How to become okay with (Your) Imperfection

One of the things that I regularly recommend to my clients is that they find at least 1 trusted friend. We all need someone that we can confide in, someone that will hold us when we just cannot keep up anymore. Someone that will not shame you and that won’t make you feel worse than you already do.

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Do you have that person? It took me many years to find that person(s). As transparent as I might be, as many “friends” as I have I just don’t open up about real personal things to just anyone. My sister in law has always joked about me having a lot of friends or knowing a lot of people. It’s interesting to think about because truthfully out of all the people that “I know,” there’s only like 2-3 people (outside of my husband) that I can call on and pour my heart out to.

I don’t believe that you should share your heart to just anyone. Not everyone can provide the support that you need. Not everyone is meant to be that person for you. What you carry is personal, it’s a gift and it needs to be handled with care. So, don’t let just anybody in but do let someone in…

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I say all that to say how encouraged I was recently when talking to one of my people. I was sharing my heart about imperfection and how it’s one of my areas. Meaning, I’m on the journey of finding contentment in the area of my imperfection. Being okay with not having everything in order. Being okay with missing the mark. She told me that I’m a perfectionist. No I’m not. Okay, yes I am. Like I shared in my last blog, I go hard in everything that I do. So, when I don’t feel like I’ve nailed something I go hard on myself just the same way. What a sucky thing, right?

I was at a training last week and the speaker was talking about the importance of having a balanced life. One of the questions that she asked was, “Would you want your child to live your life the way it is right now?” OH MAN. No, actually I would not. Not because I don’t love my life or my career. I truly thank God for my marriage. I can’t even dream of anything better. My career involves walking with people on their journey to internal healing, HOW AWESOME IS THAT? I’m honestly doing my dream job. There is not another career that I would want to have. So why would I not want this for my children? I pray that my children would be treated by their spouses with an overflow of love, respect and joy. I desire for them to have big visions, to live a life of purpose, and to care about others. What I don’t want for them is to run themselves so hard that they have nothing left. I don’t want them to carry stress, I want them to love hard, to love themselves so much that they actually do put themselves and their health first. I don’t want them to strive for perfection or to lack grace for themselves. I want them to be okay with missing the mark. To be okay with imperfection. And to continually remember that there is only One who is perfect. I have a long way to go.

So, how do we become okay with imperfection? How am I navigating contentment in my imperfection?

First of all, my people know that I am striving on being less: less busy, less of everything and more chill. I want a simple life. Simple doesn’t mean boring. I want my life to be full. To be full of love, laughter and God. For me that means less of everything else.

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With that, I have my tribe that keep me accountable and are real with me when they see me striving for that impossible mark. I’m not offended when my support says, “You need to chill out.“ I need honesty, I need folks who will call me out in love because they care about me. That’s where you let people in (spouse or trusted friend.) Be real about your struggles with perfectionism. Being real does not make you weak! What a beautiful example to show our children that we are a work in progress yet we are not failures! Also, when you’re real with others  you learn that you are not alone!

Secondly, I’m focusing more on journaling and praying for this specifically. I am going back to making more consistent time unraveling busy. Go back to the drawing board. Sit down with a pad of paper, a candle, your bible, some scriptures and pray or write. It’s amazing what you can gather in that quiet time. I have experienced life changing moments in my alone time. I’m able to hear better and “see” me during these moments.

Thirdly, breathe and breathe a lot. When you find yourself in that perfectionist state pull yourself out and take a moment. Be reminded that perfectionism is unrealistic and it’s unhealthy. Work hard in all that you do but don’t lose yourself in the midst. Don’t be a “success” at the expense of yourself or your family. Your family should never trail behind. N E V E R.

Lastly, ask yourself: Would I want my kids living my life? If not, then the time is now to make some moves. Be encouraged today knowing that you (too) don’t have to be perfect. Just be content in your imperfection. It’s beautiful, it’s real and it’s totally okay!

When Too Much Good Is Wrong.

Too much of a good thing...The best example I can give you of what I mean when I say "too much of a good thing" is probably not the greatest example but I like food so we're going with it!

