“Youth is not measured by the age of a person, but by the curiosity a person keeps.” ~ Salvador Pániker
Rolling in the grass! Yep, I'm guessing that's a typical day for Kim and Jason Kotecki!
It is with great enthusiasm that I introduce you to this amazing couple, a husband/wife blogging couple from right here in Wisconsin! And today I sit down and ask them a few questions, as we bounce around between the philosophical and the goofy. And that's right up their alley, a good mix of what makes life worth living while having fun doing it! Kim and Jason are the proprietors of the very successful and deliciously fun Escape Adulthood website. Escape adulthood? What's that all about, anyway? Read on, as we dig more deeply into what truly makes life grand!
And with that, please help me in welcoming Kim and Jason here today!
I ask the questions, and they answer with a mix of lightheartedness and wisdom…
1. Tell us a little bit about who “you” are (family, career, any special life experiences you’d like to share, etc.)
Jason: I am a lot of things. I'm a dad, husband, son, and brother. I suspect I could be better in all four areas, but I'm working at it. Professionally, I'm a cartoonist, author, and speaker, which is a far cry from my early ambition of becoming a superhero. But at least I feel like I'm making a difference, which is something I share with my leotard-clad, cape-donning colleagues. I drew a comic strip called "Kim & Jason" for about seven years. It's now officially "retired," but the characters still serve as mascots for our company. My mission in life is to help people struggling with Adultitis and get them living with less stress and more fun.
Kim: I share the same mission as my husband, but my official title in our company is the “Director of Everything.” I am a work-at-home mom, wife, and youngest of four girls who somehow manages to continue to feel five-years-old, while being six times that (okay- a little more than 6 times). I am a former kindergarten teacher who also moonlights as an author and sales director for our speaking side of things.
Lance's Commentary: Nice title, Kim! And the word "adultitis", it just sounds like a disease, doesn't it! Which, speaking of adultitis, if you're curious whether you're affected, I see the Adultitis website has a questionniare to help you determine that. Hmmm….I wonder what it says about me?
2. How long have you been blogging, and what led you to start your site?
Jason: I started blogging back in 2002, before there really was such a thing as a blog. I started out on a message board we hosted on our site, and it was just a personal journal about the early days when I was doing the comic strip and we were starting our business. It has evolved quite a bit since then.
Kim: Our blog is a good example of what happens when you take baby steps towards your interests and passion. Little by little it evolved right before our eyes.
Lance's Commentary: Gosh, Jason – you're like an Internet pioneer in blogland years! Your dedication and passion shine through in all you present, and I especially love the videos you've created. My personal favorite is your Water Balloon Warfare – although I'd only want to be a spectator, Kim, when you're launching those balloons! Ouch!
3. Kim and Jason, when I think of you two (and the name of your site – Escaping Adulthood) – I think of tunneling out of a jail cell with a Tonka truck – escaping the mundane that we too often let into daily life. Maybe I’m off-base a bit. Tell us what “Escaping Adulthood” is all about.
Jason: I love that concept of the Tonka Truck. Nice. I think that when we were kids, we had this idealized notion of what adulthood would be like. It sounded so awesome, and we were eager to grow up and take advantage of al the perks, like staying up late, being able to drive, and eating dessert first. Of course, there's a lot more that comes with adulthood, like work, bills, and responsibility. It's easy for Adultitis to sneak in, robbing us of the joy and happiness we had when we were younger. Stress piles up, and way too many people live lives of quiet desperation. Our message is that no, we'll never be six again, but we don't have to settle for the "adulthood" that seems to be so common. We encourage people to "escape" the busyness that comes standard with most modern lives, and rekindle some of the secrets from childhood that make life more fulfilling, exciting, and fun.
Lance's Commentary: Ah, yes…adulthood! That place we yearned for when we were kids. To be "older", and be able to do all the cool stuff! And then to find out…the cool stuff also involves bills, and work that isn't always fun and games… So, keeping fun in daily "adult" life, that sounds pretty sweet!
