I have been straight up HIDING y’all.
Like hands over my face, eyes squeezed shut, “If-I-can’t-see-them-they-can’t-see-me” kind of hiding, for a good long while now. I’m not proud of it, but Lord- is it true.
You see, I have these big, audacious dreams- and despite all the “get after it” hype men (and women) yelling at me that I CAN do it, sometimes your dreams honestly just feel more like they are actually trying to kill you, than they are giving you wings to touch the stars. It’s just the damn truth.
I’ve found that greatness, and the desire to be great, can feel suffocatingly heavy at times. It isn’t a curse by any means- but there’s a reason so few of us really get there.
Chasing our dreams requires the VERY best of us, of ALL of us- anything less just won’t cut it.
I suppose that’s the both the beauty and the challenge in it- we won’t grasp that dream unless we are willing to bring ALL of us into the light. Anything less, and it’s not the real dream you’re chasing, much less holding.
A little over 2 years ago, I came to an honest to goodness- dead end with my music. I realized that the genre I was in, was far more limited than I originally thought, and after just a couple of years: I had basically tapped out. I had played pretty much every major stage they had to offer, and despite my best and most determined efforts to make myself what I thought they wanted… I STILL wasn’t their chosen one. In fact, I realized I would never would be their chosen one- starting with the fact that I was a woman.
Lord have mercy- I hit that ceiling fast and hard, and it HURT. I was in shock, completely disoriented, and as the dust settled- I realized, I was MAD as hell.
I had out worked everyone I knew to make my dreams happen in that system, I had prayed and marched more than 7 times around my Jericho, and I had sacrificed all I had…
But the truth of daylight could not lie: those walls were NOT coming down for me.
It felt like crushing failure, like losing- and y’all, I HATE losing.
I was less than a “delight to be around” as I wrestled through it all ( Ryan can testify).
Finally- I realized I either had to let go of my version of how I thought my dream had to happen, OR the brutal truth was, my dream was going to DIE right here in front of me.
After swarming like an angry hornet and talking to anyone I thought might sympathize with me for a few more weeks (because it just “shouldn’t” be this way- I worked too damn hard), I finally wore myself (and everyone around me) out, and I began to begrudgingly accept my new reality. THIS place that I was sure held the fulfillment of my every dream- was in fact, now NOT my future. This place that I had given everything I had to, was giving nothing more back.
My response wasn’t so pretty.
There I was- just a sad pile of defeated dreamer, angry woman, and sad artist slumped in the dark on my closet floor.
I eventually stopped crying, and was then overwhelmed by how mad I was. How pissed off I was that I hadn’t been enough to buck the system, to change things, to pave my own way in the Texas Country Music Scene.
As I sat there- I was mad…. but I began to realize… mercy, I was tired. As I sat there in the dark and total defeat- I realized how deeply exhausted I was.
Like bone weary…. beyond worn out. Trying to beat down doors so they will open for you non-stop will do that to you.
And suddenly I realized-
Hustle is hard on the soul. It just is.
I was sick of hustling, working so hard, and tired of fighting. At every turn in that scene I had been trying to prove myself- that a female fronted band COULD in fact get people on the dance floor, that a female artists single COULD climb the charts, that I was enough to headline the festival. I woke up every morning swinging and went to sleep every night beat up… I couldn’t help but wonder about the difference between hustle and the Holy Spirit making a way.
I had been haunted by the thought for months, that working towards your dream under God’s anointing- following His Spirit’s promptings as He made the way for you HAD to be better than this “hustle”. I could hustle all day long- and I had, but where had it gotten me…. Only a very limited, disappointing somewhere.
Oh, how my tired and weary soul longed to stop trying to prove myself, to walk in anointing rather than hustle, to be approved and highly favored rather than always trying to prove myself.
I began to have moments of thinking there might be more for me on the other side of this defeat… that perhaps, as I have learned, it was not God’s withholding a good thing from me, but it was His MERCY in action by protecting me from something that was simply LESS than what He had for me.
As I opened my clenched, trembling hands to Jesus and released everything I had thought my dream had to be- how I thought it had to be… I asked Him help me see a new dream.
And as I stayed there in that place with Him, and I dared to let go of what I had fought so hard for- something crazy happened…
Once, I was willing, and only once I was willing to let go of every idea of what and how I thought things had to be- He started something new.
Through my tears of defeat I saw Him open a door to a much bigger future and a much bigger dream. A door I didn’t even know was there. That’s just what Jesus does- He goes above and beyond all we could ask or dream for ourselves. When it seems like our dreams our dying, He’s only pruning them to grow BIGGER.
If there isn’t a door- JESUS JUST MAKES A NEW DOOR!
As I began to take it all in, it took my breath away. This new place- this new calling, was stunning.
