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Category: Life

Pen and Paper

field notesThere is still plenty of room for physical creative tools in today’s digital world. The weight of a pen and the touch of paper can sometimes be the best conduit for getting ideas out of your head, and for recording and exchanging that most precious and ephemeral of commodities – information. I whip out the notepad whenever I need to make a quick drawing, sketch out a map, or simply to jot down an idea to flesh out later. Something like Evernote or Google Keep can be good for the next step of informational organization, but for the raw idea dump, you can’t beat pen and paper.

I have recently fallen in love with a line of notebooks from a company in Chicago called “Field Notes.” The memo books are the perfect size for slipping into a pocket and are extremely durable. Plus, their mantra of “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now” rings especially true to me. In my line of work, for instance, the best method of memorizing lyrics is to simply write them down. The combination of thinking about something and physically recording it at the same time somehow really cements the information in your skull.

I pair my notebook with the Fisher Space Pen. Yeah, it can write upside down, etc., but it’s the form factor that makes it a winner in my book. The small size when capped is completely unnoticeable in my front pants pocket, and the pen extends to make it a convenient writing size.

Paper is lightweight, never runs out of batteries, and if it’s well-made, can even stand up to the elements. Grab a sheet and keep writing, my friends!


Morning Routine

The morning is the best time for getting things done. Your mind is fresh, your body is restored from sleep, and everything seems new. Why not take advantage of the morning every day.

Here’s the morning routine I wish I could stick to. I have designed it around self-improvement and sparking creativity. I’ve been getting better, and every time I do it I feel amazing, but sometimes lazy Josh wins, and I just head out to the neighborhood cafe without challenging my body or mind at all.

I begin each day with my normal hygiene regimen. One thing I’m still trying to puzzle out is how to do good note-taking in the shower, because I’ll be damned if that’s not where I do some of my best thinking! Any suggestions in the comments below would be most welcome.

Next, I start my water heating up for tea and start my workout. I have been trying an app called the 7-minute workout (Google Play Store), and it’s been great. The workout is in thirty-second increments, so when the water is ready, it’s easy to pause the workout and start my tea steeping. (Pro tip – I had been doing it barefooted, and I wound up hurting myself – wear shoes, people!)

The workout over and tea prepared, I throw on the day’s clothes and grab the morning paper. I prefer to only read the local and state section, as well as the editorials. I keep up with national and world news online fairly well, but the newspaper is tops for the local beat! I sit in my favorite chair in front of a south-facing window, soak some sun, sip my tea, and read the paper. Perfect morning.

Off to work!

Onstage Energy

Is this familiar? You are lying in bed or sitting on the couch or driving to work and you just don’t feel like “bringing it” today. You’d rather lay low and fire up the Netflix. Are you ready to have your mind blown? I’ve had that feeling too. Yes, seriously! I know!!!! We have so much in common!

It doesn’t matter if you’re heading into the office or walking onto the stage, sometimes you’re just not feeling it. There’s a mantra for that. “Fake it til you make it.” Get up there, smile, and lie through your goddamned teeth. Throw yourself at the moment. Then the next, and then the next. Hell, tell yourself that you’re having fun. Believe me – our brains are pretty dumb when it comes to this kind of thing.

Here’s an exercise for you to try the next time you are feeling just plain neutral – not down, not up. Straighten up either sitting or standing, take a healthy breath (from down low in your gut), and hold a smile for ten seconds. I know you feel stupid. Shut up. As the ten seconds progress, I want you to take that weak-ass smile (oh I can see you) and gradually extend it first to your eyes (good – it’s getting more believable) then finally to your ears (just do it – you’ll feel what I mean when you try). See! You feel better already! You don’t? Well it works for me sometimes. Just fake it til you make it!

Do you have any tricks to get yourself going when you’re not feeling it?


[Side note (or is this a footnote?) – after writing this post and going through the exercise as I wrote the steps, I went back to the top to start reading it back. That’s when I added the silly “yeah, I know” bit with all the exclamation points. My energy had actually been lifted by doing the exercise while writing this! Crazy, right‽]

-I am not saying that this trick can take you from sad to happy, nor is it any kind of treatment for any depression. It is simply a way to give yourself a little bump – a little pump priming to get you over that first hill. Chances are you’ll get rolling from there, but there are always bigger hills, and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to talk to a professional therapist or counselor if you need to.

Always Be Learning

I think that we have a responsibility to society as a whole to constantly be trying to improve ourselves. When one person learns, we all learn. When you sit down and read a book, our average intelligence as a species goes up a tick. Think about that – it’s true! You are making all of humanity better and adding a little bit of grey matter to your own head in the process. Altruism and selfishness – sweet! One thing I will be sharing on this site is the myriad resources available so you can sit down and learn something you didn’t know before. In the meantime, get your learn on!


