Gavin Lodge -- Broadway actor, small business entrepreneur, TikTok influencer, and Executive Director of the American Alliance of Artists and Audiences -- dishes on the importance of the arts, activism, and education. He also shares some of his favorite diverse LGBTQ friendly picture books that speak to the power of identity and family love.
Gavin and I go way back (we were practically kids) when we performed together in TriArts Sharon Playhouse's production of The Music Man. He was the dynamic Harold Hill and I picked a little and talked a lot. Backstage, we became friends in the kind of friendship that endures. Over the years, we've talked politics, literature, raising kids. And it's been so much fun to be a part of his journey from the Broadway stage to launching his own business, to become a social media influencer, and now, most recently the Executive Director of 4A, the American Alliance of Artists and Audiences. In the conversation that follows, we explore the importance of the arts as part of STEAM education and as an important aspect of American society. We also delve deeply into picture books that help foster positive images of LGBTQ families and children. And there's a lot of laughter as well.
[01:37] What is 4A Arts, the American Alliance of Artists and Audiences?
[05:36] Connecting the A in STEAM (That's Arts)
[07:32] Adventures in Learning: Gavin's Journey from Broadway to 4A Arts Executive Director
[11:02] Gavin has established a successful social media presence on TikTok and has created an entertaining and thought provoking parenting blog, which I highly recommend. In addition, he launched the ECKnox brand. He's been sharing very openly his adventures as a dad since Ellison was born. I asked him to share a little more about the business and the other side of his artistic life.
[17:18] Force Feeding Culture? Or Strategies for Promoting Playful Learning
[20:07] Diverse LGBTQ-Friendly Picture Books That Speak to the Power of Identity and Family Love. Seriously check this section out. There is a lot of power and goodness embedded here.
[32:40] Advice for Our Kids: Applying Our Adventures In Learning
For pictures, book recommendations, and more, check out the full show notes.
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[00:01] Dr. Diane: Wonder, curiosity, connection. Where will your adventures take you? I'm Dr. Diane, and thank you for joining me on today's episode of Adventures in Learning. Welcome to today's Adventure in Learning. I am so lucky because I'm I get to talk to all kinds of wonderful thought leaders, and today I'm giving myself a treat. I am talking to longtime friend Gavin Lodge. He is a Broadway star, he is an entrepreneur, he's an influencer, and he's currently the executive director of 4A, the American Alliance of Artists and Audiences. And I am so excited to welcome him. I have known Gavin since we were kids at the TriArts Sharon Playhouse. He was Harold Hill. I picked a little and talked a lot, And we've seen each other through our kids, and it's just a delight to welcome you to the show, Gavin.
[00:54] Gavin: Very happy to be here. Thank you so much. I have been a big fan of watching you and your journey over the last couple of months, dare I say years with your venture here. Thank you for calling me a Broadway star. My only child ego loves hearing that, but it's all so relative. I had a great time. It was a great chapter. Hopefully it's not over, but anyway, thank you.
[01:20] Dr. Diane: Well, and you know that I was always your biggest fan and loved being able to come out and see you whenever you were on in the lead.
[01:27] Gavin: Thanks. It was always a blast, and it's always great to have your support.
[01:30] Dr. Diane: So welcome. I'm so happy you're here. Tell us about your newest venture. What is 4A, the American Alliance of Artists and Audiences?
[01:37] Gavin: We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation, and we are heading out into the world to try to become something akin to, say, the Sierra Club of Arts and Culture. I hate to sell us by immediately comparing us to somebody else, but I feel like it illustrates quickly what we are trying to do, which is elevate the way American society and then consequently, American elected leaders, both at the local, federal and state level, think about the arts and culture, economy and ecosySTEM. We are an organization that believes there hasn't been enough. I mean, first of all, I have a background in politics before I went into theater, and I have always felt very strongly about that. We desperately need campaign finance reform in our political sySTEM. That said, I know that that's going to take a long time to get to, and in the meantime, you have to be able to fight fire with fire and have some influence. And it's astounding to me that something so integral to the American identity and American culture, such as what we like to call the creative industry, is so underfunded and underappreciated by Congress. Now, again, we are not a lobbying organization. I focus on Congress here. But what I really mean is we are working to make every American aware that even if you're just watching Netflix for 2 hours a night, something I am very frequently guilty of, and by guilty, I mean guiltfree about… You are still taking part in the American expression and creativity and you are part of this. And how on earth can we support our artists, our creative folks, the people who helped cultivate our American culture and identity? We've got to give them some support. This largely came out of our founder believing that there needed to be something like the AARP of arts and culture because the AARP, there are many ways of looking at the AARP but you can't deny the fact that they have elevated the way Congress prioritizes senior citizens. And so he wanted to set up to do this as well. And in the aftermath of COVID, obviously so many oil industries and car companies and airline industries, everybody got billions of dollars of support and artists really only got unemployment, which was not nothing.
