Tag Archives: EntreMusicians

Get Outta Da Way!

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In My Worldview, I Truly Believe That God Downloads SongsRight Into Our Spirits, Complete with Melody, Harmonies, Rhythm, Time Signature and Counterpoint and we have the Privilege of Labeling this Process Songwriting. I’m of the Philosophy that in Every Composition, the Piece Itself Dictates what It Needs. Music & Lyrics Guide Us through their Verses, Chorus and Bridge to its Conclusion. Beats & Notes Fall from the Sky while sitting at My Keyboard, Bass or Drum Kit and Sometimes while racing around 680 South enroute to the bakery, forcing me to hum & grunt into my phone to preserve the concept.

The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned as a Composer/Producer/Musician is to Shut Up and Get Out of The Way. In Many Ways I’m Only an Observer; in others, a Mere Participant – Never Demanding or Micromanaging the Moment. There’s an Art to Waiting for the Score to Let You In on its Desires and sometimes it could make you wait for months. Patience is a Virtue.

In Every Session I Produce, I Invite Each Musician & Vocalist to Perform their Own Narrative for Takes at a Time, without providing a single instruction. It’s Their Interpretation I’m Most Interested in Capturing. Their Voice, Their Heart, Their Imagination. I’m In the Room Foremost as an Eyewitness and Secondly to Facilitate the Best Possible Outcome of Their Expressions. The Song Always Alerts Us as to What Does & Does Not Work.

The Best Producers, In My Opinion, are those who as Quincy Jones once stated, “Always leave space for God to walk through the room…”      There are far too many tunes (again, in my opinion) that bear the Fingerprint of the Producer, while Ignoring the Original Intent of the Composer and the Purity of the Artist – unless, of course, they are one and the same. Ahmet Ertegun, Stewart Levine, Nile RodgersArif Mardin and the legendary Norman Whitfield all are/were Patriarchs rather than Dictators. This Approach Allowed Them to Auspiciously Produce Artists Across Multiple Genres, without Dogging the Groove. Of course there are many Producers who Thrive on a “Signature Sound” that made their records work Beyond Various Platforms, but when the ‘sound’ faded, so did their opportunities.

Creatively, The Producer’s Ultimate Role is to Allow the Session to Simmer; Creating an Atmosphere of Freedom & Collaborative Communication, where Each Member becomes Adept at Paying Complete Homage to the Every Aspect of the Song.

Get Out of The Way! 

I Was Listening to Jeff Lorber Fusion’s “Water Sign” on Vinyl while Writing this Blog.

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BE The Producer!

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Throughout this month, I’m sharing A Few of The Ways I’ve Honed My EntreMusicianal Skills by “Being” All The Things I’ve Needed to “Be” to Advance My Artistry & Career, while making a few bucks along the way. Last Week, I detailed the opportunities awaiting EMs who donned the Booking Agent Hat to represent other Singers/Bands/Artists in their areas. Today, we look into Being The Producer.

In a Tiny Region like Youngstown Ohio, there are very few outlets for Jazz Musicians. Many of Us Frequently Perform in Akron, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and further away, as my band SounDoctrine began to do early on to make a name for ourselves.

Around 2005 the City hired an Event Coordinator, Claire Maluso, to open up the Downtown Entertainment Corridor to other Genres which were traditionally dominated by Rock and College Bar Bands. Claire, an avid jazz lover, reached out to me as SounDoctrine was starting to build momentum due to our music airing on the Weather Channel during their famous jazz filled breaks.

We began to put together weekends in various downtown restaurants which quickly spilled into the annual Youngstown Jazz Fest. When Claire left her position, I began to work with the new hire and representatives from YSU and the Visitors Bureau to broaden the show’s scope. I was Blessed to Oversee Production from 2010-13. This provided two wonderful advantages for which I remain grateful.

1)  Through Corporate and Community Sponsorship, we were able to secure a better rate for All of the Performers. Previously, the “Baby Bands” received $0.00 “for exposure,” which I always thought was a crock after doing my fair share of them. The more notable bands were paid between $250-$400 for a 45 minute set. But with 5 to 6 members…?

