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Good Words

Friends, my playlist is about to get a major Mama makeover.


Elliott and I have never been the kind of parents to keep our preferred music away from our son. Sure, some of the content got watered down once little man’s ears started to pick up on words, but we never fully converted our music of choice over to a Kidz Bop-approved variety.

Over the last year or so, Brooks – our son who is now five years old – has taken a special interest in singing along with me to the songs that are on my playlist. We sing in the car, he sings along with the music while I work out or while we run down back country roads. It’s kind of become our thing. When we get to the songs that are filled with uplifting messages – messages that reinforce our faith or encourage self-confidence – I always say, “Listen, buddy! These are good words.”

After a few months of me reminding him to pay close attention to the lyrics in certain songs, Brooks has now started to ask me, “Mommy, are these good words?” when he hears …

Chase a Cat, Lose a Train

"If you chase a cat, you lose a train!"

I can't tell you how many times I yell this through the house each day to my 4-year-old son. It must be hundreds. Okay, dozens. Whatever. Brooks has developed quite the habit of chasing - and terrorizing - our two cats through the house for sheer enjoyment. He finds it hilarious. Not just any idle threat will work on my boy, but the threat of losing one of his beloved Thomas trains - now those are fightin' words. Or at least strong enough words to get him to change his behavior. Temporarily, anyway.

This particular morning, my mom was at my house and heard my declaration that's become so common. She laughed and said, "That should be the title of your next blog post!" I dismissed the idea at the time, but it kept creeping back into my mind throughout the day. Maybe my mama was onto something.

On the most basic of levels, telling my son that chasing a cat through the house causes him to lose a train is laying the groundwork for him to understand that every action has a consequence. Good or bad. If you do the right thing, good things usually happen. If you do the wrong thing, the result is usually unpleasant in some way.

Seems like a fairly basic concept. Yet I continue to fight this battle with my son numerous times, each and every day. And then, as I'm driving to work with some quiet time to reflect, I realize...I'm fighting this battle with myself each and every day as well. And I suspect we all are.

Today is my 33rd birthday. Birthdays always make me a bit reflective - looking back at the prior year, visualizing how I hope the coming year ends up. This particular birthday has brought an exceptional amount of reflection with it. My 32nd year brought with it some fairly tough lessons, as I mentioned in my last post. And I realize that so many of these lessons can be tied back to the basic concept of corresponding actions and consequences - if you chase a cat, you lose a train.

I won't ramble on at length about every twist, turn and trial of the last year. But I do want to share a few of the lessons that I feel fortunate enough to have learned - or been reminded of - this year that follow this same concept...

1. If you prioritize outside influences over your family, your family will suffer. And so will you.
These outside influences can include a number of things - work, friends, alcohol, exercise, hobbies, you name it. Even things that seem like good, positive influences in your life start to become negative things when they begin to take up too much of your time and attention.

I love the quote, "You steer where you stare." What takes up the most amount of your focus will eventually start to take over your life. And friends...if the primary thing you're staring at isn't your family, you're in for a rocky road. At least that's my experience. I dare say that the one thing that should come as a higher priority than your family is your faith. If you're not connected with your Creator, it's hard to connect with the folks around you. Beyond that, give the biggest part of your heart, mind and effort to your family. Seal up the cracks and safeguard your home. It's insane the things that start to creep in when you don't.

2. If you spend all your time trying to be who other people want you to be, you'll never discover the person you're meant to be.
Oh my WORD, this one isn't easy to learn for a girl who just wants to please the folks around her and make absolutely everyone happy. To an absolute fault. Sometimes to the point of being illogical. But here's the reality - you can absolutely lose yourself by trying to chase the version of yourself that you THINK other people want you to be. And you will fail to find the best version of who you REALLY are. Follow your heart, trust your instincts, cultivate your talents, take the advice of people who truly love you, and talk to the One who created you. That's how you'll figure out who you're supposed to be. And get up every time you fall down, and keep going. We are all incredible works in progress.

3. Here's an easy one. If you drink too much, you'll be sloppy and you'll feel like crap.
This one isn't super deep or inspiring. I just think it's something that needs to be said out loud, and it's something I finally came to terms with myself this year. After one too many times saying, "Yeah, I'll have another glass of wine! I'm fine!" I finally realized...I don't like the version of myself that has a little too much to drink. And I sure as heck don't like how I feel the next day. Don't get me wrong - I still enjoy cocktails or wine occasionally. But I think it's an incredibly important - and often so very difficult - thing to do to be honest with ourselves about our self control. Or lack thereof.

Maybe alcohol isn't your vice. Maybe it's food. Maybe it's how much you work. Maybe it's laziness. Whatever it is, I hope you can take this idea of healthy moderation and apply it to your life. But quite literally - to the main point - can we all agree to stop drinking too much and being surprised the next day when we don't feel great? We're smarter than that. Let's do better.

4. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
The last lesson is a great segue into this one. Moderation is a huge, important step toward a healthier lifestyle. But it's just one step. If you decide you want to be the best version of yourself, fitness has to become a priority. Real fitness. Hard, inconvenient, results-oriented fitness. This includes intense workouts, proper nutrition and hydration, enough rest, etc. A lot of people think they want to commit to this kind of lifestyle but their motivation fizzles out when they realize that it's not easy. But y'all. IT'S SO WORTH IT. We'll talk more about fitness/wellness/nutrition in future posts, so I'll spare you my passionate soap box for now. But learning how to properly take care of my body and beginning to chase down the best version of myself has been a highlight of the last year, and I'm super grateful that I finally got this concept through my stubborn brain.

I know what you're thinking. These things aren't rocket science. But they are things that require us to be intentional and focused. They are things that too easily go by the wayside when we are caught up in the fast-paced rhythm of our day-to-day. But what if we could slow down...stop chasing the cat through the house...and start focusing on learning the lessons that will guide us to our best selves? Whew. I'm going to be spending a lot more time on that this year. And hopefully I'll get to keep every single one of my trains.

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