Category Archives: Perfectionism

Thou Shalt Love Thy Bandmates

Anyway, riding in a van for a week turned us from “Friends

and Brothers” to angry inmates who couldn’t wait to bust out.

Fifteen Years.  That’s how long Shades Mountain Air has been together, at least the core of Greg and Nancy Womble, Gary Furr, and Don Wendorf.  We have spent a couple hours a week most of that fifteen years weekly at Greg and Nancy’s house, practicing, horsing around, composing, arranging, learning and growing from one another.  We’ve only had one personnel change in all that time–Don’s son, Paul, our outstanding fiddle player, left us to move on with wife, kids, career, to Texas, and so, we were four again for a while, then found Melanie Rodgers.  Mel has added dynamic new joy to our sound, and is now a part of our 15th Anniversary Live Album that is now available.     (Go to the website store for our new CD click here!)

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Shades Mountain Air at Moonlight, 2013

The album sounds great!  We hired Fred Miller of Knodding Off Music to record and engineer our live concert.  Fred did a fantastic job and we are so happy with the result.  He captured our live sound and energy.  It sounds like us!  There is NOTHING like live music, and though it’s fun to be in a studio and monkey around with something until you get it “perfect”, there is a corresponding loss of that spark that performers-audience and a venue provide.  We did it at our favorite gig–Moonlight On the Mountain in Bluff Park in Hoover, Alabama, with Keith Harrelson, as always, handling lights and sound.

I say all this because Shades Mountain Air is more than a band.  We have become family together.  We love playing together, singing, creating, whether anyone is listening or not.  Greg and Nancy’s kids grew up having to hear us every week in their house. We have been through life crises, griefs, and changes Read the rest of this entry

Whitney Houston and the Biggest Devil

Whitney Houston made your heart soar with that magnificent voice.  You kept hoping for her—so lovely, so achingly vulnerable, so fragile.  “Come on back, girl,” you hoped.   In the end, she didn’t.  There will be moralizing—drugs, bad choices, all the rest.  But such times are wrong for moral lessons.  There is a time to criticize, and a time to refrain from criticizing.  A time to learn a lesson, and a time to let the dead alone and mourn.

The story of Whitney Houston makes me think how hard it is to care for one’s own soul when there are so many other agendas vying for us.

Diane Sawyer recounted on the news last evening about that famous interview in 2002, when there was so much speculation about how thin she was and wondering about her condition.

Sawyer:   If you had to name the devil for you, the biggest devil among them?

Houston:   That would be me. It’s my deciding, it’s my heart, it’s what I want. And what I don’t want. Nobody makes me

Whitney in happier days

do anything I don’t want to do. It’s my decision. So the biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy. And that’s how I have to deal with it.

I respect her right to assess her own life.  But to take it a little deeper, I would add that it is important to understand what it means to genuinely accept the responsibility to care for oneself. If that sounds easy to do, it is not.  We are stewards of our lives.  A friend of mine told me of a seminary teacher colleague who used to say, “The first spiritual law is this: God loves you, and everyone has a plan for your life.”

Whitney said on the interview played on the news that the most terrible sound in the world is the sound of 10,000 disappointed fans.  That in my opinion is the demonic temptation of being an entertainer or for anyone who works with people on a large scale.  Preachers know: one or two venomous critics can cancel 100 who are blessed by us—if we give them that power.

But why would we?  And then there is that restlessness in oneself.  I asked an ambitious classmate of mine, who was never satisfied that the current church he was in was not a “good fit” for him,  “How many people will it take to tell you how wonderful you are before you can be happy?”  That’s the question you have to answer before you can do this work. That was three churches ago for him.  Hope he finally found the grass above the septic tank.

A pastor friend put it this way wants:  “I’m not bothered by what the critics said nearly so much I am bothered that I let it bother me.”   THAT is the place where the devil does his best work.

Rest in peace, Whitney.  Sing with the angels, and fear the critics no more.  In heaven, every judgment heals and purges, and there are no more tears or pain, for the former things have passed away.

10 Qualities of a pERFECTionits

deadline coming...

1.  Perfectionists cannot stand it when something is not completed.  For example, when a person…

2.  There is a rigidity about things always having to be a certain way or else they become very upset.  Things cannot be out of order, altered from their usual place, etc.

4.  If you’re going to do your best, you can’t always worry about pleasing everyone else (“You know you shouldn’t be writing this blog.  I told you to major in something else in college.  You’re an idiot.  Nobody cares what you think.)  Pay no attention to that voice in my head…

3.  Practice makes prefect.  Practifect makes perfice.  Aw, you know what I mean.

5.  If you are a Christian, be happy all the time and when you are mad, talk more piously.

6.  Almost perfect is never good enough.  Perfection is so hard to reach, you often don’t try.  This is so frustrating that I’m not going to list the last four.  It’s too overwhelming.

I forgot the other four.

In an article by Elizabeth Scott at About.com, I came across this statement.

High achievers tend to be pulled toward their goals by a desire to achieve them, and are happy with any steps made in the right direction. Perfectionists, on the other hand, tend to be pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them, and see anything less than a perfectly met goal as a failure.

That rings true.  Sometimes our goals are so lofty with a song, recording, preparing a presentation, aspiring to a project, or writing, that we are immobilized.   My friend, the late John Claypool, used to say that there’s a difference between wanting to do something and wanting to BE somebody.  The first group accomplishes a lot.  The second group tends to make themselves and everyone around them miserable.  It’s all about “how you look.”  Faggetaboutit!

In this culture so shaped by the visual dimension of life, are we so oriented to expectations that come from without us that we cannot find the “push” from within?

So, here is my advice to perfectionists.  Lose yourself in the task once in a while.  Don’t worry too much about how to sign your autographs just yet.  Just write good songs.  Sing your best.  All that obsession with fame, stuff, adoration and making a million is too much about being PUSHED.  Let yourself be pulled by something that offers so much joy you just HAVE to find it!

note to self

Accept the process and enjoy the ride.  The journey of healing will not be automatic and instant.  Taking something in, getting somewhere, growing, all involve time, faith, hope and love.

Strive for reality, not perfection. A friend of mine was struggling with some people whose behavior disappointed him in his church.  He expressed his disappointment and I replied, “You have to learn to lower your expectations.”  He asked, “How do you do it?”  I answered, “From reading the Bible.”    Have you ever noticed what a sorry lot of people are in the Bible–Jesus being the exception, of course?  If you want to feel good, read a Bible story.  But it ought to encourage you.  God works with the available material.

Try on a new self-assessment based on reality, not what you have experienced, come to mistakenly believe, or adapted to as a reaction to life.  Work on those voices inside your head.  Turn off the editor when you want to be creative.  Let it flow.  You’ll be surprised what comes forth when you aren’t worried about what someone will say about it.

Finally, lie down and sleep when you run out of ideas.  You’d be amazed what the acceptance of our limits can do to unleash creative power.  Turn the world back over to God every night.  It’s liable to still be there when you open your eyes in the morning.