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Anyway, have you ever had a really delicious snack, meal or dessert? Maybe a donut that was soooo good. It was so amazing that you decided to eat ANOTHER one and then...you either started feeling sick or simply regretted eating that second (or third) donut. You told yourself that you wouldn't do that again. Then next month there's a birthday party AND they're serving pizza...dangit! And the same thing happens. You go overboard.

Clearly, when I speak of delicious food I'm not referring to "good" as in healthy but good as in satisfying. Don't worry this blog has NOTHING to do with food. :-)

Let’s dive in. Have you ever been in a season that was full of great things? Some great things might be: marriage, having a new child, a promotion or new job, volunteering/leadership positions in church or organizations, growing friendships and or launching a new business. Those things all sound absolutely incredible. They could be very rewarding and life changing. Some are huge obligations while others are less demanding. However, one thing that they do have in common is that they require our time. [Just like the third donut can make us feel bad, the "good" things might not bring us fulfillment rather they can actually cause us to feel overwhelmed,  regretful and simply maxed out. We tell ourselves that next time we're going to say no to that extra "donut," but do we really follow through?!]

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Let me say that again…regardless of whether the “good” things in our lives are big or small …they REQUIRE a piece of us. They take something away from us. In addition to our time, they require our energy, resources, commitment and so much more. As I sit here thinking I can count 7 obligations that I am committed to right now. Two of which include my husband and children. The other 5 are seasonal commitments and business obligations.

How does one balance 7 things? How do I give my all to those 7 things while staying grounded in who I am? Is it possible to still maintain a loving relationship with my spouse and have intentional time with my children? How do I keep God first, maintain a clean home, cook healthy meals, and stillllllll practice self-care?

The answer is: I can’t. I can’t do it all. There is not enough of me to pour into all of that. I am not superhuman.

You’re also not super human. Hey, it’s totally okay to admit that you can’t do it all. I tell my clients all the time that freedom can be found in saying “I can’t do it. I don’t have this. This is too much!” We are made to believe that we should have it all together. Society also makes us believe that if we’re “busy” we’re productive. That if we're “busy” we’re important. Simply put, busy does not mean success. Busy can mean overworked, distracted and purposeless. Don’t get me wrong some seasons are SUPER BUSY and not by choice. Life happens, sickness arises, kids grow up, jobs change etc. We don’t always choose a busy life sometimes it falls on us. However, other times we do make that choice for ourselves. We pile on more and more until we run ourselves to the ground. We pile until we break down, until things fall apart, until we become resentful, until someone tells us that we’re doing too much.

Can you relate? I can. While doing an activity I had a client ask me if I’m naturally a busy person and if I enjoy being busy.  I sat there and thought to myself, “Wow great question!” I realized that being from California = naturally fast paced & being Latina = super passionate. I’m without a doubt a hustler & hardcore at everything that I do. I guess you can call me a "hardcore hustler"  when it comes to reaching my goals, haha. If I see it, I can taste it and you better believe I’m coming for it. The problem with being passionate is that I pretty much run over things! I have no problem saying no to obligations that I don’t believe in or that I don’t feel are timely. The challenge comes when I find something that I do believe in and making sure that I pace myself.

So how do we balance too much “good?”  How do we pace ourselves?

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Here are 3 simple steps that can help us remain purposeful with our lives and obligations.

1.     Identify what your priorities & goals are.

a.     Be specific. When you KNOW what they are then you don’t waste time accepting commitments that don’t line up with your priorities & goals. Remember, too  much of a good thing is not good, it's wrong. It pulls us away from our "#1's."

An example of priorities & goals would be:

  1. Husband (weekly date nights.)
  2. Children (intentional quality time & educational activities 3x a week.)
  3. Have a successful business (Make x amount by x.)
  4. Spend time with friends at least 2x a month.
  5. Exercise 3x a week.
  6. Launch a new business by 2018

Again, those are just examples.

2.     Accountability:

a.     If you struggle with over commitment and desire to work on it then tell someone that you trust. Ask them to keep you accountable and give them real life examples of how they can help you.

