Some Things Take Time

Jessica and I took an adventurous walk yesterday, trying to get better acquainted with our new surroundings. Having recently moved we are becoming adept explorers, letting curiosity be our guide as we try new things and experience new places.

About halfway down a tree-lined street nestled in the shadow of the mountains I noticed that what I thought were light colored leaves were actually puffy seed pods. We gently pulled a few of the velvety pods from a tree admiring the full bright green seeds ensconced within them. Upon further inspection we found some more mature seed pods drying out on the ground exposing seeds that were weathered, dry and dark. While the shiny bright beauty of the newly birthed seeds, protected in their green cocoons were what caught my attention, they were not the seeds that were primed to grow. As we peered closely at the ground and sifted through crackly brown casings that pulled away easily from the dry seeds I was reminded that nature usually seasons seeds over time as she prepares them for growth. Their potential cannot be rushed but rather nurtured, letting it develop intentionally over time. I think the same goes for children, relationships, ideas and experiences. It can be hard to wait patiently for something or someone because the process of change can seem laboriously long. But people are a lot like seeds and when the conditions are right and the seed is ready the resulting beauty is usually worth the wait.

Take Action: If you've already applied this post to your life thanks for reading, please come back soon!

If you need some help to take the leap from story to action, here you go:
Think for a minute about a relationship (family, romantic, friendship, etc) that you're in that has potential. Consider the beautiful things that could come from that relationship. Focus on one of those beautiful things and then think about one thing you could do today to support and work toward that potential. So if I want to cultivate a stronger relationship with my daughter so that she'll talk openly with me when she's a teenager, I will strengthen our connection today by listening intently to her 8 year old stories when she wants to tell them to me. By listening today I'm building a little pod around the seed that is our relationship, creating space for it to grow and change and become what it's meant to become. As always, I'd love to hear your epiphanies!

In love and nature,
Lindsay

Family Council Agenda 4.24.16

Family Council helps you team up(2)Here’s an easy agenda for family council tomorrow.  This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how open communication in family council allows us to pool our strengths and help each other.  We had our daughter’s birthday party this week and I’m usually great at coming up with ideas but then sometimes I have trouble with the more practical aspects of implementation and I end up running around like crazy trying to get details together.  Ritchie prepares for life by identifying details and prioritizing them.  As we’ve discussed this party at family council over the past few months, I was able to:

1) think ahead & plan ahead

2) incorporate both Ritchie and Jessica’s suggestions.  I find that when they make suggestions they are usually pretty creative and if I’m open-minded I am able to utilize their strengths which balance and augment some of my enduring vulnerabilities.  The end result was a more enjoyable day for all of us and an activity where everyone had some input.  Nice!  Yet another benefit to sitting down with the family and planning out our life together once  week.

Easy Agenda for tomorrow’s Family Council

Families Grow with Family Council Graphic(2)Tomorrow is Sunday, it’s the day we have Family Council each week.  Family Council lets our family practice communication and connection around the everyday things in our life.  It’s the space in our week where we talk about our schedules and check in with each other about how life is going in our house.  Meeting together briefly each week has given our family a lot of opportunities to communicate and creatively tackle problems and challenges.  It’s taken us from a place of reactive growth to proactive growth.  A few weeks ago I posted a quick start agenda and guide.  This week I’m posting an Easy Family Council Agenda with tomorrow’s date.  It just includes gratitude, a schedule review and a quick reflective question.  There are three agendas to a page.  Print out enough that each family member has a copy, give it a try after dinner tomorrow and let me know how it goes!

Family Council Quick Start Agenda & Notes

When beginning a new habit it’s important to start small, be consistent and build some incentive into it.  This Family Council Quick Start Agenda covers the basics and allows you to easily begin your first family council meeting this week. Use this agenda until meeting together weekly is an established routine (at least 1 month).

To your spouse you can say “Hey babe, I’d really love your feedback and input on some family stuff and I’d like to have a brief family council meeting.  I’ll take care of the agenda.”  People rarely say no when you ask for their opinion.

To your kids you can say “Hey guys, I want to know what’s going on with you, we’re going to have a quick team meeting after dinner on Sunday.” You may get grumbling but you can smile and offer to let them choose the game.

Expect to hear “How long is this going to take?” from all parties.  Smile and respond with “Not long, and it’ll be fun.”

