upclosedogHEEL! HEAL!

Skyler the Surfing Dog spreads stoke to those who need it most

*Previously published in the Oct/Nov issue of Santa Cruz Waves 

By Neal Kearney

A considerable crowd lines the beach, eyes fixed on the sea, bearing witness to a touching sight: pro surfers sharing waves with wounded veterans, many of whom are missing one or more limbs. There’s hardly a dry eye on the shore. The next set of waves leads to an eruption of applause from the crowd. An Iraq war veteran is sliding down a playful wave, hanging on with giant smile. The man riding alongside him throws shakas while a Queensland Heeler perches on the nose, her tongue hanging out and her tail wagging furiously. 


The pooch is Skyler, and she and her dad Homer Henard have been bringing their interspecies surf act to events like these for the past couple of years, combining surf and animal therapy in their own unique and impactful way.

Henard, a former professional surfer, and Skyler have become true local celebrities in recent years for their inventive and intuitive tandem surfing act. The 9-year-old cattle dog has been braving the punchy Santa Cruz surf with balance, bravery and panache since she was just a puppy. 


“At first I started going out in the water with Skyler to get exercise on small days to keep the paddle arms going,” explains Henard. “We kept it up it, having an amazing time no matter the size of the waves. It was epic.”


One day in 2016, Henard’s good friend Adam Replogle called him up and told him that he was working with Waves of Impact, a surf therapy program for children facing exceptional challenges. He asked if Henard might come down and bring Skyler, sensing the kids would get a kick out of the dog’s surfing skills.


Skyler shreds with such proficiency that she has no problem riding waves to the shore solo these days, so long as her loving pops provides her with a gentle push. She even competes regularly at “surf dog” championships up and down the coast, earning a victory at the 2015 “World Surf Dog Championships” in Huntington Beach. Her Instagram following has gone worldwide and her Jimbo Phillips-designed merch is flying off the shelves. 


“I didn’t know what to expect, but going down there with Skyler changed me forever,” Henard reflects. “I realized how important the kind of therapy [was that] my dog was providing these kids. They show up intimidated and scared of the ocean, but once they see Skyler jump on the board and paddle out with me, they get all excited, and the anxiety melts away. It’s a double dose of stoke!”

Once they are out there, instead of focusing on the waves, cold, or sharks, they’re focused on the silly sight of the surfing dog.


“Next thing you know they’re on a wave themselves, squealing with joy and grinning ear to ear. During these high-energy moments of surf and stoke, I look at these kids and it’s like their disability goes away- it may be brief, but for that moment I’m just blown away at the power of these therapies. The highs and joy levels are crazy.”

Since they started surf therapy, they’ve volunteered for organizations such as Mauli Ola Foundation, which takes kids with cystic fibrosis out in the water, and Operation Surf, another surf therapy program for wounded veterans.duo

The man/canine duo plans to expand its volunteer work by hitting every therapy event possible; starting in California and willing to branch out internationally should the opportunities arise. Henard suffered a major head injury when he was 18 in a head-on car crash and woke up in a coma, losing a lot of information and memories—something that surfing and Skyler’s companionship have helped with greatly over the years. But it wasn’t until Henard was exposed to the brave, injured and ill men, women, and children he met as these events that he felt comfortable discussing his own struggles.that he felt comfortable discussing his own struggles.

kicker “Starting to tell my story, although vulnerable, has been another therapeutic thing,” Henard explains. “Surfing and animal therapy have saved my life and I’m so stoked we can bring it to others who can benefit from it.”

Follow their exploits @skylerthesurfingdog

Yoga Delight!


It’s incredible how adopting a new practice can save your life. When I stopped surfing back in 2010, my life reached an all-time low. I’d been suffering for years with chronic pain but losing surfing was a death blow. I became almost forty pounds overweight, loaded on heaps of opiates, and required a cane to walk around due to my arthritic hips. I was living on 13th avenue but didn’t check the waves, or drive by the ocean for an entire year. I’d already lost so much: my job, sponsors, social life, well- being, and happiness. Not being able to surf was felt like soul strangulation. Being in endless chronic pain seemed, at that point, merely insult to injury.

