Posted in Being Human, Enneagram, grief, Inspiration

Seeking the Inner Gem – from Perfectionist to the Muse

Practically Perfect in Every Way!

For the first 45 years of my life, I tried to be perfect.  Apparently the next 45 are about learning to be human.  My innate, inner perfectionist offers a sigh of resignation and frustration over this awareness.  SIGH.  While a student in the Commissioned Lay Ministry program I was introduced to a profound spiritual tool called The Enneagram.  Through the assessment and careful discernment with our program director, it was determined that I am a Type 1 on the Enneagram – the Perfectionist.  This fit in perfectly with the attitude I had embraced for my entire life up to that point – I had to be perfect.  As Mary Poppins (still my all-time favorite Disney movie!) would say, “Practically perfect in every way.”  This perfectionist manifested in every situation in my life, most especially in the world of emotions – as a perfectionist, emotions were not allowed – with one exception.

Resentment and Anger

While still living as a perfectionist, I only knew only two emotions – resentment and anger.  These were the only tools I had to deal with issues of loss, disappointment, rejection, transition and change.  When things didn’t go my way – rage.  When I felt rejected or undervalued – resentment.  When I experienced a loss – anger.  While these emotions in and of themselves are not bad, for a perfectionist who can only be perfect, these emotions presented an additional challenge – GUILT, SELF-LOATHING and SHAME.  One who is angry, resentful, rage-filled is not in any way perfect.  So, wags the finger of the inner critic shaming and blaming me for not being perfect.  ARGH!  It is a vicious cycle to be sure.  One thing I learned about the Type 1 on the Enneagram is that rage and anger become our ego-fixation.  Harboring, cultivating, nurturing resentment and anger creates a vicious downward spiral of separation (from self and others) and self-loathing.  BLECH

Waking up?

Somewhere along the line, I woke up.  Rather, the Universe woke me up in the form of a significant loss that happened in close proximity to a trauma and post-partum.  Suddenly, my anger and rage became the paralysis of depression.  I sought help through a therapist and my Spiritual Director and it became apparent that I had a lifetime of grief that needed to be processed, released and healed and that in order to process this grief, I would need to be present to my true feelings.  Suddenly, the Talbot’s attired, tied up tight, in control, master of my destiny Lauri toppled to the ground and a new Lauri had to be born…one that could be vulnerable, have feelings, experience pain, loss, disappointment.  Once this was identified, the dam burst and I was flooded with real life.  YIKES!

The Martyr and the Muse

In using the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual transformation, we learn about our Point of Disintegration and The Inner Gem.  Ironically, they are one and the same.  When the Perfectionist is deeply imbedded in our compulsion, we gravitate toward our point of disintegration – Type 4 on the Enneagram, here referred to as The Martyr.  The Martyr is the suffering, woeful, hopeless romantic.  “Oh woe is me, I am doomed, no one understands me and no one will ever love me.”  Over the course of my life as a perfectionist, I have become well acquainted with the Martyr.  The martyr feels EVERYTHING in spades – every slight, every criticism, every sideways glance, every perceived rejection as daggers to the heart.  We are mortally wounded (or so we think) by the slings and arrows of life.  Everything feels like an attack against us and our gifts.  What we don’t yet know, however, is that hidden within our Inner Moaning Myrtle, is the MUSE and that this is the Inner Gem we are invited to seek, discover, cultivate and embrace.  The Muse is he or she who FEELS the ups and downs of life, who experiences the fullness of emotions and who gives creative expression to these emotional life experiences so that others may be inspired, comforted, healed, challenged, empowered.  The difference between the Martyr and the Muse is that the Martyr is overcome by the emotions that they feel, the Muse is present to their essential quality of Equanimity  – able to journey through the peaks and valleys of the human experience gracefully and no worse for wear.

Still Learning

I am acutely aware of this dance between the martyr and the muse as I process a recent and significant loss.  On one hand, bombarded by the chaotic and unpredictable journey of grief, I feel compelled to crawl into a corner of victimhood – O Woe is Me….nobody loves me.  On the other hand, I am inspired to see what it looks like to allow myself to feel – to be present to the grief and to employ the gifts of my inner muse to give creative expression to that journey – perhaps with the intent of inspiring and supporting others one day.  At any rate, I still feel as if I am learning….trying to silence the inner voices of rejection and shame and simply be present to the loss.  To cry.  To rage.  To bargain.  To deny.  And to write to it all.  I’m hoping that in doing this, my Moaning Myrtle becomes magnificent, beautiful and inspiring like one of my favorite Type 4’s – Sarah McLachlan.  And as her songs have brought healing to my broken heart, maybe one day my poems will do the same for another.

Posted in creativity, Holy Spirit, mental illness, Spiritual Practices

Depression and the Muse

Today’s blog explores the strange dance between the voice of the Holy Spirit that seeks to be known within us and symptoms of depression. 


