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I know. It sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Sitting might cause cancer?!

That’s the announcement in a growing body of research. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research:

As many as 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer occurring in the U.S. every year are linked to a lack of physical activity.”

Furthermore, sitting for long periods of time can increase indicators of cancer risk! Evidently, doing a high intensity workout at the gym doesn’t help if you end up sitting for the rest of the day.

All the research is pointing to the importance of taking multiple breaks in the midst of your workday.

So, if sitting too much increases your risks for cancer, and if MuseCubes encourage you to take breaks from sitting, does it follow that MuseCubes decrease your risk of cancer? Hmmm. Perhaps that claim is a little far fetched.

However, a set of MusesCubes conveniently placed near your computer is a great little reminder to take an occasional break.

I keep MuseCubes in several strategic spots in my office. Sometimes I choose to roll them; other times I simply look at them and think, “Oh, right! Move my body!” Then I’ll get up and take a walk or go wash the dishes — anything that gets me up and moving.

Do you need a set of MuseCubes to serve as your take-a-break reminder? If so, contact me and I’ll hook you up!

I love this recent blog post by writer, InterPlayer and mother Kate Arms-Roberts, who is also a MuseCubes enthusiast. In this post she describes a recent stressful period that drove her to start losing her cool with her kids:

Under normal circumstances, changing the dynamics with my kids is often as simple as playing with iMuseCubes, an iPhone app that shakes virtual dice and provides a movement and a sound for you to create simultaneously. 3 rounds of that usually shakes me out of a bad place. If the kids join me, it can go on for some time and become hysterical.

This particular day, however, MuseCubes weren’t enough to salvage her dying mood and create “a deeper feeling of grace in my body.” Check out the entire blog entry to read what did finally work for her (it’s a sweet story).

vitruvianThanks to an academic discipline called Embodied Cognition, there’s a growing amount of research available about how people think with their whole bodies.

Since body/mind collaboration is right up the MuseCubes alley, we’ll collect many of these articles here, for your edification and enjoyment.

This Boston Globe article from 2008 provides a nice summary about the field of embodied cognition, including some interesting research that proves we think with our whole bodies, not just our brains:

WHEN YOU READ something confusing, or work a crossword puzzle, or try to remember where you put your keys, what do you do with your body? Do you sit? Do you stand? Do you pace? Do you do anything with your hands? Do you move your eyes in a particular pattern?

How you answer questions like these, it turns out, may determine how long it will take for you to decipher what you’re reading, solve your puzzle, or get your keys back.

The brain is often envisioned as something like a computer, and the body as its all-purpose tool. But a growing body of new research suggests that something more collaborative is going on – that we think not just with our brains, but with our bodies. A series of studies, the latest published in November, has shown that children can solve math problems better if they are told to use their hands while thinking. Another recent study suggested that stage actors remember their lines better when they are moving. And in one study published last year, subjects asked to move their eyes in a specific pattern while puzzling through a brainteaser were twice as likely to solve it.

The term most often used to describe this new model of mind is “embodied cognition,” and its champions believe it will open up entire new avenues for understanding – and enhancing – the abilities of the human mind. Some educators see in it a new paradigm for teaching children, one that privileges movement and simulation over reading, writing, and reciting. Specialists in rehabilitative medicine could potentially use the emerging findings to help patients recover lost skills after a stroke or other brain injury. The greatest impact, however, has been in the field of neuroscience itself, where embodied cognition threatens age-old distinctions – not only between brain and body, but between perceiving and thinking, thinking and acting, even between reason and instinct – on which the traditional idea of the mind has been built.

Read the rest of the article to learn about the history of the body/mind split (thanks, Descartes), which westerner challenging this notion (yay, Merleau-Ponty), and the ensuring research that proved him right (ahhhh, embodied cognition).

vitruvianThanks to an academic discipline called Embodied Cognition, there’s a growing amount of research available about how people think with their whole bodies.

Since body/mind collaboration is right up the MuseCubes alley, we’ll collect many of these articles here, for your edification and enjoyment.

Enjoy this excerpt from Discover Magazine.  The article describes six experiments that explore how the things we touch affect our judgments and decisions, and then discusses the following conclusions:

In all six experiments, the effects were very specific. People deemed conversations to be stricter after touching a hard object, but not more positive. Heavy boards make interview candidates seem more serious but not more sociable. As Ackerman says, “These findings emphasize the power of that unique adaptation, the hand, to manipulate the mind as well as the environment.” And the last study with the chair suggests that even our buttocks have some sway over our minds.

