Doing Your Work In 2023

My world and ours have changed profoundly in the three years since I last posted.

I left Tahoe in 2021 after 23 years in Truckee and moved to Santa Barbara with my fiance, Carly, during the pandemic. Due to Covid, I switched to Zoom sessions with my clients, allowing me to move easily and find the new life I needed deeply in my soul. This is why:

Working with clients all those years in Tahoe gave me a great depth of experience, for which I am very grateful, yet living there also took its toll. While Lake Tahoe itself is incredibly beautiful and possesses a tangible spiritual power, the community surrounding the lake – both human and natural – has long been a resource and a commodity to be used and exploited, absorbing the impact of people who have pushed Tahoe to its limits in recent years.

Tahoe is, for many people, an addiction -both residents and tourists. Whether being the most fabulous party destination for overworked Bay Area people, a fantastic skiing and sports resort, or just a place to escape Sacramento or Reno for the day, people come to or move to Tahoe to escape and to live their fantasies–at the expense of the environment and sustainable community infrastructure.

Many other locals I spoke with in my last years agreed that between housing prices driving out the middle class, the intense crowds abusing the beaches and parks, posing reckless fire hazards, and the rise in massive hot summer fires threatening to create evacuation nightmares, Tahoe had in many ways become a traumatic place to live.

I work with trauma for a living, so I knew when I had reached my breaking point, and we got out to a life that is very healing and as safe as we can find. And my story is just one of the millions of stories of people since the pandemic who have been pushed into some form of trauma in their lives, from loved ones dying of Covid to the social mutations that have changed communities and relationships. The culture war has escalated, climate change is showing itself in extreme weather and fire patterns, and the war in Ukraine has created a new global instability.

Trauma can be defined in many ways, one of which is the loss of safety and normalcy that isn’t easily restored. Trauma imposes a new “normal”- an insecurity and anxiety that we can’t mentally make disappear. Now more than ever, we need to become–and are becoming–a trauma-informed world.

Now that I have been able to decompress from Tahoe and put down new roots with someone I love, I am returning to the work I started in Tahoe: books, courses, and videos on emotional and spiritual healing, trauma recovery, and emotional sobriety. This time, though, I’m speaking to a profoundly different world than I was in when I wrote back in 2020.

After A Long Pause… Life in 2020

After my wife Holly died in 2014, I had hoped to continue writing and maintain the continuity of the healing work to which we had dedicated our lives for 15 years. But embracing grief after losing someone you built a life with becomes a humbling new journey. That grief has a will and heart of its own that demands that you stop and breathe, and listen. Over and over and over again. A vulnerable new life is forming, unknown at first, and one’s mind must become open to feeling a tentative pulse of life taking form inside mysterious places of the heart and soul.

When the momentum of a dynamic relationship comes to an end, there is a kind of shock that takes over—all of the dreams, visions, and goals that are left incomplete between you dissipate like mist in the sun. The theater set of a shared life remains while the play is over, the intensity of a torturous cancer journey suddenly still, too still. Too still.

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Emotional Sobriety

I can remember when I quit smoking as if it was yesterday. I had moved away from my very dysfunctional family in Ohio at 20 to come to Palo Alto, California and pursue my vision of an emotional and spiritual freedom I had never known growing up.

After finding everything and more that I could have hoped for in the dynamic and diverse culture of Palo Alto and the Stanford community in 1974, I settled into creating my new life and saw immediately that smoking – which I had inherited from my parents and older siblings – was a huge block in loving myself and being successful. After a while I quit cold turkey, and very quickly began to feel things inside of me that had been sitting underneath my conscious awareness since I was a very young boy. Primal emotions and the complex wounded relationship dynamics within my family that I had only felt and seen as if through thick opaque glass started to come alive in my body into a focused and vivid clarity, animating into a kind of convulsive purging of the suppressed negative impact that my family had had on me. Continue reading “Emotional Sobriety”

Starting The Soul’s Journey Anew

It has been a little over six months since Holly passed away peacefully, bathed in the golden glow of the midday sun that filled her room and held all of us there in the quiet awe that one can only feel in the presence of the sacred.