This weekend, I found myself sidelined by symptoms of depression, melancholy and overall martyrdom.  It started with the telltale signs of depression – sadness, paralysis and the strange closing sensation at the top of the head that reminds me of the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium roof when it is being closed on account of rain.  The collapsable steel roof in my mind slams shut, preventing me from thinking or acting straight.  Thank God I had some mindless creative activities to keep me from falling into the bottom of the pit, but once the creative activities ceased, I came down with some mysterious eye infection that told me “all bets were off.”  I was forced to spend the remainder of the weekend on the couch, unable to complete any of the “goals” I had set for the weekend and this ushered in the demons of martyrdom and victimhood.  “Oh, Woe is Me…..Won’t you feel sorry for me?”  I felt sorry for myself, wanted everyone else to feel sorry for me and was sure it was somebody else’s fault I was feeling this way.  Damn you depression.  Damn you.

Enter the Muse

Then a strange thing happened.  After spending a couple of day wallowing in self-pity and cultivating the darkness of depression which for me included an ocean of unnamed tears, I had to go teach a class.  (A five-day weekend is never a good thing for someone who struggles with depression!)  I hemmed and hawed all day trying to find a reason to NOT teach this class.  Instead, I got my butt off the couch and went.  THANK GOD.  Because as I joined the participants in doing the prescribed meditation and journaling exercise, I found the words coming out of me that were the true source of the depression that I had experienced this weekend.  In the form of dialogue first, then a poem, the cause of my weekend depression revealed itself……and the source:  FEAR OF REJECTION – the core wound that I identified in the work I have done with my teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson, and the darn wound that colors the way I perceive my world.  ARGH!  Out Damn Spot.  Out I say!  As the words of the poem sprang forth out of my pen, and the fear of rejection was identified, I cried.  Then, viola’ my depression was gone.  (Further assisted by the fact that I was doing what I love to do and seeing the benefit to those attending the class.)

Depression, the Muse, the Holy Spirit

It is amazing to me the dance that I see over and over and over again between my personal symptoms of mental illness – depression, anxiety, panic attacks; and the working of my inner muse which could just as easily be called THE HOLY SPIRIT.  So often, when I am plunged into depression or suffering anxiety, the release comes when I finally put my pen to paper and start writing.  Every time, my pen reveals the source of the depression or anxiety and once identified, it is released.  Amy Grant gives voice to this experience in her song The Power.

The Power touches me

The Power helps us see

The Power holds my hand


The Holy Spirit WANTS us to know our truth and will HOUND US until we identify this truth and give it its voice.  And for me, it hounds me through my  personal symptoms consistent with mental illness.  And this really gets me wondering, how many who suffer with symptoms of mental illness would find relief by getting in touch with and giving voice to the Holy Spirit/Muse within?

Annd just for fun, here is my favorite song from the band, Muse that in my mind, talks about the Super Massive Black hole of depression:

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Posted in creativity, Discernment, Inspiration

Listening to our Soul

Within each of us resides the voice of truth…the voice of “God,” the voice of the “Higher Self,” whatever you want to call it.  It is the voice that leads us to our truth, our destiny, to expansiveness and love.  It is the Voice of the Soul

Switching Gears

I has been a busy week at the Lumby house.  Clients.  Preparation for the January birth.  And, my kids have been here for 8 straight days, going on 11 as their father enjoys a week of retreat after a busy art season.  (Their father is a really talented artist…check out his site:  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love being busy, making preparations and I especially love soaking up the presence of my children (even when they are fighting over the lamp that is causing a glare in Wil’s tv vision. )   And, I suddenly realized this morning that my Extrovert is spent and my inner Introvert is SCREAMING for attention, nurturing and pampering.  Not only that, but the truest voice of my soul – my writer, poet and artist is moaning out of sheer neglect.  As I listen to the voices of my soul, I hear a clear command:  “Time to switch gears.”  So, instead of indulging my normal Thursday morning ritual of sharing mass with the amazing retired nuns at the local Franciscan convent, I will be tending my soul.  I will drag out my Sarah McLaughlin CD’s and by myself, allow her angelic voice carry my soul to where it needs to be to muse, be inspired, create and write.  My introvert will be happy as will my inner muse.  YAY!

An Invitation

My invitation for you today is to do the same.  What is your SOUL saying to you?  How have your nurtured or neglected the voice within that speaks from your heart and speaks to your heart? The voice that leads you to inspiration, comfort, expansiveness, indulgence?  What is your soul asking of you?  Time?  Attention?  To simply be heard?  The good news is that the first step is an easy one…and that is to simply listen.  Pause for a moment and REALLY listen.  What does your heart want?  What does your joy want?  What does your comfort want?  What does your soul LONG for?  And the second step….DO IT!

And if that isn’t enough, listen to this song and watch the video and if that doesn’t inspire you…call me and we’ll set up an appointment for some emergency intervention for your soul!!!!!

Have an A-Musing day!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries