Felix Assivo


The Spirituality of Work and Leadership

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Business
The Spirituality of Work and Leadership

This week’s article is provided by Paul Gibbons, academic advisor and author.   The article is an excerpt from his new book The Spirituality of Work and Leadership: Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do.   It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do that aired on Tuesday, September 7th.

VOCATION AND SPIRITUAL FIT

“Most people’s jobs are too small for their spirits.” ~Studs Terkel, from Working

People spend nearly half their waking lives at work, perhaps 100,000 hours in a lifetime. In the previous chapter, we argued that the time one spends working should be joyfully and purposefully spent, contributions should be a source of meaning and fulfillment, and social interactions should be a significant source of community and connectedness.

In this chapter, we start with questions about vocation and mindset: Which matters more: what you do, or how you do it? Can you bring a spiritual mindset, say of gratitude or service, to any job? How much responsibility for the worker’s experience lies with the worker, and how much with the employer?

CHOOSING WORK – BALANCING SECULAR AND SPIRITUAL

“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.” ~ Father Thomas Merton

One workplace spirituality “killer-app” is vocation choice, sometimes called fulfilling your purpose in life, finding your calling, or “following your bliss.” This subject has birthed hundreds of books. A few, such as Connections between Spirit and Work in Career Development, are academic in approach. Others are more inspirational and practical, such as True Work, The Purpose Driven Life, The Leaders Way, The Work We Were Born To Do, and The Art of Work.

The above books rightly say that the feeling of being called may be immensely powerful. For the called, it may provide motivation to make drastic life changes. Calling provides a narrative for work that can help you soar in the good times and transcend the bad times. It helps leaders lead with greater passion and charisma—indeed, many leadership development programs help leaders create a powerful career narrative about their highs and lows and the learning from those that has shaped who they are. In my programs, leaders used to explore this by creating a timeline of life and leadership experiences that had shaped their vision and values and that shape what is unique about them and what they stand for as a leader.

There is a question of whether calling comes from “out there,” the Universe, a Higher Power, God, or whether (as existentialists would have it) there is no purpose “out there,” but we are liberated to choose for ourselves. Different strokes.

For the existentialists or people without a deity, this freedom of choice, of accepting responsibility for those choices, and of doing the work of creating meaning can be hard. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”

When reflecting upon your calling, using one of the many guides available, you want first to focus on the spiritual, the meaning derived from work, and on intrinsic satisfaction rather than on skills, interests, job opportunities, financial rewards, and traditional views of success. Secular concerns press upon us all the time, so we give priority to the less urgent but more important. There are various tools career coaches use to help with this: narratives, dreams, symbols, poetry, visualization, and insights from the past.

Once you’ve used these “spiritual tools,” you balance spiritual with secular concerns.

One simple tool, the Ikigai (“reason to live” in Japanese), helps readers think through the tension between the secular and spiritual worlds53.

Diagram V-1: The Ikigai career purpose tool

To use this tool, spend about an hour thinking about each of the petals and the tensions between them. Ask yourself which petal is most or least fulfilling in your current role. (I have formalized this process with a questionnaire and in workshops, but the do-it-yourself approach works well if you dedicate the time to it.)

Where some books on calling are wrong

“If you’re having work problems, I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but meaning ain’t one.” ~99 PROBLEMS, JAY-Z , paraphrase

Coaches and self-help gurus sometimes draw a distinction between societal and parental influences, the tangible pressures of living (paying rent), and what the “inner-self” or “real you” or “true self” is called to do.

This distinction is false and unhelpful because there is no “you” bereft of any historical or cultural influences – your likes and dislikes, talents and shortfalls, personality, and values were shaped from an early age by dozens of influences. You can’t untangle the threads and find a “pure you” in there. Humans have many scripts running – you just get to choose which you pay attention to. You also get to choose to set some influences aside and give more weight to others.

We gain information about the world of work as we mature.  Sometimes I advise young people that early jobs are as much about finding out what you dislike as what you like. Choosing a career is always a balancing act of dozens of factors including some fairly prosaic geographical ones such as where you prefer to live, where your spouse prefers to live, where the schools are good, where parents, friends, and relatives live, as well as all the different factors covered by the Ikigai.

Another faulty assumption of many spiritually oriented career counselors and coaches is that the practical matters of earning a living, developing skills, and finding a job will “unfold” once finding a calling unlocks the passion and commitment that lie within you. I don’t think this is helpful or true. There is a certain kind of spirituality, usually New Age, that holds that once you find your calling and put your career intentions “out there,” the Universe will provide a living.

Well, as they say in the Middle East, “…trust Allah but tether your camel.” Even though the Universe is on your team, put the hard work in. Circumstances, opportunity, luck, the economic environment, and your job-hunting skills will play a part in the realization of your calling. Adults need to balance passion and practicalities in the world of work – and (again) need to balance secular and spiritual concerns. (There is a 12-Step expression: “God does the steerin’, I do the rowin.’” For Humanists, it might be, “the purpose I’ve created does the steerin’, and I do the rowin.’”)

Another faulty assumption of some spiritual approaches to calling is that finding your calling and doing it is necessarily a source of great joy. Maybe. Life stories of great saints suggest that not everyone who is “called” finds it easy. It sometimes demands great change and sacrifice. You might be called to earn a quarter of what you do now. Or are you ready to uproot your family? Are you ready to go back to school? Do you want to be called to sacrifice? Do organizations want their workers to be called? Typically, in the 21st century, we want the “goodies” from calling or vocation without the sacrifice.

Coaching people out the door

“They attain perfection when they find joy in their work.” ~The Bhagavad Gita

Finally, coaches focus on worker self-actualization for (or so they should even if they are performance coaching), but many times when I’ve coached a mid-career executive on career matters (paid for by the company), they decide to go self-actualize somewhere else. When my firm ran a leadership development program for a few dozen senior investment bankers (partners in a big firm), we talked about choice, self-expression, joy, balance, work-family, and goal setting. Five of our initial group of 12 were gone within a year (retired, began independent consulting, or moved to another firm).

In the long run, empowering self-actualization that leads to someone quitting may benefit the business, creating an opening for someone whose passions may be more aligned. (After all, you should prefer employees who are passionate about being there.) The employee’s departure increases the amount of big-picture happiness in the world—you’ve done a good thing. In the short run, though, it looks like financial folly—investing in executive coaching to watch your employees leave and then incurring the cost of losing and rehiring a worker.

