Friends from the Past…

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

Today has been one for reflecting.  More specifically, I have been reflecting on the friends I had growing up.  I always felt like I never really belonged.  The fact is that I had a few friends that understood that fact and loved and accepted me anyway.

I was going through a box today so that I could feel productive on my non-work day.  Well, it was filled with momentos from my middle school and high school days.  It was kind of a surreal series of moments as I read notes that my friends had written me and looked at photos.  There are so many moments that happened that I had forgotten.  That is normal, I think.  People grow up and we take our unique experiences with us to make our now.  Eventually that “now” becomes the new past that we compartmentalize and use for the new now, aka – the future.


Toni and Andrea - middle school

Toni and Andrea – middle school

I read notes from my best friend during middle school where she was concerned about getting 50 cents to pay a fine so she could go on a school trip.  She also signed the letter “Rea” – I chuckled as I read her sign-off.  We remained friends throughout middle and high school.  We talked on and off throughout our college years but I rarely talk to her now.  We grew apart during high school.  The things that were important to me were not to her and vice-versa.  I became much more involved in my music and she in sports.  Looking back now, I see how natural and organic the evolution of that friendship.  People grow and develop and sometimes that takes them away from each other – even if they never thought that possible as kids.

Toni and Andrea- High School Graduation, 2001

Toni and Andrea- High School Graduation, 2001



Jeff and Toni - High School Graduation

Jeff and Toni – High School Graduation

I also read notes from a couple friends that I had during high school.  I really cannot say that I had very close friendships with anyone in high school.  I had a couple people that I trusted but I was more a loner than I even realized.  As a sophomore, I apparently was upset with my friend Jeff.  I read a  note from him today where he writes how he was not sure what he had done to make me hate him.  I have no recollection of that.  We apparently got over that bump and he became one of my closest friends during my last couple years of high school.  I read another note from him of pure encouragement.  I had a bad experience at a festival and was ready to give up on all things musical and he talked me back from that ledge.  For that alone, I will forever be grateful to him.  I have not talked to him much over the last five years.  Again, a natural evolution to a friendship.

So, while I try to keep living in my “now,” I can be exceptionally grateful for the past that I lived.  I had friends that dealt with my “madness” that has been with me for most of my life.  I look to my past and it begins to make sense – much more than it did when it was my “now.”  Life is not static.  It changes and evolves and that is normal and I embrace the change.  I am who I am partly because of the friends that I made and the support and encouragement they gave me then and continue to give me now – if only every five years or so!

“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.” – Steve Maraboli

Disneyland Group

High School Band Friends at Disneyland, 2001


Peace and Love,

The Mad Pianist

5 Things That Make Me a Better Pianist

A pianist is not just a pianist just because she plays music.  There are a lot of factors that go into the making of a musician – A LOT of things.  A well-rounded Mad Pianist is a happy and successful Mad Pianist.  So, here is a list of 5 things that go into the making of a Mad Pianist.

1. Exercise.  Regular exercise always makes me play better.  The more in tune your physical, emotional, and spiritual side are, the better you will do at so many things.  I have found that the more that I exert myself physically, the better my focus and my tone production and control.  Coincidence?  I really don’t think so.  So, if that is what is going to motivate me to get my behind off the piano bench and into the outdoors, I will gladly use that motivation.  Go for a walk or a run, or do some yoga.  Your body and mind will thank you.

2.  Reading.  I love to read.  I  have for my entire life.  I do not recall the following story but my mother does and I have heard it often.  Apparently, I came home from the first day of Kindergarten and announced that I was never going back.  When she asked me why, I replied that they hadn’t taught me to read and so I did not feel the need to return.  Since that time, I have become a voracious reader.  I think it helps that my mom is always reading and always encouraged her children to do so.  I have found many friends in the books I have read and some friends that I visit over and over.  Literature and music are very closely related.  In fact, I often draw my interpreting inspiration from books I have read and the worlds that I have visited.  So, go read a book.

3.  Practice.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  This is a no brainer, right?  I have not always enjoyed practicing and there are days that I still find little enjoyment in the process.  There is a common saying that practice makes perfect.  Well, the saying should really be that perfect practice makes perfect.  I do believe, however, that practice makes better.  I have learned how to make practice more efficient and effective for me but it has taken me years to get to this point.  Practicing is not an easy process but it makes hard things possible.  I can do hard things.  So can you.  Go practice something – it doesn’t have to be the piano or even music.  Just go improve yourself somehow!

4.  Friends.  I have had the privilege to have some great friends during my journey on this earth.  Some I talk with regularly and some I have not talked to since we parted.  That is life.  Good friends encourage you to be a better person.  I had a couple friends during my grad school days that I consider some of the best people I have ever met and talk with them often.  They offered to go and pop someone in the knees that I was struggling to work with.  I declined but their ongoing support and encouragement meant a lot then and it does now.  Your friends should uplift you and make you want to be better.  If they don’t, break those ties.  Life is too short to be miserable and surrounded with people that bring you down.  Go meet someone new today.  You’ll be glad you did.

5.  Day of Rest.  I have one day that I do not practice or perform.  It is a day free from my labors of the rest of the week.  It is a day of physical and mental rest.  I really do not think that I could survive the other six days without my day off.  I truly believe that everyone needs at least one day where they are not worried about work, projects, or the outside world.  I know that I need a day to just be.  So, I take that day to just exist.  On that day, I am not a pianist or a blogger or….anything.  I am just me.  I hope that you can all find a day to just be – even if it is just once in a while.  We all deserve a break – you included.

Peace and Love (and self-improvement),

The Mad Pianist