[04:06] Dr. Diane: If they were able to get unemployment.
[04:08] Gavin: Right, many of them couldn't, many of them couldn't and certainly over COVID, we realized just how much we rely upon entertainment of all shapes and sizes. And so we are out to hopefully change the way funding is distributed and mainly have a sea change in attitude and valuation of the creative industry and arts and culture throughout the country. I could talk a lot more about that. But let me say one more thing real quick, is that even though I am an actor, we are not about just visual arts and performing arts. We embrace and celebrate and uplift basket weavers and potters and lowrider painters and everything that is part of this creative expression. This isn't about million dollar Basquiates. It's about the everyday American who takes part in creativity in their own little way or their own big way from the middle of Ohio to the middle of New Mexico and then including New York and Anchorage and Tallahassee and LA. And so it isn't about, we make no distinction between high art and folk art, i’s all part of American identity. And I'll close in saying, I think one of the reasons that this is so critical is that for instance, what won the Cold War, it wasn't, thank goodness, nuclear missiles. It was American identity and culture and ideals. And I hope that we can get back to valuing just such a thing for so very many reasons.
[05:36] Dr. Diane: Well, you know, one of the things that I work very closely with is working with teachers to integrate not just STEM but STEAM, the arts, as part of science, technology, education and math. And I've seen that there needs to be that connection. That when you can connect good literature, when you can connect the performing arts, when you can connect ways of expressing yourself, whether it's through drawing, whether it's through crafts, whether it's through getting up and reciting poetry, that kids are grounded and they learn more and they're able to make better connections and think more critically. Are you all working with education facilities as well?
[06:15] Gavin: Right now? We're tiny, and we're a tiny team, and we have a small budget. Hint, hint. Please go to our website and give us a hand. But education will be integral to where we want to grow, and I want to piggyback on what you've just said, because I think the integration of so many synapses and ways of learning all helps each other. We know very well, and though I don't have statistics on the top of my head, but we all know that fostering any kind of creative learning and outlet helps all other subjects as well. We all know that math and music are very aligned, but being able to express and share and learn anything that might be right brain or left brain helps the other. So, yes, in short, we will be all about educational opportunities to integrate and be part of all of this conversation.
[07:12] Dr. Diane: Excellent. So if somebody wants to know more about 4A, where would they go to find out?
[07:26] Dr. Diane: Excellent. And I'll put that in the show notes as well, so if people would like to find out more, they can reach out to you.
[07:31] Gavin: Thank you.
[07:32] Dr. Diane: You're welcome. So, Gavin, this is all about our adventures in learning, and I wanted to find out, you're brand new in your position. How did you get there? What was the path that took you there?
