Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy

take chances, make mistakes, get messy

One of my favorite memories of raising my big kids is all the hours we spent watching Magic School Bus and gleaning life wisdom from the fabulous Ms. Frizzle. Not that we watched a lot of TV but the Magic School Bus videos counted as educational time!

Ms. Frizzle taught us to take chances, make mistakes, get messy.


I don’t fancy myself all that much of a risk taker but when I spend time looking back over some of my life choices I see that I have never necessarily taken the easy road.

I left home and moved to the city first at 16 then for good at 17;

Jumped on an airplane with almost no money and a one-way ticket to England at 19;

Decided to learn French as a young adult and dove into University (rather successfully I might add) in the French Language with very little preparation;

Married a West African (who did not speak English) one year after meeting him and signed a legal oath to provide for him financially (for immigration purposes) should he turn out to be a bum;

Chose to have my first child while in university;

Decided that, after 6 years in Uni preparing to teach other folk’s kids, I would ditch all my well-laid plans and stay home to homeschool;

Purchased a rental property which has involved plenty of stress at times and many financial ups and downs;

Five years ago, just before the new year, I felt a call to return to school which made no practical sense as I was homeschooling three kids, awaiting a much-needed hip replacement, and finances were tight. But I knew it was right and dove in heart first.

Sometimes what appears completely illogical to the natural eye is actually a crazy, beautiful, life-raft to those with eyes to see.

And since then I have taken risks in telling the truth about some of my story – in putting myself “out there” even when I feel imperfect or afraid, in refusing to compete and hustle to be who I am not.

I believe that each of my risks, my mistakes, and even my messes have helped form and equip me for the work I have the privilege of doing today with A Life in Progress.

I believe that each of your mistakes and heartaches and all your imperfection and messiness is part of a beautiful tapestry and that instead of making you a failure it is simply part of your journey. Part of the gift that you get to offer back to the world.

Which leads me back to Ms. Frizzle and her motto: take chances, make mistakes, get messy.


We have no guarantees in life, do we? We have no idea how many days we have here on earth or if people really can be trusted or if our bodies will hold on to carry us through our retirement plans. We don’t get to control who our children become any more than we control the weather. Friendships end and people die and businesses fail.

But sometimes, because we take a chance, we meet strong, stubborn women who challenge us in beautiful ways and become our soul sisters. Despite myriad mistakes, our kids grow up and delight us (and call us to maturity) in ways we would never have planned for ourselves, our marriages become more deeply rooted as we persist through the rocky seasons, or sometimes we finally find the courage to leave.

And through our messy imperfection, we learn that we are stronger than we ever realized.

We take two steps forward and one step back, we let go of an addiction only to replace it with another, we mess up and apologize, we fall apart and pick ourselves up all over again. But we keep going because we realize that our aim is no longer perfection; it is simply choosing to live each day fully, awake and aware.

We loosen our grip and take chances, make mistakes, get messy.

I want my kids to choose careers they love, not those that everyone thinks are safer and more likely to make them money. I want them to go on adventures, far and wide, be open to learning new languages, meeting people from other cultures and customs and not subsist on fear. To be willing to do hard things even at great personal cost. I want them to be wise and kind and willing to give and not just take.

And if I want this for them then it seems to me I must be willing to model this, however imperfectly.

What about you?

You have bills to pay and meals to prepare and people to tend to. Is there any room left in your life for a little risk-taking, a little stepping out, a little willingness to try something you are secretly excited and afraid of all at the same time?

Is there any breathing room in your home or calendar for creativity – for literal mess-making for you and your little people? Any room for adventure or spontaneity? Any margin in the budget for unexpected compassionate giving?

Are there some big messy mistakes in your past for which you haven’t forgiven yourself? Or forgiven someone you love for?

Do you want to give yourself permission to loosen your grip a little and take some chances, make mistakes, and get a little messy?

I don’t ever set resolutions for the new year but I do aim to live purposefully year ‘round.

What if this year we all decide that not one day will pass without us getting curious, offering our small gifts, asking questions, risking rejection, trying a new way, feeling fear and showing up anyways, or being open to new possibilities?

What if we choose to live eyes and heart wide open? Unshackled. Letting go of everything that binds and holds us back from truly living with purpose, health, and joy.

