The Other Far Worse F Word

To my joy and delight, my article, ‘The Other Far Worse F Word” was published in Elephant Journal, an online publication with over 14 million monthly views. The content on Elephant Journal is dedicated to living a mindful, authentic life. I’m a huge fan of the content so when I took a bold chance and submitted my work, I was thrilled when they said yes!

As of today (May 13, 2015), the article has had over 16,000 views and was moved to the front page of the site within 3 hours of being posted. I’m humbled by the response for my article.

The original article can be found at: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/05/the-other-far-worse-f-word/ but a short cut is below!

Apathy

The Other Far Worse F Word

To the chagrin of my mother, I like (no, love) the f-word.

I realize that it isn’t Namaste appropriate and I probably make my third eye angry when I blurt it out loud, but at times there really is no better word to fill in the blank, to express an emotion, or to tell someone where to go. I do my best to not drop the infamous f-bomb in social settings where I am required to wear a name tag, but I can’t promise that I do not think it or secretly direct it at some idiot on a regular basis.

With no filter between my brain and my mouth, the f-word and I have created many memories together. When I recently turned 40, I decided I was old enough to no longer apologize for dropping my favorite adjective and noun at the drop of the hat. With what my heart endured in the last decade, embracing the f-word without abandon seems like a free gift with purchase.

There is another f-word that I believe does more damage than the f’er I have constantly on the tip of my tongue. The word that excites me as much as a wet noodle is “fine.” Even when it rolls out of my mouth, I start to gag. Have you noticed that nothing good ever comes from the word fine?

How do I look in this dress? You look fine.

Are you mad at me? No, I’m fine.

How are you? I’m fine, thanks.

Ironically, the definition of “fine” can vary between “high quality” (adjective) or “pleasing manner, very well” (adverb). If fine is the mistress of positive, how did it become the word that yields a response as exciting as chips with no guacamole? Fine is now the filler word we use when we don’t really have anything else to say. When our emotions are dragging on the floor, it’s all we can muster.

I hate fine; I hate everything the modern generation has allowed it to become. I strongly dislike when I feel fine because that means I am content. At the ripe old age of 40-ish, content is like making the B-team instead of being selected as an all-star. Content and her cousin, fine, are the bridesmaids—never the bride.

Being fine equates to getting sucked into the Alanis Morisette song, Ironic; “It’s like a black fly in your chardonnay.” It’s still fine to drink, but you lose interest because Jeff Goldblum took a diver in your glass. (Will the younger generation understand the movie reference I made there?)

So in an attempt to turn my frown upside down, I’m campaigning to rid the world of fine. If you are living in a life that you didn’t design, going to a job every day that doesn’t fill your soul and/or in a relationship that feels like you are wearing a heavy coat full of burden, you are a fully paid up member of the Fine Club. In case you need a smack in the f’ing face, you are bordering between the neighborhoods of content and just getting by. Believe me, I was the mayor of this town for a long time! I realize I can’t point my finger at you without pointing three back at me.

In spite of every great intention, when I rounded into my 30’s, I found myself in a very high profile job in corporate America; I regretted it on the third day yet I stayed five years. I landed in a relationship that started as a casual friendship yet became emotional abusive; it lasted two years and 11 months longer than it ever should have. And I found myself existing in a world that went from colorful to dark gray because the architect of my life apparently took a hiatus. It should come as no surprise that I look back at my 30’s and can’t help but think, “f*ck off!”

It’s easy to point fingers at my ability to choose the wrong job, the painfully wrong man or the wrong life; being the victim allows for so many excuses. The honest reason my life fell off the rails is because I let it. I didn’t allow the inner voice that spoke loudly, on the third day at my fancy corporate job, to completely derail the American dream of having a consistent paycheck every two weeks.

Regrettably, I closed my ears when my intuition raised its hand and started campaigning for the end of my relationship the first time he used the c-word. As my life imploded, exhausted from being in a place of crisis of management versus thriving, I shut down completely. The only answer I could muster up when asked how I was doing was always the infamous “fine.” Life was winning against an opponent that was no longer in the game.

They say time heals all wounds, and as much as I believe that, I have come to learn that giving yourself permission to live the life you want really is the best remedy. When you start to view your life through a selfish lens, you can no longer live with the rose-colored glasses of fine.

