Good News Day 26: Magical Music Machine

Take a xylophone, guitar strings, and hundreds of marbles and gears, and you’ve got a Swedish Magical Music Machine.

Source: Machine Creates Beautiful Music with 2000 Marbles and Bells (MUST SEE)


Good News Day 22: This 25-Year-Old With Down Syndrome Just Published His First Book


Marcus Sikora has a flare for the creative.

The 25-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, has acted in school productions and wrote and produced a one-act stage performance in cooperation with a local high school.

Sikora also has Down syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped him from achieving something that would be impressive for any 25-year-old. As of June 2015, he can add “published author” to his list of accomplishments.

Read More Here:

Good News Day 9: Two Surfers Quit Their Jobs And Invented A Trash Bin That Cleans The Ocean

It’s good news when people who care about something are able to come up with an idea to make a difference! ~Tricia


If you’re a surfer or a beach-goer in general, you know how much trash washes ashore each and every day. For Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, two Australian surfers, that was a daily reality. They were so disheartened by how much trash they saw floating in the ocean that they quit their day jobs and…

Source: These Two Surfers Quit Their Jobs And Invented A Trash Bin That Cleans The Ocean

A Gentle Reminder: What You Create Has Value (and so do you)

cotton grassYou might have noticed in reading my posts that I have a bit of a pet peeve about watching what you say. I’m a big fan of “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And this doesn’t just apply to what you say about others, it applies to what you say about yourself and the things that you do/create/share.

I see this happen a lot with creative people. They produce a beautiful photo, brilliant art work, or incredible writing, and then, when they show it to you, almost instantly devalue their own efforts by adding “it’s not very good”, “I really don’t know what I’m doing”, or “it’s not my best work”. It makes. me. crazy.

Okay, I admit that it makes be MORE crazy because I used to do it – a lot – and I understand where their head is at. But it also makes me crazy because if it is something that you created, it comes from you, and from your heart, by saying that it’s not any good, you’re also devaluing yourself on a subconscious level. You’re holding yourself back, limiting your creative potential, and beating up your own self-confidence.

It may have started subtly enough. We might discover that by saying, “Oh, it’s not very good.” a friend might disagree and insist that the work is truly wonderful. Instantly, the reward part of our brain goes “Heeyyy… I say it’s bad, I get a compliment!” Soon we automatically unveil the fruits of our creative labor and simultaneously announce “it’s really not my best work”, while preparing for the freshly delivered reassurances and compliments from our audience.

While getting compliments is nice, this is really not the greatest way to validate the worth of your work. You create a pattern of constantly devaluing your creation and at the same time your own worth. This doesn’t mean that you have to go flying off in the other direction and declare to everyone who’ll listen how fabulous your latest work of art is. (Which may result in your friends running for the hills when you appear.)

The simplest way to stop devaluing your work really is, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” or “keep your mouth shut”. Oversimplified, maybe, but the idea is to get you to stop trash talking yourself and smothering your creativity and self-esteem. By all means, show friends and strangers your art work, but do not tell them how awful it is. We create art for art’s sake, what you have created is what it is, good, bad or ugly, but it is a part of you, treat it the way you want to be treated.

Beaver Lake SunsetWhen someone compliments what you do, a “simple thank” you is the most powerful phrase you can utter. On a subconscious level, you’re validating that what you have made has value and so do you. It takes a conscious effort to stop whatever else you were going to say and just say “thank you”, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a truly liberating experience.

Those two small words can help grow your confidence, boost your creativity and inspire your faith in your own creative processes.

Welcome to the Present

Time is an invention. Now is a reality. So much creativity is happening for the simple reason that we have withdrawn ourselves from the past and future. Our whole energy remains blocked, either in the past or in the future.

When you withdraw all your energy from past and future, a tremendous explosion happens.

That explosion is creativity.

~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (From Begin It Now, by Susan Hayward)

Kripalu Sundial - Tricia GriffithFind yourself in a creative rut? Or even just a general “life rut”? It could be that you are worrying too much about the future or the past and not living in the present.

If you are an artist or a writer and you spend a lot of time worrying about how you’ll ever become published or famous in the future, or about dumb mistakes you made in the past that you’re worried you’ll make again, chances are you’re getting little to nothing accomplished in your present.

