What you need to know about perfectionism

woman struggling with perfectionism
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Calling anyone plagued by perfectionism.

How it shows up varies. Maybe you

  • Try to fix everything.
  • Want everything to be perfect.
  • Spend hours putting everything in order.
  • Feel anxious or guilty about making a mistake.
  • Read something over and over before hitting send.
  • Get lost in the details and lose sight of the big-picture.
  • Have high, impossible-to-reach standards for yourself or others.

Diligence in the form of care is great. It’s good to be conscientious and ensure accuracy.

But when meticulousness looks like hours lost in editing-mode to prevent a single mistake, out of anxiety to be seen for being imperfect… something there might welcome kindness.


Imagine a monkey running around in your brain. It speeds towards an idealistic outcome you “must” achieve. Races to reach standards for perfection.

The monkey frantically pushes levers for hyper-focus, constant improvement, and judgement as protection from external criticism.

It’s exhausting. With your energy tied up in your busy head, there’s no space to feel joy.

The thing is, the monkey is trying to help. It’s protecting you from how others will perceive a mistake. It might want you to have a positive reputation so you don’t feel the pain of other’s disapproval or the shame of lack. Possible worst-case, it’s saving you from being rejected and abandoned.

So it finds mistakes. Focuses on these mistakes. Even when this is one typo in a 50 page document. Regardless of the entire document’s quality, you’re fixated on that one typo. So not fun.


A mentor reminded me this week:
Failure is how we do anything.
Failure is the only way we get anywhere.
Failure is not proof of lack of ability, knowledge, or expertise.
Failure is simply how we learn.


I’m curious what perfectionism means to you. Your comfort level with being a stone’s throw from an ideal vision. The standards you hold for yourself, consciously and unconsciously. The worst case scenario of making a mistake you’ve learned, lived, or fear.

During Writing Journeys’ monthly meeting this Thursday evening (7-8:30 PM PDT) 4/7, we will explore how perfectionism may be impacting you (whether it’s mild or keeps you from your desires). We’ll shine a light into the layers so you can see it in a new way and soothe it.

We’ll also call the monkey down from the intellect… to be soothed in safety, loved in imperfection, with permission to see beyond what it “needs to do.” So you can experience the beauty of life, as well as the growth from the inevitable times you fall short of perfection. And free yourself up to hit send on your writing and share your gifts.

Hope to see you at this event. Please share with anyone you know who might benefit!

If any thoughts arise out of reading this, I’d love to hear them. Comment and let me know. 🙂

Registration link.
$10-$30 suggested donation through PayPal.
If you aren’t on Meetup but would like to attend, please send me a message.

What If Upping

What if I fail? What if no one likes me? What if I didn’t do that right?

What ifs are so often the mind spinning into every negative catastrophe it can think of.

What if… you switched that?

I like to play with “what if upping.”

What if… I could do what I love? What if… I discover tastier food that’s good for me?

What if… the healthcare system is reformed and there is better, more universal access to quality healthcare for everyone?

What if… I could meet whales? Swim with dolphins? Cuddle with big cats?

What if…

… … …

This game was magic the first time I played two years ago. To my surprise, my “what if I travel to Sedona” became “I’m going to Sedona!” three weeks later. Though this may not be the norm, it feels good to remember anything is possible—both the negative and positive what ifs.

Don’t forget to make time to dream.

Remember how it feels to loosen up and have fun during my Writing Class: Playful Transformation. Starting soon! (March 1, 2021.) If you are planning to attend, please register.

… … …

What ifs don’t have to be either effervescent or disastrous. They also can help return to reality. What if… the door that just closed means what you truly want is just around the corner? What if… undergoing this struggle means help other people through it?

Try writing the words “what if” at the top of a page. List out your own “what if…” dreams. Let yourself relax and be uplifted by those two words.

What Your Pen Says About You

You know how it is when your pen is running out of ink? It skips over the page, and you can see the indent but not the ink. You shake it, and it lasts a bit longer. You press hard with effort, annoyed and maybe wishing you’d brought a back-up pen with you before you settled in.