Print 1 Family Council Quick Start Agenda copy for each member of the family and provide each person with a colorful pen which makes their random doodling all over your painstakingly-prepared agenda look especially nice.  Feel free to review the agenda with notes but if your family sees that many words on a page at your first meeting they may run for cover so tuck it under your copy of the Quick Start Agenda and refer to it as needed.  Start with the gratitude and make sure each person receives some because that sets a tone of love and appreciation for the whole meeting.  Ending with a game leaves everyone feeling like there was at least something fun that came out of it.

In our house my role is to manage our growth and experiences so I create the family council agenda each week.  In the coming weeks I’ll share ideas on how to evolve your agenda as your family acclimates and embraces the meeting.  So much of it is in the presentation and like Ritchie said, when the agenda shows up, we have family council.

Good luck!

Lindsay 2.0

p.s. I welcome your feedback and I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

Family Council in Ritchie’s Words

“I don’t blog nor do I write (heck I can hardly read for that matter) so consider this important.  Our family has been working on getting back to it’s A game for a little while now, and I think we are about there (minus the regular daily issues we call life).  About 8-10 months ago my brilliant wife decided that it was time that we follow the counsel given to us by the leaders of our church and not only have our regular FHE on Mondays (Family Home Evening, which consists of a song, prayer, spiritual thought, some scripture reading, a game, and my personal favorite, a treat), but now we had to have Family Council on Sunday nights.  So I went along with it as any decent husband would, I wasn’t too excited about it to be honest, and I thought well maybe it will go away if I do it a few times.   But the agendas keep coming and we keep having it.  Even though everything else she seems to suggest improves our lives this one didn’t include an increased consumption of bacon like her change in our eating habits so I wasn’t as excited.   It has been over 21 days so now I think it would be considered a habit.

Basically a Family Council is now the life blood of our family.  We go over the details for the upcoming week for the whole family and then figure out if we have any conflicts and if we do we make an adjustment and go from there.   This is a great opportunity for me as a dad to be involved in the everyday lives of my girls.  Before we started this I use to roughly know the ins and outs of what was going on but because 10-12 of my waking hours are spent at that place called work I was in the dark a lot or I missed important milestones in their lives that had I known about them I could’ve adjusted my schedule around and been more apart of their lives.  Well now with Family Council I can be and am.  I don’t miss as much of the important things in life anymore.

Not only do we schedule but we plan for the future, we make travel goals, talk about ways our family can help others, go over self-help tips, go over credit card bills, list car and home debt, teach Jess life basics like our phone number etc.  Family Council has made a big impact on our family and the weeks it doesn’t happen sure are rough.  It is a great way to have us all be accountable for ourselves and each others needs.  Give it a try for a month, start out simple and then get more depth.  We always have a treat and play a game, or if you are lucky and we forget to close our curtains you might catch us in one of our famous dance parties instead of a game.   Who says tall people have no coordination, whoever it was was right……

Check out Elder M Russell Ballard’s an Apostle’s talk about all the ways Family Council can help you.”

Ritchie

 

 

 

Adventures in Family Meditation

IMG_5849We have a family meeting every Sunday night.  A few weeks ago at one of these meetings I applied for the role of “Miller Family Healthy Habit Coordinator.”  I told my family that no one will love them more than I do and no one will devote more time to caring for their well-being than I will.   I lovingly explained that I’ve been ardently preparing for this work for approximately 30 years (my twin sisters were born when I was 6 so my mothering career began early) and that I would like to offer them guidance for growth, health, healing and wholeness.  I earnestly explained that there are a lot of other places where my knowledge and experience are in high demand but that the most meaningful place for me to employ these skills is at home with them.  And to top it all off, I would be willing to do this job for free.  After some “where is this going” looks and some laughter, Jessica made a short list of people who she felt were better qualified to fill the position.  Among her preferred applicants were Grandma, Grandpa and Cassie (our dog!?!) but as none of them were available or able to verbally petition for the post I was able to secure it.  I explained that each week I would introduce one new habit for us to incorporate into our routine with the hope that our health and happiness would be enhanced as we seek to care for ourselves and help other people.