The challenge for businesses is how to improve their recruiting and interviewing processes to better identify those who are truly called to work for them. How can organizations best hone and express their mission so prospective employees can discern whether they should be working there?

There is a bigger challenge we get to later which is how businesses can they make sure their insides live up to the glossy outsides of recruitment pitches.

THE SPIRITUAL FIT

“…you are someone who has a particular passion or a particular personal philosophy, and you’re able to turn work into an instrument of realizing the deeper meaning in pursuing your personal philosophy or passion.” ~Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Satya is talking about what I call the “spiritual fit” how well one’s purpose and values fit with the specific mission of our employer.  However, a courtship might produce a fit and result in two people deciding to marry but working on the fit does not stop there. Even if you find a job in the Ikigai sweet spot – that is:

  • Work that the world needs,
  • Work we are passionate about,
  • Work that tests us and uses our skills,
  • Work that remunerates us well.

… the “marriage” demands work on both sides. For firms, the fit isn’t just about hiring workers who fit, it is about helping new workers onboard.

Back in the day, even at my blue-chip former employers, the boss “onboarded” new hires, thus: “there is your desk, the bathroom is down the hall, and the coffee machine a bit further.” That is it. There was zero effort to help new hires fit – to help them make sense of the values of their new firm, and how their skills might contribute to their passion and purpose. Our connection to purpose, if it happened, was left to chance.

In the 1990s, PwC offered new employees a whole day onboarding! That whole day was then seen as indulgent by some but would seem ridiculously short to today’s HR professionals – and today PwC’s process is six months long. Leading firms take onboarding very seriously: Google also devotes six months to it, kicking off with an intensive two-week immersion into “being Googly” (the culture) but also the structure and strategy of the business and the architecture of the platform.

Hiring and onboarding help with internal fit. One could recommend companies look more deeply into values and purpose at the recruitment stage, but as values questions become more personal, they may veer into off-limits territory or may be potentially discriminatory.  Fits won’t be perfect or permanent – some employees don’t know what job they want until they see it – and at 25, you ain’t seen much. Some jobs look juicy from the outside but don’t feel right once you are in them. (And sometimes, as the song says, “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone”.)

Choosing the right profession and the right company to work for can be a long journey. You have to constantly reassess your priorities, values, fit with your employer, and whether the path you are on is one you value and admire. Mormon, Steven Covey said cleverly, “there is no use racing up the ladder of success if it is leaning against the wrong wall.”

However, I recommend strongly against daily or even monthly questioning of values and fit and purpose in life. I think that is a recipe for misery. Rumination, experts say, is among the unhealthiest psychological habits. The question “Is this the right job or profession for me” is one to be taken seriously, but only periodically – semi-annually, or annually. Once you commit, you stop asking the question for another six or twelve months – when it pops into your head, you set it aside.

Having said that, you should put your values, fit, and purpose to work in daily life – questioning yourself hard on whether you are living up to them. That is the spiritual challenge – not to get too comfortable with yourself, but also having a depth of self-compassion for your stumbles. Few of us can walk in and say “take this job and shove it” without consequences. Daily, you recommit to where you are and to the sorts of attitudes that make you happier and make you a nicer person to work with.

This, clearly, speaks to the necessity of making time for annual (or so) reflection upon your purpose and values – again not ruminating daily, but when the time that you set aside comes, engaging in purposeful life-design (or re-design.) Once, you commit to change, it will still take a long while to enact your new vision or profession. When I coached mid- or late-career people who desired or were approaching a major career transition, I used to advise that such transitions take a year to envision, plan, and execute. If you are retiring from a 40-year career, I suggest (unless your only goal is the hammock) that it takes five years to build up a portfolio of stimulating, enriching service and commercial opportunities.

A final source of misery is people who suffer at work, decide to change, and who fail to take action. They wake up each day with “I need to change jobs” for months or years without acting – getting a little unhappier and a weakening sense of their own power and agency. Usually, they need support in planning and being held accountable for taking the baby steps to realize the change.

This discussion has mostly been about fitting the job to yourself, that is finding work that aligns with your purpose and calling. However, there is another spiritual job alluded to above, fitting yourself to the job with the right mindset.

IT AIN’T WHAT YOU DO, IT’S THE WAY THAT YOU DO IT54

“For works do not sanctify us, but we should sanctify the works.” ~Meister Eckhart

While vocation choice concerns itself with “doing the work you love,” the alternative is “loving the work you do.” In other words, how do you “get your head right”? Which work attitudes and beliefs affect your experience of work? For example, if work is approached as a place of service or giving, rather than a place of being served or getting, would one enjoy it more? Was St. Francis right in saying, “It is better to understand than to be understood, to comfort than to be comforted, to love than to be loved, better to give than to receive”? Is the secret of happiness not doing what one likes, but liking what one does? At one spiritual retreat I spent time with a Benedictine Abbott and even though 25 years ago, I remember his questions: How is life treating you, Paul? More to the point though, how are you treating life? 

Meaning making

“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Ancient spiritual texts and modern writers on humanism suggest that taking personal responsibility for meaning “creates the work reality.” Viktor Frankl was able to find meaning in a concentration camp. In the yogic spiritual tradition, the concept of Karma Yoga suggests that working with love and enthusiasm can turn a chore into a spiritually enriching experience. The Buddhist spiritual path (bodhisattva) recommends going forth for the welfare and benefit of the world to prevent suffering. In Hinduism, the concept of right livelihood affects one’s karma, one’s inheritance in the next life. Christian monks maintained “laborare est orare” (to work is to pray). These views suggest that enjoyment of work is “an inside job”—if you can bring the right attitude and actions to work, you can transform your experience of it.

Recall the parable of the stonecutters. The third stonecutter’s narrative was: “I’m creating a magnificent cathedral.” We get to decide which cathedrals we are building by creating our own narratives.  This illustrates, again, that meaning isn’t “out there” but is created; it’s created in this case by—the why of our work. Sadly, the prevalent and contrary view in society is that what happens determines what we feel and do: “He made me furious” or, “Work is killing me.” If one’s mood is determined by context, then it will ebb and flow with the fortunes of life. If the actions of others determine one’s response, then there is no freedom, only reaction.  Many spiritual orientations make you more responsible for your feelings and actions:

  • “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” (Marcus Aurelius)
  • “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves.  The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • “Look at the word ‘responsibility’ – “response-ability” – the ability to choose your response.” (Steven Covey)
  • “Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked.” (Viktor Frankl)
  • “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” (HH the Dalai Lama)

Their essential message is that our perception of the world, and our reaction to it, are a matter of choice. And right attitudes and right actions manifest themselves not only in an improved internal experience, but also in relationships with others, including our relationship to the world. This deeper connection to self, others, and world was part of our definition of spirituality, the practical face of the spiritual journey.

