I’m so grateful to be here, to be alive, to see through these eyes, to be conscious of as much as I am able and to feel through this heart, which continues to heal, stretch and love more with each year.
I have two teenage boys who I love to the moon and back. I have healed so much through being their dad and loving these two boys in a way I didn’t receive when I was kid. I am so proud of Kobe and Niko. They stir my heart with unconditional love and give me hope for the future of our world.
My lifelong friends and those who I’ve met later in life, like my bandmates and others, fill my heart with laughter, joy and connection. How lucky am I to have people so dear to me! My sweetie, Jojo (Ivy), who has such a beautiful heart, is my best friend and holy smokes I feel blessed to have her in my life and to feel the connection and love flowing between us. She inspires me in so many ways.
When I was a kid, some cult-like, power-abusing therapists hurt my mom and broke my family into pieces. My brother and I wound up living with my grandparents for over a year and not seeing our parents. It severed my heart and burdened me with feeling unlovable and unwanted. There was a book written about it called, “Insane Therapy: Portrait of a Psychotherapy Cult.” In my 20’s I was fortunate to be led toward experiences that helped me to recognize how wounded I was and to begin the journey of learning to love myself and to release the burdens I took on. Along this journey I learned how to connect to the deep love in the universe that permeates every little crack and crevice and to bring this energy into my heart. Therapy saved my life. It helped to mend my heart. Over time I shifted from trying to get the love I wanted from others to feeling the love inside, to feeling connected with the higher love.
Like many mental health professionals, the journey of healing led me into the profession and to graduate school for psychology. I had a private practice for two decades and, during that time I founded GoodTherapy.org. I really wanted to encourage ethical and healthy forms of therapy; to support those therapists who work collaboratively with people and can see how all the emotional ailments that afflict people are really adaptive in nature. It’s really true that everyone is doing the best they can, based on what they’ve been thorough. It’s also true that when someone learns to bring pure love into their heart, to hold self-compassion and to be tender with themselves, they are then able to release their wounds and make incredible shifts and breakthroughs into new ways of being in the world.
My first artistic love was music. My dad was a devotee of jazz and all the beautiful songs of the 60’s and 70’s. Some of my earliest memories are singing along to the Yellow Submarine album with my dad and brother as we drove around west LA. Music lifted me up. On my 9th birthday my dad bought me my first turntable. My mom took me to tower records and bought me my first couple albums from Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. I memorized the lyrics and sang along to them everyday. In my 20’s I played in bands in LA and loved it. I wanted to do music for a living, but I didn’t have the confidence and courage to do music as a profession until later in life.
In 2017 my mom was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and it completely changed the course of my life. It was a huge and beautiful mid-life crisis.. The misfortune of my mom getting sick led to unexpected gifts, silver linings and forced me to take a trust fall with my life: starting Waking Bear with Jojo.
The intention of our shows is really to celebrate this life, to celebrate together with the audience. Through songs and telling stories about our own struggles, we want to remind people that life is always working out if we grieve.
On the deepest level the misfortunes we experience serve us. There are these beautiful, unpredictable gifts borne out of our suffering. Not to minimize how painful things can feel sometimes. But at some point after the shock of suffering, if we can grieve, if we can hold self compassion, we might find that we have a choice, to either continue feeling victimized and angry about whatever happened to us OR to trust that any difficult struggle could be the birth of something wonderful. I say all this from my own experience and the absolute trust that good things come out of our struggles and suffering.