I am deeply grateful to have Spirit bring me back to my blog for a reason for this, the final Wednesday of January.
As some of you may know, while others may not, I have made the decision to have this blog on the Empowered by John website serve as a complimentary tool to the business that I am so blessed to have been given by God to operate. I launched my new personal blog, “My Empowering Miracle,” last week, which will be centered more on the observations of my spiritual journey. It is important for me to navigate both blogs with unconditional love, compassion, and kindness, while also speaking my truth on each one. My soul would not allow it any other way.
As I was meditating the other day, I asked my higher self what would be a topic that would provide clarity, for you, the reader, as well as for myself, and that would also allow for you to learn a little bit about how I serve others and the blessing I have each and every day of empowering fellow lightworkers all around the world. Boom: download received. Thank you angels!
The topic of this blog post is pretty straightforward, but one that I strongly felt would make a strong, positive impact and also change the way you may look at a word that has some perceived stigmas behind it. That word is “publicity.” So why did I decide to become a publicist? It’s been an interesting path, I’ll tell you that.
In the summer of 2014, I was guided to go to the Erie County Clerk’s office, here in the Buffalo, NY area, to open up Empowered by John. The road to that summer day, nearly two ago, was a long time in the works.
My childhood ambition was to be a sportscaster. Yes, I wanted to be the next Chris Berman at ESPN. As one millennium ended and the next began (’99-’00), I enrolled in the Communication Department at Buffalo State College.
After taking the required prerequisite classes, I was able to shift into the driver’s seat and be the Sports Director for BSC-TV and for our campus newscasts. At the time, I was between 250-300 pounds, so not the “required look” for someone who wanted to be on television, according to the collective ego. I even fondly remember my professor at the time, Paul DeWald, saying something to the effect of “maybe you should try something behind the scenes.” Maybe this was Spirit’s way of telling me something.
As my time at Buffalo State was wrapping to a close, I was also an intern at the Empire Sports Network, which was owned at the time by Adelphia Communications. The station was the sports station in town, covering the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres, and the rest of the local college and high school scene. If you lived in or around the Northeast between 2003-2005, you may remember that Adelphia’s Founder, John Rigas, along with several members of his family were investigated and later found guilty of fraud. What did this mean for Empire’s future and mine at the time? Well, I went from being an eager intern at this time 13 years ago to seeing a media entity begin to slowly die on the inside, all within four months.
But, as fate would have it, the mind was already focused on something else, something that I had a passion for since I was a child, when I first remembered watching Hulk Hogan & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake taking on “The Macho Man” Randy Savage & Zeus at WWE’s SummerSlam ’89 Pay-Per-View.
For nearly 12 years, Monday Night Mayhem was my life. If you are unfamiliar with the world of professional wrestling and sports-entertainment, Monday Night Mayhem was one of the longest-tenured and most popular wrestling radio shows. A virtual “Who’s Who” ion the world of wrestling, sports, and entertainment stepped into our studios for over a decade, from Hulk Hogan, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho to Nancy O’Dell (the host of Entertainment Tonight), Billy Corgan (of the Smashing Pumpkins), and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.
I founded the program in early 2002 at my Alma Mater, Buffalo State College, on our campus radio station, 91.3 FM WBNY. The show grew in popularity through “grassroots” promotion. Yes, before the world of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and any other social portals that I may have forgotten or that haven’t been identified yet, there was simply getting the word out on what you were doing by “word of mouth.”
In 2002, two of the three main wrestling promotions in the country, iMPACT Wrestling and Ring of Honor, opened up, which was a gift that myself and my fellow co-hosts were able to gratefully receive at the time. Through this synergy, we were able to expand beyond the parameters of Western New York and received international exposure. MNM also took the program on the road, traveling to Toronto, Ontario, Canada (for WrestleMania X-8), Nashville, TN, as well as to the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden in New York City (for WrestleMania XX). All of these destinations in just the first two years of the Mayhem.
In the fall of 2004, the show parted ways with WBNY and became one of the first-ever independently-produced podcasts. This was before iTunes came into the equation and well before the term “podcast” was “acceptable” by many. The term “Internet Radio” also had a stigma to it, with people in the broadcasting industry and many others asking the same question, “So why aren’t you on regular radio?”
