Teen Years

I started attending boarding school in London at 10 years old with my sister. I suppose it was kind of a family tradition. On holidays we would still travel to weird and eclectic destinations.

Growing up I was a severely overweight child with glasses and braces. To say I was bullied physically and mentally would be an understatement. It was so bad that I had to move schools several times. Kids can be downright cruel.

“Getting my boarding school dorm room ready at 12 years old with my Mom”

After I turned 13 I lost the weight, got contacts, and got my braces off. This was a very interesting experience for me because I was able to see firsthand how cruel people can be at such a young age. This taught me one of the most important lessons of my life … Be your own person! All of a sudden the popular kids wanted to be my friend. I decided to go in opposite direction … I refused to choose just one group of people to hang out with, but rather multiple groups to fit different aspects of my personality.

14 Years old – Yearbook Photo

I had my intellectual friends, my party friends, my goofy friends, etc. This was wonderful once I entered college, but unfortunately it was social suicide in my teenage years … by not choosing a social group that is. I was still bullied in other ways, but I just chalked it up to challenging teenage years.

I did attend this incredible boarding school in Rhode Island right on the ocean where I was fortunate enough to live on a 70 foot sailboat with eight other classmates tagging sharks and turtles, and learning about Marine Science for a semester. It was probably the highlight of my high school career.

“16 years old in the Bahamas with fellow classmates on the crew of the Geronimo tagging turtles”

 

“Still tagging turtles 10 years later at 26 years old in the Bahamas”

When I turned 14 the wild side of my personality started to shine through for the next 10 years or so. I like to think that I was “Responsibly Irresponsible.” I got myself into all kinds of trouble, but always respected my mother’s wishes, and made sure I would call her to tell her I was alive, doing all right, and where I was in the world. I lived for the story… I always knew something terrible in life could happen being exposed to so many different cultures and atrocities around the world. So, I always wanted to live every day like it was my last. Yes, I probably got into more trouble than most teenagers in the world, but I had a damn good time doing it.

15 years old and ready to party with my sister!

“14 years old with my girls – Crew Team”

I went so far as to defer a year or two after high school and hop on a plane over to China at 17 years old. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but it was the most interesting and culturally rich experience of my life. I even managed to land myself in jail at the ripe old age of 17 with my then Italian kickboxing instructor up in northern China. This will be a blog in and of itself!

I participated in wilderness survival programs in New Zealand, Australia, and other locations around the world for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. I would be in the middle of nowhere in potentially life or death situations with a group of people. I learned leadership skills, survival skills, and learned how to “convene” with nature as they say.

“Old fashion throwaway cameras to take the most incredible pictures in the

Australian outback during a Wilderness Survival Trip”

Whenever I was living in the city and I would feel overwhelmed with life or I was getting to snooty for my liking … I would participate in these wilderness survival trips to ground myself.

Once I started college in California for the first two years of my education I was definitely & completely out of control. I was partying at the Playboy mansion, clubbing five nights a week, and engaging in all kinds of nefarious activities. However, the one stipulation my parents put upon me was that they would help me with college, but I had to maintain a very high GPA. As long as I maintained my grades, because this was my “job” at the time, I was free and clear. I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I managed to completely go off of the reservation, and maintain the appropriate GPA.

 

             “Carefree at 18 years old”

After two years in Los Angeles I decided I needed to get to grip with getting serious with college and so I transferred to the University of Miami. Yes, I transferred from Los Angeles to South Beach … I have no idea what the hell I was thinking. I still maintained my GPA average, participated in many different business plans competitions as my major was entrepreneurship, but I still managed to rock it out on a regular basis.

I will conclude by saying that I probably took full advantage of my teenage years as best I could and when I look back I only have the fondest of memories of everything I did (even in the most craziest of times!)

“Just a casual day hang gliding for fun in Miami during college”

 

“Rocking it out with one of my friends… 20 years old and ready to take over the world in Key West for Fantasy Fast”