According to Ackerman, these effects happen because our understanding of abstract concepts is deeply rooted in physical experiences. Touch is the first of our senses to develop. In the earliest days of our lives, our ability to feel things like texture and temperature provides a tangible framework that we can use to understand more nebulous notions like importance or personal warmth. Eventually, the two become tied together, so that touching objects can activate the concepts that they are associated with.

This idea is known as “embodied cognition” and the metaphors and idioms in our languages provide hints about such associations. The link between weight and importance comes through in phrases such as “heavy matters” and the “gravity of the situation”. We show the link between texture and harshness when we describe a “rough day” or “coarse language”. And the link between hardness and stability or rigidity becomes clear when we describe someone as “hard-hearted” or “being a rock”.

If you want to read more about the specific experiments that were done, check out the whole article here. And thanks a bunch to Esperanca, who brought the article to my attention.

Body Think

vitruvianThanks to an academic discipline called “Embodied Cognition“  there’s a growing amount of research available about how people think with their whole bodies.

Since body/mind collaboration is right up the MuseCubes alley, we’ll collect many of these articles here, for your edification and enjoyment.

Enjoy today’s excerpt from Psychology Today’s bloggers Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, about how we think with our bodies in pre-verbal, pre-symbolic ways.

How do you climb a tree?

Which foot do you move for the first step of the salsa?

When you button your shirt, which hand pushes the button through the hole?

Chances are the “answers” to these questions do NOT come as a string of verbalized, linear instructions. If you are like us (and we think most of you are!), the visual image of a tree flashes through your mind, followed by another image – maybe visual, maybe muscular – of you reaching for a low-hanging branch, hauling your legs up and over, etcetera and so forth. And maybe, for that first salsa step or the button hand, you find yourself actually moving feet or fingers, as if to perform the movement or series of movements you haven’t in fact transcribed into words. Because you aren’t using words! You are thinking in a pre-verbal, pre-symbolic way, with mental images intimately tied up with tensions, postures, movements and gut feelings of the body. You are body thinking.

This was just an excerpt, but their blog’s pretty awesome.  To read the whole article, click here.

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I’m crunching pumpkin seeds alongside my hero.

His name is Wendell Martin, and he is the iPhone app developer for iMuseCubes.

The iMuseCubes development team has decided that it’s time to be more “out” about the iPhone app development process.

So get ready, dear readers! From time to time I’ll be posting updates. And since this is the first one, how about a little history of the project?

Where Will I Find a Programmer Who Will Work For Free?

A year and a half ago, I was overwhelmed with my new life as an entrepreneur. It felt lonely and risky, and I felt adrift.

I had so many creative ideas, but I didn’t believe I had the skills or the resources to bring these ideas to fruition.

For example, the task of creating an iPhone app for the MuseCubes seemed completely insurmountable! I had no technical skills, no money to hire professionals, and no desire to work alone.

The Resources are All Around Me

One day I was complaining about this to my friend Randy while we were on a walk. Suddenly, he asked me some questions that changed everything:

“What if the resources you need are all around you? What if you don’t have to do it alone? What if all you have to do is ask?”

A few months later, the very first iMuseCubes meeting adjourned. It turns out that Randy’s friend Wendell is a Java programmer who’d been curious about learning to program on the iPhone. He liked me and enjoyed the MuseCubes. Furthermore, he didn’t need to be reimbursed for his time until after the iMuseCubes began to make money. And Randy was willing to serve as business manager for the project.

It turns out Randy was right. The resources were nearby. I didn’t have to work alone. And all I had to do was ask. Amazing!

Limitations Create Unique Opportunities

We had a team. But we also had limitations.

Wendell, for example, didn’t even own an Apple computer, which is a requirement for programming xcode. We decided that he’d simply come over to my house to work, and thus: a new guideline for collaboration was born: no one was expected to work on the project alone. We would always be accompanied by another member of the team.

On the one hand, this isn’t the most efficient way to work. Sometimes weeks would go by without moving forward on the project. Sometimes we’d spend the first half hour of a three hour meeting gabbing… about dating, relationships, job searches, and more.

But on the other hand, working together became so much fun!! We both looked forward to our work sessions together. Wendell commented that programming is usually a completely isolating experience during which he’s hunched over a lonely computer in a cubicle or at home. However, the iMuseCubes project was entirely social and creative.

We sat next to each other on the couch. I used Wendell’s PC while he borrowed my Mac. I brought him snacks and drinks. We always kept a set of the real MuseCubes nearby, and when programming got tricky, we used them to shake off the stress. Totally fun!!