Who He was calling me to be- spanned far beyond just one expression of my music.
You see, my old dream was TOO SMALL. I had outgrown it, and although I didn’t realize it, I had been throwing a fit to get to keep wearing something that I had outgrown. He had better for me- but I couldn’t see it until I dared to let go of what I had known.
You see, this new place, this new dream required ALL of me- my love of words, my passion to fight for freedom in our lives, MY music- free from any limits or expectations, the power of personal development, and the joy of celebrating and empowering women from all over.
Where I had felt I had to fraction off and hide parts of myself to be successful in my former system- this new place, the good place, HE HAD PREPARED, required and celebrated EVERY SINGLE PART OF ME.
I honestly just walked around with giant eyes brimming with tears for a week- so overwhelmed at such an incredible idea, such a vision for my life- so far beyond anything I had been fighting so hard to make happen, so much bigger than what I could have ever dreamed of for myself.
He IS a good, good Father- even when we aren’t quite ready.
As beautiful as all of that is, the more I dove into this new dream, new vision- I got majorly freaked out.
I mean- good grief, how was I EVER going to make all this happen? How will I ever be able to do all of the work?
Let’s be honest y’all- that incredible vision of my calling, purpose, and life- it excited me to the point I couldn’t believe I could get to live such a life, but it also scared me to death.
Panic attacks ensued.
How’s that for inspiring?
Well, like any emotionally healthy mature woman in her mid 30s would do (insert sarcastic eye roll here), I pretty much ran back to my emotional closet, slammed the door, and hid under a blanket.... and I tried to get brave. I tried to remember that doing scary things was worth it, and yet I learned to deeply appreciate what my life was like right now. Without accomplishing my dreams- just being. Loved by Jesus, more than enough. And you know what? It was good. It was really really good.
Jesus has done a deep and good work in my soul these last two years- even in my hiding, and He has loved me so well- even when I wasn’t brave enough to chase the new dream He gave me.
But Lawwwwd He’s saying it’s time. It’s time to step out.
It’s time to step back out. It’s time to ….
Dare to show up.
Dare to share my heart.
Dare to speak my truth.
So y’all. here I go.
These are the components of my NEW, BIGGER DREAM.
I am currently writing my very first book: “Confessions Of A High Strung Woman”, and I could use some major spiritual backup. I need your prayers- this has been a long time coming, and the process of writing a book for the first time can hit you like a wave and then take you to sea in the undertow. The “How will I ever get it all done, and done well?” is fierce. Come Lord Jesus. COME.
It’s well past time to make some NEW MUSIC- and I need the courage to be BRAVE, to share my heart, and to speak my truth. I also need the funding to make it happen. It’s time to make MY music- and forget genres, expectations, and trying to win over radio. I have 2 very different projects I’d like to do: one is a more intimate acoustic project, and the other a throwback soul/pop project. I’m trying to figure out where to start.
I have this beautiful big dream to create and host an event that celebrates WOMEN through music, laughter, dancing, creativity, shopping, and connection. I want to host them in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston this year. I need sponsors and the right venue partnerships. We did a trial this last year in Houston called “Shimmy & Shimmer”, and I loved every single minute of it. My dream is to do a “tour run” of these each year in different cities where we partner with local battered women’s shelters and halfway houses to love on and give to those brave women. We need to celebrate as women and we need to love on each other. This is totally my baby, and I can’t wait to get to do this!
Finally, It’s time to speak my truth, and after a surprise opportunity to speak at Alamo City this last August, I remembered how much I love speaking, and speaking to women. As I finish and release my book, I’m praying for opportunities to speak again. Ryan calls me a “Freedom Fighter” and I realize that I really am one through and through- there is so much more joy, life, on the other side of FREEDOM. The fight is so worth it.
This is my aim, this is my plea- ever more, draw me to Thee, help me be me.
Let’s be honest. I NEED people to like me, or at least I used to. Finding FREEDOM from needing outside approval and affirmation will change your whole life. Change your WHOLE.DAMN.LIFE.
Good grief y'all. This modern world can be so very hard on the heart and mind of a woman. It’s enough to make you good and crazy.
Most often without even realizing it, we are in a constant state of consuming information, images, and sounds… yeah yeah, we’ve heard that before, BUT the bigger point is that because this barrage of stuff is coming at us all the time- as a result, we are in a constant state of analyzing and criticizing – evaluating and judging- as we process the wave upon wave of information that comes at us. Not all of that is necessarily bad, but it is definitely not all good either.
With the steady and constant presence of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat in our lives, it’s undeniably true that in our daily, or let’s be honest, even hourly habits of what we feed our minds, imaginations, and daydreams- we are constantly consuming images that, like it or not, subconsciously establish an unreasonable expectation for our own beauty, bodies, and relationships. You know the joke “I can’t ever un-see that!”? Yep- the truth of that rings loudly every second in our subconscious.
