What No One Tells You About Letting Go of Perfectionism

Do you ever feel like there’s something rotten inside you? Like something has “gone bad” in your mind or heart – as though it’s an avocado you let sit out too long or a half-eaten loaf of bread you forgot about? It’s an unsavory discovery.

Recently, this “rottenness” manifested in the form of a generally cranky disposition. I was bumping into things and frustrated and tired and not feeling quite like myself – something was off.

Sweet James was the gentle observer of my frustrations. Over the past few years I’ve learned to not blame others for my frustrations quite so much, but it’s still a temptation. The opportunity to blame-shift and deflect my overall crummy feeling onto someone else has its appeal. But I’ve done the blame thing enough – sorry, Mom and boyfriends of seasons past – to know that any sense of relief I’d experience would be momentary and fleeting. Instead, I usually feel worse than before – because now I’m still frustrated and I’m feeling guilty and embarrassed about my juvenile behavior.

So, rather than get angry with James, I got curious. Continue reading

Let the Editing Begin: Fear, Courage, and Crappy First Drafts

I’m sharing my story about recovering from a life of performance and perfectionism. Get a sneak peek here! 

Laundry, friends, work, fear, sunshine, dirty dishes. There are a lot of reasons not to write. And they often come to the forefront of my mind when I sit down at my computer.

journal_coffeeMost of the time, the joy of writing wins out – fighting back all the other commitments with the promise of increased personal clarity and the possibility that someone might be encouraged by what I feel compelled to share.

Editing, however, does not carry that same joy. Editing is the process of cutting, stripping away, refining. Editing terrifies me.

Now that I’ve finished the first draft of my book, I feel so stuck. I know I should feel wish I felt more excited about that accomplishment. Instead, I’m scared of what’s ahead. I’m afraid that when I go back to what I wrote in June or July, I’ll think it’s complete crap. Continue reading

“I’ve Got This” Or Why I’m Not Dating Right Now

Your deadlines are pressing in on you like a heavy weight, you’ve run out of clean underwear, and you think your marriage or your dating life (or lack of one) just might kill you.

Life can feel overwhelming. That’s why I write. I write for the men and women who need to know that even though life feels out of control, that might actually be a good thing – there might be something to learn or a way to grow and stretch beyond the present trials. I write for people who want to find purpose in the small and big, the light and dark, the mountains and the molehills. Purpose that stems from who they are, not what they do.

SparklerI write for the woman who sometimes struggles to see the beauty in life – especially when she looks in the mirror. She’s so caught up in the trials and frustrations, and I just want to tell her: It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Because these things are hard. But 1) God is present with you, and if you let him come close to you in this state of frustration, you’re going to find a peace and joy that you didn’t know was possible. And 2) these circumstances will change you. You’re in the crucible. So rather than trying to find a way OUT or AROUND, look for the way THROUGH and the gifts you’ll find IN that place.

Basically, I write for me, because those are truths I need to remind myself of daily. And I write for you. I write for the women I know and love – even if I’ve never met them – who want to believe there’s grace in the messiness of their lives. Who are tired of the constant striving and hustling for their self-worth. Who want to experience joy and love that’s not tied to their performance or the level of perfection they’ve achieved in their bodies or their work. Who want to press through the challenges and come out stronger on the other side. Continue reading

Just Say No: Overcoming Fear to Live a Full Life

Have you ever had a dream that felt so real it changed the way you acted the next day? I’ve had dreams about people where they did something awful to me, and I woke up feeling bitter toward them. Even though I knew the dream wasn’t real, it took a while to shake.

Our thoughts are much like that. They create a reality that impacts our days – and they can be really hard to shake. It’s hard to say no to something that feels so real. And yet, learning to take control of our thoughts – to filter through the good and the bad – profoundly influences our hearts and actions.

For the past couple weeks, we’ve been talking about 4 Great Reasons to Say No, and 4 Really Bad Ones. To recap, here they are.

