I had a lot of fun writing about the place that truly changed my life—especially my work ethic, spirituality, and outlook on life.
It was a 5-month program (I tried to stay for 6) up in Washington, near the city of Spokane and the Idaho border, where you learn a variety of valuable life skills and how to see the world for how it really is, without all the unnecessary things that distracts us from stopping to appreciate what our world already has to offer us.
It was on an Indian Reservation which was something that made it seem (for lack of a less gay-sounding word) magical. There were many animals, too— ducks, chickens, geese, goats, llamas, dogs, and a cat. I might be forgetting an animal or two.
When the possibility of attending this place (I call it Spirit Ranch in my memoir) had come to mind via my parents, they called it a rehab. And it was, in a sense. There wasn’t any drinking or using drugs, and if you did, there were repercussions*, and they did take us to an AA meeting once a week. That’s it, though. The rest of it was doing things to better myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Cooking, cleaning, manual, labor, animal care, managerial training, staying sober, paying bills, and Reiki training are a few of the skills I had learned and perfected.
When I wasn’t working on myself, I was pursuing my passions. Along with playing music (like playing on stage in front of over a hundred people), I discovered I had a talent for writing prose—poetry and personal essay.
We also saw a Shaman lady who completely turned my world around, so it faced the right way. She told me about how things about myself and my life are connected, being the last pieces of a puzzle, putting everything in perspective and shaping my life into something so beautiful, it would make you cry.
(Not her in the picture. Had she looked like that, I wouldn’t have left.)
A rites of passage ceremony had made my leap into spiritual adulthood official; I had learned life skills such as how to be self-sufficient, and how to survive in the wilderness. And became a better snowboarder. I’m not going to say much more, I apologize; you will experience my journey of rebirth and transformation if you read my book.
*The main repercussion we had to watch out for was becoming “homeless.” You know me, I became homeless and had to live outside on my own for a month. Making my own fire everyday, surviving on PB&J and muscle milk with only a hatchet at my side and bear mace, though I saw no bears. 🐻
But, it was also a place that held many sightings of Bigfoot.
One thing I learned, there is more to this world than what we can see. Most likely, you’ve experienced it, only you weren’t paying attention. (Think Avatar, Fern Gully, and Star Wars’ psychology.) I go into great detail about it in my memoir.
Humans are so unaware of what we are capable of and what is really going on in the world. Scientists have discovered certain eastern spiritual things to be scientific truth. It truly is a beautiful place.
Sadly, it had closed down a few years after I left. I was really bummed to hear that. I quietly mourned by myself. I had found my true life lost and forgotten self there. That house and especially the land — where I lived outside for a month — hold a piece of me of my soul. There will forever be a place reserved in my heart for the incredible staff and other junky kids who became brothers at Life Designs Ranch.