Join Ms. Frizzle and me in taking chances, making mistakes, and getting a little messy this year. Let me know how it goes.

Krista xo

If you’re looking for a little more encouragement you might like (affiliate links) Daring Greatly or I Am That Girl.

Photograph by Benjamin Cottrell @artisunrest

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8 comments on “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy

  1. a beautiful, thought-provoking and gentle post to read the beginning of the week and this new year.

    I feel so incredibly ordinary (and small, truth be told) these days. I cant’ stand the New Years buzz (and business) that calls us to buy our way to happiness (this program or that), resolve our lives with 5 easy steps of something or other, etc…

    I hear so much wisdom in your words, the wisdom of a woman with grown and growing children (we don’t get to control who are children become). Wisdom hard-won in struggle. The struggle that we (me) try desperately to avoid and manage our way out of, but still find ourselves in, the chance to go deeper through the layers of self as we learn through hardship and lean into all that discomfort.

    Generally, I hate taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy. And yet, this is the “arena” (to borrow from Brene Brown) that life calls me into again and again.

    And you are in there with me, which gives you the right and privilege to speak into my life.

    I don’t like the transition periods, including the switch from one year to the next. And I dislike all the hype around that change but I have been using this little mantra: What is one (just one) kind, loving, helpful, positive thing you can do in this moment? Start here. One thing, that’s all. Often it’s a kindness towards myself and it feels like swimming through molasses to extend that to myself but it’s the one thing I must do in that difficult, messy, mistake-filled moment.

    I love you. I love your words and your heart. And what you speak is true

    • Thank you, Renée, and yes, any wisdom I possess was most definitely “hard-won in struggle”. I am delighted to be your friend on this journey – on the days you feel small and ordinary (by the way, I happen to love small and ordinary) and on the days where you feel strong and focused and like everything is flowing smoothly.

      I can’t say I “like” taking chances, making mistakes or getting messy either (which is probably why I don’t see myself as a risk taker) but I am continually called out into greater freedom and the only way there that I have found (and the way to JOY I might add) is to let go of our uber tight grip on both the journey and the outcome.

  2. Thank you for this post…..I am not able to say all that I would like to at this moment…….just wanted to let you know that you really spoke to me today…….Renee’s comment as well………

  3. I find it funny that you don’t consider yourself a risk-taker because it sounds like you’ve been a risk-taker from an early age. This is a great post and definitely what I needed to read right now. I’ve always had a fear of failure and this has forced me to take the safe route time after time. It’s been my biggest regret because it held me back. But I keep sticking with what I know, despite acknowledging that it won’t make me happy and will lead to more regrets. Will I take leaps in 2017? It’s hard to tell and history tells me I won’t. But the seed has been planted.

    • Anya, your comment brings up some great talking points:

      First, it is good for us to examine our self talk or the stories we tell ourselves (in my case this might include that I am not a risk taker or overly fearful) and in someone else’s case this might look like a long-held belief that they always fail or never make good choices (but upon examination can come up with much evidence to the contrary).

      Second, I am a big fan of baby steps vs huge leaps. I suppose I have made some big leaps but most of my healing, growth, and joy has come as a result of tiny but consistent baby steps.

      Finally, I had to remind my youngest daughter (who is very concerned with people’s opinions of her) of a simple truth when she tried snowboarding for the first time last week and felt like a failure: it is not failure to mess up or need to say sorry, to lose your money or receive a bad mark (if you tried), to have a relationship end or even to have someone mock us for an imperfect attempt at something. All this simply means we stepped out, we lived, we tried, we risked, we are human.

      So may you take some purposeful baby steps into freedom this year. xo

  4. My older children were also big Magic Schoolbus fans! Between Ms. Frizzle and Bill Nye, my eldest son learned more science from them than in his classroom.

    So often your words (and Renee’s as I follow her, too) bring me such peace. I often wish I’d have had the wisdom you both have at your ages. As someone now 50 it saddens me how much of life I let pass me by as I sailed a sea of discontent. I guess all that matters is I am now on a new path…better late than never!

    Peace, joy, and messiness (in a good way 🙂 ) to you in the new year.

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