Now you can dream it and someone else will create it

Years ago I imagined buildings of the future would add more natural life than they displaced. 

I imagined extended terraces ringing the floors of buildings, verdant with shrubbery, flowering plants and small trees. 

I imagined birds nesting in the branches just outside your breakfast nook. 

Now it’s real. You can see it with your own eyes. The Bosco Verticale building above (the Vertical Forest), designed by Stefan Boeria Architetti, won the 2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide award. 

You can read more about the awards here.

It’s happening. The future is riding in on fast winds. Whatever you dream up will be brought to you . . . Universal thought is rampantly creative. Millions of minds are busy bringing the future to us now. 

Fast forward a hundred years, air pollution will be a thing of the past.

Fast forward a thousand years, your great grandchildren may still be alive.

Buildings that scrub carbon from the air are coming. And they’ll create more oxygen than a city block could ever hope to use.

Can you imagine walking down an urban street that smells like forest!

It’s coming.

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Ah, nails! A Greek tale

An experience in Greece I think you’ll enjoy. From Ariana Huffington’s sister, Agapi Stassinopoulos, in her book Unbinding The Heart

After my sister published her book on the Greek gods, she was asked to do a feature for Town & Country in which she was photographed in Greece, dressed as each of the gods and goddesses. 

For her photo as Dionysus, god of wine, we drove to a friend’s vineyard outside Athens and gathered on the porch of the little house where the caretaker, Mr. Vasilios, lived with his wife and daughter. 

He welcomed us with typical Greek hospitality, offering ouzo, feta cheese, olives, grapes, and bread. 

The photographer wanted to hang bunches of grapes from the porch beams to take a shot of my sister’s face surrounded by the fruit. We asked Mr. Vasilios if he had a few nails we could pound into the beams. 

Mr. Vasilios put his hand on his head, pondering out loud, “Nails, nails, nails,” as if he were going to manifest them from thin air. 

Suddenly his gaze fell on a three-legged stool in the porch’s far corner. 

“Ah, nails,” he exclaimed—and proceeded to pull out the nails that held the stool together. He handed them to us with a look of triumph. 

“Here are six nails!” 

We glanced at each other, speechless. Such generosity—taking apart the furniture to loan strangers a few nails—is what I call unconditional giving, being so open to someone else’s needs that you will go to any length to meet them. 

Each time we do this from the heart, life becomes richer, more full of meaning.

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Bucket boat racing

It’s a thing now, at our house. These black objects you see in the pool shot above are horse troughs, repurposed as bucket boats. 
Seven years ago when we moved into this home, our son (he in the foreground) grabbed the thick plastic liner inside of a yard cart, making it into the first square boat you’ve ever seen. Albeit one with tiny drain holes at the bottom. Which made for a slow countdown to submersion every time it was launched.
That square boat is still around, back in the yard cart after all these years apart. Kids had so much fun with the unusual craft my wife Ann found these two horse watering troughs. 
Now Zane and a bud can plunk around without having to take turns. 
Instantly bucket boat racing was born.
This is all to say that the experiences you make out of what you’ve got are the most satisfying. It’s where real life is. 
Hellacious fun too.
Got an afternoon yawning in front of you? What can you make out of it?
Got an idea gnawing inside of you? How can you get it out with what you’ve got?

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Want to create something? Check out this little book: 
Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Add this to your job description

Writer-Creator

Indie Biz Owner-Creator


Artist-Creator


Project Manager-Creator


Designer-Creator



Homemaker-Creator


Carpenter-Creator


Attorney-Creator


Salesperson-Creator

When you add Creator to your job description, you open up what is possible.

If I limit myself to solely being a writer, I exclude rich possibilities. When I tell myself I’m a writer-creator, then I’m clear on what is most important: My life as a writer and as an experience creator.

A chef might extend her culinary career by opening a cafe or buying a food truck or teaching others or catering or specialty meals once a week in a home for a small group of paying customers and friends. 

Or maybe it’s building an addition onto her home that allows for a commercial-sized kitchen, so she can experiment into a different way of making a living . . .

Or renting out a room or driveway so she can have more time. 

(Cheffing can exact a toll on your personal life. The hours are long and the days are many . . . .) 

Thinking like a creator allows for sideways thinking.

Imagine if Goethe had limited himself to his political career. Or only being a writer. It would have been less of a life. Less of a contribution.

Shakespeare was as much a businessman as he was a playwright. One aspect of his life enabled the other.

It’s true for you as well. When you define yourself, think of yourself as a _________-Creator. It opens a mental door you can step through — into a more fulfilling existence. 

For you 

Evan Griffith

__________________________
Click here to join the fast-growing subscriber list, for the best of Freaky Beautiful, once-ish a month, maybe.

Oh, and check out this little book about expressing love energy: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Dreams accrue, really

The best dreams are impossible dreams that come true.

There’s something to be said for a dream that is really just the next step of your evolution. Like getting a promotion.

Those are nice — the raise or the next step up the ladder — and not to be discounted.