In addition, as a generation, we are seemingly obsessed with the fantasy of being someone other than who we are. I’m not saying that you outright want to skin another woman and “be” her (creepy and funny I know), but we do all harbor a long and loaded list of things we wish we were and that we weren’t. We want to have prettier skin, have that glowing tan, longer legs, have less cellulite, own a better wardrobe, and be in that perfect romantic relationship. In general- we want to have a glamorous life that is “Instagram-worthy”.
Um, let me shoot you straight here ladies.
No wonder we’re running on caffeine and dry shampoo (But let’s be honest-God bless both of those though- Hallelujah!)!
Half the time we’re not even aware of how exhausting and wearying it is, because it’s just become a regular part of our day. However, the result is a chronic, unrelenting state of comparison and evaluation that hums along in our minds, just below our surface thoughts.
We don’t even realize we’re doing it, and I’ve come to realize it is stealing my very LIFE from me. Comparison really is the thief of all joy.
I’ll never forget when I learned that as humans, but especially as WOMEN, that our minds cannot just see and process information, and then toss it aside- be free of it. No, we attach meaning to every single thing that we see, read, hear, and observe. EVERY.SINGLE.THING.
What does that mean? That means that mindlessly scrolling through so and so’s perfect instagram feed, Facebook page, or binging on reality TV- affects your SOUL.
How? If we attach meaning to everything, then we develop emotions about it, we make judgements about it, and we commit thoughts to it. Not just once, but repeatedly. There is a strong case to be made that we have more meaningful connections with things on our phone screen than the actual living beings in front of us on a daily basis- simply because we devote more time and attention to them.
Out of sheer necessity for some kind of order in our minds, we often create mental “buckets” in order to filter and sort through all of the images, status updates, and flood of information.
While looking at so and so’s IG feed, those buckets may sound something like this inside of your head: “ugh, she’s so perfect”, “That is what I’ll never be, or what I will never have”, or perhaps the more honest- “I swear, if I could just look like this or have this, I know I would really be happy.”
So what’s the big deal Ab?
The chronic result of all of this, is that WE ARE NEVER PRESENT AND NEVER HAPPY in our own lives. Our days are spent in another world, a fantasy idea of what a good life would be. We cannot ever be pleased. How can real life live up to the magic of filters, misleading angles, and perfectly crafted captions?
Ladies, we are living under a ruthless taskmaster, and we have believed the lie that to be ourselves is to be unhappy- to never be enough.
As someone who operates in an industry that can be terribly and outrageously critical on the female form, I am all too familiar with this battle. I am older than most of my musical peers- and if I’m honest- it’s just not a pretty conversation in your head when you start comparing the body of a 21 year old with your own 34 year old physique.
Now, let us all take a minute to reflect, appreciate, and just laugh at what an impressive feat of nature our bodies were in our teens and twenties. I mean- drinking 3 margaritas (or Dr. Pepper’s), eating two bags of sour patch kids, cleaning out a late night pizza the night before, and downing a breakfast burrito on your way to confidently and comfortably float the river in your bikini just does NOT happen after you hit 30, in my opinion. Hell, that didn’t even really happen in my early twenties- but you get the point.
No matter your age, or how you think you feel about your body- I believe these expectations, these “images”, become standards in our minds - and it seems ladies, that we are gluttons for punishment. We just keep going back and adding to the list of what we’re not, what we don’t have, and what we think we should be.
I found myself in a similar place just this last year. I was frustrated, uncomfortable in my clothes, and “eating my feelings” (it’s a real thing y’all).
I finally realized in a moment of frustration, anger, and then clarity- that I have a hell of a lot more to offer this world than how I look. I’ve wasted far too much, and I mean FAR too much of my life worrying about and working on my weight.
You know what?
Here is what I realized y’all.
No one will be inspired to chase their own dreams, or pursue freedom in their lives if I finally lose that stupid 10 pounds. No one is drawn to courage to defeat their demons and rise above their hardships if I can finally wear my skinny jeans. Peace will not be brought to this earth, and the Lion will not lie down with the Lamb if I finally actually finish the 21 Day Fix.
Let us aim higher ladies.
(Now hear me out- there are people who DO inspire with their incredible feats of health, weight loss, and strength… but that is not MY particular calling to this world. And yet, I have spent years of my life consumed with this kind of struggle.)
The expectations for my life should aim much higher and the use of my energy put towards much greater causes than what I see in the mirror or what I look like in photos.
You have a stunningly gorgeous wealth of gifts to offer to the world around you- and, it’s crazy how the more focused you are on how you look, the more dull your other gifts seem to become. You literally are choosing to only be known for how you look. What a tragedy.
