Beautiful Failure

Risk failing at something beautifully, wholly, and truthfully rather then never having attempted such feats at all.

That’s been my little mantra for the last few months.

Most of us expend so much energy scared to just TRY that we never even know the feeling of “accomplished failure”.    And that feeling can be full of light and hope and freedom.   I’d rather have a list of attempts than of “never tried’s”.

And I’ve also realized that perhaps, if we just stopped boxing in our “to do’s” and “wants”, and “hopes” with so many boundaries that we’d perceive success much more intuitively and that it would feel more authentic.

Instead of:

  • Lose 20 lbs in 1 year
  • Run a marathon by Spring
  • Start own editing business
  • Travel to all 50 states
  • Get engaged by 2012

We’d have:

  • Lost weight/get healthier/feel stronger/breathe deeper
  • Run
  • Start a business
  • Travel
  • Allow for love

Voila!  It wouldn’t matter on what timeframe we achieved those, the open-endedness of such lists allows for breathing room, allow for Life, allows for hibernation and periods of intense bursts of energy and will power.

Because of who I KNOW I am, my lists have been mostly open ended for the majority of my adult life:

  • Graduate with a degree (took about 8 years)


  • Transition to vegetarianism (took 6 years from first wish)
  • Run a mile (besides the awful, forced miles in P.E. class, finally did on my own accord at age 25)
  • Catch someone else’s baby (took 1 year from first wish)
  • Quit my corporate job (took 2 years from first wish)
  • Learn to snowboard (took 2 years from first wish)


  • Marry Jason (took 6 years from first wish)


  • Have kids (took 8 years from first wish – but only 6 months to “try”)
  • Travel to Italy (took 6 years from first wish)



Recently, I decided that dang it, I was gonna attempt to practice yoga at some point each and every day.   Just a nice, light stretching for my body and expansion of the mind.

So, on an afternoon when both of my girls are miraculously napping,  I grab the heavy window curtains and slide them across the tension wires to reveal a spot of sunlight on my bedroom floor.  I roll out my purple mat smack dab in the middle of the rectangular sun spot.   Finding a comfy pair of paint-mottled yoga pants, I slip them up and over my child-bearing hips with a deep breath.  Enjoying Pandora as my musical backdrop,  I ease down onto the mat in a sitting pose with palms up.

I gaze easily at the scene outside my window:  breaches of the palo verdes bouncing in the breeze, wild lavender bushes – never pruned – bowing.  I am almost unsure whether the blueness above is sky or sea.   I sense the brief season of Autumn is upon is.  The sun toasts my skin.

With a deep inhale, I decide I owe it to myself to welcome and cultivate stillness of mind and body.  I’m going to simply hope for some nice minutes of deep relaxation and if yoga poses come after that, then BONUS!    Three breaths into it, I hear stirring in the room where the girls are napping.

Instead of rolling my eyes, I let my lips form a smile.

A non-emotive “Of course”, is all I allow myself to whisper.

My mind calms and messages about the magic of the universe being to swirl.  I do not understand them nor attempt to.    I allow my neck to fall and stretch, muscles being pulled like a rubber band.

My eyes remain closed as I hear Indigo traipse into the room.  My breathing deepens.

I open my eyes to meet Indigo’s oceanic gaze as she sits on the mat and smiles.

My body casually drops into child’s pose and Indigo climbs on my back.

The door to the other bedroom squeaks open again and in moments Kaia joins us.

The energy is the room is raised notches above peaceful and thus my practice ends about five minutes after it began.


That, two months ago, was my last attempt.  I’ve failed to incorporate the daily yoga practice and yet that one attempt left me feeling like I jumped in wholly and truthfully and failed in the most beautiful way.

It felt liberating to open the door and let a gaggle of expectations fly on out.

I believe that there will be so many other feats that I will delve into with success.  Who knows, maybe today I’ll try again.

But if I must fail, I hope it feels as truly, deeply delicious as that afternoon.

What have you failed beautifully at?

What have you dangled your fingers or toes or heart in front of, but never immersed yourself in for fear of failure?

What do your wish-lists look like?


9 Comments Add yours

  1. I fail gloriously each and every day. On a good day, I open my heart to it, take it in, revel in it, learn from it, accept it. On a bad day? Not so much.

    This …

    “My body casually drops into child’s pose and Indigo climbs on my back.”

    … had me cracking up!

  2. Chelsea says:

    I too, have failed beautifully at a daily workout routine… Playing chase with the kids through the house now qualifies as my “workout”.
    I still have a desire to have a successful business using my crafting talents, and still dream of being a postpartum doula someday – these are things I am working slowly towards…. These dreams will ideally move me towards my other dream of being financially stable and having unlimited abundance….
    Loving your posts, as always….

