What’s Your Mission? How to Create Family Harmony This Year.

In the final post of 2014 I'm super excited to bring you another post by Joanne Miller where she brings you behind the scenes for another look into the Miller household and how she and Dan created an environment of peace and raised three awesome kids who are doing the same with their families!  This is another post I'm going to take action on right away in the Pavlidis household!  If you do, too, I'd love for you to share your mission statement in the comments or email it to me along with brief reflections on the creation process for a guest post!

How to Create Famly Harmony This Year.In a few days it will be a New Year.

Much like the season of Spring, the New Year is a time of new beginnings.  Many people set goals, rules and boundaries this time of year.  One of the most important areas to strive for success is in family dynamics.

Whether you have children or not, setting some ground rules for what you want to achieve in relational harmony is a major key to creating a haven of peace in your home.

One way we helped prevent arguments and fighting was to draw up a Family Mission Statement.  Many years ago I found a magazine article that included a mission statement I thought embraced our philosophy. 

We had a family meeting to talk about it and each of us agreed it was what we believed in and wanted for our home. 

Because all family members agreed on this philosophy, when someone did something that violated that mission statement, whether it was one of the parents or a child, instead of being accusatory or angry, all we needed to ask was, “Was what you did (or said) in line with our family mission statement?”

It took everyone out of the hot seat in being the judge and jury, encouraging each of us to be responsible for our actions and behavior.

So how do you come up with a family mission statement?

I suggest you call everyone together for a family meeting. 

We used to have them at least once a month.  It was a time to talk about grievances, frustrations, disappointments, accomplishments, desires, family vacations, schedules, rules, expectations, etc. 

Sometimes these meetings were serious and covered some important issues and sometimes they were just crazy fun.  But it was definitely a time to communicate freely without fear of condemnation or judgement. 

It was our SAFE PLACE  

Ask each child to submit his/her ideas for consideration in adopting a mission statement.  It doesn’t matter how long or involved it is. The important issue here is that you all agree on it wholeheartedly so if it is violated (and it will be), the parent or child will know he/she is wrong and has no one to blame but themselves. 

Let me give you another hint on how to make this work well in your home.  Don’t laugh. 

Write or print out the Statement and tape it next to the toilet in every bathroom of the house. 

Seriously.  It really works.

I meticulously hand-wrote in a crude form of calligraphy our Statement and took it to a printer to have laminated, then thumb-tacked it beside the toilet paper roll in the main bathroom of our house. 

Kids memorize easily and if something is where they see it many times during the day for days on end….they will memorize it.  Stick it on mirrors, the refrigerator….whatever works….but know that it is important it becomes ingrained in their minds so when someone abuses the rules they know immediately they are guilty. 

And don’t be at all surprised if your five-year-old brings it to your attention if you have let something slip that violates what she has memorized!

Here is the Miller Family Mission Statement that greatly influenced the interaction in our home  

Perhaps it will help you formulate your own code of conduct and make this New Year a more peaceful setting in the most important environment of all…..your home. 

A Safe Place

In a safe place, people are kind.

Sarcasm, fighting, back-biting and name-calling are exceptions.

Kindness, consideration and forgiveness are the way of life.

In a safe place there is laughter.

Not just the canned laughter of television,

but real laughter that comes from sharing meaningful work and play.

In a safe place there are rules.

The rules are few and fair

and are made by the people who live and work there,

including the children.

In a safe place people listen to one another.

They care about one another and show that they do.

Please God, make this a safe place.


Excerpt from Turnabout Children by Mary MacCracken

Joanne Miller has been happily married for over four decades to career coach and author Dan Miller (48 Days To the Work You Love).

In her new book, Be Your Finest Art, you will find more ideas about how to be a better communicator and listener and how playing games creates great memories and family time. This book is full of color and art and is a unique and beautiful gift for that special someone as we approach St. Valentine's Day or just to say “I love you.”

She has also authored four children’s books, which my kids LOVE. She and Dan have three grown children and twelve grandchildren and lots of years living the entrepreneurial roller-coaster life of adventure!

Give The Gift of Listening

Talk about things to be thankful for! Today we get another a peek into the home of Dan and Joanne Miller and how they continue to create a life that is meaningful. We have 30 people coming to our house tomorrow for Thanksgiving and I know my conversations with them are going to be ten times better having read this. And please join me in expressing to Joanne know how thankful we are that she continues to share her wisdom and experiences here.
Give the gift of listening


It is a tradition in our home that when we have lots of people sitting around our dining room table for a meal, we have a jar on the table full of questions.  Before we dig into the food, each person chooses a question from the jar so he/she can contemplate the answer.  When the meal is finished we sit at the table and take turns answering the question we have received.