4 Great Reasons to Say No

  1. You Know What You Do and Don’t Want
  2. You Have Healthy Margins
  3. You Know Your Limitations
  4. You Respect the Person on the Other End

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Say No

  1. You’re Afraid
  2. You’re Withholding from Others
  3. You’ve Lost Your Drive
  4. You’re Waiting for Perfection

This week I’m touching on another important “no” – the times you need to say no to yourself. More specifically, no to the things you’re telling yourself. Continue reading

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Say No

Last week, we looked at 4 Great Reasons to Say “No.” If you haven’t read that post yet, take a minute to go back and get the history before reading below.

Back? Okay. Just as there are some truly life-giving reasons for saying no, there are also a few that are actually holding us back. Which of these is most true for you?

  1. You’re Afraid

I’ve said no to so many things in my life that I was afraid of: sports, relationships, hamburgers. Yes, I was afraid of hamburgers. (It’s a texture thing.) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to try things that initially scared me – sushi, hiking, speaking in front of hundreds of people – and in doing so, I’ve become much more clear about what I do and don’t want (see point 1 under 4 Great Reasons to Say “No”). Continue reading

Things Fall Apart…And We All Fall Down

“Bang!” The thud of something crashing to the floor startled me out of my evening sleepiness as I walked to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water.

I checked my room for anything that might have broken. Everything appeared to be in tact.

I opened my closet door to see if my suitcase might have fallen down from its precarious perch on my over-stuffed shelves. Nope, still there.

Checking off the boxes of possible problems in my room, I moved on to checking on the status of my roommate’s room. Katie was out-of-town, so there was no need to knock, but I still opened the door quietly and slowly, just enough to peek my head in.

Immediately, the intense heat emanating from her room struck me. The space smelled strongly of burning plastic, and I quickly realized she’d left her space heater on before leaving town. I rushed over to the power strip and unplugged the cord, wanting to ensure the thing was truly turned off. I didn’t trust myself enough just to press “off.” While I recognized that our house probably wasn’t in immediate danger, I still felt a huge burden lifted as I dropped the now powerless cord. Continue reading

Not Paper-Thin or Pain-Free: Embracing Pain in a Healthy Way

Peach Flower

I am thin-skinned. An easily-bruising peach with a low tolerance for pain. As my family would say, I am a “delicate flower” – small things can upset the fragile ecosystem that is me. I wish I could say my paper-thin nature is limited to my literal dermatology, but it goes deeper than that – down into my heart and soul. An unkind word, a bad piece of news, or an unmet expectation has the potential to shake me more than I’d like to admit.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a bit of a thicker skin – figuratively speaking, of course. I no longer cry when I get a wrinkle in my socks; although, if I’m being honest, that still bugs me. Like most people, my M.O. is to avoid pain and seek out comfort whenever possible. As a highly sensitive person, I experience my circumstances acutely. My surroundings, my feelings, and other people’s feelings affect me deeply. This is why I don’t watch the news, why I’m more prone to anxiety, and why you’ll never catch me watching a violent movie. Continue reading

In Dependence Day

Sunshine and scrabble

Sunshine and scrabble

This 4th of July weekend was a strange one. I didn’t enter into it in freedom. Rather, I entered into it sick, exhausted, and, as a result, stressed out – all in all, not the most celebratory of moods. So, I escaped the foggy weather that had me feeling extra drained and headed out east to my family’s house.

The warm sunshine and vitamin D certainly helped. There’s something about sitting out on the patio with my mom, enjoying lunch and iced tea and letting the warm breeze wash over us, that’s incredibly healing.

But, while the warmth and the antibiotics got to work in my body…so did my stress. I worried that I wouldn’t heal quickly enough in time for the work week. I worried that I was letting people down by not being at church to usher on Sunday. And that worry kept me up last night until way past my bedtime. I tossed and turned in the now not-so-pleasant heat and finally turned on the light and just read and prayed. Continue reading