On Calendars and What They Can Do For You

My dear friend, Elaine asked a question on Facebook a few weeks ago. It went something like this:

“What are your best tips for balancing the need to be fully present in the moment with the need to plan for what’s going to happen in the future?”

I love questions like this. Thoughtful, but practical. Encouraging mindfulness and presence, and yet aware of the fact that, in life, sometimes stuff must get done.

One of my answers to Elaine was that effective calendar-ing helps me find the balance between presence and planning. If you spend much time with me, you will likely capture a glimpse of my Google Calendar. It’s color-coded by member of the family. Every single event or activity is on there. Seriously. A friend once laughed at me because I even put school on the calendar. It wasn’t too many years ago that I might have forgotten to take them, had it not been on the calendar. Well, I exaggerate.

You might say I am “tied to my calendar,” and in a sense, you might be right. The question, though, is whether that tether benefits me and my family, or if it is to our detriment. I would argue that, for me, using my calendar effectively allows me to be where I need to be, to do what I need to do, and to thereby be present in the in between spaces, to be available for the unexpected things. By scheduling effectively, I leave room for people, for people’s needs. It’s not effective 100% of the time, I should add, but for me my calendar allows there to be time for wonder and time for service.

How does your calendar work for you? How do you build in time for wonder, time for people, time for serving, time for being present?


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On Eighteen Years

This weekend, my oldest graduates from high school. Each of us in our family are experiencing an array of emotions. If you haven’t yet read Michael Gerson’s thoughtful post on the departure of his oldest son, it is worth a read.

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On Saying Goodbye

Jason Good is a writer and comedian. I know him primarily through his blog: www.jasongood.net. Hilarious stuff, especially for parents. I think Andrew Unger introduced me to it years ago.

Here, Jason shares the intimate moments surrounding his father’s death. For me, these moments are poignant partly because Jason is clear that he doesn’t believe in God or heaven, the assumption being that his father simply ceased to exist. It’s interesting to see these moments from a view of life and reality that is so different than my own.

That said, Jason loved his father, who has left a legacy of a loving, connected family. These intimate moments are a glimpse along the path each of us will walk. With our grand-parents. With our parents. With a spouse. Or a friend. Or even with a child. These moments are not part of our daily existence. I find it helpful to peek into Jason’s experience and prepare myself for these moments in my own life.

Enjoy Jason’s post, and check out his other, more amusing posts as well.

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On the Things that Ain’t Happenin’

Jen Hatmaker hits it out of the park, once again. Having just ushered my 18 year old into adulthood 2 days ago, I am relieved that I don’t need to back-fill my antique trunk with annual time capsules. As I like to say at my house: that ain’t happenin’.

Other things that ain’t happenin’: spending time angst-ing about planning the perfect birthday party, regretting all the parties I promised and then never got around to, attending every single sporting event or school concert or feeling guilty if I don’t, and painting or other messy crafts.

Things that are happening: being present for the big stuff (as defined by the kids), lots of family meals (not all home-cooked), involvement in church (including regular service and deep, cross-generational relationships), chores & expectations at home, some screen parameters (that are regularly agonized over and discussed), and conversations — countless, thoughtful, structured & unstructured, where there are two main goals: understanding who my children are and who they are becoming, and inviting them into my world view, my values, my mission and my hopes for their character.

For all of this, I am grateful for the example of my own parents, and proud of the hard (and sometimes tedious) work of parenting that Hal and I have done. And I am always glad to be reminded to send the kids outside to play with the neighbors.

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On Common Core Myths & Facts

Common Core Myths & Facts: It seems that I hear increasing understanding by parents in my community, but I continue to hear many of these myths perpetuated by politicians. It’s troubling to me when our students are caught in political cross-fire.

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On Surviving the College Admissions Madness

Thank you to my March ’97 Mama friend, Lara Nolan, for this one. Our 17/18 year olds are making college decisions right now, and this is some terrific advice.

When your son or daughter is thinking about selecting colleges to apply to, sometimes you hear guidance counselors and others talk about finding a “good fit.” To be honest, it’s hard to figure out what that might look like. It is worth noting, though, that it doesn’t necessary look like the toughest school your kid *might* get into. Maybe it does. Maybe that’s the best fit. But maybe the best fit is someplace else.

I love hearing stories like in this article, about students who thought their dreams were dashed, and then they discovered something beautiful, something wonderful. They found a good fit. For them.

It takes a special person, a special attitude to get rejected and then be willing to be happy again, to find their place in a community they didn’t think they wanted to be part of.

My hope for my 17 year old and his friends, and for those of you whose Juniors and Sophomores and Freshman are headed down this road next year and beyond, is that they will learn day by day that being satisfied and connected in the community you are a part of has much more to do with attitude than success.

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On Practicing

At our house, we use a principle we learned from good friends: “Practice makes improvement.” This article describes the results of research that expands upon the principle. While the research was about music, I might hypothesize that the observations and conclusions might also apply to athletics and other skills. What do you think?

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