Now there are a few rules:

1.  No one is allowed to insert his/her own experience or answer to this question unless asked specifically to do so.

2.  Don’t even think about interrupting! Wait your turn.

3.  Really listen to what is being said. You may learn something new about that person you hadn’t known before.

4.  Don’t take twenty minutes giving your answer.  Be respectful of others and limit your time to no more than two minutes.  It’s longer than you think!

This table game is great for learning more about friends and family.  It is also a good exercise for listening and for sharing (briefly, not in monologues).  The questions can have a theme or can be general.  We have, through the years, changed them to fit the group, the theme or the ambience we wanted to create.

We are approaching the time of year when one’s thoughts go to gratefulness and thanksgiving and then to giving and receiving gracefully.

Lots of opportunities to have a jar of questions on your table that make a meal more than food and drink.  We have had some memorable experiences, laughs and deep discussions come from doing this game.  But let me suggest a twist on this family tradition.

One year we simply didn’t have much money for gift giving.  So I got creative about what to do for the most special person in my life….my hubby.  I got a stately container (suitable for a man’s desk) and constructed 31 quotations, words of wisdom and love, placed them into the container and wrapped it for him for Christmas.  His instructions were to begin each of his days reading one of the slips of paper I had lovingly hand-written specifically for him and to know I did each one with prayer and the hopes that the words from my heart would brighten his day.  It was a gift that kept on giving.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to make your life meaningful and adventurous.

We have had people beg to be included in family nights and dinner parties because they know we don’t sit around trying to create inane chit-chat or play on our cell phones.  We stimulate great communication by asking pointed questions and getting honest information from the heart.  And we have learned to give gifts of love that include sharing and listening.

What topics would you like to discuss at a dinner party?

What could you put in a container to let someone you love know you are thinking of them daily and giving them a piece of your heart?  This could be done for a child who is away at college, a long-distance relative, a friend laid up with illness or recovering from an accident.  The list is endless.  Get creative this holiday season and think of ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas more memorable and joyful.

Joanne Miller has been happily married for over four decades to career coach and author Dan Miller (48 Days To the Work You Love).

In her new book, Be Your Finest Art, you will find more ideas about how to be a better communicator and listener and how playing games creates great memories and family time. This book is full of color and art and is a beautiful and affordable gift for Christmas giving.

She has also authored four children’s books, which my kids LOVE. She and Dan have three grown children and twelve grandchildren and lots of years living the entrepreneurial roller-coaster life of adventure!

Do you love the one you love?

Do you love the one you love-


This doesn't happen often, but these last two posts from Joanne were so awesome that I put off my post that was supposed to go live in between.  🙂

So instead of a post last wednesday I delayed it until next Monday so we could enjoy these two posts in a row!

Can you remember the moment you fell in love?

That pivotal moment when, suddenly, the world stood still and you imagined a full orchestra playing a crescendo of romantic music in the background and your heart did a flip-flop like you had just dropped from cresting a gigantic hill on a roller-coaster? That kind of love? Can you remember it?

A mutual friend introduced Dan to me on my very first day at the Ohio State University branch campus. I was a seventeen-year-old sheltered and very naive freshman and he was a Conservative Mennonite eighteen-year-old sophomore. I needed a ride to campus several days a week and he was quick to jump at the opportunity. We quickly became great friends. But I remember one day as clear as a bell. The day IT happened. He had picked me up in his little Renault Dauphine (look it up!) four-speed on the floor. We were talking animatedly, as always when he reached up to adjust the volume on the radio. Instead of bringing his hand back down to rest on the gear shift, he rested it on my knee. Now, come on, you know that feeling. Like an electrical spark happens and you suddenly realize this isn’t just a friendship any more. And that is exactly what happened. In less than a year we were married. That incident happened in 1967. A few years ago. But to this day, I love it when Dan puts his hand on my knee, or pulls me in a bear-hug or snuggles up to keep me warm.

Decades of marriage bring on differing manifestations of love. They may not include all the tingles and butterflies and crescendos of orchestral music, but I challenge you to never forget why you fell in love with the one you love. Because, chances are, the very reasons you did are often the very attributes that cause you to bristle and pull your hair out in frustration. Funny how that happens. As a very naive seventeen-year-old who never experienced having a father or brother, I cherished the strength and determination I saw in Dan. I still do. I loved his brain and his ability to be decisive and carry through. I still do. And sometimes those very things I most love about him are what drive me mad. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I, too, have a voice in what happens in our relationship because if I don’t I can quickly become consumed by his more overpowering personality.

Ever have this kind of conversation?

