Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Homer and His Lessons Live On

Exactly one year and one month ago, my favorite dog in the world, Homer, was struck and killed by a car in front of our house. The next morning I wrote a blog post about the life lessons Homer taught me. In March, that post grew into an ebook, Homer the Hound Dog's Guide to Happiness, which has gotten rave reviews from readers all over the world.

That blog post was also shared with author and publisher Louise Hay, when a friend pointed me to her Facebook post asking for stories of pet loss for a book she was writing.

Today, that book, You Can Heal Your Heart, is released. It is all about grief and healing a broken heart from a variety of situations. When co-author, David Kessler, called me a few months ago to let me know my story was going to be in the chapter on pet loss, he warned me that our names would probably be changed. He said Homer became Buddy in the final manuscript. I told him it would mean a great deal to me if Homer was Homer. He agreed to check with the book editor.

Just last week I spoke with David again, he informed me that "Homer is Homer and Andy is Andy". I was thrilled! "Lessons From Homer" is the subhead in the pet loss chapter. I'm anxiously waiting to hold the book in my hands. This blows me away for many reasons.

Louise Hay and me
First, Louise Hay is an icon of personal triumph and growth. Her book, You Can Heal Your Life, was a life-saver for me. I've lost count of how many times I've read it. A couple years ago I had the chance to meet and chat with her, and her presence was such pure love, I never wanted to step away.

More surprisingly, and what moves me to tears every time I think of it, is that in a mere 13 months Homer went from being a lifeless body I cradled in my arms, to having his love and wisdom span the globe, impacting thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. I somehow feel more connected to Homer now than ever. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Holotropic Dance Party

Yesterday I took part in my 7th Holotropic Breathwork and it was by far the most celebratory one I've done. From the very first moments I was laughing and dancing on my mat, having a grand ol' time.

For those who don't know; Holotropic Breathwork is a group event of self-exploration that uses rapid, deep breathing and loud, evocative music (think tribal drumming, instrumentals, ancient chants, nothing has English lyrics) to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. It can seem very much like an acid trip, but you aren't under the influence of anything except for your self. After breathwork you draw your experience in a mandala. I can't draw for shit (especially after a 2 1/2 hour Holotropic trip), but I love my mandalas. I even wrote a book about my prior Holotoropic Breathwork experiences because I want more people to know about this process and give it a try.

Dancing on strings
My session was very music driven. At the start I was tiny and jumping on guitar and piano strings trying to avoid the one being struck, then as the music became more drumming tracks I was hiding under different drum heads, avoiding being struck. It was all a fun game. Felt like I was part of a con man's shell game, that I was the pea. Even though I'm actually just lying on my back on a matt and this is all happening in my mind (or in some other realm?) I was dancing, swaying, and gyrating to the music the whole time.

As the songs went on, I found myself in this huge underground dance club all carved out of stone. It looked like Stonehenge had been rebuilt as some sort of goth, gay, fetish, dance club. I was like a tourist being shown all around and these huge German muscle men who were dripping in sweat and oil kept coming up to me saying, "We want to oil you up." I laughed out loud each time, because they kept reminding me of the Saturday Night Live characters, Hanz and Franz, saying "We want to pump you up!"

There was a different style of mayhem and debauchery in every corner of this place; it had orgies, hula dancers, African Masai warrior dancers, people pouring hot wax onto each other, and all sorts of scenes out of something like Eyes Wide Shut. It seemed like every culture and every fetish was represented and I just kept laughing at each new sight, each new discovery. The music was cranking, the bass was pumping, lights and glitter were flying everywhere - then the Pope arrived! He was atop the whole scene in an elevated DJ booth. Turns out this secret underground club is beneath the Vatican!
Pope goes clubbing

The Pope was going totally sick throwing streamers and glitter all around, loving everyone, reigning over the debauchery and fun. The Germans kept offering to oil me up and tried teaching my different dances. I just laughed and laughed and laughed. Everyone was insanely buff and gorgeous (like when Homer Simpson tells a story and he looks like Hercules in his mind.) I commented to people around me that this was some sort demented Dance Party USA, the Pope yelled out, "No! It's Dance Party Universe!"

The music slowed down a bit and became this amazing, heavy bass riff. I turned to follow a couple German muslceheads into a tunnel. Actually we were all earthworms now and were creating a tunnel through the rock and dirt to leave the Pope's bash. We burrowed and tunneled further and further into the ground, as the bass kept getting louder and deeper, shaking everything around us.

Hell bass jam
We finally broke through to some sort of cave and there was Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, Gene Simmons from Kiss and the Devil all playing bass. Nothing but bass, and it ROCKED! We were all headbanging in hell! The Devil had this amazing red, glass upright bass. He said he was just a misunderstood character out for some fun. It was all I could do to not leap up on my mat and start throwing my fists in the air. It was like I was at the best, most intense concert ever. It was definitely turned up to 11!

Lighter of Light
The music moved into a slower, lighter, orchestral section and I ascended up out of hell. It was still very much in a rock and roll theme as I was raised up on some infinite rising platform straight out of a KISS stage show. As I rose higher and higher, I received messages of, you are much more than that, you have a bigger role than to just rock out. This was the first period of tears in my breathwork. (Unlike my initial breathwork experiences a few years ago which were nothing but tears.) I was overwhelmed with love and joy, also with a sense of purpose and meaning. I was shedding tears of joy, not pain or sadness. I was told I'm a "Lighter of Light" - which is a phrase I've heard repeatedly in recent months as I've worked in my Akashic Record.