[07:44] Gavin: I appreciate that because I feel like I'm on an adventure in learning right now, that is for sure. I am so lucky that I had the family support and the confidence, frankly, to jump into various career paths, and I realize that that is a privilege in and of itself. I was in politics just out of college. Then I jumped into theater, essentially the same business, the same fragile egos of people who want applause. But in all of my time, I had such a great time performing. I loved every second of it. Every single time I was on a stage or on a sound stage or anything, it was great. But I also kind of thought, I feel like I'm probably supposed to be doing something else that will be less narcissistic, frankly, or less just about am I going to get the next job or will I be able to get onto the Hadestown national tour or something like that? But I didn't know how to leave a 20 year career. That was even scarier than the idea of having an international pandemic. And then, oh, look, we have an international pandemic. And so it forced me, Covid definitely forced me and my family to take a step back and realize, well, this is a time for reassessment, obviously. I started volunteering with an organization called Be an Arts Hero, and they came directly out of Covid when, for instance, the airline industry got $60 billion and artists got nothing. They said, hey, Congress, why aren't you paying attention to people who — we aren't just creating entertainment or escapism. We create jobs and we help economies grow, and we help small towns grow, and we help big cities grow. And if you would just invest in small town cultural institutions, you help in entire ecosystems of small towns. So I started volunteering with them. I volunteered with them for a year and a half while I was doing some PR work on the side, random. And that led me to this opportunity with 4A Arts, which is perfectly aligned with the volunteer work I was doing, but the volunteer work was with the 501(c)4, so we were actually lobbying. And this is on the other side, on the education and information outreach. And I feel really fortunate to have this job when I also feel insecurely, like I had a large gap in my resume where I just tap danced for a really long time, which is not nothing, but hopefully my go with the flow, and yet also just jumping into pools without knowing whether there was water. And my enthusiasm for just figuring it out, which comes from part of my nature and partly my political background and whatnot that, I think, ultimately landed me the job to say, hey, I don't know exactly what this is, but I'll figure it out.
[10:42] Dr. Diane: No, that makes sense. And I like to say that no experience is wasted, that everything we do ultimately leads us to the next thing.
[10:50] Gavin: Totally.
[10:51] Dr. Diane: I can absolutely see that with what you are doing right now. We're going to take a break, and when we come back, we're going to shift gears and we're going to move into your dad influencer mode.
[11:01] SPONSOR AD www.drdianeadventures.com
[11:02] Dr. Diane: So, welcome back. Gavin, you've had a highly successful TikTok, and you've had the ECKnox brand. You've been sharing very openly your adventures as a dad since Ellison was born. Would you mind sharing a little bit about how that came to be? And sort of what that adventure has led to?
[12:23] Gavin: Thank you for letting me make another shameless plug. Years ago, when I was expecting my first kid, Ellison, I wanted a slick, masculine diaper bag, and they didn't exist. They were all super overly masculinized, as if, don't let parenthood feminize you and make you a girl, or they were just like, women's bags. And so I thought, why isn't there something that's a little more like professional and masculine and not overcompensatingly masculine? It didn't exist. I thought about it for a while, had a second kid and said, way dumber people than me have figured this out. I think I'm going to just jump in. And it has been a snowball effect of, like, getting deeper and deeper and often thinking, why am I doing this? Should I be stopping? But long story short, I did get a bag made, and the first store to take it was Barney's in New York, which was a nice feather in my cap. But I will also say that being in Barney's did not necessarily translate to huge sales, and I'm still frankly figuring it out, but it is available at Nordstrom and on Amazon and of course, on my website, which is ECKnox.
But what might be more relevant and important and pertinent here is that in creating the business, it did allow me the opportunity to commiserate and get out into the conversation, kind of the mommy blog world of parenting and commiserating with other people and learning from other people and sharing my mistakes and sharing my successes to, I don't know, help all of us with this grand journey of parenthood.
And one of the unexpected turns it took was coming to embrace the fact that my daughter, who's now ten, is a trans girl. And that was an unexpected surprise. Of course, parenting is nothing but unexpected surprises, that's for sure. But basically, very long story short there, my partner and I just needed to get out of her way to let her be her fantastically expressive self, and she's thriving.
But for the STEAM and STEM approach, also, I think something that might be pertinent is so often I feel like parenting takes so much effort and it takes a tremendous amount of, frankly, creative thinking and getting out of your own box. I mean, so often I really would just wish that I could spend even more hours just watching Netflix, but I know that that would be a terrible example for my kids when I want to stimulate their brains and get them out to experience things. And something I write about a lot actually has been about cultural experiences where my kids are just complaining the entire time as I'm dragging them to a museum or dragging them through an experience or dragging them to a show or dragging them to a sports event. And one of them is kicking in one regard and the other is screaming in the other regard. But knowing that it will have been worth it because I'm expanding their brains and showing them opportunities and providing opportunities for them that eventually will pay off.