3.     Just say No!

a.      Understand that you are not a bad person for saying “no.” If someone asks you to volunteer and your plate is full OR you just don’t want to…you can say no! It is SO dangerous to say yes when you mean no. You risk a lot! You straight up compromise what you believe about yourself. Whether its pressure from others to say yes or internalized guilt to say no…you are compromising yourself. You are valuable so don’t compromise who you are & what you’re about for the betterment of an obligation that has no value to you. When you say yes but want to say no, you could be sacrificing what really is important, such as your family…

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Next time an opportunity arises that sounds incredible go back to your list of priorities & goals. If it doesn’t line up with what you’ve written down then say peace out, not today. There is only one you. You matter so treat yourself like it.

Hey I’m speaking to me too. It's all about being real and making better choices, TODAY!

How Are You $pending The Holidays?

As the holidays are approaching I find it fitting to talk about holiday...drumroll please... spending. I often read mainly in mom-Facebook groups where a mom is jokingly sharing how she needs to run home before her husband sees everything she bought. The ladies chuckle, some share her sentiment and others encourage her to rush home to hide everything. This is often in good fun but lets be real... this behavior is a reality in many marriages.

Now,  can we be honest? Do we hide our spending from our significant other? If so, why is that? 

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One important key in marriage is trust and honesty. We may think, "Oh, well it's not that serious, I mean it was only $25. If I tell him/her they're going to get mad and make a big deal about it." So, the alternative is to withhold information, to be dishonest and or lie. These small pebbles can create stones in our marriage. Why lie, why with hold information, why be dishonest, if its "not that serious?" I often tell my husband that I'd rather be completely real about something that may not be "that serious" than risk opening any doors. As a Christian these "doors" that I'm referring to mean, allowing the enemy (devil) to enter into our marriage. Also, I don't want to welcome any unhealthy thoughts and or opportunities for confusion in our marriage. If we feel that we need to hide the fact that we spent $25 then there's more that we need to discuss...

So, with prepping for the holidays my recommendation is to have a clear understanding of what the expectation is for spending during the holidays. It's as simple as sitting down with your spouse, looking over your income (take into account your expenses FIRST (please consider medical bills and other debts in this too!)) and setting a clear budget for the holidays. This may mean that you write down names & how much you plan to spend on each family, friend, coworker etc. I suggest that you actually take out the cash & put it in a safe place in your home with the list that you created. (Please understand that if you or your partner have a spending or addiction problem this may not work for you. Use wisdom and admit your areas of weakness.)  When you begin shopping you remain accountable by following the list that you created. If you find that for some reason you need to go over the budget you talk to your spouse about it. The purpose for this is not for you to feel bound. The purpose is to create oneness, unity and a team-like mentality. Accountability says "I value you. You matter to me." Remember, you BOTH made an agreement and therefore the right thing to do is to consider the other person.

Some of you reading this might be straight up irritated with me. You may even think this is controlling and ridiculous. One thing to remember is that if we are married we already made a commitment to value our spouse. So, basically it's not all about ME. I don't mean to be harsh I'm just being real. It's time to be considerate of our spouse, to value what they say and treat them with respect. By being accountable with the budget and with our spending we're saying, "I value you and I respect you." I guarantee our actions will say way more than what I've written.

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How will you approach the holidays this year? Will you start the New Year broke, with a sad savings, a home full of meaningless toys and gadgets? Or, will you start the New Year with oneness in your marriage, a more secure savings, kids who are grateful and maybe even planned vacations? 

Make the decision to live in oneness with your teammate. The presents really don't matter all that much anyway...


If this post was hard for you to process because you or your spouse are having a hard time:

  • Talking about your finances in a calm manner.
  • Being honest, accountable, respectful etc. 

Then how about  meeting with a therapist to help you both work through some of these obstacles? We are 2 months away from the new year. Imagine how great it would be to start off the new year more connected to your spouse? It's absolutely possible!

 
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Find. Yourself. Again

Do you remember who you were before you got married? Do you remember what you enjoyed doing? What your passions and hobbies were?

