My knowledge about overcoming loss comes from the experience in my own life, and from my own efforts to cope with situations that were extraordinary to me. My goal is to share what I learned to be true for myself in the hope that it will help others. To help achieve my goals it may be of some interest for readers to know a little about my background. I will do my best to keep my life story as brief as possible since my history is not crucial in understanding the main body.
I am the youngest of three bothers and a Christian. I lived through some difficult experiences as a child since at the time my father was physically abusive, and my parents divorced when I was 5 years old. My mother, brothers and I moved around the United States initially to avoid my father until reconciled later in life. I think the experience encouraged us to become gentle spirits. One thing that I did have access to no matter what our financial situation was good private schooling, which my mother made sure that we received no matter were we lived. And I believe that good education has really helped me in my life and I did well in our studies. It was during my high school years that my father reconciled with my brothers and me, and to some extent, with my mother. Limited relations were re-established. He apologized to me for the things that had happened. Eventually we visited each other often and had a much better relationship. Later in my 30’s we even worked together occasionally in some business ventures from time to time. Many of these business dealings left me disappointed and with the realization that I needed to do business in a different way than my father. I began to realize what the Bible scriptures are talking about when they refer to overcoming the negative inheritance of our family. I love and forgive my father and I also recognize what traits from him I must embrace and those that I must overcome and guard against in my own life. Fortunately I have the love and grace of Jesus Christ and my father in Heaven to help me in these tasks.
In terms of significant losses in my own life, like many other people I have experienced the death of loved ones. The most significant for me was the loss of my eldest brother Steve in 1999, who died from an overdose of prescription medication. He was found in his apartment by my mother two days after his death and their remains an air of mystery surrounding his death. To make matters worse after his body was removed unbeknownst to our family many of his most valuable and significant possessions were stolen from his apartment. While the loss was significant for me, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for my mother particularly with all of his most important personal effects being removed. I acknowledge her for managing through her grief. The sorrow of her loss still lingers to this day. A great deal of what I have learned and share in this book is a direct result of my experiences in trying to help my mother in dealing with the loss of my brother.
Another significant loss was that of my father, which occurred during a very difficult time in my own life, while I was living in South Africa and my business was failing. I was unable to see him in the hospital in the United States before his death. Because of other subsequent events I was unable to attend his funeral. Even at the time of the writing of this book, which is over 9 years after his death, I have been physically restrained from making the trip to see his grave. This is something that I have yet to do.
At the age of 16, I had the traumatic experience of having to give a child up for adoption because the mother and I were too young to care for him. We both really wanted that child to have the best chance in life that we both knew that we could not provide for him. As a result of this experience there were many years when I felt that it was my responsibility to live an exemplary life so that if the boy ever wanted to meet me I could not only be of some use to him and some encouragement. Unfortunately the life I lead thereafter was not what I would describe as exemplary. It was an open adoption and a few years ago I made myself available to him if he would ever like to reach out to me and I am hopeful that he will reach out sometime just so that we can meet each other. I hope that he is doing well in his life and it was hard to give up a child.
I have suffered through 3 failed marriages in my life. Obviously, I had a role in the loss of these relationships, but the pain of each of these experiences had a major impact on me and is worth mentioning. Thanks to God and to some extent my failures in the other relationships, I am happily married today since 2002, and I have two wonderful children.
Six months after my brother died, when I was 29, I lost a kidney in a motor cross racing accident that prevented me from engaging in the sport. Then I almost died in the hospital from a blood clot in my leg from the accident. I spent two weeks in intensive care and I am happy to report that I made a full recovery minus one kidney. It was not only difficult on me but my entire family and in particular my mother who had just experienced the death of my brother just a few months earlier. I believe that it was the prayers of loved ones that lead to my miraculous recovery.
There were times in my life when I struggled with alcohol and other addictive behavior as a result of the great pain of emptiness that I held in my core until I was 31. I literally had a religious experience that helped me to overcome that pain and let go of it. I believe that this religious experience was a “born again” experience that literally and instantaneously transformed my being in a positive way. Today I am a Certified Consciousness Coach. I coach individuals, couples and groups to help them achieve their maximum potential in relationships, lifestyles and businesses. I help coach various groups of ex-offenders and those effected by incarceration and their family members, on everything from successful re-integration into society and family to overcoming addiction. I also coach people who are about to go into prison, and their families, in order to help them get through the experience with constructive results.
