Category: Conversations

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Rediscovering Gratitude with Derik Lawlis

Derik Lawlis grew up around the outdoors and on weekends, he’d visit a lakeside cabin in the woods. “It shaped my childhood in a beautiful way. It’s so peaceful and engrained in who I am now.” Later in life, Derik made the switch from biology and health sciences to business, and began working towards his goal of reaching financial freedom. Eventually, Derik began to feel tired and unfulfilled, which led him on a mission to rediscover gratitude. His mindfulness journey allowed him to gain a new perspective on life, leading him to create Mindbliss, a meditation app for spiritual exploration.


“I lost touch of myself… I got sidetracked from what made me happy.”


Rediscovering Gratitude

After years of working in real estate, hedge funds, and commodities trading, Derik began to feel drained and worn out. It wasn’t until later that he realized the reason for feeling lost and tired was a lack of gratitude, not his job. “I was discounting the people surrounding me and the wonderful experiences I was having.” Derik became self-destructive, causing both his health and personal relationships to suffer. When a close friend pointed out that he was living in a toxic environment, Derik realized he needed a change.


“It was the lack of gratitude that made me so tired.”


At the time, Derik’s lack of gratitude was causing pain in many areas. “I didn’t appreciate anything I had. I needed to learn that again and reconnect with nature, adventure, fun, and playfulness.” Thankfully, he had an opportunity to move to Thailand for almost a year, allowing him to take a break and “reevaluate what was most important” to him.


A New Perspective

During his year abroad, Derik rediscovered gratitude, became more self-aware, and gained a more positive outlook on life. Derik explained that he used to think of the world as a mess, but now views the world as amazing, beautiful, and full of opportunities to help, serve, create, and play. With practicing mindfulness, meditation, and journaling, he also began to live more from his heart, rather than being stuck in his mind.


“I gained amazing clarity on how I wanted to live in the world.”


With a new perspective and an appreciation for gratitude and meditation, Derik began Mindbliss, an app focused on helping others relax, let go, and bring awareness into their lives.


Nurturing Joy

Derik recognizes that we are constantly bombarded by media and information. He believes that we need to be more aware of our “media diets” because “we are what we consume.” To combat the constant influx of information and addiction to technology, Derik looks for opportunities to get outdoors and play. Sometimes he will play in a park and swing around the bars, dance, or do yoga. Meditation has of course been a huge staple in his mental fitness routine and he encourages others to do the same. Finding the right balance with technology and using it for good, Derik can help others nurture both short and long term joy.


How Do You Meditate?

Meditation is different for everybody. It’s all about remembering “the basic need of taking some time for yourself.” Some people sit and breathe, others run or go fishing. For Derik, he returns to the lake from his childhood. Whatever it may be, if it brings you peace and helps you to exist “right now” in the moment, then it’s important to make time for.


Derik’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What am I most grateful for right now?
  • How am I being of service right now?
  • How can I be more self-expressive right now?

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Respecting Your Boundaries With Frank Chartrand

Frank Chartrand is a product designer for Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app. Originally from a small, rural town in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Frank often felt like it was an uphill battle to find his place. After beginning and running his own digital agency for many years, he began to feel directionless and needed a new tool to deal with stress from the daily grind of his demanding job. Once he discovered Headspace and began to meditate, he became more aware of himself and those around him. Eventually, he was offered a job as a visual and interaction designer at an agency in San Francisco, California, and, as the saying goes, he decided to “go west” and make the move. Soon after, he made the switch to work at Headspace in Santa Monica, where he now gets to combine his love and passion for design, meditation, and mindfulness.


“I’m a designer at work and in my free time. It’s more of a calling than a job.”


An Introduction to Meditation

Frank was introduced to Headspace at a time when he was struggling to manage the stress and long hours at his own agency. Initially, he was quite skeptical of the idea of mindfulness and meditation as being a feasible solution to struggling with balance. But, after using the app a few times, he realized it was helping him in all areas of his life including sleeping better, being more creative, and having more drive. Practicing meditation also showed Frank how to live mindfully and be aware of the moment. Headspace opened his eyes to multiple approaches for living a fulfilling and authentic life.