We let our list of “what we want to look like” demand all of our energy. Even if we’re not actively working out, or meal prepping, or dieting- that energy is spent in front of the mirror, tugging on clothes we’re uncomfortable in, and just wishing that we were completely different.
As that sassy little boy says, "Listen Linda"- It’s just a flat out lie that looking perfect will make you happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. You and I were made for so much more dear sister!
Our beauty should flow from a satisfied soul who has brought her best to the world today, from a big smile that knows we were good to ourselves today, and from a strong body that has been honored, respected, and fed real food so that it can carry us to do our best work.
The obsession with how we look is a black hole… you just get pulled deeper and deeper into your dissatisfaction with your body. The body that carries you through this life, that is the sacred house for your mind, your emotions, your memories, your brilliance… we no longer respect it, take care of it- feed it well, or invest time to make it strong. Because we decide it will never look perfect, or even just “right”, we have all begun to harbor a deep resentment and frustration for these incredible, and I mean incredible, gifts that God has given us. We stop really caring for it all together- and it is killing us.
Many times because we decide we can never be perfect- because we can’t make ourselves look the way we have fed our minds to believe that we should look in order to be “beautiful” – we either numb ourselves out and refuse to consciously take care of ourselves, or we punish ourselves constantly with under-eating, extreme exercise, and obsessively looking at people that we think are what we want to be. We literally torture ourselves.
You want to know the problem?
The problem is that somewhere along the way, we started to value how we look over what we do and who we are. We started to value this idea of “beauty” over health, being skinny over being STRONG, and how we look in a swimsuit over what we bring to and add to the world around us.
My sisters- we are MORE than how we look. We are so, so much more. To spend your life focused on that one aspect of who you are is to lead a very unbalanced and unhealthy life. What happens when you lose your balance? You fall. You fall into obsessions, unrealistic expectations, inhumane standards, and it HURTS YOU.
I’ll never forget a conversation I had my Junior year of college with a precious friend, and a much braver soul than I. I was in another rut of being deeply frustrated with my weight- I had fluctuated way down and way up, and I was also battling a broken heart, and even some depression.
One night at Chili’s over a “bottomless” bowl of chips and salsa (one that we found the bottom to, many, many times), this sweet sister looked at me and asked, “Ab- do you have a fixed idea of what you think you should lose or look like to be beautiful?”
My face flushed at her courageous, honest question, and I eventually stuttered “Well… yes.”
She then said, “Well- if all you can see when you look at yourself is what you need to do or lose to be pretty, then that’s what you see when you look at me too. You can’t just turn it off.”
I promptly melted out of my chair and onto the floor and died- because y’all. SHE WAS RIGHT.
I loved this friend- deeply, fiercely, and I thought she was gorgeous- stunning, just because of who she was. But good Lord, if she wasn’t right about what was really going on in my heart and mind- when I looked around me, somewhere inside of my head there were always judgements,evaluations, comparisons being made. Because that is the conversation I was constantly having with myself. The standards and expectations we have for ourselves, even the ones we think we hide so well- always have a way of shading the way we see others.
I wept that night at home in my room- because I was ashamed and worn out. Ashamed that I could have let myself reduce myself to an image in a mirror (I knew I had so much more inside of me and so much more to offer), and I was EXHAUSTED because I could not win- no matter how hard I tried, I was never pleased with what I saw in the mirror. I was living under the rule and terror of a ruthless taskmaster, and I finally wanted out.
This was all long before the social media craze that we have today, and I’m afraid we’ve only been handed gasoline and matches with Instagram, Facebook, and the rest of social media.
Sisters, let us forsake and abandon self loathing, fantasy living, and obsessing with perfection. Rather, let us voraciously pursue learning how to be KIND to ourselves, to care well for our bodies, and to love ourselves deeply- so that we may bring the very best of ourselves to this world in our love, work, relationships, and pursuits.
Let us commit to stop tormenting ourselves. Rein in your screen time in the fantasy world of social media. Release and abandon those crazy expectations and standards- which is much easier to do when you stop feeding them!
Rise above the clutter of images and status updates- be a WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE, and AIM HIGHER.
That phrase has rung loud and clear in my heart for months now- and the call is deep ladies. It calls to the deepest parts of us- the best we have to offer. Be a woman of substance- refuse to reduce yourself to how you look, what you own, or even what others think of you.
Step on up to that mirror and SMILE at that wildly gorgeous, brave, and fierce hearted woman - for who you see there is a powerful, beautiful, and wondrous creature made in the image of Her Father. She has great things to bring to this world, and it is much, much more than just how she looks.