Then imagine an ink pen so smooth, the ink (and your words) flow. You move forward bold and seamless.

Fuller expression feels good, like a fresh new ink pen.

Take a moment to notice what you write with: Pen or pencil. Ballpoint or ink. Blue, black, or colored. Same every time or variety. Messy or neat. Take up space or crimp your letters to fit as many as possible.

You might be surprised to see your personality revealed.

What conditions allow free-flow? What patterns limit freedom?

Try switching up your pen to see how it changes your writing or mindset about writing. I enjoy a pen with a boldness and color to match my mood. Find the match that allows you to feel good about expressing yourself (preferably one that isn’t running low on ink!).

We will play with this during Writing Class: Playful Transformation beginning March 1, 2021.

Nervous to attend a writing event?

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Do you feel nervous about trying new events?

I want to acknowledge this because it is completely understandable to be nervous to write around other people. I’ve been here too. Writing can be so vulnerable and brings up different things for different people. Maybe you watch others’ pens moving and wonder if what you’ve written is “enough” or the “right” thing. Or worry what others will think of you, and if you’ll need to share before you’re ready.

Gentle reminder: Your writing is yours. You’re in charge of your experience.

You might explore for yourself what you’re nervous about, so you can fully settle into the experience. Maybe there are things you could do to feel more comfortable, like giving yourself permission to be nervous and imperfect. Or turning off your camera in an online event. Or having an emotional support item that’s out of view from the camera–a blanket over your lap, textured rug under your toes, or anchor (plant, crystal, picture) at eye-level above the camera.

Simply acknowledging your nervousness can be helpful— either for yourself so there’s space for your feelings, or, claiming it within the group. It can be powerful, validating, and comforting to mention what you’re feeling in the group and see other people nodding because they feel that too. And, it’s okay to test the waters first.

I try to make my events as accessible and safe as possible because I know the courage required to try something new. I encourage you to care for yourself and do what feels right. Hopefully you’ll find a way to be with, and soothe, your apprehension so you don’t miss out on experiences you might really enjoy!

What’s your play?

When I start working with clients, I have them define their terms. What might be obvious to them isn’t so obvious until we talk about it.

Take the word “play.” What is the first thing that comes to mind?

For someone, play might be a kid playing hopscotch. For another, it might be silly jokes. For a third, it might be the creative process.

It might be a person. A behavior. An action. A frame of mind.

You get to define your own version of play. It could be play like in elementary school. The silliness and competitiveness of playing tag with your friends. It could be the relaxed feeling you have in the bathtub where ideas come and go.

No matter how you define play, when we have more of it in our lives, the more our creativity flows and the more energy we have.

Let’s redefine play, and do it, in my upcoming class.

Did you know it’s time to play?

Play could seem like the furthest thing possible. Unappealing, even. With so much going on. Things need to get done now.

When your mind is obsessing, you may not imagine finding joy. When your body is aching, it might be hard to feel free.

I invite you to start with an exhale.

Maybe an extra long one.

Become aware of all that you’re feeling, and all that is true. Though it doesn’t remove the discomfort, you have permission to feel all that you’re feeling right now. That grants more ease and space to shift states.

Take a nanosecond to flip off seriousness and feel your own joyful inspiring creativity.

It’s hidden in there even if you can’t feel it at the moment.

While you can’t be in this state of playful joy all the time, permission allows this state to return. Being in the mess. Moving with the unpleasant sensations instead of overriding them. Giving all the feelings space to flow. Engaging with all that’s around you.

A child cries one minute, screams another, laughs the next.

A kitten startles, falls on their behind, then curiously examines what startled them on wobbly paws.

Just like the child or the kitten, what if you can be present with your feelings, AND remember play in the smallest way?

Learn to allow play to return in my upcoming class. I’m excited to explore with you the ways to allow creativity to emerge more easily. wish we’d have some kittens, but we can imagine (or watch some kitten videos) to help inspire us…

For when you lose something (or someone) important, and face the fear of being alone…

person standing on brown wooden dock
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The fear of being alone is such a thing.

Sometimes it’s clearer to know the story of how you are in relationship with someone or something else. A parent, daughter, friend, partner, school, work.