Being told what you’re capable of doing by doctors can truly manifest into reality if you don’t question the validity of their claims. I’d put my faith in the hands of my doctors at that scary time and I, looking back, feel as though they just didn’t try hard enough. I’d been treating (and identifying myself) for Ankylosing Spondylitis, a nasty autoimmune affliction that causes widespread pain, arthritis, and even fusing of the vertebrae. Not a great prognosis, especially for someone as active as myself. My doctor said I should give up surfing. Gulp.

I was written a letter by another doctor at the Ankylosing Spondylitis study group I’d been participating in up at UCSF to inform Social Security that I was unfit for work and should be awarded Disability. I quit my job and was spending most of my days sleeping, surfing the internet, and stretching on the deck. I got to the point in which I’d had enough. I needed to take some action!


My mom told me about a “water yoga” class at our local gym–Inshape on 41st avenue– that she thought it might help me gently stretch my tight, aching joints and muscles in zero gravity. I was initially reluctant, but with some persuasive prodding from she “who knows best”, I decided to try it out. It was quite nice making the leap from random stretching to yoga in that heated indoor pool. I found the shapes that I was putting my body in were truly helpful and felt quite nice.

It was only a few weeks into practicing until the class was canceled, but I dragged my carcass into that pool every day, nonetheless. I also began to work out again. Within a month I’d lost 20 pounds. When I met with the hip specialist he informed me that Ankylosing Spondylitis was definitely not the issue; my arthritic hips were due to bone spurs on the head of my femur impinging the joint capsule, and there was a surgery that could possibly enable me to regain much of the athleticism I’d lost.fai.jpg

Suddenly, the darkness that had engulfed my life seemed livable. Successful surgery coupled with physical therapy would get me back on my surfboard, which would in turn improve my quality of life and social interactions. I began thinking of other ways I could manage my lifestyle to maximize my stoke. I thought of yoga again and got inspired. I decided that, once I’d adequately recovered from my hip surgery I’d start back up in a studio.


The surgeon had successfully shaved the bone spur from my femoral head and cleaned up dead cartilage. Because I went so long without knowing about the spurs, the cartilage loss was substantial, so they employed a, at the time, new technique called micro-fracturing. Basically, they fractured my hip in a score of places, where the body’s own healing abilities provided an enriched environment for tissue regeneration on the chondral surface.

In other words, the fracturing promotes blood flow to the area which produces a scab-like buffer in lieu of a sufficiently cartilaginous cushion between the bones.

In yoga class, I felt my worries scurry to the inactive realms of my brain. My nervous system was soothed with the deliberate yet controlled nature of my movements and breath, and the number of helpful shapes I could manipulate my stiff and sore body into for relief was vast. I’d been stretching hours a day before this, yet this guided union of concentration, movement, and breathing was like discovering a precious gem that had been buried underneath an outhouse…true sparkling diamonds in shit.

My first teacher, Janina, happened to be my close neighbor and wife to one of the older guys I looked up to in the water. Her sweet and relaxed personality was truly reflected in her teaching and I found myself eager to attend her classes. As I came to realize the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of a regular practice, my spirit was invigorated.


For years I attended Janina’s classes, and as my interest and proficiency increased, I began trying classes taught by the other yoga instructors at Inshape. From there I tested out several other studios around town, such as Pleasure Point Yoga, Hotsource Yoga, and the Pacific Cultural Center. I’d never realized what a thriving yoga community we have here in Santa Cruz; it’s a beautiful thing!

I’ve been so inspired by yoga and grateful for its effect on my well being that I decided, almost a decade after my first class, that I wanted to devote my life to learning and living the practice that has served me so well. This Summer I signed up for a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with the fabulous Dawn Hayes, facilitated by Luma, located in Downtown Santa Cruz.