ANY YET- HEAR THIS: your physical beauty IS a gift. Not to be disdained or manipulated. Your beauty should flow and only increase from loving yourself well and learning to see yourself through the eyes of your Heavenly Father who ADORES you. He thinks you are the most stunning thing He’s ever made. Physical beauty is not bad, and pursuing health is not either. But to obsess over looking a certain way is, I believe, wrong and it hurts us. It causes us to be less of ourselves, and harbor internal resentment that is toxic to our souls.
Sure, perfect may be “pretty”, but authentic- rocking what you got and loving it- is wildly gorgeous. I’ll pick wildly gorgeous over perfect any damn day.
Finally, my sisters- Be kind, be well, and be good to that woman in the mirror- for she is who you are right now. Respect and love her now, and she will only grow more beautiful and strong every day.
LEARN HOW TO BE KIND TO YOURSELF. (Pay attention to how you talk to yourself! We all flourish under encouragement and love, and we shrink under shame and comparison.)
Keep in mind- to truly be kind is not to be harsh, unforgiving, nor over-indulging or medicating.
Take everything you see, pretty much anywhere- with a grain, or a pile of salt. Never underestimate the magic of a filter, squeeze effect, or angle. Many who post perfect photos and updates cry at night because their posted life is very different from their real life. Perfection is an illusion through and through. Don’t spend your life chasing something that doesn’t exist.
Be present. Fill your thoughts and aspirations with “Today- I took care of myself”, “Today I was kind to myself.”
Rock the hell outta what you got. Confidence is the most gorgeous thing in this world. Hands down. Start today. Won’t do you any good to say- I’ll be more confident when I____. Rock the hell out of what you’ve got TODAY.
Invest in and prioritize taking care of yourself.
Feed yourself real food, and drink lots of water. You just feel better about everything when you are hydrated and eating real food- makes it easier to be confident.
Get active because it makes you STRONG.
Look for the joys in TODAY. The sunset you can see from your car on the drive home from work, the wind on your face as you go on a walk, and one of my faves- the simple delight of cold sheets, the noise of your ceiling fan, and the welcome darkness of your room as you drift off to sleep after a full and satisfying day of being the best woman you could be today.
Finally- be a woman of SUBSTANCE, and aim HIGH- stir up greatness in those around you, speak life and encouragement into the women around you, refuse to feed the monster that is comparison in you or others! RISE ABOVE THE NOISE!
SUBSCRIBE TO CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH STRUNG WOMAN BLOG BELOW!
"For The Love Of God Woman, Tone It Down!!!"
Confessions Of A High Strung Woman
Lord have mercy. Try as I might, there is no way around it. I have been “high strung” every single day that I have walked upon this earth, and it’s only seemed to grow worse the older that I’ve gotten.
I can’t turn it off, I’ve never found a fader switch, and most of my life, it seemed like everyone around me wanted me to, “For The Love Of God, Woman, Tone It Down!”
Let’s be honest here- I’ve never NOT been high strung. I’ve known one speed since day one- full throttle, ya’ll.
I was absolutely, without a doubt, the highest strung 3 year old little girl you have ever seen. I had a heavy Texas accent, a HUGE imagination, and opinions about EVERYTHING, and I talked ALL THE TIME.
No one taught me to be this way, it was just who I was: A very small, loud person with big eyes, full of spunk and ideas, and an appetite for life that would weary any mother’s heart.
For as long as I can possibly remember, to as tiny of a person as I can possibly remember being, I remember feeling things DEEPLY- I mean, I felt them in my bones. Everything was a big deal to me, and unfortunately for my sweet Mama- I felt and expressed my passion in equal proportion no matter the cause. My Cheerios, what time I had to go to bed, someone being mean to Grover on Sesame Street, or even a much deserved spanking for sassing my Dad- all mattered the SAME to me in terms of passion and feeling. Having to go to bed early and miss out on fun hurt my little heart just as badly as slamming my finger in the door.
Think I’m just being ridiculous? You try reasoning with a toddler about why it’s irrational to have your heart broken when the apple juice has run out and there’s just no more. No really- I want to hear how that goes.
I’ve tried it, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in my I’m-just-an-aunt babysitting- it’s that toddlers can be completely irrational, emotional terrorists. They will break your heart with their little sobs and treat you like you’ve wronged them in a way they’ll never forgive nor forget. It doesn’t matter why there’s no more juice- they don’t care, but they will hold you personally responsible. Yes they’re adorable, and so precious- but there is no way to reason with them when they are upset, and they do NOT negotiate with grownups.
Now in all fairness, I do remember feeling things so deeply in my own tiny toddler heart that it just escaped from the inside of me to the outside of my body through shrieks of joy, shivers of excitement, or sobs of disappointment- never to be consoled again. Scarlett O’Hare had nothing on my dramatics. I had game.
