Focus on the Flowers, Not the Weeds

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

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Ah, it’s a new year. And what would a new year be without a few resolutions and goals to kick it off? Rather than a set of instructions, a plan, or a few words of encouragement, however, I’ll just tell you about a little something that’s going on in the Hughes house in 2019. You take it however you’d like.

As a family brought together via adoption, we have many special challenges. And over the last three years (since our sons moved in), we’ve been dealing with them almost nonstop, sometimes to the point that I feel less like a mother and more like a “fixer” or a “firefighter” with one of my children. And as we all well know, when it comes to multiple sclerosis, stress ain’t exactly our friend.

I sat him down for a frank conversation on the matter, and we brainstormed ideas on how we can cut down on the drama and just get down to the business of being a parent and child. I also reminded him how stress and worry have a negative impact on my health (and the family as a whole).

Some people might say I should hide this fact from him, spare him from the worry that comes with having a mother who is ill. However, I’ve never agreed with that philosophy. I believe that kids can handle the truth, especially if it’s presented in an age-appropriate and relevant way. I’m a firm believer that, armed with knowledge, kids will show greater empathy than we could ever imagine. They can reach outside themselves in a way that is healthy and good — both today and forever.

I wish I could say that’s it’s been perfect, A-OK, and altogether hunky-dory since then, but that’d be a fib. But I can say that there’s been a greater level of intentionality on my part to think about how I live. In fact, it led me to create our family’s motto for 2019, something we all refer back to and reference in conversation. When things are going well and when things have fallen apart. When we experience a breakthrough or victory or when we fall breathtakingly short. That motto?

Let’s stop pulling weeds and start cultivating a garden.

Our boys know all about weeds and flowers because they do yard work, and they’ve seen how weeds can choke a garden, rob it of nutrients, and steal the precious sunlight. We explained to them that good behavior, kindness, hard work, and the like are flowers. They allow us to grow together as a family and focus on making good memories. Poor behavior, laziness, disrespect, and all the rest? Well, they’re weeds, and we don’t need them around anymore.

When someone does something good, we commend them for the beautiful flower that’s been planted. We talk about what color it is or how it smells. We also remind one another to pull weeds whenever they crop up rather than let them grow. And that goes both for the kids and the grown-ups.

It’s given us simple language to use for a rather big and daunting task, and I find that it helps me to crystallize my goals in a way that is tangible and real. Oftentimes, we give up on our resolutions because they feel abstract and unreachable — way out over yonder, months (or even years) in the future. But this guiding principle of flowers and weeds has an immediacy. It’s visual. We can see examples of it everywhere (especially when spring comes back around). We’re working together toward a big lifestyle change rather than a set target, yet somehow it feels less onerous than a garden-variety goal. (See what I did there?!)

I cannot encourage you enough to think about what you want to accomplish in this coming year. Goals keep us motivated and on target. They keep us moving onward and upward. But rather than a daunting to-do list, try a motto. Think bigger, more beautiful, more intentional and transformative. We’re only two weeks into the new year, and it’s already paid dividends in our house.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Brenda avatar


I'm very happy to read an article that someone else has MS because is something new to me me and my family

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Brenda, if you look under the columns tab on, you'll find quite a few of us writing about our disease. Twelve of us, in fact! I get a lot of good information and encouragement from my fellow writers.

madeline newton avatar

madeline newton

first off i want to say congratulations on adoption ...all the children of this wonderful world need a place they can call home and a wonderful family to go with happy for all of you ..yes it is an adjustment ...i use to do foster parenting and it is an adjustment but it can be done ...yes they have to want it to work and be able to stay and have lots of fun and love and happiness ...we all have to be in there shoes for awhile to know how they life was before coming to your home ....again congratulations on growing your family with children that needed a home and family....much love and happiness to all of this new family ...god bless ...

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Thanks, Madeline. We've had them for over three years, but the adoption wasn't finalized until the spring of 2017. (Foster-to-adopt placement) And yes, it is worth it, but mercy do the days feel long sometimes.


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