Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

It is time for some reflection on creativity, life, passion, purpose. Shall we? So, let’s get right to the tough questions we all ask ourselves. Are you living the life you want? Have you found your purpose and are you pursuing your goals with focus and passion?

I am pleased and beyond excited to say I am living my dreams, for the most part, but I admit that I still flail around and lose sight of where I’m going and what I should do with my time. It is hard to stay on course with priorities.

Take my faux fireplace project, for example. Now before I begin, I’m updating this to remind everyone that the photo below is NOT decorated to my liking. The fireplace is NOT finished. It is just tacked together because I didn’t have the right tools. Now, let’s see what I learned from this.

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

Remember this project? I was really excited about this little DIY fireplace mantel project.

For about a day.

I got only so far into it, before I stopped in my tracks and gave up in frustration. If you’ve forgotten about this project, I don’t blame you. It was AGES ago. And I’ve been too flustered to talk about it ever since. I didn’t want to disappoint you, myself, or bring DIY scorn upon myself {hangs head in shame}.

The nutshell situation was I had a real fireplace mantel that I wanted to use as an architectural piece in my entry. The wall I thought it would work best on happened to have one of those poorly placed air return vent things on it, so I didn’t want to restrict airflow, but I of course wanted to disguise the vent if I could.

So I reached out to you to see what ideas you might have that would fill up that huge area including the vent without looking silly or restricting airflow. I had ideas of my own, but I still wanted your ideas because you are pretty smart. And you didn’t disappoint.

Y’all gave me some fabulous ideas and I really appreciated your suggestions. Well, most of them. Heh heh. One of my readers told me you thought my mantel belonged in a showroom and not a home. What? OK. That one made me laugh and kind of made me feel a little sad for sharing my idea. But I got over it. I guess I’m a rule breaker and feel that if I like something enough, I can find a way to use it in my house. I happen to like architecture so I’m going to keep it, if that is OK.

While I was capable of doing something super simple here and could have finished this project long ago, I decided to try something a little beyond my normal DIY skill level, something requiring wood, sawing, nailing into solid wood, measuring and all that DIY kind of stuff. Stuff requiring special tools. Stuff I normally avoid like the plague. Hello.

I know.

What was I thinking?

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

You see, I wanted my fireplace to look like THIS (above). Awesome! One of my readers found me this perfect inspiration photo and it was settled in my mind, I (as in ME, MYSELF, with my own two hands!) was going to recreate that lovely chunky architectural fireplace. So I did what all the super-DIY bloggers do, I took a little trip to the hardware store and found some wood slat shelves that seemed like the perfect way to recreate the look. SCORE.

I was pretty pleased with the whole idea, in my head, but ladies, once I got started, I remembered why I dislike projects like this. It was pretty much a FAIL and a FRUSTRATION after that. I didn’t have the right tools. Nothing came together as easily as I had hoped.

I had no patience for the process. I asked my husband for help (looking for a rescue for my bad decision) and he reminded me this isn’t his gift either. We both stared blankly at all the wood and our insufficient tools and and we might have even had a little fight about how we were or were not going to get this done. We are no power DIY couple.

So, now I pass by this wall every day thinking I should finish it, but I just loathe the idea of going back to it. I don’t know how to proceed and I don’t care to figure it out. I don’t want to get the right tools. I just want it done, but I don’t want to be the one to do it. There. I admitted it. It was a project FAIL.

Let’s stop right there and back up a bit.

Was it a mistake to try something beyond my skill level?

It is not a mistake to take a risk of failure or to try something you have never done before if it is something you know you need to do or grow in or want to learn. I have to stretch myself ALL THE TIME in order to grow as a person, to grow my business and to achieve goals. I do things I don’t want to do. I try things I’ve never tried before. That is how we learn and that is how we succeed.

We can’t give up too easily or too soon or we’ll miss out on the reward of persistence and hard work! You can’t reach goals without a lot of hard work!


Another way to look at this is we need to learn what our own strengths and weaknesses are and decide for ourselves WHICH ones we want to grow in and spend our time on, and which ones we can accept and be content without doing. We don’t want to run out of steam before we achieve the goals that really matter to us.

No one can be skilled in everything, but all of us can be pretty good at what we need to do or choose to do — and what we put our minds to. You can achieve your goals and enjoy almost every hardworking minute of it, as long as you are going after goals you are passionate about.

