Our Little Nature Lover!

Dear Readers,

A few months ago, I discovered a great thing about my daughter.

She loves the outdoors. I mean really loves it. Every chance she gets she is moving slowly outside so she can be in it that much more.

In fact, I have started to give us a 10 minute “nature buffer” so she can amble around. It’s helping me to arrive on time with a LOT less stress, all in aid of helping her have the time to enjoy nature.

She can’t get enough of it. I find this highly amusing since I do not care for the outdoors AT ALL.

I mean, most of the time I would choose reading a book curled up on the sofa under a blanket. Then there are those times the book gets closed and I will watch a movie with her. Curling up with her, watching a movie is my idea of a great time. She loves the park and the pool, equally. The unadulterated joy on her face is so clear, that it has led to a funny outcome.


I have actually started to see the world through her eyes and have grown to appreciate nature more and as I look at the stick or rock that she picks up and hands to me, I wonder with her at all this beauty.


She will go out of her way to pick up a rock or stick or a blade of grass and she loves to run up to trees and sit under them. She is perfectly content to sit outside and walk around and gets so much joy in the great outdoors.

Her joy has actually led to my enjoyment of these outings to the park or even our yard.


I was struck by this today and realized she is teaching me to appreciate something I didn’t even know I was missing.

I feel humbled by this and can only hope she will keep teaching me to have “fresh eyes” when looking at something.

So whether you have a kid at home or not, I think we can all embrace the idea of learning something new about something we see every day. It might be a coworker who displays an interest in something you only have a passing interest in so you ask more questions, and learn some interesting things that if you had just dismissed it, you would have missed out on learning. How about a friend who tells you about a new hobby that you know nothing about? What could you miss out on by not listening, but only waiting for your turn to talk? We can all learn something from each other.

Think About It.

It’s the first thing we need, and the last thing we do… What is it?

Dear Readers,

When was the last time you said, you know, I have a ton of things to do, but you know what, I am just going to rest and do nothing today? Yeah, right!

With the idea that I always want to provide value to you, my dear reader, I would say that you are probably like most of us and you are WAY too busy with the stuff and things of life and as you work or take care of others, you should always remember to take care of yourself first. It’s easy to forget but keep this in mind.

It’s the first thing we need, and the last thing we do? What is it? 


Think about it, you would tell a good friend who told you they were tired or run-down to rest, right? Why not tell yourself the same thing? Because dear readers, you take care of others first and yourself second. Stop that, stop it right now.

Playing with my little girl, always fun, AND I need a break from THAT too!


I know what you are saying, “Professor Haston, that sounds nice but between working full-time and taking care of my kids and my family… etc… I just have to put self-care on the back burner. Adding self-care to my list, is just that, another list ! Well, I hear you, and I think it’s worth adding it to your calendar as a to do at LEAST once a month. Baby steps, people!

Even carving out just 15 minutes to JUST BE and not scroll and not email and not log on to yet another location, but rather just BE you and just breathe.  (Something I did in November that I would DEFINITELY consider self-care)


I think self-care gets a bad reputation but if you consider that you can’t fill others from an empty cup. When you don’t take care of yourself FIRST, your ability to take care of others takes a real beating.

Self-care is not Selfish, it is Self-Renewing. – Professor Haston

So as I do in every post, I like to give you something to takeaway, what would fill you with relaxation and “FILL” you up? Don’t give me a to-do list. This is about sparking joy and giving your self something to be happy about. This is my current list and here is the cool thing about self-care, there isn’t a wrong way to do it. For some, it will be reading a book, for others, that feels a lot like school. No problem, find something that makes you happy.

  1. Read a few minutes of a FUN book (not a self-improvement or business book)
  2. Go to the movie theatre and see a movie by myself.
  3. Get a manicure or pedicure or both.
  4. Make a coffee/tea/cocktail/phone/slack/skype date with a friend and KEEP it.

I can’t speak for you, but here are a few things that I do for self-care. Feel free to comment with your own ideas, let’s learn from each other.

Think About It.


