Calling all dreamers & believers

Today, we got support from my cousin in Elkins Park, PA – one of The Tax Divas, Kerri Conners-Matchett. Thank you, for your role model and inspiration cousin, and also for your donation to empower our voice and our vision. Help us grow our purpose. Please make a donation today. Even a gift of $1 has the power to change the world.

The Eight Dimensions of Holistic Wellbeing

Article originally published February 13, 2018, on The Legacy Insitute’s blog.

(This article was updated on 3/10/2018 to add an eighth dimension to the pyramid, the financial wellbeing dimension was added as level four.)

8 Dimensions of Holistic Wellbeing - WHT

We recognize that our purpose here on earth is greater than doing things or collecting things. Here at the Legacy Institute, we seek to provide our practitioners a holistic set of tools and information to empower them in increasing their clients’ happiness and satisfaction with their life’s journeys. The search for balance in life leads one to examine their holistic wellbeing. Holistic Wellbeing is the pursuit of continued growth and balance in the eight dimensions of wellbeing. A lot of people think about “wellbeing” in terms of physical health only. The word invokes thoughts of nutrition, exercise, weight management, blood pressure, etc. Wellbeing, however, is much more than physical health. Holistc wellbeing is a full integration of all six dimensions of our physical reality, as well as our mental and spiritual wellbeing. It is a complex set of interactions that when balanced together leads to quality of life.

Holistic Wellbeing is commonly viewed as having eight dimensions. Each dimension contributes to our own sense of wellbeing or quality of life, and each affects and overlaps the others. At times one may be more prominent than others, but the neglect of any one dimension for any extended length of time may have adverse effects on overall health and often is the cause of “dis-ease.”

Exploring The Eight Dimensions of Holistic Wellbeing

Level 1 – Environmental Wellbeing Dimension

Many people focus on the grander scale of the environment when discussing this particular dimension focusing on cleaner air, oceans and conservation efforts. We like to think of it in a much more personal sense. We define our environment as the places where we spend our time. This does include the oceans and the great outdoors, but more directly we see it as our bedrooms, homes, offices, cars, etc. These are our personal environments. Environmental wellness is an awareness of the unstable state of balance in our homes and communities as well as across the entire earth and the effects of our daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony within our homes and throughout the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment. It starts will cleaning and organizing our personal quarters.

Tips and suggestions for optimal environmental wellness:

  • Explore the Chinese principles of Fung Shui for your home and/or office
  • Deep clean and organize the place you spend most of your time
  • Stop your junk mail
  • Conserve water and other resources
  • Minimize chemical use
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Renew your relationship with the earth

Level 2 – Physical Wellbeing Dimension

Physical wellness encompasses a variety of healthy behaviors including adequate exercise, proper nutrition and abstaining from harmful habits such as drug use and alcohol abuse. It means learning about and identifying symptoms of disease, getting regular medical checkups, and protecting yourself from injuries and harm. Developing such healthy habits today will not only add years to your life but will enhance the enjoyment and quality of those years.

Tips for optimal physical wellness:

  • Exercise daily
  • Get adequate rest
  • Use seat belts, helmets, and other protective equipment
  • Learn to recognize early signs of illness
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Control your meal portions
  • Stop smoking and protect yourself against second-hand smoke
  • Use alcohol in moderation, if at all

Level 3 – Emotional Wellbeing Dimension

Emotional wellbeing is a dynamic state that fluctuates frequently with your other six dimensions of wellbeing. Being emotionally well is typically defined as possessing the ability to feel and express human emotions such as happiness, sadness, and anger. Our clients have found wellness in this dimension more attainable when once they recognize they are the Observer of their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Having an awareness that you are not these things and separate seems to promote wellness. It means having the ability to love and be loved and achieving a sense of fulfillment in life. Emotional wellness encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance and the ability to share feelings.

Tips for optimal emotional wellbeing:

  • Tune-in to your thoughts and feelings
  • Cultivate an optimistic attitude
  • Seek and provide support
  • Learn time management skills
  • Practice stress management techniques
  • Accept and forgive yourself

Level 4 – Financial Wellbeing Dimension

The financial dimension challenges us to master our economic landscape. In this dimension we seek to develop satisfaction with both our current and our future financial situations. Financial Wellbeing includes our relationship with money, skills to manage resources to live within our means, making informed financial decisions and investments, setting realistic goals, and learning to prepare for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies. Part of this dimension includes an awareness that everyone’s financial values, needs, and circumstances are unique. Most express a need to expand their knowledge of financial matters and understanding of the tools available to find mastery in this dimension.