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

I wrote about this very type of thing in my little ebook NOT a DIY Diva, How to Create an Authentically-Inspired Life in a Pinterest World, if you missed it. Perhaps I need to re-read it to re-inspire myself!

We can’t do it all. I KNOW that this type of DIY project is not really my thing. DIY is not OUR thing as a couple. We don’t own fancy tools beyond the basics. I know I would much rather pay someone to do it for us so I can just focus on being a wife, a mom, decorating, nesting and fluffing my house and my husband can do what he is gifted at. He is amazingly supportive and helpful around the house and with the kids and he is good at what he enjoys in life, he just doesn’t like to build stuff with tools.

But, I lost my mind for a little bit and set aside what I know and what my priorities are. I thought I would try to do it myself in spite of what I know about myself, my husband, and this season of my life. I set myself up to be discouraged and frustrated over something I really didn’t HAVE to do.  It wasn’t essential to our survival or happiness in life.

And so, there it sits. Undone. Mocking me. Stealing my joy. Zapping my creative energy.

Projects involving tools or unnecessary frustration are NOT my passion. I need to write that on my mirror. I could save myself some trouble.

Obviously we can’t all hire out everything we don’t like to do. I’m sure some people do that, but most of us can’t. That isn’t reality. Sometimes we just need to get tough and do it ourselves. And we’ve had to do that many times in our home.

But we definitely can to learn to figure out when we should push ourselves to grow, learn and do more to achieve our goals and dreams, and when we should simply accept how we are wired and what our abilities and capabilities are in this season of life and make smarter choices about how to spend our time.

Even super heroes have their limitations.

We need to figure out the life we want to live and go for it with GUSTO and not waste a bunch of time on things that are unnecessary or don’t propel us towards our goals. Things we might even like, but don’t fit with our goals or passion in this season of life. Things we are just not cut out for or that zap us of our creative energy. And certainly we need to let get out of the comparison game. I can gladly let someone else be the superhero of mastering tools and complicated DIY because I know my own goals and purpose.

I just have to remember my priorities and goals every day. By saying no to one thing I don’t really have to do, I’m saying YES to something I love even more.

We only have so much time in a day, how do we want to spend our daily allowance of minutes?

And in that balancing act of what to do and what not to do, we start to figure out how to live an authentic life. We can learn to THRIVE in our PASSION and LOVE what we DO in life. We just have to make DAILY choices about what we are NOT going to do with our time and the kind of life we WANT.

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

We don’t all have to be DIY (do it all, ourselves) divas merely going through the motions of juggling life like everyone else does it, we can creatively THRIVE with our own unique style and way of living our dreams {with a little humor, a little grace and compassion and a creative purpose and style all our own.}

Do you struggle with the DIY syndrome? Thinking that you have to do it ALL yourself?
Are you sabotaging your own happiness and success because you don’t focus your energy on your own unique passion and gifts, and end up exhausted and worn out every day distracted by things that are not priorities or that you don’t even love doing?

It is so hard to stay on track with priorities and goals. But you’ve got this. You can do it! I believe in you!

So many good life lessons to be found in a failed DIY project! And no, I’m not sure yet how this fireplace saga ends. 

Confessions of Perfectionists: Finding Contentment and Peace in the Home and Life You Have

Confessions of Perfectionists: Finding Contentment and Peace in the Home and Life You Have

Disclaimer. This is going to be long. And contain lots of words. It just will. So grab a cup of coffee and get comfy. There are some good confessions in this post and maybe you’ll relate.

If you missed it, right before I left for Relevant I released my first ebook, NOT a DIY Diva. I haven’t really had much of a chance to talk about the book, being that I was rushing to get out of town and all! But the response to it so far has been encouraging and life-changing for me. It is great to find kindred spirits.

I’ve soooo appreciated the notes, messages and emails I’ve received and posts I’ve read from women who have struggled as I have to come to a place of contentment and peace with where they are in life. I will share a few of their emails with you today.

My story and journey to overcome perfectionism and find authenticity started long before blogging, but this issue takes on new meaning in blogland! There are many people who struggle with what is “enough.” Even if we don’t share what we are really thinking, the feeling of overwhelm and the struggle for contentment is not unusual!

