Archives For Thoughts from Ken

We’ve learned that the food movement is a real thing.

People are getting SMART. They’re getting educated. I’ve lost track of how many conversations we’ve had about the impact the food we eat has on our bodies and brains. The two topics that tend to come up the most are ingredients and nutrients.

Recognizing the impact of what ingredients are being used in food comes up a lot. Parents have been reduced to tears as they talk about their child being transformed by a simple dietary change. They tell us stories of positive behavioral changes, or getting off meds for ADD, or the profound effect food has on their autistic child. It’s inspiring.

They’re reading the labels, and steering away from things that have a long list of chemicals we can’t even pronounce. It is so cool hearing them ask Felita about what’s in the dressings we make from scratch, or how much they appreciate the fact that our Mac & Cheese only has six ingredients. No food dyes, extra sugar, or hydrogenated oils. Even the kids are paying attention. I had a 10 year old boy checking to see how much sugar was in a drink before decided whether he wanted it. It was awesome to see 🙂

Understanding micro and macro nutrients has been a huge topic of conversation as well. Balancing protein, fat, and carbs is something our guests are taking into consideration when building their meal. They’re also paying attention to the fact that carbs or fat aren’t bad…it’s all about understanding which foods provide you with healthy sources of the nutrients we need.

By the way, here’s a link to an earlier post I wrote about the impact of eating “clean”. Eating this way has absolutely changed my life. Check it out: Food and Optimal Health

Our regular guests are coming up with some awesome meals from our menu. If you’re not familiar with how we do things, we provide some pre-made suggestions – my “Macrobowl”, for example, is super popular. It’s just chicken, veggies, sweet potato and brown rice cooked in coconut oil.

Or you can choose from a variety of healthy proteins, fats, and carbs, the build your own meal. You can bowl it (warm in rice or quinoa), wrap it (in a sweet potato wrap), bed it (we make amazing salads, or plate it (a lot of kids like their food separated on a plate).

In the end, we’ve learned that more and more people are taking control of what goes in their bodies. They’re asking good questions, preparing healthy food options for their families, and feeling better because of it. Their energy is better, their moods are more stable, and they get sick less often.

My favorite story has been watching a dear friend of mine lose over 50 pounds in about six months by just eating simple, balanced meals that consist of real, healthy food. He didn’t cut out carbs, or do some weird diet. He just ate healthy, balanced meals and avoided processed foods.

Even my granddaughter is exited to learn about food. I’ll leave you with a little video with her that always makes me smile 🙂

We’ve learned that adults can put down their phones

I watched two moms play Chutes and Ladders in the cafe while their kids were taking a class. It was awesome. Everywhere you look in the center, you see adults focusing on each other, on their kids, and on their friends. They are perfectly content to put their phones down and be present.

We have some older couples that come in regularly for tea and to play cards in the cafe. Families play board games, parents knit together, kids play with puzzles…everywhere you look, you see people interacting without any digital assistance.

And they’re happy about it. I’ve had so many parents thank us for not allowing tablets or electronics in the park. Their kids are playing checkers, or tag, or playing with trains, or reading. And while the kids are engaged, the adults are having conversations with friends that seem so long overdue. People are communicating face to face. There’s eye contact, and facial expressions, and nuances from tone of voice.

We’ve learned that if the environment allows for it, most of us are perfectly willing to focus on the human being right in front of us. Sure we’ll take some pictures of our kids, and maybe the occasional selfie. We’ll share it with our friends and family who cannot be there in person. Yet overall, we’re happy about the opportunity for real-time human connection.

Sometimes it feels like we’re all being portrayed as these mindless zombies wandering around staring at our phones. It’s just not true. We just need space and opportunity, and then we are happy to be the social creatures we are wired to be.

If you see me buzzing through the center and you catch me smiling at you while you play cards with your kids, it’s because I’m happy for you. I’m grateful that you get it. Thanks for recognizing what’s important.

I’ll get out of your way now – it’s your turn to “Go Fish” 🙂

IMG_5175

We’ve learned that kids love to play.

Thousands of kids have visited Pebble Park in this first year. They will run, jump and climb for hours. They come out beat red and sweaty, and still they want more. It makes sense. They have such limited opportunities to move in school, and so many of their extracurricular activities are structured.

We’ve learned that kids love a little chaos. The want to run like maniacs while screaming at the top of their lungs. They bounce off of walls, and each other, and just go, go, go. They need time to just let their bodies and minds take them down the most random paths of expression imaginable.

It’s been interesting to watch the increase in focus for the kids that get to play in the park before they transition to a structured class like dance or martial arts. Their focus is better, learning seems like less of a chore, and they have more patience with both themselves and others.

