Note: This is a personal account of where I come from and how I came to the work I do, offered in order for you to get to know me, if you like. It’s long, and reading it is not necessary to book an Artful Touch session. If you found yourself here by mistake, just make your way back to the main site to continue.
I grew up in Sacramento, CA, leaving high school during my freshman year with my GED in hand, ready to enter the fast food workforce at age 15. I was a social fixture of the hacking community in the mid 90’s, running one of the first crop of webcams online. I spent most of my time on IRC when not directing operations of a retail computer store, and in 1998, I escaped to Seattle to make software.
Thanks in part to the demands of tech, and having endured severe childhood abuse, I had become deeply entrenched in a constant loop of incredible self-neglect. Like many young people navigating compounded traumas, I had also developed an impressive substance problem, actively going out of my way to attempt to drown out how profoundly I was abusing myself.
I first began to seek refuge from those coping mechanisms in the form of vigorous physical activity, taking up yoga, swimming, and circus. Through the encouragement of others who swore by the stuff, I sought out massage reluctantly, as someone who didn’t even like people I knew touching me.
It took me a while to find the right practitioner, but when I did, that one experience stayed with me, planting a seed that profoundly altered my course in life. I will never forget the wonderment I felt, walking out of that fuckin’ chain salon, totally sober, yet floating like I was on Vicodin. Suddenly I was aware that the assumption I’d made about my body forgetting how to relax without pills had been wrong.
One day in 2003, while working 14-hour days in software and otherwise living much of my social life on devices (and the rest of it drinking in bars), I decided that enough was enough. After many geeky years of the sedentary, super-stressed life of a desk jockey at Microsoft and various dot-coms, and with my forearms so injured I literally couldn’t open doors for myself, I left the technology industry in pursuit of a more balanced relationship within myself and with others.
Once out of the frothing cycle of Y2K era tech, I began to explore many forms of mental health therapies to address what grew to be a host of diagnoses. I did deep psychotherapy, CPT, CBT, EMDR, a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat. I went through the Grief Recovery Method I now teach, participated in many family constellations, as well as maintaining intangible outlets like circus aerial, painting, music, and theater; and I continue to engage in many of these therapies to this day.
All of these experiences eventually informed my desire to develop my practice to include emotional and neurological awareness in conjunction with manual massage therapies, turning my focus less on applying remedy, and more toward education and empowerment.
After graduating the renowned Brian Utting School in 2008, whose mission was to create outstanding massage therapists with a deeper sense of their humanity (nailed it!), I opened my first private massage practice in the Medical Dental Building in Downtown Seattle. At that time I was renting the Chiropractic office I managed, practicing my work in the off hours, and dragging heavy chiropractic equipment in and out of my makeshift treatment room every night.
I moved my practice to my own space in the Pioneer Building in Pioneer Square in 2010, where I reconnected with how much I enjoy interior decorating along with learning many other valuable lessons and helping many gracious people. I added Somatic Unwinding®, which is now my mainstay technique, to my repertoire in 2012, and became certified in the Grief Recovery Method® in 2014.
Shortly after adding CGRS to my title, I finally accepted I had been priced out of Seattle. I shuttered my bodywork practice and became stateless for nearly four years, touring the country, playing music shows, and making art, all while living in a van. A working artist since the mid 2000’s, it was the contributions of my patrons that allowed for me to take that long seeking journey, and to benefit from the unparalleled experiences making loops around the country afforded me.
Finding myself a snowbird at 36, sometimes living on as little as $500 a month, I periodically returned to Seattle to labor seasonally (and for the glorious summers), most notably to work in Green Stormwater Infrastructure and Urban Agriculture from a social justice lens. This further deepened my appreciation and understanding of the intricate web of life; as well as the often infuriating dynamics of privilege, capitalism, and oppression.
“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” – Spanish Proverb
In 2018, my body let me know that it was time to settle again with a trip to the ER, where I realized I’d developed disordered eating and had relapsed mentally by being out alone on the road so long, without safe touch, or psychiatric support. Washington state is where I am health insured, so Washington state is where I returned, nesting about 30 miles south of where I started: the incomparable Grit City of Destiny, Tacoma.
I’d never genuinely left the healing arts, so once recovered and stationary, returning to bodywork became its own matter of course. I took the class hours I needed to reinstate my license, refreshed my Somatic Unwinding® education with its originator Karen Clay, and gained Intraoral certification from Pat O’Rourke in 2018.
And now here you, and I, are.
As a former computer fanatic (I now sport a sticker on my phone that proudly proclaims “FUCK COMPUTERS”), I’m familiar with the benefits of taking time to center one’s self in their body and the physical world, as well as the grave impact on our health when we don’t.
As an aerial performer, instructor, and movement enthusiast, I have gleaned insight into injury, recovery, and developed an athletic level of body awareness, returning successfully to aerial arts after countless injuries including ripping all my hamstrings in my right leg, and breaking my back.
My talents as an artist and musician have gifted me with a unique, flexible appreciation of connection, healing, ritual, expression, and witness; as well as the universal truths that reside within each of us as meaning-making human beings.
Enduring my struggles with substances, risk-taking, depression, and even suicidal ideation have shown me that it truly is darkest before the dawn. That a setback or episode is often an indication that a massive breakthrough is on the horizon, that I am threatening to grow beyond my current capacity to even imagine myself. That I am tapping into a place of profound knowing that threatens the status quo of my core identity, thus setting off my most desperate and primal coping mechanisms.
I’m also pleased to mention that I am in recovery, having finally gotten clean and sober, just a few weeks after my 40th birthday.
If you’re still reading this, I think you know as well as I know that your somatic wisdom deeply shapes the manner in which you experience your life, whether you are listening or not, and that as such we can only get so far coping by intellectualizing in the mind, philosophizing our ways through our holistic problems, churning and thinking, without actually doing the work of learning how to hear yourself.
I am an accomplice with a stellar personality, a bit of a potty mouth, a big weepingass heart, soft strong hands, and an unwavering belief in your human ability to heal and grow.
I leverage everything you’ve read about here and more to offer creative real-world solutions and tools to enable you to find your unique balance, and continue to do, or even return to, the things that you love.
Even just one session, just like that massage I got at Gene Jaurez nearly twenty years ago, has the potential to alter your life.
Hit me up, when you are ready to make a change.