Then I entered a very serene and peaceful period. Similar to a very deep state of meditation. It was timeless and blissful. I recall one scene of yelling at my wife, Lori, who wasn't there, "Enough with the raisins!" Every time she comes across food with raisins she goes on and on about how much she hates raisins, and raisins ruin food... Muffins and cookies with raisins were served that day and that all popped into my mind somewhere between Heaven and hell.

The only other time I remember crying was when I felt my late dog Homer's presence. Homer is actually part of a book by Louise Hay and David Kessler coming out on Feb 4, called You Can Heal Your Heart. Sobbing, I asked Homer if he was happy with what I've done with his lessons, his story. He was. He told me he was proud of me and so appreciated my work in spreading his wisdom. The book from Louise Hay comes out exactly 1 year and 1 month from the day Homer was killed. Then I saw our first cat, Garfield. I remember saying, You guys didn't even know each other.  Many years passed between Garfield getting killed by coyotes and us getting Homer. They said, we know each other now! And then our other deceased cat, Samantha, whom did share our home with Homer too sauntered by. The music transitioned into a beautiful harp composition and Homer was now playing the harp with his tail.

I was filled with so much love, peace and joy. I wallowed in those emotions for the remainder of my time. When I opened my eyes about 2 1/2 hours after I'd closed them, I didn't feel out of it or disoriented. I was so ready to get to my mandala, I had been drawing it in my mind all along. Wishing I had the skill the get the amazing scenes in my head onto paper. But alas, I'm still a kindergartener when it comes to marking up paper.

Here is the entire mandala.
Dance Party Universe!

At home that night, Lori and I were watching Saturday Night Live and one of my favorite characters, Stefon: showed up again. Stefon is the city correspondent on Weekend Update and I realized that my Dance Party Universe was one of Stefon's clubs. This place has everything...

This breathwork was also special because I introduced a friend to it. At first she was nervous and scared, asking why would anyone do this more than once? Three hours later, it was "I can't wait to do this again!"

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunday Morning

On this January morning I was looking out my home office window and had one of those amazing little moments. One of those moments of insight and introspection that may mean nothing to anyone else, but which brought tears to my eyes.

I looked out my window seeing the grey, gloomy sky, then gazing higher above, almost straight up, I saw clear blue sky. Such a gorgeous expanse of limitless blue with white puffy clouds zooming by. The clouds were moving so fast it looked like a time lapse film that compressed the cloud movements of an entire day down to seconds. I looked back at the horizon - the grey clouds sitting there motionless.

In the peripheral vision of my right eye, I could see dark, ominous trees. I turned to them to see a field of leafless, dark shapes with translucent rays of light poking though, giving the branches ominous highlights. It was rather eerie and menacing, a bit of a traditional Halloween scene.

I realized all of this was happening at the same time. All of these scenes, these views, were real; and my mood, my emotions, my outlook, changed depending on which one I focused. The overall scope was too grand for me to see all three aspects at the same time. I had to choose what I wanted to see; what I wanted to focus on. I got to choose what I wanted to experience.

The sky is always blue. It is the clouds that are sometimes grey. The sun is always shining, we just don't always see it.

Life is always good, we just aren't always aware of it. Sometimes we are deceived by the filters, the clouds, the temporarily leafless, scary trees. It is all good.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 was...

It was the year I got my worst day out of the way quickly. It was the January 4th I lost my best dog, Homer. It was also the year I became a best-selling author (three times!) and one of those books was all about Homer, so it was especially meaningful.

It was the year of a great visit to Detroit (of all places!) for Metallica's 2nd Orion Music and More festival, where not only did I see my 32nd Metallica show, but also a secret performance of "Kill 'em All" under the name of Dehaan and I got to get my mitts on one of Jame's guitar while Lori sat behind Lars' drum kit. I also won tickets to an advance screening of their IMAX 3D movie, "Through The Never," which was the most amazing filmed concert experience ever!

It was the year I finally left corporate America, after threatening to do so for 90% of my career. Woohoo!

It was the year of certifications as I earned them in: Positive Psychology, Soul Entrainment, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities, Playing the Matrix, and a few others I'm sure I've forgotten about. It was the year of meeting Anita Moorjani, Mike Dooley, Andy Dooley and hundreds of other new best friends. It was also the year I was interview on TalkingAboutSuicide.com

It was the year Lori and I had our first joint speaking engagement, our first experience teaching together, our first classes taught at home, and the first time she filled in for me to teach a class. It was also the first time we both interviewed for the same job and the first time I wanted someone else to get a job I interviewed for. It ended up being the year Lori got her dream job, being a life coach at a local hospital.

It was the year I maintained a yoga practice and got hooked on Body Combat classes. It was my first full calendar year of living the Virgin Diet (well, most of the time). It was the year of my first on-line, on-demand course, The Power of Gratitude, and also the first time I taught a webinar.

It was the year Sadie, the three-legged wonder dog, bounced into our lives. It was the year I worked on five feature films, but still have yet to be seen on a theater screen. It was another great year of friends, family, concerts, movies, books, classes, clients, fun, love and growth. Thank you for being a part of it. What more could I ask for?

2013 was my best year so far, and I've got an even better feeling about 2014. Bring it on!