Perhaps you’re holding out on taking a job that you don’t like very much because you’re waiting for that ideal job to present itself. Maybe you’re not allowing yourself to find a loving relationship because someone did the Mexican Hat Dance on your heart in the past, and you never want that to happen again.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around it, but in reality the present is all that matters. Do what you need to do now, and the future will begin to form and take care of itself without you fussing over it.

chocolate cakeLet’s bake a cake. You decide to use this delicious new cake recipe. You have all these dreams and fantasies about how fabulous this cake is going to be. But, instead of just letting it bake, you keep poking your head in the oven to see how it’s doing, and eventually the whole thing goes flat, and you have to start again.

Neither does your past successes or failures at baking a cake really have much relevance on that cake you’re baking now. You think to yourself oh, I didn’t use enough flour the last time I made that cake, so I better adjust it this time. You don’t say, oh my god, I screwed that cake up so badly I will never make it again. Well, at least you shouldn’t be saying that, anyway.

We make our lives so much more stressful by constantly dwelling on the past and wringing our hands about the future. Redirect your focus to the present. Pick a cake recipe and just bake it. If it comes out, it comes out. If it doesn’t, you note what you have learned and try again.

pen and inkPick up the paint brush or the pen. Make bad art and enjoy it. Write a crappy first draft. Take the job that will put food on the table today and keep yourself in the present so that you will see that new opportunity when it arrives. Go out on a date with someone you’re not sure about. Start a conversation with that person you’ve been admiring.

Nothing at all, good or bad, will change unless you take a step. Taking one small step today is better than planning a thousand steps tomorrow.

The Positive Benefits of Color: Orange

This is a part two of a series of posts looking at the different ways we can use color to positively benefit our lives.

Framed Daisies (detail) - Tricia GriffithOrange is another warm, energizing color. It is thought to combine the stimulating qualities of red with the more cheerful energy of yellow, which we’ll discuss next time. It is linked to the sacral chakra, another of what is believed to be the centers of vital energy in our body. This chakra is located in the lower abdomen, and is related to the organs in that area, including the uterus, ovaries, prostate and testes.

Physically, the color orange stimulates and energizes us. It is believed to stimulate the lungs, respiration and digestion, as well as increase the activity of the thyroid. Like red, many restaurants use orange, or more subtle shades of orange, such as peach, to stimulate the appetite. Orange colored foods provide beta carotene, vitamins and nutrients which help improve the immune system, protect heart and vision, and may play an important role in preventing certain cancers.

Staring into the Sun - Tricia GriffithEmotionally and mentally, orange projects warmth and happiness, it is associated with fun and sociability, and inspires creativity. It is believed to release constrictions of both the mind and body, open your mind to new ideas and boost enthusiasm. It’s related to gut instinct, as opposed to mental or physical reaction. It’s association with the sacral chakra may also make it helpful in dealing with sexual expression.

Many people are averse to the color orange, it’s often considered one of the least popular colors. If you’re not a fan of orange, ask yourself what aspects of orange do you perhaps have a personal struggle with, and apply orange in some form to that part of your life.

Like red, you can incorporate orange into your life as simply as eating or drinking things that are orange. In fact, so many orange foods are so good for us, like carrots and oranges. You can use orange to decorate a room like studio or craft room to inspire creativity, but you want to avoid using it in rooms where there is possible stress.

Monarch Butterfly - Tricia GriffithVisualize orange light when meditating or healing, on the areas of your body or your life where you think they most need it. Keep an orange light or light filter so that you can sit directly in the light if you feel you need it. Find a cheery orange blanket to wrap yourself in on days when you need that boost of cheerfulness or creativity.

It takes a certain personality type to wear a lot of orange, but adding orange accessories may help boost your mood. Jewelry or gemstones such as citrine, coral, amber, sunstone, carnelian, topaz, and certain agates and opals worn or carried in your pocket and bring a little of that orange energy into your life.

As with anything like this, it’s not just what people and books or websites tell you to believe, it’s what you believe. What feelings or thoughts does the color orange invoke for you? Does it bring up a particular memory? How does it affect you? You should always trust your own intuition about what’s best for you.

Sunflower - Tricia GriffithJust I mentioned with red, there’s nothing that says you have to work with orange if you can’t stand it. The added benefit of orange being a secondary color is that you could possibly achieve the same effects by using a bit of red and yellow if you like those colors better. These pages are certainly not everyone’s truth, just a bit of guidance to get you going in the direction you need to go.

And please, as always, if you have serious physical or mental health problems, talk to a professional. Take care of yourself.


A Little Inspiration

Curled Leaf - Tricia GriffithI have been feeling a bit agitated  for having too many projects (i.e. not managing my time very well) and not giving myself enough time to write posts for this blog, which is one of my favorite things to do. I was thinking about it this weekend, and I realized that one of the things that I’m doing is setting some pretty high expectations for myself.