What I was blessed to do was raise that rate to $850 per band and then create a “Pre Fest Night” at a Downtown Venue the night before where the “Baby Bands” were paid for their exposure and one of the notables headlined the evening! This created Synergy and Excitement for the Entire Weekend. It also created greater degrees of acknowledgement from the local artists, who all recognized that our team was committed to paying them more respectfully.

2)  As Producer, I Was Able to Strategically place SounDoctrine Immediately Before the Headliner. This meant:

a) More Time on Stage

b) Our Set Would Be Seen by those who may have arrived late

c) The Prime Opportunity to be Associated With (and often acknowledged by) The Headliner who usually arrived during the first portion of our set

Our resume now includes us opening for jazz legends, Spyro Gyra, Pieces Of A Dream and Grammy Winner Kirk Whalum among others, many of which we are blessed to remain in close contact with.

To ensure our momentum, we also created a monthly “Second Sundays” event to keep the jazz vibe alive Downtown, which ran until 2015, which featured regional artists and also gave our band another outlet for presenting new material. We were blessed to partner with our local Chick fil-A franchise to make this a spectacular event.

This past March, I was blessed to produce the very successful “Meet Me At The Cross” Good Friday Event at the Covelli Center in Downtown Youngstown, which by God’s grace was my largest feat to date. We are currently making plans for 2018.

Through this process, I have learned all of the consociate aspects of “Putting On a Show” faster than if I had just remained in the Drum Chair, showing up for Sound Check. Needing to simultaneously wear the multifaceted hats of Technician, Promoter, Marketer, Fund Raiser, Corporate Solicitor, Stage Direction and grasping what it means to dialogue about City Ordinances, Liability Insurance, Unions and how to navigate the various insecure/angry/weird personalities you often encounter in a 20 hour day without losing your cool – while retaining the stamina to play your set, has wholly strengthened me and has helped me to make better decisions in my career.

Production is extremely hard work. “Game Day” will Make You or Crush You!! There are No Gray Areas. One Day I will tell you about the time I almost went to jail hours before I was to go on stage…

I’m forever grateful for an amazing team I can call at a moment’s notice when it’s time to do it again! Michaela Write, Orlando & Dana Watson, Lori B, Phil The Beat & Rosalyn Moore, Felicia (FiFi) Fuller, Jerry & Bea Thjompson, Demetrius Allen, Isaiah Rowe, Dan Glass, Shaun Shaulis and the silent Nia Brown. Y’all Know None of this could’ve been done without you!

BE The Producer!

 

I was listening to Herbie Hancock‘s “Mr. Hands” on Vinyl while composing this.

 

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Yelling Fire in a Crowded Room (…Or Snuffing Out the Right to Sing!)

  1. Racism in any form, against any group of people, at any time is abhorrent and       evil.
  2.  The tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville, VA last week were detestable and an unfortunate smear against the ideals of our great nation.
  3. Freedom of Speech & Expression, for better or worse, within noted civil legalities, is still a Basic Human Right…Or Is It? 

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    You & I Possess the Unique Freedom to Hate Anyone or Anything We Choose.

    For Whatever Reason.

    We Can Talk About It. We Can Write About It. We Can Sing Melodies and Set Our Hatred to Music. We Can Build Websites and Blog About It. As Long As Our Hatred does no personal bodily harm, damage to personal property or space, inflicts terror upon or violates the civil rights of the object of our hatred, we are free to hate as much as we please.

    We can draw and post despicable images of the most inhumane imaginations conceived. We can sell tickets to presentations of the most vile, disgusting fetishes and impressions. My understanding is that these representations can be on public display, as long as they appear on private property not supported by tax payer dollars (although I am not completely certain of every single detail involved).

    Conversely, You & I Also Possess the Unique Freedom to Oppose Such Displays of Hatred and Spread Love. We Can Protest, Counter-Protest, Write & Sing Our Own Songs, Blog, Post, Build and Host Our Own Sites, Draw and Sell Tickets to Our Own Shows on Our Own Private Properties and Promote Our Personal Ideologies, Perspectives, Paradigms and Religions to Our Hearts Content.

