Jazz Notes – Friday, April 25, 2015: West End Community Learning Center & Alkebulan Academy Fundraiser

Jazz Notes – Friday, April 25, 2015: West End Community Learning Center & Alkebulan Academy Fundraiser

John Stringer at Jazz Notes 2014

John Stringer performing with artists and children at Jazz Notes 2014

Kathy and I are excited to support Alkebulan Academy again this year for their annual fund raiser, called Jazz Notes!

I’ll be performing multiple songs with a stellar artist line up at Jazz Notes 2015 and would like to invite you to purchase a ticket to help the West End Community Learning Center raise funds for our son’s school.
When you purchase a ticket, 100% of the funds go toward the upkeep of the school, teacher salaries and special school programming.

Purchase tickets for only $21 each here.

Jazz Notes is always an amazing line up of performers and patrons typically bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy at tables while watching the show.

Our son, John Hamilton Stringer V, has attended Alkebulan Academy since he was 2 and half years old and we’ve been very pleased with their education. From class sizes to curriculum, the value of the school has been incredible.  He’s now 5 years old (turns 6 on June 19, 2015) and is already doing 2nd grade level Math and 3rd grade level reading.

The two ways that following your bliss serves humanity

For those of us who are open to it, I have to go there… (close your eyes, Mom… lol).  I’m going to talk about SEX for a second.   I don’t in the video, but I will on my blog here now.  For those of us who believe you are not supposed to read or write about sex, go ahead and exit now.  You were warned! lol

Ever noticed how fulfilled you feel after SEX?  Don’t worry, the divine / God / Source gave us sex and we are certainly blessed to have it,.. and it’s OK to acknowledge it.  It’s blissful.  But why is it so taboo to even talk about in public?  I even had second thoughts about writing about it and had to “check in” to make sure it was fine.  Why is that?  Because it’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe about it. But that’s not the point I’m leading up to.

The point I’m getting at is that like sex, following our bliss leads to fulfilling psychological, mental, emotional, chemical states.  You FEEL it because you are fulfilled. You are fulfilled because you are fulfilling your heart’s desires. Those desires come from the divine.  I’m not referring to desires that harm (for those of you thinking of desires you believe will harm you or others).  I’m talking about desires that you know are from the divine … and if you don’t know, then ask the divine.

When you follow your bliss, you are full-filled.  You have an abundance that can uplift others… by your state of being.  That’s why people feel at peace or blessed by your vibe and in your presence.

You are the light of the world!  Follow your bliss and BE that!

 

 

Following Inspiration: Why I left a great job to create my life

Following Inspiration: Why I left a great job to create my life

I’ve spent close to the last 4 years working at an SEO / Digital Marketing agency and I loved the experience, the people, the clients and all the wonderful lessons I learned there.  As I mention in the video above, I resigned on Friday, Jan 23, 2015 (last day Jan 30) because I was inspired / guided to pursue an expanded vision for my life… all with no immediate “guaranteed” income in sight and a family of four to support.

How did this happen?

It’s all (life) lead to this, but some recent events stick out.  A few months ago, I sat down to re-evaluate the most important categories of my life and put them in priority order.  As a result, my first priority category was Personal development (knowing and loving God/Source, Self, & others, etc.). The second, Family (immediate and beyond).  Third was Music, followed by Marketing in fourth place and Business in fifth.  I realized the only category I was giving priority to in the order I made was personal development.  Business (e.g. making a living) seemed to eclipse everything else even though it was the last priority. In fact, I was spending 60+ hours per week working but was lucky to get 20 hours of quality family time each week.

On Jan 22, 2015, I asked my good friend, Ade, to hold a vision of me freeing my time. He encouraged me to re-phrase that as seeing myself Financially Free to use my time as I see fit, which I did. The very next day, I got to resign from my day job.

Although the day I resigned was a surprise to both my wife and I, we knew the day would one day come… just not so soon.  See, we frequently use meditation and prayer to get guidance in our lives and we’d asked several times about my role at my job.  We got that I would be there for a time to help “bridge the gap” and would eventually leave.  We asked if we could have replacement funds for my salary in place (e.g. BEFORE leaving) and got “yes.”  So, the day I called my wife to let her know I was getting to resign, she was understandably concerned b/c neither of us could see the replacement revenue.  As she noted, this seemed like a change in plans.  We’ve received guidance before that seemed to change later on (though not exactly like this situation), so I figured something happened to make it necessary for me to leave earlier.  Of course, I kept checking to make sure this was “best” and  I’d get the same answer to resign that day each time.  So, my wife agreed to trust w/ me and I got off the phone and resigned.