I persisted. I believed in what I was doing. And the persistence paid off. Monday Night Mayhem won “Show of the Year” Award in back-to-back years in the Wrestling Radio Awards and became the “go-to” show where wrestlers wished to speak to their fans. And yes, there was the time from the fall of 2004 to the spring of 2006, where my co-hosts and I would drive nearly one hour from the Amherst, NY area to Arcade, NY to record the program, watch WWE’s flagship show (Monday Night RAW) until after 11PM, dropping off my friends at home, and then returning back to my own house between 1-2 AM in the morning.
What most people were not privy to was what was happening behind the scenes. I used to joke around when I used the term I’m about to use, but there is some truth to it: I ran a little “media machine.” I booked the guests for the program, printed out pages of “show prep” (information used during the live airing of the program), edited the guest interview recaps (which were sent out to members of the wrestling websites that covered the industry), promoted the show on social media (which began with MySpace, then Facebook, followed by Twitter), coordinated affiliations with VH1, the WWE, and the Buffalo Bills, and established relationships with sponsors (which would be revealed about four or five years into MNM’s run). And, as part of the perfect divine order of life, it would turn out that I would be given the opportunity to serve three of these sponsors in the capacity of branding, social media marketing, and publicity. Imagine that! Little did I know at the time that this would be a sign from the Universe, a glimpse from God, as to the blessings that would unfold for me professionally.
Now, in hindsight, I can look back and observe things from a non-judgmental perspective. I was a perfectionist. I was afraid of letting other members of my team do the necessary work for the show, for fear of it “not being good enough.” Things had to be “my way.” With these tendencies of perfectionism, I allowed worry and doubt to creep into the mind, especially when it came to technical issues popping up during the program (which there were a few here and there). I was also a “People-Pleaser” in various ways, even giving my own power away to my former co-host many years later, as he thought the show would sound “more professional” without the services of my longest-tenure MNM co-host and good friend. Now, with that being said, he may have been right. He may have been wrong. But, I’ve learned along the way, thanks to a Course in Miracles that I would rather be happy than be right. In this particular instance, I wanted to make sure he was happy before I was. The program was starting to become “work.” It was no longer fun. And along the way, I disconnected with my inner child that just wanted to hang out with friends, watch wrestling, and talk about it.
Enter the beginning of my spiritual journey.
In the summer of 2011, shortly after returning to Buffalo from Los Angeles, where I covered the release of the new WWE ’12 video game for THQ, as part of the WWE SummerSlam Pay-Per-View weekend, I began experiencing a myriad of interesting symptoms. I left my corporate job for eight months and was on short-term disability. I had remembered telling one of my friends at the time, shortly before going to Atlanta that spring for WrestleMania XXVII, that I was “experiencing burnout.” It’s important to note that this is where my awakening probably began, even though it was not clearly revealed to me until a little over two years later.
After everything happened exactly as it was meant to, things began to improve on many levels, as, in my opinion, I was given a new lease on life. I went gluten-free and dairy-free, began exercising regularly, and had lost close to 100 pounds in the process. I brought back Monday Night Mayhem to the airwaves in the summer of 2012, so the show could “achieve its 10-year anniversary.” Notice why that is in quotes. Despite making immense progress, I was still not ready to turn inward to see things from outside of the ego mindset.
Something interesting happened during that time, shortly after MNM came back. I remember being with my two co-hosts, along with a friend from high school, who I had reconnected with in the process. We went down to the First Niagara Center to enjoy Monday Night RAW, one of the final televised events leading into that year’s WrestleMania. It was an “Old-School” edition of RAW, complete with several WWE Hall of Famers and Legends in attendance. As several of the Superstars were coming out for their respective entrances, I noticed my friends were cheering loudly and standing on their feet. Me? I was sitting. Doing a golf clap. Things were not the same anymore. Wrestling was not resonating with me at all. It was not connecting with my soul.