And the best part was: when Wendell left my home, I didn’t have to do any more work on the app. And neither did he. We were free to lead our regular lives. No homework!! What a relief!!!

Even this blog post, I’d like to point out, was written while we were working together.

A Year Later…

It’s hard to believe a year has passed!

On March 25, 2010 iMuseCubes 1.0 became available as a free app on iTunes. If you’ve got an iPhone, check it out!

It’s still a rough version, and we have so much more that we want to do with it. I’ll blog about those plans later. Because we’re still smoothing out the edges on the app, we haven’t done any real marketing (other than a shout out on Facebook, and this blog entry).

Without any marketing, though, there are 102 phones who sport the app. And the cubes have been rolled 613 times. Yay!!

What I most want to celebrate is: we did it!! At our own pace. In our own way. And I’ve learned (at least) three valuable lessons:

  1. The resources are all around.
  2. Warm bodies working with me are key to collaboration.
  3. Slow work is satisfying work.

Wendell, Randy and I are meeting again in two weeks. More news then…

This post was originally published on May 2, 2010 on www.gretchenwegner.com.


As a product inventor, people often ask me whether I’ve “protected” Musecubes. Certainly, I’m in the process of trademarking and copyrighting my products. So in that sense — yes.

But with any creative idea, to what extent do I truly “own” it? And would I really want to?

A year ago, I found out about a preschool teacher who made giant MuseCubes by covering boxes with wrapping paper, and adding her own verbs.

Just today, I stumbled upon Dayna Collins’ blog, Alley Art Studio. Wow! I’m stunned at Dayna’s creative application of the MuseCubes idea. In her own words:

Our creative project for last night was to design and make a personal set of MuseCubes. I heard about Muse Cubes sometime last year and went online and bought a set. I used them during my last Artist’s Way session and they were great fun. Basically, one cube has words related to noises and sounds you can make and the other cube has action verbs, i.e., shake, bend, and dance. You roll the dice and do as instructed. You might be howling and bending, or laughing and shaking. You get the idea.

I absolutely love how Dayna personalized the Cubes. And aren’t they beautiful?! I’ve included one of the pictures, above, but I highly recommend going to Dayna’s blog and checking out the gorgeous art work yourself.

Back to that question of ownership. I think of the MuseCubes as my child. And as poet Khalil Gibran points out in The Prophet, we do not own our children:

Your Children are not Your Children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

The timing of Dayna’s blog is ideal for me in terms of MuseCubes business development.

Because I live in the land of America — where we encourage entrepreneurs to get bigger, better, faster — I’ve been feeling the pressure to turn MuseCubes into a mass-produced, commercially viable product. And I won’t say that I’m NOT moving in that direction. Perhaps I want to!

However, one of the pleasures of this delightful product is the homemade beauty of each Cube. And Dayna’s blog entry reminded me of just how stunning the cubes are when they are decorated with random art cutouts.

As Khalil Gibran reminds me, the idea of MuseCubes — that we are all inherently creative; sometimes our creativity gets buried underneath thinking and mistrust; and movement, whimsy, and silliness are GREAT tools to unlock our stored gems — is not “mine.”

So I still don’t know which direction I’m going to go with the business. Will I mass produce? Will I quit altogether and sell the idea to someone with more resources & time? Will I continue making small, homemade ones by hand? Will I sell MuseCube making kits? Will I put more of my focus onto the upcoming iPhone app?

What I DO know is that more and more people (in general) and women (more specifically) are taking to the Cubes. This is an idea that, now that it’s born, can’t be stopped.The whimsy, creativity, and surprise that comes from a random roll, and subsequent shake & howl, really does open up our creativity and sense of possibility.

What might happen if I now, following the guidance of Gibran, “strive to be like them”? In other words, strive to have my business processes and goals be more like the MuseCubes themselves — whimsical, creative, flexible?

I’m not sure what this all means, but you can be sure I’ll blog about it when I figure it out.

Thanks, Dayna, for your creative application of MuseCubes — and for inspiring to expand my vision of how my invention might play in the world.

FlatJackMuseCubes1This Monday I posted a challenge to myself: to sell 126 MuseCubes before the holidays. Well, I didn’t get close to that number (I didn’t quite expect to, but the number 126 was special — see below — to me so I used it as my symbolic goal).

I did sell 41 sets of MuseCubes, though! Not bad given that the extent of my marketing including: (1) two weeks of carrying a basket of MuseCubes around with me wherever I go, and (2) one week asking folks on Facebook and Twitter to repost my MuseCube announcements!

