had to reflect, you know, a little bit about, okay, where, where has kindness and compassion played a big role in my life? Uh, where does it play now? I can be, I can sometimes get so pretty hard on myself. Cause my first thought was like, well, where am I being kind and compassionate, you know, in my everyday life.
And so for my story and my life, uh, since about oh 2008 or so, um, have been doing, I went on my first mission trip to Ukraine and I loved the, the sort of the aspect of taking time out of life and, you know, career and job and all that stuff to just focus on others, you know, to focus on, you know, for me it's what is God doing in a different location? How can I serve and really just share love or share tangible, um, you know, work, maybe that's building something or just, you know, helping meet needs in other countries. So in 2009, I, I joined up with a youth with a mission, which is a, an organization that they have a basis around the world and they basically, um, teach people how to, how to really be disciples of Jesus. And so I did a three month discipleship training school in Montana.
Um, prior to this, I had lost my job and I had also called off a wedding. I was engaged to somebody that wasn't wasn't the right fit. And so my life was kind of completely wide open. So I took a break from my life and said, okay, God, what are you saying? What are you doing? I have no idea what to do next, let me go to Montana for three months and, you know, go through this, this training and just focus on, you know, what, what did God wanna do in my life? And so part of that was there for three months. So, I mean, that was almost like a mission trip in itself being away for three months in Montana. But then at the end of that, we do an outreach to India and Thailand was where I was scheduled to go. And so I went to, I went to Calcutta India and that was our first stop.
And, um, one of the places that we got to, we did a bunch of stuff there, but one of the places that we went to was, and I believe it was only for two days was one of the mother Teresa Holmes, uh, in Calcutta. And that was just amazing in, in and of itself just to be in a place where, I mean, we've all likely heard stories about mother Teresa and all that she's done. Um, but there's, there's either two or three. Uh, I forget exactly two or three mother Teresa Holmes is what they call them. And one is for people who are just terminally ill. And so what she saw when she was in calcu was that because of the cast system and just how things work over there, there was, you know, a large group of people who, when they were terminally ill and dying, they would just be basically left for dad.
And so she wanted to give them a place where they could die with dignity, being surrounded by, you know, people who love and, and care for them. And other home that she started, which was the one that I found myself in was for people with long term illness. So it might not be that they're terminally ill. It could be that they've got a serious injury or they've just got an illness, um, you know, long term. And so what I remember from that experience, and I actually, I was a ferocious journaler back then. And so I had to revisit my journal. So it was, it was kind of cool just having this podcast on the calendar to like, oh, let me go back to this journal from this, you know, pivotal point in my life. And, uh, it took me right back, you know, to that first day there.
And so try to imagine you're surrounded by all these other volunteers, you know, and people, people also want to go and experience and kind of give them them give of themselves. So you've got people from all over the world, um, who are just there to volunteer. They could be traveling through Calcutta and they've heard about, you know, the mother Teresa Holmes and they wanna experience it. And so basically it's like, you, you show up, you sign in the day starts and nobody tells you what to do. And you're just, you're in this place. And there's there's rooms, it's almost kind of, some of the rooms feel like a hospital, you know, there's just beds of, um, of people just laying there. Um, and, you know, as a, as a male, I was in the, the section where, where the men were, um, and there's nobody telling you what to do.
And so I remember just these waves of self-consciousness coming over me because I'm like, oh, I'm, I'm here to serve. What can I do? And there's nobody telling you exactly what to do. And it's just like, you just gotta jump in and do it. And, you know, my heart was, I feel like my heart was in a good place because I was like, I want to serve, I wanna, you know, help out. But there was this sort of aspect of my upbringing was like, it's, it's all about the task. You know, like, mm-hmm,
You're an introvert, like all this sort, like that's holding you back, all that sort of stuff. And so I, I finally got very frustrated and was just like, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna do it. I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna jump in. And, you know, one of the, another volunteer I ran into said, well, the, the men, like when you just, you just massage them or just talk to them and sit with them. So I found myself next to this man's bed and he was just lying there. Obviously we couldn't speak each other's language, so I just, you know, smiled and, um, and just kind of motioned him like massage massage. And he just kind of, he's just slowly nodded to me. And so I found myself massaging this man's legs who were like, no joke, his legs up above his knee. Wasn't really thicker than my wrist, you know?