    Equally, We Can Change The Channel, Turn Off The Radio, Cancel Subscriptions, Write a Letter to the Editor, Boycott the Service, Go On Strike, Demand a Refund, Quit The Job, Change Careers and Crowdfund.  As Long As Our Love does no personal bodily harm, damage to property or space, inflict unnecessary incentive upon or violates the civil rights of the object of our proposed affection, we are free to Love as much as we desire.

    In Recent News, Spotify  and Other Tech Companies have chosen to remove “Hate Music” from their playlists in light of the Charlottesville catastrophe. While I agree, it is indeed their prerogative to take such action, my question is Why Now?

    Has Reactionary Politically Correct Group Think overtaken each one of these obese organizations simultaneously?  What was their stance on such articulation of noted Distasteful Music just two months prior to the Virginia melee? Did Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn and Others Condone or Disdain the Expressions their sites hosted?

    What About the ultra celebrated, Grammy & Academy Award Winning Hip Hop Artists whose innovations created startling new ways to Rhyme the loathsome “N” Word around intriguing beats while promoting Blatant Misogyny, Violence against their Own Race & others and tremendous Dope Dealing under the glorified banner of ‘Thug-Life’?

    Does their Music Get a Pass?

    How About the Elder Statesman who raised red flags over the entire record industry by promoting the killing of police officers, (although for the last 30 years, he’s played one on TV)? I recall that those who stood to make the most money off the song chose Freedom of Speech as the tent to live in – but, where are those record companies now?

    I’m not going to pretend I don’t get it.

    As a Follower of Jesus Christ, Black Man, Husband & Father, with my own set of personal conservative convictions, standards and values, it can be very easy to climb into a box or under a label or behind a sign and start marching. But I remain cautiously curious about the boulevard we begin to travel down once we begin to point fingers toward who ought not say ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘why’, because sooner or later, that road will lead right back to our house…

    I Would REALLY, Truly Love To Know Your Thoughts!

    I Was Listening to Ayzmuth’s “Light As A Feather” on Vinyl as I Typed & Posted.

    Visit TheEntreMusician.com to Engage, Encourage & Empower

 

 

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3 Key Moves to Advance Your Life

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Incremental Growth should be the Motivation of Every EntreMusician. At the Forefront of Advancing Our Careers, Creativity, Musicianship & Art must be the Persistent Improvement of Our Lives. Continual Habits like Prayer, Mantras, Devotions and/or Meditation are Vital to Cleansing the Spiritual Self to Prepare Us for Our Day, Week or Projects, but it’s Equally Important to Remember that What We Do for Others contain holistic benefits that create remarkable synergy in our larger context.
Overtime, I Have Learned Three Principal Moves I Now Employ Daily to Advance My Life.
1) Engage.
We Live in World Where Engagement is defined as trading Brownie Recipes with a Facebook Friend from Sweden while ignoring the person sitting next to us on our Bus, Uber or other Mass Transit Commute. We Almost Never Speak to Others on Elevators, Preferring to Stare at the Floor below or Numbers above. TV Shows & Magazines we’d never view at home suddenly become more interesting than talking to the Totally Tattooed Girl in the Dentist’s Waiting Room. Unfortunately, Families the World Over Prefer their Phones to Genuine, Transparent Face Time with Each Other.
Be The One who Breaks the Mold. Create and a Entirely New Social Media. TALK To Someone. Extend Your Hand. Smile! Make Eye Contact. Seek Out Someone who doesn’t Look, Smell, Act or Think Like You! Agree to Disagree if it should come to that, but at least Try to See Life from Someone’s Else’s Perspective even if You Choose Not to Adopt It!
2) Encourage.
We All Know Someone who Needs Encouragement. An easy way to prove this is to Check & See if that Person is Breathing! If they are, Affirm Them! Give a Compliment. Notice Something About Someone and Verbally Admire that Characteristic or Trait. Go to Someone who has expressed Self Esteem Deficiencies in their Non Verbal Communication and Weigh Them Down with Confidence and Inspiration. Befriend the Friendless and Help Bear the Load of the Distressed. In Time, the Entire Organization, Situation & Atmosphere is Strong & Electric with Motivation.
To Quote the late Maya Angelou, ” People Will Forget What You Said, People will Forget what you did but People will Never Forget how You Made Them Feel.”
3) Empower.
To Equip & Commission Another is a Selfless Power that Ignites a Life & Changes Destinies. Sincerely Entrusting Another with Important, Sensitive Work Creates Character & Conviction. Empowerment is More Potent than Delegation. It’s Properly Training Someone to Fish, to Become Self Sufficient and Liberates Him/Her to Build Themselves. Empowerment is identical to Giving Your 15 Year Old Daughter the keys to the Car and Climbing into the Passenger Seat (something I’ve done three times now!) Being Nervous Without Showing it, Pressing Hard on the Imaginary Brake, while Impacting an Assertive Growth within them Transforms You Both! Empower Someone! Change a Life!
To Engage, Encourage & Empower is My Life’s Mission and Daily Intention.
It’s also the predominant goal of TheEntreMusician.com.
Come Join Us!
I was Remembering the Fabulous Music of George Howard and Revisiting His Marvelous Debut, “Asphalt Gardens” on Vinyl while posting this blog. 
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Chase Away The Proverbial “They!”