This series on How to Heal with Neal will document my growth as a student, experience as a teacher, touch on some of the most important aspects of my practice, as well as shine a light on the wonderful teachers and studios who’ve supported me thus far.




Surf Therapy This Weekend! w/Adam Replogle, featuring Skyler the Surf Dog!


Nothing heals like the ocean. Former professional surfer Adam Replogle, who underwent a hip replacement 4 months ago, has been spotted swimming and longboarding Pleasure Point to stay fit during his bionic bonding. Not only does Replogle know how therapeutic the ocean is for himself, but for those suffering from a wide range of health problems; especially kids.

Replogle-pure stoke! Framegrab by Kyle Buthman

Over the past decade, Replogle, and a number of other local surf stars such as Anthony Ruffo and Jimmy Herrick have been participating with surf therapies such as The Mauli Ola Foundation, which brings those afflicted with cystic-fibrosis into the healing sea, as well as Operation Surf, which focuses on wounded and traumatized veterans, just to name a few


Replogle soaking up the sea

This weekend, Replogle, along with Waves of Impact, a surf therapy charity for children with special challenges, are hosting a touching day at the beach here at Pleasure Point. Volunteers like Replogle are helping children with severe disabilities, health problems and more get in the surf for a fun day of safe surfing and community support.

Surf Therapy Rules!

Special guests include Homer Henard and Skyler the Surfing Dog, the talented tandem man/pooch duo. As if getting the chance to surf with surfing legends isn’t enough, Henard and Skyler will be out in the lineup sharing the waves with the courageous kids.


“That’s our calling, to spread awareness about ‘surf therapy'”, proclaims Henard.

“It’s real and helps out a lot of people. When we work with groups like Waves Of Impact, one thing that we’ve noticed is that the kids, sometimes they’re afraid of the waves and the ocean, but when I get Skyler out there on the board, all the attention goes to her, you know? The fear goes away when they see it, probably thinkin’ to themselves, ‘Well if that dog can do it, I can do it!’. It helps them believe in themselves–we love sharing our passion for riding waves. It’s impactful!”.

Follow Skyler @skylerthesurfingdog on Instagram!

Come down to Pleasure Point tomorrow for a touching display of the power of surf therapy!!

You Are What You Eat #001


Like clockwork, I pull out of the 7-11 parking lot, mind spinning with the array of toxic mistakes in my lap: Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, two 16oz Gatorades, a bag of Doritos, an Almond Snickers bar, and a pack of Skittles. When I finally snap out of my trance, I realize I’m already at the front door, hands clutching my bag of crap like a dope fiend. I stow away my preciouses, knowing that after dinner I’ll be able to dig in and slide into that comforting sugar coma snugger than O.J.’s black glove. The next day, I wake up on the couch, slumped over with my neck sagging painfully into my shoulder. The detritus of wrappers and empty bottles stand testament to my evil deeds. Aside from the financial and physical repercussions involved in this addiction, my self-esteem tanks when I get up to look at my sagging gut and puffy face in the bathroom mirror.


Reckless self-care breeds sorrowful self-hate, and after recently that I’ve been suffering from significant chronic pain for over half my life. It’s been such a lonely, sad, and frustrating road, yet this struggle has made me dig deep for new ways I can take control of the runaway train that has me so derailed.

Almost to the point of obsession, I’ve been jumping head-first into mental and physical methods to heal and remain healthy: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, cognitive based therapy, breathework, Heartmath, journaling, cranial sacral therapy, hypnotism therapy, rolfing, acupuncture, yoga–just to name a few. Over the years, along with these methods, I’ve built my resolve and taken control of my spun-out existence. I’ve been steadfast in this mission; utilizing deep dedication, discipline, and commitment to integrate the good ones into my daily life and weed out the ones that harm or do not serve me.


I’ve made some tremendous leaps and bounds in this journey and am incredibly proud of myself. However, rich and sweet foods have been one part of my lifestyle I’ve clung to like a baby his blanky. Crappy food became a place of comfort and refuge, an escape from the unpleasant sensory experiences that have come to infiltrate my earthly existence.