And so I'm having this experience of just like praying for this man as I'm massaging him or, um, you know, praying in my head or praying out loud as I'm massaging him being. So, you know, number one, thankful for my health and my life, and also just being so confronted with, um, just extreme poverty that like this, this man, I don't know, his life story, you know, likely he's, he's in this situation because of where he's lived, where he lives and the family he's born into. And that's really it, you know? And so I'm having this time of like, you know, giving, giving this man a massage, sitting with him, just one on one. And I'm also having this sort of spiritual experience where I'm praying at the same time and just thinking through all these things, you know? And so while I was so focused on the tasks or like, you know, what can I do to help out? I found myself just, you know, one on one with someone and just realizing that that was really what it was, you know, all about.
Right. Wow, wow. What a beautiful story. And that, um, it, to me, it just kind of speaks to what I, what I like to refer to as just the ministry of, of presence. And, um, mm-hmm,
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And cuz I was so hung up on like somebody tell me what to do and put me to work and that sort of thing. And so, you know, I came, I think it was like, um, I forget maybe it was about four hours. We were there in the morning for, and then sort of came away from that. We had some free time, the rest of the day. I remember, you know, just really like reflecting on my motives, you know, what mm-hmm
So I felt like, I felt like God was really just challenging me to, to, you know, kind of let go of all those, those sorts of things. Mm-hmm
So I found myself doing that the next day. And so it was kind of like, it was a more lighter and fun experience because I had let go of, I need to do this. I need to do that. Whereas I could just be, I could be present. And when I'm not so focused on myself and kind of how I'm thinking and feeling or have to perform, I could jump into whatever, you know, like I said, it could have been one on one with somebody who was there and sick or it could be helping, um, you know, the, the nuns out with cleaning and, and washing dishes and serving food, you know, whatever it was. It was just, I was much more present that second day.
Yeah. Yeah. It's a, it's amazing how transformative those, those experiences are when you're yeah. When you're confronted, you know, there's a, I think for, uh, I think for a lot of us that have had the experience of going on mission trips, I've I think I shared in the previous episode of this podcast, that one of the things that I was involved in for several years, uh, was going on mission trips to the country of Honduras and yeah, again, uh, you know, at that, at that time, next to Haiti, Honduras was the poorest poorest country in the, in the Western hemisphere. And, um, just being, being confronted with what I, uh, what I think of is just abject poverty and then interacting with people even through a language barrier, because I, I know just a tiny bit of Spanish
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That's one thing I just, I love about missions and I've been to been to Thailand, India, Guatemala, Cameroon, um, uh, what else, Mexico? We go to Mexico, a decent amount through our church still mm-hmm
Right, right. Yeah. I'm, I'm reminded, and we were chatting about this a little bit before we, before we started recording, um, back during lent of this year. Um, I, I took on the task of, uh, what the, I, I don't know if that's a task, but just kind of a discipline of, of reading. Um, well actually listening to on audible Henry Allen's book on discernment. And, um, he reflects in there several times about his work in the LAR community, which LAR is a community, uh, for profoundly disabled people. And what they do is then the kid, they actually live in community where they're paired up with a caregiver. And so they go go through their whole, you know, they, they just live intentionally that way. And wow, just, um, it's, it's quite, it's quite a calling, but it's just, um, really thinking about being able to find God or some people like to might, might put it at a higher power or finding something greater than your, than ourselves in doing just those very simple things of taking care of someone else. Yeah. You know, the bathing and the, like you mentioned, doing the massage, those kinds of things are just are to totally trans transformative, I think for people.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and, you know, that kind of just, that brings me just back to mother Teresa, you know, what, and what she did. And, you know, through this experience, I just began to learn a little bit more, uh, about her. And you could see, you know, in, in Calcutta and India, which is, you know, predominantly, uh, Hindu, there was still, when you're, you're walking down the street, you're seeing in gift shops in other places you're seeing pictures of mother Teresa, you know, they had such respect and honor for this woman when basically she lives to meet those simple needs of, you know, the one person, you know, one at a time. And that really impacted a culture and, you know, a nation or, you know, really the world, obviously, you know, mm-hmm cause she's impacted me, you know? Yeah. So, and, um, there's this great quote that she has and I needed to look it up, so I wouldn't botch it, but it's, uh, not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Yes. And it's like, that brings us back to that simple, you know, just yeah. Massaging someone's leg and not even being able to talk to them. It's so simple. But when it's done, when it's done with great love can really just impact a life.
Right. Yeah. So what, what did, uh, going to a place like Cal kata do for your, I guess maybe your worldview or how you think about your life now and that sort of thing?
