A New Season of Where Pianos Roam

May 11, 2017

Creativity / Design / Inspiration / Photography / Where Pianos Roam

For several years now, I have engaged in an ongoing project called Where Pianos Roam (also called WPR).  I have been documenting the exploits of a travelling miniature grand piano named Oreo and her rowdy bench named Buttercup.  Due to academic commitments, I decided to take a break from it for a year.  That year has now ended, and it is time to kick things off again.

A new season of adventures begins on May 15, 2017, on Instagram, which has been the new home of the project for a while now.

I’ll be promoting this all month, and we will have a whole year of shenanigans.

Follow along on Instagram @wherepianosroam

You can see all of the magic on your PC or MAC at: http://www.instagram.com/wherepianosroam

There is more to come.

Enjoy the journey.

 

This

April 30, 2017

Inspiration

It is important to acknowledge those words that resonate within us.  The other day, I came across this quote, and on some deeper level, it struck a chord.

What if we all are more powerful and capable than we allow ourselves to be?

What would that look like?

Cancel Out the Noise

January 31, 2017

Simple Living

Art by Gordon Roqué

I recently bought a new pair of headphones.  Not the in-ear cell phone variety, mind you, but those seemingly clunky-looking over-the-ear kinds of headphones that look more like leathery earmuffs. (I love the pair I bought after lots of research and getting a good deal on them. Clarity and base-response are particularly impressive.) So now, I look like one of those dorks who walk around with large headphones wrapped around my head. In addition to using them for listening to music, playing on my keyboard in private, and online viewing, I got them for one other specific reason:

Noise-cancellation.

Whether it is a song or podcast, it really is better to isolate the specific sounds you desire. This makes for a much more pleasurable listening experience, but I love noise cancellation for one other purpose:

Silence.

Yes, silence. As a college student, I have come to find out that libraries on college campuses, or any other location on campuses for that matter, do not tend to be quiet. When I want to study and need to deeply concentrate, I unplug my headphones from any device and put them on. It looks like I am listening to something, but I am actually trying to distill my thoughts into a private bottle of silence.

I have been doing a lot of this kind of stuff lately, the practice of cancelling out those things that are distracting and create unnecessary sensory baggage. For example, I have recently put myself on a facebook diet. It is not that I hate facebook. On the contrary, I use it to check in on friends who live far away from me and to promote my shows and posts from this blog. It’s fairly useful as a way to share my creative work.  Otherwise, the blistering negativity on my facebook feed has been a real downer lately, and there is too much stuff on there that tends to be mindless and unimportant.

My facebook diet has consisted of two main actions. Primarily, I have removed the app (and its accompanying “messenger” app) from my cell phone. Secondly, I only check my account once every day for a maximum of a half hour on my laptop.  This is enough time to respond to any messages I may have received and to make sure loved ones are alive and well.

With these dietary restrictions, I have cancelled out a little bit more noise from  life. The urge to check my facebook account is minimal, if not non-existent these days. The time limitation helps me to do only what I need to do and then to actually log out when I am done. This creates much more time for big daily priorities.

On a broader scale, it is a good practice to analyse the parts of your life that either create noise or give you something truly substantive, meaningful, and worthy of your limited time. Here is a small list of potential things that could always use some cancelling out.

1. Sources of feedback

If you have a lot of people in your life who give you advice, maybe it is worthwhile to ask yourself who, of all those people, gives the most constructive and thoughtful feedback that never feels condescending, controlling, or hurtful. Maybe those are the people truly worth listening to.

2. Recreational Activities

Maybe you only play frisbee golf on the weekends because you were pressured by friends to join in, even though you hate it. Maybe you’ve been thinking of baling out of your book club because it’s kind of boring. What if all you want to do is knit or bake pies all day even if all of your friends or family members don’t care about it? Isn’t life more fun when you are doing something you really enjoy? Take some moments to look closely at what you do on your free time. Make sure that you are doing something that is fun or somehow gratifying for you. It’s YOUR time. Own it.

3. Those things you covet.

These days, every item I am considering to purchase goes through three layers of scrutiny before I actually buy it. First, I ask myself whether it will add value to my life or just be more clutter. If it passes that layer, I see if I can afford it by obsessively comparison shopping online. I look for the best deals and sales anywhere.  Lastly, If I manage to find a reasonable or great deal, then I look at numerous customer reviews about that specific product. If all is favorable, then I finally make a purchase. This intense scrutiny cuts out any impulse buying and helps me spend my hard-earned money wisely. Incidentally, this is EXACTLY the process I carried out before buying my now beloved and new noise-cancelling/over-the-ear/hyphen-loving headphones. Even though I might covet several different things, I only actually buy one or two items that are truly useful to me and are available at the best price I can afford. Anything that doesn’t pass these tests does not take up space in my life. I am very cool with that.

I hope these examples give you some idea of how you can cancel some noise out of your life. Living with a purity of purpose is a precious practice to pursue every day. This means that all unnecessary distraction is deemed mute and powerless.

Isn’t this as it should be?

Five Life Hacks I Live By

January 24, 2017

Creativity / Simple Living

The word “hack” has become ubiquitous in our modern tongue.  I used to know the word as the way by which some genius techie could break into a computer system, but these days, its informal definition generally applies, that being “a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing something” (according to dictionary.com). In the last couple of years, I’ve seen the word used in this manner and have grown to like it. In fact, since I am somewhat of a simplicity and productivity geek, I make use of the word every day through my actions. I hack away at tasks and situations that should be much easier than they are, and after various trials and research, I have figured out ways to make them more manageable.