What do “real people” say gives their working life meaning. In a survey from US consulting firm BetterUp55 conducted in 2018, today’s workers report that they find most meaning:

  • “… where I’m trying to make other people’s lives better…”
  • “…when I’m working to help others grow and see their potential…”
  • “…when I am able to push my abilities to the utmost is the most fulfilling…”
  • “…when my work revolves around helping others especially the disadvantaged and needy…”

This leads to a paradoxical situation. On one hand, meaning happens between our ears—and ultimately, only we can be responsible for the meaning we create. On the other hand, the employer, culture, work environment, job, and leadership can make it hard or easy to find meaning in a given job. Does the idea of personal responsibility for meaning-making give employers a free pass? Is it all “on you?”  Of course not.

Here we find one of the most incisive criticisms of the whole idea of spirituality and business – the idea that finding meaning and purpose at work can be found if the individual works hard enough at it no matter how oppressive the circumstances may be.

We saw that meaning and purpose can be found in the humblest of jobs: humans can reshape their narratives to a great extent. But, leaving all the spiritual heavy lifting to workers isn’t right—for them to enjoy a shitty job, they would have to become spiritual giants, master meaning-makers. There is also something deeply cynical about expecting someone who earns ten times less than you to get with the program and find the right attitude to make “loading 16 tons”56 meaningful.

The attitude of gratitude

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

One attitude, though not by any means a uniquely spiritual one, is gratitude.57 Gratitude means being thankful, not just for specifics, as when a colleague does you a kindness, but generally, toward life, toward the people in it, and for circumstances (even those that seem harsh). As the saying goes, “Happiness isn’t getting what you want; it is wanting what you got.”

But like most valuable things in life, the attitude of gratitude takes practice and cultivation. The general “attitude of gratitude” creates an other- rather than self-orientation—an appreciation for what one has, rather than entitlement and grasping for what one lacks. As British author G.K. Chesterton said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Another way that the gratitude mindset is expressed is a “get to” rather than “have to” orientation. “Have to” people see a world with little choice, one whether they comply (grudgingly) with demands put upon them. “Get to” people may be doing the same thing, but with a different narrative—I “get to” do what I’m doing. This simple shift in narrative can be transformative.

Nietzsche, of course, had an even deeper take on gratitude. He suggested that true gratitude was being willing to live your life, just as it has happened, over and over again in eternal recurrence. (One of his signature ideas.) Only then, said he, when you accept all that has been, and are willing to live as such over and over, will peace and gratitude be found. “And then you will find every pain and every pleasure, every friend and every enemy, every hope and every error, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine once more, and the whole fabric of things which make up your life.”58

One of the biggest obstacles to having attitudes at work (and in life) that create a better experience is the intrusion of negative thoughts. Everybody “knows” they should be grateful, everybody “knows” that they are the author of their own experience – but that “knowledge” can be of little use when the sniveling shipwreck of a human being in the next cubicle tries to take credit for your work, or you have to work past 9PM for the third time this week.

Everybody has thoughts that are not in the interest of the thinker. Everybody has impulses to do the wrong thing. Most of us ruminate a downward spiral of worry, fantasy, and resentment at least sometimes. How do we overcome negative thoughts, sometimes called the “itty bitty shitty committee” in your head? Let’s look at mindfulness.

53 You can find the ikigai and dozens of tools on purpose and calling in Reboot Your Career, a workbook that I co-authored with career coaching specialist Tim Ragan in 2016.

54 From poppy one-hit wonder group Bananarama and Fun Boy Three in the 1980s. Try to get that earworm out of your head now.

55 www.betterup.com

56 “You load 16 tons, and whaddya get? Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter don’t you call me, ‘cos I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.” (Folk song from 1947.)

57 Sometimes spiritual writers use the terms spirituality as if “all that good stuff” – humility, integrity, gratitude, passion, and conscience were uniquely spiritual. You can arrive at those attitudes through Humanistic psychology or many other ways. (No psychologist would take exception to the mentioned goodies.) We should not pretend that only spirituality, or only our own version of it is the only path to desirable human qualities – although our position is that the word “umbrellas” inner and outer work and includes those virtues and an ethical stance on life..

58 From The Gay Science, published in 1882.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Authors
Paul Gibbons keynotes on five continents on the future of business, particularly on humanizing business, culture change, ethics, and the future of work. He is currently an academic advisor to Deloitte’s Human Capital practice – creating the future of change management He has authored five books, most prominently The Science of Successful Organizational Change and Impact, and he runs the popular philosophy podcast, Think Bigger Think Better. Those books are category best-sellers on Amazon in organizational change, decision-making, and leadership. After eight years as a consultant at PwC, Gibbons founded Future Considerations, a consulting firm that advises major corporations, including Shell, BP, Barclays, and HSBC, on leadership, strategy, and culture change. From 2015 to 2018, he was an adjunct professor of business ethics at the University of Denver. Paul is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a hyperpolyglot, has been named a “top-20 culture guru,” and one of the UK’s top two CEO “super coaches” by CEO magazine. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and lives in the Denver area with his two sons and enjoys competing internationally at mindsports such as poker, bridge, MOBA, and chess.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Movie Review: Cultureverse * Immersive Audio Drama With A Unique Educational Twist On Myths And Folklore

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Movie Review: Cultureverse * Immersive Audio Drama With A Unique Educational Twist On Myths And Folklore

Cultureverse is an immersive audio drama that celebrates our collective cultural past. It is a place where myths and legends come alive in the modern world. In each episode, an ordinary kid encounters an extraordinary creature, myth, or folk character from their culture, embarking on an exciting journey of self-discovery. Cultureverse isn’t just an audio adventure, it’s a show that celebrates who we are, and where we come from.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline… Kyla C. adds, “Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures.” Kendal B. chimes in with, “Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.” Kyla wraps it up with, “The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures’ traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It’s great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.” See their full reviews below.

Cultureverse

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Cultureverse is a unique educational podcast with hosts we all love – actresses Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran! Kids will appreciate its high production quality and immersive plot lines.

Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline – a child learns more about their culture through a real-world scenario (for example, bullying during online classes). For example, one of the episodes centers around Cholito de Suerte, a magical, luck-giving creature in Mexican folklore. A young girl is in the process of rebranding her musical persona and really wants some cool sunglasses. One day, she finds the Cholito de Suerte in her locker, and she remembers that her grandmother said the Cholito is generous and kind to all those who take care of it. After she gives the Cholito food, it spits out lots of coins and she’s able to buy her sunglasses (and more) with the money. This cycle continues for a while until the secret of her Cholito is betrayed, after which a unique lesson is taught. The show is based on a beautiful idea and is executed very well.

Cultureverse has no set cast except for the hosts Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran. There’s a new child voice actor in each episode. The script doesn’t differ much between the two hosts; it’s natural and maintains a good pace throughout the 20 to 25 minute duration.  I really enjoyed Tran’s narration a bit more, but since the stories in each episode have such sustained, contained momentum powered by the child voice actors and plotline, it doesn’t make much of a difference who is hosting.

Cultureverse promotes cultural appreciation as opposed to cultural appropriation. It encourages kids to learn about different cultures, even providing them with some further reading at the end of each episode.

I give Cultureverse 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse. Go check it out!

Cultureverse

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

With a hint of culture and lots of interesting stories, the podcast Cultureverse is a great way to learn more about stories from the past in a fun way. Even though these stories from the past have been modernized to entertain children, some of the plots get a little random and off-topic.  However, that doesn’t stop this podcast from being a great way to educate your child about different heritages.

Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.

The voice acting and sound effects in this podcast are so extravagant and over-the-top that it feels like the sounds are coming out of the screen and into your room. It’s definitely a very creative concept for a podcast, especially because it makes kids wantto learn and keep listening. This would be a good added tool in a classroom for a history lesson because, while it sounds like a normal fantasy book, it still keeps the key parts of the original stories or myths. It could also be used at a heritage day or a multicultural festival as added content.

This podcast’s message is to keep culture alive through stories, as they are the foundation of our heritage and we should not let them be forgotten.

I give Cultureverse 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse

Cultureverse

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures. Co-hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse is a must-listen epic-adventure podcast.

Each episode of the podcast features a new character, a new background and a new cultural adventure. The short introduction lets viewers know more about the character and their desires; then Cultureverse dives into the magical adventure. One of my favorite episodes is The Watermelon Prince. Based on a Vietnamese folktale, Mia (Vicky Win) is sucked into a world of magic through none other than a talking watermelon. In the universe of this folktale, Mia meets herself, but as a different person. When she returns from her adventure, she feels as if she’s found another part of herself.

Cultureverse is a podcast with many positive aspects. The hosts are warm, welcoming and educational in their pre-story and post-story talks. They are also very talented narrators that make the stories more interesting and enjoyable. All the voice-actors are great; they make each story more fun while creating a vivid picture for the audience. The plot is another strong point. Each episode starts off realistic, so I’m stuck in the mind of a character when the fantastical elements start. It helps that normal kids experience these crazy cultural adventures. If the characters were superheroes or other fantasy creatures, it wouldn’t be as relatable. This podcast is a great way to introduce a variety of cultural myths and folktales.

The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures’ traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It’s great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.

I give Cultureverse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14. You can find Cultureverse on Trax at ahttps://www.trax.fm/cultureverse.

LOVE LIGHT GUEST TESTIMONIAL

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LOVE LIGHT GUEST TESTIMONIAL

“I’m honored and blessed to be on Dr. Jean Marie Farish’s  VoiceAmerica LOVE LIGHT show. She’s always made me feel welcome and comfortable. As a guest, multiple times, her professionalism, humor and magical way of emotionally connecting with her guests and listeners makes it entertaining to be on her show. It felt like I was having an effortless conversation with a soul sister, sharing my parenting tips and experiences as an educator and parent coach”.

                        Karen Gibson, Founder of Brain Builders and Letting Go with Aloha

                                                                              https://www.LettingGowithAloha.com

   The Forever Changing New Normal: Empowering  Parents (September 3, 2021)

COVID Related Healthcare Benefit Changes – What Help Is There?

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Business
COVID Related Healthcare Benefit Changes – What Help Is There?

The past several months have had historic changes in taxes for individuals and for businesses. The challenges for businesses have steadily increased and may even become more difficult in the current tax environment. How does a small business cope with all the COVID related changes to health benefits? How can a small business get better business deductions on family healthcare expenses? If a business does not quality for the Employee Retention Credit, how can a business save big on payroll tax? This program is for the small business owner to learn about the available options such as a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA’s), which can be an affordable alternative to providing group health insurance.  Marcelino Dodge, EA and Dan Pavek discuss these option and how small business owner can use these plans to create affordable healthcare options for their employees.

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Does Your Website Comply with the ADA? A Tax Credit Can Help You!

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Does Your Website Comply with the ADA? A Tax Credit Can Help You!

Small businesses with websites could be subject to legal action if their website is not readable by the blind. Around the country small businesses are receiving demand letters for payments of $10,000 for legal settlements if their website cannot be navigated by the blind. Small businesses cannot afford to pay such legal settlements or the legal costs to defend themselves. David Steckelberg of Internet Access for Disabled Americans will discuss how a small business can protect itself from this very real threat. Learn how to have your website compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and receive a tax credit.

Click here for this vital information for businesses with a website.

Movie Review: Cinderella * A Feel-Good Modern Musical Take On The Evergreen Tale Of Cinderella

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Movie Review: Cinderella * A Feel-Good Modern Musical Take On The Evergreen Tale Of Cinderella

A modern movie musical with a bold take on the classic fairy tale. Our ambitious heroine has big dreams and with the help of her fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A modern, musical take on the evergreen fairy tale, Cinderella’s impeccable sets and wardrobe, as well as its talented cast make this production a one-of-a-kind watch. Cinderella promotes advocating for yourself, pushing against restrictive gender roles, following your dreams, choosing your own destiny and so many more positive messages!” Heather S., adds, “Cinderella is the feel-good flick for fans of all ages! Its wonderful soundtrack will have both parents and children singing and dancing. The jokes are spectacular; the casts’ diversity is amazing; and the romance will have everyone tearing up.” Abigail L. wraps it up with, “In her acting debut, singer Camila Cabello is impressively charming and nails the wit of her Cinderella, making her a perfect candidate for the rebooted character. Menzel and Porter, both Tony award-winners, wonderfully add a unique and interesting take on their characters. Menzel is magnificent, creating a new backstory for Vivian the stepmother, a once idealistic mother who learned from her mistakes.” See their full reviews below.

