1. Alyssa says:

    This is actually an issue that I think about a lot, and I still don’t quite know where I stand on it. My life was messy (literally more than figuratively) for a long time. With two babies born close together and lots of moves, I felt like our home life was a constant state of chaos…toys, dishes, diapers, boxes, etc. Yes, we had some great times amidst the mess, but the mess overwhelmed me.

    Now that I have the time and space to live a more orderly and organized life, I sometimes wonder if I’m wasting my time cleaning out a drawer or straightening up my daughters’ rooms for the 18,000th time (knowing they’ll be messy again in a few hours). But I’ve come to the realization that for ME, the key to unleashing my creative potential and passions is having a sense of order in my surroundings. I can’t think clearly if I sit down to write when I’m surrounded by papers and wondering what we’re going to have for dinner. I used to think that my desire for organization made me lame or less “creative” than others, but now I just think it makes me…me. Others might thrive in completely different circumstances, and that’s fine, too! I think we’re all wired differently and we need to find the balance that works for us.

    • Beth says:

      I completely agree that we all thrive under different circumstances, though I’m with you: I prefer order. The key for me lies in recognizing the difference between organizing for sanity’s sake, and organizing as a justifiable escape or way to defer the life I REALLY want to be living but am afraid to pursue. It’s a fine line, for sure, and best drawn by each of us as individuals. Thank you Alyssa!

      • julie says:

        wow, beth. this, “I prefer order. The key for me lies in recognizing the difference between organizing for sanity’s sake, and organizing as a justifiable escape or way to defer the life I REALLY want to be living but am afraid to pursue,” stung. i am absolutely guilty of this form of escapism. that’s exactly it, but also, the order. i have such a hard time reordering after truly engaging & letting things just “fall as they may.” do you have any suggestions for a rhythm to fully engage, while simultaneously maintaining a visually peaceful, tidy home? my first thought is minimalism..?

    • I am very similar Alyssa. In order to for me to be creative, productive, even happy, I need to feel that things are orderly, clean, and under control. (Granted, I have 10 furry animals and a toddler in my house, so my idea of clean might still be pretty gross to someone else.) I tend to be a bit compulsive about it though, so I’m working on lightening up and letting the wash pile sit a couple of hours!

      • Beth says:

        I think it’s wonderful that you know (and honor) what you need to feel creative, productive and happy. It’s also a beautiful thing that you’re able to make exceptions. That many bodies to love would seem to require it! 😉

  2. Karen Beaty says:

    YOU’RE TAKING BREAKFAST TACOS TO ASHEVILLE!!!!! You are a genius. There are a lot of (deeper) thoughts I could post here about what you have said but firstly I’m freaking out because YOU’RE TAKING BREAKFAST TACOS TO ASHEVILLE! Your place looks amazing- what a transformation. (I say from the birthplace of breakfast tacos. Austin, TX)

    • Beth says:

      Karen, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and we felt it needed to be sooner. These folks don’t even know what’s about to hit them. The closest thing most people know of is a breakfast burrito, AS IF THE TWO CAN EVEN BE COMPARED. Thanks for celebrating with us. 🙂

  3. Megan says:

    I always enjoy what you have to share and seem to read it at just the right time. Thanks for being honest! We have two daughters, are remodeling an old home (and living in it), working in hour spare time;-) and yes… the marriage thing. I know, and have to remind myself,that at the end of my days on this earth, I will not be thinking about the neat and tidy house and life I kept. Hopefully I will be thinking of all the great messes I/we made!!!

    • Beth says:

      I’m so glad it hit home, Megan, and best of luck keeping perspective given the state of yours! Been there, done that. It’s a special kind of messy. 😉

  4. Melissa says:

    Right on! I feel like you defined a portion of my life somehow. Thank you for a fresh perspective. I like the idea of and plan to intentionally embrace a little more messiness …. Hopefully without any of the guilt I am accustomed to imposing on myself when it happens. Damn that upbringing! 🙂 Thank you for what you do.

