Month: October 2017

Balance in a Tech-Driven World With Kai Brach

Kai Brach is a talented web designer passionate about using the Internet to create meaningful connections and share ideas. After years of designing for the web where his work would eventually get swept away and replaced by something newer, Kai longed for the earlier days of the Internet. “I started to feel quite cynical about the web community. It had become more and more about making money and consumerism than what the web was originally intended for: to connect people and share ideas.”

That’s when Kai decided to try something new by “taking tech off the screen” and started Offscreen; a real, printed magazine with a thoughtful, human-centered take on technology and the web. Offscreen magazine “celebrates the human side of technology and the web” and “explores innovative ideas through introspective writing and human stories.” Kai uses Offscreen as a way to mindfully reflect on our tech-driven lifestyles and ask critical questions about how we shape technology and how technology shapes us.


“The world of pixels was where I felt at home.”


The Power of Offscreen

Kai has been publishing Offscreen for more than five years and takes on a range of roles in order to produce the small, independent one-man magazine, now on its 17th issue. “Wearing the many different hats of a publisher, editor, designer, business owner, etc. challenges me every day.” Although difficult at times, Offscreen has proven to be the most satisfying creative endeavor Kai has every taken on. Along the way, Kai has met many thoughtful, kind, and talented people, re-establishing his belief in the tech/web industry as a community that can making a lasting, impactful change in the world.


“Receiving supportive, heartfelt feedback from my readers is the absolute highlight of what I do.”


Maintaining Balance in a Tech-Driven World

A printed magazine covering web and tech may seem counterintuitive, but it is Kai’s contribution to a more mindful world. Kai recognizes that in today’s world powered by technology, many applications are created to encourage addictive behaviour patterns. “We’re still at the beginning of figuring out what impact these new, ever-demanding technologies have on us.”


“While as consumers we can’t change the design of these tools, we can learn about and be aware of the addictive behaviour patterns and then actively push back.”


Sticking to the hardcopy version for Offscreen magazine is integral to what Kai believes in. Although reading a print magazine can momentarily offer a break from a busy world, he admits that it doesn’t address the underlying problem. “If we want a more balanced approach to tech, we need to realize and break unintentional patterns.”, Kai explains.


“We need to find ways to think more clearly about ourselves by removing external distractions.”


Putting Things into Perspective

Removing yourself from your everyday environment and traveling to new places is an excellent way to feel rejuvenated and gain perspective. Before Kai began Offscreen, the German-born designer-turned-publisher spent years travelling, studying and working in Australia, Asia and the US.


“This extended time [travelling] by myself has transformed me into the person I am today.”


Travel remains an important element in his life, having just returned from a hiking trip to the European Alps. “I absolutely love the mountains. It’s the ideal reminder of our complete insignificance and puts everything we do into perspective.”

Kai’s Questions for the Kyō:

  • What can I do to align my life (including my work) with my ethical and moral values?
  • Am I spending enough time nurturing relationships with the people I love?
  • Am I taking this too seriously?


Maintaining An Inner Awareness With Haile Thomas

Haile Thomas is a motivational speaker, youth health advocate, vegan chef, and the founder and executive director of The HAPPY Org., an organization focused on educating and empowering young people to embrace healthy eating through a number of programs and resources. She is passionate about inspiring others to live healthy, mindful lives, and strives to be her best self, remembering to be “a leader and not a follower”. On top of all this, Haile also makes time for her family, her friends, and for school, and she’s only sixteen.

Even with all the success she has had, Haile Thomas shows no signs of slowing down. For her, the sky is the limit, and she wants to change the world and spread the message that food, healthy eating, and mindfulness is powerful.


Major Milestones

Haile’s journey started at eight years old when her father was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. At such an emotional time, Haile’s family came together to support one another and work as a team. Together, they were able to reverse his condition with healthy eating and exercise. This big moment changed her perception of health and well-being, igniting a passion within her to spread the word of how powerful food is and how impactful healthy eating can be. At ten years old, she gave her first speech. An advantage of starting so young meant that she hadn’t built any barriers, yet. She wasn’t nervous or scared of judgement, she was just excited for the opportunity to share her message.


“As we get older, rather than blossoming more we are withering down and getting less confident and secure in our unique opinions and thoughts.”


Haile wants to teach youth to be mindful of this, encouraging them to embrace who they are and find confidence in being themselves. “It’s easy and more comfortable to follow the crowd. Everybody wants to take the comfortable route and not be singled out. But it’s more fun to be singled out, because at the end of the day, in terms of fulfillment, it’s about you and not everybody else.”


“I’m an individual, I don’t have to follow the rules, and I can be authentically myself without having regrets about that. Starting with that foundation is a huge part in my confidence in what I have to offer to the world.”


An Inner Awareness

Something Haile has recently begun to learn is how to deal with outside forces and how they affect you, especially when it comes to friends and family. Many of us can relate to experiences of losing friends or growing apart from people we care about. For Haile, it was a lesson in being mindful about what was going on in her life, and learning to open up to others while also being honest with herself.


“Mindfulness is an inner awareness of how the world on the outside impacts you on the inside.”


Haile speaks with such wisdom. For her, mindfulness is “being able to interpret and understand all the feelings and experiences and emotions that occur when the outside world is happening” and “making a decision on how you’re going to react to those things.” When friends move on or have a change of heart, Haile now knows to look deeper into what happened. “So many people who are doing what they love and are successful in doing that find that so many people drift away.” Rather than point the finger at herself and immediately wonder what she did wrong, she tries “practicing mindfulness in the way that I react to it, then releasing it and moving forward.” Haile explained, “I can’t control what goes on and what other people perceive, but at least I’m being honest about what I’m feeling and what’s going on with me.”