My daughter right now is absolutely digging her heels in about playing the piano. And sometimes her attitude is so bad about it, I'm like, why am I wasting my money with this? This is ridiculous. But she's not bad at it. And we go back and forth about do we force her to do something that she says she doesn't want to do or not? And my partner was like, you know what? This is the kind of thing that she will in 30 years, she will regret having quit, but she won't regret having been forced to play the stupid piano. So we go back and forth. It's a constant struggle, but I'm always trying to reach further to full speed culture and appreciation to them so that they are able to have the most enriching childhoods they possibly can.
[16:34] Dr. Diane: Well, I hate to tell you this, but I haven't heard the thank you yet from my own end. It takes a while.
[16:41] Gavin: Yeah, that force feeding gratitude is….
[16:45] Dr. Diane: But I can tell you that it does make an impact. And I know you and I have done the late night conversations about kids and how do we raise better humans, and there is an investment. And my kids are a little bit older than yours, and I can see it right now in the incredible young women that they both have become. No thank you for the piano yet, but the oldest has picked up her flute again after a hiatus of six years.
[17:12] Gavin: Nice.
[17:13] Dr. Diane: There is hope. Tell Todd there is hope on the musical front.
[17:16] Gavin: Thank you.
[17:18] Dr. Diane: So in terms of playful learning, I know as a dad you joke about force feeding culture, but I know that you have really worked to create an environment of playful learning with your kids. What are some strategies that you've used to do that?
[17:33] Gavin: Let's see, lowering my own expectations for how they're going to react. I tend to be a micromanager, and I am a bit of a control freak, I have to admit. While I am not always the best planner in my own world, I am a big planner in the adventures we take together. Again, I guess what I'm trying to say is I plan in advance, but then I keep low expectations for how they're going to respond. And I do a lot of bargaining, of course, for better or for worse. And I'm like, just kiddos. You got to eat your vegetables before you have the dessert. And first we're going to do this and then we're going to do that. And this might mean spending a focused amount of time at a museum, and then we'll figure out the ice cream situation afterwards. But I also hold off in the immediate gratification. Is that sort of answering?
[18:45] Dr. Diane: No, that's absolutely answering. So you're encouraging playful learning, you're following the kids interests, but you're also setting up activities and enrichment opportunities that they might not seek out themselves.
[18:57] Gavin: Yes, constantly. And I suppose that I try to set up those learning opportunities, say, earlier in a schedule, earlier in a day, earlier in an itinerary because, you know, it's easier. We all have fresher minds open to learning more when we're just fresher. And then after that, you just kind of have to make do with letting them drive their own cars, so to speak, in terms of what they want to do for the rest of whatever the time is, the afternoon, the weekend, or whatever. One of the things is that in terms of setting up expectations for my kids on, like, cultural or boundary breaking adventures, is I talk a lot about setting the expectations with them. I talk with them about absolutely everything to their horror and embarrassment an awful lot of the time. But I let them know, this is what we're going to do first, and then we'll do this. Of course, that sets them up for being like, is it over yet? Is it over yet?
[19:58] Dr. Diane: Is it over yet?
[19:58] Gavin: Can we stop learning? Can we stop learning? Can we stop learning? But nevertheless, it sets their expectations up so that they know, listen, there is a reward at the end of the rainbow.
[20:07] Dr. Diane: Absolutely. And, you know, I was thinking about something you and I have talked about over the years, just in terms of the importance of real diversity in the picture books that we're sharing with our kids. I know that that's something that you all struggled with, with Ellison and being able to find books where she would be reflected and see herself in the books. Have you found books that support your family?
[20:32] Gavin: We had a whole stack of the books, but by the time Ellison was, like, really coming into her own, she didn't need any explanation. She was just kind of like, fine with it, and we were reading the books for our benefit.
[20:44] Dr. Diane: Sure. Well, that makes sense. And honestly, it makes sense to read them in the classroom as well, because you're helping to provide language for children who might not have that experience.
[20:54] Gavin: That's exactly right.
