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When Structure Is Incomplete

Do you sometimes struggle to understand why you’re disengaged from something or someone you care about? Consider that there may be a missing bit of structure in your life, something that might make all the difference. 

This summer, I facilitated kids’ cooking camps. The kids really wanted to be there, but not all of them really participated.

The idea was that each day, groups of four kids would make a meal together before eating it at the end of class.

It was a lovely concept, and it almost worked, but there was one problem.

Some kids repeatedly took the most appealing tasks, like using a knife to chop vegetables, and left the others without much to choose from. 

Faced with less exciting tasks, these other kids hung back and were less engaged in the group’s process. Without addressing this dynamic, those kids would lose out on a good part of the cooking experience and practice interacting with their peers. And, yes, I did address that dynamic. That’s what I do!

Where in your life are you hanging back instead of stepping forward? You can restructure this dynamic so you can engage in groups and tasks with your attention in the right place. 

I work with people of all ages as well as teams and organizations to transform psycho-social dynamics like this, so they can perform better as individuals and as a whole, and experience more of the magic that life has to offer. 

This fall, I’m offering the Building Presence Program to help participants tackle the complex task of building a structure that supports their goals.

This can feel a little abstract. Below, you can find one small way to build structure, starting at home. 

An example of a more complete structure

Many people long for help building useful boundaries, particularly around when and what they eat. Here’s an idea to play around with:

Your kitchen can have a schedule. Open the kitchen for breakfast, lunch, snack (optional) and dinner. Close it during other parts of the day. 


1. Eat something delicious that sustains you until lunch.

2. Prep a bit for lunch/dinner, and 

3. Clean up, including putting away dishes from the night before. 

Then leave the kitchen. It’s closed until lunch.


1. Take the time you need to make/eat a delicious, healthy lunch. 

R e l a x your pace. Unplug from work. Tend to your personal needs. 

2. Take a moment to organize yourself for dinner

3. Clean up. 

Then leave the kitchen. It’s closed until dinner.


1. Give yourself the time you need to set up your kitchen for making a delicious, satisfying dinner. A chef will talk about “mising” or “Mise en Place.” Mise en Place simply means to organize yourself before you cook. Chefs swear by the process and I’ve taken it up in my home kitchen, too. 

2. Cook, and

3. Enjoy your meal. 

4. Clean up so you’re ready for breakfast the next morning. Perhaps run the dishwasher nightly as part of this routine.


Repeat until it’s yours. Try this schedule once. What worked? What would you change? Try it again with the change. And again until you’ve created your own boundary/structure, one that works in your life.


Expect imperfection. Plan for this to go differently than you intended and appreciate why that was the case. Practice kindness toward yourself and others. When in doubt, blame it on a situation, not a person. 


Wait to add on. Only after you find more balance and rhythm, consider adding something in: invite a loved one to join you for dinner, make some overnight oats or bake some granola for something to look forward to in the morning.