“The better you get to know yourself – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective you can be in life, the more genuine you can be as a person, and the most real you can be for yourself.”


Respecting Your Boundaries

When it was time for Frank to make the transition to a new city, how he made the move was “a testament to mindfulness.” Frank was aware of what would make the most sense for him. Rather than getting on a plane and suddenly landing in a foreign place, he and his fiancée decided to pack up a truck with their belongings and drive across the country to slowly transition into their new home. “We respected our own boundaries and how we wanted to do that.” Similarly, while many people in LA are constantly on the go, moving from place to place, and travelling, Frank recognizes that this lifestyle isn’t for him. He believes that it’s okay to be “ineffective once in a while” and doesn’t worry about what others are doing. Instead, Frank lives mindfully by maintaining self-awareness and accepting what works for him.


“I’ve learned to respect those boundaries. It’s okay not to feel that desire.”


A Sixth Sense

Frank shared that practicing meditation leads to a more mindful, aware life. “Mindfulness is this idea of being a bit more aware. It’s self-awareness and awareness of others.” By practicing daily meditation, Frank can slow down and become more conscious of his surroundings, of his own thoughts, and of what others may be going through. Whether it’s recognizing that you need to take a break, noticing people hurry past you during rush hour and stopping to let them by, or slowing down during an argument to ask yourself, “Where is that person coming from? What are they dealing with today?”, meditation helps you have a deeper awareness of what’s going on within you as well as outside of you.


“Having that sixth sense is like a superpower to go through life with; To be a bit more awakened to what you’re going through and what others are going through.”



Being self-aware, recognizing his boundaries, and asking “What’s the best day I’ve had in the last month?” helped Frank realize exactly what sphere he wanted to work in. He found that being lost in his work and focused on craft and design with minimal distractions was his ideal day. Now, Frank gets to work at Headspace as a product designer and merge his two passions: meditation and design. This was no happy accident. Frank shared that it was intentional and happened because, by living mindfully, he accepted who he was and recognized what he wanted for his life.


“Be very real with yourself and what makes you tick, what gives you the best day and best week. Hopefully those days lead to months and years and a life that’s fulfilling.”


Practice, Not Perfect

Unlike physically working out, where progress and immediate changes can be seen, working on and building up your mind’s strength takes time. “It’s a little bit harder to see those changes in your mind,” explained Frank. He also shared that sometimes, he misses out on his daily meditations but reminds himself to call it “mindfulness or meditation practice, not meditation perfect.” Whether you practice mindfulness through reflection, meditation, or journaling, it’s important to remember that it’s a practice and a process. The beautiful thing about meditation is that once you’ve started, it will only get easier, more effective, and more beneficial.


“Every time you go back to meditate after a break, you don’t have to climb a big mountain or take a big jump to get back into that state… Focusing on mindfulness in general for a portion of your life means there’s some skills you’ll take away that stay with you forever.”


Frank’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What do I want to achieve today?
  • What’s the best day I’ve had in the last month?
  • Where is that person coming from or what are they dealing with?


Illustration by Headspace

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Practising Acceptance With Rosa Park

When asked who she is, Rosa Park, co-founder of travel and style magazine Cereal Magazine, responded, “I believe that everything in life is in flux, so who I am is constantly evolving.” She believes that because people are always learning and growing, “Who you are should not remain static.” Growing up, Rosa lived between Seoul, Korea – where she was born – and Vancouver, Canada. Upon graduating from school in Boston, she moved to New York to work for five years in fashion and beauty marketing. After feeling stuck and ready to discover something new, she moved to Bristol, England to complete her masters. That’s where she met her partner in life and partner in beginning Cereal Magazine. She now lives in Bath, England, where she pursues her passions, meets with inspiring people, and curates content for Cereal.