[20:55] Dr. Diane: And are then able to say, oh, I met this child in Julian Is a Mermaid. That's totally cool.
[21:01] Gavin: Yeah. And then, of course, there's Red, the book about the crayon that gets mislabeled, which many people have held that up to be a really great queer of all kinds book. Yes. It's funny how, despite the fact that this is a topic that we talk about a lot and it's often still controversial, there are kind of fewer books than I would have expected. I'm sure that there's hopefully a whole new library and category out there I don't have in front of me.
But Todd Parr (Be Who You Are) has done such a great job over years and years of showing diversity and beautiful families and whatnot, but it's still surprising to me that there aren't more. But there are a few that we found. We definitely worked out and overused the spines of the books as we went through them.
One, I Am Jazz, of course, which was really revolutionary when it was first published, I believe. And in that, Ellison was given some language for being able to express her own identity. That line being, “I have a boy body and a girl brain,” and I just love the simplicity. Yeah, the simplicity for those who aren't able to kind of get past their own confusion and they say, I just don't really get it. Well, boy and girl brain just so simple. What's not to get?
We definitely read Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant many, many times. I will admit that this book gave me a teeny bit of pause because bullying gets into the story. And even though that's a very important thing to be able to diffuse and to deal with, etcetera, my kid wasn't being bullied, so I didn't even want to put the idea into her head that she could be. But nevertheless, it is a wonderful book and it's a wonderful imagination and whatnot. There was another one called from the Stars in the Skies to the Fish in the Sea that had really, really beautiful illustrations. And it's about a parent having unbridled love for their kids, no matter who they would be or who they choose to be, or who they end up being, etcetera, meaning I'll love you from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea. We went through that book a lot. Victor's Pink Pyjamas was an interesting one for me because it felt, frankly, with all due respect to Laura Alary and how wonderful it is, it felt a little like DIY-ish to me. So I thought, oh, I just haven't seen this on lists or anything. And then it's got such a great message about stop making things such a big deal. Why can't Victor wear his pink pajamas when lots of things are pink? Hot dogs are pink and worms are pink and pigs are pink, so what's the big deal? And he's, he and his mom are, of course, having to deal with their dad, which is so often, sadly, the case, but they convinced him to just stop overthinking it. If he wants to wear pink pajamas, he wears them. It's not that big deal. But then finally, I think what was my very favorite was Jacob's New Dress, and that it just hit us at just the right time for Ellison. And it was about a pre k kid or a preschooler who wanted to wear a dress at school. And why is it that boys can't wear dresses? It just makes no sense. And truly, why can't boys wear dresses? And this was the one we really read the most by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. And this one, I'm surprised we still have a book jacket on it because we read it so much.
[24:52] Dr. Diane: That makes sense. And I know one of the things that I learned, certainly from your parenting experience was the value of presenting books when I was teaching that just showed families, families loving families. And so my go to is Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee’s Everywhere Babies, and it was one of the first of its kind in that it's very simple rhyming text. And then you've got these beautiful pictures that just show families loving, and sometimes it's the mom and a dad, sometimes it's two dads, sometimes it's two moms. You've got mixed races, mixed socioeconomic levels. It's just a beautiful book. It's incredibly frustrating that that book is currently on some banned book lists. You kind of question, are people even reading the books when they start banning things like that? I think what I'm seeing is people are sort of going to a list of recommended, diverse books and just saying, ban them all, and they've not read a single one of them and it's a real shame.
[25:53] Gavin: Agreed.
[25:54] Dr. Diane: So another beautiful book that came out is A Family is a Family, and it's by Sara O'Leary and Qin Leng. And I love this book because as you go through, it literally talks about all of these different families. Like, both my moms are terrible singers and they both like to sing very loud. I have more grandparents than anybody else I know. We all look alike in my family, we kind of go together. And so it talks about all these different families, including foster families, which is something that doesn't get picture books very often. So it's kind of a remarkable book. And I'm hopeful that there will be more books like that that are available to give kids the mirrors, to see themselves reflected, but I think also those windows to be able to see into other worlds and maybe even as Dr. Sims Bishop talks about the sliding glass doors to actually affect change, you enter somebody else's world and you change your own heart.
