Failure: The Road to Fabulous?

Today I’m going to talk to you about something I am very well acquainted with, and my guess is you are too. What I am about to share could get heavy, so I’m going to do my best to inject humor into it to keep it light. I’m talking about the f-word. Failure, silly!

You could call this post a heart to heart, a soul-bearing, just keepin’ it real. But please don’t call it a pity party! Why? Because, after I tell you all the sad parts, I’m going to focus on how failure can lead to fabulous! It’s not easy to be completely transparent about my failures. But I do so in the hope that I might offer encouragement to anyone feeling down or defeated. You’re not alone! This will probably be the longest post I have written. Are you with me?

To look at me, you might not think I’ve had to overcome much in my life. Wow. You could not be more wrong. There are some things I won’t talk about in this post. Maybe another time, another post. But for now I will narrow the list to just 4.

FAILURE #1: Not making the cheerleading squad.
As trivial as this may seem, it remains to this day the death of a dream that can still bring me to tears. You see, my two sisters before me were both cheerleaders. I thought they were amazing and wanted to be as amazing as they were. I was a painfully shy, awkward, 14 year old, with acne, braces, and zero self esteem. We had very few material things so I wore a lot of hand-me-downs.

This is me bringing humor into the story.
Freshman year Pep Club

I just knew that if I could be a cheerleader, that would be the key to my popularity and happiness. So I practiced and practiced. I tried out for the freshman squad and didn’t make it. I was so disappointed but determined to try again the next year. When the next try-outs rolled around, I was optimistic. But again, I failed to make the squad. I wanted it so bad. Oh how my heart ached. Well, I could try one more year, and that is what I would do. At the next opportunity, my cheerleader sister who was a senior at the same high school worked with me and coached me. There were 2 phases of try-outs. The first phase was in front of a panel of judges that consisted of senior cheerleaders and a few teachers. At home following phase 1, my sister hinted that I was in good standing, though she wasn’t allowed to say much. Phase 2 was the next day, in front of the whole school. The students cast their votes, and the results of the try-outs would be announced the next day. That night back at home in my bedroom it was all I could think about. Would my dream finally become a reality? Would I finally be “cool” and accepted? After all, my sister did say my chances were good. When she came into my bedroom that night I noticed she was acting weird. I was so excited and hopeful, and she was very low key. As I wondered aloud if I would make the squad, she said something that surprised me, and not in a good way. “If you want me to tell you, I will.” My heart sunk. That could not be good. The look on her face said it all. I didn’t make it. My hopes were dashed. My world was rocked and I felt like I would never recover. I sobbed deep sobs of grief, literally all night long. I had never wanted anything so badly. I told her that there was no way I could go to school the next day. It was just too humiliating. She told me that I should be brave and go with my head held high. Easy for her to say! But I loved her, and knew she was right. Ugh, what a miserable day it was but I made it through.

When I look back at this time in my life, I know it has affected me in many negative ways. Self doubt lurks in the back of my mind, rearing its ugly head everytime I experience a slight setback in my creative ventures. When thoughts of that experience resurface (once every couple of years) the pain I felt that night is as real today as it was then. I don’t dwell on it. I just remember how sweet my sister was, and how when I came home from school that awful day there was a rose and a card from her and my mom telling me that they loved me.

I also know that the failure, at that very tender age, was an important thread in the tapestry of my life for good. In the long run, it has shaped my character with the ability to feel no shame in failure. I didn’t make the squad, but my relationship with my sister became more precious. And last but not least, it was only a few months later that I became aware of the love that God had for me when I encountered Him in a life-changing way. I can’t help but think that if I had been busy with cheerleading, I would not have met the people nor been in the set of circumstances that ultimately brought about my salvation. Sometimes disappointment is His appointment. I’d call that fabulous!

FAILURE #2 & #3:
I have tried and failed many times in the business arena. After sinking a good amount of money into a computer based business in 1996, though I tried to make a go of it, I was unable to make any real money and ultimately had to give it up. Then a few years later I patented a clock design that we were unable to successfully market. After years of pursuing the idea and throwing money at it, it failed.
Interchangeable clock panels. Not sure what I was thinking with these designs?!