 “As long as I put out good energy and good things into the world, then people who appreciate that and also agree with that will come along.”


Mindful in More Ways Than One

With her many jobs, school, and the responsibility to maintain a social media presence, Haile is almost always working. Because of this, it is important to Haile to find time in the day to stop and take a break. Haile incorporates mindfulness into her life in many ways including disconnecting from social media to read a book or to be with family. She shares that “sometimes, disconnecting from the work that I’m doing allows me to get back to who I am without it.”


“I enjoy disconnecting sometimes. It reminds me that I’m not my work.”


Whenever Haile feels overwhelmed, she recognizes that she needs to “reorganize what needs to be prioritized.” Getting organized sometimes means taking a break, and Haile explained that it’s the little things that make a difference. Sometimes she makes time for yoga, or for five minutes of meditation in the morning. Sometimes all it takes is being present while eating to truly enjoy a meal and who you’re eating with.


Journaling for Everyday & Everybody

Haile understands the benefit of writing down your thoughts to clear your mind from any issues or frustrations. “Working through these things can be so helpful,” she shared. Haile also writes down five things she is grateful for every morning. “It sets a tone and it brings you back to square one – to be mindful in approaching the day and how to handle everything from the outside.”


“Expressing gratitude in that way is an amazing thing.”


There are many perceptions of what journaling means, and many ways to experience it. Haile would love for more youth to try journaling, and explained that the first thing to do is “remove the labels of what journaling is.” She expressed, “Journaling can truly be anything you want it to be. It’s just a way to express yourself.” Haile enjoys using journaling for creative writing, practicing gratitude, and setting goals. “It’s completely customizable to you, because it’s your experience,” she explained. “It’s not for older people, it’s not for younger people. It’s just an experience.”


Haile’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How are you going to step into today with confidence?
  • How are you going to expand your mind today?
  • What do you love about yourself?


Photography by

Expression & Exploration With Marianna Jamadi

Sometimes it takes doing something you don’t love to discover what you do. This was true for Marianna Jamadi who, although now a successful photographer, for a long time was unsure of the direction she was headed. Marianna went to school for business, but always had a spark of creativity within her. While working in the fashion industry for many years, she remembered how much she enjoyed a photography elective she took back in college. She then enrolled in a continuing education course for 35mm film slides, igniting the spark within her. With a new love for photography and a longing to travel again, she quit her corporate job, sold her belongings, and left New York to pursue her passion.


Embracing the Unknown

As a child of immigrants, much of Marianna’s life growing up consisted of travelling with her family to visit relatives abroad. Marianna shared, “Travel is something that was always part of my life.” After living in the same city for seven years, she decided it was time to go. She always wanted to shoot travel photography, and after years of working in the corporate world, she realized she “was ready to be uncomfortable.”

Although scary and intimidating to leave the comfort of the familiar, she told herself “it’s now or never.” Marianna believes that opportunities open up when you trust that things will work out. That’s when she moved abroad and began her new journey.


“It’s about listening and trusting. Not only yourself, but the universe and what’s happening.”


A Mindful Traveler

For Marianna, travelling to and photographing new places allows her to practice mindfulness. “In terms of reflective processes… I’m realizing that travel is my mindful meditation in a lot of ways.” Travelling allowed Marianna to practice and explore photography without any expectations. She also learned to balance knowing when to take pictures, and when to leave her camera behind. She would ask herself, “Do you want to experience it? Or do you want to document it?”

When Marianna visits somewhere new, she always gives herself a day or two to explore without her camera. This lets her sense the energy and get a feel for the vibe around her without looking through a lens. For Marianna, it’s about becoming culturally aware, observing people and remaining present. Doing so allows her to portray the places she visits and the people she meets through her photography in a more meaningful way.


“Once your eyes are open, your eyes are open.”


More Than a Photographer

Marianna wanted to change the idea that travel was just an individual experience. She helped begin El Camino Travel, a company that offers authentic group travel experiences. El Camino cares about people and creating memories by pairing groups with a travel photographer to document their experience and create lasting memories. Marianna also runs her own company, Nomadic Habit, where she uses the power of imagery and words to tell the stories of the people she meets and places she experiences. Nomadic Habit was born out of a dream to share the power of movement, travel, and people in hopes of dispelling fear and invoking curiosity in the minds and hearts of others.

Marianna is also involved with VSCO in a project to photograph and write about members of the Periferia Dance Company, an initiative that, through the language of dance, analyzes the context of the Caribbean coast in Cartagena, Columbia, as a territory marked by its colonial legacy. Marianna hopes that through her photos, she can begin a conversation. “I was looking for an avenue to tell that story,” shared Marianna. “I wanted to use what I could do [photography] to continue that conversation.


“It’s important to live a life to create ripples, to hopefully create waves.”


Expression & Exploration

Marianna expresses herself through her photography and explained that it is an avenue for exploration as well as healing. Similarly to how photography is the way Marianna digests the world around her, writing allows her to be creative and release her thoughts, feelings and frustrations. When she doesn’t write, she notices, “My body feels like it needs it. My mind needs it.” Photography allows her to learn things about the world and writing helps her discover things about herself.

 “I’m my most happy when I am discovering something new… The experience of discovery to me is so fulfilling.”

With photography and writing at the center of what she does, Marianna is able to live a mindful life while travelling and visiting new places. She hopes to continue to make a difference in other’s lives, while making the most of her own.


Marianna’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How do you feel?
  • Are you being true to yourself?
  • How am I being impactful?


Photography by Marianna Jamadi