Thursday, May 5, 2011


With days as hectic and full of seemingly critical activity as they've been, and almost summer nights feeling so short, and definitely not idyllic and relaxed, connecting with loved ones can seem ... absent.   Or perhaps it happens less than you would like.  If that is you, I'm going to suggest  a strategy I have been using lately, and it has been working beautifully.

It's called the With strategy.  Here's how it works. 
  1. Think of someone that you would like to have a deeper connection with that you haven't seen or been with as often as you would like.
  2. Find out what that are doing within the next day or 7.
  3. Offer to do it with them.
Synonyms: alongside, including, beside, along, among, near, plus 
Do you remember high school and college when you had a cluster of friends that you did everything with?  Do you know why they were your friends?  Because you did everything with them.  So many of our early relationships worked because they were convenient.   We were in close physical proximity to each other, so we hung out.  As people's lives change, and we move across the country and the world from each other, things become less convenient.  Sometimes relationships change because, although you know Suzie is one of your best friends, she is half the world away, and you guys have opposite schedules, so you haven't connected as often as you would like.  Suzie is not longer on the pulse of what's happening in your life.  Her best friend status is now honorary.

The With strategy is not limited by convenience.  You can implement it even if being with someone isn't easily shoved in between your morning coffee meeting and your lunch client appointment.  Sometimes it will involve shifting things around, cancelling things, just to make the with happen.  I have a friend who lives a 10 hour drive from me.  We clean or wash dishes with each other on the phone.  She does her chores, I do mine.  Pots clang, children cry, we're living life together even when our domiciles are apart.

I've been trying With out as my strategy of choice when I think Isaiah and I don't have enough time together. 
  • He leaves for work at 4 or 5 in the morning, and gets in about 7pm.  On average, his is a shell of himself at that time, so hardly one for scintillating conversation.  Part of my with strategy is to invite him to meet me somewhere before he gets home.  That works wonderfully if he's meeting me alone, or if I'm with others, even if I have the kids with me. 
  • Recently, he was asked to work on a project at church, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided to work on it with him instead of making it another reason we spend so little time together. 
  • When I feel him wandering away from a conversation, perhaps towards the couch or the bed, I'm much more likely to walk with him and keep the conversation going, that to let it stop. 
These days, I'm hearing more of what he's thinking about!  Just some of the ways With has been helping me.

Today I'm going to the DMV, and I'm opting to implement the strategy there.  Simonne and Zachary and sketch pads and novels and readers and workbooks will all be with me.  Who knows what that will create?  The kids are implementing the strategy quite well too.  They play in a virtual world on  One day, Simonne asked me how many kids I was allowed to have in the world (as a parent, I set up the child accounts).  When they found out I could have up to 6 kids, they each decided to create an alternate version of themselves, and asked me to create a personality too!  That way, I could play Jumpstart with them.  Recently, Isaiah told me Zachary invited him (Daddy) to have a shower with him (Zach).  Maybe the little song is true, "The more we are together, the happier we shall be!"  Well, I get to have more together happiness, when I keep the With strategy in place.

Who can you choose to be with today? 

P.S.  Don't forget to be present when you are applying the With strategy.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea.
    Sometimes I choosing to be with people who are doing what I want to do - or asking people I want to be with if what I want to do fits into their schedule.

    I think it's time to look at my list of friends and find out who I really really want to connect with and why.

    Many of them might not live in the neigborhood (= not even in my country) so it could be challenging to join them, but I'll come up with an idea anyhow.


    Love Joy


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