In fact, we have family photos of me as a toddler with a giant grin on my chubby little face with tiny clenched fists in the air standing next to my sweet smiling Mama. Believe it or not, those tiny fists were not clenched out of anger or frustration: according to my Mom, that’s just what I would do when I was really, really excited and happy. I was so overwhelmed by the feelings inside of me that I couldn’t help myself, my fists would just rise into the air and shake as I shrieked in joy.
Now, let’s be honest- that kid scares me.
Like, are you happy little girl? Or are you sad? Are you mad? Are you happy about being mad? You sure do look mad…. Are you going to kill me in my sleep little girl?
If I was babysitting that little girl, I would have been legitimately scared to death, and rightfully so.
Now, I am one of the first of a generation who has been able to watch ourselves as children through the wonder of “home videos”, something my parents never had the opportunity to do, and those videos of 3 year old me have challenged my adult self to the very core. One in particular was a video in our old living room of me “performing” through dance, song, and dramatic monologue, and I almost didn’t recognize myself.
You see, 3 year old me, didn’t know to alter her personality, smooth out her dance moves, or tone down her passion and excitement so people would like her better.
No, she was unapologetically wild-eyed and full of imagination and big ideas. She also, unfortunately, liked to mix 4 square dancing with hip hop back spins and ballet, but homegirl didn’t care a wink what anyone thought, and today I think she’s a badass because of it.
I was so awestruck by that little bundle of energy and passion and her awful dance moves the first time I saw that video as an adult- that I just cried. Who was that little girl? Where did she go?
That little girl was free. That little girl knew who the hell she was, and she liked herself! That little girl loved to perform, and although she had some maturing to do- she was brilliant and one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.
For the first time in my entire life, I saw myself FREE. Free of caring what people thought about me, free from hesitation, and free to be and express how I truly felt.
That video and image of the wild-eyed 3 year old haunted me all through my 20’s as I searched desperately for who I really was, and who I really wanted to be. I wept often for her- convinced I had lost her forever. I was jealous of her freedom, and I ached for her JOY.
Little did I know, that video would be a catalyst and instrument to one of the greatest works in my life- learning to accept, love, take care of, and celebrate the real ME- ALL of me.
“Why Do I Feel So Much All Of The Damn Time?”
I have A LOT inside of me, and like many of you, I have never been quite sure of just what to do with it. This depth of emotion, passion, and strength as a woman has caused me countless losses, fights, and problems. The world can be a highly dangerous place for the sensitive heart of a high strung woman.
My heart grieves for the far too many “casualties of the soul” in my fellow high strung women that were intended for greatness, but have been silenced and sidelined by rejection, misunderstanding, and the pressure to force themselves into the narrow black box of female identity today. I believe that for these women to lose their brilliance of spirit has been a tragic loss for our world. For these women have insight, creativity, and strength of the soul that I believe God intended to use to change our world in amazing ways.
After 30 years of inner turmoil, loneliness, and fear of my own self, today I say NO.MORE.
No more walking in deep shame and loneliness because we are misunderstood. No More mistreating ourselves and trying to force ourselves to be less passionate, to care less, or to be more “stable” women so that people will like us better. No more being afraid of our own strength. No more shame. No more believing that everything about us is wrong.
No, instead- we will learn to celebrate the rare and incredible gift God has given us in a passionate personality. We will learn to harness and master our emotions and passion for incredible things, and no longer fear them. We will learn to repent of the unkindnesses we have done to ourselves and others out of misplaced passion, and most importantly, we will learn to love ourselves well. Not a begrudging love as if we have no choice but to accept it, but a real love that fosters deep respect for ourselves, an unbounding satisfying internal connection, and a dedication to care for this mysterious and powerful gift that God has given us.
The journey of a High Strung Woman is in many ways an undocumented and unsupported one, but my heart here is to at least start the conversation. I’m so incredibly humbled and honored that you would read this little blog. It certainly isn’t an expert manual or guide for how to be a great woman, or even how to be a great High Strung Woman. It’s NOT about overcoming your high strung spirit, but it is about finally respecting and caring for one of the greatest gifts God gave you. I promise you: you will need the strength of spirit you have to do the amazing things He’ll call you to do. So it’s time we learn to care for it.
This is just the story of a 4th Generation Baptist Pastor’s Daughter with a wild heart and high strung personality trying to find her way. I pray that in some way, God uses this book to break loose some chains and heal wounds on your beautiful, wild soul my sister.
The Blog That Started It All : Confessions Of A High Strung Woman
Lord have mercy. Try as I might, I have been “high strung” every day that I have been upon this earth. I simply care… really care… about EVERYTHING. Now, that can be a great thing, but it can also wear you out, as well as those around you, and get you into some trouble. I grew up as a Pastor’s daughter, and no one loves to throw around the “gentle and quiet spirit” Bible verses about real Godly women quite like the Baptists do. I heard that verse more than I ever wanted to… and it always seemed so condemning, so shaming for someone wired like me- confirming that even God Himself thought I was too much! Mercy, that’ll mess you up… that’ll mess you up real good.