Other relevant experiences in my life have come from my previous ambitions and businesses pursuits. I could play the guitar and piano and sing sufficiently to write music, lyrics and sing in a rock band that I formed with my brothers. At one point I even accepted a record contract with a small record company in Los Angeles and had the humbling experience of living the life of a starving artist (literally).
Eventually, I went to the University of Colorado and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering. Ever since 1989, when I opened my first Charles Schwab account, and worked at Dean Witter as an assistant to a broker, I have been fascinated with global financial markets.
I dedicated most of my career as an electrical engineer to the pursuit of developing and using live trading of technical market software systems. As a result of my passion for the markets, I have traded in virtually every significant financial market in the world, either directly or indirectly; sometimes with my own money, sometimes with other people’s money. By the time I was 27 I had written a book on technical market analysis, and had formulated several strategies that are still a staple method of trading in the financial markets today.
In between all of that I became a Registered Investment Adviser when I was 29 and built my own International Registered Investment Advising Firm. I worked to help raise money for over 26 publicly traded companies. I’ve served as an officer and director of 2 international publicly traded companies. I’ve taken 4 companies public, and was the former founding member of an international investment banking firm based in South Africa, where I lived from 2003 to 2008.
In my own former public company we had offices in all over the world including China, Mexico, Africa, Denmark, the EU and the USA. I have worked with analysts, brokers, bankers, market makers, investment advisers, and investors from all over the world.
Unfortunately my lack of experience in corporate governance resulted in one company being delisted from the U.S. Stock Markets, and later resulted in the bankruptcy and closure of the company because of regulatory issues. All this happened just as we were about to finalize billions of dollars worth of international business contracts in several countries. I grew the company so rapidly that it spiraled out of my control too quickly and I took too many shortcuts to try to engineer the outcomes. This eventually led to civil and criminal charges against me, and sadly the loss of jobs for people and losses for some investors. As a result, my family and I lost everything while living in a foreign country with no other means to sustain ourselves. Sadly, many of the sustainable, humanitarian business projects that I had launched in South Africa and Mexico were all unable to get off the ground without the critical financing, which was subsequently lost.
I have made and lost fortunes in the stock market and in my related businesses. I have experienced both the dark side of how markets are made, investors hurt, and the positive side where markets benefit businesses and investors. I have felt the joy of high valuations, where people praised me for the fortunes that I made for them, and I have experienced the suffering and pain of my own loss and the loss of others who believed in me and some of whom vilified me.
I have risked my life, and unfortunately placed the lives of my own family at risk in the past, as a result of working with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during international financial work. Some of the work I did for the CIA was the basis for and added to my problems in a criminal case, while the rest was my own responsibility. I thought I knew the risks, and although I did not know what I did not know there are consequences. The bulk of all that did happen, and to which I was exposed, will remain known only to myself and others directly involved.
Unfortunately, I was indicted, and later plead guilty to, federal securities fraud charges related to insider trading. I spent over 3 years in a U.S. Federal Prison. It was a very heavy cost for my loved ones and myself and there are significant impacts on families and relationships even long after being released from prison.
Being in the business of money has been a large part of my life. I have seen how money can bring out the worst and the best in people. I have seen people struggle to come to terms with new financial wealth, and I have seen people lose everything, go into debt and even go to prison as a result of money. I have had the hands on technical experience in many aspects of financial markets and banking in various countries that few people ever have the chance to see.