But the dreams that seemed improbable at best when first hatched — then came to fruition — those are the ones that galvanize you. Those are the ones that make you believe.

What you see above is the image of a van I wanted but was out of reach. So far out of our reach as to feel a cruel dream.

In the grand tradition of special ops, I gave it an acronym nickname. The Mofave:

Mobile Office, Family Adventure Vehicle

Before I came across this image in a pamphlet, I fantasized about this vehicle. I dreamt it up when we were only months from bankruptcy. When financial ruin didn’t loom but was actually a constant moment-to-moment hellbird perched on my shoulder cawing at me.

(We never went bankrupt 🙂

(We muggled through till we caught a magic wind.)

Here’s a photo of the now-real Mofave on our recent month-long art trek around the U.S. This workcation for me and the family was the second such annual trip.

I’m guessing it was three to five years from the time I first imagined it till we were driving it.

Some improbable dreams take longer. Some take wing so quickly you are left in hushed awe. Others take their sweet time.

A note about improbable dreams

Let me hasten to add that our real dreams are about vitality, relationships, creative breakthroughs, achievement. In essence they are about experience . . . they are about what we wish to live.

Only impoverished souls dream solely of money and material things.

Our most improbable dreams speak to the adventure we hope to live.

I tell this Mofave story as a note to remind myself — and maybe you too — that if you hold onto a vision, it finds its way to you. You find your way to it.

Dreams accrue, they really do. Don’t let yours go.

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Want to spark your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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What Google learned about teamwork applies to you

When Google wanted to find out what made teams effective, Project Aristotle was born. Over 150 interview hours were conducted with Google employees to discern the key elements that made for a good team — and when lacking, made for a team that fell apart.
What applies to teams, you’ll see, applies to you and me individually. What you need for yourself is the same thing others require from you when you collaborate:

“There’s a myth we all carry inside our head,” Bock said. 

“We think we need superstars. But that’s not what our research found. You can take a team of average performers, and if you teach them to interact the right way, they’ll do things no superstar could ever accomplish. 

“And there’s other myths, like sales teams should be run differently than engineering teams, or the best teams need to achieve consensus around everything, or high-performing teams need a high volume of work to stay engaged, or teams need to be physically located together. 

“But now we can say those aren’t right. The data shows there’s a universality to how good teams succeed. It’s important that everyone on a team feels like they have a voice, but whether they actually get to vote on things or make decisions turns out not to matter much. Neither does the volume of work or physical co-location. What matters is having a voice and social sensitivity.” 

Onstage, Bock brought up a series of slides. 

“What matters are five key norms,” he told the audience. 

Teams need to believe that their work is important. 

Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. 

Teams need clear goals and defined roles. 

Team members need to know they can depend on one another. 

But, most important, teams need psychological safety.

The first three elements felt so significant they could easily have been transposed into three top principles required for personal growth.
  1. You need to feel that what you do is important. In work and in your personal life.
  2. You need to feel that what you do is meaningful.
  3. You need clear goals.

At first I skipped over the final two points as I translated these findings to how we work as individuals. 
Principle Number 4 of course only makes sense in the context of working with others: That you feel you can depend on one another.
But Principle Number 5, that you require psychological safety, was deemed most important. 
Yet I dismissed it when considering how that applies to we creators who are striving to make our marks individually.
Until it struck me that I am the only one who can provide psychological safety when engaging creatively.
We creators often sabotage our sense of security with doubt. Or worse, internal slurs we’d never allow another to utter to us.
You’re not up to this.

You suck.

Who are you kidding, you’ve never accomplished anything of this magnitude, why even try?
Psychological safety. 
For a creator, it’s a free and unfettered mind.
There’s a placid center we can tap to dispel corrosive thoughts. Meditation plays this role for many, me included. 
But sometimes it’s as simple as denying the thought. That’s not true, you say to yourself.
I don’t believe it, you say to your thought.
No, you suck! You think back as you stick your (mental) tongue out at that thought flashing by.
Have you ever tried talking back to your own thoughts?
You will convulse laughing after a short while. 
Try it. 
Talk back to your subpar thoughts. Sneer at them, if you must. Or treat them with gentle admonishment: Oh MiniMe, let MegaMe take over here
They’ll shape up, your thoughts. They’ll even join your counter argument after a little forceful back talk. 
Yeah, what was I thinking? You’re right, I can rock this.
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Clarity, love energy and renewal

Me thinking thinky thoughts

This past year I published a bookito called Burn Baby Burn: Spark the Creative Spirit Within.