Anyways- after a lot of good therapy and more than a few “Come to Jesus meetings” with the REAL Jesus- you know the One who created me in my Mother’s womb and knows every part of me, I have finally embraced my “High Strung Spiritedness”.Yes, it’s true, many people, especially the “churchies”, as I call them, are much more comfortable when I’m trying to force myself into the box of what they see as a “gentle and quiet spirit”, but the way I see it, they can just take that to the Good Lord Himself. He’s the one that gave me a wild heart, a passionate soul, and I believe He intends to use it to reflect some parts of Him that this world must need to see, by being 100%, genuine ME.
That being said - there are some things I have had to work on, and some skills I have had to learn in order to handle a long life filled with “high-strung-ed-ness”. It’s taken me a long time to figure some of this out, so if you’re a fellow high strung person, especially a lady, read on for a few things that you might find helpful. :)
The first resource I found was actually several meditation podcasts. Lawd have mercy, yes- MEDITATIONS! Now, if you grew up in the church house like I did, your upbringing probably taught you to think that meditations were only done by the crazy monkey in The Lion King. It was just New Age nonsense straight from the Devil himself….. FALSE.
I gotta tell you, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this meditation podcast. You can lay down, put a pillow over your eyes, and throw your headphones in as someone in a calm, soothing voice talks you through slowing your mind down, relaxing your body, and releasing fear and worry. I am not overselling this when I say- it changed my life, and I cannot over-recommend it. Becoming intentional about managing our emotions in a healthy way is some real work, especially for those of us who “feel” a great deal about everything, BUT it is SO good and so good for you. Heck, anyone who lives with you will be glad you’re doing it. It seems to improve everyone’s quality of life! ;)
- One of the best things I learned, is that it IS our responsibility to deal with what goes on inside of us, and we are held accountable for how we take it out on those OUTSIDE of us! We must be as diligent to work out our insides to be healthy, just as much as our outsides.
These two meditation podcasts are my favorite:
And Secondly http://www.themeditationpodcast.com/ which can also be found on iTunes by searching “The Meditation Podcast”
- Here’s an example of how relevant these little suckers are. Right before Christmas, Stin released a podcast specifically for preparing for seeing FAMILY over the Holidays. I mean- COME ON! How helpful is that? Seriously. There’s not a person I know who doesn’t get stressed out at the thought of family and the Holidays. This is some GOOOOOD stuff. Now, if you’re all perfectly balanced and never get worked up, stressed, fearful, or overwhelmed, this probably isn’t for you. Let’s be honest, I probably don’t want to talk to you either, but if you’re a hot mess express like me, then take heed friends. This is some gooooooooood stuff.
My friends and family laughed at me when I first told them about it. Those people are now all subscribers to these podcasts. That, in my home, is what we call a BOOM.TOWN.
insert Spiritual Note Here: Crazy thing about these so called “New Age” meditations, is that Jesus often meets me there. He is the one I can see and hear from when I am finally still and quiet enough to open my heart and mind! Fear not good church people! God is not mocked, lost, or defeated in this practice of emotional health! You often find Him in the most unexpected places… :)
Another helpful thing is a new skill I have had to learn called HAVING BOUNDARIES. Good grief, if there’s one thing the South and the Bible Belt produce are over-worked, tired, run down women who think one must always be sweet and sacrificial… in order to “always” be sweet and serving, one can ever say “NO”. NEVAAAAH Dahlin. NEVAAAH.
Crazy thing is, that is guaranteed to produce obligated, resentful, and uninspired women…. You want a room full of those? Nope. That makes me nervous just to think about it. Better yet, you want one of those as a wife? I can tell you from personal experience, it ain’t pretty. I have been that wife. Poor Ryan- God bless him. Thank the Lord Almighty for the Boundaries books by Townsend! It has been such an incredible help in a very challenging journey for this people pleasing eldest preachers daughter! In one of the chapters in “Boundaries In Marriage”, I heard the verse of “Give with a cheerful heart”, taught in the most ENLIGHTENING way…
Instead of the dutiful message of “you better be happy when you give this!!!! or else!” that I had heard all those years in church, Townsend teaches this revolutionary simple principle….
If you can’t give with a cheerful heart, then do not give.
For if you do, you are giving with strings tied to it, and it is not a gift indeed. Worse yet, if you give and will resent it later…. HERE’S THE CRAZY PART… it is not the fault of the person to whom you gave to or may have even asked you to give, it is actually on YOU! For it is our responsibility to guard our hearts, and if we give when we cannot give freely, happy in our hearts, then we alone are to blame for our resentment!!!! Holy Moly.