Like the adage says, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have a business inside of me and I won’t give up! Those years have taught me a lot about what doesn’t work. I think I’m beginning to approach business with a better sense of what will work ~ maybe? I’m learning to see things more realistically rather than with starry eyes. I love to blog and I love to create. I think I’m on the right path. I am making a fresh commitment to blog regularly. I will continue to pursue jewelry design and graphic design. And while I have not seen any great revenue from it, it’s something.

But I have to ask ~ where’s the fabulous?

Yes, I truly love connecting with readers and other bloggers. Please believe me when I say that is true. But I want more than a hobby. I’m not afraid of hard work. If I keep at it, will it pay off?

FAILURE #4 & Current (and the reason I have written this post): Swap & Tell

I had high hopes for Swap & Tell. The concept seemed strong: Shop owners (anyone with goods or services) link up and trade products with other shop owners and review / get reviewed in a blog post or on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

The link up started in August. I have had numerous comments from blogger friends saying they love the idea and plan to join in. But nobody shows. Well, not nobody, there have been a few. I understand that their intentions are good. It’s time consuming to link up with other blogs. I get it. So, I’ll chalk this one up to another lesson learned. Except, what is the lesson?

Is there value in learning what doesn’t work? I don’t know.

Actually, I can’t call Swap & Tell a failure. Over the course of the 13 weeks we ran the link up, I have had the pleasure of getting to know some great people. Heather of Woods of Bell Trees who was a co-host has become a friend. Donna of Distressed Donna Down Home who co-hosted for a while was a source of encouragement for which I am grateful. I also had the pleasure of swapping products with Brooke of Artistic Endeavors, Susan of Hazelnut Deux, and Daniel of D & O Celtic Jewelry. Each of these shop owners have wonderful, quality products and I would enthusiastically encourage you to check them out.

I don’t know if we’ve given Swap & Tell enough time to catch on, but I feel like we have. How long is long enough? It feels like it’s time to let it go, so that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to be brave, and say without shame that I tried.

To be perfectly honest, I have rarely experienced the kind of success I have hoped for at the things I have set out to do in life. I have been blessed by God with many wonderful experiences and people in my life, and I cannot take credit for any of it. And I know that as long as I keep my eyes on Him, the rest is in His capable hands.

With that being said, I am determined to face 2015 with courage and hope. I have some fresh ideas for the blog bouncing around in my head that I look forward to sharing with you. One is a new series I will be announcing in January. I’ll give you a hint: it’s about fashion and decor. Shocker, huh?

So, is failure the road to fabulous? Mistakes and failure, if handled right, can be great steps toward success, right? I’ve taken many of those steps. I’m ready for fabulous!

Happy New Year!

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12 thoughts on “Failure: The Road to Fabulous?

  1. Ann, thank you, first of all, for sharing these personal feelings – I think we have all had moments where we question the decisions we made early in life and think they were failures. I really do not think these events were true failures because in each case it led to bigger and better things. I know the Swap and Tell experience was a positive one for me and my business. You are a wonderfully creative person – just look at the jewelry you make. I am hoping you have a successful 2015, but please realize you made a positive difference in my life.

  2. Ann,

    I totally agree with Donna. You are innovative and intimidatingly talented. Swap and Tell is a fabulous idea and for me it was a fantastic experience as it helped me to link up with both you and Donna. As a new blogger, those connections are very dear and treasured. Your talent and fearlessness will launch you into whatever plan God has for you. Of that, I am certain. I hate to see Swap and tell come to an end… Maybe it would build momentum if you did it just a few times a year and people had time to plan and anticipate its arrival… I am not sure. I just know I thought it was a great idea and thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it. I have high hopes for you this year. I know you will be successful in too many areas to count… I am looking forward to the day we end up in the same place at the same time. Best wishes…


    1. Brooke, you humble me. Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. I’m so glad to have connected with you through Swap & Tell and in that way I consider it a great success! Here’s to staying connected in 2015!

  3. Wow. Brave post to write and publish. You are an idea person who actually dug in and did the work needed to turn an idea into reality. That’s rarer than you might think. Best wishes for 2015.