We started with meditation because it’s the most logical place to start.  Meditation is a powerful tool for increasing resilience, navigating stress, and growing through struggle.  When you’re a living being, it’s nice to have a few minutes where you just sit still, remember that you have a body and listen to your breath moving in and out of it.  Each night, after Jessica puts on her pjs and brushes her teeth, we sit cross-legged in a haphazard circle and practice meditating together for 2 minutes before we say a family prayer.  To increase kid-appeal, we light a little candle and use the free Insight Meditation Timer app and Jessica gets to choose the chime that signals the beginning and end of our practice.   It’s fun because there are little dots that show you who else in the world is meditating with you.  (We found that Friday evenings are a low point for global meditation while Sundays are pretty popular).  Usually we meditate with around 800 other people and it makes it feel a little less foreign and a lot more communal.

Now before you say “we could never do that” let me reiterate that it’s a practice meaning the whole goal is to try, put forth the effort, put our bodies there, recognizing that most of the time it’s a little crazy with Cassie licking our faces or Jessica staring at the wall (sometimes I peek to see what she’s actually doing while Ritchie and I are closing our eyes).  It’s me telling her to meditate the way I do instead of respecting that she’s going to have her own little 6 year old way of managing things (something you’d think I’d be used to by now…).  It’s Ritchie chanting “ommmmmm” with a playful smirk on his face.  I take it all in stride (probably because I meditate on my own each day so that I can handle whatever these yahoos throw at me 🙂 and I smile.  Meditation is changing our life.

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

 

The work of childhood

photo 2I’ve been thinking about the immense quantities of time that I sink into my relationships and how many of my precious minutes find themselves spent building connections with other people, especially the two darlings that live here in my home.   Oftentimes in conversations that tend toward exciting endeavors or recent accomplishments I find myself quietly thinking of the relative simplicity of my days.  At this point in my life, I am quite literally immersed in early childhood.  It is simultaneously grueling and fascinating.  How often does one get such an intimate view of the building of a person?

In my more humble moments, like when we’re shoe shopping and Jessica loudly says to me, “Mom, you can’t make me wear those shoes,” I find myself smiling slightly after I process the blow to my pride.  Yes, this is where I choose to devote almost all of my energy-to my relationship with this child, who sometimes backtalks, frequently whines, complains that I’m inconsistent, doesn’t like my story selections and thinks that I hardly know how to do anything.   Living daily in moments like those, makes it hard to articulate just what it is that I do that is so meaningful and valuable.  But I’m helping to build something.  And it’s gonna be beautiful.

With love,

Lindsay

Regarding Relationships

Our relationships, especially the ones that have the power to affect us at our very cores, can elevate us to beautiful views of love, loyalty, sincerity and compassion and also send us crashing into the depths of self-doubt, loneliness and despair; and sometimes we experience both within the same relationship over the course of a few minutes, hours or days.  Relationships are so fluid, multifaceted and unique which can leave us feeling content and/or conflicted.  Their quirky intricacies are known only to the individuals party to them so it’s nearly impossible to guess at the exact dynamics that play out in other relationships.   Oftentimes we keep details about our most treasured relationships pretty close to home.  And yet our daily interactions throw us headlong into many situations where relational satisfaction and discord are very deftly displayed.   I believe our goal is to learn to relate to each other with the same honesty, compassion and understanding that the Savior offers us.  And I believe that any precious time and effort we devote to enhancing our relationships is time well-spent.

Knitting Hearts

knitheartsHave you ever knit before?  I’ve attempted it on multiple occasions and more often than not, my efforts are rather clumsy.  Holding the two needles just so, gently transferring the yarn, it takes time to get into a rhythm.  I have seen knitting done with fluid motion and beautiful outcome, and perhaps someday my knitting creativity will be that smooth.  For now, as I practice, I still have to focus on very basic things like keeping the yarn from getting twisted up and holding both needles properly.

The other day when I read Mosiah 18, one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon, I was struck by Alma’s choice of words in verses 21-22.  The scripture doesn’t say “put together” or “bound together” but instead talks about having hearts that are knit together which denotes a more patient and intentional work; a work which respects the agency of the participants.   And after reading this talk, I began to wonder who is actually doing the knitting.  Sometimes unity in a relationship or group seems like such a lofty and impossible prospect but I think maybe having a willing heart, or serving as pliable yarn, goes a long way.  So often I think the Lord is asking us for a willingness to be a part of something larger than ourselves.  Sometimes I hesitate because of my perceived weakness or clumsy attempts at obedience or my inability to see how simple things are tied to grand outcomes.  But more often than not, I think He’s asking for faith and some patience as He creates beauty with our efforts.  And someday, when we are privy to a view more far-reaching than our current one, I hope we can stand back and see how we have been deftly knit together with skill that far surpasses our own.