I have experienced sacred consciousness and manifestation quite a few times, in a variety of forms: healing miracles in my own body as a boy, sacred sexual orgasm with lovers, sacred light in sessions with clients, the Red Tara Initiation I undertook in 1986 with Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche and the death transition of beloved animals into the spirit realm are a few examples. Each was amazing, each was humbling and each came and went in its own time, leaving me back in the more mundane levels of life.

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The Promise of Love

There is no deeper place in our drive to self-actualize than the need to find the love within us and share it with each other. Along with all the other ways in which we can grow into successful individuals – such as education, career, adventure or creativity – the ability to love ourselves and each other successfully brings the deepest fulfillment and liberates us in our souls.

The ability to actualize ourselves through knowing how to love well is something we have to cultivate and grow. Whether building a relationship or raising a family, there are emotional and cognitive skills that we have to know before we can fully open our hearts and find deep intimacy and successful communication.

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Our Emotional Voice: the power to heal and self-actualize.

My approach to the healing journey begins with perhaps the single most important part of being a well-actualized individual, because it is the root of all of our personal power: our emotional voice, and the choice to use it.

The first thing to understand is that choosing to use your emotional voice means that you are choosing to tell the truth. As you learn to identify, own and then speak the truth about the many aspects of your emotional experiences in your life, your emotional voice forms, awakens and comes to life.

Continue reading “Our Emotional Voice: the power to heal and self-actualize.”

A New Definition of Love

In my upcoming book “Healing Your Heart – A Journey Into Wholeness”, I am offering a new psychology of love. To create a psychology of love that lays a solid foundation for understanding how we work emotionally and cognitively, as well as providing a clear pathway to healing our hearts and becoming whole people, we must start with the most important question: what is love?

Let’s start with the dictionary. According to Webster’s, love is:
1. strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2. attraction based on sexual desire
3. affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; an assurance of affection; warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
4. unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

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A Year Later, Having Danced With Death.

It has been a year since I wrote anything on this blog, and I’d like to share with you where I have been.

My partner Holly went into the hospital last December and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast and bone cancer. When she was admitted, she was within several days of dying from kidney and heart failure. She went to the ER in the morning, and that afternoon when I went to visit her, I had one of the most painful and profound experiences of my life.

Looking at her lying in the bed so close to death, grief and tears filling my heart, I simply said, “I’m not ready to lose you yet.” We looked at each other for a long time, and there was a moment when I knew that she was not going to die right away. My heart knew that Holly would stay for a while, at least, because there was more for us to do together.

Continue reading “A Year Later, Having Danced With Death.”

7.6.12 – A New Book Excerpt, Ch.1

If you have found this book then you’ve probably been living with emotional pain that has brought you to a place where you need to take action, and you’re ready to find answers and healing.

To be honest, emotional healing is not something one walks into as simply as getting a massage or an acupuncture treatment. Though there are simple truths that guide the healing process – such as, emotional pain means that parts of our inner self aren’t receiving love – the process of emotional healing is a multi-stage learning experience that we must actively commit to and engage in if we are to succeed.

The stages of emotional healing are a mystery to most people. As a culture we have become pretty familiar with the five stages of grieving (shock, rage, denial, manipulation and acceptance), thanks in large part to popular tv shows, and that is wonderful. But there is an entirely different process of emotional healing that I am going to introduce you to based on how we feel, own, communicate and resolve our emotions within ourselves and our relationships. These four stages are poorly developed in most of us, and the goal of Doing Your Work is to achieve emotional healing by learning the skills within these four stages. Continue reading “7.6.12 – A New Book Excerpt, Ch.1”

Getting Beyond “Get Over It”

As a Life Coach and Breathwork Therapist, my role is to teach people the emotional skills  that empower them to heal, find balance, and love well. And of all those skills, none may be as essential as the skill of uprooting from within ourselves one of the most destructive forms of emotional imprinting we receive growing up – Get Over It – and replacing it with empathy.

To me, those three words have singlehandedly done more to destroy our ability to be emotionally healthy than anything else I can think of. If there is one generic dysfunction that you would find in virtually every home in America, in one form or another, it would be the one-size-fits-all, lowest common denominator solution to the challenges of emotional development: Life Isn’t Fair – Get Over It.
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