I realize that the use of the word selfish may shock some but it’s really the crux of the solution. I’m not giving you permission to be selfish so you can have the biggest piece of cake (in your 40’s, your metabolism slows to molasses so, believe me, leave the cake alone!) Instead, selfish is meant to be a rallying cry so that you put yourself first. There is a reason the airlines tell us to put our oxygen mask on first before we help others. When we do not allow our heart to explore the vocation our life intended, we experience turbulence. And this turbulence doesn’t come with complimentary peanuts.

The next time you utter the word fine, I implore you to do a gut check. If fine starts to pepper your daily language, it’s time to call in the architect of your own life and start to make plans for a major overhaul. Scary, sure; doable, absolutely! Please don’t ever get to a position where your job, relationship or view on life is just “fine.” Take it from someone who lived far too long in that space; life is winning when you get to that point.

With self-initiated permission to design the life you want to live, I promise there is a whole lot of “f*ck yeah” ahead!

~

Author: Nicole Matthews

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Flickr
About Nicole Matthews

Nicole Matthews is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and champion for living your best life. As a global event, travel and lifestyle concierge, she helps clients to enjoy the playground of life. Her new book, Permission: Stop Competing & Start Creating the Life You Want to Live is available on Amazon. Nicole craves humor and storytelling, as much as the perfect accessory to accentuate an outfit. Deep down, she believes her days performing, at the age of 9, as a showgirl in Las Vegas, have prepared her for when Dancing With the Stars calls.

6 Things Wedding Planners Wish Brides Would Stop Obsessing About

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We were delighted to be included in the Brides Magazine article, “6 Things Wedding Planners Wish Brides Would Stop Obsessing About.” http://www.brides.com/blogs/aisle-say/2015/04/things-wedding-planners-wish-brides-would-stop-worrying-about.html – article written by Elizabeth Mitchell.

 

Brides, did you know that the more control you try to exert over your big day, the less in control you’ll actually feel? That’s because certain aspects, such as the weather, are simply out of your hands and nothing, we repeat, nothing is perfect, despite you and your wedding vendors’ best intentions! Instead of setting yourself up to fail, take the advice of these wedding planners, who’ve witnessed firsthand the unhappiness obsessing over things like flowers and colors causes brides.

The Flowers
“Many brides have a tendency to obsess about the flowers, when in actuality, the colors and types available are dictated at the whim of Mother Nature. For example, who would have thought that temperatures on the West Coast would reach record highs in early March of 90 degrees? Those growers hit by the drought may have some damaged crops, and flowers that are shipped from all over the world may not come in the quantities that were originally planned for your wedding. Thus, changes will be necessary.” — Greg Jenkins, founder of Bravo Productions

The Day-Of Details
“I’ve seen far too many brides obsess about perfection, to the point where they make themselves miserable on the one day that they should be their happiest. Just like no relationship is perfect, so too are weddings and wedding vendors. Keeping in mind that you are marrying the man of your dreams and having your friends and family there to be a part of that is what the day is really all about. If the timing is a little bit off or if something that isn’t of critical importance should go missing, don’t harp on it. Take everything in stride, and you’ll not only feel the love and admiration of those all around you, but you’ll also be that much happier and healthier.” — Aviva Samuels, founder of Kiss the Planner

See More: 5 Most Common Wedding DIY Mishaps

The Color Scheme
“In my experience, a lot of brides get fixated on needing to pick specific wedding colors. The idea of designing a wedding around one or two random colors is odd to me. I think it’s much better to think of the big picture atmosphere you’re trying to create at your wedding. And then you can start thinking about an overall color palette that supports this look and feel.” — Amy Kaneko, owner of Amy Kaneko Special Events

The Wedding World’s Expectations
“I think brides obsess too much about what the wedding ‘should’ be like versus designing a wedding that authentically represents the couple. They so easily get caught up in every wedding blog, magazine or vendor website. This causes paralysis by analysis. I ask my couples to make a list of what is hugely important to both of them. We focus on the priorities and then supplement where needed. There is no cookie cutter recipe for what a wedding should look like. Brides and grooms should embrace that they have the freedom to design the day they both want.” — Nicole R. Matthews, Founder of The Henley Company