Cinderella

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A modern, musical take on the evergreen fairy tale, Cinderella’s impeccable sets and wardrobe, as well as its talented cast make this production a one-of-a-kind watch.

Cinderella follows the story of Ella (Camilla Cabello), a poor orphan who lives with her abusive, restrictive stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and her mean, obnoxious and spoiled stepsisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer). She loves to design dresses and even has her own workplace in her basement, where a crew of merry mice (James Corden, Romesh Ranganathan, James Acaster) watch over her. It is her dream is to open up a dress shop in the town marketplace; however, in her kingdom, women cannot run businesses. When Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine), the unassuming heir apparent, lays eyes on Ella, he falls head over heels in love with her, as does she for him. However, as Cinderella and Prince Robert find themselves and their paths in life, a series of decisions they must take puts their love story in jeopardy. There are lots of subplots and side stories in the film, but that’s the main plotline.

Cinderella maintains a steady and engaging pace with just enough action, comedy, romance and drama throughout the nearly two-hour duration. As it’s told through a combination of songs and dialogue, it’s only logical that the cast is comprised of a mixture of singers, actors, and comedians. Camila Cabello, Billy Porter and Idina Menzel “slay” in the film, as Porter’s character (Ella’s fairy godparent) would say. Their delivery is clear and, in the case of Cabello and Menzel, though a lot of the film’s soundtrack is comprised of remakes (like Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation); it’s refreshing to hear their take on the songs. Pierce Brosnan plays the stately, confident, yet flawed and patriarchal King Rowan and Minnie Driver acts as his strong, regal Queen Beatrice. I love the portrayal of strong women in the film. Beatrice, Ella and even Vivian have one thing in common – they are restricted by their society. Vivian had to give up on her passion; Beatrice must sit silently next to her husband for life; and Ella is at risk of losing her dreams. It’s certainly unique to see this struggle in a fairy tale film. Shot at Pinewood Studios in the UK, the film’s sets are impeccable, and I truly felt I was in a medieval kingdom with the characters.

Cinderella promotes advocating for yourself, pushing against restrictive gender roles, following your dreams, choosing your own destiny and so many more positive messages! There are only one or two uses of mild profanity in this film.

I give Cinderella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Cinderella releases on Amazon Prime Video September 3, 2021.

Cinderella

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Cinderella is the feel-good flick for fans of all ages! Its wonderful soundtrack will have both parents and children singing and dancing. The jokes are spectacular; the casts’ diversity is amazing; and the romance will have everyone tearing up.

Cinderella takes the classic beloved fairytale and gives it a modern twist. Cinderella (Camila Cabello) dreams of opening her own fashion boutique, but that dream is frequently criticized by her stepmother Vivian (Indina Menzel). Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is a royal rebel, refusing to marry, if not for love. He proposes to host a ball, to which all maidens are invited. Cinderella never stops dreaming of opening her own store and, when presented with an opportunity to go to a royal ball to find a job for designing, she accepts the invitation.

This movie is comedy, romance, girl power and music at its finest. We usually are served Cinderella films that take place in present day; however, Cinderella gives audiences a tale presented in medieval times, only modernized. The film manages to fit in multiple jokes and as many comedic one-liners as possible. Never missing a beat, every character gives audiences multiple laughs. The girl power in the movie is so inspiring. Cinderella faces hardships over her dreams, just like her step mother, sisters and Queen Breatrice, who wants to be independent. Then there is Princess Gwen, who has innovative ideas about how to run the country, but can’t because she’s a woman. The women stand strong, follow their hearts and, if romance rolls around, then that’s great too.  The romance in the movie is absolutely beautiful; two people want to love each other, but struggle against the status quo; Cinderella, who fiercely wants to open up her own store; Robert, who doesn’t quite fit in with the royal court. The best scene in the whole film is the dance scene at the ball. The entire party has amazing choreography and rock songs, including a beautiful duet by the Prince and soon-to-be Princess. The soundtrack is filled with classic songs from Ed Sheeran, Queen, Janet Jackson and more, along with original songs. It’s so fun to see these iconic characters singing and dancing to such iconic songs.

The lesson Cinderella learns and teaches audiences globally, is to always believe in yourself. She goes the distance, proving her worth to herself and those around her, that women can do amazing things just like men, such as opening a business.

I give Cinderella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 16. It is available on Amazon Prime beginning September 3, 2021.


Cinderella

By Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Cinderella may be a commonly told story, but this filmed musical is anything but common. This live action film takes a classic fairy tale and rewrites it as an amusing, witty and modern retelling of a fiery young woman setting out to achieve her dreams. Out of the countless variations of the “Cinderella” story, the 2021 release of Cinderella by Kay Cannon is by far the most unique and empowering that I have seen.

In this version, Cinderella (Camila Cabello) still has her eyes set on freedom and a life away from her dreadful stepmother (Idina Menzel). However, in modern fashion, she also dreams of becoming a business woman and owning her own dress shop. Following her ambitions, she stumbles across Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine). While the two quickly fall in love, Cinderella is unwilling to sacrifice her own dreams to live a life just as stuck as she was under the control of her stepmother. Despite living in a land with outdated beliefs against women, with the help of her fairy Godmother, or Fab G (Billy Porter), Cinderella is determined to make a name for herself and create a successful business.

In her acting debut, singer Camila Cabello is impressively charming and nails the wit of her Cinderella, making her a perfect candidate for the rebooted character. Menzel and Porter, both Tony award-winners, wonderfully add a unique and interesting take on their characters. Menzel is magnificent, creating a new backstory for Vivian the stepmother, a once idealistic mother who learned from her mistakes. Porter brings a completely different, yet inspiring angle to the fairy godmother, sporting a striking orange gown and a spirited attitude in this role. The music is just as great as the actors, featuring both original and covered songs. The soundtrack is full of varying styles from rap, to powerful musical ballads, to Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” My favorite part of this movie is the diversity of the storyline. Not only do audiences get to see Cinderella follow her dreams, but also we see the growth of characters such as the stepmother, Prince Robert, the little sister of the Prince, Gwen (Tallulah Greive) and even the King (Pierce Brosnan) and Queen (Minnie Driver).

This rendition of Cinderella offers a bold message to audiences about feminism and the idea that women do not need to fall in love to find fulfillment as they can be whatever they set their mind to. Parents should be aware that this film contains some adult humor.