Artist to Artist- In the Moment-Adventure Incorporated-

Dear Readers,

Now for something a little different. I have long been passionate about different types of art and their purveyors. So begins the “Artist to Artist” series.

Mike Ellison is a colleague of mine who I am lucky enough to work with in a completely different capacity as we are both customer service supervisors at HomeAway.  We are also fellow artists, hence this post!

I sat down with Mike “Danger” Ellison who is one of the hosts of a Dungeons and Dragons podcast called “Adventure Incorporated” and they are heading into their third year. You can find it here

For those who don’t know- Dungeons and Dragons –

Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D[2]) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames with a variation of Chainmail serving as the initial rule system.[3] D&D‘s publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.[4]

As is so often the case, when you take the time to learn a little bit more about the people you work with every day, you peel away quite the onion layer. It’s pretty fitting that Mike was my first interview as this whole series was sparked by a casual walk and talk at work.

What follows is our chat about D and D, art and the artist, and truth and passion in podcasting.

Professor Haston (PH)- What is your name Mike “Danger” Ellison all about? 

Mike Ellison (ME)- Well, my mom named me in accordance with her “rediscovery of God” so in pursuit of giving me a name that was religious, she picked Michael David, instead of Jesus Christ. I noticed on my social security card it said, Michael D and because I was a 12 year old buffoon, I started calling myself “Mike Danger Ellison” . 


PH- How long have you been playing D and D? What appeals to you about it?

ME– 22 years – It all started in Gifted and Talented program, part of an independent study for “Odyssey of the Mind” because we were bored with regular school. I love love stories.  I think fiction is the greatest invention of humanity. I really love storytelling and think that when people can come together to tell a story it is the pinnacle of human achievement. 

PH- How has it evolved for you? Have you ever taken a hiatus? 

ME- When it started out, this was the dorkiest thing you could do. People would admit to video games and reading comics and writing fan fiction and I love sci-fi but I WOULD NEVER play D and D! So people were willing to do a bunch of other things but no one was willing to say “Let’s roll some dice!” I changed high schools and went from age 13 (this was when we had a silly and stupid storylines) to about age 22 (where storylines were only SLIGHTLY elevated) with no D and D games. In 2008, Fourth Edition was released and everyone was talking about how easy it was to play with the advent of this release. People were playing World of Warcraft and everything around D and but took the mechanics and streamlined the game. My friend Charlie put together a game for me and my girlfriend and some friends to play when I was 25 and we played that for six months and then the group fell apart. It’s pretty common for games to fall apart after a few sessions. 

PH- What happened to bring you back to it? 

ME- Fifth Edition came out, I got super excited about it and decided I was going to run a game with a bunch of people at work. I bought all the stuff and spent way too much money and someone I worked with started a game using Pathfinder (not Fourth Edition) and it lasted about two years. We played every week because we worked together and it helped make us a lot more accountable. Life changed again, but I really wanted to play Fifth Edition so I pretty much bullied all my friends and girlfriend into coming over to play my “shiny new thing” and I said, “So come over and we will do a thing and if you hate it, we will never do it again, and if you love it, you are welcome” and they LOVED it. The game fell apart after a couple of months, so I was without D and D again. 

PH- So what led to the birth of the podcast? 

MEWell, a great and close friend of mine from college, Anthony, we find all the same things funny. Smart and dumb things, we both think it’s hilarious in the same way. We just “get” each other and he happened to play D and D too. I reached out to him and said, “I want to play D and D Fifth Edition and I want to play with you.” At the same time, a buddy of ours was going through a super rough time and was a former D and D player. I posted recaps on social media and he reached out and was always commenting and asking questions about it since he couldn’t play locally, this was our way of helping him and solidifying an already deep friendship but we had to all commit to getting together every other week at a certain time. This is common in every group of friends, unless you have something keeping you accountable, you are just as likely to sit in your underwear watching the latest Flash episode. We knew that if we didn’t have a common goal it would NOT happen. Something will always come up, unless you are properly motivated. Anthony offered to DM the game and I was super relieved cause I just wanted to play. So knowing the group of friends and how stage hungry and attention driven they all are, we came up with the idea to do a podcast to record us playing the game every other week, which is hard, because sometimes every other Sunday is Christmas, or your mom’s birthday, or someone is in surgery. One of the players is a doctor, so as you might imagine he can’t commit to anything, so routinely we get messages from him bowing out due to his whole life-saving thing, so no problem, they created a mechanic in the game to play for him that will die and then come back as a new character. We wanted him to play so bad so we made it work.