When I was indicted on criminal charges in the U.S. in relation to my former business I was living with my family and I had just started to achieve some success in a new business in South Africa after experiencing the devastating loss of my entire public company two years earlier. My daughter was only 7 months old. My criminal indictment forced my family and I to move back to the United States and in the process we lost everything and our entire lives that we built in South Africa. I had to shut down my new business and a cycle of depletion of my own resources and that of my family began. It was an extraordinarily painful experience to leave a home that we had finally been able to make, where my daughter was born and to leave all of our friends never knowing if we would ever see South Africa again. It was like losing everything in some kind of disaster. My wife and children flew home separately from me because I was going to be arrested upon my arrival. I was the last to pack up the final things from our house to go into an uncertain future not knowing what was going to happen to me or my family. It was surreal and painful.
The indictment itself was very painful as I was vilified by the prosecutors who also incited the former share holders to lash out against me. It was then that I experienced the vindictiveness and the dark sides of the U.S. Justice System of which I was previously unaware. I was advised by my lawyers that I should not say anything to anyone in response because of the ongoing case. So when false information was released about me again and again I said nothing. There were many procedural mistakes made throughout my entire case which maximized the negative impacts on my family and helped ensure I received the maximum term of imprisonment. In short I know what it is like to have had your reputation and life ruined.
Just after I was indicted on criminal charges my wife’s mother died from cancer. And that same year my wife was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully she survived after a double mastectomy, but the experience of all of these horrible things happening at the same time was like being in a nightmare. But we both survived thanks to the grace of God and our training as Consciousness Coaches. Much later cancer would re-occur in her Fallopian tubes which she was able to overcome again but that is another story.
Eventually I had to surrender myself for what ended up being over 3 years in prison. Those were difficult times. There were times when things would happen outside of prison over which I had no control, and about which I could only pray to God, realizing that life would go on. This is not to mention the difficult circumstances, unusual situations, and people that one is exposed to in prison. There were errors in my case and I studied the law and won an appeal and there were further errors in the subsequent proceedings that made life very challenging as I represented myself in the court while in prison. Throughout my prison time I chose to better myself for the sake of my family rather than be a burden to them.
Today in U.S. Federal Prison getting any kind of real education is virtually impossible. However, what they are required to have by law is an amazing library of religious and other self development books, audio tapes and videos. In addition they had regular services in all religions. I was already a Consciousness Coach before my my criminal case concluded, thus I made it my business to find out if there was any utility for me, in my walk as a Christian, in studying all of these faiths. I found some amazing tools and practices that I have integrated into my Christian walk that have served me well.
I spent most of my time making a serious study of all the greatest writings of religion, spirituality, philosophy and psychology. In prison I was able to discuss all of these subjects with people from all walks of life and all faiths. That was a unique experience. If I had a question about the interpretation of a Bible verse in Hebrew I could simply walk over to a Rabbi from Israel who was also incarcerated and he could read the exact Hebrew text. If I had a question about the meaning of a verse from the Koran I could ask a number of Muslims that were also in prison and they could read for me from the Arabic. I tried to leave no stone un-turned. I read all of the great religious works and some of the faiths that I studied closely included the Hindu, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Native American, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon, Nation of Islam, Rastafari, Voodo, Aliens and the sciences of enlightenment, psychology and all relevant saints and mystics. There were doctors, lawyers and specialists in every field in the same prison and I made good use of my access to them as well as the clergy and psychology staff that worked for the prison and volunteers who gave sermons and courses to us in prison.
I also volunteered and participated in several drug and alcohol treatment programs. One of these was an intensive, in-house treatment program that lasted for 9 months, and was similar to a boot camp without the physical exercise. There were intensive one-on-one and group sessions, where I learned a great deal. I took careful notes and this book is the first of many that I will write, based on what I learned from my research, and what I continue to learn.
I practiced physical fitness, prayer and meditation and gave consciousness coaching sessions to other inmates in between work assignments and studies of U.S. law at the prison. All of my studies reinforced my belief in and love of Christ and my appreciation for God and my love, patience and compassion for all people. I prayed that God would guide my insights and studies so that I would not be influenced by wrong thinking and I have complete faith that God honored those requests because as it states in the Bible, “seek and you shall find,” and it was God that I was seeking with all of my being. Because I felt this cloak of protection and guidance from God in some cases I did dare to participate in the religious ceremonies of other faiths in order to find utility but all the while in my own heart I was praying to the God represented by Christ.
