Powering Down Perfectionism


It almost goes without saying that the days of yesteryear seemed so much less stressful and rude and judgmental and on steroids than the days of now. Pressures certainly existed back then and likely did their best to trip up even the most laid-back of folks. Rude and judging have always been around; but maybe we took heed to follow elderly advice “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.”

Not so much these days

Quite frankly, I’m tired of it all. But at least I remember a normal that included propriety, respect, decorum and regular (the regular where everyone didn’t need to be Best.) And I wonder what normal looks like for my kids.

Recently, one of my girls let the truth surface.

My heart literally ached the other night as I stood in her tiny bathroom that she shares with her sister. I had walked by on my way to bed when I heard crying – a soft cry – you know, the slow leak kind. I didn’t know if she was missing someone she loves who recently lost a battle to cancer or if her heart had been hurt by one of the many varieties of fitting in (social media, inclusion, attire, size … fill in the blank) that line her walk in life.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I ask, quietly praying that she’ll talk. You never know with a teenager (with me either.) Her response? “Nothing.”

I gently push. Quiet tears aren’t like drama tears. They’re real and deep. I really wanted to nab whatever had grabbed her thoughts and was holding her captive.

Finally, she sighs. The floodgates open and “I can’t do this” bursts from her lips. This – not to be dramatic – signifies everything in her world. Regular has been crowded out by all things AP/social-standing/GPA/friend-group/filled-calendar/athletics/fitness/volunteering/… (fill in the blank) that when molded together create a persona, a product almost, to be placed on a life track. What you do and where you fall determines who you are.

The pressures for them to be are heavy and incessant, almost without borders. Mid sob, she releases the horrible admission that threatened to be true if spoken aloud: “I can’t be perfect.”

Apparently normal looks like perfection.

The idea of life being played out as if on a stage has jumped from the place William Shakespeare put it in As You Like It, to the always on, photo-ready/shopped reality – any time, anywhere, even when alone. Because the audience is watching. And the bar is set at elusive perfection that moves, stays just out of reach, then steals the show – ruthlessly taking down all in it’s path.

Interesting. Because oddly enough, the only thing that gives life to Perfection is – the idea of it. Because, Perfection isn’t real. So, how can it be worth all the time we give it?

Is it time to ask: IS anyone or anything perfect?

Siri’s answer is a lame “Interesting question, Master.” (Which leads me to wonder which one of my kids told Siri to call me Master.) Google’s best answer: “it depends on what your definition of perfect is.” Because in all cases, other than objective quantifiable cases like a multiple choice exam, perfect is subjective – a far cry from achievable aspirations.

The tempting lure and the pressures to reach it have the highest of stakes. Because, Perfection rarely travels alone. It brings with it an entourage that acts more like thieves than companions. They threaten to steal precious time, bogging it down with worries and fears and pressures that cloud any ability to truly relish the moments and/or the people walking alongside.

A friend and I were recently chatting with Shauna Niequist about the topic. It’s a topic she has deeply explored and contemplated over the past year, compiling her assessment in the best-selling Present over Perfect:

I think we can never overestimate how strong the cultural messaging toward perfectionism is… culture is screaming that message in a loud, one-note way.

So how to deal.

In as much as the problem is aimed at people, people are a large part of the answer – as in healthy relationship with the people around us and with ourselves. “You don’t have to wake up every morning and perform in order to be loved,” Shauana shared. But that’s hard for a lot of us to believe. So much of belonging and acceptance appears tied to positive performance. That’s a dangerous treadmill that leads to nowhere – except to frustration at best, self-harm at worst.


… even yourself.

Another part of the answer lies in our belief:

Do I believe that every day when I wake up I have to hustle and perform for my worth? Or, do I believe that my worth and value on this planet has already been decided – therefore I get to live with the freedom, the grace and the hope that comes with that.

So – believe it. We’re going to believe something – why not Truth. And talk to the people in your life about it so that they’re your companions on the journey. Walk together instead of against each other. Remember along the way that people are not a product. And, life isn’t a stage.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


MORE FROM SHAUNA on our little Say Something Show

and for a good word on all things girl, Wynter’s Here :)

Teens/Parties & Generation Love from a Couple of Wise Women

I’ve heard from a couple of incredibly encouraging folks who asked if I’d post the latest Say Something Show episodes.