“A few things that are very important to me are the relationships to the people in my life and the work that I do.”


The Ebbs & Flows of Life

For Rosa, what she does for work is just as important as her personal life. “Most of us spend most days at work. So to say that work isn’t that important seems counterintuitive.” Rather than striving for a daily balance between work and life, Rosa aims for an overall balance. “I don’t view it as, “Do I have work-life balance today in this very moment?” It’s more like, “Will I be able to achieve that at the end of my life, whenever that might be?” Sometimes work dominates your life, like when Rosa was invested in beginning Cereal Magazine. Other times, you’re more invested in your personal life. What matters to Rosa is that at the end of it all, she is content with how it all worked out.


“Life ebbs and flows… It goes back and forth, and you ultimately achieve your balance at the end of that.”


No Expectations

Rosa calls herself a realist, and as a realist, she tries to live without expectations. Having no expectations means she won’t be let down, and it is this attitude that propelled her forward in pursuing the creation of Cereal. While she was fully committed, and poured her heart and soul into the project, she would also be okay if it didn’t work out. “People seem to not like to use the word failing… but there’s nothing wrong with failing,” she shared. Thankfully, Cereal Magazine was a success, and recently released its fourteenth volume.


“The only time failure is not a good thing is if you fail to learn from that situation.”


Acceptance & Resilience

Rosa’s ability to live without expectations comes from the importance she places on acceptance. She strongly believes that if something doesn’t work out, you move on. “Most things in life are like the Yin and the Yang. You’re experiencing it all and rolling with the punches.” Rosa’s view on acceptance was truly tested when she was forced to leave England due to her Visa not being approved.


“It tested my ability for resilience and positivity.”


Accepting things as they occur doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about your situation. Instead of wallowing in her sadness, Rosa chose to accept the situation as it were, and used her time in America as an opportunity to gather content for her magazine, reconnect with friends, and learn from her experience.


“It’s planning as much as you can and being prepared, but also willing to acknowledge that some things are out of control and you have to accept it and keep moving forwards.”


Connecting With Others

Rosa has recently begun attending mindfulness retreats and plans to do so once a year. She likes to think of it as a mental detox. “So many people spend hours at the gym for their physical health, and yet, why don’t people spend the same amount of time caring about their mental health? Mental health is something that you have to work on.” Along with meditating, Rosa also reads and spends time with people to disconnect and take her mind off things. With Cereal Magazine, Rosa gets to connect with and meet all kinds of incredible, inspirational people.


“I’m constantly meeting people from all walks of life and different occupations. I’ve met some people that have really made me feel appreciative of what I do.”


While Rosa gets to spend time with impactful individuals through her work, she stresses the importance of having people within your personal circle who you can candidly talk to without a filter. Rather than just writing, she exercises mindfulness by talking through things with her family and friends. She often asks herself:


“Who in my life can I just bare my soul to without receiving any judgment and just support?”


Rosa’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • Who are the people that are important to me?
  • Am I proud of the person I am when I go to sleep at night?
  • Where is my life headed to in the next year?


Photography : Rosa Park

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Creating Mindful Experiences With Meghan Godin

After graduating from design school and working as a user-experience and product designer in New York City for many years, Meghan Godin decided it was time to go try something new. She knew she wanted to start something of her own, but was not quite sure what that was. After moving to live by the water in Northern Michigan for a summer to reflect and rediscover conscious living, her path became clear. With a passion for mindful living, intentional design, thoughtful conversation, and creating spaces where a sense of community can thrive, Meghan began Some_____Things, a mindful, design-oriented company dedicated to helping hotels, retailers, and makers evolve their businesses through creating authentic environments and memorable experiences.


“Something that defines me is this notion of inclusivity and bringing people together in really intentional and thoughtful ways.”