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Being raised in California is truly something that I take great pride in. I never even thought that I was from “the big city.” It was my life and it was all I really knew. We lived about 20 minutes from the beach and spent a lot of time having bonfires with family and friends. It was no big deal to get up and drive 1.5 hours  to San Diego for lunch after church. We lived in Orange County so it seemed as if every house had an in ground pool. Stores and restaurants were open pretty late and there was ALWAYS something to do.

As I look back now, a married woman with children I wonder what was it that I enjoyed doing before? Well, for starters I absolutely loved being active. As early as I could, I joined the gym. My brother and I would go as late as midnight to work on our summer abs. He would try to train me but because I was so stubborn we would end up leaving the gym mad, ha, or we would drive straight to Jack n’ the box for a hamburger because of course we were so hungry from working out. We had a basketball hoop outside of our house and it seemed as if our house was the place to be. We would have pick-up games all the time and even our neighbor would sit outside of his garage and watch us play. Our grass was pretty dead from playing badminton and softball with my brothers, dad & neighborhood friends. After hours of competitive sports in our front yard –ha ha ha- we would jump in the pool and continue with our competitiveness. My parents would “bbq” (what the south calls a cookout) and we would eat countless hotdogs and hamburgers until it was time for our friends to go home.

Wow, life was sooo good. As I reminisce I can’t help but think how lighthearted fun we had. We stayed active, had great friendships, shared our home with our friends and laughed, A LOT.  

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So, what does life look like now? I’m not as active as I was before. My younger brother lives across the country and my older brother lives 45minutes away and I don’t get to see him as often as I would like. I spend more time cleaning up than I do running outside with my silly kids. In the 11 years that I have lived in North Carolina, I have only gone to the beach once. Hmm…Why is that? Do we get so lost in the busyness of it all? Do we rush life and make sure that all of the boxes are checked? Do we ever sit and just breathe and bring back the beauty of our childhood?

Being married and having children is truly one of the most incredible things in my life. However, I find that so many of us lose a part of who we are when we get married or have children. Yes, it’s to be expected that our life will change when we meet the person of our dreams and have these little people that we call our children. It’s normal and it’s wonderful to step into a new season. What stinks is that in exchange for a new season we lose the beauty of who we were and what we loved. There are some things we don’t care to remember about our past but there are other things that we would do anything to bring back.

What great things in you and in your life have you lost in exchange for adulthood? What hobbies and giftings have you parted ways with? Are we willing to step back into the GOOD parts of US and bring them back? Will you start painting again, running, dancing, saying jokes, visiting your family and being free again?

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Let’s challenge ourselves to embrace adulthood while still being who we are. Can we let our children have a taste of our great memories? Can our children get to know us? Not the strict & structured sides but the free flowing Norma...

Why you shouldn't wait so long to go to counseling.

As a Hispanic woman I remember somehow learning that counseling was for people that were off the chain, that were really in a bad place and really didn't have it together. Nobody told me this but somehow this is what I learned. 

This is so sad. It is so sad for so many reasons. I missed many opportunities to chat with someone about things that bothered me in life. I could have avoided so many really tough seasons had I known what I know now. In another blog I will discuss WHY people are so resistant to counseling but today I want to focus on WHY you shouldn't wait to go.

First off, counseling is not for "crazy" people. I absolutely despise this saying and you will not hear me call anyone crazy if it's referring to mental health. I may call my best friend crazy and that's simply referring to her being wild, silly, hilarious etc. but NOT referring to someone's mental state.  

So, let's dive in! I often see clients who are in a really tough place. Whether their marriage is truly dependent on the success of therapy or whether a person is severely depressed and suicidal...I see people at their very very worst. Some have been in & out of treatment and others have hit rock bottom and are attending counseling for the first time. When you have reached this level it is highly recommended that you seek counseling in addition to having supportive friends and family nearby. 

If you've gone to counseling while in a crisis state: You may have felt hopeless, have experienced severe anxiety/depression, relapsed or had sucicidal thoughts. Most would say that this likely did not start in 1 day. This could have been years of abuse, guilt/shame, bullying, etc. The mountain piled up so high until it was no longer bearable. In marriage, it could have started with a misunderstanding, a white lie, disappointment that eventually led to yelling, avoidance, abuse, infidelity etc. Your marital challenges were small stones that created a huge wall.