crowdThey Say: “You’ll Never Make It in this Business” 

They Say: “You Need to Go to This School and have That Degree”

They Say: “Only 2% Succeed in Your Industry, So Don’t Bother”

They Say: “You Need The Right Connections”

They Say: “You Have to Dress Like This and Play Your Trumpet Like That or Forget It!” 

They Say: “No One Is Going to Appreciate Your Style of Music!”

They Say: “You Have No Right to Take That Position”

They Say: “You Don’t Deserve to Receive Those Accolades!”

They Say: “It Will Never Work!”

They Say: “Don’t Expect Much, So You Won’t Be Disappointed!”

Yes, They Say a lot of Discouraging, Mean & Nasty Things, often without trying to be Mean, Nasty or Discouraging.

Somehow They forget that the Celebrated Icons They Themselves Honor, Revere & Adore were Told the Very Same Things, Did Not Have the Right Connections, Money, Resources or Attend an Institution of Select Pedigree.

Icons are Pioneers whom Forge their Own Identities, Sounds, Art & Creativity onto the Global Landscape without Asking Permission or Seeking Solace in the Status Quo.

These Ambassadors of Innovation Shift the Platform of Public Paradigms into New Realities of Consciousness that Shape the Future and Transcend Life As We Currently Understand It.

With Constant Obstacle, Hurdles, Detours and Encumbrances at Every Level, Vanguards Chase Away the Proverbial They as These Climb Higher Toward Their Own Thrones, Created Just for Them.

Go and Do Likewise…

I Was Listening to YellowJackets “Shades” on Vinyl while composing this post.

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Use Frequent “F” Words Faithfully…

 

Today I am Incredibly Transparent with You.

I Trust You’ll Appreciate My Confessions.

Far Too Often, I become Extremely Discouraged as an EntreMusician. Especially in the Neighborhood of Lost Opportunities. If & When I Miss a Shot at an Important Gig, Submission, Audition or Project that would have either Paid Handsomely or led to an even Greater Opp, I get really bummed. Within the grueling peripherals of this past week, due to personal family woes, I’ve been ridiculously behind and absolutely unproductive – in every area! In fact, I had to rigorously talk myself out of an impulse buy of Izotope’s Music Production Bundle 2, credit card in hand, just to pacify myself (although Ozone 7 remains on My List)!

I find that If I do not get a handle on my thoughts, I can easily slide into a“Comparisonism & Lack Mentality” mode which are Detrimental to every Artist & Musician.

Exhaustive Concentration on the Equipment, Skills, Connections, Resources, Looks, ___________, ___________ I Don’t Own Quickly Deteriorates My Perspective on the Attributes I Do Possess and seriously hinders my Flow & Output.

But, When that Ugly Shadow begins to Overwhelm, I’ve Learned to Employ a Consistent Series of Well Placed “F” Words, Complete with Fiery Enunciation and Spit! This is what helped me put my credit card down…

Firstly, My Faith is Foundational.

Knowing that I am Forever Forgiven for Former & Future Failures by My God through His Son, Jesus Christ provides an Eternal Outlook and Completely Minimizes My Temporal Blunders. My Prayers, submitted to His Purpose & Plan for Me Settles My Calling and Seals My Destiny.