What I was later reminded of is that what we see with our eyes isn’t always what’s actually happening in that moment.  If life / Source /  God (the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent) / spirit / LOVE gives us a clear message to go one way and tells us we will be blessed, we can trust that going that way will lead to our blessings whether we see how or not.

So, I took the leap and 6 days in, things are unfolding beautifully.

The agency gave me an extra week to be “available for questions” remotely and asked to be one of my first clients.  We’ll continue to work together where the need arises while I pursue my priorities. I’m grateful for that.

What am I up to now?

As I mentioned, I’m continuing to invest in the four priority categories. For Family, I’ve been blessed to spend more quality time with my wife and children.  My son, Johnny, and I launched a new Youtube series called Science Sundays.  The first episode goes live Sunday, February 8th at 11:11 am.

Through meditation and whatever I find works, I’m aligning with source / God / spirit / love moment to moment, knowing that I can trust the very power that created and maintains the universe to lead me to what’s best.  As a result, I received inspired action and follow through to support ventures that fit the categories, including:

  1. Launching a boutique digital marketing consultancy.   I’m already serving clients as a digital marketing architect who helps design plans around SEO & Inbound Marketing.  I’m also grateful to have a new Marketing Evaluation specialist on the team, as well as amazing SEO resources, including the agency I worked for, EverSpark Interactive.
  2. I’m working on my first solo album and will release it on a new record label platform that will be part of (in some way) the label I founded with State of Man, PolyPlat Records.  I’ve dreamed of creating a label where both the fans and artists were the owners, so now’s its time to make it a reality.
  3. A virtual community surrounding the forthcoming indiehitmaker.com platform and reporting apps.  The focus of the platform will be providing A+ Revenue, Opportunities, Development, Education & Services (R.O.D.E.S.) to performing artists.
  4. Developing sustainable luxury communities / “neighborhoods” with cottage industries (Music, Organic farming, etc.). I first got inspired to go this new direction 3 years ago but kept getting it wasn’t time to fully pursue just yet.  Now, I’ll put my energies into this as guided!

I know my journey will continue to be financially abundant and fulfilling spiritually, mentally and physically b/c I’ve learned how to “seek the kingdom within” and continue expanding on that.  The most important part of life is the internal. The external follows to match it. So, if I’m “in the flow,” creating internal abundance, the external follows!

If you’d like to keep up with my journey and receive uplifting, empowering updates, join my mailing list above and I’ll keep you updated on what I’m learning in hopes it inspires you. I’ll also let you know when my music is out!

Influence: Criticism Versus Appreciation as Love at Work & Home

I started reading a classic book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie years ago but I never “got it” at the time, so I stopped before finishing. I picked it up a gain this year and I was shocked to learn that I’d been so “wrong” about myself and human nature – and how best to love people in simple ways.  See, I’d spent the past 3 years (and even longer) doing the opposite of some of the key best practices this book shared b/c I thought the opposite was best… and in fact, it was best for me to be that way, but not for the reasons I thought.

For as long as I can recall, I prided myself in being honest and tried to be as efficient and effective as possible plus I’d help others improve by calling them to the same standard. The problem is the last half of that sentence. For me, calling others to the same standard meant showing them what they were doing wrong and how to correct it.  So, yes…. I was that guy in my band, at work, at home, wherever – always willing to show someone how to improve by “constructively criticizing” them… showing them what they were doing wrong as directly as I could and explaining how to fix it.  Know anyone like that?  Do you enjoy spending time with them?  lol I’m actually grateful I was that person in the past, and I’ll share why.

First, what I learned after so many years of acting this way was that although my heart was in the right place, my methods often turned people off. Granted, I honestly had the best of intentions and the reason I’m grateful I carried on this way is because it taught me first-hand the results of this sort of behavior. No matter how insightful and on point my constructive criticism may have been, it rarely yielded the what I’d hoped for: to see people change. In fact, people seemed to view me as difficult to work with and some even seemed to avoid me. Go figure. lol

So here are just two of the many key things I’ve learned from “How to win friend and influence people” that helped me change the way I am around those I care about.  I hope you enjoy:

1. “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.” People don’t like it and it often receives the opposite response of what you’d hope for.

The author, Dale Carnegie, shares the following nugget of wisdom:

 

“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”

Out of the various examples Carnegie gives to show how demoralizing criticism can be, my favorite quote follows:

“B. F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting
changes and often incur resentment.”

So, what do you do instead? Carnegie offers what I consider a very loving alternative, explaining “…instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. ‘To know all is to forgive all.’ ” Now that’s love!