We all do it. I think there’s a tendency to think that until we can do something 110%, we might as well not do it at all, and so then of course a lot of potentially great things never get done. With Spiritual Tea, for instance, I keep thinking I need to have just the right topic, and it needs to be a good essay length, and then of course once I pick a subject, I might need to research it, and who has time for that?? And on and on…

Kripalu Sundial - Tricia GriffithSometimes we need to stop waiting until we feel like we can do something perfectly, and just do it. Perfection is a pretty elusive thing, and by not doing anything at all, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to learn from the imperfections. This means, writing that blog post, painting, creating, or expressing yourself in any way.

It can also be the reason we don’t try new things. There’s that feeling that we’ll be embarrassed because we’re not very good at it yet, and people will laugh at your mistakes, and learning curves are painful. But in reality, if you find the right person or people to learn from, they have all been where you are, and they will support and encourage, pick you up when you fall down, and share their own stories of failures and successes with you.

Gentle Wave - Tricia GriffithSo, as you can see, what I thought was just going to be a very short blog post to say how I had figured out what I would do to write more often has actually turned into a pretty lengthy one, with some surprising insights that popped into my head once I started typing. And that just came from idea that I would just write more frequently, even if it’s just a paragraph or two, a word of the day, or a little inspiration, and not wait for perfection.

I hope that you take my example and follow your own bit of inspiration today.

Oh the Ruts We Dig

Meadow PathMost human beings are creatures of habit. We get up at the same time every day, have our coffee, got to work, come home, do dinner, housework, evening entertainment, bedtime, do it again the next day… Okay, so maybe I’m oversimplifying just a bit, but you get the idea!

I have written about change before in this blog and I’ll probably end up on the same soap box, but maybe they’re things we all need to hear more than once, anyway. The source of most of our ruts in life is usually something like an aversion to, or fear of, change. Most of us really long for change, but we keep on doing the same old thing and then wonder why nothing new happens.

The Easy Rut

Icy PathChange can seem complicated. For example; we know that maybe our diet is not the greatest, but it so much easier to buy the same groceries and plan the same microwaveable menu each week, or make the same run to McDonald’s for lunch every day. Eating better means we have to maybe do a little research into new things to cook and better ingredients to buy. And who has time for THAT? I have Facebook games to maintain!

Try something new that seems like it would be a little difficult or inconvenient. Just for fun! Find an interesting recipe that involves extra ingredients and chopping up of assorted veggies. Make yourself something fun to take to lunch tomorrow instead of running out for fast food.

The Comfort Rut

IMG_9805We all have our comfort zones. They might also fall into sort of a sense of security rut. Someone might work every day in a job that doesn’t suit them or challenge them, but at least it’s safe, right? At least I get a paycheck every week? I am comfortable here in my cube. Going out and finding something new and different means leaving my comfort zone, having to learn a new job, meet new people. Scary!

Okay so you don’t have to run out and find a new job tomorrow, but you can expand your network a little. Find a group or a class that involves a special interest or something you have always wanted to do. Could be photography or painting or maybe even just a short class on negotiating skills or a sales technique you’ve always wanted to try. It gets you out there to meet new people and starts to expand your comfort zone a little bit.

The Relationship Rut

Sunny PathThis probably also falls into the comfort zone rut, but how many people do you know that are desperately clinging to bad relationship? It doesn’t even have to be a marriage or a romantic relationship. I for one have been guilty of desperately clinging to friendships that were obviously broken and doing me no good mentally or emotionally. We wonder what we will do without that person in our lives, even if it’s the regular rut of being constantly hurt by them.

Take stock of your relationships. Nurture the ones that are good for you and step back from the ones that hurt you. No one person should have control over your sense of well-being or emotional health.

The Creativity Rut

This is also known as writer’s block or artist’s block. We don’t have a good idea for new art or the next great novel. So we hunker down inside our self-defeat and say well, if I can’t paint something GREAT, then I’m not going to paint at all! Or if I can’t finish this seven hundred page novel, then forget it, I’m not writing anything else! So there!

Forest PathThe desire to become the next Andy Warhol or James Patterson can be overwhelming. Don’t hold yourself to an ideal perfection. As one writing instructor I heard about put it, just “throw up” on the paper. Make bad art just because you can. Heck TRY to make bad art, it’s fun! Writer Ann Lamott says “write a shitty first draft”. Your first writing doesn’t have to be pretty, that alone is enough to stop most people in their tracks. That’s what editing and second, third or fourth drafts are for! Write something every day even if it’s just one big long whining rant about your boss and your kids and how the cat threw up in your shoe. Do it!

