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I always thought I was a fun kid. I loved roller coasters, my brothers' KISS records, and learning about hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes.

I lived in eight different places before starting high school. Growing up in a military family of five, we lined up to see our dad ship off to his many deployments.... again and again and again. Each separation was heartbreaking. Summer visits in Ohio with my grandparents were blissful, until it was time to pack up and drive two days home to wherever we lived. I was always the inconsolable one. Every move, every deployment, every new school, every new set of friends was a fresh new grief experience.

I finally got my start helping people be happy and carefree as a Skipper on the world famous Jungle Cruise at Disney's Magic Kingdom park in Orlando. Not only did I offer exciting trips through the jungle, but I also had perfect work-life balance! From there, I moved on to various customer service and support roles in corporate America. Those jobs paid the bills, but offered little in the way of satisfaction or opportunity.

As a diversion from my growing dissatisfaction with the corporate environment, I spent my daily commuting ritual studying audiobooks and lectures about personal, professional, and spiritual growth. I fell in love with teachers like Caroline Myss, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, and others. Their teachings on mysticism, history, and philosophy opened my worldview and provided me a "secret decoder ring" to understand the world both around us and within us.

Becoming a certified professional coach allowed me to make practical use of all that wisdom material. However, the real test came when I lost my dad (cancer) and my job (layoff) within 90 days of each other; and then my car — rear-ended and totaled — the following summer.

Through all the loss, what I learned was this: the mental, emotional, and spiritual teachings served as an inner retrofit, like when you retrofit a home for earthquakes. The retrofits don't stop the earthquake from coming, and they don't lessen the intensity of the shaking. What they do is hold your house together through the shaking, so that it's easier to rebuild your life when the shaking is over.

Life can break our hearts many times, but we can learn the skills to address, acknowledge, and release the grief. Time does not heal all wounds; it's what we do with our time that makes the difference.

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Today, I help those struggling with a status quo that needs to go! Whether it's grief, work/life balance, leadership, or spiritual principles, I call on my original "Jungle Cruise" spirit, a lifelong passion for personal and professional growth and development, and the Energy Leadership™ coaching process. I'm a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, and have partnered with such organizations as AbbVie, American Society for Quality, Age Forward, Bodhi Road, and Metropolitan Community Church to present practical, tangible material creating instant impact. I'm an Assistant Training Coach for the iPEC Coach Training program, and a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.

(I still also regularly attend "dashboard university," whether driving into Chicago, Milwaukee, or traversing (and photographing) the continent.)