[26:53] Gavin: Fantastic. Yeah. Thank goodness for moving in that direction.
[26:56] Dr. Diane: I sure hope so. And I think we are. I mean, I look at your kids, I look at my kids, I look at this next generation, and I see a lot to be hopeful about.
[27:06] Gavin: Yeah, I agree. Thank goodness. There's a lot to lament and still work for constantly and advocate for. But we have to move in the right direction.
[27:16] Dr. Diane: Absolutely. So we're going to take one more quick break and then we're going to come back and I'm going to finish with a couple of forward thinking adventure questions.
[27:24] Gavin: Sounds good.
[27:31] SPONSOR AD: www.drdianeadventures.com
[28:31] Dr. Diane: So, welcome back. While we were on break, Gavin mentioned that he had a couple more favorite books. So, you know, I love books. Gavin, go for it.
[28:46] Gavin: I was so lucky to receive a book as a gift for my kids. Received a book as a gift from my former English teachers who were visiting New York City a few years ago, and I found this book absolutely remarkable. It's called Tuba Lessons by TC. Bartlett and Monique Felix. And it's just a story about a little boy who's supposed to go on, he's supposed to walk to his tuba lessons, he takes a nap under a tree, dreams, and has a whole musical experience of all of the animals coming out of the forest, and he goes on a marching band tour with them. But what's remarkable is I know I don't know if you record this visually as well. What's remarkable is there are no words in the book. And so I've just always had really remarkable experiences. I've read it to every single one of my kids’ classes when I had a chance to. Like, Daddy comes in and reads a book, and it's fascinating to start reading it, and they all go, Wait, there's no words. And then they just are utterly silent as they are captivated by the fantastic pictures. And then what I always do is go back, read it a second time, and I put in my words for it, and then I read it a third time, and I make them read it, and they just make up the words as they go. And I just think it's I'm sure that there are other books like these out there, but the idea that it was a book with no words and fantastic, a great narrative that just you get to fill in the blanks for, is it's magical every single time I read it. But even though I haven't read them to my kids in quite a while, but I bet it would still be magical for them.
[30:31] Dr. Diane: Well, and it's powerful storytelling, and it's a collaborative experience between the author and illustrator, between the person who's holding up the book and between the audience. So kind of like the arts.
[30:45] Gavin: Exactly. There we go. We want to push those creative juices exactly.
[30:51] Dr. Diane: So since we're still on picture books, what was your favorite book when you were a kid?
[30:55] Gavin: I was a big fan of Paddington Bear when I was a kid. Those are a couple of picture books that come to mind that I have held onto because I suppose I was a bit of a pack rat and my kids actually have read through them. We're on picture books specifically, right?
[31:13] Dr. Diane: Picture books. But if there were other books as well, sure.
[31:16] Gavin: Paddington really sticks out. There was also a book, an illustrated quilt style book. And by quilt style, I mean it's as if somebody illustrated a quilt of John Denver's. Country Roads. Country Roads. Take me home to the place I belong. And it just illustrated the song. And I remember that really vividly reading that book and gosh, The Monster at the End of This Book, the Sesame Street book. That was something that I got to revisit with kids. They've updated it. I think Elmo might make an appearance now. Or maybe that was an app, that might have been actually an app that my kids like a digital book, which it distracts from the magic of actually just turning a page. So the monster at the end of the book really sticks out. And then I really liked the like, is it Richard Scarry’s?
[32:22] Dr. Diane: Yes. His Busytown.
[32:24] Gavin: Busytown. And What Do People Do All Day? And looking at the graphics for how plumbing works and that kind of thing, I thought that those Busy Town books were fascinating, I remember them pretty vividly as well.
[32:40] Dr. Diane: Let's stay in the past for just a moment. If you were to give your kids advice for moving forward with their lives, what are some of the top two or three things that you've gleaned from your own journey so far?