Write Every Day

I am not a good writer. I happily admit it. But I do know the secret to becoming a better writer, and it’s kind of what this website thing is all about. Are you ready? To become a better writer – write. Write every day. Your brain is like a muscle, and like any muscle, it can’t get stronger unless it’s worked out. Of course reading a lot and studying others’ thoughts on writing can help, but nothing gets you better faster than sitting down and doing it every day (at least I hope so!).

For example, when I first started songwriting, it was a real struggle. It was difficult to flesh out any ideas I had, lyrics came painfully slow, and it was all pretty cheesy at the end of the day. But guess what. The more I did it – the more I sat down and made myself try to come up with something – ANYTHING – the easier it became. I started writing songs I was proud of and that other people wanted to hear… hear multiple times! I even accomplished a personal life goal of mine and released an album (iTunes, CDBaby). [Quick side note – when I did a Google search to find the links for my album, I discovered that someone is selling a used one that I had signed. Haha! That really tickles me for some reason. Here it is if you want it – Amazon.]

Call to action – If you have something you want to accomplish, don’t just take the first steps. Dive in. Everyone knows the best way to learn a new language is through total immersion. It’s no different with learning to do anything else. (Disclaimer – maybe not ANYTHING else. This is probably not the best method for learning lion taming, for instance)

Have you discovered any tips and tricks for improving your own writing? Share it with everyone in the comments.


Slow and Steady Loses the Race

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

I’ve never liked the moral of the tortoise and the hare. It’s always bugged me. Sure, the turtle plugged away and eventually crossed the finish line. And he beat the hare! Hooray! Here’s the rub – a moral is a theme from a story that can be taken and applied to real life, and when in real life is this even remotely going to happen? When is all of your competition going to lay down and take a nice long break, basking in their lead over you?

The point of this story isn’t to behave like the tortoise – setting a comfortable pace, not pushing yourself too hard. Just as long as you don’t quit, you’ll win it all. Right? What kind of horse shit is that?! The moral is to not behave like that stupid hare! He didn’t stop and rest because he was too tired to go on. He did it because he was so content with the lead he inherited from his talent, that he got lazy and didn’t even begin to push himself.

Here’s the real moral of the tortoise and the hare – don’t rest on your laurels. There is always someone behind you who is plugging along everyday with the hope of overtaking you. The real takeaway is to continually challenge yourself and don’t get lazy, because the people ahead of you aren’t going to lay down for a nap. The tortoise isn’t the hero of this story – he’s the villain. And he wins. So learn from the hare’s mistake. If you want to win this race, keep pushing the limits and don’t give up.

Call to action – What can you do at this moment to get a little farther than you were a moment ago? Why shouldn’t you just get up and do it. Proofread that article now. Start working on that important email now. Make your bed now. Lay out what you’ll need for your morning routine now. Do it. Now.

Taking a well-deserved rest can be the correct answer, too. In an upcoming post, I’d like to explore some ideas for even making your downtime more productive.

What’s your opinion on the “Tortoise and the Hare?” Did I come close, or am I way off base? What did you do when presented with today’s call to action? I’d love to hear it – let me know in the comments.


Staying Hydrated

I was so happy yesterday to head over to the post office and discover a package from my friends at Wisconsin Public Radio ( My water bottle (and Francie’s tote bag) had arrived! Time to get on top of hydration. I can’t tell you how many times 6pm has rolled around, and I realized I haven’t had a drop of water all god-damned day! Definitely some coffee, probably some beer, but not honest to goodness liquid water. You know – the building block of life?

My new water bottle! (Thanks, WPR)
My new water bottle! (Thanks, WPR)

Anyways, I’m loving my new little water bottle, and if you find yourself in the same position I did every day, maybe it’s time to grab one of your own. We’ll see if I keep up with the hydration once the novelty of mine wears off. I’ll cross my fingers.

Call To Action – Get up right now and have a sip of water. Your body will thank you for it. While you’re at it, why not throw some cash at your local public radio station? Your community will thank you for it. You can find your local station here.


Hi, everybody!

Hi, everybody!

Welcome to my little side project on these open seas of the internet. I have been wanting to have an outlet for sharing what insight I have in the world of live music, business, and life in general, and the Piano Fondue site just didn’t quite seem the place for it all. Piano Fondue, by the way, is a business I run. It’s a piano-centric entertainment company based in Madison, Wisconsin. The main act is a dueling-pianos type show, and it’s just a riot! I started the company with my friend Christopher Lange back in 2006, and after almost a decade of wearing several different hats in and around the business (co-owner/entertainer, then as an independant contractor) I’ve been running things solo now since October, 2014. I highly recommend checking it out if you have the chance. Just head over to </shameless_plug>

I hope that as this site develops, we will get to know each other a little better. I really mean it – please feel free to ask questions, comment, insult me, what have you… either here on the site or on twitter, where you can find me at @PianoJoshDupont. I think I’m looking to figure out the same things we all are in this crazy world. Join me, and let’s find stuff out together.