SGTSM: Failure, and Giving

working my way through Crystal paine's book: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

I did get my bangs trimmed, but I haven’t posted a new pic. My neighbor is a photographer who has a studio in her home. She’s offered to snap my pic but I’ve just procrastinated about getting it done. The picture on my blog and social media profiles is 5 years old, and I don’t want to be one of those people who uses the same photo for everything for a decade, and then when you meet them in person they look like an old hag. Know what I mean?

Wait, what were we talking about? Oh, yes. Crystal Paine’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life. I’m re-reading it, and sharing my thoughts and notes as I read.

Chapter 7: When You Feel Like a Failure

I have a tendency to set very high standards for myself, so I related with this chapter. I especially appreciated the section on “Comparison Is the Thief of Joy”. It reminded me of this little bit of wisdom:

“But let each one prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.”


(Via Paul, At Galatians 6:4)

I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten far better at appreciating myself for who I am (and oddly – or not so oddly – appreciating others more), in my 30’s. It’s far easier for me to recognize and accept that I’m not going to be able to do everything, but that I can do what I do well. (Example: letting go of what doesn’t work)

Interestingly, Tsh Oxenreider talks about this in her newest book, Notes from a Blue Bike. (I sort of reviewed this here when I wrote about how living overseas shaped my worldview, but I’ll be sharing more about this book later.) I underlined a few sentences in chapter 48. They are:

“… one of the worst things about the internet is the exposure to many ways of living life. As we read how other families function… we’re tempted to be confused at best, discouraged and defeated at worst.”

She goes on to say:

“Living intentionally ultimately means staying true to yourself and how your family is made. As you scour the Internet for ideas… listen to that still, small voice that says, This is you.”

(edited for brevity)

I loved that. So true! In a world of highly stylized mommy blogs, Pinterest and social media, it’s so easy to think that everyone’s life looks glossy, glamorous and eye-popping white (how DO people with white everything keep stuff clean if they have kids?!).

Crystal relates her own “failures” (if you can even call them that) with early business ideas. I’ve done plenty of that as I stumbled around trying to find things that worked in my online business. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t occasionally envious when I see someone who throw up a blog and six months later, retire their husbands from full-time jobs to manage the blog.

Seriously, I’ve seen this happen several times in the 12 years since I started this gig.

What keeps me from giving up when I feel like a failure? Trying to think about myself through my Creator’s eyes. Focusing on my strengths and forgetting about the rest.  I’ll NEVER be one of those fun crafty moms, and I’m a-ok with it.

Chapter 8: Yes, You Can Make a Difference (on Giving)

It’s telling to me that this chapter appears right after the one on failure. Because you can’t do much good for anyone if you’re in survival mode. At the same time, focusing on others is one of the best ways to become a true “success” (in quotes because that’s such a loaded word isn’t it?). Giving helps increase gratitude, which has a spillover effect of making us feel more content.

Crystal has tons of suggestions for busy moms who want to give more of themselves. I admit, I could do better in this area. I often use the excuse that I have a full plate with my own family and children. I have many opportunities for giving in my religious community, but I could improve in the area of being generous with myself. Last week I looked for a few opportunities. Instead of listing some nice clothing on eBay, I gave it to a single mom friend with teenage daughters. I got a bag of things together for a new mom. It’s not much, but it felt great. In addition, one of goals I made is to work on hospitality. This is a hard thing for me. But, I have been able to host two get-togethers, and both were a blast.

What do you do to battle discouragement? How have you found time and energy to give to others in the midst of a busy life?

About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of 7 curious kiddos, autodidact, author, blogger, head chef, wanna-be French girl and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book.


  1. Great post, Carrie. I also could do better with giving of myself outside of the home. Lately we have had a lot of opportunities to make and donate food, which has been nice… but also a good excuse for me to give without having to actually interact with people. I’d make a really excellent hermit. 😉

    I think I’m pretty good at not comparing myself to those with more Pinteresting lives, because I figure I could do all of that if it was important to me… but it’s just NOT. Although I do hit myself over the head sometimes for not starting a blog years ago. Which makes me not want to do it at all. Mmhmm…

  2. Guilty of most of those things…especially trying to do everything. When I do that, my house and personal study habits suffer. I’ve been trying to take a step back and focus on those things. The Watchtower has been pointing to me lately 🙂 I’ve been cutting back on my TV watching , ironically filling it with reading doesn’t really help with my time 🙂 And you look as lovely as usual in your picture. You haven’t changed at all!

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