highs and lows for 2014 & my hopes for 2015

Marian ParsonsRunning a Business36 Comments

When we sit down to dinner at the table, our family shares “highs and lows”.  We each share exciting things and what bummed us out.  It’s a way to get our kids talking and, I have found, it gets me sharing my life with them as well in an honest way.  There is rarely a day that I don’t have both a high and a low.  Most days, it’s a balance of both and that’s exactly how 2014 was for me.

When I was writing my book a few years ago, my editor told me I should start my story on a high, so I’m going to share the highs first!  And hiring Kriste was definitely one of those highs.  For the past couple of years, I’ve had an amazing assistant working with me, Heidi.  She still works for me and is still amazing, but she isn’t even in my timezone.  I needed someone to help me here.  Someone who could run the online shop and help with painting, sewing, photo shoots, etc.  What Kriste also brings to the table is a whole new creative energy and we bounce off each other nicely.  As I’ve been building into her, teaching her what I do, she builds into me by offering her creative input to my pieces and projects.  That has been so valuable.

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Getting the studio was also a high.  It was a huge step to taking my business even more seriously and giving it literal room to grow.  It’s also been a high getting my house back.  I feel my creativity being nurtured in this space as I’m away from dishes and laundry and the usual things that can distract when I’m working at home.  This space has given me a lot, but I’m asking it for more as I’m hosting my first two workshops in January – Milk Paint 101 and Bring Your Own Furniture Piece to Paint.  (Spaces are still available if you’re interested!)

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The photo shoot for Cottages & Bungalows was another high.  I have done a lot of photography, but I have never been hired by a magazine to go shoot someone’s house.  This was a huge step for me and I realized how much I loved it.  I really, really enjoyed it and I hope to do more in 2015.


And, of course, going to Canada for the Toronto Home Show was so much fun!  I just never, ever thought when I pressed that “start a blog” button or launched the milk paint line as a little side business that it would lead me there.

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There were other highs…magazine features, being on Fox News, being a vendor at the Lucketts Spring Market and the Chapel Market and lots of wonderful moments dotted throughout 2014.  Some of my favorite moments are the quiet ones…a kind comment, a new friendship, me in paint splattered clothes working on a piece I really love in my studio or behind the lens of my camera.

As far as the lows, the year started off pretty rough with my youngest son’s diagnosis of type one diabetes.  In hindsight, it just seems like something that happened and now it’s a part of our lives, but at the time, it was devastating.  There was a sharp learning curve with the injections and carb counting.  I was afraid his blood sugar would drop in the middle of the night, so I had trouble sleeping.  The diagnosis happened almost exactly a year ago and I think I’m just starting to realize the toll it took on me.  It was harder to feel inspired and share that inspiration with others.  It was harder to encourage others when I felt like I needed encouragement myself.  It was hard to be focused when I was so tired.


We’re doing really well now, but it had a huge impact on everything in my world this year.

I was so excited when Jeff and I decided to buy a farm and we put our house on the market in the spring.  It all seemed so perfect and like everything would fall into place.  We talked about celebrating Christmas 2014 in our new farmhouse.  Well, we didn’t have one viewing in three months of our house being on the market.  With each passing week and each farm that sold before we even had a chance to put in an offer, my heart was sinking.  We finally felt like God was telling us, “Not now.”  That was hard.  I had to mourn the loss of having that dream come true right when I wanted it to, but I’m really thankful it worked out that way.  I think it would’ve put a lot of pressure on us and, ultimately, that would’ve taken the joy out of the dream.

There have, of course, been other lows.  Times when I felt distracted, disappointed and discouraged.  That’s just the nature of things.  The ebb and flow.


 Now, I am looking to the future.  What are my hopes for 2015?

The two words that come to mind are growth and depth.  Higher reaching branches and stronger roots.  That’s sort of a lofty concept, so what do I mean by that?

By growth, I hope to grow my blog and business in a controlled, strategic way.  There are times that this business grew at a rate that left me behind, feeling overwhelmed and totally in over my head.  I feel like this year slowed and gave me a chance to catch up and think through what I want for this business and to focus on the aspects I really love.  Now, the idea of growth seems exciting, not intimidating.