PH- How does the podcast work? What are the mechanics? Do you think about your audience? 

ME: So there are five players and the DM, so six of us total. 

Here they are!


We all record our audio (using various forms of microphones and in one case a shoddy internet connection on a phone from the Dominican Republic) and send it to the DM who mixes it down and uploads it. We play over skype, and being able to see each other while we talk is invaluable. I know it seems super obvious but the first year and a half we played and recorded without looking at each other but after a year or so, we started to figure it out. We are just a few weeks away from our “Adventure March” which is the celebration of our anniversary.  We do a thing for the anniversary every year. One year we did dice bags with our logo. 

Check it out!


This year some super fun stuff is coming up. A coloring contest! We will send out black and white drawings (that were made by fans of the podcast) so people can color them. This community is so awesome.  

PH- How do you deal with haters? 

ME- It’s super easy. Sounds like this isn’t your show. There are tons of other podcasts and maybe you should go listen to those other shows. 

PH- So how does doing improv and playing D and D intersect?

ME- I had been improvising in town with ColdTowne Improv and was curious about getting back onstage and doing more scripted work. Playing D and D is kind of like the intersection of those two things because you’ve developed this character and you don’t know what’s going to happen but you know everything about that character and so as long as you are true to who that character is, you are basically playing out a script even if it hasn’t been written yet. I think D and D is a interesting middle ground between improv and scripted work because of that. 

PH- What is your favourite thing about the show? 

ME- I love hanging out with my favourite people doing my favourite thing. I love telling a story together that is the type of story that I want to hear. We don’t really worry about what the listeners might want to hear, we are playing our game. It’s knowing I have a creative outlet and knowing it will always be there. Knowing that the rest of the team are all conceptually aligned. Going into Year 4, and super strong. 

PH- What do you do to stir the creative process? So how do you approach your character? 

ME- As a player, my job is a lot easier than the person running things. Anthony (our DM) has to do a lot of collaborating since the players will do something completely different than what he had in mind and then he has to roll with it and find a way to make it work. As players, we all have different styles of play. Personally, I think a lot about what Jebeddo (my character) does in between (also called the moment before) like what steps he is going through (mentally) in his head. Just before the show starts, Steph (Jennuevera) (her character) usually does a recap about what happened and then in between we will talk about the show all the time. 

PH- What’s next for the intrepid explorers? 

ME- We are going to Dragon Con in August and have submitted our application for panels there so keep watching for updates on that… 

PH- What’s the most important part of the creative process for you? 

ME- The Doing. It’s all the Improv 101 stuff. Being sure you are reacting honestly and being vulnerable and being true to the character that you have created. It’s all the stuff you get told on stage whether improvising or scripted work and all the rest can go up in smoke and as long as you are true to that character, it’s still really listenable.  If everyone’s acting within character something nice is going to come out of that moment. Overall, I think it’s also important to talk about the three conversations. The conversation of  Character to Character, Actor to Actor and Actors to Audience. I think keeping that in mind through the show is crucial. The nice thing about podcast is you can often have that conversation Actor to Actor after the show. **** SPOILER ALERT*** In a recent episode, one of the characters (Gillik) is being tempted and the other characters are HATING it and reacting accordingly, so after it was over the actor was said, “hey guys, I can tone it down” and we were all saying. “No, it’s awesome” it makes it so much richer that we hate this thing that your character is doing so keep moving through it in a way that makes sense to your character. On stage, you can’t have that conversation, being able to talk Actor to Actor about it, opens it up.

PH- Who is your favourite artist? Why?

