Up until the time I underwent my dramatic spiritual conversion, my story is not a remarkable one. I was one of nine children, born into a Mormon family in Mesa, Arizona. Some of my mother's ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. Another was one of the original Mormon pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. My father's family converted to Mormonisn in Sweden about 1860. They emigrated to Utah but were asked by the president of the Mormon Church in the late-nineteenth century to relocate to Southern Arizona, to help with the flood of Mormon refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution.
My father was a school teacher and counselor and took the family to California in 1958, for better professional opportunities. We lived, first in the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina, but then moved north to the small beach town of Carpinteria in 1966. My whole life was colored by Mormonism. The family was devout and it pretty much influenced every facet of my youth. In 1974 I was proud to embark on a two-year mission to Argentina. That is what good young Mormon men did, so it is what I did, although not before making sure everyone understood it was my decision and I was going because it was what I wanted and not what was expected of me. I even made everyone squirm for a year by delaying the mission until I was ready. Yes, I have always had an independent streak, but I really did accept Mormonism and anticipated a life of faithful service.
I had some remarkable experiences as a missionary in Argentina and am still grateful for the opportunity, even if I no longer identify myself with Mormonism. I returned home still committed to the Church but with no more belief or testimony than that which I had before I left.
Right after my return from Argentina, my father retired and moved back to his native Arizona, although this time to the small town of Lakeside, high in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona. I was reluctant but agreed to move with my parents and my three younger brothers still living at home. I hated the snow and found the rural lifestyle stifling. I lasted as long as I could but I moved back to California in 1979, settling in Santa Barbara, a larger city just north of Carpinteria.
It was during this period my lack of complete acceptance of the Mormon Church developed into an acute feeling that I was not headed in the right direction. I had heard all the arguments against the doctrine of the church and all the evidence against the legitimacy of the Book Of Mormon, but none of that ever was a factor in my lack of faith. The only thing that really bothered me was the teaching that the Mormon gospel was the only path that can possibly lead to salvation. I refused to accept a God that only favored a chosen few. I left the Mormon church but struggled for years with anger and depression. Mormonism was all I really knew and I didn't know how to cope without it. I called myself an atheist for more than 30 years and dismissed all religion and spirituality. But eventually I made it to the other side and I no longer hold a grudge against the Church. It can be a valuable tool in the progression of the individual, just like all religions.
It was in Santa Barbara that I met my beloved Stella. We were married in 1988. We were never blessed with children but we shared our love with our pet conure, Baby, for 23 years. Now we have been blessed with our dog Sura, a pure bred Havanese and the most loving animal on the planet.
I graduated college with a four-year degree in Management, but I never really settled on a career; I have always been restless. I worked in grocery store management, then moved to newspaper reporting and editing. Then we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and it was on to managing in the high-tech manufacturing sector of Silicon Valley for me. When I had a heart attack and other heart and health problems, we moved to the less stressful Gulf Coast of Florida in 2005. I became a real estate agent just as the housing bubble burst. I actually squeezed one good year out of it but, as the recession deepened, I realized I never really enjoyed it anyway. I've had a couple of inconsequential jobs since then but have basically been retired since 2011. Through all the moves and upheavals, Stella has been steadfastly by my side, with the patience of a saint. It seems like every opportunity for economic advancement, I have chosen the opposite path. And Stella has supported me through all of it.
In 2014 we were guided back to Arizona, first to a very remote location at the base of the Dragoon Mountains in rural Cochise County in the southeastern portion of the state. Three years later we did the inevitable and moved to Sedona, where I am discovering many new spiritual avenues. I now practice meditation and study the spiritual practices that resonate with me. I am convinced defeating my ego driven by desires is the clue to my spiritual advancement.