ALL GREAT BIG IDEAS START WITH A GREAT BIG PROBLEM
I have a problem. Actually, every parent has this problem: kids grow up too fast! It all starts the moment your first child is born and you experience these 2 contradicting feelings simultaneously:
1) I need to stop working and soak in every moment with my child. Nothing else matters.
2) I need to work harder than ever and provide this child with absolute care and security.
I’m grateful to YOU and anyone reading this. You’ll come to know, I treasure my time, so even though these blog posts are mostly excerpts from my personal journal, I do my best to make them valuable to anyone who spends their time reading. In this blog post I’m going to share 7 specific solutions, and WHY we made the big decision to create a family cartoon...
HOW TO SLOW DOWN TIME (for parents or ANY relationship)
Chat with them
Try new things
Let me give some explanation:
Be Present- This important life skill is becoming more and more rare. The special ability to not dwell on the past, not worry too much about the future, and be perfectly in the moment, the incredible HERE and NOW. Be where you are..WITH whom you are. Have you ever spoken to someone and you can tell their mind is elsewhere? In contrast, have you ever been with someone and you can feel that you are both 100% present?? Let that feeling be a staple of every relationship in your life. Parents, this is #1 on the list for a reason. Teach your kids to be present by being fully present yourself.There is nothing greater you can gift your child.
Unplug- Technology is taking over our lives. It gives us the superhuman powers to do 100 things at once, BUT it takes away our ability to do the 1 most important thing: BE PRESENT. The key is to be aware, and give yourself plenty of time, every day, to be completely unplugged. For this reason I will never own a smartwatch. I have so much respect for people that are completely off social media and perhaps don’t even have a smartphone. I’d love to someday get there myself. Parents, in the debate of when to get kids started on social media and smartphones let it be known that my answer is: 100% NO WAY DON’T DO IT!
Social media has given me a career, unique experiences around the world, and so many awesome connections, AND YET STILL my vote for young people is NO WAY STAY AWAY your life will be better without it. Those are my feelings and we will see how long I can stay strong with Dorothy, Manilla and Calihan who currently aren’t even aware that they have hundreds of thousands of followers on their own Instagram accounts. Maybe someday I’ll gift those accounts to them. Maybe. It will depend on them. I’m totally contradicting myself right?!? I know. It’s complicated. But, I hope anyone who has watched The Bucket List Family channel on YouTube has made special notice that we never show iPads or phones or video games. Our goal isn’t viral videos or binge watching, but rather, content that inspires viewers to UNPLUG and make the most of their days. Challenge: take screens away from your kids. I PROMISE YOU, quicker than you think, they’ll find entertainment and joy in something else more fulfilling and healthy.
Hold them- I once read a statistic about the effect it has on a child when you hug them for longer than 8 seconds. Seemed random and nonsensical but I totally found myself holding onto my kids a little bit longer...just in case;). But do you agree with me? Something happens when you’re holding someone you love and time seems to slow down. Maybe it’s a kiss or a hug or simply just holding their hand while you’re on a walk. I remember how much I loved my dad holding me on his shoulders. I remember the exact day I asked and he told me, “Sorry I think you’re too big for that now.” My childhood was officially over. My world, wrecked! Lesson learned and I’m ready to break my back for my kids. They will be the ones to tell me they’re too big...NOT ME. Hold onto the ones you love and experience time slooowing dooown.
Chat with them- Who are the best conversationalists in your life? Why? What makes them so great? Jessica Gee is my number one. I wasn’t aware of it earlier on in our relationship but as I think about it now, it’s probably why we fell in love and got married. The majority of our early relationship was long distance over the phone and we talked endlessly. Our relationship was based on conversation before it was anything physical. One thing Jessica and all the best conversationalists in my life have in common? Their ability to LISTEN WITH SINCERITY AND ABSOLUTE PRESENCE. Parents, have real conversations with your children. Listen to them and get to know their fears, doubts, problems, struggles, joys, victories, and what in life they are excited about. Speak with them on an equal level. Tell them how you feel about them.
