Tip of the Week: This Little Light of Mine

This week’s Escape Plan challenge (aka our Tip of the Week) is #22: This Little Light of Mine: Do something to make the world a better place.

When it comes to helping make the world a better place, there are lots of options here in Madison. Supposedly Wisconsin’s capital has more nonprofit organizations per capita than any other city in the nation. That’s pretty darn cool.

“The greatest exercise for the human heart is to reach down and lift someone up.”

I heard this quote in a powerful interview on CNN recently highlighting Jon Huntsman, a self-made billionaire whoCancer Sucks is spending his hard-earned cash on one thing… curing cancer! Inspired by the loss of his mother at a young age from cancer, he founded the Huntsman Cancer Institute in her honor. The dedicated folks there are working endlessly to not only cure cancer but to help improve the lives of cancer patients and their families. His namesake HCI building holds this quote “Selfless giving unto others represents one’s true wealth.” Time Magazine identified Huntsman as the sixth largest philanthropist in the United States in 2000. In 2007, he gave $750 million in contributions and donations. He proudly shared in this candid interview with Glenn Beck that he plans to die bankrupt.

Men like Mr. Huntsman both humble and inspire me to think bigger and give more. You don’t have to be a billionaire before you start sharing the gifts you’ve been given. In today’s busy world, sharing your time if often a greater challenge than sharing money.

So, exercise your heart this week. Share a comment on the Escape Plan Blog of what you decide to do to make the world a better place.

Nightmare Dolls

Kim and I recently compiled some video highlights of our visit to the National Museum of Play.

While we were there, we had the unfortunate displeasure of wandering down a spooky, out-of-the-way aisle which housed a display of frightening dolls. I put together a terrifying little short so that you can have nightmares too. Enjoy, I think.

iPod Version (17.6 MB)

Visiting The National Museum of Play

Last week, Kim wrote about a recent trip to upstate New York. We were there for a speaking engagement and flew into Rochester, which is the home of the Strong National Museum of Play. This museum is a veritable Adultitis Hospital, and features many exciting exhibits, including the National Toy Hall of Fame. I have mentioned the Toy Hall of Fame on this blog no less that three times (here, here, and here), so it was a real treat to finally make a visit.

I had a chance to compile some highlights in video form. Feel free to take a virtual tour of the museum. How many of the toys featured in the video did YOU (or your kids) have? [Read more...]

The Last Lecture

“Never underestimate the power of having fun.”

This said from a man with three little kids who is dying of pancreatic cancer and has months to live.

If you haven’t already seen this lecture, given by professor Randy Pausch, do yourself — and your loved ones — a favor by taking some time to watch it right now. It is as inspiring as it is heart-wrenching.

Don’t wait ’till it’s too late to really start living life. [Read more...]

Did The Easter Bunny Let You Down?

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We can help. But you gotta act fast.

P.S. Would it surprise you to know that Doug is a big Carlie Chaplin fan?

27 Ways to Stomp Out Spring Stress

Every season brings its own natural stressors. Spring is no different. The busyness of spring sports, spring cleaning, and don’t forget about taxes. The weather gets nicer by the day, and yet the to-do list leaves little room for enjoying it. Puddle

David Schkade, PhD, a psychologist and professor of management at the University of California San Diego shared in a recent article for “O” The Oprah Magazine that “if you transfer even an hour of your day from an activity you hate (commuting, scrubbing the bathroom) to one you like (reading, spending time with friends), you should see a significant improvement in your overall happiness. Taking action is key.”

Childhood was rarely stressful, especially when you were four and five-years-old. This is probably because we were spending far more than an hour doing things we like to do. Take a page out of those simpler days to de-stress and increase your happiness. Leave the tax papers in their pile momentarily. Put down the dustbuster. A childlike moment or two will leave you thinking clearer, breathing deeper, and finding the good in seemingly not-so-good situations.

Here are some ideas to get you started… 27 ways to stomp out spring stress.