This week, I wanted to share five simple hacks that I carry out every day that basically make my life a little easier.  Feel free to try them out yourself.  Maybe they can help you too. 

  1. Make my bed every morning.

Seriously?  Yes, seriously. It takes a little extra effort to make your bed after the ordeal of getting up from a restorative sleep, but this simple act pays dividends.  When you think about the size of a normal room, a bed that might be a full or queen size in most cases takes up at least one-third of the space. More often than not, a bed is also the focal point in the room, the one element that grounds and centers the whole arrangement. If all you did to clean your room was to make your bed, not only would a significant percentage of your room be done already, but you would not have to clean much of anything else. Your room would look pretty good with just the bed made up.

For myself, I am a bit of a neat freak, and so, my bedroom stays tidy almost all of the time, but on the occasional instant when I am rushing out or too exhausted to care about the state of my room, I fix my bed, and I have already won half the battle. Besides, coming back home to a bed that is tidy and made up feels pretty darn good.

 2. Use a wardrobe capsule.

I did not know that a “wardrobe capsule” was actually a thing, but as it turns out, it is. What in tarnation is a wardrobe capsule? Basically, it is a small collection of clothes that you can mix and match to wear every day. Why would you or anyone do this? It overcomes two real challenges.  First, it eliminates the decision fatigue that comes with deciding what to wear.  You can quickly grab any combination of clothes, and they will instantly work together. Secondly, a capsule still allows you to have some variation in what you wear, as opposed to wearing a boring suit or the same thing every day.

For myself, I use a wardrobe capsule for school, and I have gone monochromatic with the color blue. I have a couple of blue slacks, a pair of grey ones (because it is a great neutral that works well with blue), navy blue genes, and various button-down shirts that have the color blue in them in some shape or pattern.  All of these items can be mixed and matched in any combination and still look great. Sometimes I throw in a red jacket or green sweater, but otherwise, I have no decision fatigue and do not look like a clone of myself from the day before.  This works for me.

3.  Drink a lot of water.

I try to drink a ton of water every day. There is the general rule that the average person should drink 8 glasses a day.  My only problem with this is that I tend to lose count. I have decided instead to just make sure I drink a lot of water throughout the day. I drink a glass in the morning after I wake up, and then make sure I do so again every couple of hours and with every meal.  I also drink a glass before I go to sleep. Why do I do this?  First of all, it keeps my energy level up, and I feel less fatigued throughout the day. Secondly, and to be blunt, it helps with regularity.  Constipation is no fun for anyone, and drinking enough water keeps everything flowing quite nicely.  Lastly, I do not mind that this makes me have to urinate more frequently.  I take that time to take a deep breath and a quick mental break. I could always use plenty of those.

4. Do all things gently.

This is a new habit I have been toying with lately. I’ve taken a cue from my piano playing. For the most part, the action of my hands as they press down on each key works best when I stay relaxed and nimble. This gentleness not only produces a consistent and even tone, but it also reduces strain on my fingers and joints. I got to thinking what if I applied this to everything I do?

Whenever I lift anything, be it a spoon or a small box, do it gently. When I push a door open or hold something up, do it gently. When I grip something with my hand, like a steering wheel or glass of water, do it gently. Walk gently. Run gently. Eat gently. This sounds easy, but for me, it requires a good bit of mindfulness to overcome a lifetime of needless overexertion.

Of course, there are times when you should exert yourself more like in the gym or in an emergency, but otherwise, why should we? I am hoping that the decrease in the amount of pressure I apply in all things will alleviate joint and muscle pains. I need to do more research on this, but I am certainly enjoying the more relaxed flow that this invites. Besides, mindfulness is a good practice to pursue, and this happens to be a great way to do it.

5. Consciously be thankful for something every day.

In 2015, I embarked on a year of thankfulness on social media. Every day, I posted a statement about something I was thankful for. As the year progressed, I noticed a very simple change in my life. I started to feel happier. I found myself having a pleasant mood and much less stress. Little things that used to bother me stopped being so annoying. I began to feel better about myself and my life.

One thing I realized about being thankful is that it is essentially an affirmation, a very positive, life-enriching one. Energetically, the conscious outpouring of thankfulness into your life and surroundings will ultimately create more personal satisfaction in all you do.

My gratitude taught me to embrace all that I have and to trust the talents and gifts I have been given. When you cherish everything, you take nothing for granted. When you value your life, you value yourself. These days, I carry a small weekly calendar in my school bag and write something for which I am grateful every day.

From the time I started to be consistently and outwardly thankful two years ago to today, my life has changed dramatically and for the best. I am happier. I have more love in my life, and I am doing more of what I love to do.

If I could recommend one life hack above all others, it is thankfulness. Do it every day. Make it known or document it somehow. Thank me later.

So, go ahead. Hack away. Make your life easier. These are among my favorite life hacks.  What are yours?

 

Gordon Roqué Performing LIVE on WMTS 88.3 FM on Jan. 20

January 19, 2017

Creativity / Press / Shows

Friday Night Spotlight, a new show  hosted by Rudolph Valentino on Middle Tennessee State University’s college radio station WMTS 88.3 FM, will have me on the air as its featured artist. I will be talking extensively about my music and also play some songs live.  The show will be on from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CST on Friday night, January 20, 2017.

You can live stream the entire program from the show’s website by clicking on this image here:

Live Stream

The show will also be broadcast live from the studio on Facebook, and I will be sharing that as well!

Happy Listening, and I hope you enjoy the show!!