From maintaining a healthy heart and brain, lowering cholesterol, increasing energy levels, improving circulation, lowering inflammation, and much, much more, a healthy diet can seriously affect one’s health and quality of life. Even the most conscious and informed eaters must work hard, day-in and day-out, to make sure they are consciously feeding their bodies with the type of fuel it needs.


For everyone it’s different. For myself, I chose to start with a simple diet that made sense, the Mediterranean Diet (more on this next post), and I’m really stoked to report that I haven’t had refined sugars, gluten, or dairy for the past few months!! I’ve always been advised and at times scolded for not paying sufficient attention to the kind of fuel I’m putting in my body (Juices, candy, processed foods, genetically modified, etc.), yet  never utilized that steely resolve I know I’m capable of summoning to address my diet. Until now.

In addition to changing up my diet for healthier alternatives, I’ve become determined to educate myself and others as I make these adjustments. You Are What You Eat will be a regular series here on How to Heal With Neal— where I will convey the information I’ve gleaned about proper nutrition through books, online content, and my own experience on this healing journey.







Life Doesn’t Wait w/Darrin Caddes


Life doesn’t always proceed the way we planned it. Many of us come to some kind of roadblock or speed bump that forces us to hit the brakes, change lanes, or turn around back the way we came. But what matters isn’t the loss of time or the frustration endured in the face of such an obstacle. What matters is how we choose to keep moving forward.

Enter designer/artist Darrin Caddes, a former board sports and motorcycle junkie who awoke facedown in the Mexican desert on March 6, 2001 with a broken back. He had been motorcycling from Southern California to Los Cabos with friends, and, around 600 miles from border, he went into a corner at 60 miles an hour, lost control, and crashed on a long dirt road. The crash resulted in the loss of movement from his chest down, dramatically altering his life in a matter of seconds.


While some would understandably struggle with how to move on, Caddes managed to kick start his life. He adapted to life in a wheelchair and learned to cope with his physical and mental duress by pushing through, shifting his spiritual motor back into the high gear that helped him achieve success prior to his injury. He worked in Italy designing cars for Fiat from 1991 to 1994, and for BMW designing cars and motorcycles from ’94 to 2001.

Eye for design
Eye for design

He designed first BMW GS Adventure, which was a bike set up for long-distance travel for both on- and off-road excursions. On his design, one could literally circumnavigate the globe. (Actor Ewan McGregor and his buddy Charley Boorman did just that, then wrote a book and produced a mini series about their travels, both called the “Long Way Round.”) After leaving BMW, Caddes took a job at Indian Motorcycle as director of design from 2001 to 2004, where he learned how to get the job done with his new limitations.


When offered a job as vice president of corporate design at Santa Cruz-based tech company Plantronics in 2004, Caddes found a position that let him work on something else he was passionate about: headsets. Being in a wheelchair can stifle one’s ability to freely move about an office space fielding calls, and he found that headsets helped solve this problem. Since joining Plantronics, Caddes has managed a world-class team of industrial designers.

His noteworthy work at Plantronics led the group Santa Cruz NEXT to honor Caddes as one of their four “Nexties” recipients in 2013. This award is bestowed yearly upon individuals promoting community action, spearheading innovation, and helping to reduce inequalities along the Central Coast.

While Caddes enjoys his job, his role as an overseer means less involvement in the creative side of the design work. Eventually, he found himself itching for an artistic outlet, and was inspired to fill this creative void with another long-lost passion of his—drawing.

"Daily Doodles"
“Daily Doodles”

“One day, I told myself, ‘You know, I’m going to draw something every day in 2013,’” he recalls. “I didn’t care if it was a smiley face, I just needed to do something.” He stuck to the challenge, posting his “Daily Doodles” to his Instagram account (@unclewillard). The sketches range from simple cartoons to intricate motorcycle designs, illustrations of waves to skateboarding scenes, and paintings to tattoo-inspired designs.