Go outside- This one isn’t tricky but there is definitely something magical about it. Time seems to fly by when you’re scrolling on your phone and lost in the rabbit hole of social media...BUT time seems to slow down to a steady flow when you are outside in nature. Feeling stressed? Feeling overwhelmed? Put down your phone and go outside. Go for a walk or lay on the grass or play catch with your kids. I promise you, it will probably be a favorite part of your day. One thing is for sure, it will bring your stress levels down and slow things down for you. Currently, my favorite part of my day is about 6pm right before dinner is ready and right before the sun sets. I will turn off all things technology and go outside with my kids. We usually go to the beach and play in the waves but lately we’ve just been staying in our backyard and playing pass with a soccer ball and that has been equally rewarding. It’s just 30 minutes before dinner, but truthfully, time slows down and it feels like THE BEST HALF OF MY ENTIRE DAY :)
Try new things- Perhaps this is why I love traveling so much? Maybe. But for sure this is why I have become addicted to surfing. When you try something new, especially something scary or difficult, something is triggered within you that requires your total presence. Are you familiar with FLOW STATE? Look it up, it's amazing! It is quite literally the slowing down of time during important moments. Have you ever wondered why cheesy dating shows like The Bachelor always have their contestants go bungee jumping or something of the sort? Because trying new/scary things together creates special bonds. Parents, pick a new hobby and learn it together with your children! For us it has been surfing. I promise you, the bond created within the passion for that new hobby is priceless.
Journal- I started journaling seriously when I moved to Russia. Pretty quickly I wanted to stop. I became annoyed and too bored to write about my day. But I realized, the problem isn’t journaling, the problem is the way I am spending my days. I need to live my life in a way that’s worth writing about! Live a day so epic, I can’t wait to capture it in a way that I’ll forever remember. Since then, my journaling has transitioned to writings, photos, and videos, and not just about me, but about my family and friends as well. By recording my days, I am quite literally reliving each day multiple times. Journaling helps me remember the best part of yesterday, get excited about each tomorrow, and make the very most of every TODAY.
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM TO CREATE A CARTOON?
Something needed to change about, The Bucket List Family. I spend about 20-30 hours editing each of our weekly videos! Traveling to remote areas around the world with small children is difficult enough, but then on top of that to find enough hours in a week to edit WHILE ALSO trying to make the most of my time and fully experience each new country we were visiting...Lemme tell you it’s near impossible and most definitely not sustainable. I’ll just say it like this, it takes a psychotic level of hard work and dedication to pull it off. For me, I chose to prioritize experiencing each new country together with my family so that has meant editing at night and completely sacrificing sleep 1 night a week. Not awesome. So difficult. Don’t recommend it. NOT sustainable.
Jessica for so long has asked me to hire an editor to take over our YouTube channel. I can’t do it. These videos are my memories and to ask someone else to craft together these treasured moments perfectly the way we experienced them?? I can’t do it. Does that make me an OCD controlling crazy person?? Yup. But, these videos are my love notes to my family. They are to them, FROM ME.
But doing this, this way, wasn’t sustainable. I have felt it for a while. When you feel the need for change you can either proactively choose your change, or some sort of change will be forced upon you and you might not like it. What about a reality tv show?? Since the start of The Bucket List Family, we have been pitched probably 50 different times to do some sort of television show. As a YES MAN I always entertain the proposals but Jessica never lets those conversations go too far. She has a very sound mind and is wonderful at always putting the needs of our children first. There are just too many examples out there of young children forced into fame at a young age and it turning bad for them. It’s not worth it. Not for us. We don’t consider The Bucket List Family famous but the potential is there and we have carefully and mindfully done our best to walk that line carefully and stay away from the big spotlight.
So what CHANGE did we CHOOSE? I don’t love the idea of just turning off The Bucket List Family and having so much hard work and such an amazing global community be turned off. More fame and more spotlight on our kids is NOT the goal..Hmmm..
WHAT ABOUT A CARTOON??
WHAT ABOUT A CARTOON??
WHAT ABOUT A CARTOON?? Alright let’s think about this.. Does it give our kids the option how much they want to be in the spotlight or NOT? Does it carry on the Bucket List story while allowing our family to “ride off into the sunset” or perhaps better said, back off into the shadows and quietly live our lives off the screen? Does it give the creator and entrepreneur in me purpose and outlet? And can this become something much bigger than just The Bucket List Family to become a source of goodness around the world?
Y E S ! ! !
So let’s do this!! Do we know how? Do we have experience? Do we even know where to begin??
N O ! ! !
THE DAY I MET TESS FOWLER
One of the first things we did when we had the idea for this cartoon was invite our Instagram followers to attend something of a focus group that we hosted at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. I didn’t know what to expect from it so I went into it with a very open mind. However, I left with my heart completely full of love, gratitude, and total motivation to make this cartoon everything it needs to be. I need to tell you about Tess Fowler..