4. You’ve just published a book – “There’s An Adult In My Soup”. Tell us about this book, and what inspired you to write it.
Kim: "There's An Adult In My Soup" is a collection of essays we've written over the years. We wanted to create a book that was easy and fun to read, something reminiscent of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff," in which you can open it up in the middle and just start reading. Probably the best way to describe the concept is by sharing a poem Jason wrote for the back cover:
Two cups of dreams and a full pint of play,
A pinch of curiosity for the perfect bouquet.
Passion and wonder and faith it had, too
I’d dare you to taste a happier stew!
But when I got older, my soup it did turn,
Enough to warrant a cause for concern.
It’s gunky and goopy and lacking in fun,
It’s not nearly as tasty as when I’d begun.
It’s bland and it’s bitter and tastes just like poop,
The problem is clearly the adult in my soup!
Lance's Commentary: I'm currently reading this book, and it's great! And one thing I really love are the short chapters (it fits my attention span well!). More than that, though, I think it's really a great "idea generator". You two share real-life examples of living Adultitis-free, and those are examples that spur thoughts in me of how I can be more kid-like myself. And that right there is the real "meat" in that soup! And don't forget, everyone – one of these fantastic books will be given away – so comment away!
5. So you author a blog, have written a couple of books, sell “fun” toys on your site (for any age), have a weekly video series, and do speaking engagements. What are the joys and challenges with all of this, and what have I missed?
Jason: That pretty much covers it. The joy lies in waking up every morning in love with what I do for a living. The challenges are making sure we're focusing on the right things, keep our lives in balance, and just like every business, figuring out the best ways to market things without breaking the bank.
Kim: A big job for me is being able to work from home and tag team childcare for our little one between myself, Jason and our associate (our daughter’s godmom). With this joy also comes the challenge of knowing when to close the laptop and when to answer the phone. We do well with this overall, it’s just always at the forefront of our efforts.
6. And you’re recently new parents (hi Lucy!). How has that changed things both in your household, and in writing and speaking engagements?
Jason: We have a lot less time to work on the business than we did before Lucy. Balance has become a bigger challenge. But I think it has made us much sharper and efficient with our time. I also believe this experience of parenthood has added a level of richness to our writing and speaking that allows us to connect with people on a whole new level. Parenthood has made us better teammates and better people.
Kim: We always joked (BL- before Lucy) that the business was our first baby, and I still believe that in a lot of ways. Both require tremendous effort and passion to continue to manage in a Adultitis-free manner. Lucy is along for the adventure. By the time she was four months old she had joined us on 25 flights. We’re including her in on the journey!
Lance's Commentary: Lucy is one well-traveled little girl!! And yes, an additional little life in your household sure does change things! Enjoy the "moments" with that little wonder in your life!
7. Tell us one unexpected thing that has happened to you in the last year (Lucy doesn’t count!).
Jason: We bought our first house! We spent almost nine years in an apartment, building our business. Then we had Lucy last December and were just focused on trying to get our legs under us as new parents. My dad started pestering us to look into what was out there on the market and what we might be able to afford. Like I said, it was probably the last thing on the radar for us, but he was very persistent. We started the process in January as our busy speaking season kicked off, and by mid-April we'd found, financed, and moved into a house we absolutely love. I guess it goes to show that sometimes it pays to listen to your parents, no matter how old you are!
Lance's Commentary: Ah yes, our parents…they're always our parents…and sometimes they really do know what they're talking about. Now, if I could just convince my daughter of that. For some reason, as she's quickly approaching the start of those teenage years…my "words of wisdom" just don't hold the same value they used to! It won't stop me from sharing, though!
