Mike Messeroff releases illustrated mindfulness book featuring furry companions
BRECKENRIDGE — It was a surprise for entrepreneur Mike Messeroff to learn that he had a creative childhood. When his mom was cleaning, she discovered small books he wrote in school when he was about 7 or 8 — books he doesn’t recall writing. Last year, he tapped into that apparent lifelong dream and starting writing a mindfulness book from the perspective of his 11-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Rocky.
“Until this, I never even knew I had this creative side,” Messeroff said. “I’m convinced everyone has a creative spark, whether that’s writing or drawing or photography or anything. Even if that’s not something they want to pursue as a career and make money from, I think it’s worth digging deep and figuring out what that is. We’re all here to be creators and create stuff and share.”
Called “Dogs Get It: Advice I learned from my best friend,” Messeroff’s coffee-table book is a series of short poems paired with illustrations by Hannah Chavez. For example, opposite a page saying “Spread joy” is a poem that reads, “If all you give today is a nod or a smile, you’ll make someone’s day, and you’ll do it with style,” alongside a picture of Rocky strolling down a street with smiling passers-by.
Messeroff said the book is supposed to act as entry-level mindfulness material for dog-lovers, those who aren’t immediately drawn to headier books by Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra. He found it rather easy to keep the writing accessible by using his fluffy companion as a guide when the poems naturally grew out of his regular journaling practice.
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“My intention is to not write the next 300-page Joe Dispenza book on neural chemistry and quantum mechanics stuff,” Messeroff said. “I love all of that stuff, but I feel like I could bring my unique experiences, like my love of dogs.
“You don’t even have to read through it. You pick up a page, see what it opens to that day and hopefully you get a little inspiration. Maybe you’re a little kinder — kinder to yourself, kinder to people.”
A new chapter
Originally from New York, Messeroff studied marketing and business. He worked in the corporate world for companies such as Jet Blue, which he said was a great learning experience but also taught him what he didn’t want to do. His wife, Alisa, convinced them to quit their jobs and travel the world. For three years, he worked as a bartender in exotic places like Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean.
Like many residents, the mountains and snowsports drew Messeroff and his wife to Colorado, and they found themselves staying in Breckenridge for longer than one winter. He co-founded BreckInsider, now known as Apres-Ski, and worked at Briar Rose Chophouse. Yet 2017 was a low point for Messeroff. His uncle died, and he felt like he was in a career rut.
“Dogs Get It” by Mike Messeroff and Hannah Chavez
Happy As A Dog LLC, 2019
64 pages, $20 for print, $10 for digital coloring book and $25 for both
Visit MikeMesseroff.com to purchase.
“I think a lot of people in the county feel that way — a little disconnected,” Messeroff said.
Messeroff turned to mediation and journaling, starting with the app Headspace, for a few years. Last January he took the next step started a book club called Summit County Mindful Manifestors with Lauren Hitchell of Studio B Dance Center.
Rocky was his first dog he’s ever owned, and in March 2019, he was inspired to be more like him — even though he originally didn’t want Rocky, and it was his wife’s idea to get him over a decade ago. By that April, he had met Chavez and the two started collaborated on “Dogs Get It,” and a copy was in his hands in December.
Aside from some destructive tendencies or barking, Messeroff sees dogs as wonderful teachers due to the carefree attitudes and simple disposition.
“They are generally joyful beings who spread joy without trying,” Messeroff said. “Rocky isn’t like, ‘I can’t wait to go make people happy today.’ He’s just like, ‘I’m going to be myself.’”
A book tour and launch was originally planned for this spring, yet those events were thrown off track due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Messeroff is still passionate about being an author and using writing as a creative outlet. He’s still working at Apres-Ski, but he is focusing more on this new and risky path.
“Wool has been pulled over our eyes to what’s really important in our lives, and it’s not chasing that dollar,” Messeroff said. “… All that ‘more’ means is that you don’t have enough, and it teaches you to not be happy with yourself. I think life is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, and work is supposed to be, as well. It’s not supposed to be a means to an end because there is no end, and you never get there.”
Though not technically a children’s book, it is kid-friendly with its illustrations and messages, and Messeroff hopes that it instills good practices in young minds.
“Everything I’m going through now in my late 30s is unlearning things from like 5-35,” he said. “It makes me think of the incredible possibilities of affecting a child and not having to unlearn all of that.”
Messeroff’s new book, however, is very much geared toward children. Throughout the month, he and Chavez have been working on “How Much Fun it Would Be to be a Wild Animal From A-Z” and releasing a page roughly each day online for free.
As the name implies, the alphabet book partners creatures with letters, starting with the axolotl for “A.” It also features others like the bonobo, capybara and dugong. Messeroff has been enjoying researching and learning about animals and said “it’s like going back to school.”
The physical book is expected to release in early May.
Even though “Dogs Get It” just hit the shelves, Mike Messeroff and Hannah Chavez have started on their second book, “How Much Fun it Would Be to be a Wild Animal From A-Z.” A page of their book is being shared online for free @mikemesseroff on Instagram and MikeMesseroff.com for children to print and color.
It costs $25 to preorder a physical edition, which includes the digital version of “Dogs Get It.”
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