1. Jump in a puddle.

2. Pick some flowers and make them the centerpiece of your kitchen table. (Remember, dandelions count as flowers in childhood.) [Read more...]

Check Out Kim in Woman’s Day

womans_day_apr08.jpgAllow me to toot my wife’s horn. Kim contributed to an article in the April issue of Woman’s Day, which should be hitting newsstands any second now. The article, written by Denise Schipani, is titled, “20 Things to Do With 20 Minutes.” A pretty good list of tips, if you ask me. Read ‘em all in the latest issue or watch the online slideshow.

Toot, toot.

What’s So Great About America

grinch_for_pres.jpgIs it just me, or is the election season getting longer and longer here in America? (I think I already saw a yard sign for someone running for President in 2012.)

One thing that disgusts me is how each election season, every candidate makes a case of how terrible things are in this country. Everything is in the toilet: our economy, our schools, our foreign policy, our health care system, you name it. Add it all up, and we apparently live in the worst country on the face of the earth. (Kind of makes you wonder why we have such a problem with illegal immigration — it seems to me that people should be fleeing the country in record numbers…) Fortunately for us (cue sarcasm), we have seven more months to decide which of the three remaining selfless civil servants will, as our next President, swoop in and fix every last bit of it!

It’s times like these that make me thankful for my friend Stefan. Stefan is a speaker Kim and I met a few months ago who is a recent immigrant from Germany. He goes around giving speeches about why America is so great. [Read more...]

Tip of the Week: Photo Safari

This week’s Escape Plan challenge (aka our Tip of the Week) is #23: Photo Safari. Take a picture of the most childlike spot in town.

Sometimes you need a change of scenery. Sometimes you need to self-diagnose the ol’ Adultitis (or take the official intake here) and admit yourself into an Adultitis Hospital (aka a “childlike spot in town”).

Sesame St.A few weeks ago Jason and I were in Rochester, NY for some speaking gigs. We had heard that Rochester is home of the Strong National Museum of Play, which also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame. This definitely qualified for the “most childlike spot in town.” Exhibit after exhibit was filled to the brim with childlike fun and nostalgic time machines, whisking you back instantly. We really enjoyed seeing all of the toys inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame- everything from the teddy bear and Barbie to Lincoln Logs… and even the cardboard box! So much of it was hanstreet signds-on… like the slinky and Lego exhibit. We even got to make crazy fantastical hats, celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

My favorite part, though, was walking up the stairs to 123 Sesame Street. Yep, they had a mock set of that magical street from childhood.

What a surefire way to Escape Adulthood!

So, where’s your most childlike spot in town? Leave a comment on the Escape Plan Blog and feel free to email me your picture.

Press Pause and Connect

(This is an excerpt of an article written for Kim & Jason magazine by motivational speaker, author, and triathlete Jason Womack. He is skilled at offering practical suggestions for dealing with the challenges of balancing work and other areas of life.)

arms_outstretched.jpgI was at a wedding last summer, at a winery atop the rolling hills of Oregon. At one point during the meal, the bride and her mom approached my table and said, “Hey, Jason, do you remember Billy Walsh?” It turns out she knew my best friend from 2nd grade! And in an instant, it all came back…

Playing “Connect Four” for hours at school.

Hiking along the Pepper Creek for hours in Lagunitas, California.

Playing for hours with Legos® all over the living room floor. [Read more...]

Adultitis Case Study #6: Rabbit Eggs

Spring is finally here and Easter is this weekend. You might think that Adultitis would be inclined to take a few days off. Not quite. The Cure Adultitis Institute has released a new case study chronicling the extreme effects of the condition. Who knew the Easter Bunny could be so controversial?

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EA #29: Putting the “Life” in Work Life Balance

podcast_29.jpgIn this episode, brought to you from studio 315 in Madison, Wisconsin, we interview Jason and Jodi Womack, a husband and wife team who help people manage time and increase personal productivity. They are a great example of how to put more life into work life balance. We also talk about the rise of work rage, organizing your greeting cards, and a minature Adultitis antitdote. Just click “Play” to listen to the show… [Read more...]

