Off the Shelf: Happy Pretty Messy: Cultivating Beauty and Bravery When Life Gets Tough

This month I’m reviewing Happy Pretty Messy: Cultivating Beauty and Bravery When Life Gets Tough by Natalie Wise. This is a fabulous read for anyone, but especially entrepreneurs!

1. Do you agree with the author's sentiment that "What I have is enough. This moment is enough. This place is enough. Even more that that, I am enough."?

Like most people, I think, I’d say I am a work in progress. Life is full of ebbs and flows. The older I get, the more important I think it is to try to maintain somewhat of an equilibrium, not getting too over-the-top during the good times and not letting yourself go down the rabbit hole during not-so-good times. Of course, there are days when you’ll catch me treating myself to a Snickers bar because I answered three emails. So I mean GENERALLY an even keel is good. Striving for more is not a bad thing, but there’s nothing wrong with contentment, either.

2. The author asks of "basics": What have you loved since you were a child? What makes you smile even before you've had coffee?" What are your basics?

One of the core values I set for my business is “Begin each day with a grateful heart.” It sounds so simple, but it really does help set my frame of mind for the day. Like the saying goes, there is always, always, always something to be grateful for. My family moved a lot when I was growing up, due to my dad’s job, and my parents always taught my siblings and me that as long as we had each other, a roof over our head, and food for the table, we would be okay. Anything above that is gravy. Few days are picture-perfect, but an attitude of gratitude helps. That’s my most basic.

3. Do you agree with the author that "Pivoting is a pivotal life skill"? When have you recently pivoted?

Yes! So much yes. If you can’t be flexible when life happens, life is going to be that much harder. Last fall I planned to launch a course, the follow-up to my first one, along with my book. In the middle of summer, during the time when I was writing my manuscript and creating the course content, my mom got ill. Fall was going to look much different than I was planning for, with my mom undergoing brain radiation. I had a choice to make, because something had to give. I pivoted. My manuscript was finished before her treatment started, so I did as much ahead as I could and passed it on to my assistant so that the book could launch as planned. The course, though, is exactly as far along today as it was the day my parents received my mom’s diagnosis. I will eventually finish and launch it, but I don’t regret for one second how I chose to allocate my time and energy last year.

4. The author writes that "A bed made at the end of a long workday soothes the soul and creates a moment of organization in the brain before bedtime." Are you a bed-maker? If so, do you agree with the author?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a bed-maker. I DO see the benefits, and on the days that my house cleaner is here and the bed gets made, I do love it when I walk into the bedroom at the end of the day. Not enough to make it a daily habit, though, I guess! (Maybe this would be a good “Daily Goal” for my Powersheets next month.)

This month I’m reviewing Happy Pretty Messy: Cultivating Beauty and Bravery When Life Gets Tough by Natalie Wise. This is a fabulous read for anyone, but especially entrepreneurs!  |  Jodi Brandon Editorial

5. Do you employ a ritual around a hot beverage, as the author does?

I do! I am a mug collector (hoarder, my husband would say), and I love to choose which mug to use for the day while the coffee brews in the morning. That might be my favorite smell (besides a freshly bathed baby) in the world. I love to savor that first cup while easing into the day with a book, or the morning news (not so much of that lately — not at all relaxing), or sitting on the deck listening to the birds chirp. Wrapping your hands around that warm cup is so dreamy! Even in the summertime my first cup of coffee in the morning is a hot one; I switch to iced coffee later in the morning. I am trying to get into tea for the afternoon or after dinner, too, because I know so many people who love it, and it seems like something I would enjoy, but I haven’t gotten into it yet.

6. The author's "approved small talk" topics include the weather, a recent movie or book, and a place you recently visited. What would you add to this list?

Random acts of kindness that I’ve experienced or witnessed are fun to talk about, because lots of times someone will mention something that I had never thought of doing.

7. Most people we come across in daily life are strangers. Are you a good stranger?

I certainly try to be. I lived and worked in New York City right after college and while I LOVED the energy of the city, one thing I never got used to was how everyone was in such a hurry. Don’t get me wrong: I walk faster than most New Yorkers (drives my husband nuts!), but few people on the streets make eye contact or greet one another. A “Good morning” can go a long way; it’s not about making grand gestures for people all the time. Sometimes someone is having a crummy day and you can really turn it around for them with a small gesture.

8. What do you think of the author's idea of limiting choices and having what her friend calls "No-Decision Days"?

This idea keeps coming up in things I’m reading, and I definitely think it has merit. In The Happiness Equation, the author talks about doing this as a means of efficiency, and my husband does this. I can see it being beneficial but admit I really don’t do this much, aside from meal prepping on Sundays. Maybe some higher power is trying to knock me over the head with the idea that I SHOULD be doing it, though, since Happy Pretty Messy was the third book in a row that I’ve read that mentions it in some capacity!

9. Do you agree with the author that "Accepting help is brave"? Is it easier for you to request help in your personal life or in business?

I could not agree more on this one! I also note that it can be a difficult thing to do. Asking for help (and receiving it graciously when someone goes out of their way without being asked) is something I have gotten better with as I have gotten older. Perhaps with age comes the wisdom that you really can’t do it all by yourself? I find it easier to ask for help in business, where I see more clearly people’s (including my own) zone of genius. I am coming around in my personal life. My husband and I hired someone last year to clean our house bi-weekly and I think it’s the best money we’ve ever spent. So...I’m coming around!