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Soundtracks and Gratitude

When I was in big roles with bigger companies and sometimes (in the before times) working from home, the sound of my family playing together in the background would frustrate me. The ruckus, the yelling, even the loud outbursts of laughter. I was so immersed in the job, I would yell across the house for everyone to be quiet because I was trying to focus on something that “was really important!”

Except, it wasn’t that important. Not nearly as important as that gorgeous soundtrack of happiness, which, because of my own askew priorities, I couldn’t always hear clearly.

As I sit here this morning, listening to that same sound, it fills my heart. I’m so grateful to have my family here, safe and healthy, together. I am keenly aware many people are missing this, who perhaps cannot hear or see the gifts surrounding them in their own lives, or who have tragically or unjustly lost loved ones, soundtracks broken in untimely and unfair ways.

I have a big role now in a little company, (albeit a little company with big goals). We have challenges here and challenges ahead, but there are also so many gifts: the gift of being the decision-maker in how we can help others, the gift of time together—the gift of this soundtrack.

What are you listening to today? And, more importantly, how are you going to respond to what you’re hearing in your heart?

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Facing Fear

Fear is a really big emotion. (In some ways, I’m afraid to attempt to write about it.) But the reality is that fear needs conversations. Fear needs to be acknowledged and discussed. The more we push it down or away, the more control that same fear has over our feelings and actions and words.

Kids and adults alike have stress responses to fear that often look like something else, whether that something is anger or frustration or procrastination. (If your child has an outburst about something, it might be a good sign to dig a little deeper. Additionally, procrastination can be tied to a fear of failure.)

We navigated some basic fears here recently as Reese prepared for a first dentist appointment that involved a cavity and filling. Naming the thing she was afraid of, talking calmly and honestly about the procedure, and openly answering questions set her up for a positive experience. Was she still scared? Yes. But at a manageable and reasonable level.

Helping the kids in your life deal with big feelings such as fear provides them with skills that carry into adulthood. When we simply dismiss fear by telling a child they shouldn’t be afraid, or that they need to “toughen up” or “grow up,” we begin to create a path of repressing a very real and very controlling emotion. Many, many things in this world are immeasurably more frightening than having a cavity filled, and rightfully so. But creating smaller moments like this one can serve as reminders of success when bigger fears need facing.

Find those moments to talk honestly about fear. You might just discover opportunities to embrace and face some of your own.

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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.