The Unconditional Love Beneath our Strive for Perfection

I seriously think Sarah McLachlan is talking to God for me,  “Am I faithful? Am I strong? Am I good enough to belong? In your revery a perfect girl…all your expectations bury me.”

Then I hear, “Don’t worry. You will find the answer if you let it go, just give yourself some time to falter. Don’t forgo, knowing that your loved no matter what and everything will come around in time…” and I hear God telling me how much he absolutely loves me unconditionally. I know the song may be written about some lost love, but to me it reminds me how much God loves me when I’m questioning whether or not he does.

When I’m in my perfectionism, I’m challenging God – not trusting that he’s got the wheel and you know what? I don’t even realize that I’m thinking I’ve got the reigns because I’m too busy trying to get it right.

Usually when I’m confronted with it, it’s God way of saying it’s time to let him run things. Ever since I put my book down a few weeks ago and gave it to my editor I’ve been in a bit of that mode, questioning. If I’m not doing that, I’m planning. Planning is good but I can take it too far where it defeats me which is exactly why I’m taking a course this month to be guided so I’m not all over God’s creation on it. Thank you Maria Forleo B-School! Ever do that? Plan before the plan? Yeah….

So yesterday I start to get this little winks from God, lots of them.  Tiny Buddha came out with this blow you away blog on letting go of Perfectionism. Read it if you haven’t here. The whole thing was powerful but what really got me was that I saw my grieving self. I saw that perfectionism is what I grabbed onto for safety and comfort since Dad passed and this was the big red sign that it’s not working. (Thank God.) Perfectionism will not control my grief. It’s an illusion.

Then I read my Daily Hope, “Guilt and Perfectionism Destroy Your Confidence.” The whole thing is great as well, but it amazes me that the Bible speaks of it in Psalm 119:96. “Even perfection has it’s limits, but [God’s’] commands have no limit.” His love has no limit! So you think that’s it but, then I read my Joyce Meyer reflection at the end of the day.  “Don’t live in fear of your imperfection. Live with faith in God’s perfect plan for you.” Wow – seriously? Then I see something even more powerful on Brenee Brown’s blog who wrote a book on perfectionism and interviewed Susan Cain, TED talker and author of the new book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” asking her this:

Is perfectionism an issue for you? If so, what’s one of your strategies for managing it? It’s a HUGE issue. Deadlines are the only real way to manage it. If something is due, then my perfectionist nature tells me I have to meet the deadline and just get on with things.

So what am I getting at here? Listen for the messages. Listen for your Healthy Voice when it so profoundly tells you how much you are loved as you are, that you do not have to be perfect. Recognize that you are not alone in this. I’m there and so are all these people writing devotionals, blogs, music, books and even scripture on the topic.

Knowing this can give you, like it has me  – the power to push beyond the perfectionism into action – into goals, into vulnerability with others and into the power of your truest and best self. Remember, just like we can’t fix our weight. We can’t fix or heal ourselves. It’s like the quote I posted today…

‎”I am in a constant state of healing. I will not get it right once and for all and finally be healed. I will be aware of what part of me is healing today. Some part of us is always in the process of healing…the condition of health is not a static state of perfect wellness.” – Anonymous

Knowing you are healing and growing can teach you that you don’t have to keep it all together and aim for perfection – and be mindful of it every single day. I recognize that in my time of grief, I am particularly vulnerable to it and now I know it’s my trigger. I’m aware – that is my gift. I will press on toward the goal and keep doing the next right thing, thanks to my Higher Power that is Christ in my life (that’s just what mine is).

Surrender and turn it over. The more I do that, the more my Healthy Voice shows up – and so does yours. Perfect imperfection is the most beautiful way to be, and it’s where God loves us the most. He never expected us to be perfect, and love when I get that reminder!

Steve Jobs Inspiration from An Unlikely HV duo: Timeflies

FYI – you may not like this if you aren’t into Apple or into rap but…give it a chance, especially if you are a Steve Jobs/Apple fan.