Tips and suggestions for optimal Financial Wellbeing include:

  • Develop and stick-to a balanced and written budget
  • Learn to understand and apply the Rich Dad Poor Dad Cash Flow Quadrants
  • Make and execute a plan to eliminate your debt
  • Consult a financial professional for advice and guidance
  • Continue your financial education through live seminars, webinars, YouTube videos, books, magazines, etc.

Suggested Resources/Reading for Financial Wellbeing:

1. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Personal finance author and lecturer Robert T. Kiyosaki developed his unique economic perspective from two very different influences – his two fathers. One father (Robert’s real father) was a highly educated man but fiscally poor. The other father was the father of Robert’s best friend – that Dad was an eighth-grade drop-out who became a self-made multi-millionaire. The lifelong monetary problems experienced by his poor dad pounded home the counterpoint communicated by his rich dad. Taking that message to heart, Kiyosaki was able to retire at 47.

2. The Richest Man in Babylon

Beloved by millions, this timeless classic holds the key to all you desire and everything you wish to accomplish. This is the book that reveals the secret to personal wealth.

The Success Secrets of the Ancients—
An Assured Road to Happiness and Prosperity

Countless readers have been helped by the famous “Babylonian parables,” hailed as the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth. In language as simple as that found in the Bible, these fascinating and informative stories set you on a sure path to prosperity and its accompanying joys. Acclaimed as a modern-day classic, this celebrated bestseller offers an understanding of—and a solution to—your personal financial problems that will guide you through a lifetime. This is the book that holds the secrets to keeping your money—and making more.

Level 5 – Intellectual Wellbeing Dimension

The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually inspired and exercised just as our bodies do. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. Keeping up-to-date on current events and participating in activities that arouse our minds are also important.

Tips and suggestions for optimal intellectual wellness include:

  • Take a continuing education course or workshop
  • Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
  • Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
  • Read, Read, Read
  • Learn to appreciate art in all its forms

Level 6 – Social Wellbeing Dimension

Social wellness refers to our ability to interact successfully with our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles. This means learning good communication skills, developing intimacy with others, and creating a support network of friends and family members.

Social wellness includes showing respect for others and yourself. When we see those we interact with as mirrors of ourselves, we have opportunities to grow and develop a deeper understanding through what we see. Contributing to your community and to the world builds a sense of belonging.

Tips and suggestions for optimal social wellness include:

  • Cultivate healthy relationships
  • Get involved
  • Contribute to your community
  • Share your talents and skills
  • Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas

Level 7 – Spiritual Wellbeing Dimension

Spiritual wellness involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. It is willingness to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, to question everything and to appreciate the things which cannot be readily explained or understood.

A spiritually well person seeks harmony between what lies within as well as the forces outside.

Tips and suggestions for optimal spiritual wellness:

  • Explore your spiritual core
  • Spend time alone/meditate regularly
  • Be inquisitive and curious
  • Be fully present in everything you do
  • Listen with your heart and live by your principles
  • Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are
  • See opportunities for growth in the challenges life brings you

Level 8 – Occupational Wellbeing Dimension

Occupational/Vocational wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. Oprah instructs us to seek to find our bliss, the thing that brings us joy, and then seek to find a way to make money or monetize whatever it is that brings you such joy. The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work. Achieving optimal occupational wellness allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment. Occupational wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.

Tips and suggestions for optimal occupational wellbeing include:

    • Ask yourself if you would do anything at all with no limitations
    • Consider what your life’s journey has prepared you for that is unique
    • Create a vision for your future
    • Choose a career that aligns with your personality, interests, and talents
    • Be open to change and learn new skills

Now that you have reviewed all eight dimensions of holistic wellbeing what are the first things that come to mind? What are you going to do differently in your life to achieve more balance and wellbeing? Do you have a better understanding of how everything in our entire world impacts our holistic wellbeing?

Interested vs. COMMITTED – A Real Life Tale

Today, I was intent on being a part of our 11am Advanced Life Coaching Group with Marilyn Jhung at the West Central Mental Health Center, (WCMHC), in Los Angeles, California.  Because I am staying in Orange County, California, in order to achieve this task today, I first needed to take three buses in Orange County to the Irvine Train Station, where I would take a train to Los Angeles’ Union Station.  From Union Station, I would conclude my journey by hopping two buses to Crenshaw Blvd & Stocker St., where I can easily hoof it up to the little red brick building we loving call, WCMHC.  I check all the various schedules and lay out my transpo plan.

Here is a recapped synopsis of my day so far:

6am – wake up 20 minutes before my 6:20 alarm.

6:01am – look out the window to see the most Amazing dawn.

6:50am – leave the house.

7am – arrive at bus station for 7:10am bus. Realize I am at the wrong station. Began to jog the 0.9 miles to the correct bus stop arriving at 7:09am, just in time to catch the bus.

8:10am – Exit second bus.

8:30am – Take a bus stop selfie and notice same route go by on other side of the road.

8:40am – Jump on 3rd bus to head to train station to catch 8:52 train. The last northbound train of the am.

8:45am – Think to myself, we should be there already AND nothing going by outside my window looks familiar.

8:47am – Exit the bus realizing I have missed the last am train to Union Station.

So, NOW comes the query inside my heart, AM I INTERESTED OR COMMITTED?

Here is the set-up, I had already spent $22 bucks on a useless train ticket. I am sleepy because I stayed up late working on my current book project. I check Uber to see how much it will cost, because I still have time to make it if I am COMMITTED.  Uber has a driver three minutes away and wants $74.53 to make the trip.  I haven’t had any breakfast and I feel even more sleepy thinking about how I only have a few more than $75 in my account today.  What will I do?

I ordered the Uber. (I am literally writing this piece from the back seat right now.)  I went all in. I put my money 💰 where my COMMITMENT is, I put it toward making it to our group.

Bottomline, I am COMMITTED to my role as a Volunteer at WCMHC.  What are you COMMITTED to?


10:55am – Group calls to ask if I am gonna make it today. I say, on my way.

10:57am – I walk in the front door of WCMHC. Tell everybody, Mr. West is in the building!!!”

#MissionAccomplished #Winning

Here. Now. The Right Place For Life… 

Los Angeles, California

Today in our Advanced Life Coaching group at the West Central Mental Health Center, Marlynn, our group’s facilitator, gifted us an amazing piece by Jeff Foster, entitled, “The Right Place For Life.”  The short piece was exactly what I needed to help me accept the circumstances of my own now, here, where I stand.  As I sat in the group earlier today, I decided that when I got home later I would engage in the “Finding Forester” exercise of using another’s writing as a starting point to finding your own voice. Unlike the character in the movie, I do not have Jeff Foster’s permission, nor his mentorship, but just the same I will attempt to use his words as a starting point to find my own on this topic of the present moment.  Below is my first draft.  Enjoy!

Trust in wherever the path shall lead…

You have kissed it with your heart and soul.  And now, your heart is broken. You no longer feel comfortable in your own home, not even in your own skin.  Everything you have worked so hard for is falling to pieces right before your eyes.  You feel like you have lost that essential something, that special keepsake of your heart that defined you, that thing that made you, “you.”  It feels as though something within you is missing.  Life is presenting as unfair, unkind, wrong, or even worse, life no longer feels “real” anymore.  You yearn to escape, to just get away.  You ache to jump back in time, to the way things used to be, -or- fast forward past NOW, to that wondrous way that things could be.  You feel isolated, misunderstood, without direction and no one can help.  You are convinced that no one can possibly understand your current situation because nobody else has ever stood in your shoes.

You feel as though you have arrived at the completely wrong place, at the worse possible time.

Stop. Focus on your breath.  Contemplate that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be at this point in time.  How do we know things are exactly, right?  Because this is exactly how things happened.

The Universe can not go “wrong.”  Only our perception of what IS can be “wrong.”  Our life only feels like it is going “wrong” within the confines of our own meat minds, within our own thinking.

What we tell ourselves is only our “story,” our “movie.”  Step out of the movie of past and future, to scenes of “back then,” or dreams of “if when,” and instead turn and face this sacred moment, the NOW of this moment, the only true moment that exists.

Settle down and feel your own presence, right here in this sacred space, focus on the steadiness of your breath, a constant stable rhythm amidst the chaos of the world.  Feel every part of your body, full of sensation, tingling, each part full of life.  Feel the weight of your body, noticing how it interacts with gravity, being pulled downward toward the earth as if pulled magically from its very center.  Feel the life force pulsating in your heart, observe the rise and fall of your chest.  Embrace the raw life that is here, covering you, filling you, animating your every move.  Focus on the vibrations in your head and the activity in your stomach.  Notice how your feet contact the ground, observe the air as it flows past your nostrils.  Concentrate on your ears and all the sounds occurring all around you, rising and falling.

