“Let it be messy” – Em Keen


I think it is yoga teacher Em Keen that always says that in her classes.

I’ve heard it many times.

But now I’m actually listening (and trying to apply).

Here is what my messes have been teaching me.

Not everyone sees the same mess you do (thank God!)

I have recently almost completed a gallery wall in my house. I’ve had the idea forever, but the fear of fucking up a perfectly not fucked up white plaster wall that had been newly painted was too much. I didn’t trust myself to get it right, didn’t have all the pictures done at one time to hire someone to hang them, and didn’t have the patience to wait any longer.

It took time – lots of time – (and a few pep talks, and a visit from my neighbor Lyndsie who is more confident and courageous when it comes to just diving into home projects) before I too was brave enough to start poking through the plaster. And guess what?!

I fucked it up. Not once, not twice, not three times…(you can continue to play spot how many nail holes you can find in the screen shot below – I see at least 8) before I got the pictures where I wanted them to be.

I’m sharing this story, because too often we only ever see the finished pretty project – the bound and published book, the filtered reel, the polished presentation. And had I not shared, you would never know that all those holes happily live behind the ‘cover-ups.’

I want to see more “in the process of” or “middling” or “not quite yet” or “oops” shares because it is so easy to forget that the newly acclaimed bestseller started as balled up draft papers tossed into a trash. It is easy to forget the hours of practice that went into learning “Smoke on the Water” on the guitar. It is easy to forget that we almost always inevitably get it wrong, wrong, wrong before we get it ‘almost right.’

(Side bar – the wall is still not done, but I have also kinda fallen in love with Nick’s placeholder that he drew and put up – see there IS joy in the ‘becomings’! Now I might have to keep his hand drawn self-portrait up and add the picture I intended to go there in a new spot)

Some people do see the same mess you do (hopefully they love you anyway)

My new friend Angela stopped by this week unexpectedly. She had never been to my home and I was horrified about the state it was in when she showed up at my door. I am someone who takes a lot of pride in my place – I love that it’s old, and arty, and in many ways a curation of all the things I love. Overflowing bookshelves, bougie chandeliers, scatterings of pens and notebooks and sentimental this and thats. I dig my aesthetic. However, I had just gotten home from facilitating a weekend retreat, am struggling to find my my footing at a new job, and preparing for two international trips and all the appointments, paperwork, and stress that comes with doing that thing I love. Basically, I am trying to justify why my home was a complete disaster. Suitcases strewn in the middle of the living room floor, dirty clothes strewn in the hallway, beds unamde, floors unswept.

I am still reminding myself it’s okay that she saw me in an actual state of living (and that she promised to visit again when my house is in the controlled clean state I prefer lol).

Messes feel good to clean up

Messes come in many forms! On Wednesday night I did a workshop titled “Speed-Dating for the Soul” for the incredible Jen Jones Donatelli as part of her Artist Way Birthday Party Celebration (still a few free sessions left to attend if you are interested). Truth be told, I was really nervous to lead the session as the last time I ran this particular workshop it didn’t go well. Part of me wanted to never attempt it again, and part of me wanted redemption.

When I look at the smiles in the zoom shot I’m glad I was willing to let it flop again – because this time I didn’t flop; it didn’t we flop; we flourished 🙂 (that was a few people’s word of the year too).


Have fun messing it all up and cleaning it up and messing it up all over again.

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