I was born in Laramie, Wyoming in 1947. My dad grew up on a farm, and my mom grew up on a ranch. Salt of the earth kind of people. My dad was an inventor, so wherever we lived, he had a workbench somewhere in the house. He taught me inventiveness and love. My mom taught me courage and love.
I lived in Afghanistan for 5 years when I was a kid, not in a row, but off and on. I'd been around the world 4 times by the time I was a teenager. This made me a world citizen early. I saw with my own eyes that there are other ways to live than the way we do here in America.
I went to high school at a boarding school in Colorado. The most wonderful thing they did for me was teach me how to ski. I love downhill skiing.
I went to college at Dartmouth College, where I majored in art and did a lot of painting. In those days, the thing to be was a hippy, and I was one. I became a vegetarian, and did yoga, and wrote poetry.
I was drafted after I got out of college, and sent to Vietnam.
There I was a clerk, and I had a boring office job in the tropics. It's one of the few times I've known American men to be emotionally open with each other. There were no women around, so our main form of entertainment was to sit around in the evenings and talk, share, tell stories. The Lost Boys in Neverland....
I came back to "the world," and got married to a hippie woman. I worked as a waiter, and then went to chiropractic school. The marriage lasted five years, and the chiropractic career lasted ten. After we got divorced, my wife and I discovered we're good friends. 35 years later, we're still friends. She lives in Sellwood.
In the early 70's there was free counseling in every neighborhood center. At one point my wife said to me, "Either you get some counseling or we get a divorce." So I did. I discovered immediately that counseling isn't about being sick and getting well, but about getting better from wherever you are. Much was missing in the cowboy culture I grew up in: being aware of feelings, expressing them in a positive way, communication skills and relationship skills. I was so happy to find someplace I could learn those.
I've worked with more than 50 counselors in the last 30 years, doing my own work. All my girlfriends were like my mom until I finished my mom work, for example. I've been a counselor since about 1980. I've done many trainings, and worked in a number of settings. I worked at Outside In with suicidal people, and I've worked in a crisis clinic, and in an anger control clinic, and in the biggest county clinic across the river in Vancouver, where I worked with the most seriously mentally ill people this side of a hospital. My clients have been my most wonderful teachers. I've been so fortunate.
In the 1980s I had a son, but he was born with heart defects and only lived 6 weeks. It took me 10 years to recover. During those ten years I took up hang gliding. I didn't realize it at the time, but I needed to do something to defy death. After awhile I didn't need to defy death anymore. And I think of my son Jubal with pleasure.
Becoming a counselor had an odd effect on me. It's part of my job to catch other people doing magical thinking and challenge them on it. So I sort of had to look at my own thinking and challenge myself. I try to operate only on what I can demonstrate, or has been demonstrated to me.
When I was in my twenties I had some out-of-body experiences, and from one of them I came back knowing three things. One is that all people are immortal. Another is that all people make it home someday. And the last is that all people are in bliss all the time, though obviously most are not aware of it. Those three things were demonstrated to me, so I believe them. I can't demonstrate them to you, but I must live based on these 3 values.
Like everyone, I want the good life. For me the good life is having friends and a sweetie and work I love. Counseling is the work I love, helping other people claim the good life. It's like a combination of being a detective and a performance artist. And my parents were right when they taught me one of the main sources of satisfaction in life is being of service to others.
I've had some remarkable experiences in my life. To read about some of them: Click here.