    • Beth says:

      You are so welcome, Melissa. Breaking free of our deeply-seated stories takes work! You’re so right. Here’s to guilt-free intentionality! <3

  5. Beth, you soothsayer, you’re a genius:
    A caring, smart, awake, kind-hearted, loving, intelligent genuine smarty-pants. Having just read your article I send you much care for framing the intangibility of feeling the necessity to have an ordered home. I’ll relax now

    Sending Blessings galore to you and your lucky & loved family.

    Cheers, laughter, and easy learnings to you all from Australia xoxo

    • Beth says:

      Gosh, Sharee. That’s about the sweetest, most flattering cluster of complements anyone’s ever paid me. 🙂 THANK YOU, and blessings right back you.

  6. Leenie says:

    I both agree and resist a full embrace of this perspective. It has definitely been “the story of my life” for 30 years. But as I enter a different season (menopause, children grown and almost all flown, aging marriage challenges and blessings, new business venture, new health issues) I find that I am craving SPACE, and a sense of spaciousness, in both my inner and outer worlds. There is nothing I long for more now. There are no things, activities, endeavors, or events I want more in my daily life than I want SPACE. The space to be still and listen, the space to sit and read, the space to ponder life, the space to wander the woods and fields without any goals or destination in mind, the space I choose not to fill up with anything. I’ve been actively “de-cluttering” all summer. Getting rid of the detritus of a lifetime of “somedays” that I now realize are far fewer than they were several decades ago. All those quilt projects, art supplies, weaving fibers, books on every topic under the sun, and so much more that I was going to use “someday” have finally moved on, hopefully to homes and studios where they will actually be used rather than just dreamed about. It was an extremely hard process at first but as it gained momentum it was actually a process of liberation. The hardest to let go of were my dairy goats, mainly because I insisted that they go to excellent, loving forever homes. I’m still recovering from that good-bye, and to some extent may be for the rest of my life. I am a person of vast imagination/inspiration and I’ve been blessed with dexterous hands and (until recently) abundant energy, but I found I was stretched to the snapping point by all my messes, piles, and possibilities. I was drained and exhausted. I am still in the midst of this process but it struck me one day when I was considering buying some specialized containers for sorting, organizing, and storing yet more of my stuff that if I need to buy stuff to organize my stuff then I have TOO MUCH STUFF! Some messiness is creative and some is simply clutter that prevents us from even finding what matters most. Good luck on your venture(s) and I love your goat totem. Be still my heart.

    • Beth says:

      Thank you Leenie. I so value your perspective. Space, YES. I so feel you on this one. Our four years in Mexico filled a similar void for me, as we went with only a suitcase and backpack each. It was GLORIOUS living with so few things, and consequently, so few messes. What I quickly realized, however, is that the messes I was most affected by were those in my mind. I really think it took clearing my personal space to get at those deeper layers. Now that we’re back in the states (and so immersed in so dream-fulfilling endeavors), I’m finding that by embracing the mess of it all (as opposed to resisting it), while taking lots of time to still my mind, I’m able to hold onto the feeling of freedom Mexico offered. In other words, I brought the freedom back, within me! 🙂 Many blessings to you on this leg of your journey. I so want that space for you.

  7. Tonya says:

    This is just perfect – through the messiness in our life is where we find the truths – if life never got messy – we would never truly live but only be alive.
    Wishing you all the best with your restaurant – so inspiring and your book and your marriage (getting through the messy in this is the best! – not that there won’t be more – but it is so worth it)

    • Beth says:

      Yes, Tonya! I couldn’t agree more (about the truths AND about marriage). It’s amazing how different things look from this side of the resentment pile. 😉

  8. Leslie says:

    Nice blog, Beth! I have missed your writing. I hope you are doing well with your new restaurant. I would eat there in an instant if I were in Asheville! Love the hidden goats in all the art. Awesome. Blessings to you, your family and your business!!