ME- Oh. Heavy..  hmm like everything? John Darnielle- The Mountain Goats- He has recorded over 600 songs and ALL of them are different. He has a massive creative brain. His most recent album was called Goths and growing up goth. Another record is all about wrestling. The next album has no guitars on it at all. The album before that was his favourite bible verses. Very excited about his next album which is all about Dungeons and Dragons. How is that for a segue? 🙂 

PH- What inspires you?

ME- Honesty. Honesty inspires me. It’s so refreshing for people to just be honest and open. Watching that happen makes me want to create more. In addition to that, passion. I think it’s so important to me that people care about what they do. 

I couldn’t agree more, Mike!

The podcast is Adventure Incorporated; it can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Podbean… basically, anywhere you can download a podcast from? We’re on it.

Support us on Patreon
Come and join our Discord Server
Follow us on twitter @AdventureIncPod
Like us on Facebook facebook.com/adventureincpodcast
Check out our website adventureincpod.com
Don’t forget to rate/review/subscribe!

Before this interview, my only exposure to D and D was my mom, who plays and is super awesome for many reasons. I hope I have faithfully reported the world and done it justice.

My final thought is this. The next time you hear a term you don’t fully understand, instead of being afraid to admit it, open your mind and your eyes to a brand new world, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find out.

Think About It.


My 10 Takeaways from the 90 Day Challenge!

Dear Readers,

Recently I took part in a 90 day challenge to do a Facebook Live every day for 90 days in a row. The idea behind it was brought to us by my speaking coach and famous speaker, Darren LaCroix and the idea is to clarify your message and define what you are passionate about as a speaker.  You go on Facebook live and do a message for your followers that is 2-4 minutes every day for 90 days. No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds.


I have 10 takeaways from this challenge and a few thoughts I wanted to share.

First, I want to say, there is so much value in doing a challenge that really makes you stretch.

Like so many things, when you say you are going to do something, there will be things to get in your way. Fear is the first one, and it can be loud. Fear gets loud when you decide to do something important.

Facebook Live is exactly what it sounds like, You press a button for “facebook live” and then you are live on camera, no takebacks! Also, when you do a Facebook Live, you automatically gain more views because anyone who is online gets notified that you are “going live” so you have the “privilege of the platform of someone you might never encounter otherwise. One of the benefits of this challenge is you say you will do something for 90 days, you do it, every day, because you said you would. I definitely had days where I did NOT want to do it, and integrity is very important to me so I kept saying, well, I said I would, so I must. Also, as my buddy Albert Chang (a fellow speaker) says,”This helps build your speaking muscle for 90 days!” I workout at the gym so why wouldn’t I do a speaking “rep” every day for 90 days? (hard to classify this pose as a pull up– but stretch your imagination.. I know! We can call it a “speech up” ?  Thank you, I will be here all night!


Before this, I was really scared to go “live” but now, I am going to be delivering a message once a week to help my followers be inspired. What follows below are my takeaways and I hope they help you with your next presentation whether it’s a “facebook live” or standing in front of a room or your next one on one. If you have thought about doing a facebook live, stop thinking about it, and just do it. Then you will have done something you have not done before.

  1. Look at the camera and don’t take your eyes off the viewfinder. (harder than it sounds, trust me)
  2. Do not drive and Facebook live! it’s dangerous and stupid!!!!
  3. Keep it between 2-4 minutes- longer than that, and you risk losing viewers.
  4. Don’t overthink, have an idea (title it to give viewers a teaser) but adapt to changes.
  5. Be sure your message has value for your audience.
  6. Have a call to action (questions are best) to your audience for engagement.
  7. Start with Silence (Gives your audience time to get ready)
  8. Be authentic (dentist appointment, lives with guests) but don’t overshare.
  9. Stay on topic, and don’t greet your watchers, it pulls focus from your message.
  10. HAVE FUN and remember it’s not about being perfect, it’s about connecting to your audience.

So maybe you don’t have any desire to do a facebook live, that’s okay, think about something that will stretch you and then make a game plan and go do it.

Think About It.