Lovingly,

Lindsay

The Need for Boundaries: Tougher examples

I’m afraid by using recent examples, I may have glided past the giant awkwardness of my first 5 years of trying to navigate boundaries.  The dinner example was from 6 months ago, after years of ample practice with this revised version of marital give and take.   If I had offered you an example from even 3 years ago,  it could’ve included another night at the dinner table with a heated discussion about book club, accusations flying and me eventually storming away from the table, tears streaming down my face,  my bare feet agitatedly carrying me down the street to the stop sign where I wallowed in my resentment & frustration with my spouse’s seeming lack of understanding and disappointment in my own ability to be patient.  We still remember that day every time we notice the dent I put in the door frame when I slammed the door with strength I didn’t know I had.  Rest assured this new understanding we’re building over here is coming with some good old-fashioned time and hours of sometimes patient communication.

Here are a few more examples:

Last week we had just returned from a trip out of town and then my little one was sick so at the end of the week I had two days to work through mountains of laundry, put our house back together, and handle numerous other neglected responsibilities before the business of this week hit.   I happened to have a PTC meeting the next morning where we would be wrapping some items for our upcoming event.  Fighting every urge in me to show up, be “responsible” and “supportive” and then handle my resentment later (emotional credit card balance), I emailed the leader of the project and told her that in lieu of attending the work meeting, I was going to spend the time working on my assignment at home and I gave her a report on my status.

For me, having boundaries means letting people down sometimes and I really don’t like doing that.  But when I do, it’s a lot like acknowledging that I have a credit limit and the discomfort of my honesty helps me to assess my commitments and be more realistic about what I agree to handle.  I may have disappointed her and the few others there by adding to their workload but I also know my family experienced a bit more patience from me last week because I managed a limit.   It seems like maybe conflicting feelings are an uncomfortable and necessary part of boundaries.

Example shared with permission from all parties:  Several years ago, RJ and I were both filling leadership roles in our church.  Our congregation operates entirely based on volunteer efforts so people offer extraordinary amounts of time in order for us to enjoy the religious culture that we love.   We found ourselves in an annual family meeting with the leader of our congregation and we ended up talking about the assignments our family was handling.  We explained that our life felt full of a lot of good and important things and that our little family was struggling.  In addition to our church efforts, we were  offering support to our family and friends and we were both trying to soak up the novel babyhood we were experiencing.  We pointed out that we may be 30ish but we were/are rookie parents and we were loving the chance to really focus on learning how to work together to help our little girl grow.  We asked him to consider this information and the assignments we had and we were hopeful that some kind of change would be made for one of us.  I felt real apprehension and shame and embarrassment before and after the exchange because I didn’t think I would ever ask for something like that.   I had questioned myself for months about the validity of my feelings.  I believe Heaven can and does make up the difference.  People far busier than myself offer far more time, etc, etc.  But ultimately I had to come to terms (again) with the the reality of the situation and if verbalizing that reality meant that I was less faithful or less charitable than I thought I was then I just had to humbly accept that and work honestly from there.  At the same time, the pace had stopped feeling needful to us and as I prayed I didn’t feel discouraged from opening up a dialogue.

Because we were responsible folks who were apparently doing a fabulous job of looking put-together, our bishop (the leader of our congregation) was surprised to hear that we were having a hard time.  Thankfully, he was very gracious with the honest information we offered him and RJ’s assignment was changed shortly after that.  With time, it just is what it is but in the limbo phase just afterwards, I was torn between relief and guilt.   I couldn’t get over feeling like we had maybe let our bishop,  or all the people we worship with or maybe even Heavenly Father down.  That was a hard place to be.  (Incidentally, seeking his permission to use this example freed me from some of that self-inflicted guilt).  This man has always been a supportive and loving figure for our family and he could appreciate and champion our perspective once he knew what it was.  I was really, really grateful that he responded with such compassion.

It would’ve been easy to wrap this one up by saying it was Heavenly Father’s will that we change or that it was the right time.  Honestly, it just felt like a choice.  Ultimately, all service is right?  So I owned a choice and owned the consequences.  In hindsight, I realized a lot of healing was happening for 2 broken hearts in this house but it’s only with distance that I’ve been graced with that understanding.  I imagine I would’ve found goodness in continuing as well.  At the time, all it was was uncomfortable.

With love,

Lindsay