Tip of the Week: Outside the Lines

This week’s Escape Plan challenge (aka our Tip of the Week) is #24: Outside the Lines. Figure out a way to add some color to your day in a new, unusual, or wacky way.

Color just makes things more fun. Whether it’s a colorful necktie, hat, fun socks or shoe laces, it proves to be an easy way to add some fun to your day. I know Dr. Seuss would back me up on this one.

If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good. -Dr. Seuss

Speaking of Seuss, when Jason originally did this challenge for the Escape Plan, he took a page out of Seuss’ book (Not literally- that would be sacreligious). In an attempt to have some fun with the rhymes, like the master, here’s what happened…

He dug deep in the cupboard, and soon he found
a small box of food colors..
red, yellow, and blue- but no brown.

As he stirred and he stirred, the eggs started to scramble.
He added some green. Yes, this was quite the gamble. [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Kim!

My lovely wife Kim turns 30 today. Technically, that means she was born 30 years ago, but I don’t know that I’d call her 30 years old, because somehow, she still has the heart of a five-year-old.

I figured it would be a prefect opportunity to honor her with a tribute of some sort. So without further ado, here are 30 things I love about Kim…

I love going on walks with her.

I love how she looks when she’s sleeping. All cute and stuff.

She still sleeps with a pillow that she had when she was a little girl. [Read more...]

Escaping Adulthood in Upstate NY

We had some speaking programs in Utica, NY last week. When asked what Utica is known for we were told that 50 years ago it was quite the hang out for some talented good looking guys, known as the Rat Pack. It’s also a neighboring town to Rachel Ray’s old stomping grounds and has a number of authentic Italian restaurants that serve the local favorite, chicken riggies (which I tried for the first time… Yum!).

We’ve been doing a lot of two night events lately and we’re starting to see a trend. The second night something interesting happens… the people come alive with childlike enthusiasm. After given permission the night before, on the second night we are often met with amazing stories illustrating their “take” on this message of childlike living, with less stress and more fun. It’s a hoot! We plan to get to the event much earlier on night two, because set-up takes much longer with all of the stories… a great problem to have.

Here are a few highlights… [Read more...]

Brett Favre: The Childlike Quarterback

brett_favre.jpgI live in Wisconsin, which means we’re still dealing with the fallout from the retirement of Brett Favre. Most of the Land o’ Cheese is in an official state of mourning, which I doubt will end anytime soon. I said “most” on purpose, because I, my friends, am a Chicago Bears fan. Living as a Bears fan in Green and Gold country is no easy task. But the load got a little lighter when Number 4 announced his retirement last week.

As a Bears fan, I hated Brett Favre.

But as a football fan, I respected him.

And as a human being, I downright admired him.

A perplexing dichotomy, to be sure, but as one who espouses the merits of childlike — not childish — behavior, I’m not sure I will ever see another athlete in my lifetime who played his (or her) game with more childlike enthusiasm than Brett Favre. [Read more...]

Tip of the Week: G’Day Mate

This week’s Escape Plan challenge (aka our Tip of the Week) is #25: G’Day Mate. Talk in a phony voice or accent to a complete stranger.

CrocodileApparently I have quite the Wisconsin accent these days, even though I was born and raised in Ottawa, IL, 90 miles SW of Chicago. I know what did it! While teaching in Stoughton, WI (known for it’s Norwegian ancestry) for five years I was surrounded by native Wisconsinites on a daily basis. In fact the person in charge of the announcements for the PA system had a very thick accent, almost more like Northern MN, North Dakota. My o’s will never be the same, ya know?

It’s fun to mess around with the sound of your voice. My sister Kristy and I would goof around with accents all of the time when we were little. I think all kids do to some degree. As adults though… no way José! Unless you were voted the class clown your senior year in high school, phony accents are not an option in your adult life. But, why not have a little fun with your voice? [Read more...]