It can be really funny to watch. I’ve seen a kid spin in a circle clucking like a chicken until I’m positive they’re going to puke. Ten minutes later that same kid is dialed in for a ballet class, or chess, or a creative art project. It’s like two different children occupying one body.

Kids don’t just need to move, they need to move freely. They need to completely abandon any sense of structure once in a while. For those of you who have kids, it’s worth remembering. The emotional outburst, the lack of focus, the crankiness…whatever it is you’re seeing from them may be a result of the fact that they just need a release.

It isn’t always possible to provide kids with the opportunity to just play. What we’ve learned is that if the opportunity arises, we should take it. Kids love to play. We should give them the time and space to do so whenever possible.

They’ll be better for it 🙂

IMG_4309

IMG_5255

What we’ve learned from our first year in business:

Questers’ Way is now a year old, and it’s been quite the ride. So many people have experienced the center in so many ways. Families, teachers, students, and business owners have all become part of our community. We’ve been embraced, and it’s beautiful.

We’ve learned so many things in this first year. I’m not talking so much about the business itself. I’m talking about people. We’ve learned a lot about what’s important to them. And it’s so encouraging.

Behind all of the fun, and food, and learning, our guests and members have demonstrated a profound desire for connection. Connection to each other, to themselves, and to their community. That’s what we had hoped for: that if we created a space that was warm and inviting, that was both fun and educational, and filled with positive energy, it would begin to fill with life. And it has 🙂

I always refer to Questers’ Way as “The Center”. That’s what it’s intended to be: a place that sits in the middle of one’s life. And that’s what it’s become. The center has become a gathering place for everything from a place to share a meal, to an opportunity to learn a skill, to a place for the celebration of a life event.

We’ve learned a lot about people, and I’d like to share some of what we’ve learned here. I’d like to start with something I’ve personally learned. (Or maybe it would be more accurate to say it’s something I’ve been reminded to be true)

You see, It’s been eight months since I’ve touched this blog. I’ve been reminded that, sometimes, you just have to put your head down and do the work. Talking about it comes later. Now it’s feeling like it’s time to talk again. If you know me personally, I could use a little gentle encouragement. Message me with your stories. Ask me some questions. You all inspire me every day, and I’d love for you to add a little more fuel to my fire.

Tomorrow, I’ll share something else we’ve learned. And then again the day after that. From there, we shall see 🙂

Welcome to year two of Questers’ Way!

I’ve been asked to add a little bit of a personal element to this blog, so if you see the title above, that’s just me taking a moment to randomly recognize beauty and the challenges we face. This is the mental ratio I try to keep…five positive thoughts for every negative one. I choose to view the “negative” as a challenge, so there you go. (Special thanks to Martin Seligman and his work, which introduced me to the field of positive psychology)

Grateful times five:

  1. Holding my 3 year old granddaughter and having her rest her head on my shoulder and her hand on my heart.
  2. Listening to a song my wife shared with me while she danced…badly…as we listened. (The song was “Faster” by Matt Nathanson)
  3. Watching Gracie (my Golden Retriever) buzz around like a hummingbird on our morning walk.
  4. I’ve been reading “Superbosses” by Sydney Finkelstein. Hearing the stories of amazing leaders like Bill Walsh and Ralph Lauren has been inspiring. It has also validated many of my personal beliefs regarding how to lead a company and how to help amazing, talented people realize their full potential.
  5. Taking a day off and enjoying the beach with my family.

One Challenge

Completely shredding my AC joint last Thanksgiving. Every ligament tore through, leaving nothing but skin and muscle holding my arm attached to my body.

This resulted in:
Two months of no sleep and immobilization as I tried to hold my arm in place and hope that it would scar up without surgery.

Two more months of PT while trying not to tear any of the newly formed scar tissue.

Another two months of slowly regaining strength and flexibility.

At that point I had lost about 14 pounds due to the inactivity, loss of appetite, and the long days resulting from prepping to open Questers’ Way.

Now, over eight months removed from the injury, I’m about to complete a 12 week compound body resistance training program, have regained the weight and muscle lost, and am pretty much feeling like my old self again.

This challenge taught me A LOT. I learned some new things about fitness and nutrition, as well as managing pain and the patience and perseverance necessary to win at rehabbing from an injury.

More importantly, it gave me a greater sense of empathy for those who wish to care for themselves physically, and are facing their own challenge. It’s frustrating and demoralizing. You can’t really understand unless you’ve been through it. If it’s chronic, it’s even harder. At least I knew that my odds were pretty good that I could make a full recovery. Not everyone is that fortunate.

For all of you out there battling to keep yourself functioning both physically and mentally, my heart is with you 🙂 When it gets really bad, take a look around and see if you can find five things (see above for examples lol). You may find a little shift in perspective can help. It certainly helped me 🙂

IMG_4240