Top 3 2022 Word of the Year Songs

The first year I chose a word for the year was 2020. It’s an exercise I’ve grown to appreciate. If you have yet to consider it, here are a few blog posts about it:

My 2022 word was “flow.” It was a great theme to follow 2021’s “reboot.” I took things a little further this year by connecting a scripture verse to go along with the word as well as creating a playlist. Often throughout the year these two tools reminded me of the “flow” focus.

At one time the playlist had about 20 songs. This month as we’ve edged closer to year end, I began deleting songs as a way of keeping focus. And in a fun way, unintentionally, I got down to the top three songs on the list that spoke the most to me along this theme. So I thought I’d share them with you. Odds are they’ll be new to you.

To share them, here’s the playlist and videos of each song. Enjoy the flow!


Try Softer (book review)

I first heard of Aundi Kolber on an episode of The Rise & Fall of Mars Hill. But it wasn’t until I heard her book Try Softer mentioned on a different podcast that I took notice.

I finished the book today. It’s one of those that after you’re done you think, “I could have used that information a long time ago.”

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

Chapter 5, Boundaries Bring Us Life

Kolber is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado where she’s been practicing since 2009. In Try Softer, she utilizes her own trauma, training, research, Scripture, and client’s stories to illustrate what she means by trying softer. My paraphrase, trying softer is practicing gentleness through life rather than white knuckling it.

People who are aware of and know how to attend to their feelings are truly awake.

Chapter 8, Try Softer with Your Emotions

One of Kolber’s continued messages is to understand you and everyone around you is on a journey. She takes the first five chapters to examine that “process of becoming.” They include research about the brain, a look at the importance of early relationships, the value of boundaries, and a definition of your window of tolerance.

Research shows that taking longer to exhale than to inhale signals to our nervous systems that we are safe, stimulating the vagus nerve. Both help us stay in our window of tolerance.

Chapter 4, Too Hot, Too Cold…Just Right: Finding Your Window of Tolerance

Most of my highlights come for the final five chapters where Kolber offers ways to practice trying softer with your attention, body, emotions, internal critic, and resilience. All ten of the chapters end with exercises and questions to get you started in trying softer. If that sounds overwhelming, each time she reminds you to take your time with them, maybe even note them for later work.

It matters that leaders, parents, and pastors are aware of their own wounds and do their own emotional work.

Chapter 6, Try Softer with Your Attention

Many of us may get tense just thinking of the idea of trying softer. I think Kolber’s statements about surrender sum up how valuable this approach and mindset could be. In the final chapter on resilience, these two thoughts encourage us to take a step toward surrender.

This is what I mean when I talk about surrender: it’s feeling safe enough to release our grip…Paradoxically, when we choose surrender for the right reasons, it empowers us.

Chapter 10, Try Softer with Resilience

My spirit is boosted after reading Try Softer. I invite you to check it out and give yourself a boost to end the year.

Testing Google

From my front door to the office is 18 miles. Depending on the time of day you drive it, it can take anywhere from 33 minutes to over an hour. I’ve experienced the shortest, the longest, and all the in-betweens.

I typed 33 minutes because at this moment that’s the estimated drive time according to Google maps. I use it quite often in order to find the best route, particularly when my drive is at peak traffic times. That usually means driving home in the afternoon. Here’s a screen shot from my drive this past Tuesday.

I may be the only person (pretty sure I’m not) who looks at that ETA time (5:53) and says to myself, “I better at least get there by that time, or even better, beat it. Game On!” A little motivation and self-competition isn’t bad, right?

What I’ve found is they’re not bad until I create an emotional expectation. And that emotion can turn into thoughts like, “What the heck with these lights? Come ‘on, Manatee County! Fix these lights!” or “People, drive with purpose. Why are we driving 33MPH in a 45MPH zone? Get off my road! I’m on the clock, here!”

On my less emotionally competitive drives, I decide to pay attention and see what I can learn or enjoy. On Tuesday I decided to test Google rather than rant at the lights or other drivers. Often on the drive at any given time Google gives me options. Each option designates the difference of my remaining drive time by reading something like “2 minutes slower” or “Similar ETA.” But unless I look at the map, I have no idea all the options that I have mid-drive. On this 18-mile drive, there are dozens of options. I can ignore them and just follow the original route demanding that it live up to its promise to get me there the fastest, or I can consider other options may not be the fastest but could bring some other unexpected benefit worth the alternate route.