There’s something else I’m excited about: whereas last year I sold 126 MuseCubes to people who know me, this year the bulk of the sales came from people who DON’T know me directly, but are loosely connected through social media. This points to the power of neo-marketing, and gets me excited about putting more effort into nurturing relationships around the globe through my blog, twitter, and facebook.

A final pleasure to announce: just yesterday I received Flat Jack in the mail. Flat Jack arrived to me from an elementary classroom in Vermont along with the following note:

Dear friend,

Our class read “Flat Stanley” by Jeff Brown. In this story a boy named Stanley Lambchop is flattened by a bulletin board. He doesn’t get hurt — in fact, he has many fun adventures as a flat boy. …

Enclosed is my very own flat traveler that I made. Please help my flat traveler to have adventures during his visit with you. In January send him back home in the enclosed envelope along with letters, drawings, and photos to tell us about his time with you.

This is primarily a geography project so please also include information about where you live and what it’s like there.

Thank you,
Mr. Leal’s First Grade
Union Elementary School
Montpelier, VT

I had fun bringing Flat Jack with me as I packaged and mailed all my MuseCubes orders this morning. The picture above shows Flat Jack in the MuseCubes basket along with the new MuseCubes brochures as well as a flower that just recently fell off of a tree. (I think it’s a cool geography fact that California actually has flowers in the winter; in Vermont, where Flat Jack is fun, he just has snow!).

Here’s a picture of the basket underneath the flowering tree…


And here’s Flat Jack lying on top of envelopes filled with MuseCubes.


Flat Jack helped me bring the MuseCubes to the post office, and we mailed them off to Texas, Washington DC, Florida, Seattle, and Texas. Soon I’ll actually put a map on the website so that we can watch the MuseCubes fever spread like wildfire across the country (once I launch the iPhone app, I anticipate it stretching across the world as well!

A final note to Mr. Leal: I’d hoped to write a blog entry that’s more first-grade friendly. Sorry that this has ended up being more “grown up” than I expected. Just let your students know — and Jack in particular — that Flat Jack is having a great time. He’s so glad that he doesn’t need his winter coat, since he forgot to put it into the envelope when he got mailed to California.

This post first appeared today on www.gretchenwegner.com

MuseCubes 126

The Challenge

Is it possible to sell 126 MuseCubes in 5 days and raise $126 for a local charter high school?

Can this happen without any advance marketing — and relying on word of mouth and social media alone?

I bet it can, with your help! Read on…

The Story

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.

This year a series of life changes interrupted my momentum with the MuseCubes. Last year I’d sold 126 sets, and donated $126 to a fabulous but struggling charter high school in Richmond, California. This year I’d hoped to sell many more.

But life got in the way. I just wasn’t able to manufacture and market my li’l product the way I’d hoped. Last week I felt myself spiraling into disappointment.

This week, however…

I counted my inventory and discovered that there are exactly 126 sets ready to be shipped today! Suddenly disappointment turned to inspiration.

What if I sold all 126 of those sets in just 5 days?! I’d still be able to make a year-end donation to the charter school to help them reinvigorate their Learning to Learn curriculum (more about this in a future blog post). And I’d feel great about not having given up when life threw a few roadblocks my way.

How You Can Help

Would you help me meet my challenge? There are so many different ways you can contribute:

  • Spread the word and win a free set! Post about MuseCubes on Facebook, Twitter, or through email. Tell me that you did it, and I’ll put your name in a hat to win a free set of MuseCubes at week’s end. Tweet me at @gwegner or @musecubes or email me at gretchen [at] musecubes [dot] com.
  • Imagine MuseCube success – people the world over shaking & howling, whooping & twisting with delight. After all, visualization can be a powerful force for change.

Yeehaaa! I’m so excited to get this show on the road. 126 sets, here we go!

Today at Wing It! rehearsal I was feeling kinda down in the dumps. But then Bobbie, one of my fellow performers, knew just how to lift my spirits: she told me about some of her recent MuseCube moments! I made a point to snag her at the end of rehearsal and ask if she’d be willing to repeat her stories to my iPhone camera. And voila!

Enjoy this short video in which Bobbie shares how:

  • how a teacher of gifted and talented students uses the MuseCubes she received as a gift
  • how her grandson is a bit shy about “moan”, but loves them anyway, and
  • they’re such a great icebreaker at her church meetings.

Do you have a story about your favorite MuseCube Moment? If so, do tell!

And if you’d like to create a MuseCube Moment of your very own, I’d be honored if you bought a set or two. I’m hearing over and over what a unique, surprising, and useful gift they are. Order a pair at www.musecubes.com.

This story was first posted at www.gretchenwegner.com on December 7, 2009.

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