Living By The Water

Taking a break and living by the water positively impacted and inspired Meghan in a big way. “I think the water in general has such healing properties,” she shared. “Especially if you just need to get thoughts out and think clearly.” While Meghan was collecting her thoughts and organizing her mind, she discovered multiple mindfulness practices that helped her to do so. She consistently journaled and wrote, as well as meditated and practiced yoga daily. Meghan shared that mindfulness allows you to “put intentions into the universe and see it come to fruition in interesting ways.” Living this way gave her a fresh perspective on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to live her life.


“The universe speaks to you when you’re tapped into finding your path and journey.”


Innovating, Creating & Designing

Megan began to ask herself questions like, “what would be an ideal job for me? What would be the ideal business that I would want to create? How do I want to live?” She also paid attention to her love for travel, hotels, retailers, and small, mindful brands that have a story to tell. Shortly after, she came across a book of poems called, “Some Natural Things” which inspired the idea for Some_____Things. With Some_____Things, Meghan gets to develop brand stories and evolve experiences for people and businesses while innovating, creating and designing mindful environments and products.


“It’s wonderful to see how design can play into any environment.”


Creating Mindful Experiences

One of the most important elements in creating an inviting atmosphere and mindful experience for guests is incorporating all the senses. For example, scent reminds people of places they’ve stayed and music can alter the mood of an environment. With hotels, Meghan immerses herself in the location’s culture to get an understanding of how to convey the nature of the place. Her goal is to make people feel as if they have learned something new. “You can tell if people feel light when they walk in.” Meghan loves what she does and is grateful for the opportunity to be able to create experiences and influence them with her own unique tastes and her passion for mindfulness, often without many limitations.


“I’m going to influence it in the most intentional ways because that’s my heart and my soul.”


Reflection, Patience & Compassion

Meghan uses journaling to check in with herself and plan her day. After waking up, the first thing she does is reflect on three things she is grateful for then writes down her intentions for the day. This helps her stay organized and prioritize her to-do list without overwhelming herself. She then takes five or ten minutes to meditate before beginning her day.

She expressed that as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become very self-focused. Through living mindfully, and incorporating mindfulness into what she does, she has learned how to be patient and have compassion for others. While looking out for yourself is important, she shared how important it is to also ask yourself, “How can I make sure that I’m also doing for others?”


Meghan’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How am I helping those outside of me?
  • Is this in line with what I truly want to be doing?
  • Where do I see myself in three months? Six months?


Photography by 1 Hotels

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Collaboration & Creativity with Brandon Harrar

Brandon Harrar is passionate about design, branding, and the process it takes to produce work for clients.  Although he enjoyed working in advertising as a media buyer & campaign manager, a lot of his free time was spent on freelance design contracts. Since he was spending so much energy on side gigs, he realized he could live a more fulfilled and mindful life if he grew his client base into something of his own. So, he took the leap to try something new, combining his creative passions with his unrelenting desire to build something for himself and began HRVST, a creative agency for growing brands that is passionate about collaboration and creativity.


“I felt like I needed to grow in a different way.”


The Process

Brandon is as passionate about design as he is about the process. “I really love business development,” he told us. “I love process and I love organization and efficiency.” From onboarding, to selling an idea, to executing work, to mitigating risks with a client, to handing off work, Brandon loves every step of the process. Paying attention to where his passions lay, and pursuing a career in that direction, was Brandon’s first step towards living a more mindful life. With a handful of loyal clients already by his side, and a passion for design and business development, beginning a company of his own just made sense.


“I love design and I love functional products that help people.”


A World of Opportunity

Beginning a creative agency was intimidating at first, especially with so many people telling him it was a saturated market. However, Brandon looked at the industry differently. Rather than dwelling on the negative challenges, he focused on the positive opportunities. He told himself, while there are thousands of creative agencies and freelancers, there are even more untapped businesses that haven’t been approached yet or don’t know what they’re missing out on. Plus, with the internet, language barriers and time differences aren’t limiting.