Coiled at the core of this tight little narrative are these three principles for creating something meaningful: 

  1. Be clear
  2. Express love energy
  3. Renew
You creators know this: You set out to create something . . . and it turns out to be bigger than you. Far bigger. In fact, something comes through you during the process . . . and teaches your little whelp of a mind a thing or two.
It could be a a poem, a song, a business, a book, an app, a relationship . . . whatever you thought you were creating grew so much more expansive than your dreams for it that eventually you bowed down to it and uttered, “Sensei.” 
This was the case with Burn Baby Burn. You could say that I thought it up . . . that I wrote it . . . but that would be only the merest of partial truths. A sliver of a fraction of a truth.
I set down the path and the path yielded phantasmagorical treasures I could never have anticipated.
Not only is there insight beyond my capacity in those pages, there is humor and freshness I don’t possess in real life.
😉
It turns out I need clarity, love energy and renewal more than my readers. 
It turns out out that when I was fumbling my way recently, I simply had to heed the premise of that bookito: To turn the creative process into a spiritual practice.
In doing so, I’m finding my way back.
The really exciting part of this is the greater message. The one for you. 
Create something for others . . . and your creation will in turn bejewel your spirit in ways you can scarcely dream of.
Create for others . . . and enjoy the bounce back effect. 
Unless of course you’re creating strife or discord or mayhem or such. 
Then it ain’t pretty.

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________

Click here for (occasional) notes for creators. Once a month, maybe.

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An easy choice

Two themes are sweeping the nation. 

One is distrust. Fear and loathing on a visceral level. It’s taken over the political discourse. It’s gone national in scale. Global.
The other is impish spirit love. It’s been coming for generations. You see it in the texts and images floating by on your social media stream.
You can do it.

I can do it.

We’re all in this together.

We are one.

All you need is love . . . and spunk.
It’s an easy choice for me. 
The question is how do I embody this impish spirit love today? 
How do I show someone marginalized that I care? 
I’ll encounter dozens of people today. Do I look them in the eye with a twinkle? Or do I look away and sniff judgmentally?
It’s an easy choice.
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The quiet power of looking at a thing sideways

An artist lives here
He probably looks at things sideways

This post from a couple of days ago ended with this thought: 

There’s real power in looking at a thing sideways

What does that mean?

We’re accustomed to looking at something straight on. We take obstacles at face value. 

Solutions often require a new pathway

When whales were being hunted to extinction for their blubber to fuel the economy of the time, the solution wasn’t to hunt more whales. It came from a viscous substance oozing from the deserts in the Middle East.

The solution to our carbon-polluted air won’t come from more gas and oil. It will come from other sources. It might be wind. It might be solar. It might be a resource we’re not even dreaming of yet.

Let’s say I’ve hit an impasse. Does that make my destination impossible? Hell no. 

But it might mean stepping off my path and forging a new one.

This is tough for me. I like my routines. I’m fond of the rhythm of my days. A new path means eliminating something or even most things I’d been doing. 

It’s thinking like a soul scientist. Experimenting in the direction of your joy . . . and noting the results.

Most emphatically it is not experimenting in the direction of your obstacle . . . Looking at a thing sideways is getting clear on where you want to be, and then improvising a new path there.

Not making enough money?

The temporary solution may be to work more hours. Sideways thinking would have you move off your path, just a little, and tweak from there

Despite the cultural ethos of hard work/working more hours, the highly successful have always figured out how to do things in fewer hours, with less effort.

That’s you. And that’s where I want to be. More effective because my focus softened enough to allow new possibilities into my paradigm.

There’s a new paradigm rising. It sounds a bit like the Tao. Where Taoists speak of effortlessness, we speak of inspired action. Which feels propulsive.

This propelling energy comes from the same root. Clarity. 

Becoming clear in your vision — even if it’s only for the next hour — releases extraordinary energy. And when you’re done you feel fulfilled, not depleted.

Clarity vibrates you to a new level. It puts you in tune with the infinite. Clarity is the opposite of rigidity. It compels fluidity. 

Once you’re clear about what you want, you can happily experiment your way there. 

Does it matter whether you go over the mountain or around it and through the forest on your way to the lake? 

It’s up to you. To me . . . . To get still and clear . . . and then improvise from there. 

(One interesting explorational step at a time.)

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for a creative soul update via email, once or twice a month.

Want to be at your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Be an artist in this moment

Years ago when I suddenly thought myself an artist my mind had never been so afire.

More than two decades ago I unexpectedly launched into painting. A trip to a famous art supply store on Canal Street in New York City was all it took. I came back with paint and brush and canvas. The cab was stuffed with tools of art.

My first painting was the silhouette of a man in a cage . . . the cage was composed of real-world chicken wire . . . The next painting featured a guy in a suit dancing himself free in the night. 

Soon after I quit my career on Wall Street and left The City . . . 

For a year or two I thought like an artist.

The Everglades shimmered to me in almost otherworldly subtle hues. To another eye it might seem a drab expanse. Not to my artist’s eye.


I recall being haunted by a dumpster against the mango-colored wall of a run-down Mexican restaurant. 


Light glancing off broken glass on the pavement could be hypnotic.


The sheen from an oily puddle at a service station stopped me in my tracks.

When you think like an artist, possibility abounds.

When chaos reigns, when things feel bleak, now I remind myself: 


Be an artist in this moment

I ask


What can I create?

The tools are no longer art paraphernalia. They are tools we all have. 

Imagination, experimentation, daring. 

And the quiet power of looking at a thing sideways . . . 

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for a creative soul update via email, once or twice a month.

Want to express love energy in your creative work? 
Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


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