The Weather
“As the wedding nears, brides are often very concerned with the weather and start checking the forecast obsessively. As a planner, I’ve worked on weddings where it rained, where there’s been an unexpected heat wave (108 degrees!) and everything in between. When you book your venue, be sure there’s a backup plan in case of rain, then let whatever happens happen. At my own wedding we moved the ceremony indoors at the last minute due to rain and it was every bit as wonderful as it would have been outside, even though I’d initially hoped for an outdoors wedding.” — Samantha Spector, founder of Milk & Honey Special Events

The Timeline
“More specifically, the bridal party and guests being on time! Remember though, even if everyone’s doing their best, you can’t always account for traffic jams or mixed up directions. We always expect that people will show up late. Real event pros take this into consideration and pad the timeline accordingly so a few ceremony stragglers or slightly tardy groomsmen won’t throw the whole schedule off.” — Erica Taylor, co-founder of Tinsel & Twine

Playground Chatter with Bobby Umar, Leadership Speaker

Welcome to Playground Chatter! Our blog series, where we get to profile and chat with some of the best executives in town! Sure, we could ask about all their fancy business stuff but since we are fun monsters, we want to know how they spend their spare time on the playground of life!

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Your Name: Bobby Umar

Your nickname? Fun Bobby

What is your grown up job? Leadership Speaker

How can we find you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bobby-Umar-Leadership-and-Development/192417474125739

          Instagram: @raehanbobby/

       Pinterest: /raehanbobby

     Twitter: @raehanbobby

 

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Tell us where you spent your childhood years. Is there one year you remember most?  I grew up on the east coast of Canada, in New Brunswick. I had a pretty awesome childhood and most of the years were great. We spent our entire days outside, playing street hockey, exploring the forest, biking through sand dunes. I also remember starting our camping years with my family. But I really loved the first few years of school, especially grade 3, when we had an exchange teacher from England, Miss Scott who really was amazing. I was also at the peak of my academic skills and athletic skills. Aside from doing well is school, I remember being a strong long distance runner and the dodgeball champ. But soon, my athletic skills would go down big time. Finally in grade 5, I was honoured to skip a grade, which as pretty cool.

Favorite part of the playground to hang out in? I was either playing hockey or baseball on one side, or on the other side with the girls playing jump rope. Even back then, I was mixing up and not caring about any stereotypical gender roles.

Lunch pail, brown bag or did you buy lunch? I was the guy who had his mom make soup and toast once a week in my lunch pail. That was a treat, as was my mom’s famous curried ground beef sandwiches. But my staple lunch, and I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you, was actually ketchup and lettuce sandwiches.

 

What would be your ideal recess today? Hmm…ideal recess would be hanging with the girls talking about boys, then playing different team sports. I would have a nice bagel for a snack.

 

If I deemed you Playground Monitor for the next 15 minutes, how would you rally your employees? What activity would everyone participate in? I get us all to play a combination of my favourite teambuilding games, including Big Booty, Zip-Zap-Bop and Take and Stand. Big Booty and Zip-Zap-Bop are improve games. Take a Stand is where we take an issue or situation and get people to choose one side over the other and then say why they chose that side.

 

What rules did you learn on the playground that you still utilize today? I moved around from location to location. Learning about the diversity of the playground is also how I live my life with connecting. I believe the diversity of my network leads to diversity of thought, experiences and action.  I did learn that kids can be cruel sometimes to one another and teaching my own children to believe in themselves and stand up for themselves will be key. I also learned about playing fair and playing inclusively. Finally I learned that men and women can play anything they want, regardless of what people tell you what you should and should not do.

When does time disappear for you? Vacation time is a good one. Play time is another big one. When I was a kid, playing hockey, snow sledding or going rock climbing, I never noticed how late it got until the sun started setting. Nowadays, only on vacation do I feel time disappear. It is a hard feeling to capture again.

 

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What is your authentic intention (that thing that you really, really want to do or accomplish?) What are you doing to get there? My big intention is to help one million hearts find their authentic path of passion and purpose. I seek to inspire and teach these ‘lost leaders’ as a world-class speaker, author and coach. I want to tell them that it’s okay to feel lost personally, professionally and academically because I have too. But it’s not okay to do little about it.