    • Beth says:

      Thank you so much Leslie! I’ve missed writing here, too. Hoping things will settle enough soon to do so more regularly.
      Yes, I’m kind of in love with my little billygoat. I’ve painted him 22 times now, so we have a pretty special bond. 😉 Blessings back!

  9. Milinda says:

    Again, with the strength of your wisdom. I love that we are friends and can find beauty amongst the mess and see it for what it is. Life is messy. Thank you for encouraging others to look through the mess, be okay with it and get to finding the treasures. Love you sista!

  10. I think this post provided some great food for thought, but I am also interested in the real food you’re going to be providing! My husband and I make it to the Asheville area about every two years and are big foodies. We’ll have to put your place on the itinerary next time we’re in town. The goat pictures are hilarious!

  11. Margie says:

    My life is a total mess.
    I made it that way through deliberate life choices.
    If hadn’t made those choices I would have always wondered, “what if?”
    This caught me at a moment in which I really needed affirmation.

    • Beth says:

      You’re very welcome Margie, and I totally agree: a mess made by daring greatly is a million times better than a tidy life of wondering what might have been.

  12. Hi Beth!
    I Found your post on Facebook when my friend Heather Housekeeper shared it. Beautiful! I especially appreciate this as a recovering perfectionist.
    And good to “meet” you! As a fellow Asheville business owner (www.CaraMaeSkinCare.com), I can also relate about business and the mess it can be and needing to be reminded of the joy when it’s hard. Also, there had been buzz about the taco shop- I think the goat is sparking that. 🙂 West Asheville is looking forward to it!

  13. Heather Cole says:

    I could cry reading these articles…the messy stuff…and the 20 things us not so tidy moms might be like…. they were so on target it’s eerie! I haven’t found anyone like myself, who isn’t so wrapped up in appearances, you can’t break through their shells! I am just going to ponder these things today..and maybe, just maybe let myself off the “guilt trip” for a bit!

  14. Tracy Hansen says:

    Thank you dear one for this blog. It is time that women gave themselves a break. We aren’t the supermoms that Hollywood and the tabloids have insisted we should be, not the pristine households, the perfect body, the perfect clothes, the perfect children.

    My thought is, that as long as you know where everything basically is, then that’s ok. Being unwell for a goodly chunk of my life has shifted my borders, and being a carer for my disabled husband has also shaped me.

    All I have to do is make sure the mess doesn’t get out of control, that is, I can still see the top of the heap and discern the layers. And, I don’t often throw things out, but will give them away instead to someone who needs it.

    I will be praying for you and your lovely family, knowing that God looks on the inner man, while man(woman) is obsessed with the outward appearance.

    Love and prayers, Tracy Hansen from the land Down Under

  15. Sue says:

    I can’t subscribe to this new “be messy it’s freeing” methodology popping up in the blogosphere. Listen, our parents faced all the same challenges and more, however they still kept a clean home. The same with our grandparents who had even less convenience technology and no “how to” Google articles. My mom was a single mother who worked three jobs and still managed to keep a clean home, clean kids, and push mowed a two acre lawn once a week. It’s not easy, but to throw up our hands and say “it’s my new matra” is just lazy.

    Opposite, if you have scheduled so much on your daily plate that doing basic chores is just crippling to you, than you need to reevaluate priorities. If you made the decision to have children than you made the decision to raise them in a proper environment. Studies show over and over kids need structure to thrive. A clean home is part of that structure. You are not “wasting time” by cleaning everyday. You are creating a stable space for your children and teaching them respect for property, and that everything in life requires upkeep. It’s great if you have a list of personal accomplishments to achieve (like opening a restaurant, going on global vacations, writing books, being volunteer of the year, etc) but if they come at the expense of your child’s environment, and ultimately their well being, it’s not an accomplishment. You can still do great things, just later when the kids are older and can help with chores, or now on a smaller more manageable scale. Let’s not throw in the towel though!

