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The Road Less Traveled

Trust Your Inner Voice

Karen and Jay share insights from the ‘Road Less Traveled

Robert Frost got it right in his poem, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ – when he said:

‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood – and I chose the one less traveled by – and that has made all the difference.’

He was citing the courage to trust your instincts, follow your dreams and be unafraid in challenging the pressures to conform to the expectations of others.

‘Trust your inner voice.’ Or ‘trust your gut.’ These are phrases you’ve probably heard quite a few times throughout your life, whether it be from a friend or family member giving advice, or perhaps it was a coach of some sort giving instructions. Not only that, it’s also a sensation you’ve probably felt either when you feel something is wrong, or better yet, when you feel something is ‘right’ – although you may not be able to explain it. You just instinctively know that you’re meant to do something. It’s almost like a sixth sense that our body has when encountering something that requires us to make important decisions.

The phrase ‘trust your gut’ actually does connect in some ways with our gut. Interestingly, there’s something called the ‘brain-gut connection,’ a communication system that connects these two parts of our bodies through a web of over 100 million neurons, more than exist in the spinal cord! While we may think our gut instinct is derived purely from emotion, there is in fact a whole body of research showing that these instincts come from exposure to different events and experiences, even ones you may not consciously remember! So, when you find yourself in a situation where your instinct is playing a role, what you’re actually sensing is a physical response to memories - memories of events you may have experienced and you feel as though they’re being repeated, igniting a fight or flight sensation. And when these situations occur, how do we know whether to trust our instinct or trust purely logic or reason?

Albert Einstein was asked a similar question in 1929 about how he made decisions. Arguably one of the smartest men to ever live, his response was simple, “I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right.” Rather than dismissing his instincts, he would rather test them out. If they were wrong, he figured there was still value in what he could learn. And if they were right, it would help improve his intuition. There are times in life when we doubt ourselves and question our instincts. And in doing so, it can lead us in a direction that where we may end up feeling as though we are not being true to ourselves and our values. However, when we follow our instincts and combine this with other observations or facts, even data points, we give ourselves a unique opportunity to make the best decision for ourselves, and hopefully, others around us.

So why is that valuable? Namely because it creates a level of confidence in ourselve’s to go out into the world with an idea or a goal and accomplish it. This isn’t to say we should always trust our instinct as nothing is foolproof. But it is to say that by being more aware of our gut instincts, we can find hold of an incredibly important guide as we navigate the uncertainties of life. In the case of Albert Einstein, his belief in his own intuition allowed him to forge his own path, against the grain of what others perhaps expected of him. It made him a trailblazer in the worlds of science, math, and technology while also leaving behind an incredible legacy. And while each of us may not be an ‘Einstein,’ we each have our own unique talents and potential. So, let’s listen to our inner voice and give our unique qualities the opportunity to reach their full potential – bolstered by the courage to chart our own exciting and uniquely individual path!

Aerosmith…Not the ‘Same Old Song and Dance!’

Some of the most recognizable musical bands such as the Beatles, Dolly Parton, and the Jacksons to name a few, have had very humble beginnings. Over 50 years ago, Aerosmith, one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history, began in just such a way. Certainly, not conformists – willing to ‘take the road less traveled.’ And, with a Granite State connection.

Formed in Boston in 1970, after sharing a gig with Joe Perry's Jam Band, Steven Tyler and his band Chain Reaction decided to merge, creating Aerosmith. A bit of trivia…Joey Kramer, the drummer, used to write Aerosmith all over his notebooks while at the Berklee College of Music after it had popped into his head while listening to Harry Nilsson’s album Aerial Ballet which had a picture on the jacket cover of a circus performer jumping out of a biplane. The other two names they had considered were ‘the Hookers’ and ‘Spike Jones’ - they chose well!

Now one of the most recognizable bands with sold out concerts in stadiums around the world, the band actually started their rise to stardom by going on the road in their legendary muliti-colored van to small venues and high schools throughout New England. Some of these early locations where they honed their skills and developed their unique style were in Sullivan County, New Hampshire and included gigs at Newport High School, Steven's High School in Claremont, and the Lake Sunapee Yacht Club.

Sunapee, New Hampshire holds a special place in the hearts of both Steven Tyler and Aerosmith fans. Both Tyler and Joe Perry grew up spending summers in Sunapee, and Tyler even today can still be spotted every so often around the lake in the summertime.

Sunapee is also home to one of Aerosmith’s biggest fans as well as an incredible collection of Aerosmith memorabilia. Every year at the landmark Livery building in Sunapee there is 'Aerosmith History Day,' along with displays of memorabilia from all 50 years of the band’s existence provided by Sunapee’s super fan and resident Jonathan Robinson.

Now New Hampshire can’t take all the credit for Aerosmith's success; however, it certainly played a huge role in helping propel Steven Tyler and the bad boys of Boston aka Aerosmith into one of the greatest and most recognizable Hard Rock and Roll bands in the world! And no, they certainly didn’t do it with the ‘same old song and dance!’

Justin Spencer, CAKE, and Recycled Percussion – ‘Be Yourself!’

Justin will tell you "I didn't have much going for me and I had plenty going against me when I was a kid. I don't come from money. I don't come from a big town. I wasn't handed a charmed situation. I had a home, like many, where alcohol was a big factor. My parents got divorced. But I didn't focus on the negatives. We used food stamps. Proudly. We needed them. I did what I could to help my family because I loved them. I learned to embrace what I had, not to worry about what I didn't. I'm proud of the life my family lived, problems and all. It built who I am today. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. The life I was born into was my challenge to overcome. It had all the raw materials for my future - the stuff I needed to learn and the kick in the ass I needed to get busy making my own life. I can tell each and every one of you that if I can make my passions in life become a daily circumstance and turn my dreams into a reality without excuses then you can also do the same."

