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CPL, Part 2 March 3, 2009

Posted by Beth in Parenting, Personal.
Tags: ,

(for CPL Part I see here.)

My Central Purpose in Life is to create and maintain a loving, nurturing environment in which to raise my children and assist them in preparing to live independent and happy lives.

To get a better handle on what such a purpose would involve, I needed to think about just what would constitute a loving, nurturing environment and  what I need to do in order to accomplish it.   I was able to identify three major categories.

I would like our home to be:

1) Supportive and nurturing of individuals and relationships
2) Aesthetically pleasing
3) Efficient in the  operation of its “infrastructure”

#1 immediately stuck me as the most important and the hardest to define and implement–so I will save discussing it for last. Today, I will quickly and briefly expand on the other two.

2) Aesthetically pleasing

a) tidy, comfortable, clean
b) furniture that is functional, comfortable, visually attractive
c) Other decor: simple, well-maintained, adds something positive (i.e. not just clutter)
d) Art: adds beauty, has personal meaning
e) Yard: low maintenance but a source of visual pleasure

This outline gives me a set of criteria with which I can evaluate the physical aspect of our home.  Contemplating  this list reminds me I have several places in need of attention and improvement.  It provides me with a simple check list against which I can evaluate the current state of our home, and a specific image to guide any changes.

3) Efficient operation of the “infrastructure”

(By infrastructure I mean the organization and implementation of activities which are necessary to support our lives, but which only indirectly are key to the achievement of our higher values.)

a) Create an order that serves a purpose, in the tasks as well as the materials of daily living (meals, cleaning, personal care)
b) Maintenance of labor-saving devices
c) Minimizing time spent on chores in order to free up time for more meaningful activities
d) Facilitate communication and co-ordination of activities – again in order to maximize the achievement everyone’s individual values within the context of shared resources, including time.
e) Appropriate division of responsibilities for the care of shared resources

In addition to the physical atmosphere of the home, part of my work entails attending to the structure and coordination of our ADLs (Activities of Daily Living.) Efficient and orderly operation and maintenance of our home and our personal health provides a foundation which frees us to achieve what is more important or simply more fun.  Much of the structure which currently exists has evolved through trial and error—but by explicitly defining what the various tasks and structures are helps to focus my attention on what is going well, and what could use some fine-tuning.

So that briefly summarizes the physical and organizational parts of the home environment. Next is the biggie: the aspects of the environment which more directly support and nurture individual family members, with special attention to the needs of dependent children in their growth toward maturity.

Any thoughts on something I have missed?  I’d love to get some feedback as I see this as a work-in-progress.


1. Lynne - March 3, 2009

I’m reading these posts with much interest because despite the thought, effort, and years that I’ve employed raising my children, I haven’t been able to consider it my central purpose, but rather more as a “transitional” occupation.

But as far as you have described your first category under your CPL as “supportive and nurturing of individuals and relationships”, this starts to approach what I think I’ve been doing with a constant purpose and consistent drive. I look forward to reading your further exploration of it.

2. mossoffawpcom - March 4, 2009

I’m loving your analysis. It’s true that much of these goals can be achieved through trial and error, but that only gets you so far. By identifying how each thing is related to your purpose I suspect you will be able to take your work to the “next level.” There is such a strong bias in our culture against parenting and homemaking as “real work.” I love to see you and others applying your creative, intellectual skills to this rewarding career. There is always room for innovation. Who knows how much you can achieve!

I don’t think I’m quite ready for this exercise, but I’m actually putting it on my to-do list for later this year. Great work – thank you for sharing.

3. Rational Jenn - March 10, 2009

To what Lynne said, I do think of parenting as a transitional occupation, in that, if I do it correctly, one day they will all leave my house and get jobs. (‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.)

But given the fact that this transition takes a loooooonngg time, and that my people are in the beginning stages of this transition to adulthood, I can’t help but see it as a CPL for me. I know that one day I’ll develop another CPL, but that day is too far off for me to think of just now.

Or perhaps I’ve just had a really, really long day. Yes, that has something to do with it!

And to second what Amy said, I dislike how my work is not often viewed as “real work.” In fact, I tend to downplay it myself sometimes–although not as often as I did when my oldest was a baby. I really dislike the term “stay-at-home” because it makes my work sound so passive. And I also second Amy’s point about enjoying reading the thoughts and ideas of others who have chosen this work–very inspiring!

4. haynesbe - March 10, 2009

Here’s a few more thoughts on homemaker-parent as “transitional” or “not my real CPL”.

I know I read somewhere that CPLs can be sequential–different things at different times in your life. I could envision working all my life as a physician, if I had not had kids, and that being my CPL until “retirement.” I would then retire from medicine and then choose something else to which I would devote my attention, say political activism, or writing a book.

The other thought has to do with how you define a CPL. When I told my husband (Jon) what I was working on, I asked him to think about what he considers his CPL an dget back to me. He surprised me by saying he already had thought about it and knows what his is. He considers his CPL “making it possible for others to change the world.”
What he meant by that is this. At his previous job, he was a project manager for a team that created a new and improved technology for sequencing DNA. That technology is what allowed the human genome to be sequenced with the speed that it was–and it has changed the world. It has made a huge impact, particularly in the fields of medicine and agriculture. His part was setting up and overseeing a system that allowed the researchers and developers to do their job unburdened and unmolested by the bureaucracy, and to make sure they had the resources (equipment and people) they needed in order to get the job done.

His current work involves the same kind of thing, but this time the company he is working for has a technology that analyzes DNA from breast cancer tissue samples in order to assess whether or not the tumor is one that will respond to or require chemotherapy. This technology has allowed >85% of one category of breast cancer patients to skip chemotherapy. The company is working on similar tests for a couple other cancer types. Stuff that truly changes lives and the practice of medicine.

At first “helping people change the world” seemed too broad and abstract to be a useful CPL, but now that I see how he applies it, it seems perfect. Along those lines, although I am not ready to call it a CPL, I see a common theme which runs through my sequential CPLs: first education (my major in college) then medicine, then raising kids (and homeschooling them), and in the future I see it evolving into something to do with economics. Throughout all of these activities, what I have really loved, what gets me excited, motivated, challenged, revved up (see what I mean) is the idea of taking a fairly complicated or complex subject, understanding it myself, and then finding a way to make it understandable to others. Sort of making the world of ideas more inviting and available to people who are interested, but just not as interested as I am to give it the kind of time it takes.

Any way, just some more thoughts. Thanks for sharing all of yours.

5. mossoffawpcom - March 24, 2009

Your idea of writing a book also fits with that broad interest you have in educating.

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