As I sit here working on my Apple computer with my Iphone next to me and my new Ipad by my side – I get it. Apple is a brand that I’ve used ever since my first Apple II GS as a kid. I’ve loved how the company and the brand has grown. Steve Jobs inspires me as a writer and a visionary and his products continue to work for me and amaze me. I think I like him even more now because he went to heaven so close to my Dad. I just imagine those two geniuses from totally different professional worlds chatting it up about life down here on earth…

So this Saturday night when my 16 year-old brother and I were up late on his computer, playing music and watching this guy on YouTube,  I was stunned. (Here’s the story on Timeflies). Creativity, talent, inspiration through music = success.  He posts videos every Tuesday and kids like my brother (and now me) buy the songs online. This song in particular’s proceeds go to a good cause which is a beautiful thing. Granted we have different messages and I don’t do scotch or drop language in my deliver, but I like what he’s up to with his movement…

He speaks to the viewer/listener through the beat with his passion, his clarity (okay maybe his looks).  He took that inspiring speech from Steve Jobs at Stanford graduation that we’ve all watched a million times and beat-boxed it to reach teenagers like my brother that speaks to an almost 35 year-0ld like me.

It proves my theory right, that our next generation needs to be spoken to through media – music, lyrics and movement. They don’t want to be talked to. They wanted to be moved…This is the stuff that changes people from the inside out and helps them keep going in the everyday. Music inspires and moves. It spreads and brings us together…Thanks to my brother Trey for the intro.

He’s not the first person or video I’ve come across like this that has shown me intentional music and lyrics inspire you to live fully. I’ve had a few other instances with this in the last few weeks.  One girl who goes to SoulCycle in New York. Another with a Mom who lives in Dallas that I met by chance in a line to meet Christine Caine (Phenomenal leader and inspirer). She saw a song on my page and sent me a video of her child. I’ll share their stories with you in two other posts this week.  But because  I’m in a business building mode today and hanging on my computer,  I just had to share this one…

A Healthy Voice Perspective: “Grief Sucks…”

But it’s worth every minute of it. It’s worth every tear, every hard cry, every kneel down in front of the toilet in prayer and surrender. It’s worth realizing, “Wow, he’s really just not coming back” instead of eating or drinking over it…my dad is worth feeling this. He’s worth feeling completely drained in my body from the sadness I feel today in missing him. It’s okay to feel that, I know. I spent too many damn years not feeling and trying to fix my feelings because I thought they were wrong, that I had to hold them in for some reason.

Today is Blue and Gold game over at Notre Dame which is the spring football practice. It was always my Dad’s favorite weekend to come out to South Bend, see me, see the team, and get excited about the upcoming football season. We’d go to the team breakfast on Saturday morning with my brother Trey, my stepmom, my cousin Taylor, Aunt Susie and my Aunt Flo and we’d have a ball. Dad would get all into it and schmooze all the players and go talk to Coach Kelly – he just loved it. We’d get dinner at Bonefish that night and they’d be out the next morning. It was like my Spring dose of the family…my spring dose of Dad. 

This time last year, it was a rainy day, unlike the gorgeous day full of sun today. Thank God, we got to bring the kids to the breakfast to spend time with my family and we all got to go to the game, in the pouring rain. We all sat there and Dad’s beaming smile didn’t skip one beat. We just remember him saying, “Isn’t this great?” as the rain poured down on us…That night we went to dinner at Uptown Kitchen and just had a great family dinner.

Yesterday – I finished the final edit of my college story chapter and I spoke a lot about how grateful I am to have healed my relationship with the school and my Dad with the school.  I realized as I was writing on a whole new level, how lucky I was to have him send me there, to have him come out to see me all those times for those games. When I was in college struggling with my addictions – I longed for those weekends. So last night, when I felt that emptiness of him not coming, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Of course! He was my light. He was my Healthy Voice during a time when I couldn’t see my own and I miss him, but he’s not gone. His light is just shining from the inside out now, rather than from the outside in – which is really what the Healthy Voice is all about. Huh.

So today I’m choosing to heal in a different way. I’m sitting at the library, working on the book to get to my editor and then off to Gary Heavin at Curves, to write my forward. I know Dad is totally with me as I write and I know it’s okay that I miss him a ton, as I miss my whole family too. Wish I could see the bright blue eyes of my brother today. But that’s okay – will see them in just a few short weeks.

Love to my Dad up in heaven. Love and light to all those grieving or suffering. Know that you aren’t alone…and shout out to the Irish today….