I rate Cinderella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. This film opens in theaters September 3, 2021.

canila cabello, nicholas galitzine, idina menzel, pierce Brosnan, Minnie driver, Tallulah grieve, Billy Porter, Kay Cannon, Leo Pearlman, Shannon McIntosh, Mychael Danna, Jessica Weiss, Henry Braham, Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer, james Corden, James Acaster, Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Beckett,

Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings * Most Mystical and Beautiful Movie In History!

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Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings * Most Mystical and Beautiful Movie In History!

Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, as well as Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the most mystical and beautiful movie in history! The music, the special effects and the acting all take you to another world. The film leaves you wanting a Morris of your own.” Jolleen M. adds, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel’s first Asian solo-superhero movie does not disappoint. The dynamic relationships between the characters combined with the incredible actors create a powerful, heart-rending movie about the value of family. In addition, the humorous segments contrast with the intense scenes to make this film so well rounded.” See their full review below.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

By Heather Suarez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the most mystical and beautiful movie in history! The music, the special effects and the acting all take you to another world. The film leaves you wanting a Morris of your own.

The storyline follows a young man named Shang-Chi (Simu Liu). His father is a one thousand-year-old man and conqueror nicknamed The Mandarin (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), who has only ever used the infamous and all-powerful Ten Rings for evil. When the Mandarin is set to unleash infinite evil on the universe, Shang-Chi has to stop his father.

This movie is a cinematic experience. The fighting and choreography are out of this world. The long slow motion shots make the audience feel as if they are in a video game. Simu steals the show; every fight scene is flawless with his fluid movements and it proves just how hard he worked on his character for this film. Every audience falls in love with Shang-Chi; he’s funny, with perfect comedic timing and he knows the balance between peace and violence. He encapsulates what the majority of young adults feel – like not being able to find their place in the world. The movie makes fans feel as if they’ve known Shang for years. It has wonderful flashbacks, which give the audience glimpses of his past, his pain and how his fears have shaped who he is. The film gives a wonderful all-around scope of this character that feels like a friend we’ve known all our life. It makes fans excited to see Shang-Chi again. Shang and his sister Xu Xialing are an iconic duo. They’re both powerful and, while there’s some tension due to their past, they put everything aside and let love shine through. Xialing is a role model, officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most powerful women. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is perfect for AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) representation in cinema. It represents Chinese culture powerfully, shows what it’s like to be an Asian-American in modern day USA, not to mention that Simu is Marvel Studios’ first Asian-American superhero. Simu and Shang-Chi are writing history while also inspiring children and fans all around the world. The film delivers on all grounds; the cameos are shocking and leave you on the edge of your seat. Trying not to shout during the two post credits scenes prove to be a challenge. By the end of the movie, I wanted to sing the song “Hotel California” at the top of my lungs.

This film reminds you to search for who you are and let your past guide you to who you want to be. Ever since his mother died, Shang has been trained by his father to use violence. When he arrives at his mother’s village, he learns how to find peace within himself and the world around him. He learns to trust himself and to use the rings for good.

I give Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 plus adults. It is available only in theaters September 3, 2021.<p> By Heather Suarez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel’s first Asian solo-superhero movie does not disappoint. The dynamic relationships between the characters combined with the incredible actors create a powerful, heart-rending movie about the value of family. In addition, the humorous segments contrast with the intense scenes to make this film so well rounded.

The story begins with Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) living a normal life in San Francisco working as a valet driver with his best friend. Then he is attacked on a bus and forced to confront his past. He explains to his best friend that his father, Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung), is the feared, immortal man who leads the Ten Rings Organization. The Ten Rings are a weapon so powerful that Wenwu was able to conquer all the land and riches that he wanted. Shang-Chi ran away from home at a young age, because he didn’t want to be another one of Wenwu’s murderous pawns. Now, Wenwu is looking for him and his sister, to bring them back home.

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi’s dual personality exceptionally well. Towards the end of the film, Shang-Chi exudes a completely different persona than the one we saw at the beginning of the film. Another prominent actor that I enjoyed is Awkwafina who plays Katy; Katy adds so many hilarious moments that make the film more enjoyable. Of course she is also extremely talented at acting and portrays Katy as a loyal and courageous friend. Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery also adds comedy. Awkwafina, Ben Kingsley and Morris (an adorable, faceless, fluff-ball beast) make an incredible comedy trio. CGI is a major component of this film and has the potential to make or break the entire experience. The CGI does not disappoint. In fact, this has to be some of the best CGI that I’ve seen in the entire MCU franchise; MCU has killer CGI every single time, so this is a bold statement. Not only are there numerous magical beasts that come to life, but the water itself seem to come alive as well. The Ten Rings also seems to have a mind of its own – speeding off one moment and lightly dancing in the next. It is also incredible to discover how these rings can be used for more than just fighting. The costumes are absolutely gorgeous and, just like the creatures, so unique. Within the village, the warriors’ armor is made of dragon scales, which defends them from their ancient nemesis. In the city, the people rock the cyber punk style. And, in San Francisco, the attire is authentic to the 21st century. My favorite part is the ending. I was incredibly pleased with how everything ends. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so you’re just going to have to see for yourself.

The message of this film is centered around the power of familial love and the power of finally opening up your heart. The value of family is displayed through the challenges that the characters go through. Their relationships are what keep them strong. The power in opening up your heart is experienced through Shang-Chi. The only thing holding Shang-Chi back from reaching his true potential is the hate and guilt he held deep within his heart. Once he lets all of that go, he is freed.

I give Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters September 3, 2021.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and will most likely go back to watch it again. Go check it out.

Keywords: Simu Liu, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Awkwafina, Michael Yeah, Fla Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Destin Daniel Cretton, Kevin Feige, Jonathan Schwartz, Davie Callahan, Andrew Lanham, Marvel Cinematic Universe

Movie Review: The Lost Leonardo * Fascinating Story With Insight Into The Economics And Politics Of The Art World

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Movie Review: The Lost Leonardo * Fascinating Story With Insight Into The Economics And Politics Of The Art World

The Lost Leonardo is the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million. From the moment the painting is bought for $1175 at a shady New Orleans auction house, and the restorer discovers masterful Renaissance brushstrokes under the heavy varnish of its cheap restoration, the Salvator Mundi’s fate is determined by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. As its price soars, so do the questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci? Unravelling the hidden agendas of the richest men and the most powerful art institutions in the world, The Lost Leonardo reveals how vested interests in the Salvator Mundi are of such tremendous power that truth becomes secondary. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ayden P. comments, “Based on the title I expected to watch a story about a lost and found painting and where it is today. Instead, I discovered a documentary that taught me about the strength of one’s beliefs, art restoration practices, economics, politics and possible fraud.” Benjamin P. adds, “The Lost Leonardo recounts one of the most expansive and expensive stories the art world has ever seen. This documentary has a knack of looking at this painting’s recent history from a different angle every 20 minutes or so, revealing a whole different facet of the fervor surrounding this single piece of art and how the conversation around it became about so much more than the painting itself.” See their full reviews below.  