This is just the starting point and the rest of the book builds from here to share 8 more principles, the second of which I share below.

2. “Give honest and sincere appreciation.” Make giving appreciation and gratitude a new way of life.

Carnegie points out that Charles Schwab, John D Rockefeller and many other extremely successful people shared the same successful trait where they influenced people though sincere encouragement and praise. Carnegie quotes Schwab in the following section of the book:

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,” said Schwab, “the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement… There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticize any-one. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise. “

Of course,  understanding human nature as well as he did, Carnegie goes on to point out that he’s not suggestion flattery. Flattery and appreciation are not the same:

“The difference between appreciation and flattery?  That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

What I found so amazing is that by changing my approach and using several other principles in the book, I could sincerely encourage, praise and inspire people, which truly turned around some of the relationships I’d unintentionally “soiled” at work.

Learning how “wrong” I’d been also gave me a chance to see first-hand the value of these principles and I also use them with my family to break the old habits of criticism and instead, encourage, appreciate and inspire.

I view these as simply new ways (at least new for me lol) to be love to those around me and hope you find them as useful as I did.  You can get a free PDF copy of “How To Win Friends and Influence People” online here and learn all 9 principles.

Thank you life for the many ways to love and be love. Thank you for the new ways to show those I am around day-to-day kindness, appreciation and compassion. Let the learning continue!!!!

Bon Iver & James Blake – just now “discovering” and enjoying both

Ever find out about a new artist and can’t get enough of them?  That happened to me recently when my friend at Everspark Interactive, Aaron Chapman, skyped me a recommendation to check out Bon Iver (where “Iver” is pronounced “ee-v-ay-er”  and rhymes with “Slayer”).   I took one listen and I was hooked, which lead to discovering another great artist: James Blake.

One BI track that nearly brought me to tears is “Holocene”

I dug deeper in the Bon Iver catalogue on Spotify and discovered I was already familiar with “Skinny love” and “Lost in the World,” the latter a track from Kanye West featuring Bon Iver:

“Skinny love”

“Lost in the Woods”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-KiTmhR_v4

I like the Kanye track a lot and found a similar BI release called “Fall Creek Boys Choir“, that moved me AND  introduced me to James Blake who’s featured on the track:

Check out James Blake’s performance of “Retrograde” on the Dave Letterman show:

the official “Retrograde” video:

and this Cochella performance of “Air & Lack thereof“:

I’ve added several of the Bon Iver tracks to my playlist called “Jams I’m listening to” on Spotify, so if you like the tracks above and want to explore some of my personal favorites, check it out and follow for updates.

Of course, if you have some recommendations for me, please leave them as comments so I can check them out!

Green Home Sustainable Luxury: Hickory Nut Forest Eco Community “Open House Tour” in Asheville NC

VIDEO TOUR OF RYAN LUBBERS’ GREEN HOME / SUSTAINABLE LUXURY (Hickory Nut Forest Eco -Community)

(Having trouble viewing the video above?  Check it out on Youtube – Video Tour of Ryan Lubber’s Green Home – Sustainable Luxury in Hickory Nut Forest eco community)

If you’ve ever been to Asheville, NC, then you know it’s a unique community and beautiful place with plenty of beautiful Eco villages to check out.  Recently, my family (Kathy, Jolie, Johnny and I) got a chance to visit our dear friend who lives there (Debbie Wilson Pustorino), and she invited us to “Hickory Nut Forest Open House Tour,” presented by The Western North Carolina Green Building Council.

As the 2012 Western NC Green Building Directory reports, one of the many great things we learned about Hickory Nut Forest is that it’s “a 200+ acre eco-community in Gerton, NC where residents share a 10-acre organic garden and heirloom orcahrd, alogn with acess to miles of trails through forest protected under a conservation easement.”  It was founded by John Myers and Jane Lawson, who bout the land and had the dream that is now becoming a reality.  We got to meet John and Jane, and they are truly wonderful and warm.  In fact, their

I was amazed by the homes we saw and the people we met, and I was excited to learn that all three of the properties we visited, including the one above, were owned (and some, co-built) by first-time builders who successfully created  what I consider to be “Sustainable Luxury.”

What exactly is Sustainable Luxury?   For me, it’s simply luxury combined with Eco-friendly / Green / Sustainable development and something I plan to help create.  Of course,  much like beauty, luxury is “in the eye of the beholder.”  See if you agree with my assessment of the first Sustainable Luxury property we toured above, owned by first-time builder Ryan Lubbers, and co-built by Nate Ballinger.