I’m looking forward to implementing new ideas, making more videos, teaching workshops and branching out a bit more creatively.

In depth, I want to embrace where this blog got its start…decorating a home on a real budget.  A few years ago, I wrote the following as the “what my blog is about” blurb that greeted newcomers (and it’s still on my sidebar)…

“Throw out the notion that good design is expensive, must be carried out by a professional and can only be bought in a fancy store. I live in a real home on a real budget and have never taken a design class in my life. A great look is affordable and attainable to anyone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and dive in. So, get ready to go junking, tune up the sewing machine, and buy a good paint brush. Your home’s potential is waiting to be realized and you’re the one who’s going to discover it.”

When I wrote this, my decorating budget was pretty much non-existent, so everything I did was with as little as possible.  Now, I can blend a few splurges in with my bargain finds to get a higher end look at an affordable price.  So, this blog is less about gluing moss to tennis balls and more about know where to spend money in a room and where to save.  I want to share even more practical decorating tips and projects to help you get your home to a place where you love it.  I want to get back to my roots, but in a fresh way.

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Of course, I’ll also share the “hows” along the way for my fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers.

I have high hopes for 2015 and a renewed energy.  I hope you’ll subscribe and follow along!

highs and lows for 2014 & my hopes for 2015

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36 Comments on “highs and lows for 2014 & my hopes for 2015”

  1. I knew what your low would be before I read it. I’m so glad he – and all of you- are doing so well now.
    These were lovely thoughts and a good way to encourage us to share the day – and the year- with our loved ones.

  2. Having not walked in your shoes I cannot possibly know how scared your were when your son was diagnosed with diabetes. However, I do know how devastating that would have been for me. I am so thankful that things are going smoothly on that front!

    Your blog is always inspiring, enjoyable to read and an encouragement when I am feeling overwhelmed with projects. Thank you for that.

    I pray for many blessing to come your way in 2015.

  3. I know that the actual shoot was the “high” you speak of, but MAN, I’m gonna take this and run with this and just extrapolate that you, me and Kriste hanging out at my pad was also part of the high 😉 I know that day was definitely a high for my 2014, for sure!! Looking forward to heading up north for one of your classes in 2015, Marian. You’re the best.

  4. Your blog is a daily read for me. I remember when I first started blogging, you were so kind and left me the most encouraging comments. It’s been awe inspiring to watch you grow. Your hard work and vision have led to so many wonderful things, I’m so proud of you. When your son was diagnosed I felt so bad for your family. But I’ve watched as you have handled this challenge with great courage. Of course I’ll be right here following along in 2015 and for as long as you’re willing to share your talent with us. Happy New Year Marian and may you continue to enjoy all of the blessings you so richly deserve.

  5. Miriam, I am 71 years young and I have to tell you that I love reading your blog and all you offer to the young homemakers out there..I have read everything you have posted since day one..each time I see a new post from you I tell my hubs don’t bother me right now..I’m seeing what MMS is up too and doing..I wish you nothing but many true Blessings in life my dear young friend..Good luck in 2015..You’ll be a household name my dear,,from my mountain to yours hugs and love Gloria

  6. Ten years in to our son’s diabetes and I still can’t read the comments without tearing up. (Plus I haven’t had breakfast ;-)) a game changer that never goes away, diabetes never fits into our life, it IS our life in oh too many ways. And when I start to act and think that our son is ok and almost normal he reminds me, “not so”. He is an adult now and able to articulate what he lost and how hard he fights for normal everyday. This sounds like a downer comment but I just want to know….to know how courageous you are and need to be and how obvious it is that you are a woman of courage. At Christmas I wanted to get tee shirts that said, “T1 Diabetic, what’s your Super Power?” and “Mom of T1, what’s your Super Power” and “Dad of T1, what’s your Super Power”, “Sister of T1, What’s your Super power” Sleepless nights, emergency rooms, yadayadayada….but a nearness and closeness and the most incredible love a family can ever have. Grieve your loss, sweetie and know that although we don’t know what the future holds we know Who holds the future. You had an awesome year and it calls for rejoicing.

  7. I either start my day, or end it with reading your blog. I don’t follow other blogs and never appreciated them until I found yours. Yours tends to offer personal experience, but then allow the reader to consider how such experiences may translate into their lives.