I am getting there more now by having my first speaker agent, coming out with my first books on ‘How to Network Anytime’, and I just created a 12-week modular coaching program called Networking Mastery.

In her book Permission: Stop Competing & Start Creating the Life You Want to Live, Nicole Matthews, Founder of The Henley Company, talks about giving yourself permission to design your best life. Which area of your life needs a little more attention? What are you willing to give yourself permission to do? The biggest area is my health. I recently started a movement called #FitInMyLife because initially I wanted to get fit in my life, after a lifetime of just ignoring it or letting things get worse. I now realize that this movement and hashtag is two-fold because, I am also trying to make everything fit in my life – my kids, my wife, my business, my health, my friends and everything else I want to do in this world. I am willing to give myself permission to spend some time during the weekdays to do healthy things and focus my attention on my young children whenever they are home. Then I am Super Daddy. But it takes some toll on my ability to spend on my business. This is one of the reasons why I am looking now at ways to scale and automate revenue systems.

 

Define happiness in less than 140 characters. The feeling, creation or manifestation of authentic joy, fulfillment, purpose and peace, whether for yourself, others or the world.

 

Grab your colored chalk and write a motto on the asphalt of the playground for all the kids to see. What’s your message? Fight for your life: the one you truly want to live, with success defined by you and supported by those who love you.

 

What will you do from this day forward to design your life to better incorporate more recess? (Pinky Swear). I will try to incorporate more recess where time can disappear and gratitude can create monuments of every moment.

I will look at my life more holistically and find the balance between planning for my purpose, impact and legacy while also exploring all the joy and happiness that this world has to offer.

I will continue my path of love, gratitude and leadership to serve every lost leader in my story and role as a father, brother, son, partner, friend and business person.

Thanks Bobby! You are awesome!!

 

Exploring the Streets of Old San Juan

Our first full day in Puerto Rico, we trekked into Old San Juan from our hotel in the neighborhood of Carolina. Carolina is home to many hotels, a beautiful beach and easy access to the airport. The Ritz Carlton, the Intercontinental and El San Juan Resort all have beach front properties in Carolina. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Resort and Casino, which was just a quick walk to the beach.

To get to Old San Juan, we took public transportation, which required us to travel via city bus. For only 75 cents, we were able to get from Carolina to Old San Juan on one bus. The buses are clean, air-conditioned and move quickly through the city. TRAVEL NOTE: The buses in Puerto Rico only take exact change so you cannot pay with dollars; coins only. The journey from Carolina to Old San Juan took about 45 minutes, and led us through diverse neighborhoods like Condado (home to many of the luxury stores like Gucci and Tiffany’s.) We were able to get quite a flavor of the extended city through the bus route.

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Upon arriving at Old San Juan, we immediately hopped on to the free shuttle, which took us into the heart of the town. This shuttle leaves from the bus terminal. With 20 stops throughout the colonial section of Old San Juan, visitors are able to easily get around the cobblestone streets and hills on this trolley. We jumped off after a few minutes to start exploring. Although the streets within the colonial section of Old San Juan can be quite steep, it’s certainly worth getting your feet to the ground to start walking. You can appreciate the culture, stores and restaurants of the area much better by walking.

After a quick stop at the Coach store to make a purchase (hey- the purse was 80% off!) , we took a tour of The Cathedral, which houses Ponce De Leon’s remains. Directly across the street from The Cathedral, sits the El Convento Hotel, which was once a convent. In July 1651, the convent was inaugurated as the Monastery of Our Lady Carmen of San José — and was situated across the street from San Juan Cathedral, the Western Hemisphere’s oldest cathedral. This historic property represents the best of colonial architecture. It’s beautiful mustard color walls, contrast beautifully with the blue cobble stone streets found in this neighborhood.

While wondering through the streets of Old San Juan, it’s easy to see the blend of historic influence from the Spanish, the lively colors of the Caribbean and the Latin influence of culture. A must-see in Old San Juan are the forts: Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a 16th century fortress that was named after King Phillip II of Spain and Fort San Cristóbal, known as the “Gibraltar of the Caribbean,” is located on the eastern side of Old San Juan.