The roles and responsibilities are clear. You can be who they need you to be. You can do what needs to be done.

But what happens when you’re alone? If you’re so used to knowing who you are in relation to something else, it can be scary and lonely to be alone. This could look like losing a job and the identity, daily structure, and meaning you had tied to the job. This could look like losing a partner, and losing the hopes, dreams, expectations, and time you had tied up in that person.

When your stories are all about yourself in relation to something else, you might feel a horrifying emptiness when you face loss of something you hold dear, which provided you with so many of your stories and identity.

This is one very painful part of reality.

Once the grief and sharpness of the pain has dulled, it offers an opening; an opportunity to redefine yourself and your stories. The chance to tune back into the parts of yourself that might have quieted in the time you were in connection to this other thing. Maybe that’s remembering you hated the long commute, or giving yourself permission to go camping after years because your partner had hated it.

Can you look that fear straight in the eyes and acknowledge it? It’s okay to be afraid to be alone. What is that fear saying? What does that fear want?

Your body is pretty much wired for survival. So there’s no need to judge or shame the part of you that is afraid to be alone.

When you’re ready, can you explore your own stories?

Sometimes part of the fear of being alone is the need for external validation and appreciation. The need to be understood. Sometimes a job or a person can provide these things, and when they’re not there, it can be terrifying.

What if you can write the whole truth for yourself. Know who you are and feel comfortable with your own inner voice.

When you can write the full truth for yourself, it might change the way you feel about it.

Instead of needing someone else to be your guide, witness, or mirror, you might find…

Even though no one else understands, you understand. And you may no longer need the understanding and validation from an external source, because you know why you feel the way you do. You can honor and embrace yourself in your wholeness.

The first step might just be acknowledging the fear.

Look it in the eyes and ask for its name. What is the fear of being alone really about?

Write the stories the fear shows you. These might be memories from the past. There could be good reason for them to exist. With gentleness and compassion, allow the fear to show itself and honor it by documenting what it has to say.

See if this shifts anything. Writing the truth can be surprising, especially when it’s about something you typically push away.

Honesty in communication

brown wooden blocks on white table
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When I was younger, communication did not always come easily to me. I found it difficult to know what to say. I judged whether what I said was “right” or not. I went over conversations in my head for hours afterwards, trying to figure out what went wrong. Even when I spent time around people who were brilliant communicators, I couldn’t seem to learn from watching and listening to them. My ability to be verbose and clear in written communication didn’t help in most social situations.

In adulthood, I began studying communication skills to figure out “what went wrong” and how I could find more ease for the “right way” to express myself. In a way that felt good and allowed others to understand me clearly.

I learned templates, but they didn’t work in every situation. Trying to make myself fit into the templates were useful to learn new skills. But I needed new ways of holding myself in connection.

I needed permission and courage to be openly honest and open. It wasn’t “okay” to be honest. It’s vulnerable to let others know how I truly feel, what I think, and what opinions I hold, especially when desiring peaceful harmony. Fears and conflicting inner voices can muddle access to what’s true.

Yet honesty solves many problems. When the truth is delivered with sincerity and openness, there is space for everyone to take a breath… and respond, instead of reacting in defensiveness.

The words matter, and so does the delivery. Do you notice one key in communication is being tuned in with yourself, your emotions, and the physical sensations you feel? First thing is knowing yourself and what’s true for you. From this place, it becomes easier to know what needs to be said to soothe a conflict or uncomfortable issue.

This is a process and a journey. Finding clear, open, and honest communication with yourself to understand your own truth means you can do the same with others. Holding yourself and finding your inner wisdom can allow you to be more comfortable adapting to the changing needs your environment requires of you.

My understanding of honesty is that it starts from within.

Practice getting in touch with the truth about a challenging situation or issue in March’s monthly meeting with Writing Journeys (free).