The posts began to attract a following. Without promotion, he garnered about 350 Instagram followers.

“Now I have this little audience who I have to feed—that I want to feed—everyday, and that’s been my thing,” says Caddes.


He has just two simple rules for himself: he must draw and post the image on the same day, and he must post a drawing every day.

“I’m so afraid that if I miss a day, the whole thing will be broken,” he says. He hasn’t missed a day since he started the Daily Doodles on Dec. 28, 2012, sometimes posting more than one per day.


“So I constantly remind myself, ‘I’m doing it everyday, I don’t care how bad it is, or how bad I feel. If I’m sick, in pain, or traveling, it’s going to be done,’” he adds. “They don’t all have to be masterpieces. It’s more about the discipline of drawing every day. Over all, it’s been very therapeutic for me. It keeps me in touch with who I am.”

Fueled by successes at work and his artistic endeavor, Caddes has nurtured a hard-to-miss joie de vivre.


“A lot of people ask me, ‘How do you do it despite all of your limitations?’” he says. “I find myself saying, ‘Honestly, I don’t find my accident or me being in a chair that interesting. Because there are so many other things in my life that are so much more interesting and meaningful.’”


Reinvention and the search for meaning at the intersection of design, technology and art–previously featured in Santa Cruz Waves magazine



“No society can change the nature of existence. We can’t prevent suffering. This pain and that pain, yes, but not Pain. A society can only relieve social suffering, unnecessary suffering. The rest remains. The root, the reality.”

Ursula K. Le Guin


 Naturally, the older you get, the more wear and tear you put on your body, so it’s not unusual to see gray-haired men and women limp around with the aid of a cane or walker. This is the demographic your average person sees affected by arthritis and chronic pain. At least in general. What is hard for many healthy, young people to comprehend, is just how many of their friends are carrying the weight of disease and chronic pain.


It’s very difficult, especially for men, to talk about their problems. Furthermore, there is an expectation, in “society”, that young people are full of vigor and potential, untethered from the constraints of prolonged suffering and years of pain management. Here we can see why a professional is often advised to keep their medical issues to themselves, lest they ward off potential employers or opportunities. Much like a homosexual hiding their preference for same sex relations, a young man or woman who has a life-altering diagnosis is often afraid to come out and tell their story; they bury the issue, only for it to come back years later in the form of some kind of somatic trauma or mindbody illness.

I’ve never held a full-time job. I’ve worked part time since I was 9 years old, getting up at 5AM for the paper route before school. I’ve worked as a janitor at Outdoor World. In surf shops and restaurants, as a lifeguard, and at a group home for adult males with developmental disabilities. I’ve devoted the last 7 years of my life to caring for incapacitated individuals who can’t do if for themselves. I’ve made a modest amount of money writing, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s only just pocket change– funny money.


From the age of 17, I’ve been working these jobs, in increasingly limiting amounts of pain and discomfort. Through gritted teeth, I finished my History degree from UCSC. I credit my last year of scholarly advancement to the helping hand of Tramadol. Tramadol, a lovely synthetic opiate medication also gifted me a Grand Mal Seizure, not long thereafter. No worries though, I just got upgraded with some real opiates afterwards! Oxycodone. Oxycontin. Also, Ketamine. Did I mention that I was prescribed liquid ketamine by the Lyme Disease doctor I began seeing after I got “diagnosed” with Lyme Disease? That really did not go well, I must admit! Plus. Xanax and Soma prescriptions all thrown into my daily menu created a toxic, super-band aid; a deceitful blanket of relief that lures those in pain into a life of empty, glassy eyes, slurred speech, irrational behavior, and some serious chemical dependency. Thankfully, I’ve been able to get off opiates and manage my pain responsibly through practical alternatives like yoga and meditation.