Dan: “Where would you like to go to eat?”
Joanne: “I don’t know. I ‘m open to whatever.”
Dan: “Ok then, let’s go to Gracias.”
Joanne: “No, I don’t want Mexican!”
Dan: “Well, how about sushi?”
Joanne: “No, I eat there every week with the girls and I’m getting tired of sushi!”
Dan: “Why don’t you tell me where you would like to go then?!”
Joanne: “I said I was open….just not those places.”

By now Dan is feeling like Charlie Brown when Lucy has once again retracted the football when he was running to kick it. And I’m wishing I could be more decisive and make the choice without this kind of scenario. But we are different and after all these decades we recognize those differences and they don’t bother us as much as they did when we were early into our relationship, trying to figure each other out.

Every now and then I think on why I married my dear husband. And I keep a couple of photographs on display in our home of when we were first married and had stars in our eyes and so much love in our hearts we were full to bursting. Our love hasn’t diminished. It has grown so much stronger through the years because we have learned to live with each other in the everyday. Not just the date nights when everything is perfect, the candles are burning and the orchestra is playing in our heads and we see nothing but the best in one another. We have been together through some very rough times and clung together in tears and in loss.

How has your love changed for your partner?

I challenge you to spend an evening together reminiscing about the first time you knew for certain THIS was the one. The only one. Perhaps you will hear music you had forgotten was there all the time.

Do you love me? (What to do to make sure your spouse never has to ask)

Do you love me-Golde: Do I love him? For twenty-five years, I've lived with him, Fought with him, starved with him. For twenty-five years, my bed is his. If that's not love, what is?
Tevye: Then you love me?
Golde: I suppose I do.
Tevye: And I suppose I love you, too.
Together: It doesn't change a thing, but even so, after twenty-five years, it's nice to know*

I just came back from a week spent on a California beach with my long-time girlfriend, Irene.

As soon as I began to unpack my suitcase, a huge smile lit up my face with the discovery of one of Dan’s love-notes. Just simple, handwritten notes on post-it sheets telling me he is thinking of me, wishing me a great time with my dear friend, and just loving me.

Telling me he loves me. Throughout the week I kept discovering more notes.

When did he have time to write them and insert them into my suitcase when I didn’t know? That’s always part of the mystery and fun… and romance of it.

You see we have been doing this for each other most of our marriage. If one of us goes away without the other, the traveler can expect to find love notes somewhere in his bags or books. And the one staying home can expect to find a note, card, or delayed email.

I usually leave a nice letter for him on his pillow. I have even been known to put a note in the shower, inside the lid of the Mentholatum he puts on his lips at night to keep them soft (for me!), tucked into his underpants or the sleeve of a shirt.

He will often stick a love note inside the book I am taking along to read or layer them in the many layers of clothing I simply “have” to take.

The point is, we take the time to let each other know we will be thinking of them even when we are apart. Especially when we are apart. Tangible gifts of love.

It is great to hear, “I love you”. In fact it is very important to hear the words. Never forget that.

I remember a conversation Dan and I had soon after we were married. He did not come from a home where “I love you” was said verbally. Neither did I. But I craved it. I wanted to hear the words. Dan figured if he was showing me by doing things for me and keeping a roof over my head, I should know he loves me. Why use up words? I would say them often to him, hoping he would figure it out at some point. Finally one day I got tired of waiting:

Me: “Dan, do you love me?”
Dan: “Of course, why?”
Me: “Then why is it so hard for you to tell me so?”
Dan: “I do tell you!”
Me: “Yes, you do…..after I have told you. Always after I have said it first. You sound like a parrot. Polly want a cracker?” (Ok, that was a little sarcastic and totally not necessary…especially since Polly was my mother’s name….. but I was in a mood)
Dan (totally stumped): “I show you all the time that I love you.” (Ok, now he sounds like Golde in Fiddler on the Roof and I am wanting Antonio Banderas)
Me: “But I need to hear you say the words. Not because you heard me say them but because you mean them and you want me to know it. I see it in action but I long to hear it in your voice.”
Dan: “Ok, I can work on that. I love you!”

And he did.

A lot.

Over the years he has been more aware of saying it to his loved ones. He never hangs up the phone with one of our children or grandchildren without saying, “I love you.” He never leaves the house without kissing me and saying those three important words. It has become a good habit that endears him to family and home.

Don’t be a parrot. Don’t overlook the importance of those three small words. And the love notes…..

Be Antonio Banderas! She’ll love it.

*Lyrics from Do You Love Me?, Fiddler on the Roof. Written by: GORDY, BERRY JR, Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, BOCK IP LLC, IMAGEM U.S. LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group