Ts you start this week, set aside the temptation to live in the future. Be all wherever you are, fully present.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a tendency to be so forward thinking that I miss out on the thing right in front of me—I spend too much energy planning for the next thing. There are upsides to being a decent planner and strategist, but the downside is a tendency to neglect the here and now.

Before we left for this trip, I told Kyle that my mantra was going to be “relationships first.” This has helped me more than I ever expected. When I’m sleep-deprived (how I’ve been this entire month) yet surrounded by dear readers and new friends who’ve made the effort to say hello, keeping “relationships first” on repeat in my brain plants my feet firmly in the moment.

And yet I’ve also had good, good people remind me to unapologetically keep our family’s boundaries firm, for the sake of sanity, and well, for also keeping relationships first—the relationships inside our clan, that is. Kyle and I are both introverts, so while we’ve LOVED meeting so many people this month, we also need that downtime in the car, staring off into space and recharging our batteries for the next meetup.

People matter more than agendas—remembering this can change my day. And yet if I’m not careful, I can easily set aside my own health and sanity, and that of my family’s, in order to please everyone on the planet. We’ve had to say no to meetups in other cities, because otherwise, we’d be stopping every two hours and never sleeping.

finn in the snow

It bums me out to know we’re driving right through some of your cities, truly it does. But this is also a trip for my family, for us to bond and experience and enjoy life together, and so I stare out the front seat window, look at the Smoky Mountains, and travel with a clear conscience, knowing we’re making good choices to focus on relationships and yet stick to our boundaries.

So please know that while I’m with you, sipping coffee, I’m with you. You’re right here, right in front of me, and for me to focus on the next thing instead of, well, you, is to miss out on real life, fully alive.

Relationships first, keep healthy boundaries has been a good mantra this month. I hope it stays this way all year. I’ve loved meeting you all.

What does your day look like today? How will you put relationships first? Stick to your boundaries?

Next up—we’ll be in Washington, D.C. at Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse this Wednesday, February 19 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Bring your books, the whole family is welcome! Then on Sunday, February 23 we’ll be in Manhattan—head here for the details.