In this awareness of the NOW, know that the next step of your journey can only be taken from here, right where you stand, in this present moment.  Know that the ground under your feet, the only true ground, is ready to meet your next step.  Relax in the joy of not knowing what the next step will be before it is actually taken.  Trust in the knowledge that you cannot trust right now; the path shall reveal itself in its own time.  Do not fret about the future.  The true path ultimately will emerge, as it always has and always will.  Be present.  Be here.  NOW.

Your energy may be low, your heart may be broken my friend, and your old aspirations may have evaporated into the ether no longer on track, but luxuriate in the knowing that you’re always in the right place for life.  Today it is here.  NOW.

Who is Don West, Jr.? and The Myth of Sisyphus

Recently I was asked a seemingly simple question by my therapist Marlyn, and the question was, “Who is Don West, Jr.?”

She challenged me not to recite my resume or LinkedIn profile, she was asking me to tell her about the actual person, the man, how it is that I view myself.  It immediately hit me that I had never truly pondered this simple question in any meaningful way, who am I beyond the titles, positions, and labels.  You know, like son, student, athlete, attorney, suspended-attorney, bipolar, etc.  In all of my multitudes of self-help and success literature that I have devoured, none of it ever successfully prompted me to ask myself the question, who are you?  From that simple start, a second question immediately popped up, “What really makes you happy, Don West, Jr.?” (But I stop and tell my mind that we are only handling one question at a time today and add that question to my writing to-do list.)

I.  Who is Don West, Jr. beyond his resume and LinkedIn profile? (Note: It took me almost two years to be able to pull the following list together on a piece of paper.  If your answer does not bubble up right away, be patient and keep asking yourself the question.)

I am an extremely loyal person.

I am driven to be the best version of myself.  (I used to measure this in degrees, awards, and titles.  Now, I measure it in self-improvement, kind words, good deeds, and inspiring others.)

I am a nerd.  I am going to do the homework and I will read the footnotes to the suggested reading.

I love books, I love to learn, I always have, I always will.  I typically sit in the front row.

I am a born leader.  I am and always have been ready to step up to the front, formulate a plan and inspire the team to go out and snatch another victory.

I can earn people’s trust and sell anything I believe in.  I am driven by my own beliefs and passion for the things I believe in.

I AM A DREAMER!  I make my dreams come TRUE.

I oversee the BIG PICTURE.

I am a master of organizational systems and dynamics.

I am an extremely hard worker.

I have been told I was lazy by numerous supervisors, co-workers, friends, and colleagues.

II. The Myth of Sisyphus


In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth).  He is punished by Zeus for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only for it to roll away when they near the top forcing him to repeat this action for eternity.

III.  When discussing Sisyphus in therapy feelings of never feeling “good enough” came up

I have focused my energy on pushing many a “rock” up the hill.  There was getting through US Navy Boot Camp, undergrad, law school, repping 1st round NFL Draft picks and even being chosen to be on SpikeTV’s 2005 reality tv show, “Super Agent.”  For me, just like Sisyphus, it felt like I had this immense task in front of me.  My ego would say, do it, keep going, when you get THIS “rock” up the hill you are going to feel whole, you will feel complete, you will feel accomplished.  My ego is convincing.  I believed everything that it said and I kept pushing forward toward the summit.  And every single time I reached that top, what did I find?  Not completeness nor a sense of accomplishment.  I felt the same as before.  I felt incomplete and unaccomplished.  My “rock” had rolled back down the hill.

To close out the session, my therapist Marlyn gave me the homework assignment of pondering where these feelings of not feeling “good enough” may have originated, perhaps as far back as my early childhood.   I Immediately blurt out that I already know, while at the same time chuckling inside my head at how quickly and vividly the awareness came to the forefront of my consciousness.  As a young man living in Huntsville, Alabama our family of seven, us five kids plus our parents were happy and our house was full of love.  We attended a private religious school and that school required us to wear uniforms.  Being of meager means I only had three uniforms, three shirts and three pairs of pants.

Since I was an active and pre-Xbox kind of little boy it wasn’t long before I had worn holes in all six knees in those three pairs of pants.  Well, let’s just say that kids in school can be cruel and crass and having to wear those check-out aisle impulse-buy patches (you remember the ones that used to come in a THREE pack, with three sets of different color patches) on your uniform pants was not the hot look on the schoolyard.  The kids made me feel like my pants were not good enough.  I interpreted that as I was not good enough.  Somehow through the years, that interpretation morphed into a driving force of low self-esteem and many of the typically associated behaviors of low self-esteem.

