In our society, we are taught to hide our emotions and feelings. Most of us feel isolated even when we’re among people. We pretend everything’s okay, using our accomplishments and material possessions to hide the suffering and inadequacy that plagues us. We become distracted by our addictions to substances, objects, and behaviors, when the key to our happiness is inside us.

Today’s guest is Curt Clemenson. He’s been clean and sober for 36 years and is a prosperous entrepreneur with a superhero appeal. His life changed when he discovered who he really was and what he really wanted through the Twelve Steps. Once he began living according to his own values, life showed up for him in unbelievable ways. The inside work changed his outside world.

Curt says that the gifts of recovery are available to everyone, and we don’t have to do it alone. Find out who you really are and design the life you were meant to have in recovery!

Fear is not going to keep me sober for the rest of my life.—Curt Clemenson

Curt Clemenson grew up on the North Dakota prairie in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was a simple time before the internet and social media. Children were expected to be outside all day – rain or shine. Coming from a working class family he entered the Marine Corps right out of high school in 1969 in order to get the GI Bill for college. He started school immediately upon his discharge in 1971 and majored in Spanish and Economics. He was very fortunate to study for a semester in Mexico and earn a scholarship to live a year in Ghana, West Africa.

After graduation he started a number of businesses including an export company in Mexico where he lived for several years. He later moved to Houston where he married his first wife and earned an MBA at night. A common theme through these years was increasing drinking and recreational drug use. In 1983 he hit a bottom and went into rehab. While learning Spanish was probably the wisest decision he ever made, getting sober was the most fortuitous. Call it the gift of desperation.

As is so often the case when one spouse gets into a 12-step program and the other doesn’t – the marriage dissolved after ten years of matrimony. The next decade was spent as both an environmental activist working on tropical rainforest campaigns and as a conservationist creating a rainforest curriculum for school teachers.

In 1998 he turned everything over to his staff and moved back to Latin America. There he splits his time between Costa Rica and Cuba. In Costa Rica he started several businesses including a real estate development company and began to buy up played out lands for reforestation. His time in Cuba was spent pursuing his love of Latin dance.

In 2000 he married again. Dumb move. Ten years later – another divorce. He won’t make that mistake again. Three years ago it real estate development became problematic where he lived in San Jose so he immediately moved to his farm two hours outside of the city. The 25,000 trees planted during the past 22 years are now a large tropical forest. He has built a home on a lake in that forest and last year began to offer it on Airbnb.

Curt considers himself the poster child for the kind of life that one can attain by simply working a 12-step program.


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