So, in the fall of 2013, about two months after my grandmother made her transition, I made one of the toughest decision of my entire life, to release Monday Night Mayhem back into the Universe. It was fitting that the two songs I chose to use for “MNM: The Finale” was Rihanna’s “Farewell” and The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
It was as if I saying “farewell” not so much to Monday Night Mayhem, but to a part of me that needed to be released, so that my soul could continue to evolve and grow. And yes, it was a bitter sweet symphony as well. I had spent most of my adult life (from the age of 20 to the age of 32) living my life in the world of Mayhem. Subconsciously, I had created a new “reality” for myself, one that lasted for nearly a quarter-century. While growing up, I had thought that the external projection of what I was seeing in my life was not making me feel happy. But now, I was allowing my higher self to guide me, and everything else was about to transform forever.
Coming clean: Monday Night Mayhem was one of the greatest life lessons that I ever had. I would always remember the memories, the moments, and yes, even the Mayhem. But it was time for “The Big Mosh” (my on-air name/moniker and an admitted extension of my ego) to move on. I was realizing that I was placed on this earth to help people. I knew that there were people who had gone through similar experiences. And the first forum that I was going to be able to graciously utilize to help and inspire was already taking shape.
About one year prior to releasing Monday Night Mayhem, the Universe would provide a sneak peek of my next steps. This stat is if you are continuing to create a timeline of this in your mind. I had the blessing of meeting Michelle Rober, a health and wellness coach from New Hampshire. I was introduced to her by her sister Corrine, who owned the popular Margarita Grill in Glen, NH. I was doing social media work for Corrine’s restaurant, as well as her new business venture, Bear Rock Adventures. As the scope of my life was expanding into the world of physical fitness, it only made sense that I manifested this relationship with Michelle. I began doing social media work for Michelle as well, promoting her fitness studio, wellness center, and day spa, 121 Fit. The Divine has other ideas, however, for why we were meant to come into one another’s lives.
I vividly remember having a conversation with Corrine, saying her and her sister should do their own podcast or radio show. With Margarita Grill incorporating the “farm-to-table” aspect as part of their restaurant, with Corrine initiating her own program in the community called “S.O.H.L.” (standing for “Sustainable, Organic, Handcrafted, and Local”), and with a profound love being felt and shared between Corrine and Michelle, to me, this was a logical next step for them both. They were doing things for the right reasons. They wanted to make the area they live in a more wonderful place. And, they wanted to project their unconditional love they had for humanity out into the Universe. Why wouldn’t this be successful? Why wouldn’t people want to listen to a program that had these themes as its internal structure? Soul Luminous Radio would be born, but not in the way I had originally thought of.
Michelle came to me saying she would like to launch the program and have me serve as an on-air co-host and producer. I had made a promise to myself that I would entertain the notion of possibly stepping back into the world of podcasting if the right opportunity presented itself, one in which the relationships would be balanced, one in which would feed my soul, one that didn’t seem like “work.” I was guided by my higher self and Babcia (my grandmother) to make this transition, from Mayhem to Soul Luminous.
The format was to have authors, musicians, inspirational/motivational speakers, lightworkers of healing, and yes, even a wrestler or two, share with the journeys with the Souluniverse, how they overcame any perceived obstacles that came their way on their own path, and how they wished to have their gifts that were given to them by God, Spirit, and the Universe positively impact the lives of others for the greater good. It made complete sense to me. It felt right.
I viewed this time in my life as being given the chance to put my toes into the pool of the Divine. During the first few months of 2014, the emotions that I had suppressed for my entire life were coming up for healing. Some may call this part of their awakening as the “Dark Night of the Soul.” Looking back, I know that all was unfolding as it should have and that I was being taken care of and guided, even though, in those present moments, it felt cumbersome. But, Soul Luminous Radio would play a huge role in my own healing. My soul was taking notes.