What happens when we wait until we've built a MOUNTAIN or a WALL to go to counseling...We put ourselves and our relationship(s) at risk, a really high risk...risking our lives, marriages, families, careers and so forth. It's almost this huge pressure that we put on ourselves and others. It's like an "all or nothing" mentality. I often hear "If this doesn't work we are done. This is our last resort." From those words I gather that this couple waited really long to get extra support and guidance. So much so, that often they're dependent solely on my ability to change their marriage.

So with that HUGE mountain and wall that has now been created, imagine how much work it will take to tear it down. Now, don't get me wrong...every ounce of sweat and tears that it takes to tear that down IS absolutely worth it! You better believe that every client will get the very best from me. I go hard in my sessions. I go all in and I will walk with you in tearing that barrier down.

Now, imagine if we go to counseling prior to the crisis, prior to that huge mountain and wall. We can prevent so many things. So many "what if's" that we collected, negative actions that we contemplated, hateful statements of ourselves and others that we said, lies about ourselves and others that we believed and so much more!

Let's use the individual as an example. So, let's say she starts a new job and at first it's going well until her boss pulls her aside and tells her that her work is not meeting up to the company's expectations. She goes back to her office and cries. Following that conversation with her boss she wakes up every morning with butterflies in her stomach, she feels sad, frustrated and overwhelmed before her work day has even started. While at work she's waiting for her boss to call her into the office to fire her. She starts telling herself that she's not good enough to work there. When she leaves work she ignores her friends and families calls. She starts believing that she's worthless, that she's a terrible employee and nobody likes her...

This example can go 2 ways. She can continue on the spiral of risky & most likely untrue thoughts OR she can talk to someone who can help her process through the events at work. The therapist can help her navigate whether her beliefs are reality or possible insecurities. Her therapist can even help her trace back in her past and see if this is stemming from something else. She won't be alone as she works through this. She will have someone to help her process through the emotions that may arise as well as the challenging questions she may have. All too often scenarios such as this one continue (without any outside support) and transition into a crisis. This situation certainly has the possibility of becoming a more serious issue if not addressed in time.

I also want to use the couple as an example of how early counseling-intervention can be a benefit. So our couple has been married for a few years now. The wife really wants to have children but he is very hesitant. Every time the conversation is brought up she gets angry and he shuts down. It always ends up in a 3 day fight.

This can also go 2 ways: They realize that there communication needs some help. They recognize that this topic is one that is creating conflict and they don't know where to go from here. They decide to go to counseling and with the help of their therapist they are finally able to work through this. Her husband opens up in a safe place and admits that he's afraid of being a father. His father was not around and he did not have any male role models. Therefore, he does not feel confident in his ability to raise a child. In counseling the wife learns to listen and hear his heart. She validates his fears and lets him know that she appreciates his honesty and that she will support him on this journey. In addition, she tells him that she believes in him and in his ability to be an amazing father. With each session they both grow in many ways. They continue working on their communication and eventually decide on their future as parents. As you can imagine this topic had the potential to be explosive. The wife could have started thinking that maybe he didn't love her anymore, maybe something was wrong with her or maybe there's another woman...So many what if's that can happen when there's a lack of effective communication. 

My biggest recommendation is to go ahead and seek counseling when you start noticing some "hiccups," flags and signs. A few include: Consistent negative self talk, feeling down more days than not, overwhelmed with life, self esteem challenges, confusion on difficult decisions, and definitely if you are feeling as though you & others would be better off without you. Poor communication in marriage. Issues concerning intimacy, money & trust. Differing views on topics that are important to both of you that you cannot resolve. Of course any time you're battling with a difficult past and unable to move forward. There are so many signs of when you should get up and GO! Again, if you feel a tug telling you that something feels off, if you're not content in your life and or marriage...it's time to talk to someone. Hey, listen...it could be 1 hour of counseling that opens up the gates to a better life. Counseling doesn't have to be months long. Your therapist will meet you where you are. 

Simply put. Don't wait too long.