My Family, Beginning with My Adorable Wife of 22 Years and our Three Amazing Daughters are my Treasures in Life and Help Fasten My Focus on What Really Matters Most. Lori & I have walked Hand in Hand through Joy, Tears & Tough Terrain and grow more in love with each other and our journey with each passing hour. What Else Does a Brother Need?

I Have Absolutely Awesome Friends who although Few are Completely True. They Simultaneously Encourage & Challenge Me to Grow & Go Further than I could Imagine. Real Friends See Into You & See Through You. They are Bold Enough to Call Out the Occasional Foolishness and Call Forward the Authenticity Inside.

Finally, I’m Blessed with the Favor of Funk, for this is the Songwriter, Producer & Musician I Am!

Irregardless of the Genre! Being able to Swing “The One” either a millisecond Before or After the Top of the Measure Matters. Forging a humility to Stay in the Pocket although I’ve not honed the same severity of thrillingly Sick Tricks my counterparts have has kept me working, for which I am truly thankful – for just being able to be me!

Perhaps You Thought I was going to Litter This Post with “F” Bombs, which might release steam in a moment of crisis, but do nothing to sow gratitude into our spirits.

I Wish You Joy, Love, Peace, Harmony & Rhythms of Grace!

 

I Am Listening to Azymuth’s “Light As A Feather” On Vinyl while writing this post.

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It’s Still On You…

Sure, The Old Adage still rings true: “It’s Who You Know!”

Certainly it’s great to have an uncle who is one of three main limo drivers for the soon to be Sir Eric Clapton and/or a cousin who roadies for Chaka Khan when she’s on the West Coast or perhaps you live around the corner from Bob James, but once the Introductions draw to an end, it’s What You Know & How Well You Know It That Will Make or Break you.

Your Performance on Stage or in the Studio transcends any Professional Reference.

Your Professionalism in the most Stress Filled Situations Speak Louder than Any ‘Good Word’ Someone Puts in For You.

Your Character & Integrity Stands Taller than Your Résumé …in fact, Your Reputation Becomes Your Résumé

Your Choice to Integrate With Your Fellow Musicians and Play Your Lines Rather than the Role of the Superstar is What Gets You Called Back

Your Ability to Repeatedly “Bring It” On Demand Will Build a Far More Secure Stature Faster than Depending on Your Contact to Make a Connection.

No less than Quincy Jones quipped, “It’s Better that the Opportunity Never Come, than When It Does and You’re Not Prepared For It!”

So, It’s Cool, Go Ahead and Reach Out to Your Aunt Betty’s Friend of a Friend who golfs with Shawn Mendes, but at the End of the Day, It’s Still On You to Produce!

 

I was listening to Nathan East’s new “Reverence” on CD as I composed this Blog

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Your Year In Review…Today

EntreMusicians are Excellent Planners & Keen Executioners. We are Faithful at Follow Up and Process our Visions to the Nth Degree. We Face Forward and Effortlessly Advance to our Next Scheduled Items without Losing the Groove.

All Good, but…

EntreMusicians are also challenged with an Acute Inability to Pause and Review our Work. We fail to Properly Index our Calendars to Scrutinize our Previous Performances & Projects and Ascertain their Effectiveness.

While most of us maintain the habit of waiting until the Final Week of December to sit with our Old & Shiny New Planners, the Wiser Move is to Consistently Schedule Weekly, Monthly & Quarterly Reviews (the More Obsessive EMs Implement Dailies) to Appropriate Our Goals, Sharpening Our Saws as We Meticulously Slice Away.

As We Approach this Fifth Month of the Year (already!) let’s take a day or two to Glance Back at the Rear View to Make Sure We’re Not Adrift of the Course we launched in January.

 

I was listening to Herbie Hancock’s “Mr. Hands” on Vinyl while composing this blog.

 

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Copyright or Wrong?

