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The Relativity of Time and Play

Where does a month go? A day? A year?

Many conversations I’ve had in the past weeks included a discussion of time, and how, in our current state, it seems to have both sped up and slowed down. How the time-space continuum seems to have shifted in pandemic life. How our days blur together, but a single day disappears in a blink.

One of the things I love about children’s play is the suspension of time. They are completely absorbed in the action and their imaginations. Children’s play is often used as the ultimate example of “being in a state of flow.” Reading can create a similar lovely escape.

As adults, how often are we finding anything close to flow? What are we choosing to put into our days (perhaps even passively)? Whom are we permitting to spend our most precious and unquantifiable resource—our minutes here—for us?

As adults, we need to play, and perhaps now more than ever. Not just with the children in our lives, but with our own state of being. Put on your favorite song and dance. Build a tower of some sort, whether with blocks or Legos or playing cards. See if you can still somersault.

Giving yourself permission to play might seem like the absolute most unnecessary thing to do while in survival mode. But play can serve as the pause button so many of us are seeking right now.

(You’ll thank yourself for using that pause button, and the kids in your life will likely notice as well.)

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Speaking… and Listening

We all seem to have a lot to say these days. Technology has given each of us a megaphone. And we use it, often.

I used to feel excited about all the ways we can connect with each other and raise our voices: social media, texting, creating a podcast or channel, or even (throwback such as this!) blog. And so many more. And from a point of independent speech, I still appreciate much of this.

But, when are we taking time to listen? To each other? To our children? To ourselves? With everyone talking all at the same time, how and where and when do we choose to listen?

Yesterday, Reese’s (wise) teacher sent home the beginning activity for what will be a series program helping students with critical skillsets. The first one is focused on listening.

And that really hit home for us, even in and in spite of the spaces I’ve tried to create for our family this past year to unplug, slow down, and sit in some intentional silence. What examples of active listening am I setting?

Listening, after all, is the first skill needed to learn. And we have so many ways to listen beyond just the physical sense of what our ears do. People listen with their eyes, with their sense of touch, and more. But quality listening, regardless of ability, means paying attention. It means setting down our own megaphone for a moment.

I suspect the world could use a chance to catch its breath, reset. To take turns speaking so that we might hear each other a bit better. In that shared exchange, with an intentionality to learn, what might we be able to accomplish as a whole?

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Wooden dice with the word Why on top of it

Kids ask the best questions. Big questions, weird questions, hard questions, funny questions, unanswerable questions.

It’s that last sort that seems to throw us off the most as adults. Sometimes it’s because the question is both hard and unanswerable (“When are we going to die?”). Other times, it’s unanswerable simply because we don’t personally have an answer. And that throws a lot of us for a loop.

Why is that? I suspect it’s often because as adults, we live with the societal expectation that we are supposed to have all the answers. As ridiculous as that is, it still flares up when kids catch us unawares.

When a kid asks you an unanswerable question, how do you respond? Is your reflex to own that you don’t know? Do you answer honestly with that response: “I don’t know.” Or do you fake it? Dodge the question? Lie? Shut down the conversation?

Kids’ questions, especially the hard ones and the unanswerable ones, are a great place to practice our own curiosity and to embrace imperfection. Telling a child “I don’t know” models for them that it’s okay to sit with the unknowns. That it’s okay to not have all the answers at hand. It also opens a door for shared exploration. Has the child asked something that you can research together? Can you discuss what experts are still learning or don’t yet know about the topic? Is it an unanswerable question that simply deserves to be celebrated for its eternal unknowns?

The next time you are getting peppered with “Whys,” pause to cherish the innate curiosity that is childhood. And see where those questions can take you—together.

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These are the early days…

Painted Kind World Publishing coaster with a blue and green world Starting a company, it seems, parallels becoming a parent. The excitement, the unknowns, the creation of something that is both yours and not yours, the building and working and waiting and wanting to share your news with the world. Sleepless nights. Unfinished laundry. A thousand dreams and hopes. That’s where we are at Kind World Publishing. As we set forth, I am cognizant in the most wonderful and wistful way that these are the early days. Some day, we’ll look back to now and say “remember when?” But for now, it’s beautiful to be here. Thanks for visiting us.
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“With the right words, you can change the world.” Charlotte’s Web

Little pink pig charm standing on table

Stories about kindness, compassion, and championing the underdog have always spoken to me. My earliest memories include an impassioned reading of Charlotte’s Web and cheering on Charlotte and Wilbur and their humble, beautiful friendship. (I’ll wax on about that in another post, on another day.)

I realize some people will be cynical about a company called “Kind World.” After all, the world is not always kind. Humans are inherently flawed creatures. We make mistakes and intentionally hurt each other.

But we are also good. And I do believe in the inherent kindness of humanity and the possibilities we hold, both as individuals and as a collective.

Our hope at Kind World Publishing is to put a bit more good out into the universe, to use stories to create connections, to help tip the scales toward our better selves—to celebrate the best of us. I hope you find something here that helps you do that as well.