The Work Rut

Workaholics, we all know one, or maybe ARE one. Work becomes such an easy excuse for avoiding change, growth, and even creativity. We say I’m too tired and busy to go find something new and fun to do this weekend. We take on more work and responsibility and think of it as growth and improvement. But what are we leaving behind?

I’ll use myself as example here. I work from home. I worry about allowing myself to “slack” and not get work done, because that of course means I don’t get paid. Over the holidays business got REALLY slow and so of course when it picked up again I worked like a madwoman to make up for lost time. I had also taken on writing work as well as the work I do in the virtual art community. I wondered after a while why I felt like CRAP.

Woodland PathOh hey, it’s because I’ve been in a work rut so deep I couldn’t see out of it! The nice weather recently really brought that message home to me, when I forced myself into going outside for an afternoon. Oh wow! I almost immediately felt better! It’s nice here outside this rut! The sun is shining, the birds are singing!

It’s the difference between the quantity of the hours worked and the quality. I had gotten so that I was tired and cranky and didn’t want to sit at my desk all day, I’d wander off and do laundry or wash dishes and then come back and stare blankly at my screen for a while. Four hours of work would fill eight hours of the day, so then I would end up working twelve hours to compensate. Once I actually remembered to just give myself breaks, go out and run errands or for a hike to get out of the house, read a book in the evening, the hours that I spent working became less tedious and more productive.

Change Your Course

I’m sure that there are more ruts I haven’t even thought of today, so think about your own ruts in life. You know what they are, and ultimately you are the only one that can get yourself out of them. Write them down and think about what you can do, just one little shift that will get you up and out of that rut and onto a fresher, brighter track. You might be surprised where this new road will lead you!

A Different Kind of Date

The Artist's WayOne of my most favorite books ever does not actually so much tell a story as it helps you tell yours. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, is sort of combination of spiritual, psychological and technical exercises for helping break writers’ or artists’ blocks and free your creativity. Not just for writers and artists, it can really help you unblock your creativity in nearly any aspect of your life.

One of the tools used in Julia’s guide is something called artist dates, which, I have decided, is something that everyone should do, even if you don’t think you’re an artist.

What is an artist date? Well, it is essentially a date with yourself, with your inner artist, your inner child, as it were. As Julia puts it “… a play date that you plan and defend against all interlopers…” The idea is to give yourself time each week, even if it is just a couple of hours, committed to nurturing your creative consciousness.Winter Grass Blue Sky

We live in a fast forward society. We roll out of bed in the morning and hit the ground running, even if it is only metaphorically speaking. We get ourselves and our families ready for work and school, we walk the dog, feed the pets, commute, shop, work, cook, clean and on and on until we fall into bed again at night. It’s an easy rut to get into, and a hard one to get out of. What the artist date or play date represents is a chance to stop, be creative, be spontaneous, or just be.

But there’s a catch…

You have to do it by yourself…

Walk in the Woods“What?!?” You might ask. “All by myself? Just me? But what will I DO?” Well, that’s the beauty of it. Do whatever suits your fancy, whatever your inner child, your heart, your spirit needs. It does not have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods, a trip to the zoo or watching the sunset from a beach. Sit and color, go to a bookstore, but do it by yourself. No lover, no children, no pets.

Part of Julia’s concept about artist dates in The Artist’s Way is for you to begin to listen to yourself. To start to pay attention to the inner chatter, have a dialog with that inner artist, and ultimately find solutions to your questions, tap into your creative reserves and allow yourself to create.

There is something more to it though. In our constantly busy lives, how often are we truly alone? And I don’t mean sitting alone in an empty office, or alone cooking dinner or paying the bills. I mean alone with ourselves, allowing our thoughts to wander and our imagination to roam, a little time to ourselves, with ourselves, to just be.

Sand & StoneSo here is my challenge to you, take yourself on a date this week. Set aside a couple of hours, if that’s all you have, and don’t let anyone or anything interrupt it. Do something that brings you a little bit of joy. Go to an art gallery or a museum, look for shiny rocks on the beach, sit in a café and read a book, or splurge and get a massage. Just make sure it’s only you and only for you.

When we spend so much of our lives catering to the needs and wants of others,MP900402326[1] we tend to forget to pay attention to our own. We burn the candle at both ends and eventually we are not even giving our best to those we are working so hard for. The world is filled it tense, irritable people who really probably just need a hug, or at least a little frivolous fun and self-reflection.

Give your inner child a little recess, or at the very least convince yourself that taking some time for yourself can help you give the rest of the world a bit more of the real you. You might be surprised what you discover.