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. – Psalm 147: 3 – 5

 

A Good Friday Moment

This song, “Lift me Up” by The Afters is what came to me this morning. Watch the video. Wherever you are at, remember – “we all fall down sometimes.” He lifts us up. His arms wrap around us and we can let go. This is the day we get to remember how much He loves us, and just keeps loving us, forgiving us, catching us. I hope you feel that today – how much He loves you even in your sin because we all sin. That’s why he died on the cross for us!

My Major Healthy Voice Moment and day really…

I had just been sitting on a bench overlooking Lake Michigan, having a moment in nature. I was missing Dad today. It’s been so nice hanging with the kids and Mike up here just doing nothing, watching sunsets, walking on the beach, going into town…it made me miss my favorite time with my Dad – at the beach. I miss Dad, but I also know he’s helping me finish up this book and  along with all the emotions I’m walking through on my own Healthy Voice journey to write it for the reader – I wish I could just pick up the phone to talk to him. Knowing I can’t sucks, but knowing he IS there is what lifts me up.

He’s there in the wind and everywhere. He is always, always with me in my heart. So, after that moment of gratitude – I decided to go for a run into a Leland. The mix choice was my “Book Ride” which includes Dad favorites, Christian rock and soundtracks that inspire me on the journey. Right at the started I heard, “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Springsteen. (Hey Dad). Then I heard loud and clear, “All I know is that I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong…” A powerful song by a band called Building 429 called “Where I Belong”. Then as I get further along and I’m running by Lake Leelanau (I’m in total heaven on earth), I keep going into town a bit. I look to my left and see this little surprise – a beach I didn’t know about. Right when I see it, I’m on it. The song that comes on my IPod is Florence and the Machine “Shake it Out” which was coincidentally my Healthy Voice song choice this week on my blog.  (Here it is just in case you need to listen while you read 🙂

I’m moving to the beat of it…listening to the lyrics that tell me how I can shake off that Unhealthy Voice. “I am done with that graceless heart…It’s always darkest before the dawn.” (I’m thinking about how powerful this is at the beginning of Holy Week.) I’m approaching that beach that I’ve never been to…I pick up the pace. I even lift up my arms to the sky. I shake it out even. “And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him out. Oh whoa!” Then I get to the beach as the song ends and see this….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got to walk out to that water and take in this huge view of open water, beach, fresh air, and huge sky, and to think I thought Lake Michigan couldn’t be more than a pond once. Now I love it. lol

I couldn’t believe this gift I’d been given. As if the nice run with good tunes wasn’t enough – God surprises me with a moment on an undiscovered beach at the end of a great song. A Total Healthy Voice Moment. An absolute and utter true release – pure connection to the spirit in my favorite way – multiple surprising ways that only a power greater than you could arrange for your enjoyment. Nature, open space, water, music. There I was just an hour earlier, missing my Dad (in a good way), enjoying my time with my family, little stressed about the book deadline, but okay. Just needed a breath of fresh air. Boy did I get one with my great run…What a God. Blown away yet again.

As if that wasn’t enough, as I started my run again I heard Florence come on again with this song:

Forget how good of a band they are, have you ever listened to the lyrics, from a Healthy Voice perspective? I know we think it’s that person we love or we want to love…and of course, it is…but really – think about it. What is the most powerful love you’ve got within you? Yup….that’s the love I feel when I hear it….how funny He can be sometimes that this was the next song on the playlist.

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying “Lord I just don’t care”
But you’ve got the love I need To see me through

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

Oh and apparently he wasn’t done yet because we got one of THE best sunsets at the end of the day. I took about 30 pictures. But this one was the best 😉 Check this baby out. Hope it brings you peace like it brought us!!

A Song to Power Up your Healthy Voice

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. Been in the writing cave friends – finishing the book that will allow you to get empowered with your Healthy Voice at any time you want. The last few weeks I’ve been finalizing the pieces of what really make up how to tap into this Healthy Voice, this powerful spirit that can help carry you. Whatever you know it as – wherever you know it from – it’s yours, and I know that this tool of the Healthy Voice will help you tap it in powerful ways.

One of those ways is something I’m calling the Healthy Voice Power Up Song. They are songs that take you to another level with their lyrics, beat, and sometimes U2- like increasing crescendo (I think it’s called) and make you feel like you can achieve anything or be freed of any suffering. They make you feel empowered. Today’s is “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine.