    I have never met you or been to your store; however, you seem like such a humble and kind hearted person who genuinely wants good things for others. I can’t begin to imagine how much time and energy having the blog must take away from your family life. Please know that your followers appreciate every moment you can afford us. For that I thank your family for sharing you with us.

    I am a RN and I know the struggles for a young family with a newly diagnosed juvenile diabetic. I empathize with what your son and family have been through this past year, and concerns for the years to come. It seems your faith is such a big part of who you are, and I would imagine that is what gets you through the low moments and allows you to celebrate the high ones.

    It would seem that you are doing exactly what you were meant to do Marian and you are blessed to know that about yourself. Many folks struggle with finding their purpose for years. Your story encourages me to realize that I, too, can make our home beautiful on a tight budget, to learn how to sew, paint, decorate (which I am still trying to master), and be ok with where I am in my life.

    Thank you for taking the time to teach, share, encourage, promote the work of others, providing us with a wonderful milk paint product line and just listening to what we have to share in return. I have been taking photos of my family for the past 35 years, and I appreciate the moments of sharing what you’ve learned with photography in addition to the painting.

    Perhaps 2015 will allow you the freedom and opportunity to grow as a professional photographer and a decorator. You have coined the term “mustardized” and have a publicly recognizable style all your own. I believe you have reached new professional levels that perhaps you aren’t even aware of it.

    You seem like a very generous and giving woman, and that is a testament to a life well lived. So for now, I continue to tune in and learn from you with anticipation and appreciation. May 2015 be your best year yet, and I look forward to following you through it. Thank you for all that you share of yourself and hurray for your accomplishments. Your readers appreciate it more than you know, and somehow a simple thank you doesn’t seem like enough to express the appreciation and gratitude.

  8. I was just thinking about your son last night as we watched Team Canada take on Russia in the gold medal game of the world junior hockey championships. There was a feature on Max Domi who plays for Canada. He is a type I diabetic diagnosed at age 11. He thought for sure all hopes of a hockey career where over! He also mentors and counsels youth with type 1 diabetes in Toronto!!
    Enjoy your blog each and every day! Looking forward to following along in 2015!

  9. Thanks for sharing, felt like a nice catch up conversation with an old friend. Glad you have adjusted well to living with type I diabetes. I have 4 (yes, four!) siblings with type I, so I grew up with it. I also have a nephew (age 9) with it who just came to visit me, and I was reminded again of how it is a daily thing that just never goes away, but that life can still be rich and full.
    I also had God tell me no, not now on a home we wanted so badly…. my goal this year is to make the home I do have feel more like my own, more like a haven for me and my family- so thank you for all your inspiration and your commitment to keep it coming to me!!

  10. Ahhhh… That was nice Marian. A year in review, and taking the time to imagine and set up for how this next year will be. I feel like mine was just a blur and flew away. Your post made me stop and think about taking the time to make time to be more purposeful and creative…


  11. Marian: Thanks you for this post…we need to celebrate both the “highs” and “lows” in life as we do need to get through both, no matter what they are.
    I have a daughter, diagnosed at 14 (just before starting high school!) And she just had her 60th birthday and she has two beautiful daughters. I am so proud of her…diabetes is a daily job and no one can tell you the heartbreak when that diagnosis happened…I wanted it to be ME, not HER.
    I read your every post and always learn and enjoy them Thank you for sharing.

  12. Marian, this was one of your best posts. I love, LOVE how real, honest, transparent you are. Don’t rethink it and head back up into the shallow water. Just be you when you are you. 🙂 There is a time and place for all this on this blog – the design, life, heartache, victories – all of it. We LOVE going thru it all with you. We are FOR you. Just like our lives, yours has ebbs, flows, ups, downs – all to the glory of God! I LOVE who you are – your spirit, confidence, GIFTEDNESS, realness – all of it! May you grow ever closer to the Savior this year, and KNOW HOW MUCH He loves you – that gives you freedom to fly, girl. Go GET ’em this year. He has you. Blessings! Hope I see you around soon!

  13. I truly enjoy your blog, the person you are. You are gifted and you gift others by being and sharing who you are. Doors open and doors close, but if you’re determined enough just kick and push and it will be worth the effort. Best of luck in all you choose to do! Don’t lose who you are!