Long story short, my experience with pain, despite the medicine our culture treats it with, makes the thought of me being productive and happy a glimmering oasis, an unattainable mirage of hope that nevertheless compels me to claw my way through the hot sands of hardship and despair. Recently, I was in a program to attain my teaching credential, yet I had to pull out of the program because of my inability to stay cool all day, with twenty-five jacked up 1st graders constantly testing my patience. Which led to more tension, anxiety, and pain. I struggle everyday with these feelings of inadequacy and failure, regardless if I have a job to do or not…so where does that leave me? How do I fit into “society”?


As I attempt to navigate my way through this scary and alien landscape, I’ve tried working as much as I can. I like being productive. It makes me feel good. Nevertheless, I cannot afford to support myself at this point in time, which fuckin’ sucks. Especially so amidst the gradual gentrification of Santa Cruz, fueled greatly by the Silicon Valley boom, where rich “techies” bought up the real estate for beach houses and rental homes. In the face of all this Silicon Valley money, locals have been left landlocked or on the streets.


This sober reflection upon my future in my beloved hometown adds a layer of dread to my stress/pain/anxiety sandwich; to the point that I can become, at times, completely depressed and defeated. It’s such a vicious cycle. I work my ASS off to make it through the day. It’s truly a full-time job, and a shitty one at that! People have been telling me, “You look better, you must be feeling good!”. I must bite my tongue to not correct them about my weight loss being due to stress rather than any breakthrough regarding my many ailments. It’s tough.


So, what do I do? Disability is so frustrating that I quit after numerous appeals a decade ago. How can someone tell me what I am or am not able to do?! Oh, I can lift a stone, not because it doesn’t hurt, but because the medical professionals have no fucking clue how to explain my widespread pain and its effect on my brain and productivity. My parents have been beyond supportive. That won’t last forever, and I have far from a free ride. I’m extremely fortunate and thankful for my supportive parents, yet the top down pressure to become independent can feel hurtful, even though it’s exactly what I wish for as well.


With all the abundance around us in this beautiful world, it’s a shame that anyone should have to suffer. It may be strange, but I feel a true reservoir of healing light exists right in front of us, day in, and day out, yet we can’t see it with our mortal eyes. That kind of healing power can be accessed during near-death experiences, through responsible psychedelic trips (is that an actual thing?), prayer, kinship, deep states of meditation, acupuncture, as well as energy work such as Qigong and Reiki.  These healing “lights” inhabit another plane of consciousness and reality; true benevolent angels of light whose embrace is ready for those who choose to let go and feel their warmth..


This must sound like crazy talk, yet it’s my only way to describe the mystical, comforting feeling of truly letting go and, “dropping down”— to a place where the pain seems distant, my mind can rest, and this supportive “light” can lull my mind and body into a state of peace and complete bliss. To get to this state on my own is achievable, but my most profound experiences have been during Craniosacral bodywork, which I will discuss in greater detail in posts to come.


Chronic pain and illness tend to do a number on one’s self-esteem and confidence. To emerge from one’s own personal Hell is a dead-serious accomplishment that takes a lot of hard work, uncomfortable reflection, and a steely resolve. I’m far from the flames that had once consumed me in a fiery bath of suffering and despair, a throne of pity that I reigned over for years. In fact, tendrils of this torturous blaze remain with me to this day, nipping at my heels as I stubbornly climb, forever searching for that light. It beckons me to float above the fear, to bravely reach into its luminous cloud of comfort and ease.


People don’t like to talk about scary things. It’s easy to package them up and relegate them to a forgotten place of rot and despair, one that hides deep in your heart and soul. I believe that, within this physical plane, amongst these beings of light lies is a terrifying void of negative energy that can sap the nectar of your fear, capable of degrading your earthly experience. Yet only if you allow it to.


I need this outlet to digest my own fears about being an injured athlete, friend, brother, lover, and son, in hopes that these personal, intimate reflections reach and touch as many people as possible. It just might be my calling–to open my heart and soul to improve the state of suffering we are all confronted with. Life can be scary, but if you choose to follow my path on this blog, I hope you can find solace, peace, and a sense of community and belonging. I want to create a safe and therapeutic place for anyone who wants to share their own stories of courage, determination, and strength in the face of extreme discomfort.