By combining the skills that I had learned through Monday Night Mayhem with the on-air chemistry that Michelle and I had early on, Soul Luminous Radio was listed in iTunes’ “New & Noteworthy” section, and we also developed a relationship with Hay House, the top spiritual, self-help, and inspirational book publishing company in the world. Myself and Michelle had the opportunity to interview one of my greatest teachers, Anita Moorjani, along with James van Praagh, Panache Desai, plus other names in the world of personal transformation, health, and healing, in addition to talented up-and-coming spiritual teachers and artists. Interacting with these beings of light were all part of a bigger plan for me, one that I wanted answers on left and right. My ego, as I knew it, was dissolving. My spirit and all parts of my being were getting stronger.
In March 2014, was guided to go to Toronto, Ontario, Canada for Hay House’s “I Can Do It” event, a weekend that featured many of Hay House’s popular authors, speakers, and healers. The night before I left for Toronto, my ego was showing signs of resistance, not wanting me to go to the Roy Thompson Hall. Just my opinion, but I don’t think I’m alone in this: You know that you are truly meant to do something in your life if you feel this resistance coming up. I prayed to my grandmother, asking for her to be there with me in Toronto.
I made it to Toronto the next morning, right as Cheryl Richardson was finishing her keynote speech on stage. As my angels would have it, as soon as Anita came on stage and began sharing her path to healing, I began feeling much better than I had in some time. Anita and I made a promise to one another to meet in person, and we did, a moment and an experience that I would never forget, another sign, another glimpse of what was to come for me in my own life.
I began actively listening to some of the other speakers, such as Dr. Joe Dispenza, talking about how your thoughts create your reality and your experiences, as well as Robert Holden, who said “if someone asks you what is your religion, you say love.” I also had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with Anthony Tilotta, an inspirational/consciousness musician from Toronto (and also a former Soul Luminous Radio guest), along with his fiancée (now wife) Danielle Fagan, a spiritual teacher and author. The two of them looked so happy, so beautiful together. I even remember asking them if they were “on something,” because I had never, in my entire life, seen and felt two people so happy and in love before in my entire life. They were not “on anything.” They were in love. They loved themselves, and that self-love within each of them was being reflected in the other.
This was all new to me, but boy, I was excited! I was soaking in the all of the energies of this new environment I found myself in. It was a feeling I had never experienced before. It felt like nothing at all was bothering me. I felt love, pure and unconditional love. I wanted to take home with me, sprinkle it on everyone and everything, and have this series of present moments last for more than just the weekend. Who knew that a “Soul Luminous Radio” business trip would provide so much soul growth in just two days.
While driving back from Toronto to Buffalo, I knew that I wanted to not only help, heal, inspire, and serve people. But, I was not sure of the “how.” One of the many things that I have learned through my spiritual journey is that the “how’s” are not up to us. The “how’s” are revealed by God in those two words that touch the depths of our soul: divine timing.
In addition to Soul Luminous Radio and the freelance branding, social media, and publicity work that I was doing, I was serving humanity through the collections industry as a financial recovery specialist, something I had been doing since I graduated from Buffalo State College to supplement my income.
A day or so after returning back home, I had a conversation with my supervisor (a term that I have long since released, as that signifies one person is better than another). He asked me the following question: “John, do you have empathy for these people?” He meant the customers I was speaking to on the phone. My answer was: “Yes. Yes I do.” His response was something I would forever remember for the rest of my life. It may have been him speaking as the vessel to utter his next words, but in truth, it actually was the voice of God. “Why don’t you open up your own charity or build houses.” In the moment when he was saying what he was saying, I did not realize the true magnificence of this conversation. Oprah Winfrey calls these significant moments and or realizations in our lives as “Aha! Moments.” And this was an Aha! Moment if I ever heard one.
In all honesty, however, I didn’t see myself building houses, as I was not quite the handyman. I could see myself working for a charity of some kind, especially from the joy that I experienced from the service work that I had the blessing of doing at Children’s Hospital, which I was introduced to through Dennis DiPaolo, the owner of the Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant here in Buffalo, through my time at Monday Night Mayhem. Coordinating visits with wrestlers from iMPACT Wrestling and Ring of Honor were magical experiences. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces. Bringing happiness into the lives of children and their families during trying times. These were just some of the reasons why my work with the Child Life Department at Children’s Hospital was so worthwhile. I did not know, at the time, how I could incorporate serving others into a setting that would allow me to have this sense of peace and bliss, while also allowing me to take care of my financial commitments and responsibilities, and also leave my collections job…and never look back.
