Living Life With Purpose: a Family Manifesto by Isabel Kallman

my worldmoms making a difference

Picture a young woman in her twenties. She will soon graduate from Columbia University in New York. She is full of aspirations for the future, and as she reads Stephen Covey's First Things First, inspiration as well. She goes on to marry and work on Wall Street for a decade,  reading more inspirational books like Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, and accomplishing much. She is driven.

Then she has a son. She becomes a homemaker. She begins a period of "nesting" in which she finds complete happiness. She slows down and learns that she has always felt "very visually inclined," very appreciative of beautiful things, but until now, ashamed for appreciating them despite their lack of utilitarianism. She becomes at peace with her visual inclinations, and strives to enjoy each moment more, in her words becoming more "process-oriented." Her life has changed, even her dreams, but she is still purpose-driven, just in a different way.

She starts a parenting television network, which morphs into the successful parenting blog Alpha Mom.  And then she decides to put down on paper the inspirations that have been brewing inside her for all these years, to solidify in some kind of public way the things that are important to her and her family, to create a family manifesto. Isabel Kallman is this woman, and this is what she's created.

"It's a reflection of what's important to us, our values right now," she says when asked about the manifesto. "It's a beacon to our future." It's something that has a touch of whimsy and art about it. She and her husband, independent of one another, drafted lists of the items they thought should be in the manifesto, then culled their combined lists by pulling out those items they had in common and those that mattered most to them at this point in time as a family with a young child whose mind and character are still in the formative stages.  She came across artwork by a British bohemian design company (www.aardvarkonsea.com) and knew they would be the ones to put the manifesto to paper.

When asked how she selected her list of items to include in the manifesto, from all the many platitudes and points and "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" there are out there, she quickly points out that her and her husband's combined lists had almost 50.  It was only through much reflection and discussion over a couple of weekends that they honed their list. To those families who may be inspired to write their own manifesto, she advises them to not rush the process. Follow these tips:

  • As parents, involve any and all children in the family that you feel are mature enough to contribute meaningful thoughts.
  • Have each family member come up with a list independently.
  • Come together in discussion with the goal of narrowing down everything to a list of 12 or 13 items. Be positive and constructive in your discussion.
  • Remember: it has to be a consensus.

While Isabel Kallman may not be a Wall Street whiz anymore, she still lives her life with clear purpose. Living a life with a purpose is one way we can all make a difference in our lives and the lives of our families. For more information on the Kallman Family Manifesto, visit http://www.alphamom.com/parenting/creating-a-family-manifesto.

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