PathSome people are naturals. Everything they touch turns to gold. They walk into a situation, take charge, and without breaking a sweat, everything turns up roses. When they swing into action, they nail it every time. Sure, behind every beautiful feat, catch, save, poem, and twirl is countless hours of practice and repetition. That’s not the path I’m walking today. We’re going the other direction.

I am not a natural. My first effort is typically messy, bungling, and an opportunity to learn what not to do for next time. Whether I’m in a kitchen, a classroom, on a stage, or sitting down with a pen and paper, I make a mess. And then I work at the mess.

This used to bother me in life. I wanted to appear polished, shiny, unwrinkled, knowledgeable, poised, and graceful, straight out of the gate. I wanted to land on my feet and catch all the flying objects and balance them with one hand in a tall stack while angels sang and the sun emerged from behind the clouds. I’m not asking for the moon, here.

But I have learned that my way has some advantages. For one thing, it’s funny. Humor has a wonderful way of bringing people together. Nine times out of ten, it’s not the end of the world, so have a chuckle, lower your blood pressure a little, and take hold of the fresh perspective that comes from laughter. Secondly, messing up is human. That’s relatable. And that leads us to the third advantage: What we’ll do about it.

Making a mess is an opportunity to show your stuff in admitting it’s yours, containing it, cleaning it up, finding a new way of doing so, and even in learning to ask for help when you need it. The best on-the-job training comes on the day when everything falls apart and you have to think on your feet to set it all right again. This is what separates the gutsy from the faint-hearted. It’s what makes heroes out of us ordinary folk.

Over time, I’ve learned that my initial disasters can give way to equally large [and eventual] successes. For the casual onlooker, the initial stage looks like a colossal failure. And that’s just what I need.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at