The First True Threat to Copyright’s Extinction in Our Lifetime was the invention of the Sampler and its Little Cousin, the Portable DAT , which blew open Recording Studio Doors to Unlimited Imagination and Unabashed Thievery. No Previous Song Was Safe From the MPC and against the backdrop of the late, great James Brown‘s roaring protests stood Chuck D‘s amplified mantra, “Yo, You Can’t Copyright No Beat!!”

The Recordable CD on Your Laptop gave birth to the First Napster and File Sharing introduced an new generation of fans to Led Zeppelin while making bands like Radiohead and Dispatch household (pun intended) names.

Music Buyers metamorphosed into Music Lovers who No Longer Purchased Music. Record Companies finally awakened from their Cash Comas (brought on by the CD Boom) and realized they could not NOT Negotiate with Steve Jobs. When the dust settled around the 99 cent download and Napster’s Socks were Sued Off, the entire notion of Copyright Protection for the Content Owner began to slip into the paws of the Content Provider.

Streaming seeks to further erode such protections more subtly as Subscription Models ensure the End User Owns Nothing and Access is Granted or Revoked based on Advantaged Licensing Agreements tilted toward the Providers, Not The Owners.

Less Copyright Protection Equals Far Fewer Royalties for Owners who are now relying on Congress to Change the Game. Many Say Copyright is Dead,or at best on life support with the hyper advance of technology and Creative Commons squelching the Conversation.

EntreMusicians would do well to Resurrect this Sacred Trust by Developing Technology which Secures our Unique Position as sole Owner/Provider, Creating our Own Subscription Channels Direct to our Exclusive Bases, Disconnected from the Snares of Apple, Google, Spotify and YouTube. Established & Marketed Correctly, This Vehicle would Guarantee that Copyright remains Right.

For More Engaging Articles on Copyright Fairness and Other Concerns, Visit TheEntreMusician.com, where you can also Download My Free E-Book, “50 Ways to Transform Your Fans into Family.”

I was listening to Jeff Lorber‘s “Galaxian” on vinyl while composing this blog.

 

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The Mystery of Generosity

One of the Wisdom Proverbs says:

“The Generous Person Prospers, The One Who Waters Will also be Watered.”

It’s An Incredible Statement for Every EntreMusician to Abide By as Most of Us Spend Many of Our Waking Moments Looking for Opportunities that Will Benefit US and Precious Few Searching Out Occasions to Benefit OTHERS.

If We Happen Upon the Good Fortune of a Great Promoter, Venue, Festival or Other Profitable Enterprises which Provide Advantage, Progress or Achievement in Our Own Careers, We Would Do Well in Seeking Such Favor on Artists, Musicians and Entertainers who would Never have the chance to Showcase Their Talents, Unless We Hold the Door Open for Them – Especially those Further Down the Totem Pole of Experience (Your Obviously Trusting that They Possess the Professionalism and Discipline to Handle the Gig!)

The Gift of What Comes To and Happens In You Is Immeasurable, the Wider You Open Your Heart. It Seems as If Platforms You Were Previously Denied Access To Suddenly Avail and Fees You’d Never Imagine Commanding Become Yours, with Less Effort on Your Part, Because You’ve Ignited the Miracle Circle of Blessings.

Of Course this Process Works Personally. I Must Confess that there was a Season in My Life Where I Held Tight to a Scarcity Mentality. When I Would Give, It Naturally Meant I Had LESS. So I Hoarded! When I Encountered a Disheveled Person at an Intersection, Holding Up a Cardboard Sign, I Rationalized 10 Million Hypotheticals as to How & Why They Ended Up in That Position OR That They Were Only Conning Me Out of My Few Wrinkled Dollars Tucked Away in My Ashtray. This Helped Me Justify Looking Away – and – Driving Away…

Thank God I Have Come to Learn an Abundance Mentality which Assures Me that Giving Really Means Planting! There’s Always ‘More‘ and at Some Point, in Some Scenario, My Seed Will Harvest and I Will Receive Exactly What I Need.

Try It!

Open A Door. Create An Opportunity. Give and Notice All that Happens.

You Become the Beneficiary of Bountiful Blessings, the Recipient of Joyous Transformation You Would’ve Never Imagine or Appreciated if You’d Remained All To Yourself.

 

Interestingly, I Was Not Listening to Any Music as I Wrote This Post…

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