Life probably isn’t going to be perfect for most of us (and if it is perfect, it might not be that way forever!). The older we get, the more we realize that reality! Imperfection is supposedly chic these days, but yet, do we really embrace that idea in every way? Or are we still striving for contentment and acceptance through perfection, even in our imperfection?

Some women just smile and nod and pretend everything is OK behind the closed doors of their pretty little houses and behind the scenes of blogs, but for many women, life at home REALLY is not perfect. It isn’t the fairytale they dreamed of and there are real struggles to find contentment.

It is tough being a good mom and keeper of our home and living up to our own expectations. It is challenging juggling our to do list and balancing priorities. It can be discouraging when our home, life, husband, children or blog doesn’t meet up to our ideal and we can feel discouraged with what we have.

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by ideas and inspiration and feel pressured to do more or spend more in order to “keep up.” Sometimes the overload can leave us curled up in bed unable to accomplish anything.

Being online can be like having ADD, inspiration is everywhere and you just don’t know where to focus any more.

I received an email from a young blogger who told me:

She goes crazy one month accomplishing those DIY projects around her house on a self-imposed crazy deadline, and the next month she basically passes out from exhaustion. She is desperately in need of finding a rhythm for her life so she can enjoy the journey!

She revealed the trap she sees online:

The bigger my blog gets and the deeper I get into this world the more I see the ugly side of it.  You know the side that is driven by money, stats and jealousy?

Another reader wrote to me saying she “feels productive searching for wardrobe ideas, craft projects and recipes online and cataloging them for future use.” Until she realizes she hasn’t finished a project in her own home in months, her house is a mess, she has nothing in the house for dinner and her kids have been on the computer all afternoon. Then she feels “defeated, discouraged and disappointed” with herself.

I have thought many times over my four years of blogging that this job was a dream come true for me! And it really is! I am blessed in many ways. I can say “this is my job” and therefore I can do more to decorate my home. How fun is that? And I can justify spending more time blogging and fixing up my home because, well, blogging is how we are able to support our outside ministries. The more I do, the more I blog, the bigger and better my business can be! That gives me a great excuse, right?

Confessions of Perfectionists: Finding Contentment and Peace in the Home and Life You Have

Yet, it is often the justifiable respectable good things and reasonable excuses that pull me back to discontent with my life.

While it is true, this is my job, and it couldn’t be a better fit for me and it definitely provides for our needs, I really have to try hard to not let my “job” lure me into a perpetual state of discontentment or put me on a constant mission to have the perfect home, accept more opportunities I don’t really need, create the perfect posts, set up the perfect holiday or live the perfect life. I don’t want my “job” or “hobby” or neighbors or comparisons or whatever it is at at the moment determine my success or failure as a woman, as a mom or keeper of my home.

That is another perfection trap I can fall into.

It is a fine line between what is right to do to support my family or charities or grow my business or simply to do what I enjoy, and what is the wrong message to send to my girls about what it takes to be content in life and what my priorities are. Gulp, it is not easy getting it right.

One blog writer sent this message to me:

While I have loved writing this blog and putting together my design business, the stress is immense to make it all work, while still being the perfect wife and mom.

A blog reader confessed:

Even though I enjoy reading all the blogs and you all feel like friends to me, I shut down my computer feeling kind of depressed sometimes because I don’t have that kind of time or money. I know they are just bloggers trying to give the best ideas, but it is hard to not compare yourself to their greatness when you can’t measure up.

I received another note recently from a reader who was encouraged by the ebook:

Melissa, you have helped me more than you could imagine. Your words have given me moments of inner peace. This feeling has been foreign for so long. I want to thank you, for now I can begin the process of living true to myself…Thank you so much.

I don’t have it all figured out yet. Obviously I love finding inspiration online and don’t feel it is all bad, I REALLY LOVE IT! But I do use the techniques and suggestions that I shared in my own ebook to refocus myself on what matters when I get sidetracked by the lure of shiny things I think I need to be doing!

By allowing myself to spend time getting distracted by many things that are not priorities, I’m by default saying NO to things I could be doing that are more important to me. I want to say YES to what matters and NO to what doesn’t.

What are you going to say YES to TODAY?


Confessions of Perfectionists: Finding Contentment and Peace in the Home and Life You Have

You can find the ebook, NOT a DIY Diva, here.

Confessions of Perfectionists: Finding Contentment and Peace in the Home and Life You Have