Publication: Grand Forks Herald
Date: August 30, 2008
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Ditch your ‘adultitis’ – and be a kid again
By Naomi Dunavan
A young Christmas caroler named Kim showed up in reindeer boxer shorts over long, red underwear, combat boots and a Santa hat.
Her fun-loving demeanor immediately rubbed off on Jason Kotecki.
“I was attracted to Kim’s child-like spirit,” Jason said. “She has a huge smile and a bubbly personality. She’s very fun to be around. She also has a very deep childlike faith which comes from her family. She has this confidence and overall love for life. I was committed to trying to make sure I kept her attention.”
After they began dating, Jason asked for childhood pictures of Kim. When he put hers beside his childhood photos, the artist in him emerged. He started drawing cartoon caricatures of little Kim in red bib overalls and little Jason with spiky black hair and the two would banter about the struggles and small victories they encountered each day.
“I created this comic strip called ‘Kim and Jason,’ and it was all about childhood,” Jason said. “Eventually Kim and I married, and we wanted to take this message of being more childlike out into the world.”
Wednesday, Jason and Kim will be in Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Forks to talk about how to “de-stress,” by renewing and embracing childlike attitudes and faith.
It all begins with a potluck supper at 5:30 p.m. The Kotecki’s program for children of all ages, will begin as soon as the dishes are cleared. It will wrap up at 8 p.m. Childcare for those 5 and younger will be available. For more information call Holy Family at (701) 746-1454.
Jason will “undoubtedly be donning a playful retro T-shirt – something highlighting a favorite childhood book like ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ or a childlike toy like Mr. Potato Head,” Kim said via telephone from their home in Madison, Wis. Jason also will be wearing playful mismatched socks,” she said.
Those socks and more Kim and Jason fun things are available on their Web sites – www.kimandjason.com and www.adultisis.org.
I know adults who still love to color as much as children do, and Wednesday night’s attendees will be asked to draw with crayons.
“This is an important opportunity to rekindle childlike memories, especially after being encouraged to smell the crayons,” Kim said. “Smell is the sense that most powerfully recalls childhood memories.”
The Kim and Jason comic strip, which for seven years appeared in more than 100 publications around the country before Jason retired it in 2007, is about the notion that there’s more to life than the hectic busyness and overwhelming stress typical of most lives today. Many of us have a bad case of “adultitis,” which tricks us into missing out on the good life and causes us to take ourselves too seriously.
So, what is adultitis?
Jason defines it as a common condition occurring in people between the ages of 21–121, marked by chronic dullness, mild depression, moderate to extremely high stress levels, a fear of change, and sometimes the inability to smile. Patients can appear aimless, discontent, and anxious about many things. Onset can be accelerated by a burden of bills, overwhelming responsibilities or a boring job. Individuals in this condition are not fun to be around.
Who discovered adultitis?
It’s been around for centuries but only recently named by Jason after he observed that children rarely complain about being stressed and seem to enjoy life way more than grown-ups. His research revealed that a 4-year-old laughs more than 400 times a day and the average adult 15 times a day. Jason found that this discrepancy between children and grown-ups was not caused simply by a decrease in exposure to Saturday morning cartoons and knock-knock jokes, but by a real, debilitating disease he ultimately dubbed Adultitis.
“We believe life is meant to be lived to the fullest,” said Kim, a former kindergarten teacher, “and that our lives should be bursting with big dreams, oodles of passion and an enthusiastic playfulness. We believe in curiosity, delighting in the little things and a faith in God who knows things always work out for the best. We believe that a life that embraces a childlike spirit is a life that is less stressful and more fun.”
Jason, author of “Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets From Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown Up,” currently is working on another book on how to deal with fear. He retired his comic strip last year because of a heavy speaking schedule.
“Seventy-five percent of our programs are faith-based,” Jason said. “We also do a number of secular programs with nurses and educators in public schools and there we try to weave in a similar message to slow down to see the beauty around us and to trust and to hope. It’s really neat to be able to give this message intergenerationally. Senior citizens nod in approval and some people look at it as the old-fashioned values we’ve lost over the years. It’s neat to give people permission to have more fun and to spend more time with their family. When you are doing that and making people laugh, it’s very rewarding and we are very blessed.”
Kim and Jason are expecting their first child in November. They have not had the gender determining ultrasound.
“There are too few surprises left in the world,” Jason said, “and that’s one we’re going to wait to be surprised about.
Now about the Wednesday – Jason hopes someone will bring a dessert made with cherries and Kim would like brownies, please!
“Notice how we both said desserts?” Kim said. “We might have to eat dessert first, as we take this childlike perspective pretty seriously.”
Naomi Dunavan is a Herald columnist. Reach her at (218) 773-9521 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2008 Forum Communications Co.