Kathleen Fischer, author, registered nurse, certified life-coach, speaker, and a mom and encourager to many parents AND kids, stopped by to share her no-nonsense approach to tough issues that face kids and parents. In this Kitchen Chat, Kathleen tackles the topic of teens, alcohol, parties and parental roles. She touches on great ideas like:

  • teenage drinking “Is it a problem?”
  • teen-brain formation
  • Why are we assuming we have to drink?
  • real-life stories that offer insight and ideas
  • exit strategy – how to recognize the signals and how to leave
  • the idea of a failure resume – we all fail, what can we learn


AND, sweet Thelma Wells dropped by yesterday to share her insight and wisdom on the importance of generational interaction and love.

Thelma Wells, known as “Mama T,” has been featured in D Magazine, Southern Living, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News and many more publications and TV shows including Dr. Phil, The Joanie Show, Life Today and the 700 Club. In 2016, she spoke for Women of Faith on the Final “LOVED” tour — traveling to 22 cities and reaching a half a million women.

NOW…Thelma has launched her “GENERATION LOVE:DIVINE EXPLOSION conference tour – Ahhhh-mazing! Say Something is beyond excited she stopped by to share her wisdom. A few tidbits:

We’re in a season where we’re obsessed with the differences – but here yuo come with the truth that there’s more same-ness than difference.


God gave each of us wisdom (understanding, we need to ask for) to be able to figure things out. The Lord gave each of us intellect to be able to share – each from their own perspective, each from their own history.


We need to look at what’s good in our families – we emphasize too much what’s not.

Our conversation can be accessed below. Please pardon the video difficulties. We had some issues that left us without the main recording – so this conversation is more of a podcast than vodcast. But for those who watch, there are a few fun things peppered throughout, even a fun trailer at the end so you can see Thelma having fun with her daughter Vikki.

Thanks for walking the road with me – even the video road. We’ll see how it goes.

If you’re in Dallas, come see us next week as we welcome author Melanie Dale at Barnes & Noble:


:) Kay

Surrendered Wellness and the Fine Line Between Fitness & Health


I just love thinking about the idea of Surrendered Wellness.

Bobby Rodriguez,



our guest on the Say Something Show (which is such a by-product of what we’ve been doing here at themoatblog – together – thanks to you guys for walking it alongside me and others!) brought the concept to my attention when thoughtfully/honestly contemplating the fine line between fitness and health.

To me, one of the coolest things about walking life’s roads together is that the people standing next to you, like a Bobby, have really given a lot of thought and time to something that is equally an issue in their own life as it is yours. And we can learn from each other. Draft off the legwork, but not in a parasite – but in a symbiotic way with our own thoughts that can often bring clarity to the one who has been digging out from trenches.

Knowing that Bobby has contemplated issues of/our relationship with fitness and health – especially as it relates to the truth about self-worth and identity found in faith, I was super excited he was willing to be one of our pilot shows. Quite frankly, anyone that signs on to Say Something is brave. They’re met with a pretty clean kitchen, but also a full dose of what-did-I-get-myself-into chaos and hilarity in the form of iPhones attached to dining room chairs, duck tape, make-MacGyver-proud balancing of microphones on books or candle holders, whatever is at hand. It’s a classy high-tech operation over here.

But actually – it’s just life. We’re all living it – so why not travel alongside rather than against. And Bobby really had me thinking this week. Not just me, I’ve had several folks touch base. Because what Bobby had to say brings with it such freedom – freedom from our natural obsession with self-image that so often steels our joy.

Here are a few that have kept me thinking, not only from Bobby:

Where we have to change as a society, innovating this path of understanding that the standard we are all trying to achieve is not how you look in relation to everyone else, but how you steward your body.

Stewardship – the simple definition of which, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something. Wikepedia describes it as: an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. The concepts of stewardship are often applied to the environment and nature, finances, property, information,  etc. How interesting, and quite possibly freeing, to apply it to the care and management of our body.

More from Bobby,

I found in a group workout environment what we all want – community. But in that venue, at the center is self. Me being the best-fit.

Why can’t we bring that into an environment, in the church, where fitness and wellness is associated with vanity so it’s avoided. The church addresses issues like pornography or an eating disorder, but we don’t necessarily push people in an area of stewardship that is so important. Stewarding the unique body gifted to us by God for God’s glory.

Each “unique body” – some that are naturally thin, some that at athletic, some tall, some short – all different. Yet culture sets a standard of perfection (that actually changes every decade – or maybe every season in this day and age) that we race after like greyhounds lured lap after lap around a track.

