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Relationships (and boundaries) first

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.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Dawn

    Sticking to my boundaries and putting relationships first today (already part-way through my day here in Thailand) means taking part of the morning to talk over some very important things with my husband even when I felt other “things”/people calling for my attention. It means, after having a hard last week, that I will not run myself ragged baking, etc. for a gathering of women I am hosting tomorrow night. I will instead serve delicious goodies served by a local bakery, possibly enlist the help of a friend to helps with the other food, and decorate simply. I instead hope to be able to then better give my presence to my 2 small kids, my husband, and then the friends who will come over tomorrow.

  2. Johanna

    Relationships first is actually my mantra for the year. Relationships over doing. But I appreciate this focus on boundaries as well. I sometimes fall into a cycle where I focus on (outside) relationships to the point that I burn out, so then I quit doing anything for awhile. Then I launch back into over doing. I think having the daily reminder of relationships with boundaries is very healthy.

  3. Betsy

    I’m so impressed that you are DRIVING on this book tour. That’s SIMPLE living. 🙂 May you have plenty of grace for those long car trips.

    My day is looking like a Monday after a busy weekend. The first day of two weeks without my husband. Boundaries for me mean that I need to lay as low as I can and stick closer to home to put my kids first while my husband’s gone.

  4. Keijo

    Today, my day looks like spending it with three little ones three and under…library books, a trip to the park, a walk on the sidewalks. It looks like coffee and cartoons and moments of wondering what to do next. It looks like a blissful naptime, and an hour on the computer (at some point). It will look like discipline and probably apologies and maybe some carrot cake in there left over from last weekend’s birthday party.

  5. Rhondi

    Hi Tsh. I so enjoyed meeting you yesterday at the book signing. I just wrote in my journal about how I want to be intentional about what I do today. I also was thinking about the importance of relationships and made a decision to contact a couple who we have wanted to connect with for some time but just haven’t gotten around to it. Started reading your book last night and enjoying it immensely. Your stories are challenging me. I hope you enjoy your day Rhondi xo

  6. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    Oh, such good reminders! Today, I want to be fully present with my kids, not obsessively checking my phone for emails, etc. I had to take the FB app off of it last year because it was too easy for me to always be checking it! But now, I just do the same thing with emails. :/ Last week, I tried putting my phone in a kitchen cabinet while my kids were awake, just to keep it out of view. It really helped. Progress :).

  7. Paula Nix

    I so enjoyed meeting you and your family in Georgia (my husband was the one who brought the beer : ) and I said a prayer for your introverted-self as we left, that you would be able to refuel and have peace & joy in what I know must be such a draining trip. I, too, tend to be such a planner that I can miss out on the here & now while I look forward to the next thing. This article is a good reminder to focus on the present. Thanks!

  8. Caitlin

    Hi Tsh,
    I crave for connection with people, but I am also definitely an introvert. Could I use the term “extroverted introvert”? That term really stuck out at me when I read through your book. How nice it would be to sit and talk with you over coffee at a meetup (keeping my fingers crossed for Chicago!) about this very topic about relationships and boundaries. First one, which I crave intensely and, the latter, I find extremely challenging to set for myself. Now to take your words and apply those in a healthy way to my everyday life…it gives me hope that others really do feel the same when you are vulnerable enough to write about it for us. Thank you.
    And thank you for your book, it’s touched a heartstring. I feel it radiating from within throughout my every day. I am inspired.

  9. Lori

    My family and I enjoyed meeting you in Woodstock. I wish I got there earlier to hear you talk and visit with the group. What a lovely bookstore that was! I finished your book yesterday. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for rescheduling for our crazy weather.
    My husband and I both work for employers, but he has large blocks of time home and away, and I work from home. We are living an intentional life, but it always requires tweaking, right? I know a busy season is beginning for work, so I hired a weekly house cleaner for the next two months. I recently started closing my laptop when someone enters the room and wants to talk to me, instead of just looking up from by blog reading or my work. Sometimes I do have to keep my attention on an important task that requires concentration, and I let my kids know. But often I can take that minute to visit when they want me.
    So, onto your question of today. We will have beautiful weather so we are going to go outside and spend 2 hours “spring cleaning” in the yard, as a family. Our kids are never too excited about this task, but we insist that it is family work, and we always end up having a good time, often ending the work by sitting around the fire pit together.
    Don’t feel bad about passing readers on this road trip. You can only do so much. We travel to our home state of California every year, and while sometimes we are able to visit people, sometimes we just want to see California, and make it a family only trip. We stick to our boundaries. It helps that I don’t have a blog so no one needs to know that I’m passing through. I can’t help you with that one.
    Have a great day! Road trips are wonderful for family bonding.

  10. Lisa

    Today will be a “home day” for me. My kids are home from school and I was on a business trip last week so I’m happy to have the family together at home today. As a solopreneur working out of the home, it is difficult to maintain boundaries so thank you for the reminder with your post today!

    I’m in the Chicago area and am keeping my fingers crossed that you are able to make it to our area on your tour! I would love to have my family meet yours! Although, in some ways I feel like we met long ago…you’ve shared your journey in such an authentic way which makes me feel like we’re already “old friends”!

    Blessings to your and your family as you continue this journey!

  11. Alissa

    I needed this today! Home with the kids on this school holiday and yet worrying about the work stuff that’s not getting done. TODAY is my opportunity to put relationships first with my kids. Thanks.

  12. Breanne

    I really appreciated these words today, Tsh. Relationships and boundaries first. So, so good. We’re going through a stressful situation with our extended family and so remembering the relationships and setting boundaries has been the only way to cope. My husband and girls are right in front of me and require my most immediate attention- setting those boundaries is healthy for all.

    I’m super impressed with how you are handling all the visits and decisions to go certain places as a whole family. It’s so fun to see the pictures of the meet ups!

  13. Dee

    I almost can’t help wondering if this is advice from the universe directly to me. I am being encouraged to give a bad performance review to someone who reports to me. Reading this, I realize that besides the fact that I think the issues are terribly complicated, I also believe in “relationships first.” How can I best help someone move forward? Will a negative comment in a permanent record help someone (especially when it would not include the bigger picture)? I cannot see how it can. I will endure heat, but if I cannot live to my values, what is the point?

  14. Chrystal

    Funny how blog posts pop up when you need them. Just this weekend I had the opportunity to completely focus on one of my children. He needed support so I put everything else aside and focused on him. Not work, or housework just him. It was busy and challenging but also – what’s the right word – calm. Choosing a priority helped make me feel peaceful. I used to be a full time mom – no outside work concerns (other than home care). I’ve since ramped up in the work arena and it is challenging to balance priorities. What I’m getting from your post is that when it really matters we need to make those closest to us a priority. Thanks for this.

  15. Kevin

    This is something that I chronically undervalue, usually focusing on tasks and to-do’s. This is a great refresher reminding me to keep relationships in mind. Thanks!

  16. Chad

    I will put relationships first by setting reminders on my calendar to call my grandparents, mom, and brother. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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