Kirk Hensler

If I wanted to learn more about the art of curiosity, if I wanted to learn how to hip hop dance, if I wanted to learn how to get sh*t done and if I wanted a great read on a Sunday in a hammock that makes me think, feel, laugh and stutter all at the same time, I know exactly who to call. A divine human being with mad skills in writing meaningful words on pages, meet the Founder of Kale & Cigarettes and the Creator of Organizing Inspiration, Kirk Hensler. 

What rocks your bliss?

This is an interesting question because I basically have my dream life. Travel the world, work with kids, make art, all that stuff we all crave so badly. But I still wake up in the morning with the same fear I had since I was 5 years old. And it’s like, what the fuck am I really supposed to be doing with my life? 

You can never be sure what is going to land. And I mean what is going to move you. Sure everyone wants to work with kids in an orphanage but what happens when you do that and it doesn’t land? It’s not for you. You realize you don’t like kids. You realize the world is fucked. And you leave feeling worse about yourself. I’ve had this experience so many times where I’m doing what someone would consider to be something absolutely amazing and I just feel nothing. Like nothing at all. And I’m wondering why you can’t guarantee yourself experiences that change your life. I finished a gig working with the poorest kids in Kansas and I just couldn’t connect  with them. Where I was at in my head and where they were at just left no room for us to have anything together. And I was a little pissed off with myself and I was pissed off with them to be honest. Because that should be it. That should do the trick for my soul. I got home and was having lunch with a friend feeling hard inside and an adult with very noticeable Downs syndrome walked by us in the window and stopped. He looked at me and right before he was about to turn and keep walking he put up his hand and waved to me. And I fucking cried. 

Unpredictable moments when humans take care of each other for no reason other than something in the moment compelled them to do so. Like they got a tip from an unknown informant. No agendas or personal desires to sort out whatever messes we are going through, just the unexpected realness of life. That rocks me.

Describe your perfect day.

This is easy. Number 1, someone cooks my food for me. And it’s healthy AF and delicious. Number 2, I don’t drive myself anywhere but someone takes me to the ocean to watch the sunset. I would like to be with a girl that knows me so well we can just groove and laugh and hold hands when it’s appropriate. I would exercise in the morning so my brain chemistry was on point. Probably boxing with a good stretch. Movies, popcorn. And walking. Also, I’m in Paris I’d say. And I’ve hired a musician to play the piano and sing while we fall asleep. 

Share a huge goal you are rocking.

I’ve been writing out a concept for a public speaking gig I’ve been imagining. I am not sure where it takes place yet but I know the audience is predominately people that would identify themselves as yogis or spiritual or seekers or something in that “I’m a free thinker and a non-secular liberal” vein. And it’s a bit of a tough love message. 

For me, it’s been a long road to overcome things like anxiety and depression and I know that all these disorders we diagnose ourselves with are a result of thinking too much and doing too little. What I’ve learned is that if I just stay moving then I am ahead of the dark clouds. When I stop and question myself, feel sorry for myself, blame others, make excuses, lack confidence, pretend I don’t know better, that’s when things get nasty. And I think so many people are stuck here. And everyone is talking about pursuing passion and all that but no one is really saying how. No one has figured out how to nail it in a 20 minute talk that is engaging and eye opening. I think I have that talk in me. Just feels like the thing that is going to lift me into space you know? 

If you could get on a plane right now, where are you going?

Right now, this very second, New York City. Fall is rolling in and there’s no better place to feel alive. 

How do you handle setbacks?

Whiskey. Just kidding. The largest my company ever got before I sold it was 12 employees. I had 12 yoga-type people working for me in a city that has more yoga studios per capita than Mysore, India. Nothing really happened exactly how I wanted it. And it’s easy to be an asshole when things aren’t going your way. I must have heard something or read something at some point that gave me this sentence I use about every day, “Nothing that happens is anyone else’s fault but your own.” I think people like to blame, especially when they are losing. But that’s not strong or virtuous. My friend Greg always talks about the long game. He makes all his decisions with integrity even when it means passing up on instant gratification work. I ask him why and he says he’s playing the long game. A setback to me is failing in front of other people. But if you’re playing the long game you don’t care as much about other people because they likely aren’t playing on your same level. Their opinion should almost be taken into opposite effect. If people like my every move, if I’m not getting my assed kicked at least half the time, then I clearly have no courage. To answer your question, I just keep moving forward with the trust that I have to pursue activities and interests that are meaningful to me and take all the bumps and know they make me better because I’m out there living while everyone else is scared to death. 

3 ways you rock the self LOVE.

Ha. Oh man. Self love. Not my strong suit. I remember playing my first football game in 7th grade and hearing my dad call me a pussy from the sideline for missing a tackle. That is the house I grew up in. And I’m not here asking for sympathy or saying that I missed what it means to have a tender household because I don’t want that. I was raised to win and to make no excuses. While I know I pointed that testosterone bomb in the wrong direction most of my life, that tenacity has helped me get closer to things that matter to me. Because I could never actually say ‘self love’ out loud without immediately wanting to punch myself I will say that what I crave is freedom through creativity. 

1 – When a creative project comes to me as a vision and I drop all paid work to execute the idea. I get possessed and become a vacuum that feeds off all the energy in the world until the project is done. That makes me high. 

2 – Take modern dance class on Sundays and allow myself to feel incredibly sad while warming up on the floor, occasionally sad enough to shed a tear. Then feeling like I just took all the Molly in the world when I dance the phrase to the music. 

3 – Turn off all the lights, light a candle, lay on the wood floor, put on a record (Bon Iver, The Head and the Heart, Lord Huron), face my Technics floor speakers right to my ears, turn up the subwoofer, and pretend I’m still a child and everything feels fresh.