8. If you had to pick one thing as your greatest achievement, what would it be (and why)?
Jason: I suppose it's a big cliche to say having Lucy is our greatest achievement, but it is right up there, although it's not complete. It will be even bigger if we can accomplish the job of helping her to grow into her full potential as a person, someone making an impact on the world. That's our goal. I'm also very proud of being able to build a business from the ground up, creating a career that I enjoy so much. It's been harder and scarier than I ever thought it would be, and we've had so much help along the way that I can't take much of the credit, but there's a great feeling of fulfillment.
9. A fun day as a family – tell me what that might consist of.
Jason: Hmm. Very low key, that's for sure. Lounging around. Being goofy. Good food. A nice walk by the lake or a visit to the zoo. The elaborate and more expensive experiences are great, but I quite like the simple fun that can be had doing everyday things. Most people are living life too fast to notice some of the Cracker Jack prizes hidden right under their nose.
Kim: Jason hit it on the head. People think of us as the adventurous type and in many ways we are, but we sure love to be lazy together as a family. I’d add to his list- movies, a drive to get Dairy Queen, and some homemade cheesy beer and brat soup- hey, we DO live in Wisconsin!
Lance's Commentary: Hey, I'm all for being goofy! And we have this killer custard stand just down the road from our house, that's a family favorite here. And being fall is in the air (brrr…it was chilly this weekend in Wisconsin!), that soup sounds about perfect!
10. Hypothetically speaking, you’re stranded in the middle of Wisconsin for a year (maybe this isn’t hypothetical!). You have enough food to eat, and you have shelter. What do you do to keep yourselves connected and engaged and loving life?
Jason: Staying curious and asking questions. As an introvert, I like to get "deep." The more quickly I can move past small talk and get to a meatier and more interesting discussion, the happier I am. Like a cross-country road trip, I suppose being stranded would be a great catalyst for that.
Kim: I imagine there to be lots of made-up games and silliness. We all love to have fun and a large part of what we do in our mission is to give people permission to do this. When we were kids we would “get bored” and eventually get creative, using our wild imaginations to create worlds and challenges that we’d tackle with courage and zest. Now, people just turn on the TV or video games to be entertained. Being stranded would force you to dust off the ‘ol imagination.
Lance's Commentary: You two have a great prescription not only for a stranded day in Wisconsin, but also – a great prescription for life in general! Connecting more deeply, and using your imagination – wow! Good stuff! And now, I'm also in the mood for a cross-country road trip!! You won't even notice me in the back seat, singing classic Willie Nelson songs ("On the Road Again…")….
11. Deep down, what makes you uniquely “you”? Kim? Jason?
Jason: Deep down, I think I am as curious and creative as ever. That's the little boy in me shining through. I have a great sense of wonder about things, about people, and about God. I hate structure and I hate rules, but I love to learn.
Kim: Deep down, I am a spunky little five-year-old girl that refuses to grow-up into a grumpy ‘ol adult. I like wearing mismatched clothes. I hate making the bed and doing the dishes. I’ll eat three rows of brownies if no one is looking. I’m just looking to have as much fun as possible while I’m here. I think this life is a gift and I’m not going to waste what I’ve been given.
Lance's Commentary: What I love here, is that you both relate back to those early years in life, and to the kid in you! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given the premise behind everything you do! Still, I think it's part of the culture we live in today – that this is NOT the norm. So hearing you say that – proudly – is refreshing! Keep on being spunky and curious! And a reminder to self: bring extra brownies the next time we visit!
Closing Thoughts: Kim and Jason, this is all sorts of awesomeness! And what's so great, is that our families have had the opportunity to meet recently. So, I know that what you're saying here is much more than just words on this page – it really is how you live your lives! It can be one thing to say something, and another altogether to follow through and do it. And you guys do! You exude child-like wonder, love, and playfulness in all you do! That shines through so brightly! And there's a gift in that for everyone whose path you cross. You give others the belief that you CAN listen to our heart, you CAN love what you do, you CAN be happy on many levels!
It has been an honor to have you both here today. Kim and Jason, I wish you much success and happiness as you continue to share your mission with the world! It's a message that is so worth hearing…