Ep 015. What I Learned From a Year of Failures (Looking back on 2018 failures and successes!)

Saying there is no such thing as failure is like saying there is no such thing as a stupid question. We ALL know there really are stupid questions and we ALL know failure is real - and that it’s something we will face in our lives time and time again.

Today I am getting really raw and real about my biggest failures AND successes for 2018 - a little late to the party but I think I needed some space between myself and 2018 to really understand what went down.

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Or, for an abridged version, just keep reading here!

Failure is a word we all hate and we try and soften the blow by saying “there is no such thing as failure, only lessons to be learned”. I call bull-shit. While I PRAY you to learn lessons from your failure it’s still a failure. I think the key here is to change our mindset about what failure REALLY means AND how it doesn’t have to be crippling.

This is a battle I am constantly having with myself.

I want nothing more than to make everyone proud. It’s truly my deepest desire. To make God proud, to make Brian proud, to make my parents proud, and, honestly, to make you proud.

I believe the lie that my worth come from my accomplishments. Time and time and time again.

But 2018 has been an especially difficult one for me. A year FILLED with more failures than successes if I am honest. And as 2018 came to a close I felt like a gigantic failure.

I was defining myself by these failures in a way that crippled me even more. And I am gonna talk you through some of the biggest failures but first I want to define WHAT a failure really is.

Failure is falling short of a goal.

It’s not accomplishing the thing you set out to do.

It’s, according to Google, lack of success OR the omission of “expected” or required action.

By that definition, we all will fail and we all HAVE failed. But you are not a failure, I am not a failure.
I am a daughter of Christ who has been redeemed because HE saw me as worthy.


In 2nd Timothy 1:7-8 it says that God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but a spirit of POWER, love, and self-control.

I am defined by God’s self-less, all-encompassing, nonjudgemental, love for me. That’s all.

It’s a topic I am only just grasping and battle against daily.

It’s so very comfortable to believe the lie that I am defined by my failures because then I have some sense of control. Then I can be in charge, even if I fail at least it’s MINE.

That’s my pride getting in the way, that’s selfishness creeping in, that’s self-sabotage and self-preservation all wrapped up in one ugly, easy to swallow lie.

So today as I share my biggest failures know that failure isn’t something that is going to hold me back anymore. Failure is going to be an ACTUAL lesson learned, a signal to slow down, or ask for help, or invest smarter and wiser. It’s a sign that something needs to be changed.

Failure isn’t a space for us to be mop about and dwell in the yuck, though it’s an easy trap to fall into. I am actually recording this podcast (or writing this podcast script more like) with swollen eyes after crying for what feeling like weeks over some of these failures. Yet, in sharing them I feel joy. I feel proud (now anyways) to have walked through a REALLY hard year and show God’s goodness through even the crappy days.

Failure 1: Working so hard for my idea of success and approval.

If you’ve followed Revive Nursery for any amount of time you know how long I have been tirelessly working on my book, Becoming Planty. My intention for it is grand and got more and more grand as the months went on. I am unwilling to compromise the quality and integrity of this product, but oh man it sucked every single ounce of my money, time, and fun out of my life.

I opened pre-sales too soon. I invested too much money into a project I didn’t have fully mapped out (though I thought I did). And, worst of all, I let myself believe that if I finished this project STRONG that I would be some improved, better version of myself. That you guys would trust me more, like me more, that everyone would be proud of me.

Whelp. That didn’t go as planned.

I have spent the last month or so in email communications back and forth with every lovely human who pre-ordered the book processing refund and exchanges. It’s been an emotion-filled, difficult process. And I am still not even done trying to wrap up loose ends.

I don’t say all this to try and win over your sympathy. I made some BIG mistakes during this process and I failed pretty hard. And you know what, it’s okay. I am fixing my mistakes by contacting each person individually, but taking care of myself and my family and postponing this book for at least a year - maybe more.

I am considering having it up in the shop as an ebook once the final edits come back to me. But we’ll see. No guarantees. Someday I will publish this book. I KNOW it’s filled with so much wisdom and planty goodness that the world NEEDS!

Failure 2: Forcing things that clearly didn’t work.

You guys. I HATE H - A - T - E shipping plants. I hate it. It doesn’t work for my schedule. I have two tiny toddlers and it takes a lottttttta time to do it well. Corners where cut, forced where missed, and I, try as I might, I just kept making foolish mistakes.