I chose this song today because we all know it and because I’ve listened to this one having a Healthy Voice Moment (Another way to tune into it). I was on a bike out in the country with this playing on my arm and feeling the power on every level – legs moving with the spin of the wheel, road beneath my feet, wind blowing through me, rhythm of the song matching the rhythm of my cycling – cool stuff. Then, the lyrics just make it even better.

So I encourage you to listen to it in a self-empowering way (even if you have some grinding on the dance floor memory with it). Put it on your workout mix. Read the lyrics. Stand in the sun with no one and around and listen to it…It’s a true song of the dance between the Unhealthy Voice and the Healthy Voice and it can guide you to the power of what is true for your best self. I’ll end it with my few favorite lines of the song…

Shake it out, shake it out…it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off, oh whoa…

It’s a fine romance but it’s left me so undone, It’s always darkest before the dawn.

How to make Lent a Positive Journey Within: Using your Healthy Voice

Lent is supposed to be a time of reflection and meditation, where we give something up in order to grow closer to God. Last night Ali (my cousin finishing up grad school in Austin) and I googled the word “Lent” to go deeper into it’s meaning. These words stood out: mourning, repentance, abstinence and fasting.

I find that our culture focuses so much on what I consider to be the Unhealthy Voice aspect of it. I think if we look at it in a different way, we can actually go deeper into the reflection and meaning behind the season. So I’m writing this today to help you go to that place – to get a deeper meaning than what we see on the surface.

What DO we see on the surface with Lent?

“I have to give up something. What am I going to give up?” We go into restriction mode, almost like the diet. We see someone with ashes and either judge them or judge ourselves and think “I should get ashes.” We feel guilty, because we are such sinners there is nothing powerful enough to give up to make up for our sins and what Jesus has done for us. “How could giving up chocolate possibly compare?” We compare ourselves to Christ dying on the cross (seriously?) or how big our friend’s sacrifice is, how much they are giving up. We beat ourselves up for not giving up enough, “I’ve got to do this perfectly this time.” The list could probably go on and on….

So I want to tell you what I’m doing today, what I’m doing over the next forty days and finish it off with 10 Tips on what you can do this Lent.

What am I doing today?

Well, this morning I did my meditation.

I’m listening to the soundtrack from the movie The Mission as I write this. I picked it up the other day at Waterloo Records for three bucks with a few others that remind me of Dad – music is a huge part of my grief process right now.

I’m going to get ashes with Ali this afternoon. I’m not going to walk in with my head down. I’m going to walk in with my heart open because I know the spirit lives within me. He’s not just up there, He’s in my heart. I found Him there almost four years ago and he’s always there. So today I can celebrate that. I can celebrate that he meets me where I’m at and loves me no matter what has happened or what I feel or think. If I just keep turning to Him, letting him lead me, leading an honest life, walking with Him beside me – I’m taking steps in His direction. He’s not there keeping score.(Granger Community Church just did a very powerful series on this. Click here to watch the preview.). That whole keeping score thing is mine, not his. He loves me. He. Just. Loves. Me. If I Let him and if I let him, I get a relationship with him. It’s AWESOME awesome stuff. But it’s just the stuff that works for me….we’ve all got our own path.

(Oh and when I go I’m going to have this image in my head. Check out the guy in the photo on the right. Pops at St. Matthews cathedral last Ash Wednesday, apparently ended up on the cover of The Washington Times and I didn’t see it until a few months after he passed. I just about lost it. But today I have a close-up of him on my dresser back at home. It’s angelic to me. He’ll be in the pew next to me, holding my hand in spirit. I know.)

Then later this evening Ali and I are going to yoga by candlelight. I plan on opening my heart again and releasing my mind on the mat.

Over the next forty days?

I started off my day yesterday walking around Town Lake, Austin listening to a podcast by Christine Caine, a profound leader and speaker from Australia. It was called “Leadership and Ministry Pt 5” and she spoke about the heart, mind and soul. That would be the first of three times I’d listen to the podcast that day. She blew me away (as she always does) and said something very powerful about how leaders fall (and really anyone falls). She said, “We get caught up with external behavior modification rather than internal transformation and everything flows from the inside out.” What a great thing to hear the day before Lent starts. So, I’m setting an intention this Lent. It’s really just continuing to walk in the path of the Healthy Voice. Yes – it’s taking care of my physical self – working out, eating right for me. But it’s beyond that – the transformation stuff of  – keeping my heart, mind and soul strong. There is no better time than now for me to do that. I’m mourning the loss of my father. I’m more connected to God than ever. But he’s got to do the work and I’ve just got to be willing to go there with Him.