“Your client base is the world.”


Collaboration & Creativity

Brandon prioritizes growing a positive environment at HRVST. Maintaining a unique space where people can work collaboratively, creatively, and find inspiration — it’s the people that make the difference. “HRVST wouldn’t be what it is if we didn’t have a group of really cool, open minded, easy going, incredibly talented, amazing people.” Rather than counting down the clock until it’s time to leave, HRVST is made up of a small, but growing team of creative and hardworking individuals who appreciate and are mindful of one another. As part of a collective, members of HRVST care about the work they’re producing together.


Journaling to Forget 

For Brandon, mindfulness means “being aware of everything you have going on in your life, things that have happened, and things that are coming up.” Brandon uses project management systems like Asana to stay organized, aware, and, therefore, mindful. He also journals. “I started writing because I had so much going on that I needed to get it down on paper or on my phone.” Brandon journals so that he doesn’t have to physically remember certain, specific things anymore. It’s a way to let go and shut off.


“I journal and use project management systems to relieve myself of having to remember things.”


Although phones can sometimes be overwhelming with so much going on in them, they are also an incredible tool. “It’s full of distractions, but it’s full of even more possibilities and opportunities.” Brandon writes whenever he feels the need to get something out of his system and put something down, so having his phone on him whenever the moment arises helps him remain mindful. Journaling, whether on paper or on a mobile device, allows him to organize his thoughts and his life.


“You need a place for yourself, where you can put it all down.”


Brandon Harrar’s Questions for Kyō:

  • What’s the last thing you figured out?
  • What are the next 5 things you want to get done?
  • What would the people who know you well suggest you do?


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Compassionate Living With Leo Babauta

Changing one’s life often begins with changing little things first. For Leo Babauta, changing daily habits included eating healthier as a vegan, exercising, decluttering, and simplifying his life in order to feel balanced and renewed. “Once I figured out some things that worked with one habit, I started changing a whole bunch of different habits.” With a refreshed perspective on life and a new appreciation for mindful living, Leo began writing his blog, Zen Habits, and eventually wrote a book under the same name. He now strives to positively impact others through his work while living mindfully and compassionately.


Nurturing Positive Change

Leo is passionate about helping guide others towards a positive, healthy, and mindful lifestyle. Along with his blog and book, Zen Habits, Leo also creates online courses called “Sea Change” as part of his mission to help others find their path and change their habits.


“Mindfulness and simplicity are both at the core of all of that change.”


Leo is also working towards organizing live events and retreats where people “can get together and find the power of human connection to undergo transformation.” Leo recognizes the power of human relationships, and acknowledges that being open and honest with others can lead to the most profound kind of change in one’s life.


Shaped by Others

Leo acknowledges that who he is and where he is today is the result of many people. “I believe that we are all interconnected and we are constantly influencing who we are. And I believe that who I am is created by everyone who I’ve had contact with.” Rather than having an individualistic outlook on life, Leo encourages others to pay attention to, and give thanks to, those who surround us.

This philosophy is integral to everything Leo does. Since other people have positively impacted him and his life, Leo wants to do the same for others. Leo constantly keeps others in mind and often reflects on his own life experiences to connect with others and help them through their struggles.


“Connecting with people through a shared struggle and then helping them in a compassionate way really warms my heart.”


Shifting Your Focus to Serve Others

“One of the key things that I work with nowadays is helping people deal with struggles, uncertainty, and fear in their lives, and turning that into something joyful, grateful, and mindful.”

We often procrastinate or get distracted by our fears. Whether it’s a fear of failure or judgement, Leo likes to encourage others to think about who you’re serving, and the meaningful impact you will have on others upon completion of the task, rather than focusing on made up negative outcomes.


“If I’m not as self-centred (on fear) and instead focus on the creation that can help others, that’s a huge shift for me.”