  14. As a pre-k teacher, antique booth dealer (never thought I would be doing that) and a picker, I so enjoy reading your blog! You are a real person, you share with your readers your life, and I appreciate that so much! You have inspired me to try new things and I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! I think of you as a friend and was so sad with I did not get to come to see you in Birmingham…..maybe next year. If you are ever through Chattanooga, stop at the Knitting Mill Antique Mall- best one in town and come look around! Mine is booth 27, the Lookout Mountain Jumble Shop and then go to FoodWorks next door and get some sweet potato chips and blue cheese fondue.

  15. Here is to a joyous and prosperous New Year, filled with more numerous blessings than challenges, more highs and fewer lows! I know you will do great, Marian.

  16. Your words are so HUMAN and BEAUTIFUL…..lee ally enjoyed your sweet honesty in this post! All I can say is…..You are BLOSSOMING just like a spring time flower!!!!!

  17. This was just such a lovely post. I understand the disappointment when God says no as He just told me no to a job I really wanted. He knows best. In reading this post, I was encouraged that in staying home instead of earning a nice paycheck, I can still make a beautiful home on a tight budget.
    Just to let you know, I cryed with you and prayed for your son when he was diagnosed, I was disappointed for you when your house didn’t sell and I rejoiced with you when you got your studio. I think when you got your studio, I was almost as excited as you and couldn’t wait for every post about it and all the pictures.
    Thank you for sharing yourself and your creativity to us on a regular basis. I’m really looking forward to all you’re going to bring to the blog world in 2015.

  18. I love your blog and fb post. You really have a go get attitude. One I wish I had. I’m afraid my fear of not being that creative or special really holds me back. Sometimes I feel like is there anything miss mustard seed can’t do? I’m so appreciate you being open with your life I refreshing and helps me appreciate the things I have that I did create with the help of my husband. The one very proud accomplishme is owning a f 17 acre farm in Wisconsin and selling my treasures out of our barn. It’s coming along but needs some work. I think wwmms do? If you are ever in the Madison area look me up. My fb page is Lollygag vintiques. Even writing that makes me feel uncomfortable, feels like self promotion one that I do not do well with. Thanks again for all your inspiration and honesty.

  19. I so enjoyed this recap! How MUCH can happen in just one year!!!
    I just wanted to put in a request for future content – please keep some of the “no-budget” ideas coming; I’m still in the moss-and-tennis-balls stage of life! Haha! 🙂 I’ve truly appreciated the encouragement to decorate a home even when I have no decorating budget. Your creative ideas have been inspiring.

  20. Marian,
    I will cut right to the chase. I feel this was one of your best posts yet and one of the main reasons I enjoy and choose to follow your blog.

    While its much easier to share life’s highs and achievements, its always harder to share your lows and temporary set backs. You have always been humble enough and real enough to do that. This is what separates you from many other bloggers!

  21. Thank you for sharing your highs and lows! I was delighted to hear you still had space in your class. I was wishing I had signed up the other day-now I did! Phew, no regrets. I’m sure it will be a high for me! ‘

    I had a lot more highs this year than lows-renovating a vacation rental in Florida-a totally new experience-I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED, starting a blog, and starting to sell refinished furniture. My low was dealing with my mother’s memory loss. The ebb and flow!

    Looking forward to meeting you. Ali

  22. Hello Miriam,

    I have been following your blog for about 3 months now and while I visit other blogs, I never miss a post from you. You have a very informative and refreshing blog and I find I can definitely relate to you and what you do. I love to repurpose, paint and change things up a bit. You are right when you say you can do a lot to “create a home” on very limited budget and a lot of creativity.

    I have shared your blog with a friend of mine and told her that of all the blogs I read, yours is the “creme de la creme”. You have a natural and easy-going attitude and your posts reflect that. I am a subscriber and when I see that you have written a post, I want to be able to absorb all that you have to say. I’ve even created a file on my computer just for you!

    So, just continue to be who you are and I guarantee that you will never have to worry about an audience!