I’m also going to try to filter my Unhealthy and Healthy Voice – especially with those people in person, online and in social media who really just trigger my Unhealthy Voice. We all get triggered on Facebook. We are human. Whether they are train wrecks or we stay friends with them because we quietly compare our lives to theirs – maybe it’s time that we turn down our inner critic and give them less power, by noticing how much power we’re giving them, blocking them or doing whatever we have to do. For some of us maybe that does mean getting off Facebook all together, but there is a lot of positive stuff on Facebook and I know I’m going to focus on that – or at least that’s what Ali and I were talking about doing this morning! Maybe focusing less on someone else’s chaos will help us to go deeper within ourselves.

Meditation is a big part of my journey and connection to others. Both have to be. It’s about relationship with people on the path next to me and relationship with the spirit within that keep me strong. So the places that I find that – I’m just going to commit to connect more deeply in relationship.

So that’s what I’m up to…

10 Tips for How You can Go Within

1) Take some time today to do what helps you meditate and go within.  Paint, write, go out in nature, meditate, do yoga – whatever it is – go there.  Do some form of it every day, even for 10 minutes during this season. Don’t think there is some perfect way to meditate. THere is just a way that works for you…and you’ve got to find it. You may have already been doing it all your life and you just don’t know it, and it doesn’t have to be just one thing. It’s not just one thing for me!!

2) Pick something to get grounded in the physical. It will help you tap into that source within you – that light that is being muddled by whatever you are turning to that you haven’t been able to give up.

3) Go beyond abstaining from it. Go within. Don’t just abstain from it and think that the heavens are going to open up. Work it. Feel the feelings physically. How does it make you feel to be off of it? How calm do you feel in your mind? How much are your emotions coming up? Do you notice how much you’ve been using it to numb your feelings? Journal about them. Do not let them take over your life. Remember God is there to help you. That’s why you are doing this.

4) Turn to others. If you go 40 days without something, you are going to have withdrawals. When I abstained from sugar and flour, alcohol etc. it was hell. I had help. Get the help. Let the spirit meet you. Let your friends meet you. This isn’t about, “How do you not eat sugar?” It’s about, “How do I get through what feelings are coming up as I give this up?” It’s not about the SUBSTANCE, remember that.

5) Journal about it. Write down what you are feeling. If you are coming off something you’ve been using you are going to be feeling some seriously powerful emotions. Write. Them. Down. Use this as a time of reflection. It’s a better time than any and will help you stay focused when you want to go back to the substance.

6) Remember this isn’t about using lent to get perfect. My quote today says it all: “Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.” – Dr. David M. Burns. Not only is this not about being perfect. It’s not a season of working to get good enough for God. I don’t care how much chocolate you eat, what you’ve done, how much weight you’ve got – God Loves you. Period. If you don’t believe in him – that’s fine. Just know that you do NOT have to get good enough. You are loved no matter what. Put that on your mirror for the next forty days.

7) Remember you are going beyond the physical. Yes you may drop chocolate and have a side benefit of dropping a few pounds, but your focus is this work you are doing with connecting to the spirit. Don’t keep it shallow. Go deep. So much more powerful.
8) Don’t go back! At the end of lent, we tend to do like the diet. I can have cake! at the end of 40 days. In this time of reflection, you will learn how much better you feel doing what you did. Keep it up. Keep up that physical behavior and spiritual modification. Don’t just jump right back into it when you’ve worked hard to go within. That stupid piece of chocolate does not deserve all the power back. I’m not saying never again. Whatever works for you works for you. I’m saying, recognize how much power you were giving it and maybe resolve to give it a little less.

9) Focus on abundance rather than lack. We tend to focus on lack during lent – what we’re “giving up”. Focus on what you are getting by going within – awesome connection to the spirit in a powerful way. Switch your mindset from Unhealthy Voice to Healthy Voice.

10) Set an intention. For me it’s making sure I’m strong within and continuing the healing work in my relationship with God I need to do. Think about how you can go within and set an intention that goes beyond whatever substance you are giving up to get clear.

Okay, I think that’s enough work for you for 40 days…. 🙂 Enjoy going within…