April 27, 2015

Knee Deep & Muddy

Do you want to know a secret? Do you want to know how you get 5 years into being in a house- occupying its four corners & becoming familiar with the way it scatters patterns of light on the wall, and never once get around to starting some the simplest of projects? I’ll tell you, and I’ll do it in one word and three simple syllables: perfection.

Simply put, there are two big reasons why we delay starting something in this house…and they both come down to perfection. The first is that we have these grand, perfect plans for what we want it to be. And we convince ourselves that until we can do that, we just shouldn’t start at all. The other is that we become so paralyzed in the fear of making a mistake (What if we do it and it doesn’t turn out the way we want it to? What if we take this risk of time and money to start something, and the end result doesn’t look as perfect as we thought it would be? What if we have to start back over at the beginning?) that instead we just do nothing at all.

That sounds familiar doesn’t it?


Come on. Let’s get honest in the space of this Monday morning, as we each hold tight to the lifeline that is our favorite mug of coffee and pretend that this post wasn’t written just for us. This thing that I’ve just described with our house- this constant pursuit of perfection and the fear of making even the tiniest mistake and having to start over, that timidness and trepidation that continues to keep us paralyzed as one year turns into two turns into five- that sounds a lot like dream-chasing doesn’t it? I mean, right. If you think about it. We buy into this lie that if it isn’t perfect the very first time we ever try, then it probably wasn’t meant to be. And so we go on with our lives- never once trying– for fear that trying might tell us the very thing we never wanted to hear. That we don’t have it. That it’s not in us. That we’re not good enough and we never will be. That it was never meant to be.

And a year turns into two years turns into five.

If I could go back and talk to that girl who first got the keys to the front door five years ago, here is what I would tell her. Be willing to make mistakes. A lot of them. For every mistake brings you one step closer to what it one day will be. It teaches you something. And it makes for one heck of a lot better story, that’s for sure. Because no one, no one, who has ever done anything worth talking about got it right the first time. And nobody wants to hear that story anyway. So start with what you have and make that work for now. Fancy and finished will have its time. There will come a season when you get to be Pinterest worthy. But in the mean time, there is nothing wrong with just doing the best you can with what you have for now. Be willing to get your hands dirty for that. Be willing, as my friend Hannah says, to get knee deep & muddy in making something out of nothing happen. Because there is so much satisfaction in that. Dirt under your fingernails, cuts on your hands in the pursuit of something you believe in….well, that’s just about the best feeling in the world. And someday when it does look pretty & perfect to the outside world, you’ll get to look back and remember the truth. That you built this thing with your own two hands. That you know what it is to shine because you were first willing to get down deep in the mud.  So whatever you do sweet girl, just START. Begin. Break ground. Roll up your sleeves. Dig in deeper. Get your hands dirty. Start and make something, anything happen. Start and the right people will come alongside you to help you build it too. Start and don’t ever look back.

Trust me, the you five years from now will thank you for that.


  1. Ruth

    Wow. This was exactly what I needed this morning. Thank you, thank you, Mary! ♡

  2. Lauren R Swann

    This is such good advice, Mary!! It applies to all of life, not just those projects that we’ve been putting off in fear!! Thanks for sharing your heart with us! XO!

  3. admin

    @Ruth: you are VERY welcome!! Thank you for reading!

  4. admin

    @Lauren xoxoxox love you!

  5. Lisa Cour

    I’ve struggled with the perfection paralysis, but one of the gifts of cancer for me has been the stripping away of perfection. Life is simply too short to hold out for perfect. Good message!

  6. Rici

    This is so true. It strikes many chords, even if I moved into my new place just 3 weeks ago… but the pinterest worthy hit the chord. I tend to look at all the many creative´s Blog´s I follow and see the gorgeous / pretty / perfected niches of their abode & reflect on what I have… it seems the exact opposite of Pinterest worthy. And again, you are so right Mary. To simply begin & start & take it from there. Thank you dear friend!!!
    Even if I think I still have time to settle in ;)
    Hugs to you!

  7. Sarah Anne Hayes

    Oh, how I love this. It’s a lesson I’ve been learning and re-learning for years, but I’m finally starting to get past it, I think. Darling & Bliss wasn’t perfect when I started it four months ago — in fact, it changed in just the first three — but it changed because I started walking in a direction and saw there needed to be a slight adjustment of course. But I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t started walking in the first place. :)

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