The Lost Leonardo
By Ayden P., KIDS! FIRST Film Critic, age 12

The Lost Leonardo is an interesting documentary about a lost Leonardo Davinci painting of Christ. Based on the title I expected to watch a story about a lost and found painting and where it is today. Instead, I discovered a documentary that taught me about the strength of one’s beliefs, art restoration practices, economics, politics and possible fraud.

The Lost Leonardo begins with an art sleeper hunter (an art speculator who scours the market for undervalued art), Ben Lewis, finding a painting in New Orleans. Ben reaches out to his art world contacts, which eventually leads him to Dianne Mundi. Dianne Mundi is married to a well known art conservator and Dianne is known for her art restoration. Dianne restores the painting, and she begins to believe it is a lost original Leonardo DaVinci. A group of art experts meet at the National Museum and agree that the painting is authentic. What follows next is a convoluted story about the true nature of the painting and how people’s beliefs about the painting allow it to be capitalized on and possibly politicalized more than once.

The film is filled with art experts, journalists and even federal agencies. The film catches your attention because it has multiple layers. For example, just when you think viewing the painting as either authentic or a good copy is problematic, other reasons for thinking one way or the other are shared. Because of the prestige of the individuals calling the painting a true Da Vinci, it commands a high selling price. The film gives a lesson in how prices of items can be inflated. Also, how easy it is to hide one’s money in art since the laws aren’t as restrictive with art purchases as they are with other things. Last, it explores what a piece of lost art can mean to a person or a group of people, and possibly to a country and the cost they will pay to have it.

The message of the film is that people can convince themselves of anything, even if those beliefs come at a high cost. Throughout history various beliefs have kept people together and apart. 

I give The Lost Leonardo 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. The dialogue and themes are a bit much for younger kids to follow, but a teen might enjoy it with the company of adults that can explain certain terms used in the film. The film is available in theaters now.  

The Lost Leonardo

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Lost Leonardo recounts one of the most expansive and expensive stories the art world has ever seen. This documentary has a knack of looking at this painting’s recent history from a different angle every 20 minutes or so, revealing a whole different facet of the fervor surrounding this single piece of art and how the conversation around it became about so much more than the painting itself.

This odyssey of art and commerce begins in a warehouse, where a painting called the Salvator Mundi from one of the masters of the field, Leonardo Da Vinci, was thought to have been lost to time and languishes before being discovered by two art dealers who look for paintings that are worth more than they seem. Little did they know, they just stumbled upon their greatest find in that respect. They purchased the painting for 10,000 dollars and had it restored, in hopes that the work was that of Da Vinci’s. The restorer’s work supported that conclusion and, with that, a whole new journey with it begins. It ends up selling for hundreds of millions of dollars after it travels the world and comes into contact with everyone from the general public, to art critics, to experts, to Russian billionaires, to wily art dealers and world leaders.

Director Andreas Koefoed seems to understand the potential of what he has at his fingertips here – betrayal, treachery, power, greed – it’s a winning concoction. For all the goodwill it earns in the riveting way it unfolds, The Lost Leonardo lacks a stylistic backbone to hold the whole thing together. It relies heavily on one-on-one interviews with experts, critics, and those that played in Salvator Mundi’s discovery, restoration and sale. Those interviews bear no intimacy to them, which works in giving objectivity to the events documented, but their implementation grows tiresome. Koefoed has little else up his sleeve to tell this story and, for one about art and one of the most prolific pieces in a long time the world over, that’s more than disappointing. This film about Salvator Mundi lacks imagination and creativity and is quite staid, which distracts from the gold mine Keofoed has here. Mundi’s story certainly is anything but boring; so it’s unfortunate that it is told that way.

I give The Lost Leonardo 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Nothing in the movie is objectionable, beyond some nudity shown in the artwork. If you’ve got an interest in the business of art or the work of Da Vinci, this one’s for you. But more than that, the directions this story takes are so unpredictable that I think it makes this documentary easy to recommend to anybody. The Lost Leonardo comes out in theaters August 27, 2021.

Keywords: movie reviews,by kids for kids, Andreas Koefoed, Andreas Dalsgaard, Christian Kirk Muff, Duska Zagorac, Mark Monroe, Christoph Jörg, Georgina Adam, Evan Beard, Yves Bouvier, Alexandra Bregman, Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Antoine Harari, Martin Kemp, Robert King Wittman, Alexander Parish, Jerry Saltz, Robert Simon, Adam Jandrup, Nicolás Nørgaard Staffolani, Sveinug Nygaard

Movie Review: 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room * A Remarkably Detailed Documentary About 9/11 Attacks

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Movie Review: 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room * A Remarkably Detailed Documentary About 9/11 Attacks

9/11 from the President’s perspective, with exclusive access to information from the one’s that had to take decisions during the World Trade Center’s attack. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st  century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room was created.” See his full review below.

9/11: Inside The President’s War Room

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15 

In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st  century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room was created.

Going minute by minute, hour by hour, 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room offers two narratives, following the president’s actions, thoughts, and movements, and the developing situation in New York City. 

President George W. Bush was interviewed for this film and his impeccable memory of the day and skilled delivery make the documentary even more unique. His impassioned vow to bring Al-Qaeda to justice, his struggle to keep his anger in check, and his helplessness as he was flown around the country to avoid a rumored attack on Air Force One show exactly how novel this crisis was. The film includes high-quality archival footage and the perspectives of individuals like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Ted Olson, as well as the president and vice president’s chief of staff. I’ve never seen a more thoroughly researched and impeccably pieced-together documentary. The many perspectives from all these individuals contribute to a strong narrative that captures you from minute one. Each interview is compelling and the editing cuts between medium shots of the individuals and archival footage, creating an immersive and truly “in the room” experience. The background music complements the film’s somber tone. 

9/11: Inside The President’s War Room is a portrait of resilience, tact, patience and leadership.  There is some  mild profanity in the film as well as some footage of the Twin Towers collapsing with screams in the background.

I give 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room is available now on Apple TV+ . 