Not only does Leo care about people, but, as a vegan, he is also mindful about “removing himself from contributing to the suffering of other beings.” Leo expressed, “for me, it’s an amazing way of life.” However, he understands that eating vegan isn’t necessarily realistic or desirable for everybody. Rather than pushing others to do the exact same things as him, he supports and encourages people to discover their own ways to make the world a better place.


Mindfulness & Self-Compassion

For Leo, mindfulness is “paying attention to what’s happening right now.” Leo aims to incorporate four main passions into his everyday life: meditation, reflection, creation and health. As a husband and father of six, it can sometimes be a struggle to include extensive exercises in each area, which is also where mindfulness comes in. Rather than being hard on himself for not following a strict regimented schedule, he practices self-compassion, allowing himself breaks and completing modified mindfulness exercises instead.

Self-compassion is something else Leo cares greatly about. If mindfulness means paying attention to the present, it also means paying attention to how we treat and affect others, as well as ourselves.


“Paying attention to right now is the door that opens to unseen worlds and amazing possibilities.”


Leo Babauta’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • What are we creating together?
  • Who am I serving?
  • What is my intention for today?


Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash


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The Other Art Of Living With Sophie Trem

Sophie Trem is all about embracing the journey as much as the destination. After years of reading self-development books, exploring mindfulness practices, and learning from life experiences like being a mother of two, Sophie can now say that she has found her way. After working in fashion for a long time, Sophie launched her blog, The Other Art of Living, four years ago and began The Good Mood Class one year ago. She lives life mindfully and encourages others to do the same.


The Other Art of Living

By applying all the things she had read, Sophie began living a more mindful and fulfilled life. She would discover things that really stuck with her, then share those tips, tricks, and ways of thinking with her family and friends. She explains how it was a slow process getting to the point she is at now. “It goes step by step,” she explains. “You must try, fall, get up, and never be afraid to do it again.” Eventually, she began to share her ideas to a blog, and that’s how The Other Art of Living began.


“The Other Art of Living is about anything that contributes to a better life, and that’s what the journey is all about.”


Positivity for All

With the success of her blog and a desire to reach more people, Sophie began The Good Mood Class, a workshop designed to help others to live a fulfilled, mindful life.


“It’s a combination of how to balance the mind, soul and body.”


The Good Mood Class encourages simple but powerful basics that helped Sophie with her own life. These fundamentals include knowing yourself, nurturing positive thinking, and appreciating the power of now. Sophie emphasizes how important it is to begin by really getting to know and understand yourself so you can begin to distinguish what matters and what doesn’t.


“I started to think about what was essential to me. Now it seems so obvious, but at the beginning, I was really not aware, and it was so difficult to differentiate what was important or not.”


A Conscious Awareness

Through all of this, Sophie now understands the power of mindfulness and the importance of remaining present and consciously aware. “Being conscious is that little thing that makes all the difference,” shares Sophie. “Today, most people are not conscious about what they do, think, or feel. That’s often what leads to stress, anger, and pain.” By making the conscious effort to understand ourselves, we can better understand the world.


Clearing Your Mind

When asked what Sophie does to remain mindful, she said she incorporates The Good Mood Class practices, positive thinking, and chakra clearing into her regular routine. “Meditation and mindfulness is great to help make your mind clear and silent.” Sophie shares how important it is to keep a clear mind by explaining that too much information pollutes your mind.


“When you don’t think clearly, it unfortunately leads to the wrong destination.”


Embracing Change

Something so simple, but so important, is recognizing that if you want your life to be different, you must first change yourself. Whether it’s wearing something different or trying something new that you’re not used to, Sophie explains, “You can’t get somewhere else by taking the same path every day.” The key, however, is changing the way you think first. “Then you will see life differently,” shares Sophie. “It all starts in your mind.”


“I discovered what the universe was about once I was open to something different.”


Sophie’s Questions for KYŌ:

  • How do you feel right now?
  • What do you want? Why?
  • What do you do and why are you doing it?

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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?


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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?


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