Sweet Erin Schreyer adds as she contemplates alongside Bobby (with Brenda Teele, me and the rest of you guys,)

Stewardship allows our relationship with our body to not be about us, a size, a number on a scale and all those things we can manufacture to to measure self-worth. Instead we can land on the fact that God gave me this body to live out a life on earth. Then go to – how can I steward my body to have the highest amount of energy, feel the best, communicate the best, think the clearest …

It’s a fun conversation that I hope blesses your day. This may not be a topic with which you personally struggle, but I’m guessing the person sitting on a sideline, parked in a carpool or standing next to you in the grocery line (eyeing the cart ahead of her with all its fresh produce and organically-grown goods that looks a bit different than the processed-menagerie of Goldfish and Gogurt cart she’s pushing – wait, that’s me :) is thinking about it. So why not say something – encouraging, uplifting, refocusing to help each other know that our self-worth runs so much further than skin deep.

For the rest of the story, here you go:

THANKS for walking the road with me.


Check out saysomethingshow.com for more videos OR subscribe to saysomethingshow’s YouTube channel.



Mind-Sight is not 20/20 – and Lysa TerKeurst

Farside - Gary Larson

One of the things we’ve been talking about around our house of late is mind-sight.

Mind-sight is a little something that involves seeing as well as hearing since it focuses on the way our minds picture situations. With me it can range from the way I see myself as I sing (or possibly dance) along with a song in the car (in my head I look good) to how I can feel SO less-than when I’ve forgotten to look at Attire on an invite and I show up casual to a Business (which in Dallas actually means cocktail/formal) event. My mind can trick me with with messages about identity and self worth that may or may not be true. (But my singing/dance-moves in the car is/look good – unless you ask the kids.)

Apparently, I’m not alone with mind-sight challenges.

Yesterday, when dropping off the kids at school, I said these simple words, “Wow, we got here in great time.” Because we had. Without speeding or any quick-stops, I made it with time to spare. By luck, we had made every light.

But what I said and what a kid in the back-seat heard were two very different things.

His response to my simple observation was: “IT’S NOT MY FAULT I COULDN’T FIND MY SHORTS!”



“Wait,” I stop him before a waterfall of excuses fills the car. “What did you hear me say?”

“You said that we were late because of me. And I know everyone is mad.”

“We’re not late and no one is mad – I promise.”

Here’s where mind-sight comes into play. What he heard wasn’t close to what I said. He heard an indictment on his character. I was simply commenting on how we weren’t going to be late. I had no idea what was racing through his head. Honestly, I was already in the car when the kids were final-gathering their things. I didn’t know he had been frantically searching for his shorts and super stressed about making everyone late. Because if we don’t leave by a certain time (7:32) the domino affect means that our last drop-off will likely be tardy.

“I didn’t even know you were racing for the car – let alone stressed about being late,” I assured him. “I was just commenting about our luck in making every light.”


His mind had told him a story that he bought hook, line & sinker. He heard that in the race to school, he was at fault and, the clincher, that he was a loser. At least that’s how his mind saw it.

And usually our minds go negative.Rarely is mind-sight 20/20.

Lysa TerKeurst shared a little about our mental story-telling when we chatted earlier this week on SaySomething (a-come-as-you-are vodcast for walking life’s roads.) Here’s what she had to say as it related to a lovely Jr. High experience where not only was everyone invited to a party – except for her – they had matching pink t-shirts that they wore to school and into the carpool that took them to the party:

We all have a story. And we all have a story we tell ourselves.

So the story that day was – she (the birthday girl) probably just didn’t even think I was close enough friends with her to invite me to the birthday party, end of story.

But the story I was telling myself is: I’m never going to be good enough. Like I’m always going to have to navigate this feeling of being slightly left out, slightly forgotten or being completely overlooked.

She brought the story into today’s terms with social media and all that can fake-remind and instantly transport us to our Jr. High insecurities (that seem to be just a flesh-wound away) and the inevitable question – Am I good enough?

THEN, Lysa landed here:

Why in the world do I keep asking myself, “Am I good enough?” Because, God never intended me to just be good enough. God intended me to be better than that.

For more, click here or watch the video below:

The good news – we’re not alone. I could relate to the kid in my car and the countless times I see and hear differently that what is actually being said. And I’m SUPER grateful to Lysa for so vulnerably sharing the truth about those inner feelings and equally importantly secrets to the promise of a better way to live. Like this beauty


She’s has more to say about the subject in her new book, Uninvited (already on the NYT bestseller list.) I have plenty to ponder along the way and share with my passengers, as well as fellow travelers. I relish the sight-adjustment my friends (and kids) send my way. Lots of freedom tends to be involved.

Thanks for walking it with me.