We have three raised garden beds, which I built myself (two last year, and one very small bed this year). Building the raised beds and filling them with dirt was so much work that at times I didn't know if it would ever get done. Even getting the dirt into it was an unusual amount of work. To save money, we answered an advertisement on Craigs List for free dirt; "just come get it, and it's yours." This meant that after building, we wouldn't be driving into a nursery to have a truck dump a load of dirt into a trailer for us. Instead, the dirt had to be shoveled from a tarp out on a street, into a truck. After driving the truck home, the dirt had to be shoveled into a wheel barrel and pushed across a very long lawn, hopefully before the wheel fell off the barrel that was falling apart. And this entire process had to be done several times; it would take several truck loads of dirt to fill the garden beds.
This was back breaking, sweat pouring work. Each step seemed so extensive, labor intensive, and time consuming! The infrastructure of my garden was created a little at a time – stone by stone; re bar upon re bar; shovel by shovel... But eventually, it was finished. And I found myself looking at it in awe. I was so happy and appreciated it so much I made a collage of the work being done and the beds built the moment I finished, then blogged about it.
Sometimes I still look at my little garden in awe. I look at each of the stones, now a little misshaped and corked, but once so neatly placed - and I appreciate each and every one of those stones. Each little stone has significance; I would be so sad to see even one stone missing from the walls of my garden. Thankfully, once the infrastructure of these stones are laid and secured with re bars and dirt, it securely stays! Year upon year… they will still be there! I don’t have to start from scratch each year when I go to make a new garden; it makes continuing to garden a very hopeful and reassuring experience.
As I compare and contrast, I think each and every one of the small and simple character-building discussions; hugs; Family Home Evening lessons and activities; bonding family times; moments set aside to discipline myself to do something challenging etc... Each of these act as a sort of vital personal infrastructure which build upon each other as the foundation of my life and very being and last, in the same way that my garden infrastructure last. They may require maintenance, but they are still there; and with each new addition the garden is that much better off than before. :)
This is why I am excited about the plans Miles and I have (which I instigate :) to continue to improve at providing the vitals for our growing family. I like to have specific purposes for specific days of the week to help us to accomplish various goals in our lives. These days of the week help us to continually lay down or strengthen a little more skills or character in our personal and family infrastructure… making us constantly a little bit stronger and better than we were the day or week before.
This process began just a few short years ago. Years of my life had flown by like wildfire under a hot summer’s breeze. There were so many things I wanted to do with my life, and it seemed there was never enough time to do the many important things I wanted to do. But others found time… why not me? Why was my life so chaotic? Why couldn’t I make time for the most important things?
The answers came in church, as they often do… A single mom was speaking in Stake Conference about the lists she makes. She said she was the queen of lists, having a huge “to do” list on a daily basis, especially after finding herself a single mom. She was all about getting things done; and despite not having a husband to help her, she found the perfect solution for fitting in all the things which there never seemed to be time enough to do. The inspiration for it came from the classic Mormon analogy used to teach the concept of prioritizing and using time wisely… (If you want to read about this classic analogy, you can go to this post HERE).
After this analogy sunk deep into her being, she got out a blank schedule and placed on the schedule the things she needed to do to be spiritually and emotionally happy… things which bring blessings of an eternal nature… things which are vital, but just never urgent enough to make it to the top of the “to do” lists. These were things like reading her scriptures, praying, spending time enjoying life with her family, and holding weekly Family Home Evening etc.. And as she did this, an amazing thing happened. As she put “first things first” (as Steven R Covey would say), she found that there was time enough, after all. :D
This talk spoke straight to my heart. It was FOR ME; out of all the people in that room, I knew that God had inspired that talk – for me (granted… I’m sure I wasn’t the only one).
So the first thing I did when I got home, was pull out a blank piece of paper and a pencil, and list the things that I considered VITAL for me to accomplish in my life time. I thought of what I considered to be my own personal mission in life, and what I knew I could not bear to leave undone. At first it was really hard to do. I had no idea what God wanted me to do in life... if I really did have a mission.?? But with prayer, introspection, and the help of Heavenly Father and my Patriarchal Blessing, I was able to come to some sound conclusions of at least some of the things that I KNEW I needed to do in my life. These, I concluded, were of VITAL importance. They could not be left to chance, in hope that I might one day get around to them.
This list of vitals then became the framework for my goals and how I scheduled/spent my time. For the goals which fit into the season of life I was in, I considered how frequently I would need to work on each to accomplish the goal. If it could be accomplished with very little time (or if it seemed I wasn’t yet living in a season which allowed more time to invest into that goal), I made monthly goals to accomplish them. If more time and diligence was required (or I was living the season for it), I made weekly goals. If yet even more time was required, then daily goals were made.
Next I sketched out a plan for accomplishing my goals, setting aside time on various days of each week to help me to accomplish my goals.
Specific days of each week became special days for devoting time to work on various specific goals… No longer did I go through life wondering, "when will I ever get around to it?" A life with purpose had been born.
After looking at my calendar/schedule and seeing the same thing on the same day of the week, week after week, month after month… I no longer had to look at the schedule; each day of the week seemed to me as though it’s very purpose for being, was to help me to accomplish a very specific goal - one that was simply too important to leave to chance.
Though it took time for me to increase in consistency doing the things I planned to do, gradually, a new life infrastructure began to emerge; I was finally becoming diligent enough (though not perfect) that it became impossible for me to NOT accomplish my goals. Bit by bit, bite by bite, week by week, month by month my goals were gradually becoming reality. Activities which for so many years, had seemed so difficult to fit into my life were suddenly the foundation of my living. And once in a while, I would come up with a new goal and add something new to the schedule.
Periodically, life changes. Seasons change. Goals change. New "vitals" emerge in life. And with these vital needs, life has to be adjusted to insure those needs are met. This summer has been a time of such vital changes for me; and so I am beginning a new schedule. I will have to look at it daily again until I know it inside out and backwards. I will have to work hard, to make the unnatural, become natural; I have done it before, and I will do it again. I know that I can do this; I can do hard AND AMAZING THINGS... this will be a cinch! ;)
I am excited. Excited because I know that with faith and diligence, I can not fail. Excited because with specific goals, I have direction, purpose, and clarity in my life once more.
PS. I am REALLY ENJOYING being the mother of teenagers. Devry has become SO SOCIAL (for him :o)!!!! This is SO HUGE!!! AND I'M SO HAPPY FOR HIM! :D Devry has also begun running. And Dausen just ran with me for the first time a few days ago! When he ran with me, he talked and talked and talked. I LOVED IT!!! I don't think he has ever talked to me so much! It is SO EXCITING to see my boys growing SO MUCH! And I think these sons MAY actually start running with me now and then. :) I really hope for this, because they are their fathers sons! WOW! If anything can get me training right for next years half marathon, running with them will!!! :D
I could go on about my other kids and more about finding my life's purposes, but I have to get going and this post is already long. Just know that I am SO PROUD of each of my kids and the wonderful progress they are making in their lives! They are such GOOD people. And I desire to continue growing and developing as rapidly and beautifully as they do. And so I will continue to EXPLORE, DISCOVER, and LIVE -WITH PURPOSE each and every day of my life. :)