Where to begin? Isn’t that the question we all have? Whether it’s regarding a project, new job, new relationship, improving your health and more, we’re always faced with choices. For me the choices I made early on led me on a radical life’s path, filled with ups and downs yet I wouldn't have changed anything.
I was on my way to becoming a professional surfer at the end of my high school career, when in 1991 that all changed abruptly. Richard “Wooly” Woolcott (my former surf team manager at Quiksilver) told me about a company he was starting called Volcom and asked me if I wanted to be the first sponsored surfer and “work” with them. It was just him and a guy named Tucker Hall (who had recently gotten laid off at Quiksilver) starting something they hoped would turn into a legitimate business. It's safe to say that happened and then some.
Instead of the option to stay with Quiksilver to follow the path of a “pro surfer” for some reason I said yes. He handed me some stickers and a T shirt and I was tasked with creating a “vibe” around the brand in the Newport Beach area. I was 18 with nothing to lose but everything to lose at the same time. I remember my dad telling me I was crazy to miss the opportunity with Quiksilver (love ya pop but I’m damn glad I didn’t listen to you).
For the next 20 years I was along for one of the most incredible journeys thus far in my life. I started working straight away doing marketing, shipping, clothing production, making movies, throwing parties and pretty much anything else you could think of. It was seriously crazy in those early days.
In 2005 Volcom went public and all of a sudden I was the Global EVP of Marketing of a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. Overnight I came into a lot of money (on paper) and at 32 years old it was a bit more than I bargained for. I was definitely unprepared for it. At that point the market was booming and so was real estate. I bought multiple properties thinking they would just continue to increase in value but in 2008 the shit hit that fan as the global meltdown ensued and soon learned a hard lesson financially. I can go ahead and thank my ego and feeling invincible to blame for most of those mistakes I made.
The stress for me during that time was immense and that’s when yoga found me after it was “prescribed” for my ailing past injuries. Little did I know it would help me more so mentally than physically in dealing with life's pressure. In 2010 I decided it was time for me to leave my corporate position at Volcom and moved my young family to Kauai to start a new life. About 3 years into our stay on Kauai my marriage went south and I was divorced shortly thereafter. Bruised and battered, myself, my ex wife to be and 3 young daughters all moved back to California to start again. It was one of the hardest times in my life… or so I thought.
Right when I thought the dust was settling I came down with a mystery health issue that appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly I had severe brain fog, I couldn't think straight and had constant tingling down my legs. I had no idea what was happening. I went to every doctor you could imagine to try and figure out what was going on including a Cardiologist, Neurologist and an MD. They all said I was fine, yet I had these frightening symptoms that weren’t getting any better. I ended up finding a Naturopath that was finally able to diagnosis my condition after multiple tests and visits. I was diagnosed with Mycotoxin exposure (mold poisoning) from the house I was living in. At the same time I was super stressed with a new business I was starting and soon learned (from my own lengthy and deep research) that when your immune system is compromised due to stress and you top it off with mold toxicity when combined they act as triggers to reap all kinds of havoc in your body.
For a while I didn’t think I was going to be normal again and for someone like me who is very active and lives what I consider to be a healthy lifestyle, it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever dealt with. I always understood that stress was a major factor in disease and illness, but until something like this happens to you, you’re unaware and almost in denial about it. I now know and wholeheartedly BELIEVE that what we think (along with diet and exercise) constitutes our well being. And as I became my own doctor I found the overwhelming science and real life testimonials to prove it. The truth is we have the innate ability to overcome any ailment, both physical and mental all with the right mindset.
Now, I look at what happened as a blessing and a major “wake up call” as to how precious our lives are. It made me completely revamp and take control and responsibility for my health and overall life. I now live with more gratitude and appreciation than ever before and rather than feeling powerless, I feel more empowered than I ever could have imagined.