In many cases I did indeed find great utility in incorporating some of the thoughts and practices from other faiths into my own Christian worship. In particular I found the practices of Zen and meditation that involves challenging my ordinary thinking at all times to be extraordinarily beneficial in my walk as a Christian. And I learned that there exists a great misunderstanding by many Christians about Zen Buddhism and its practices. This misunderstanding breaks my heart because it prevents many Christians from discovering the utilities of Zen that can help us behave as better human beings and enables us to walk more closely on the Way of Christ and overcoming our own selfishness (sin).
Being incarcerated was an experience that I would not want to repeat again, but eventually I came to treat the prison as a monastery and a Zen camp for myself, complete with celibacy and landscaping work that we were required to do. There was also a hand full of other prisoners devout in their faiths that I considered as monks that sought a continual relationship with God in order to cope with their overly harsh and lengthy prison terms and deal with other personal and relationship hardships. Many of these men did indeed find the forgiveness, love, joy and peace of God that gave them life and light that shined even in the darkness of incarceration. It is these people and even some of the devout spiritual prison staff members that helped reveal the presence of God that exists everywhere even within a prison compound.
Eventually I realized that God was not in some far off heaven or some other destination where I had to go to but that God was all around us and inside of us if we just slow down enough to see. God is in every object, every breath of air, every blade of grass, every insect, animal, person and exists in every smile. The presence of God is inescapable, all I had to do was to practice opening myself up to receive it. I experienced that we are all dependent on each other and that the real spiritual journey to connect with the presence of God was an inward path. Trying to make other people and the “outside” world fit into our ideas of how it should be is the cause of endless suffering for many people. True joy can only be experienced by learning to accept and appreciate life for the way that it actually comes to you while you are in the midst of trying to do anything. I am a great believer in being a person of action and taking a stand for other people and to do what Christ calls us to do because of my love for Christ. And I also know that, at best we are only co-creators with God. The freedom of choice that God gave to us all is a great responsibility with which God has empowered us all and as such I believe we must always do our best to do what Christ would do. Even with our best intentions and best efforts we will still fail from time to time. I believe this is because our perfection is a result of the fact that we were not intended to experience a perfect life that is without problems and challenges to overcome. Life is a gift from God even the good and the bad and life is full of mystery even when it least appears to be a gift. For me the good news is that we are not perfect and that is according to God’s plan and so we are perfect (because God’s plan does not intend for us to be perfect, at least not at this point in time). We are accepted and loved by God and forgiven for not being perfect and this fact should not keep us from always trying to achieve right thinking and right action that promotes life in order to attain the perfection of God in our own lives. God willing, I intend to write a great deal more about these subjects in books that follow.
I was determined to make the best of a very difficult set of circumstances for my own sake and that of my family and friends and I did my best and God took care of the rest. My family and I survived these events and we became stronger in our faith and as people. We made it through these events using some of the same concepts, ideas and methods that I share in this book.
Although I am very much involved in the business world because of my passion and experience in business and my love of people, the attainment of financial wealth is not the most important thing in my life. I’m older and I’m more interested in spending time with my family and friends, and using all that I’ve learned and my coaching to do something to help other people while I continue to try to better myself. What I’m trying to do now is to share my experiences and ideas with others, through my fiction and non-fiction books, screenplays, music and constructive action. I am not afraid any more and I have a great deal of faith. I consider myself an activist that is willing to take stand for the greater good of the human race even if that means that I must sometimes call out my own brothers and sisters in Christ and even those people from other faiths about which I have studied.
I am not here to say that everything I think is right and correct. I’m here to participate in whatever capacities I believe are best in alignment with what I believe God is asking from me and in some cases I am content to take no action. I am thankful to God for every breath and for these lives that we have all been given.
My love for all people and my compassion for all people and those who are oppressed and particularly those in prison does not always make me very popular in certain circles even in the “Christian” community and I understand and expect that. And I have experienced that my calling to be a conscience of sorts by actively sharing my thoughts and opinions about many subjects from religion, politics, science and economics also invites criticism, which I am prepared to accept, utilize and endure.