I really struggled as a kid. I never felt like I belonged. I felt like everyone else got it, but I didn’t. I happen to not have been destructive, but I was all kinds of oblivious.
It seemed that I was broken or wrong in some way. School just never made sense to me.
I now realize that it wasn’t me that was the problem, I was (and am) a heart centered person trapped in situations that aren’t particularly welcoming to caring, thoughtful, heart centered people. So I felt invisible and not understood…even though there were thoughtful and caring adults around me.
Then, my senior year of high school my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor. And I woke up.
Nine months later when he died, I woke up some more. And in that time I realized that his death was an amazing gift to me…it gave me permission to feel. It was finally okay to be that heart centered, caring person. It took my dad dying, but that catapulted me into life in a way I had never imagined.
I became curious. I noticed other people weren’t showing up for class, actually most weren’t showing up for life. I started realizing what gigantic opportunities lay at my feet and I started to appreciate them.
However, the cost of this gift felt too high. I spent a lot of years really lonely and hurting, missing my dad…but through it all I somehow knew that my spirit was emerging.
Out of that darkness I realized the importance of my experience and I committed to finding ways to wake up teenagers – those caring, thoughtfull, heart centerd young people – without the painful cost I paid.
I also realized the importance of a guide in those hard lonely times, a guide I never had. Being seen and supported in that place would have saved me tons of grief, pain, sadness, anger, and years.
Since 1989, I have worked with thousands of teens and their families finding ways to wake them up, catapult them into their lives. I have worked in schools, at camps, in day care centers, inside, outside, as a nanny, as a baseball coach, as a life coach, and as a parent to see and understand when kids and parents are in that place and to offer support and guidance.
I have an BA in philosophy focused on death and the gift of life, gotten a Master’s degree from Northwestern University to deepen my understanding of communication as it relates to how people learn and process information, and most recently graduated from an awesome coaching school, Invite Change, where I formalized my decade+ of coaching expertise.
I have always wanted to be a dad and husband. My commitment deepened when over the years of working with families, it became very clear that the kids who were thriving were the ones who had a healthy connections with both parents. I got curious and jumped at the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad for 4 years, hoping to create a loving connection with my kids.
During their naps, play dates, and mornings at the childcare cooperative, I trained and worked as a coach, and I wrote a book called Launch Your Life: 5 Secrets to knowing what you want in your teens, college years, and early career. As Ezra (10) and Sylvie (8) are now in school, I continue to have dinner at home with my family, mornings in their classrooms, and every moment explorations into the challenging and loving space of being a parent and partner.
Another part of the gift from my dad was beginning to practice yoga. It took me a few years and lots of tears to get started, but I have now been practicing for 20 years. Being the physical/kinesthetic guy that I am, the practice of getting into uncomfortable, scary, and intense yoga poses and learning to be calm (“Breathe! and relax.” my teachers remind) and work through the pain, difficulty, discomfort, has translated into my interaction with families (including my own).
I know the power and joy on the other side of the intensity, fear, and difficult challenges. I know what it takes to get there in yoga, but now also in life. I know that we all have the desire to get there, even if we’ve forgotten. My ardent studies of mythology, rites of passage, storytelling, stages of life, along with my deep listening and courage, help me see into and through the struggles of the journey.
Finally, I want to share that I am in the game with you. I work every day to figure out how to deeply love and be loved. I work hard to stay in my integrity. I practice fighting through the voices. I have to work to get on my bike to ride in the rain and honor my commitment to future generations. I’m a master of 3rd grade jokes, which includes having to repeat my jokes to get my family to laugh at them (except, of course, the fart joke, which works every time with 8 & 10 year olds..ready? “Fart.”).
Marcy and I have to remember that we moved to Oregon from Chicago to go hiking, have a garden, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Oh, and I have to repeat my jokes to get my family to laugh at them (except the fart joke, which works every time with 8 & 10 year olds especially if you change your voice inflection…ready? “Faaart”).
My wrestling time with my dad was called the “Claw” (his tickling hand), which I thought would transfer over, but alas, my pillow fights and wrestles with my family are affectionately call “Tummy time”.
I am grateful and honored to do the work that I do and would be honored to work with you.
My best to you and your family. Really. Sincerely.
Please feel free to call, (503) 234-4843, or email me here with any questions, stories, or comments.
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