Keywords: Jeff Daniels, Adam Wishart, Simon Finch, Serena Kennedy, Danny Collins, Neil Grant, Wyatt Stone, Daniel Villagomez, movie reviews,by kids for kids, Jeff Daniels, Adam Wishart, Simon Finch, Serena Kennedy, Danny Collins, Neil Grant, Wyatt Stone ,Daniel Villagomez,9/11 inside the president’s war room,9/11,world trade center, september 11,osama bin laden, september 11 attacks, new york city, George w. bush, twin towers

Movie Review: Charlie’s Back And More Creative Than Ever With New Stories And New Adventures

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Movie Review: Charlie’s Back And More Creative Than Ever With New Stories And New Adventures

Once upon a time, there was… Charlie! A friend like no other! Charlie is YOUR silly, creative playmate and best friend. He is SOOOOO excited to take YOU on adventures with him. Charlie created Colorforms City out of his imagination so that he can tell the best stories possible… like a knight trying to save a balloon, adventuring to the other end of the rainbow, or Charlie’s epic quest to solve a mystery. Come along with Charlie and his friends as they solve problems using creativity, ingenuity, and the shapes Charlie sees all around him. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a show that will teach kids valuable lessons. I’ve seen previous episodes of Charlie’s Colorforms City, but this new DVD has a uniqueness of its own. The main thing that sets this DVD from previous ones is the new storylines.” Ella M. adds, “In this educational animated series, you’ll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your critical thinking skills. So, buckle up and get ready for new and exciting adventures that are better than ever!” Rosabella P. wraps it up with, “What I love most are the fun stories that use different shapes and the many adventures the characters have, plus it uses a variety of learning methods. It emphasizes how you should always be kind to people even if you’re frustrated with a task.” See their full reviews below.

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a new DVD where we get to revisit our good friend Charlie who is back and more creative than ever. With new stories and new adventures, young kids will feel like they are a part of the journey too!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is about a young boy named Charlie (Jacob Soley) who loves to go on adventures and create stories. He lives in a very vibrant and fun place called Colorforms City, where everyone is friendly and works together. In this DVD, Charlie does things he’s never done before, like becoming a cowboy and having his own restaurant. Kids will learn so much as they join Charlie on his colorful journeys!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a show that will teach kids valuable lessons. I’ve seen previous episodes of Charlie’s Colorforms City, but this new DVD has a uniqueness of its own. The main thing that sets this DVD from previous ones is the new storylines. We all know that Charlie is very fond of stories and in the episode “Sick Charlie” we see a plethora of stories in a short amount of time. That’s because Charlie has a case of “story sneezing.” Yup, that means every time Charlie sneezes, he is transported into another story. This is something Charlie has never experienced before, which can be a welcome adventure for fans of the show. It definitely shows off his out-of-this-world imagination. Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure is geared towards younger audiences. Kids who are just starting school may even be watching this show, which is perfect if they want to have more practice learning about shapes, colors and using their minds to entertain themselves. Because the characters and the objects are two-dimensional, it’s simpler for young kids to understand. Audiences will never be overwhelmed when watching this DVD; they’ll only want more.

The message of this showis that you don’t have to wait to be creative. You can be creative anytime, anyplace. No matter where Charlie is, he’s thinking ingeniously and wondering what he can do next. Thisis very family-friendly and is perfect for parents to watch together with their young children.

I rate Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. The DVD is available now, so make sure you check it out!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures
By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Are you ready for a colorful, playful and interactive adventure that’s both fun and educational for the whole family? Then you’ve got to watch the amazing Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures. In this educational animated series, you’ll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your critical thinking skills. So, buckle up and get ready for new and exciting adventures that are better than ever!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is all about exploring Colorforms City with Charlie and his two best friends, Red and Violet. In this series, you go on eight whimsical, interactive, storytelling adventures in Colorforms City while learning about different colors, shapes and sizes. Every story Charlie and his friends create is an adventure, so you never know what’s coming next because Charlie is always shaking things up!  Whether Charlie’s a mechanic or a chef – you’re in for a real treat.

This cast is filled with so many talented actors throughout the series. Jacob Soley plays Charlie, your creative, fun companion. He connects with his character in such a way that you all will be best friends instantly. Tyler Barish plays one of Charlie’s best friends, Red. He is engaging and really connects with his character.  Saara Chaudry plays Violet who delivers a dynamic performance. She is my favorite character because she always looks on the bright side of things. My favorite episode is “Mystery Charlie” because someone is stealing all the color from Colorforms City! Charlie and his friends have to work together using their problem solving and critical thinking skills to solve the mystery and save the day. Oh! And I just love the animation and music. The theme song is so catchy! When you hear it you can’t help but jump to your feet and dance

The intent of this DVD is to motivate kids to learn more about colors, shapes and sizes. With Charlie’s imagination leading the way, you’ll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your problem solving skills. Charlie also teaches friendship skills such as being kind, respectful, supportive and being an active listener.

I highly recommend Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures for ages 2 to 6 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now so, jump to it because you’ve got a great story to create!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure
By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

What I really like about Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventureare the various episodes to choose from – Mystery Charlie, Charlie the Cowboy, Charlie the Inventor, Charlie’s Restaurant – and many more. I like that you can choose which episode you want to watch.

The various episodes on this DVD follow Charlie as he creates different stories with his friends Red and Violet and others. They get to learn and play at the same time.

My favorite episode is “Silliest Charlie” where Charlie disguises himself as a plant and tells his friends to come to his house to surprise Red and Violet. Then, Red and Violet don’t come, but a box shows up instead. Charlie thinks they aren’t coming and gets scared. What caught my attention was when Charlie sais, “shake it up rainbows” and fireworks come out of his head. The costumes are all terrific in all the episodes. We see Charlie as a plant, a chef and more. There are lots of different locations throughout these episodes -the park, Charlie’s house and my favorite, “The Pancake Café.” The music in this show is joyful music that will get little ones up and moving around. Whenever Charlie says “shake it up” beats come out of his head and a happy song plays for kids. There are special effects in the opening and closing that are fun and colorful too. The main character is Charlie (Jabcob Soley), a Canadian voice actor. Red is played by Tyler Barish, Violet is played by Sara Chaudry, an Indian Canadian actress. What I love most are the fun stories that use different shapes and the many adventures the characters have, plus it uses a variety of learning methods. It emphasizes how you should always be kind to people even if you’re frustrated with a task.

The message in this show is that you should always trust your friends when they need you.

I give Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. It is available now on DVD so look for it.

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