So I could go outside and be alone, uh, with my thoughts and be alone with God and think, and pray and worship and listen to music mm-hmm
Um, so there's, you know, there's a lot of just like, you're confronted with that justice question and I really don't have, you know, a great answer for it other than, you know, that's, it's, we live in a, in a, in a, in a world that's, that's pretty broken at times, but there's also just through, you know, love and grace and being with, you know, a person we can, we can make a difference. And so, I mean, that was kind of, that was a big thing to kind of wrestle with was just the, the poverty aspect and coming home. I was away, you know, in Montana for three months and then India and Thailand for, uh, about two months or so. And just kind of, there's a, a re-entry culture shock from a trip that long mm-hmm
I don't need these things. Why do I have to find a job job? You know, like Uhhuh, Jesus, Jesus didn't have a job. He didn't have a place to stay. And, you know, he was, he just got, you know, he, he, he did his thing and he impacted the world. Like, why can't I do that? You know? So it is just, it's a, it was a lot to, a lot to wrestle with, but sure. Um, but when I was in Thailand, so kind of, we can kind wrap up the story here when I was in Thailand was where I met my wife. And so when I was in, when I was in India, I had this sense and this feeling, and, uh, just felt like I was gonna meet somebody who was going to be a lifelong best friend of mine. And I had no idea that that person was going to be, uh, my wife, who was, who was there doing mission work and our paths crossed. And so I kind of, I came home and she, she helped me walk through all of that sort of stuff. And she had her own reentry mm-hmm
And, um, yeah, but I think it also, you know, to kind of bring us full circle around to the whole kindness and compassion thing. I think everyone should give themselves the opportunity, the gift of doing some kind of work like that, where you're working with people. Yeah. Um, even if it's just, you know, even, even locally at doing like a habitat for humanity build or any of that sort of thing. Yeah. Where, where you're working with people that are struggling with things in their life, um, it is life changing to be able to just be alongside them through that journey.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that's, I mean, this conversation is kind of challenging me all over again. Um, you know, the last few years I've really been focused on, on my business and also my mm-hmm
Right. Right. Well, Daniel, I, this has been a great conversation and, uh, I hopefully we'll be able to continue it again. I mean, this, uh, this is, I think the, the, exactly the kinda stuff that I, I wanna share with people on this podcast, tell folks how they can get in touch with you if they'd like to connect with you in some way.
Yeah, sure. You can find me, uh, at private practice, elevation.com and you can also just find me on Instagram, um, at Daniel fava, just do a search, uh, for my name and I would be happy to connect there as well.
Yes. Yes. And, and Daniel's got a wonderful, uh, for, for those out of you out there that are baby therapists, just a quick plug for Daniel, he's got a wonderful, uh, business and he's done, he did a lot to help us with our website and our own prac practice. And so that's his expertise and he knows what he's doing and he's got the heart for you.
All right. Take care, Daniel.
Well, I just love having conversations like the one I had with Daniel. I, and, you know, I would really encourage you if you haven't really explored it is to look at how you can do maybe some volunteer or mission work or whatever you want to call that and helping people that are less fortunate, because I think one of the things that it does is it truly changes can truly change your life. I know for me, in my own story, when I went to Honduras, um, and it was really just after hearing someone speak at my church, uh, about their trips. And I went down in the context of going on a habitat for humanity, uh, trip, but it truly was life changing and really changed the trajectory of my life at that particular time. And really helped me explore what I was being called to do.
And just working with people that are, were struggling and it eventually led into my work as a therapist and all of that sort of thing. So, you know, I don't want to go into the whole long story there, but I would encourage you to, to maybe seek out opportunities to do work like that. Um, and I'm really appreciative to Daniel and I appreciate my relationship with him and the fact that he was willing to be vulnerable and talk about how his work in India really truly changed his life. So, um, yeah. So if you've got a story like this, you'd like to cha uh, to share love, to hear from you. And again, you can go over to kindness and compassion.com and, uh, go up to the contact us form and, um, O into the contact us page. I, and there is a form there that you can fill out to be a guest on the podcast and love to hear from you.
So, and also if you would like to support us in this work, consider becoming a patron. And if you become a patron, one thing, little perk there is that you could get some bling as I like to call it. There's, uh, there's a coffee mug, there's stickers. There's, t-shirts that sort of thing that you can get by becoming a patron. So take care folks, and look forward to being with you again in future episodes of the kindness and compassion podcast, Owen, and do take time to follow us wherever you might be listening to this and leave us a review and leave us a rating. Uh, that'll just help us get boosted up so other people can find this particular podcast. So take care folks and have a great rest of your week or weekend. Whenever you might be listening to this.
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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person. He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook . And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.