~ I promise I won’t judge you. Peace!!!~

I implore you to share your own story in an interview or written reflection of your choice. If so, please email me at!


Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. It could be a lingering injury, a genetic flaw, disease, infection, or cancer. Many believe that pain can be a somatic experience, the residue of long buried trauma. What I can say is that pain is an extremely hard thing to describe, as every person comes from a distinct perspective, where one person’s reaction to a hangnail is akin to another’s neuropathic pain syndrome. Some people have a higher threshold for pain than others, and can therefore cope with it easier. There’s burning pain, dull pain, aching pain, tender pain, neural pain, it goes on and on.

My name’s Neal Kearney, I’m thirty-two years young, and have been living with severe chronic pain since high school. My story is that of a downward spiral, from a fit, competitive surfer, to a depressed, anxiety and pain ridden and self-consumed wreck. That is a hard sentence to share to the world, especially for a grown man such as myself. Historically, men have been valued as the strong, stoic members of society who can shrug off practically anything. This is, of course, bullshit. To express yourself and your story from a point of weakness, one must accept and acknowledge the problem with a willingness to explore feelings or emotions that you may have bottled up for years.

Life is Beautiful

How to Heal with Neal is a way to share my own personal experience, to use my gift of writing to inspire others to find treatment and therapy for their chronic pain– using my fifteen years of highs and lows to inform those who are seeking support. I will detail my journey, where I’ve come from, and where I’m headed, with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I could help even one person who deals with chronic pain.

Again, this is my experience, and I’m no expert. Being struck down with disease or injury at a young age is scary, confusing, frustrating, and exhausting. I’m devoid of hope; waking up every morning feeling like I got hit by a truck. In this modern world, especially in the United States, one’s value is inextricably tied to their ability to complete tasks that generate profit. These expectations of being independent and dependable weigh heavily on my conscious, day in and day out.


To most, I look like a healthy young man on the outside. Inside my head however, there’s a constant specter of misery trolling my neural pathways. Concentration is a tall order, with the myriad of pain signals scrambling my circuitry. I’m in relentless, exhausting pain throughout most of my body. Relationships, career aspirations, my sense of self-worth, my romance with riding waves…all have become compromised. Even one’s sanity can be compromised by a life filled with pain.


As I said, this blog is an outlet for myself, a way to help others, and a reminder that no matter what is happening to you, in whatever stage of your life, you can’t give up! Other than checking myself into a looney bin or blowing my brains out, there can be no waving my problems away with a wizard’s wand. This is my reality and I have only one shot to live with dignity and grace despite a million reasons to check out. I hope you can find solace, affirmation, support, and information and therapies I’ve found effective in my efforts to tread water with what seems to be concrete boots.


I offer you this outlet no matter what your relation to pain may be, for, as all can attest to, there are painful struggles and battles that everyone must overcome in their lives. I hope that everything I share can be useful to those in need.

~You ALL Mean so Much to Me~

To share your story, email me at

How to Heal, with Neal!

Welcome to my new blog, “How to Heal With Neal!”

That’s Me!

I’m Neal Kearney, a surfer and writer who happens to suffer from a mysterious, polyarthritic, musculoskeletal condition that causes me constant pain, grief, and tension. This blog will chronicle my struggle, warts and all, because I think that no one should feel alone in their struggle, and it’s O.K. to need help and support.  With that in mind I hope that this blog can inspire others, perhaps to the point in which they’d like to share their own stories on this site.

This will not only help individuals understand themselves, it will help those around them as well; people who care deeply about someone who is physically and/or mentally compromised and want to know how to help. The goal is to feel some sense of community and peace amidst the deluge of sorrow and corruption that is unfortunately poisoning our precious planet.

Thank you all for coming, you all mean a lot to me. If you’d like to share your story, email me at

-Peace and Happiness to All-