This was going to be the beginning of my “inner work,” delving into healing myself from years of unworthiness, shame, judgment, guilt, and fear. It really is true: How you feel about yourself, your own personal beliefs, and the world around you determines what you create in your external realm. Most people are afraid of this, simply because they feel that they will discover something terrible. Fittingly enough, during this time, I had the opportunity to have the “Love Pioneer,” Jennifer Kass, come into my life through Soul Luminous Radio. Her teachings left a profound impact on me, especially when learning the following: “As we move through painful feelings, we’re eventually guided to the only truth that there is about ourselves, that we are pure love, pure light. In this space, we connect with out spirit, and we see ourselves from the perspective of how our higher self and the Universe sees us.”
The Universe began to reveal more. Around this time, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Cynthia Thaik, a Holistic Cardiologist and author in Los Angeles, along with a dear friend of mine, Loree Bischoff, a Holistic Life Coach and the wife of Eric Bischoff, the former President of World Championship Wrestling, on Soul Luminous Radio. After doing “show prep” (which carried over from Monday Night Mayhem), a force within me felt very confident that I could do work with them, to help them achieve some of their own professional goals, to expand the reach of their audience, to grow their platform, and most importantly, to touch more lives through the gifts of healing they were both given. Even though I didn’t know all of the answers and even though there might have been people within more qualifications that were more experienced than I was, I was determined to speak my truth, come from a space of love, let them know my intention to serve alongside them, and surrender all to God and my angels. I was saying “yes” to the Universe, and in turn, the Universe said “yes” to me. I was very grateful to both of these women for providing me two tremendous opportunities. I followed the guidance of Spirit and my own heart, drove down to the Erie County Clerk’s office, filed the necessary paperwork, and Empowered by John was born.
Fast forward a few months from Toronto, and the relationship with Anthony and Danielle blossomed. They joined Michelle and I for two individual interviews on Soul Luminous Radio. Even though each interview was separate, it was clear that these two were one. There was no separation there at all, an extension of the truth: That we are all one, and that we only become separate when we disconnect ourselves from God and from our source.
Spirit was bringing Danielle, Anthony, and I together for something special. On the surface, it may have looked as if I was their publicist, but in truth, their purpose in my life was much greater, which I will share shortly. I remember walking into Barnes and Noble for the first time, wearing a T-shirt and wind pants, going to one of the service kiosks, introducing myself as a publicist, and asking the gentleman behind the counter of how I would go about co-facilitating a book signing for Danielle, who had just released her first book, “Infinite Kingdom: Ignite the Night” (through Balboa Press). Now, speaking openly as I have done thus far, I am the kind of person that may not have all of the answers, but I know I can find them. In this particular instance, just like many of the series of events on my spiritual journey, there was a little magic from heaven and from grandmother on my side. The sir behind the counter was named Michael. This would be one of many times that I had an awareness of Archangel Michael alongside me on my path, as he manifested himself in the physical form of this particular Michael and several others. So yes, I was able to get the necessary answers, and a signing for Danielle happened shortly thereafter. What a blessing! I walked into Barnes and Noble, set an intention for the highest and greatest good of all, and it manifested itself. Not for my personal gain. Not even for Danielle’s. But for the collective consciousness. True story: One of the last times I was at that particular Barnes and Noble, I noticed her book alongside that of one of Wayne Dyer’s books. I simply had to smile at that, in lieu of both of our profound connections to the late Dr. Dyer.