  4. Ann,
    I read your post last night and had so much that I wanted to say to you that I eventually went to bed because there was too much! I wished I was sitting with you somewhere and having a conversation.
    I have read many biographies of people who eventually changed the world, in one way or another, and who had 30 or 40 years of one failure after another until they accomplished something major. What they had, which the majority of people don’t have, is endurance. To try out for cheerleading three times shows great endurance. I’m not worried about you, Ann, you’ve got what it takes. You are talented, creative, intelligent and pretty! There is only one you and everyone’s ultimate purpose is to be exactly who one is. You are a very good writer and a good designer. You are perfect, Ann. Swap and Tell was a big undertaking and something that would take years to grow. Years of advertising, change and development all based how it would benefit the readers, engage lookers and people selling things. For me, it wasn’t a fit because antique dealers are struggling to make a living and time is of the essence. A better fit is someone who has a job and creates and sells something part-time. They want to show their product and they have a house or apartment that they actively decorate and make beautiful. I don’t have that because I don’t have the time or money. Except for the people I follow on blogs because I admire what they do and it encourages me, if I’m on-line, I’m working. I think you started it out for people who have shops….really busy people. I’ll just close by telling you, my friend, that if I were to write down a list of all my failures, it would be relatively short because for most of my life, I took the safe road and people who become major success stories usually don’t take the safe road. You are doing everything right.

    1. Oh Ginene. There is a lot of wisdom in what you are saying. As usual I might add. Your comments brought me to tears, in a good way. You reached right into my heart and treated me just like a friend. I will take what you said to heart and treasure it always. Thank you, friend. Thank you, thank you. xo

  5. Dear Ann,
    You’ve been such an inspiration to me. Your blog is one of the few I will visit over and over and just drool and swoon over your creations. I marvel at your creativity. The series you did with pearls is one I visit often for inspiration. “Failures” happen to us all. At this point in life (40’s) I’ve come to realize that none of us make it through life unscathed. No one at all. In some way or another we all face disappointments/failures, both large and small…..It’s how we deal with them that makes the difference. You’ve kept going instead of giving up. If one thing doesn’t work, try the next thing. And that’s what you’ve done! :)

    My first experience with a craft show was dismal. I didn’t even sell enough items to cover the entrance fee….I cried…yep, I allowed myself a short pity party to grieve. (That’s okay, I’ve decided!) Then I tried a different show, and sold successfully, if not at a great profit, at least a profit. Actually, I’m learning that on-line sales work better for me. But I miss the interaction with customers when they see my work, gasp and smile with delight! Bringing JOY to people through our creativity is what makes us (creative types) tick, I think. You don’t see me “wowing” over your creations, but I am! Constantly! God has given us all gifts and talents….bringing joy to people through our work…is how we use our God-given talents. And that is important. The bigger failure would be NOT to use our talents.

    I, too, struggle with the question of how much profit means I am successful. Sales look great until I add up costs and etsy fees, and paypal fees, etc. Sigh, it’s an ongoing issue. We all just tweak, change, and morph our small businesses according to what works. Find what works, and do more of it….drop what didn’t work…and just keep going!! :)


    1. How kind of you Catherine, to let me know all of that. Before I wrote this post I was feeling a little like the lone ranger, doing my own thing and not really sure if I was making a difference. Now that you and others have taken the time to respond, I feel extremely lucky to be in this chapter of my life. It is very fulfilling to think that any of my creativity would bring joy to someone. I’m glad I wrote the post, I now feel a stronger connection to the blogging community, and a stronger desire to continue. Thank you for sharing your similar experiences with me and helping me to have a different perspective. And just so you know, I “wow” over your creativity too!

  6. Ann you are probably the most courageous blogger I know. God knows that if I tried to number my failures I would I would cry for a week and be depressed for the next. But you have faced your “failures” and come out a stronger person for it. I have a tiny little blog and one of the reasons it isn’t growing is because I can’t put myself out there, I can’t take the risk of failing. But not only have you escaped your fears but you wrote about it for all of us to read. You will probably never know how many people you inspired with this post but I wanted you to know you inspired me to risk just a little bit more. Thank you for that.
    And by the way, I loved the post on energizing your wardrobe.

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