  16. Sarah says:

    Your post on mothering about messy houses spoke to my soul. And I NEVER use phrases like that!

    Thank you for your insight and wisdom!

    I just have to say this: I moved to Utah from NC in December. As a Mormon, I’m not “different” yet making friends has been insanely difficult, something that I’ve always been able to do very easily with just about anyone. I’ve invited women from church again and again and am successful to get one person to do something with me. I’ve tried different places and times and ways to invite. I was talking with an older woman in the ward, complaining about how difficult this is. She shared with me someone commenting on my house being gross, “Have you BEEN inside her house?!” I think she was hoping to inspire me to clean it bc she was surprised when I said that made me want to make it messier.

    From that comment, it seems like my house is disgusting. It’s not, it just has lots of stuff. I want to tell people this:

    I have five kids elementary school aged and younger. I just moved across the country from having the most marvelous support system to asking and asking for help and friends in socially acceptable ways and getting minimal positive feedback. I have almost not support system out here. For the past nine months I’ve lived here, I’ve had two months that were free of me not being enrolled in school at least part time.
    I’m prone to depression and anxiety from being raped by my brother (not years) and uncle (for years) as a little girl. My family won’t acknowledge any of it and that hurts. I live near that family now. My brother has tried to turn people against me even though I haven’t told anyone what he did, only what my uncle did. He lives thirty minutes away.

    My husband works 12+ hour days at his new job and is prone to anxiety.

    We are short on money (our own fault) and up to our ears in student loans because I’m going back to school and doing science classes which require a lot of mental effort on my part because science didn’t come as easily to me as humanities.

    After writing all this, it’s a miracle we are still going.

    Today: I cried because no one wanted to go to the splash pad with me.
    I gave up on inviting people to places in my ward.
    I cried when a lady shared with me about my house.
    I made a new friend at the splash pad.
    I made dinner and brought it to someone who was sick.
    I read a book.
    I made a new friend in the neighborhood.
    I offered to take my friend’s son so she could have a break.
    I went on a bike ride with two of my girls.
    I reveled in my kids making a stage play.
    I bit down my desire to yell when they shattered a huge mirror.
    I got them to kind of clean up after themselves.
    I talked with my oldest, helping her understand the importance of good thoughts vs self-destructive ones even though they don’t seem self destructive to her.
    I held my middle daughters hand as she fell asleep while I read my book.
    I snuggled with my oldest two kids.
    I arranged my fourth kid to play with a friend.
    When I look at it this way, it’s been a really good day!

  17. Emily Swezey says:

    I enjoy having somewhere things can be put away to and having clean cloths and a mostly picked up kitchen but the everything-put-away, stark un-lived-in way of keeping a house kills my soul. I like messy wild gardens and stacks of books and cups that live on the kitchen counter. Reading this and the ” what your messy house says about you” piece spoke to my heart in a way that I especially needed right now. I needed to be reminder that my way is not wrong or bad, that I do not need to feel crummy because I don’t love the perfect put away house that some do. Thank you for the reminder.

  18. This blog was exactly what I needed to understand a character I was creating for a novel. This was the missing piece to solve what she thought was her need for order and control. Thank you!

  19. Sarah says:

    You are my life saver. I have a ton of pinterest boards I am going to delete now, and start over. If there aren’t pictures of messy, I am going to put them up. Reality is messy, and we need to get more comfortable with that. We clean, but it isn’t tidy and organized and minimal. Thank you for making this blog.

  20. Ashley says:

    Wow. I only came across this blog today. But it really hit home. There are many reasons my home is messy. The mess may not always bother me, but there are many times I do feel inadequate. But, why? Thank you for sharing your thoughts! This article has definitely given me something to think about.

  21. Masterpiece. Thank you

  22. Love every word of it

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