Even before that signing took place, I had co-facilitated an in-studio interview for Anthony on WKBW-TV’s “AM Buffalo,” airing on the ABC affiliate here in Buffalo. There is a reason for me using the term “co-facilitating” or “co-facilitated,” because I was realizing more and more than I was merely the conduit for making these beautiful co-creations manifest into reality. This was and will always be God’s work. Now originally, the plan was for Anthony to be interviewed and perform on-air, which was going to be his North American television debut. Spirit had different plans. Not being familiar with some parts of the New York State Thruway, even after all of this time in living here, I missed our exit off the Thruway, which delayed our arrival time by a few minutes. Plus, there was, of all things, a hostage situation right next door to the station, which in theory, and in reality, should have prevented us from even getting to the studios at all. There was a higher power that wanted this interview and the messages of love contained within it to take place and be seen and heard. After arriving at the station and getting the chance to calm our energies down, the show’s executive producer, along with the show’s host, Linda Pellegrino, asked Danielle if she would like to join Anthony together on the set and be a part of the interview. I was deeply moved by what I was seeing, and before they sat down with Linda for the interview, I was guided to pray with Anthony and Danielle. We joined hands in a circle and let our love and gratitude be felt in the silence that followed. The two went on set, had a terrific interview, and were given an open invitation to return in the future. I could not have scripted this even if I tried. God was clearly smiling down on all of us.
So what were Anthony and Danielle’s purposes in my life you ask? To be two of my first clients? Nope. They were two of my greatest teachers of self-love that followed after Anita. They were instrumental in teaching me to feel that it is possible to be comfortable in my own skin and to say what was in my heart and on my mind without the need to suppress any emotion or judge any thought. These lessons were nourishment for my soul, allowing it to expand, just as I was growing in all aspects of my life, business included.
As the first few weeks of 2015 revealed themselves, I was being drawn in a different direction, one that seemed to almost come from out of nowhere. After 13 years of radio and podcasting and promoting other people’s messages, I felt that I had a message of my own, one that I wanted to get out to the world, and that was not going to happen while being in my “comfort zone.” It’s been said many times that freedom lies on the other side of fear. 111% true. I was afraid… of a lot. I was afraid of commitment, responsibility, power, and success, which fittingly enough will be the topics for my next personal blog post (coming Monday, February 1st). Could I, as my authentic self and not as “The Big Mosh” succeed? Could I actually learn how to navigate and run my own business? What if Empowered by John actually brought so much love into the world through a sacred union of my own love and the love of my clients? These were just a few of the seemingly zillions of questions and their attached fears that my ego was trying to have me focus on vs. investing my energies and time in the business itself. And yes, where your energies go is where your attention goes. 111% true.
As I have said in previous blogs and to many of you whom I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with on social media, your soul always knows what to do. Your heart is always leading you in the right direction. You just have to be still, listen for your guidance in the silence, and take action from there. So, during the first week of March, I said farewell to Soul Luminous Radio. I was appreciative of Michelle giving me this opportunity and this platform and still am thankful nearly one year later. She too was one of my greatest teachers of self-love on my path. The learning would continue…
I had come so far, released so much, actually began to love myself, and now wanted to give, truly give unconditional love back to the world, but in order to empower others, I would first need to truly empower myself.
At the start of this blog post, I didn’t think that we will be looking at a word count of over 5,000, nor did I think I would intertwine my spiritual journey with my business, but honestly, the two go hand-in-hand. When I speak, I speak from my soul. When I write, I write from my soul. When I blog, I blog from my soul. So yes, I’ve learned that part of my purpose here is being a writer and an author, not just a publicist. And yes, a little healthy boundary or two is important. But you know what’s also important: not being hard on yourself. Each and every one of us is learning. Channeling my inner Ram Dass: And through the relationships we have, with ourselves, with our families, our friends, our pets, and yes, even those we work with, we are helping to walk each other home.
All is happening in perfect divine order though. And yes, the Universe is right on time with everything, as always. So with that being said, I will pick up this thread with a “Part Deux” (meaning “Part II” in French) during the week of February 6th. There’s much more to share with you.
Should this blog post resonate with your soul, your business mind, or both, I warmly invite you to post your thoughts in the comments below and/or share this blog post on the social media portals of your choice. And if these loving words from my heart inspire or help you in any way and/or if you feel that this blog could help someone who is taking the “Leap of Faith” to open their own business or someone who is beginning their own journey of self-love and/or healing, someone who needs empowerment, faith, hope, and/or inspiration in their lives, I would be profoundly grateful for you to share this with him or her.