For several years now I have been practicing Mindfulness and seeking to center myself in the present, the now.  The awareness of where my feelings of “not good enough” originate coupled with my new understandings of the past, NOW(present), and future I have begun to change the language of my self-dialogue.  I have found new methods of motivation to assist in the effort of pushing the “rock” up the hill, and I am content in the awareness that I AM GOOD ENOUGH right here, right now in this moment.

What comes up for you when you read these recollections of mine?

WCMHC’s Wellness Center – Client Success Stories Panel – May 23, 2017

On May 23, 2017, the West Central Mental Health Center (“WCMHC”) celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month with a Re-Grand Opening Celebration for the clinic’s Wellness Center. As a part of the program, five clients of the Center offered the stories of their personal mental health journies and how the Center helped them achieve their personal goals. In this first segment of five, Adrienne Parker offers her personal story of self-discovery, self-love, and triumph.

Next, in the second installment of five, Alberto Chavez offers his personal story of learning to trust, self-discovery, and blossoming into that happy person you look forward to seeing in the hallway.

Next, in the third segment of five, Cedric Wells offers his personal story of discovery, stability, and plans to help others along their way.

Next, in the fourth spot of five, Jewel Akens, Jr. offers his personal story of longevity, mentorship, and helping to create a community that helps others flourish.

Finally, in the fifth and final installment, Don West, Jr. offers his personal story of denial, hiding his true self and the transformation that freed him to live a more productive and balanced life.

Living with Bipolar Disporder – WCMHC Wellness Center Client Success Stories

Today I was offered the opportunity to speak on a panel of clients who were invited to share their success stories at the West Central Mental Health Center’s (“WCMHC”) Wellness Center here in Los Angeles. We were given nine questions to think about and I took a few moments and jotted down a few thoughts as answers to each question.

Here’s what I came up with:


1. Name: Donald L. West, Jr.

2. When did you begin services at West Central? In January 2015.

3. What brought you in originally? I wanted to take a more proactive role in my mental health.

4. Areas that you wanted help in: I was looking for tools to help with depression, periodic racing thoughts, inconsistent energy levels, and trouble keeping focused and organized.

5. What areas did West Central help you in: Because of the holistic approach to mental health used at West Central I was able to learn [and apply] advanced life skills in the weekly Advance Life Coaching group.  Incorporating the various tools and techniques with medication compliance, individual and group therapy I was able to return to my most productive and balanced self.

6. How did West Central meet your needs: they met me exactly where I was at and earnestly have worked to assist me with all the unique requirements of my mental health Wellness Journey.

7. Benefits of Meeting Your Goals: I have been able to return to work full time and wake up everyday feeling happy and healthy like days long past for my Youth and one so distant I was sure they would never return and made themselves have only been a figment of my imagination.

8. What you like about the new Wellness Program: The staff throughout all the programs in the clinic is what makes the West Central experience so special. Everyone I have encountered has been a genuinely kind and attentive individual. The new Wellness Center is client-centered which creates a uniquely dynamic environment for our Center. We have created great groups and activities that allow us to build on our community and continue to grow and develop a long are individual recovery paths.

9. Positives of the Wellness Center re-opening: More resources available to the community and a place for clients like myself to stay connected to a positive community and acquire new tools, techniques and information to aid and enhance our continued paths of recovery and wellness.

#BeBold #BeBrave #BeYou #MentalHealthIssues #BreakTheStigma #EndTheStigma #StopTheStigma #LADMH #WCMHC #WellnessCenter #SuccessStories #WestCentralMentalHealthCenter #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealth #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MentalHealthAwareness #BiPolar #AdultADHD #ADHD

2017 African-American Mental Health Conference


What:  Empowering Black Families and Communities Through Resiliency, Restoration and Reconnection

When: Thursday, February 9, 2017

Registration Deadline: Friday, January 27, 2017

Where:  Los Angeles Airport Sheraton Gateway, 6101 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046

Keynote Speakers:  Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D. and Joy DeGruy, Ph.D.


11:15-12:30 Break-Out Panel – They Said, I Say

Panelist: Dorothy Banks, Adrienne Parker, Wendy Cabil, Donald L. West, Jr.