    P.S. I hope to purchase some of your milk paint as soon as I find a piece of furniture that I think is worthy of it. LOL

  23. I love your commitment to deepening your roots and reaching up and out in growth. Can’t wait to see you in 2015!

  24. First, I want to thank you Marian, for taking the time to share such an inspiring and thoughtful post. I love your realness, your willingness to let us see you as a real human being with many of the same struggles and problems to solve that we all have. The sweetness and sincerity of your personality comes through very strongly which makes your blog a pleasure to read. I bet you are a wonderful and fun friend!

    I know I am much older than you are–another 71-yr-old with grandchildren-but we have a lot of interests in common. I love junk and “the hunt” for interesting and beautiful things to fix up–or not, if their patina is great like it is. I am a photographer also and have always been in love with the visual–color, form, arrangement and feeling. I also have a grandson who was diagnosed with T1 diabetes when he was three. I remember what a shock and upsetting that was. Because I took care of him much of the time I know how your life is taken over with the carb counting, the blood testing, the need to monitor everything he ate. It felt like a full-time job to me. Then, later, dealing with the school people. It sounds like your family as adapted well, but it takes an enormous shift in focus. My grandson is now 16 and seems to be doing fine and all the calculating seems like the norm, now.

    Anyway, I feel that I connect with you on several levels. Although I have not been doing much redecorating or many creative things lately, I am longing to do so and your blog encourages me to find a way and gives me the most delightful eye candy! You and my Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine!

    Marian, I wish I lived down the block from you! Thank you SO much for sharing your life ad your talents with all of us!


  25. God Bless You, Marian…
    You are more precious than words can say. Your gift to all of us is the gift of YOU! Sweet, Darling, Wonderful, Beautiful YOU!
    I love You… and I pray for You… and I am excited for all that God is doing for You and through You!
    Your openness and your amazing ability to draw people to you is such a wonderful gift. Every time I read a post or see something you have made more beautiful my heart smiles.
    Thank you, for sharing your heart.
    With Love,

  26. Thank you for sharing your gifts – prayers for you and your family to continue to grow in God’s grace in 2015

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. As others have said, it’s this real life connection that brings us back here-that and the gorgeous ideas, of course! 2014 was a heck of a year for my family, too, and I’m right there with you praying for growth and peace in 2015!

  28. Marian, A day without your blog would be like a day without sunshine. I know when your blog comes through and I usually take a pit stop and read it entirely.

    My two cousins and their father had diabetes. The girls were about three and five when they
    they found out. Eileen the cousin closest to me said that today what they do with diabetic meds and management is miraculous compared to her childhood experience. She said the biggest thing is that today that the child gets the big picture early and takes responsibility early on so they feel better about themselves etc. She lived to be almost 78 years old and her dad lived to be over
    80 years old. Not bad.

    Keep up the good work all the way around. Mary in NH

  29. Wow, after reading your blog post and all these kind, loving comments, I can truly tell that you put all your heart on all your projects and blog posts. Hard work does pay off and you are a clear depiction of that statement. I wish you all the best in 2015! Keep working hard and thank you for being such an inspiration.

  30. When I read your comment about Type 1 Diabetes, I felt some of your anxiety. My son became one at 31 years old, very odd but still possible apparently. The strange thing is that when he was 3 months old, he was large ( 16 lbs) and the pediatrician asked if we had Diabetes in our families (no) but the rapid weight gain suggested insulin resistance, I’m guessing. When he was diagnosed with it after having the flu, my husband and I were devastated for him. I was worried about insulin shock because I had worked with someone whose husband used to have regular seizures 30 years ago. Fortunately, insulin has come a long way since then and my son has adjusted very well to it. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the disease but there is a positive side to it. Ryan has become very disciplined with diet and his habits since his diagnosis and he takes much better care of himself than he used to. There have also been great strides in research and many suggest that a cure is not far away so your son has much to look forward to. I can also say that I worked with a man who is in his 40’s and has 3 children-he has been a Diabetic since he was six but he played rugby in university, has a successful career and is healthy. So, life can be normal for your son.
    I wish you a great 2015.

  31. My high was finding your book and blog and getting in my heart that my future plans to sell the up cycled items I produce was real and there is a whole world out there to connect with. The icing was meeting you at Luckets. This year I retire in June and the adventure begins! Thank-you Miss Mustard Seed!

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