  3. KBF says:

    I always tell my kids that we learn more from our failures. Funny thing is that I’ve never really looked at most of my own failures to figure out their lessons. My biggest failure is wanting to eat healthy. I eat healthier, but still wouldn’t call it healthy. I’ll need to ponder that for awhile…

    Thanks for the invitation to ponder.

  4. Brooke says:

    Beautiful failures??? I think that would be the desire to birth my children at home. The moment of watching my babies bodies separate from mine, on my own terms, did not happen. What happened instead, cracked me open and helped me become the woman (and mama) I needed to grow into. The grief and the expectations that came undone were hard. But the self I found inside of those layers is just who I needed to meet.
    Love you.

  5. Bairbre Aine says:

    Oh what a lovely post!
    My beautiful failures are many!
    My marriage was one. In the event, I became a single parent.
    For the past eleven years I have raised my two kids, alone (by choice).
    Today my (young adult) kids are independent, strong spirited, kind, generous, civic and community minded and open to life’s experiences without fear.
    We have lived with little and other times in abundance.
    My beautiful failure was that I never, ever gave up or in!!!
    Always wishing for a complete raising, despite the divorce.
    What I see retrospectively, is pure joy in accomplishing so much more than my original wish!
    Now, I must seek for myself, what a new and interesting concept!!!
    Thank you again for sharing this post.
    What a lovely posting!
    ~Bairbre Aine

  6. MereMortal says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing your beautiful failures.
    I’m learning more and more each day from resilient souls like you all.

  7. mb says:

    i have failed so many times to make ends meat. to save money. to save cars. to save for food. to have the mortgage or the rent. i am a financial FAILURE. but here is the thing. if it was all handed to me, made by somebody else, given to me easily, i woudln’t be the artist I am . I wouldn’t long to process every day and write every day and share as much as i can. no, i don’t do it for the money, of course not. but i do because I HAVE to, I have to have some hope that my hard work, all this love, that someday the money will follow.

    And if I was rich…i’d be spending my time traveling, dining on sushi, getting bikini waxes, shopping for hats. i wouldn’t be spending the time i am on pulling out my artist from within.

    (or at least i like to think that way!!!)

    oh, i also fail at listening to my deepest voice, my gut voice. not always but sometimes. and when i don’t listen, i learn the most intense lessons. not so beautiful sometimes, but always part of the Beauty Way.


  8. Rebekah K. says:

    Leigh, thank you so much for sharing this lesson. It’s something I really struggle with — getting angry or frustrated with myself and others because I/they haven’t completely accomplished something, when a wholehearted attempt is wonderful, and oftentimes all that should really be expected.

    My brain and body have been SO fried this past year and a half, I had just been muddling through, not being able to think beyond making it through the basics of the day. Now that I’m UN-fried, I’ve finally been able to look up and think and feel beyond myself. Some of the more basic goals I’ve set for myself include:
    ~ Moving more. If not a walk, then at least getting out the door to run errands and not laying on the couch all day.
    ~ Getting together with friends/family/the other ladies from our church. (Something a new pastor’s wife has to think about!) If not that, sending an email, or taking time to say hello on Sundays. A little bit goes a long way!
    ~ Reading something beyond Facebook and blogs or magazines. That was all my poor brain could process for a little while there, but it’s now ready for real books and the like. (But I must say your blog ALWAYS gives me something to chew on!)

    There’s more, but I think these are the most important right now. Thanks again, Leigh, for this beautiful reminder that “baby steps” are just as meaningful and important as the accomplishment of our goals. Wish I could hug you for this!

  9. Becca says:

    This is really a wonderful way to frame goals and think about life. I loved your description of the peace your attempt at daily yoga practice gave you. I think we are all looking for that kind of peace with our lives. My beautiful failures… hmm.

    Feeling drawn to Buddism, but not finishing the Essential Guide to Buddhism book I dusted off my shelf. Feeling draw to Christ but hating the church. My nearly two year old unbaptized daughter. Wanting to expand my spirit… but never listing to my intuition.

    Wanting to make homemade chicken stock… but not getting further than the carcass of a chicken picked clean and waiting in my freezer. But, the chicken noodle soup I made with the meat from said carcass and store-bought broth was pretty freaking great.

    My doula career: FAILURE TO LAUNCH. Or at least back on the shelf while I gestate baby #3. (But, I’m on call RIGHT NOW waiting on a friend’s twins.)

    The shawl I am knitting for my grandmother for her October birthday… I’m hoping it will make a nice Christmas gift.

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