This dynamic workshop will feature a panel of consumers who will each share pitfalls, twists and turns of their journey through the mental health system.  The panel will highlight the challenges of overcoming stigma and discrimination related to accessing mental health services and share helpful strategies that could open the door to wellness, resiliency, and recovery.

Get the full registration packet here:  2017_aamhc_regpacket

Untethered in 2012

This video was shot in 2018, the post was written in 2012.


A Statement by Donald L. West, Jr., JD

Untethered.  That is the goal.  This piece was inspired by three people that I have known-

1)  Professor Marc Fajer of University of Miami School Law;

2)  Melissa Presser author of the blog Mary F. Poppins ; and,

3)  My old boss and good friend Leigh Steinberg.

And also by one person that I have never met- Catherine Zeta-Jones. So now I have shared the goal and the inspiration, but you are probably asking why does he feel tethered in the first place?  Well, for the past four years I have lived in “the cave,” hiding from the world ~ trying to hide from the truth.  (I know your like Donald’s been in a cave the past four years?  Wait till you see me when I get out of the cave at the end of this…)  I have felt as though there was a rock, a weight, a burden so huge and big on my back that I could not look to face the warm rays of the sun, nor the cool sparkle of the stars.  So here goes my statement, the truth shall set you free…

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be an attorney, many people have heard me tell my story.  Then very late one evening on Miami Beach in 2001, my old roomie from law school, in his capacity as a Florida Notary, swore me into The Florida Bar.  Well, my life’s quests were complete, I was an attorney and a sports attorney at that – done and done.  What next, where is the next great insurmountable mountain to climb?  Boy if I only knew then that the little molehill I was looking for was actually a tiny foothill at the beginning of the great Andes Mountain range.  So here is the deal, in or around 2001 I became aware that I was different than other people.  I say aware because prior to attending law school I had obtained a degree in psychology from Florida State.  More than once during many an undergrad psychology class reading assignments or during a bit of self-reflection I would think, boy that sounds a bit like me.  And in 2001 at the age of 27 things began to change with my mood and energy levels.

Like many others before me impacted by all sorts of challenges I had and have developed coping mechanisms to appear as ‘normal’ as all of you.  So, let’s fast forward to the end 2008 when Kaynaz, (my then girlfriend, now wife), was in Dubai completing her MBA and I was state-side in Miami, Florida working as you guessed it – an attorney.  Some things had changed, I was no longer working as a sports lawyer, I had refocused my practice on the estate & legacy planning areas of concentration, but to keep revenues flowing to my solo practice my caseload looked much more similar to a general practitioner.

I was rocking things, I had clients, I had co-authored a book, launched a publishing company was named a Fellow of the American Bar Association in Trusts & Estates and then in December 2008 ~ a bi-polar episode.  This was not the first and probably will not be the last that I will experience in my life, but at least in this case, as well as others in the past, this episode proved to be life-altering.

Much of this was due to the fact that I always worked to keep it quite, hidden – I felt compelled too, was wrongly counseled by fellow attorneys and even a therapist or two who’d say, ‘Don’t let anyone find out.”  But that is like trying to hide crutches under a trench coat.  Bottomline, “I was taken out of the Game.”  The result was that I had to step away and take some time to take care of myself.  Don West, Jr. required an unscheduled sabbatical.  These types of sabbaticals often have dire and long-lasting consequences. Mine was not any different.  I failed to properly close out numerous open items, including several of my legal clients’ cases.  I made errors in managing my condition prior to the episode and am responsible for all the consequences of said mismanagement.

I am guilty of being an ineffective and consequently dishonest lawyer during this period.  In the end, I have failed to communicate with the Bar because I was too ashamed, to tell the truth.  It has consequences; everything does.  So the truth is that Don West, Jr. is a ‘wee bit’ bi-polar, currently in the midst of serving a one-year suspension [that was extended to three years in total for delays in making restitution and failing to communicate] from the Florida Bar for being a “Dishonest” attorney and I still dream of building on the work of Leigh Steinberg and changing the world in unbelievable ways.  I am a dreamer and I always have been.  But I also make my dreams come true – I’ve been doing it all my life. “Imma be what I set out to be, without a doubt, undoubtedly.” Lucky for me that I am also a high hurdler, cause I got a hella lot of hurdles to get over….

Here is the clipping from the Florida Bar News as it appeared on March 11, 2011:

That is all folks, that is as juicy as the skeletons in the closet get.   But now that they are out – I am UNTETHERED!