He'll also tell you that he tries to learn something from everyone he's met in his life, but he didn't let them tell him how to live it. Justin suggests people take 30 minutes and rethink everything in your life. Knowing that whatever change you make and whatever direction you wish you could have taken - you can! You are free to change and it's never too late. Find yourself, be yourself, for yourself.

And that's just what he did back in 1995 when Justin formed Recycled Percussion in order to enter a high school talent show. However, it wasn’t with traditional instruments as he chose a different path - using buckets (a concept that he was introduced to in the NYC subways) and where over the years has continued to add more recycled materials i.e., power tools, ladders, and trash cans aka ‘instruments’ to the act. The band toured the country being featured on the cover of USA Today and eventually made their debut on Season 4 of ‘America's Got Talent’ becoming the highest placed non-singing act.

On America's Got Talent they received accolades such as "you are one of the most creative and exciting acts" or "every week you come back with something so very different," and they even moved Piers Morgan in such a way that led him to say, "I'm not sure if you are incredibly talented or completely mad!" Justin and his band have become one of the biggest acts in Vegas. They’ve played over five thousand, of their high energy shows at venues such as MGM, Tropicana, the Quad and eventually starred at Planet Hollywood's Saxe Theater.

Now living in Laconia, the band really hasn't 'settled down’ as last year they opened the doors to a Las Vegas-style venue in a completely remodeled former church in Veterans Square. It's called CAKE for the Chaos and Kindness Experience. They put on a show that eclipsed the incredible opening of their Chaos and Kindness store in Lakeport a few years prior. It was a weekend full of events followed by the ‘biggest fireworks in NH history’ at Opechee Park.

However, not ones to rest on their laurels, the band recently helped organize and perform at the hugely successful Sky Show in Manchester, NH and closed the evening playing to a crowd of thousands with a musical performance to the now ‘biggest fireworks in NH history!’ The event was free, but organizers encouraged people to donate school supplies for districts returning to school.

And it's the community engagement theme that continues to beat loud and strong as they participate in and help to raise interest in the NH Pumpkin Festival being held in Laconia later this fall on October 29th. The Sunshine Initiative is a major media sponsor as well as helping organize a special event at the Lakeport Opera House. There will be lots of fun activities for everyone, musical acts, pumpkins everywhere and of course, you have to come and find out what new and exciting things Recycled Percussion has been baking at the CAKE!

Positive Profile of the Week: Arthur Sullivan - Charting a Different Path!

This week we are delighted to highlight a friend and wonderfully successful New Hampshire entrepreneur, Arthur Sullivan.

Small towns are turned around because of people with vision. These people can see the diamond in the rough or in other words, they truly see the opportunity and what can come from it. Artur continues to do exactly that - day in and day out – at the Brady Sullivan Company.

A Keene State graduate who rose through the ranks to become Manchester’s 2013 Citizen of the Year, Arthur had the entrepreneurial spirit from the start. In the 70’s, he owned a small cleaning company that focused on commercial services in the greater Manchester area. With those early successes, he would transition to revitalizing and assisting in getting buildings ready for renovation and move-in status. One of his biggest customers was - you guessed it, Shane Brady. The two of them would eventually join forces and create a real estate company that now stretches from the seacoast of New Hampshire to the state of Illinois.

Arthur and company have turned nothing into something for they have seen the opportunity to invest, where others have not. You see, while other people were knocking things down and building shiny new things, Arthur used his passion for preservation and the ability to see the diamond in the rough and transform nothing into something - for example, the Mills. Once upon a time Manchester was the textile capital of the world but it would later go dormant, and decay would set in upon these magnificent buildings. Where others feared to tread, Brady Sullivan picked up the Waumbec Mill for $15,000 at auction and about $200,000 in back taxes. Then made a significant investment in bringing it back to life with office space and mixed use. Folks, that beautiful building is now worth $15 million and is providing amazing opportunities for the Queen City. It would have been easier to knock it down and rebuild but that's not what Arthur Sullivan does, as he charts a different path that leads to opportunity and greatness for a community.

In addition to his commitment to preservation and opportunity via real estate, Arthur Sullivan and his partner Shane give back in huge ways. On their website it’s hard not to notice their community support page. From the NH Charitable Foundation to the Boys and Girls Club, the impact made is massive. There are so many stories of community support that the testimonials would contain more words than all seven books of Harry Potter!

George Eliot coined the phrase “Don't judge a book by its cover” in his novel The Mill on the Floss published back in 1860. Arthur Sullivan’s work is a true example of living by this saying and because of him our communities in the state of New Hampshire and across the region are destined for greatness via his commitment to preservation, legacy, and passion for community spirit.

Quotes of the Week: The Road Less Traveled

"Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path."

- Mandy Hale, 'The Single Woman'.

"The road less traveled continues to beckon me onward, towards a journey of transformation and engagement."

- Marquita Burke-DeJesus.

“Entrepreneurs pay the price of a road less traveled, while everyone else takes the freeway and perpetually misses their own exit."

- Ryan Lilly.

"It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps and memories you create along the way."

- Penelope Riley.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."

- Andre Guide.


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