At 18 years of age, I was drifting from job to job in my hometown in Northern Arizona, when I was recruited into the U.S. Navy. I believe being in the Navy saved my life, as I was traveling down a pretty risky path of addiction and self-defeating behavior. Although a very challenging profession to be a part of, I loved being a part of the largest diverse family in the world and I spent my next 22 years serving my country, seeing the world, and creating deep and lasting friendships.

Although I loved my job and the people I worked with in the Navy, as a gay service member, I served silently as if anyone were to find out, it would most certainly be immediate cause for discharge from the service. Initially, I experienced “witch-hunts” until the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was enacted. Both were challenging and caused me to hide, and like the rest of my gay brothers and sisters, I remained closeted and adapted. Hiding became the norm.

After I retired, I came to the painful realization of how much that closeting living was now a part of who I was. Where I thought I would be free, I was far from free. Although my family and close friends were aware of and embraced my sexual orientation, I braced for impact every time I came out to someone new. Unfortunately, my story isn’t unusual; even today when there is more acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community than ever before.

Here's what I know. We are a lot more alike than we are different. It's taken some time, but I've walked through that healing process and have learned amazing lessons that I believe are Universal. You hide. I hide. We all hide. Through fitting in, or body image, or addiction, or people pleasing, and many more.

I’ve been in the health and wellness profession now for 15 years. Right from the start, I noticed that most of my clients were trying to fix their “outsides,” while their “insides” were not only in deep trouble, but were being neglected or ignored. This lack of emotional self-awareness almost always led to subconscious self-sabotage.

This is why I dove into advanced studies of the human psyche, learning more about emotional, subconscious, and mind/body-related issues. I received my Bachelors and Masters in Psychology (Counseling), and became a certified Advanced Holistic Coach. I also spent 18 months serving in a veterans treatment center as a therapist intern, directly working with my family in struggle, our homeless and addicted veterans (one of the biggest honors of my life).

And now I'm writing a book, which is my passion, and I'm also working with very few clients, Emotional Holistic Coach, both of which I love. Helping others help themselves in a way that creates insightful, true and purposeful change is a beautiful thing to be a part of. We all have the power within us to create the world we want, but it has to start with each of us discovering and loving the things that we hide about ourselves. Then and only then can we learn to practice non-judgment, acceptance and compassion for ourselves and others.

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