The test basically became how many minutes are lost if I ignore Google and go whatever route I want. Google’s directions aren’t the law; they are suggestions. And on this drive, I ignored them several times, probably three, just choosing whatever option I felt like. The end result-I arrived at the same time Google predicted, 5:53.

There are several possible takeaways from this scene. Go with whatever comes first. But mine is, I have options. Any man-made or man-given map uses the best data available. That doesn’t demand it be followed mindlessly. On the flipside, God’s map doesn’t always make sense or align with the best data nor sit well with my expectations. And that’s where I’ve learned the value of surrendering to options.

Google isn’t God. No other map reigns over his; they don’t have his data. His route will have me arriving at whatever time is best but only in the mind and spirit possible by choosing his option. It’s worth the test.

“But” Problem #2

(A series on lessons learned from running this year)

The second first-time experience this summer was less concerning but equally worth learning.

Two weeks after the shower incident, I let another “but” lead me to another result even more frustrating on a personal level.

I wanted to get in a 12-miler with two friends. The challenge was, they wanted to run early. Really early. Like 4AM early. They do this all the time; me, never.

So not only was I going to get up and run 12 miles in Florida humidity with my crazy friends, I was also going to pretend to be a morning person.

Unfortunately for me, not only that night but also the night before I got less than six hours of sleep. One night might be okay; two, not a recipe for a successful 12-mile run.

The alarm sounded at 3. And I said to myself, “Why am I doing this? But I want to get in 12 miles. Just have fun with it.”

True to our form, we actually started at 3:40AM. We were up; might as well hit the pavement.

I knew I was in trouble after the first mile. I learned several summers ago that my first mile on a long run needed to be easy. Something like a 10:30 pace. There was no doubt we were running faster than that. When I looked at my watch, we’d ran mile 1 in 9:26.

So not only was I pretending to be a morning person, I was also pretending this pace was doable. I told myself, “Just relax. Back off when you can. Stay with it.” And I did, as every mile got even faster.

In December, that’s fine. This wasn’t December. It was 75 degrees, hours before the sun decided to wake up.

At the mile 6 stop, I knew I had to tap out. Pretending gave way to reality. Twelve wasn’t going to happen. Too fast…too tired…too humid…too early. They went on to get in six more while I did two slower miles to get back to my car. Eight miles done; four miles short of the target.

On the drive home, it hit me. I hadn’t been pretending. I had been lying to myself. All the “buts” of why this was a good idea and that I could get in 12 miles hid the truth. I don’t run at 4AM. I don’t run long runs in humidity at a 9:15 pace. I missed my target because I lied to myself about who I am.

Lesson #2: “Buts” lead to lies. Lies lead to unrealized potential and missed targets.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

“But” Problem #1

(A series on lessons learned from running this year)

I’m sure I’ve made it clear before, but I’m okay repeating myself.

Running in the Florida summer is dreadful. This summer, however, I did much better than any summer prior. But that doesn’t mean all went well. Looking back, two particular days stand out…and they’ve got clear takeaways, both having to do with self talk where a “but” led to a problem.

Both happened on Saturdays. Both happened when I drove to run with friends in a running club. Both involved first-time experiences.

The first Saturday experience happened actually back at home after the run. That morning I decided to add a few miles for my long run of the week. And, surprisingly, I managed the run quite well. In fact, I was feeling pretty good about myself. So good, in fact, that I veered away from my normal recovery routine.

My Saturday long run routine is pretty well set.

  • Hit the pavement by 6
  • Minimum 8 miles
  • Recovery starts with a banana and water
  • Stretching while running an Epsom salt bath
  • More water and half a bagel while letting the salt do its thing
  • Shower
  • More fluid and food
  • Nap usually follows within an hour or two, if possible

On this Saturday, I broke routine. I was feeling so good, so surprisingly good, that I let a “but” lead me to break routine. And it led to a personal violation.

“I can’t believe how well I feel. I killed that run. Normally I drink more water while in the bath, but I’m feeling quite good. No water today. I’m mean, it’s only like 8-10 ounces. What’s that matter?”

Did I mention the bath is as hot as I can make it? Which means even more sweating. Which I don’t mind at all…until it’s time to stand up to shower. And this time, my body had something to say.

My body decided it had had enough. And the first-time experience was finding myself waking up on the shower floor not long after wondering, “What is the deal with my head?”

The problem with this scene was I ignored what I knew was wise, common sense, and established. I allowed my mind to accept a problematic “but.”

Lesson #1: “Buts” lead to violations. Violations lead to fetal positions in the shower.

Photo by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash