Grateful: Day 12

My least favorite season is winter.

I'm more a springtime/summer gal — when the days are long and getting longer, warm and getting warmer. Not really an ideal outlook given that I live in Massachusetts — and winter comes every year. So, today I'm going to jot down what about winter I do like.

I'm grateful for skiing.  I've loved to ski since I was a child, to race down a hill, feel the wind in my face, and I can only do this in the wintertime.

Sarah Jane Winter CheerSource:  Sarah Jane Studios, Etsy

But there's a more universal aspect of winter in the Northeast.  Snow days, for instance, when we are tucked in our homes by a white down comforter, we shovel snow, and dive into the comfort of corn chowder and homemade bread.  Life is on pause.  And though the days are shorter and darker, and sometimes things feel more difficult as a consequence, I am learning to appreciate this quiescent season; to recognize the value of letting things lie fallow.

And that is a good thing.

Mary Alice Hatch | Creating Something Beautiful

Mary Alice Hatch is a wife and mother of two. Six years ago she actively pursued her dream of starting her own interior design studio. For the last two years she has served as her own client designing and decorating two homes in New Hampshire and Wellesley, MA.  She is most happy when she is creating something beautiful.

After you read Mary Alice's post and view her images, will you leave a comment?  When you do, you will give Mary Alice the gift of being heard and seen.  And what finer gift is there?


Since I was a small child, I have always loved to create. I love to create something magnificent from something ordinary.  I love entering a new space and coming up with new possibilities.

As a young girl I would constantly create new room layouts; when my parents would go on a trip I would repaint my furniture and add new hardware. In college, I started to build furniture; I also love to arrange flowers.

Because I have always enjoyed design, I went back to school 6 yrs ago to take a correspondence course in Interior Design from a school in NYC.  Though I opened my own design studio in May of 2003, for the last three years, I've been my own client as I rebuilt an old boathouse and new guest house at our home in New Hampshire.

Hatch Boathouse

About 1 1/2 years ago, Architectural Digest had an Open Submission, the first time ever.  One of my life-long goals has been to submit my work to a first rate Interior Design publication like Architectural Digest. I knew the chance to be picked for the single published spot was slim, but I nonetheless photographed and submitted my boathouse, went to New York, and stood in line outside the D&D Building.

When my time came to meet with one of the editors, I was so excited.  As I showed her my “before” and “after” portfolio and listened to the editor's expressions of interest, I felt such a feeling of accomplishment.

Dock:  Before and After

MAH Dock Before

Dock after MAH


Master Bath:  Before and After

Master bath before

Master bath after


Kitchen:  Before and After

Kitchen-family room before-1

Kitchen family room after


Family Room:  Before and After


Family room before

Kitchen family room after2

When I was finished showing her my portfolio she asked me if she could keep it to show Paige Reese, the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine.  Of course I said “YES”, and then floated out of the meeting.  It was so validating to have someone at the top of my field like my project.  Unfortunately, I didn't win, but I was competitive — and that felt good, really good.

Since finishing that project, and as my children continue to grow, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching as to what my dream really is.  I haven't yet figured it all out — do we ever? — but here's what I know:
I love design.
I am glad that I went to Architectural Digest's Open Submission.
I love that because I work for myself, my children can be my number one client, and I have the flexibility to create anything I want.
I also know…

I am most happy when I am creating something beautiful.

Hatch Patio

Does Mary Alice's experience signal for us how we can know that we really want something?  Including being willing to travel to another city, and stand in line all day, so that our work can be seen?  And what kind of courage does it take to put our work in front of someone knowing that may like it, but they may not? 

As I read this post, I thought of Christine Vick's post Simply Living, and her comment that “for a task to be valuable, it doesn't need to be weighty, solemn, or make history, it just needs to matter to me.”

I also couldn't help but think of how much time I spend visiting (and buying) Portabellopixie, Swallowfield, Sarah Jane Studios to name a few.  Why?  Because what I see there is beautiful to me.

As you think about your dreams, aren't they about creating?  Something not ugly, but beautiful?

Can you think of something that you wanted to achieve, and once you did, you were ready to move on?  

One final note:  All images are copyright of Mary Alice Hatch.

Send Perfectionism Packing

I've thought about this post for several days, but have put it off.

Ironic, but not surprising I suppose, given the topic is perfectionism.

As a child, there were so many things I did well, I could afford to be a perfectionist.  In high school it became a problem.  I almost didn't take AP American History.  I didn't take Calculus.  Nor would I take Econ because I feared I couldn't get an ‘A'.  I did get ‘A's in the classes I took, but in retrospect, a ‘B' in Calculus, rather than no calculus at all given my chosen career, probably would have been a decent trade.

Enter the workforce.

When I got to New York, I wanted to succeed so badly, I had to square off with my perfectionism, muscling through the fear.

And I had to learn a few tricks.  Like breaking things down into small enough pieces that I wouldn't be overwhelmed.  Or telling myself to spend just spend 5 minutes putting everything together that I'd need, and then I could go do something else.


Courtesy:  Sarah Jane Studios

When I do send perfectionism packing (and when I can't quite, I pull out a few tricks to pretend as if I have), I try more new things, and I learn more.

I can model for my children how to cope with perfectionism.

I get more accomplished because I procrastinate less.

I stop something I've started when I realize it's not worth finishing.

I am willing to date dreams, knowing I don't have to marry them.

Most importantly, I can welcome in my world.

Happily. Exuberantly.

With arms outstretched.

If you didn't feel the need to be perfect at a ‘thing', what would you try doing?

What dream would you like to date?

What are you currently working on that isn't worth finishing?

What tips do you have for outwitting perfectionism?

My husband who is trained as a scientist can break projects into very small, logical pieces — he is a superb peer mentor.  How can some of the men in our lives — fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, colleagues – mentor us?


Related Posts:

Living the dream. Life's a breeze. (Not.)

Janna Taylor: If You Get Defensive, You're Getting Close

What if Madeleine L'Engle Hadn't Dared to Dream?

Getting Back in the Saddle of Our Possibilities

Mum's the Word

Contact Us

Fill out this form and we will follow up to create a customized plan to help you build a smart growth organization.

Media & Press Inquiries

including requesting Whitney as a guest on your podcast

Media & Press Inquiries arrow_forward

Gain insight into growth, adaptability and agility

Download our free resources outlining the Accelerants of Growth—including books, podcasts and TEDtalks to help you move up your S Curve of Learning.