How the Zen Pig Movement Began
Good morning friends,
I'm enjoying my morning coffee and have a nice little bed head thing going on - it is wild.
I hope you guys are awesome, and I hope you had a restful weekend.
It's Monday but that's alright with me - I like Mondays.
I wanted to pop in today and talk about something I get a lot of emails about and that's about Zen Pig, how it was started and where the movement even came from?
And so I thought I would just take the time and answer that here.
And if you ever have any questions about Zen Pig's origin starting humbly...it did!
When I was younger; when I was like, early twenties, from the outside looking in, my life was looking pretty great in terms of hitting a stride.
You know, I had lost all this weight, I had gotten in shape, I left a dead end job and started a company...
AND I even convinced my old high school class president to marry me!
So outside looking in, my life was looking pretty great.
But there was a problem and that problem was my internal world was bleak.
It seemed like no matter what I was achieving externally, I still had all this turmoil internally.
And I remember distinctly one of the rock bottoms.
I was upstairs in my home office and I was pounding away at emails and my eyes started to sting a little bit and I thought, what's that about?
I thought, "We have two cats, but they've been here years- why would I have an allergic reaction now?!"
And they got worse and worse. And then I felt that one warm, drop stream down my cheek.
I touched it...and at that moment I realized what was happening.
And just like that this wash of release and grief just came out.
So there I was, just in my office crying because I was just so malcontent...and I just thought, this is not good.
After a few minutes of, I got super worried that my wife was going to come back home and catch me in that condition so I hurried to clean myself up.
But I'm so glad that that rock bottom hit because it allowed me to start looking for resources and tools to help my internal world; to help my perspective.
And within a week with those new listening ears on and those new seeing eyes, I found this book called "You Are Here" by Thich Nhat Hanh.
If you're not familiar with that book, it basically revolves around the power of presence, gratitude, and compassion. Compassion towards others and compassion towards yourself.
And with that book, my life changed because it sparked something in me.
It sparked me to begin a meditative, introspective journey.
It sparked me to soak up all the materials I could to help bring peace and solidarity to my internal world.
An old analogy that I like to reference is that our mind is like a tiny little man trying to control and tame this massive, powerful elephant.
We're trying to get on top of this mighty beast and journey through life and we have to learn how to control it. And so that was such a life changer for me.
I consistently worked at it and after a few years, my wife and I decided we were ready to start a family.
I'm so blessed to say that the very next month, we found out we were expecting - we were about to have a baby!
And I remember being upstairs in our bedroom, reading that positive test, and being so excited but as I was walking downstairs this sinking feeling was starting to manifest.
And by the time I was at the bottom of those stairs, I had a firm realization that, it's a REAL HUMAN coming into this world.
That is when the daddy brain switched on.
The only thing that I could think of was, "Oh my God, I was 24 or 25 before I learned how to tame that elephant a little bit, and how to move through the world a little bit more peacefully. I've got to help my son or daughter learn WAY before me."
That started my little nesting period - I just wanted to gather all the resources I could before my kid got here.
And I remember going into a Barnes and Noble with the objective to get books that help him or her learn and understand these evergreen values that radically changed my own life.
I remember walking into Barnes and Noble...I love the way they smell...I know that's really weird, but I do.
Immediately, I walked into the children's book section and as you know, they just had these gorgeous stacks and rows rows of children's books.
I stood there thumbing through the pages and saw all these key characters, high production value books - it's just this Mecca of children's books.
But then and there I got hit in the head with a realization-
These companies had turned their back on our children.
They present with two options ABC's and 123's - the academic which is needed- OR violent superheroes and saccharin entertainment.
With a massive, glaring deficit of content that teaches children what may be most important of all - Emotional Wellness.
We're not teaching our kids how to tame that elephant, how to journey, how to experience and acknowledge those emotions and hold them.
This scared me.
I was in children's book paradise, but I couldn't find anything that I felt great about in terms of emotional wellness for my future son or daughter.
So I went home and began the Zen Pig journey.
I started pounding away and after awhile of staying consistent with it - I had it!
I had something I could hand my child and feel great about!
So I took it to my mastermind group.
A mastermind group, if you're not familiar. is nothing extravagant.
It's basically just people getting together and making sure everybody's accountable and on track, as well as maintaining a productive perspective.
I presented draft one to them and they said:
"Well, we've got some good news and we've got some bad news."
"Alright, give it to me." I said.
"We love Zen Pig. We think it's great."
"Wow! Thank you so much! That's so cool - but what's the bad news?" I asked.
"The bad news is you've got to figure out a way to get it to the world by next month."
My heart sank.
They continued, "Your kid isn't the only one that needs this. You have to figure out a way to get this to the world."
To say I was daunted was an understatement.
I had nothing...no experience in publishing, printing, anything like that.
The most I'd ever done was maybe print a business card online.
Needless to say, Google became my best friend.
It was Google, Youtube, trial and error. Over and over and over.
And finally I had that first Zen Pig printed up - I had it in my hands.
I put up this really simple website, told a few people about it, and within that first month Zen Pig was released, it had sold more than 94% of children's books do in their lifetime.
I was blown away; I was just utterly blown away.
Blown away and grateful to readers, to parents, to care givers, to teachers to everybody that had seen this deficit models for their children and acted on it.
I can't overstate how thankful I am.
Because of YOU, over 100,000 people have gotten clean water access.
Because of you, Zen Pig has turned into a movement and into a team.
I'm so excited because I know what's coming.
I know all the resources and tools and activities that -because of your support- we're able to pour into the market.
That's how this all started, this crazy, crazy journey.
How this crying man in his office started Zen Pig.
I'm always here for you.