[32:52] Gavin: There's a mediocre movie that I saw years ago with Meryl Streep I might add. And it was like The Notebook. But it wasn't The Notebook. It was something like that. Where she says to her daughter and she's playing a 70 year old woman. So and she says to her daughter. Take the words of an old woman to heart. Ultimately oh. Gosh. I'm murdering the phrase because of course. It's done eloquently. But something along the lines of so much of this is just not going to matter in the end. Not only was that really good advice for myself when I saw the movie, I don't know, when I was 35 or something, but I feel like everything always and we all kind of make our own little drama and everything is important. The fact that I spilled my coffee this morning is important. But for my daughter that she didn't get to spend ten more minutes on the iPad was a big deal, or that her favorite shoes are dirty and that's a big deal. And I would love to be able to give them a sense of, like, just let's keep it all in perspective. It's just so many things just aren't going to matter. And so keep in mind what does matter. They're privileged, entitled kids. We are not millionaires by any stretch, but they don't want for anything. And I wish and I hope that they will have a sense of how lucky they are and always have a sense of gratitude. Because as oppressive as their lives are having to take out the trash once a week, they have it really, really good. And I know these are awfully ethereal and…
[34:41] Dr. Diane: What, no, but they make sense. And if you couch it in terms of what you and I were talking earlier about the pandemic, the lessons that we learned coming out of the pandemic, hopefully, are lessons that are moving us forward in terms of being more aware of the people around us, being more aware of what doesn't matter.
[35:03] Gavin: Right.
[35:04] Dr. Diane: And hopefully being grounded to appreciate the world and the people around us.
[35:11] Gavin: Yeah. The final thing I would really encourage them, though, is kind of like, always jump in rain puddles. Like, you take those moments of joy, and so often I'm the joy killer. When they were really, really little, every time it rained, I would intentionally put rain boots on them even though they just got flooded with water and we would go jump in puddles. And that was fun. And now we all get older and it's like, well, I don't want to get these shoes wet or I'm in a hurry. I'm always in a hurry. I'm always in a hurry. And I hope that my kids stop and take the time because, hey, going back to rule number one, your shoes getting wet, wet, it just doesn't matter. Just get your shoes wet and jump in rain puddles. And so take those little moments of adventurous, simple joys that makes a lot of sense.
[36:00] Dr. Diane: So what brings you joy right now?
[36:04] Gavin: Well, I really am stoked about my new job, that's for sure. So that's bringing me joy, a lot of stress, but good, healthy stress, because I'm helping build something new, and that's a lot and exciting. Watching my kids play soccer, even though I don't always understand the rules of soccer, and there are other ways I might prefer to spend my time, but watching them play soccer is just a thorough delight. I love being able to get out and run and listen to podcasts, and that certainly brings me joy. And we have a puppy, and that brings me a lot of joy, for sure. And then finally, everything just comes down to the kids and their happiness. The other day, I showed a spectacular day to my daughter, and she did, at the end of the day, unprompted say to me, thanks, dad, that was a really great day. And that was a moment like I had to fight back tears because it was just gratifying to hear. Thank you. And then last night we were playing Superman, me and my back. And even though that they are now tipping 100 pounds, me lifting them up with my feet, and there was just so much laughter in the house last night. That was great. This is such an old man talk of hearing my kids laugh, but we're getting busier. And those simple, fun, squealing joys, they're harder to come by, so I’ve got to be mindful about creating them sometimes, too.
[37:50] Dr. Diane: And it goes so fast. So embrace those moments while you've got them, because next thing you know, they'll be out of the house.
[37:56] Gavin: Exactly.
[37:58] Dr. Diane: So, Gavin, it has been a joy to have you on the Adventures in Learning podcast. Again, as a reminder to people, if they would like to catch up with you, where should they go to look?
[38:08] Gavin: Well, hey, anybody could send me an email if they wanted to at firstname.lastname@example.org. But that's my real passion right now, is this organization that will hopefully help change the world. So that's 4aarts.org.
[38:24] Dr. Diane: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, and I look forward to having you on the show again.
[38:29] Gavin: I would love it. Thank you so much.
[38:31] Dr. Diane: Diane you've been listening to the Adventures in Learning podcast with your host, Dr. Diane. If you love the Adventures in Learning podcast, we'd love for you to subscribe, rate, and give us a review. Can't wait to see you for our next Adventure in Learning.