That rocked my little church-going, VBS singing, pew sitting, obligatory missionary giving world. You mean, I am responsible to make sure and give only when I can give freely??? Oy.
Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself this… BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THEY ASK ME???? What about when the ladies ministry coordinator tells me that they desperately need someone to cook for the women’s retreat, and she believes God has called ME to do it? Alright now. Ya’ll take a deep breath, it’s about to get real. Here’s what you do. You do NOT immediately tell her yes. You take some time, look at your life and your current responsibilities, your family, and gauge how much you HONESTLY have to give, can give, and WANT to give. If you can’t give freely and without resentment, or even more you just don’t want to, you tell that sweet church lady, “Thank you so much for asking me to help, but I simply cannot do it. I am praying and trusting that the Lord will provide exactly what you need for this retreat.” And sistas- He is MORE than able to provide without manipulating anyone to do things out of guilt. He can create mountains out of NOTHING. He can handle the Women’s Retreat 2014 just fine. We just better give Him room to do so, and quit muddling it up with our compulsion to never say no. :)
Finally, I have learned that there is unmatched worth for a high strung person, in a good, hard workout, and I believe it has to involve resistance training. I don’t mean a little walk around the block- I mean sweating like you mean it, like you need it. Because you DO need it. Before you go all crazy on me- here’s what I mean- NOT working out to lose weight, but working out to clear your mind and find your sanity. Working out is something no one can do for you, it’s not something you can buy, and it is something that you do for YOU. It’s inherently self serving and self healing. It is absolutely essential for a high strung woman in my opinion. I do not function well without it- my husband and family can vouch for this.
Now I have always been somewhat of a runner, eh, reaaaalllyyyy more of a “jogger”. A couple of years ago I was extremely stressed, unhappy, and had gotten pretty chubby (if we’re honest here- stress will do that to a girl). I complained to my doctor that I ran/walked at least 10 miles a week (because of my crazy dog that would tear my house apart without it) and I still wasn’t feeling good or dropping the extra weight… After a few questions, she told me I HAD to incorporate resistance/weight training, that there was no way around it.
Well, that pissed me off- I was already bulkier than I wanted to be, and I didn’t feel like having to work out that much harder… I mean, what woman wants to bulk up like some linebacker? I’m a ladaaaaay for crying out loud! Shouldn’t I just do jazzercise or something? (I can’t even help it- I am dying laughing as I type that…)
Well, I finally got so fed up that I broke down and bought the Chalean program from BeachBody.com . It is an at home resistance training DVD set that was supposed to take me through 90 days of getting LEAN. I bought a set of 5lb and 10lb weights and prepared myself- at least my body would be firm, even if it was going to be big. I might become the size of a female football player, but nothing was going to jiggle. ;)
But as I kept with it, the craziest thing happened- I didn’t bulk up, and I didn’t turn into a man oozing with testosterone. I had to work hard, and I sweat A LOT. But I felt AMAZING, and I grew to LOVE the work and how I felt after it. More than I had ever experienced with “runners highs” and such- resistance training made me strong, got me out of my “I’m a victim of my own life mindset”, got me lean, and most of all- I FELT great mentally!!!!! I didn’t do the entire program in 90 days, I did the first two DVD’s for about a YEAR before I was ready to move into the hardest one… I paused the DVD when I couldn’t go on right away, I drank a bunch of water when I needed to, caught my breath, hell- I am sure I had more than one snack in the middle of those workouts too!
The point is- if you’ve got a lot going on, you HAVE to have some place to work it out, and not just mentally, emotionally, or spiritually… Sweat does great things for the body and the soul.
There are MANY other things that can be helpful for the high strung woman, but these three have made a major difference in my lie. I hope they’ll be helpful in some way.
It would be a great tragedy, if rather than learning how to care well for ourselves as passionate, high strung women, we choose to numb ourselves , become lost in obligation and perfectionism, or God forbid, let our emotions get out of health and hand, and wound those around us.
A high strung woman who does not care well for herself, and refuses to see herself as responsible to manage what God has given her often explodes by showing too much “strength” in inappropriate places, and wounding many. If we want to get honest, she’s often seen as a “bitch”. I don’t mean to offend with that word, but that’s the best definition I can think of in terms of what the world sees.
Just as any thing, any gift can be distorted and misused, so can strength in any man or woman. To whom much is given, much is required.
If you’re a high strung woman, I pray you will begin to see your temperment as a gift, a wonderful thing that must be properly cared for and looked after, so that it may shine in all of the glory it was intended for. Shame no longer has a place here, nor condemnation. Be all of who God has called you to be- and be faithful to care well for what He has given you!
Honest As I Can Be.