Connecting with the mystical moon to align with your purpose

photography of cat at full moon
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I started working with the moon as a life guide about 6 years ago. I was seeking something meaningful to remind me of magic, aliveness, and my purpose. While I knew goal setting to be a valuable tool for growth, it felt too linear and rigid. I had a hard time thinking far into the future, didn’t have a consistent schedule, and desired some form of structure. Tapping into the moon’s cycles felt intuitive and natural. The external accountability and mysticism of looking outside to witness the moon’s phase helped me feel connected and inspired. I’ve always journaled, and the moon allowed me to connect internally and also with the energy of the natural world around me. I’m often impressed with my review of my intentions at the end of the month. This creates a positive feedback loop that makes me want to celebrate and keep going. There’s always another cycle if this one doesn’t go as expected!

Want to get started? Check out the New Moon Intention Setting Workshop on February 11, 2021, 7-8:30pm PT. All are welcome to attend; no experience necessary.

Who’s trying to frame the orcas?

action animal daylight lake
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In a dream last night, a friend showed me a video where orcas lunged at seals on ice floes as if toying with them before eating them. She handed me a list she’d written of why orcas are cruel-hearted. “They’re killer whales, after all,” she scoffed.

“Well, it depends on the context,” I told her. “And who’s trying to frame the orcas.” I felt drawn to orcas and wanted to believe in their best. “Their behavior can be perceived in different ways by different sources. They could have gotten it wrong.”

I wanted to believe that all animals can teach us something. Even if the orcas were sadistic, it mirrors a part of us humans which does exist. Pretending like it doesn’t exist doesn’t change the fact.

Later, my friend and I were in a cave when an orca showed up. I stayed hugging the edges of the cave, keeping myself away from the water. Despite my words, I felt some healthy fear with these giant creatures. The black of their fins and bodies. I remembered the way the killer whales lunged out of the water in the video my friend had showed me.

She turned to look at me, also staying as clear from the water as possible in the cave, before running.

It was just me and the orca. I didn’t know this orca and its personality. I felt my heart racing. My views of orcas were perhaps romanticized by fictional media and famous trained whales.

This whale swims up closer.

I tried to contextualize my understanding of whales. Is my wholesome admiration awe all from fiction? Yes, my first connections and appreciations did come from a movie and captive whales. But what about all the stories I’d read of wild orcas saving people and even dogs? What of their intelligence and deep presence? What of the fact that an orca actually killing a person is incredibly rare?

Or was I wrong?

The orca is motionless in the water.

It’s humans who named the orca. But of course orcas killed their prey. They had to, to survive. Everyone exists somewhere on the food chain.

Orcas are in the dolphin family. What did that mean about them, in connection to the friendliest joyfullest ocean animals I knew of?

I didn’t know. All I had were others’ stories and my biased, idealistic fascination for these animals.

And this whale? Who was this whale?

In all the time I spent dithering there in nervousness, I hadn’t actually looked directly at the whale. I was just in my head, running through all my ideas of whales since I had found myself in a direct encounter with one.

I wanted to know this whale. What if this whale was a wise being who could be a direct messenger from the divine? Who knew what would happen?

I had to look that whale in the eyes. I had to tune into the energy that was really here, and use my gut to see how it felt. I didn’t know the whale’s intention at present, and couldn’t fit it into a box. The main thing I could do was sense into my body and trust my heart and intuition.

grayscale photo of body of water
Photo by Andre Estevez on Pexels.com

Not only did I have to look at the whale, I had to fully see and acknowledge the situation before I could know how best to act. This was a miraculously exciting (and scary) opportunity, and it was up to me. Trusting myself, and the whale, could mean the difference between life and death.

I turned to face the orca with its dignified dorsal fin rising tall out of the water over its crescent shaped body, striking white oval marking right above its eyes.


Insights from this dream: Each situation and person is different. Sometimes no blanket statements are possible.

This speaks to the importance of having multiple stories. There can be a popular mainstream way to understand the world. But views can be limited.

You have a unique path. Sometimes it differs from those around you. Stories are one way to discover possibilities and find words to identify with what is most true.

The diversity of stories also is a reminder that nothing can replace intuition and the inner wisdom of knowing the specific situation.

As the number of stories and voices increase, sometimes it’s important not to believe everything which is written. Do you know who’s trying to frame the orcas, and why? Ask your gut and listen for your heart and body’s answers.