Oops!This time of year, I look back as well as forwards. I even give myself a general, not-looking-at-the-details-too-closely kind of report card as well for the previous year.

Didn’t Accidentally Set Anything on Fire: A+

Kept One’s (Mostly) Beloved Children Alive, Fed and Mostly Intact: A

Continued Education of Offspring In The Following Electives:

Sarcasm: A (this one’s a genetic trait, so grade may be not be reflective of effort)

Nature Hikes: F (Note, care factor currently at -2000)

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Movies/Books: A+

Appreciation of Unidentifiable Foods: B- (it feels like I’ve earned seventeen gold medals!)

Accepting God’s Will: C for achievement, averaging a D for behaviour, B- average for overall effort

Keeping Updated With Current News: C-

Enjoyment of Excellent Desserts: A

Venturing Outside of Comfort Zone Socially: B

Ability to Sit and Relax: C+

Letting Go of Perfectionist Tendencies: Z – Note: “Z” = new grade created specifically for this event

That last mark – that’s the impetus behind my naming of 2013 “Kel’s Year of Failing (Maybe Even Spectacularly!)” I want to get to the end of next year, look back and be able to say “Sweet baby rhubarb, after 347 stuff-ups, I can finally make a brilliant panna cotta!” Or “Holy faceplants, I didn’t deliberately jump off a horse more than twice this year – I can gallop!” Or even just nod and note “Yep. Learnt heaps! And I TRIED new, hard, difficult and scary things. I TRIED THINGS.”

I don’t want perfectionist twitches to keep me from dancing 2013’s socks off. It doesn’t matter if I have no idea of what step comes next, I want to be in there, making it up as I go along, asking for help, laughing uproariously at myself, indulging in the odd temper tantrum, and having a ball.

I’m a wallflower by nature, perfectionist by previous stubborn determination, but my resolution is that I’m going to try things. This – in the trying – also means failing, or at least making mistakes. But I’ve strapped on my imaginary grenades, ensured I have some Lindt chocolate in my top drawer, have a list of friends on speed-dial-and-email in case of emergencies, and am going to take my chances at having fun. At improving the likelihood of learning how-to’s and how-not-to’s, of adding to my pile of memories, of getting better at some things and walking away from things I may find out I don’t actually care about after all.

I’m doing this somewhat because I’m confident God is behind me, about to give me a significant shove forward into life if I don’t do it myself, like He has been pointedly suggesting I do. But I’m mostly doing it because I’m tired of having my doubts be so tightly twined around my throat that sometimes I can’t breathe properly. I want to breathe in deep as I attempt something, and let it all out as a scream or laugh or gasp or smile or fiery shriek at the result. I want to be impressed by my efforts, my newly minted mistakes and impressive failures.

I usually share a specific quote by Neil Gaiman at each approach to New Year’s Eve, but this year I’ve found a different one of his I like just as much, being even more pertinent:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Care to share any of your own report card from this year? Thinking of any resolutions for next year? Do you have any quotes to share that have spurred you into action?

December 25, 2012
December 27, 2012


  1. Michelle

    December 26, 2012

    LOVE this. I’ve been in a similar mode, chanting to myself, “It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to make mistakes.” The phrase ‘free to choose’ has come to mean more to me, ergo, free to choose = free to make mistakes because the Savior’s atonement covers me if my heart is true and honest.

    p.s. Your post made me think of this post.

    Love you, Kel.

  2. Angry Baker

    December 26, 2012


    I’m pretty sure 2012 was my best year of failing so far.

  3. Nickel

    December 26, 2012

    Think about reading Jana Reiss’ book “Flunking Sainthood”. She fails at her goals very gracefully and realizes that her failures turn out to have great value. A must-read for anyone who is suffering from failure woe.

  4. Kerri

    December 26, 2012

    Kellie, I really loved this. I’m in the same looking-forward-looking-backward mode. Thanks for encouraging us to live larger than we might.

  5. Catherine A.

    December 26, 2012

    Kel, I love your honest report card here and your insights about trying. The Neil Gaiman quote is wonderful. I particularly liked this line of yours: “I want to breathe in deep as I attempt something, and let it all out as a scream or laugh or gasp or smile or fiery shriek at the result.” That is the way to live. You are an exceptional example of this. Love you.

  6. Catherine

    December 26, 2012

    Just wanted to say that I love this post! And I always love your Neil Gaiman quotes. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  7. Heather B

    December 27, 2012

    I figured out a long time ago (like, middle school) that I was unwilling, because of my perfectionism, to try new things, because I might look stupid, and might fail. It took a while longer to realize that when I refused to look silly, I also completely refused to become spectacular. I almost refused to join our high school choir because you had to audition in front of EVERYONE int he amazing choir. but I did… and that lead to voice lessons, and one of the greatest talents I’m so glad I bothered to develop. I was almost to shy to submit any poetry to Segullah, figuring that surely it wasn’t good enough for anyone else to ever read. But I did anyway, and that lead to my favorite sideline-job ever, being poetry editor here for five years. I LOVE trying new things, and now I try to fail often and majestically….because otherwise I wold get nothing done, not just sometimes but EVER. Now, suffering form chronic illness, ever mopping the floor can feel like a failure: I can’t do it “right,” or it hurts me, I can’t get it perfectly clean like in my imagination (which is my blessing and hindrance), and afterwards, it might be all the physically strenuous activity I can do, or else I won’t be able to walk. This does worry my “fail majestically” plan, because then everything feels like a failure. But I’m reframing in my mind the KIND of success that is successful for my new life. Sometimes, toweling off a spill and getting a new big white spot on the floor is a success. Sometimes, teaching a child to mop instead of me is a success. Sometimes, I can mop, and doing that instead of dishes needs to be the success. I think, as women, as individuals, we need to stop framing our successes and failures according to the values of the world, and the abilities of others. Our best is good enough… and our best can ONLY be determined by Heavenly Father. Nobody else but Him can know what my true successes and failures are– sometimes, in my flawed and tainted thinking, not even me. Here’s to many more failures in the new year, from LOTS of trying! And more successes Knowing that the world’s variation of success for us, and Heavenly Father’s view of success, are completely different things… (and as ever, Kel, LOVE your thoughts, LOVE your quotes, which I put directly into my own quote file, and LOVE YOU!!!)

  8. Tracey

    December 27, 2012

    Great post, and very inspiring. Love the quote by Neil Gaiman too! I sent it on to a friend last night, following a relevant conversation regarding confidence to pursue a passion of hers.

    I can’t wait to read more about the things you tackle in 2013!

  9. Michelle L.

    January 4, 2013

    Love this post. I’m so darn good at failing, Kel. I could teach you some of my tricks. 😉

  10. Kellie aka Selwyn

    January 4, 2013

    It’s so good to know I’m in such excellent company, ladies!

    Here’s to plunging into 2013, and making gorgeous mistakes.

    Michelle – that’s a fantastic post. I’ve saved it for re-reading.

    Nickel – I’m reserving Flunking from the library on your recommendation. Thank you!

    Catherine, Catherine A, Heather and Tracey I’m delighted to have been able to share some more Neil Gaiman. Share the wealth I say!

    Michelle L – let’s compare notes 😉

    Happy 2013 one and all!

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