I get choked up and cry quite easily when thinking about Tess Fowler. I remember when she arrived at our focus group and her appearance definitely stood out from the other attendees. She has the sides of her head buzzed short with the middle of her hair in a long messy braided mohawk of sorts with a cool mix of dark and gray hair. She was wearing black and purple and for the first half of the focus group discussion was very quiet. We had been asking questions to the group like, “What do you imagine when you think of a Bucket List cartoon?” or “What do you hope for?” We were receiving such great feedback but then Tess finally spoke up and her words shook me to my soul...
To the best of my memory, Tess said, “Garrett, it’s important that you understand the responsibility you have to make this cartoon as special as The Bucket List Family. It’s great and all that you’ve shown us cool places around the world and taught us about unique cultures, BUT most importantly, you have given people like me, a FAMILY. I was raised without a dad. Garrett, you have become the father figure in my life that I’ve always wanted..needed. When you speak softly to Manilla, or infuse confidence into Dorothy, or listen intently to Calihan, we feel your fatherly love. THAT is what the Bucket List cartoon needs to be."
Her words touched me to my soul. In that moment I felt an internal promise to Tess and others like her to do my absolute very best to make the Bucket List cartoon something truly special. I hope to create a show, a story, that can be a timeless message of love and family for everyone around the world who needs it. There’s so many problems out in the world and it’s foolish to believe that maybe, just maybe, the best solution is to focus on families.
Tess, if you ever read this please know that I am grateful for you. Thank you for showing up that day to the focus group and having the courage to speak up and be so vulnerable. I have so much love and respect for you. It gives me joy to know I have had a positive influence on your life because YOU have had such a strong impact on ME. I have so much love for you and hope you will be my personal guest someday to the premier of the Bucket List cartoon.
WHY DID WE ANNOUNCE THE CARTOON BEFORE WE MADE A CARTOON??
There are 2 ways to use social media. 1) You can use social media as a highlight reel. Just showing the end result, the final product, the #goals. OR 2) You can use social media as a journal where you share the journey, the process, the grind that got you to your #goals.
Personally, I always prefer to follow stories that overshare the journey and the process. Bodybuilders are a good example. Yea, it’s impressive to see a fit sculpted body, but it’s way more inspiring if I can see the BEFORE photos and understand where they started. Even better, if they share the insight into their daily routine and grind, the highs and the lows, that helped them earn their goals. There’s so much eternal truth behind the simple phrase, “Find joy in the journey.”
With the Bucket List cartoon, we definitely plan to overshare this journey with the world. For journal sake, but also because I sincerely feel that will give us the best chance at success. I fully understand my complete lack of knowledge and experience in the world of animation. WE WILL NEED ALL THE HELP AND SUPPORT WE CAN GET. I remember doing the same thing when I was creating my iPhone app. At the time, most tech entrepreneurs were secretive with their ideas because they didn’t want to get “Zuckerberged” and have their idea stolen. I didn’t buy into that fear. I understood perfectly well that an idea is just an idea and execution is where projects live and die. By letting everyone and everyone know exactly what I was working on and where I lacked, only increased my chances for success.
Lastly, in the best of ways I feel like we owe it to our Bucket List community around the world to include them as much as possible in this journey. This has the potential to become a global collaboration. How beautiful if we can include people around the world as supporters, writers, artists, musicians, and more?? ABSOLUTELY SPECIAL! We don’t know where the cartoon will eventually be available to watch, so for now, the best ways to be a part of this journey are our social media channels : Instagram, YouTube, and here on this blog.
Life itself is more fulfilling once you finally understand that there is no end goal, but rather the daily joy of embracing your personal journey that is life.
CREATING SOMETHING TIMELESS TAKES TIME
Quite often people ask our advice to get started on social media. Most of the time they seem disappointed in my suggestions. I have no secret formulas or strategies for them. I explain to them our slooow growth and how we’ve never “gone viral”. The definition of trend is something that quickly grows in popularity and then just as quickly drops off. I feel the reason why the Bucket List community is so amazing and filled with such real, authentic, wonderful humans around the world is because we didn’t just pop off as a trend, rather, we stayed true to our values and grew slowly but surely. Even today, I consider the Bucket List community a small niche tight knit community of families and amazing people around the world that share similar goals and values.
The toughest part: BE PATIENT. Timeless takes time. I need to remind myself WHY I started all of this and remember that WHY when times get tough and you want to quit. My WHY is my wife. My WHY is my kids. My WHY is all the endless hard work that has got me this far. My WHY is my team. My WHY is Tess Fowler. My WHY is every child and human out there that needs the love and family that Bucket List can provide.
So what is my WHY?? My WHY is GRATITUDE for all the above.