Old San Juan offers the best in shopping, restaurants and historic landmarks. It’s a must-see if you visit Puerto Rico! The only negative is that the streets can get crowded when the cruise ships arrive so be prepared to share the experience with the cruisers.

Have you been to Puerto Rico? What did you love?

Making Memories in Puerto Rico!

As I typed this blog post,  I was flying over the Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean Sea, having just returned from a glorious week in Puerto Rico. The memories from my time on the island outweigh the fact that the person in the seat in front of me had reclined, so my laptop was shaped like a taco. Good thing I have small limbs and could continue typing; otherwise he might have felt turbulence from my foot.

My parents and I were looking for a new destination to travel to during Spring Break. Although Mexico is at our doorstep, we have explored a lot of that beautiful country so decided to head east. Getting to San Juan, Puerto Rico from San Diego is a long day of travel, so it’s important that you plan 2 full days of travel time for your vacation window. Most flights from the west coast connect in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta or Miami before heading to San Juan. Due to our personal schedules, we had to unfortunately take a red eye from Houston; leaving at midnight and arriving in San Juan at 5:00 a.m. Tired from a long day of travel, the 3-hour time difference and pretending to sleep in an airplane seat, we arrived at San Juan Airport, weary but excited to see what the day would bring once the sun came up. Thankfully we were able to secure an early check-in at our hotel, which allowed us to take a well deserved morning nap!

For those uncertain as to how Puerto Rico is affiliated with the US, let me offer a little history and cultural perspective. The short story is that Puerto Rico was under the flag of Spain for over 400 years; until the Spanish-American war, in which time the US took control. Lucky for us! Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the USA, which allows citizens of the islands full rights as American citizens. They travel under US passports, use the US dollar as currency, and can move between US states without limitation. They are technically US citizens of Puerto Rican heritage; but for Puerto Ricans, they are proud to be Puerto Rican! The overall sense we had when talking to the locals is that they welcome the connection to the US and the access and freedoms it provides, but they are very loyal to their Puerto Rican heritage. It’s not uncommon to hear those visiting from the States to make an “us” versus “them” statement; assuming that being in Puerto Rico was really traveling to a foreign land.  This is just ignorance from not understanding the history of the island. We made a point of talking to many locals who were quick to tell us how much they appreciate having the rights of the US but how much they love PR. The hope is that they will one day become an official US state, but for now, they welcome the commonwealth title. US citizens do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico. We can come and go to the island just as easy as Puerto Ricans can travel to the states.

I can’t wait to share with you some of the exciting adventures we had during our visit. In future blog posts, I’ll talk about Old San Juan, the rain forest and kayaking in Bio Bay. It’s been such a wonderful trip that I am excited to share with you a million reasons why you should pack your bags and head straight to Puerto Rico.

If you’ve been to PR, share with me your favorite experience by popping down to the comments section below!

 

My Walk To Find The Beautiful

I have recently been put on restriction from running because of a case of runner’s knee. Which, I believe, is really my body’s way of saying I’m getting old and the 35 years of playing soccer and being active has finally caught up with me. I was less than inspired this morning to go walk the hills in my neighborhood; my modified workout since it hurts too much to run. A few minutes into the walk I made a choice to turn my frown upside down and try to find the positive in the workout. I’m lucky to have my health and two legs that even in spite of my current pain, still carry me throughout my journey.

In an attempt to bring more joy to my walk, I decided to seek out the beauty in my neighborhood. This conscious choice brought a new perspective to my environment. I focused on texture, color and design not just pounding the pavement as I trudged up the hills. With Spring just around the corner, color is starting to peek out from every corner. It was hard to find a garden that didn’t have a splash of pink or a grouping of rocks that didn’t shimmer with a hints of blue. I hadn’t paid attention to nature’s canvas on other walks because I was too focused on getting my heart rate up.

I encourage you to devote your next workout to finding the beauty around you. I’m convinced the meditative moment I took to look deeply at the beautiful is just as beneficial as getting my muscles moving.

What do you see during your workout that deserves a second glance? Share your beautiful photos with me in the comments below or tweet me @henleyco.