The worst part is that I just kept forcing it and forcing it. I thought if I could just get this ONE thing right then I will earn the income I need to publish Becoming Planty. Whelp. That was a fail.

(I expand this more in the podcast episode but the lesson to be learned here is that even when we try again, sometimes things just need to be cut. And that’s okay!)

Failure 3: Making too much work for myself and not focusing on what MATTERS.

It goes without saying that my first and second failures where time-consuming. But OH MAN they where a LOT of work and I actually lost a bunch of money in the process. Not one month in l of 2018 was I actually profitable. And I KNOW it’s because I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off forcing everything to work and letting myself believe that if I just did this ONE thing well then suddenly everything would be fixed. All the while I let my relationship with God fall, my girls saw less and less of me and Brian and I were not seeing eye to eye.

I said yes to much to work that I MADE FOR MYSELF. I have a hard time sitting still.

I have an even harder time seeing WHY resting would be an attractive thing. But here’s what I have learned.

REST is trusting GOD, it’s walking in obedience to Him and untainted joy will follow.

REST is finding confidence in the role God has for you to play at this EXACT moment and trusting that HE will fill you.

Instead, I tried to fill myself. I tried to win you all over. That will fail EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Failure is hard. And I feel like I have only scratched the surface of my 2018 failures. And I am finally, truly, at a place where those failures don’t own me anymore. GOD DOES.

So here are some of my very BIGGEST successes in 2018 that I am proud to my very core of.

SUCCESS 1: I mustered the courage to see a doctor and was formally diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression.

I know, a silly thing to list as a success. But I have been living with this for far too long. I knew it was there but I just did my very best to ignore it and cope by filling up my schedule so full that I never had the luxury of sitting still and being with myself. But not this year. Even though I still tried so hard to fill my schedule too full I said no to a lot and I finally worked up the courage to take better care of myself. I didn’t do it for myself to be truthful. I did it for Brian and my daughters. I looked back and strained relationships from parent to child in MOST sides of my family have plagued us for far too long. I want so badly love my husband well, to love my daughter well - like Jesus would love them. And how in the WORLD can I ever do that if I am silently suffering from a mental illness? I can’t.

I am so proud of myself for pulling myself up just long enough to get into that doctor's office. Granted, I complained about it, I hated every second BUT I DID IT!

Now I can take steps to pursue healing. I can be more patient with myself, Brian can be more patient with me, and things are running just a little bit smoother around here. I am deeply proud.

Success 2: I have operated Revive Nursery for over a year!

It hasn’t gone how I wanted all the time, but God has helped me to build something AMAZING! I have an email list of nearly 1,200 people, 3,300+ followers on Instagram, and over 5,000 downloads on Get Planty Podcast. That’s a BIG deal to me! It has taken a lot of work and intentionality to build this and even though I don’t think I always did it right, man I am still proud of what Revive Nursery has become!

There are more successes like playing all day with my to little girls, investing my time in better building my marriage, FINALLY getting a little bit more plugged into my community, doing the work to build REAL friendships, and learning what it means to grow slowly. All are HUGE successes and ALL feel like such a blessing. God has been so very faithful to me and my family this year.

If you’re thinking, Dusty, this is great and all but what the actual hell does all this have to do with plants? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Because you are gonna fail to.

Your plant’s leaves will yellow, they’ll drop, you’ll make planty mistakes, and guess what, you’ll have plants die on you.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to just be frustrated with a plant and just throw it out.

But can you promise me something?

Promise me that you’ll do some research, make some changes AND TRY AGAIN!

I have a fun little quiz on my website to help you find a houseplant that will be best suitable for your skill level, home, and preferences and I even follow it up with some AMAZING email content to help teach you how to curate a DREAMY houseplant collection. Plus, it’s just a lotta fun!

All that to say I hope you see the parallels between failure, successes, and your personal plant journey and a healthy pursuit of growing well.

This is a trial and error process, you’ll learn as you go, it won’t always be perfect, but man you WILL learn to GROW WELL.

Next Tuesday I am going to be sharing about what God has taught me about growing well and what the heck it means to grow slowly and how to even approach that. I’ll share some of the boundaries I have made for myself for 2019 and how I am prioritizing slowly, healthy GOOD growth for my both myself and Revive Nursery.