Members Only: Valentine’s Day Outtakes

We’ve got a little treat for Club K&J members: a highlight reel of outtakes from the Adultitis Case Study involving Valentine’s Day. Some are funny. Some are absurd. All of them are sobering examples of a guy loaded with Adultitis. Watch the original video here, click the image below to view the outtakes.

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Not a Club K&J member? Join today!

The Final Feeling Lucky Drawing

The video of the final drawing for our Feeling Lucky promotion was posted yesterday on Jenna’s blog. It’s probably the funniest one yet. Don’t miss it — especially if you saw the retiring Brett Favre’s press conference.

Dreams Come True When Faith Takes Flight

I love my job. As I write this, I am several thousand feet in the air, sitting in first class on a jet, coming home from some speaking programs in New York. I’m in first class because Kim and I did so much traveling last year, we got bumped up to the next level of our airline’s rewards program, so every once in a while, our tickets get upgraded and we get to fly “in style.”

Here’s the part I love. Not to be stereotypical, but most of the people sitting around me are the, um, “stuffy” types. The business suits checking their Blackberrys and poring over last quarter’s numbers. It’s hard to say, but they don’t seem particularly happy. Meanwhile, I pull out my Powerbook to do a little work of my own. In the middle of updating the online archive of Kim & Jason comic strips, I can’t help but smile. I wonder what other people would be thinking if they took a glance at my computer screen, populated by a continuous rotation of silly drawings of cartoon characters.

This is my work. Sometimes I have to pinch myself at the ridiculousness of it all. [Read more...]

Star Wars According to a 3-Year-Old

Grown-ups have a way of complicating things. We are addicted to subtlety. Nuance. Shades of grey. One of the things I admire most about children is their ability to cut to the chase. They’re honest. They tell it like it is. And they don’t mess around with unimportant details.

This video gives the rundown of Star Wars Episode IV from the perspective of a 3-year-old. One important life lesson: don’t be like the shiny guy. The shiny guy always worries. Even 3-year-olds know that worrying is a stupid waste of time. Proof yet again that kids are experts at spotting Adultitis. [Read more...]

Music Moments

Puberty and the teenage years are often the initial cause of the widespread epidemic, Adultitis. It makes sense.

Raise your hand if you’d like to go back to puberty. No hands… I thought so.Record Player

Sure, there were fun moments, but for the most part the common experience is an extended period of awkwardness as you make the trek on the slow train from childhood to adulthood. With your hormones are out of control, the zits, peer pressure, and the pointless homework, you can’t wait to leave childhood in the dust. Many of the people I have talked to about this agree that college was much more enjoyable than junior high and high school.

Parents of teenagers have a challenging job. (This is the understatement of the century!)

Recently at a gig in Chicago a parent told us afterwards about a cool way she connects with her two teenage boys. [Read more...]

K&J Escape Event #1 Winner Announced

jim_peters_and_staff.jpgWell, you have spoken, and the winner of the first ever Kim & Jason Escape Event is Club K&J member Jim Peters! He received 54% of the vote total, making him a landslide winner. For those of you who missed out or are new to Kim & Jason, the Escape Event challenge, dubbed Kitchentertainment, was to “make a childlike moment in your kitchen. It could be resurrecting an experience from your childhood or creating a brand new one.” [Read more...]

Tip of the Week: Mr. Smartypants

This week’s Escape Plan challenge (aka our Tip of the Week) is #26: Mr. Smartypants. Open to a random page in the dictionary and look at the first word on the upper left-hand side. Keep turning pages until you find a word you don’t know. See how many times you can use this new word in a sentence today. Words

As kids we’re natural inventors of words. Jason’s mom loves to recall how as a three and four-year-old he would talk about things “misdappearing.” I knew a lot of preschoolers in my day who loved to eat pasghetti. We are experimenting with words all of the time as kids. As grown-ups we limit ourselves because we don’t want to look dumb, risking that we might use a new word incorrectly. [Read more...]

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