If I’ve learned anything over the years it is that I must be purposeful if I am to be productive. Leaving things to good intentions just isn’t enough. We all know the road that gets paved with those kinds of intentions.
Back in the day when we were homeschooling, I learned to tie important activities to things that were guaranteed to happen. As a family, we highly valued reading aloud together. So, when the kids were little, I attached read aloud time to lunch, a meal that always happened. After eating and cleaning up, we spent at least an hour reading aloud together on the couch. When they got older and busier, we always had to clean up after supper. I sat in my grandmother’s rocker close to the kitchen and read to the kids while they were doing dishes and tidying up. When my son left for college, my daughter and I grieved for the person missing from our reading circle. Thus, we switched yet again and set aside our afternoon tea break as the best time to read aloud all of Jane Austen’s novels to each other.
Seemingly in the blink of an eye, my nest was empty and our family was scattered around the world – my daughter and her husband in Beijing, China, my son in New York City, my husband and I on the plains of Oklahoma. We all still read. A lot. And we share with each other the good books we are consuming. But we were finding that, too often, only part of the group was in on the great discussion. For a family as intensely verbal and hilariously funny as ours is, we were missing something vital. We missed the synergy of the unique insights each person brought. We missed the sharpening effect of the verbal sparring.
To remedy this, a few months ago we started a family book club. All five of us read an agreed upon title and then join the conference call to discuss it. The only time that works for all of us is late evening on a Saturday stateside, which translates to early Sunday morning before church in China. We are in the early stages of our telecommuting family book club experiment, but it is a joy to once again have a shared book to center our conversations and build common ground. Intentionality is critical at any stage of life. We must know what we value and make solid plans to carry it out, because the second thing I’ve learned is that life passes. Quickly.
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