 

Playground Chatter with Brett Culp, Award Winning Filmmaker, Brett Culp Films

Welcome to Playground Chatter! Our blog series, where we get to profile and chat with some of the best executives in town! Sure, we could ask about all their fancy business stuff but since we are fun monsters, we want to know how they spend their spare time on the playground of life!

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Your Name: Brett Culp

Your nickname? N/A

What is your grown up job? I produce inspirational films

How can we find you?

Facebook: facebook.com/brettculp

Twitter: twitter.com/batmanfilm

Instagram: instragram.com/brettculpfilms

Pinterest: N/A

 

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Tell us where you spent your childhood years. Is there one year you remember most? I remember spending most of my childhood in imaginary worlds. I loved cartoons – mostly involving superheroes – and if I wasn’t watching these stories, I was re-enacting them or creating new heroic stories of my own.

Favorite part of the playground to hang out in? Definitely the slide. It goes fast and makes me smile.

Lunch pail, brown bag or did you buy lunch? Plastic lunch box with a superhero on it. I had a new one each year.

What would be your ideal recess today? I try to take an outdoor walk in the middle of every day to listen to uplifting music & clear my head. It helps me process the events of the morning and stay focused on the goals for the day. So, I guess I am still having recess as a grown up.

Does your company encourage recess for their employees? I encourage everyone I work with to find time for the things they are passionate about. The things I love most about my working life came from pursuing an idea that was outside of the flow of my normal work… then we found a way to incorporate it into our business. Our most recent film is connected with Batman. Four years ago, nothing in my filmmaking world was superhero focused, but it sounded like something fun to pursue. And it ultimately changed my professional life, for the better. For me, personal passion has consistently driven me to find ideas that keep my work fresh.

If I deemed you Playground Monitor for the next 15 minutes, how would you rally your employees? What activity would everyone participate in? I’m very much about building personal, emotional connection between people. I believe that creating an environment of trust & safely gives people the freedom to bring their best, most unique ideas to the table. Because they aren’t afraid. So, I’d probably organize some version of Show-And-Tell.

What rules did you learn on the playground that you still utilize today? Be nice. Although doing great work and sharing it with lots of people are both essential in business, I think kindness it the cornerstone of my professional life.

When does time disappear for you? Talk about your hobbies. I am blessed to have a profession that is also my hobby. At my core, I am a filmmaker and a storyteller. I am producing films for my clients, and I am also always creating separate projects for myself… something that expresses my heart. Not only does this personal work help energize my client projects, it also leads to opportunities that are aligned with my passions. By continually putting in the world the work and messages that are close to my heart, I attract the greatest clients on the planet and find myself continually falling more in love with the art of film making.

Culp-99-crop3-1What is one area of your life where you need more recess? Because my work is my passion, sometimes I don’t see realize when I am pushing myself too hard. My personal drive keeps me from taking a few days off to clear my head & reset my nerves. But I am getting better at this.

What is your authentic intention (that thing that you really, really want to do or accomplish?) What are you doing to get there? I believe that stories have the power to change us. And I think that uplifting stories have the ability to inspire greatness in us. My most important intention is to capture and share stories that bring out the most heroic part of each person. Each of us have a hero inside… I think compelling stories can be a key to unlock it.

Over the past 3 years, we have shifted our company significantly to allow more opportunity for this. Our recent film Legends of the Knight (www.WEareBATMAN.com) was a gigantic labor of love that screened theatrically in 90 cities around the world, raising over $60,000 for charitable organizations. The film is now on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and more. The encouraging message of this film – and the community-focused distribution strategy that went with it – is a true expression of my heart and my beliefs.

To continue moving this journey forward, we started a not-for-profit called The Rising Heroes Project (www.RisingHero.org). We are currently working on our next film, and we will launch it through this new organization.

What can you do to design your life to better incorporate more recess? (Pinky Swear). I have 2 boys. I love watching them play at the park, imagining themselves as superheroes. If you break down the word “recreation”, you find “re” and “creation”. Our playtime is an opportunity to create ourselves again… perhaps by re-imagining ourselves as heroes in the world. I want to continue to spend more time imagining myself as a hero in the world, and then using that story to motivate me to positive action. And I hope many others will pursue the same dream.

 

If you know of an executive, entrepreneur or all-around cool kid that we should feature in Playground Chatter, please email hello@thehenleycompany.com.