trusting what comes out of your hands

by | Mar 26, 2021 | All Things Home, Artistic Endeavors, Decorating | 52 comments

For those who missed my announcement last fall, I wrote a book.  I’m going to be sharing even more specifics about it very soon, but it is a home decor book with my home being the lead character and my decorating ideas and tips being the bulk of the content.  When I was working on the book, it all came easily.  I feel like this book has been brewing inside of me for years and it just poured out.  I wrote 17,000 words over the top end of the range requested by the publisher and that was even after I completely cut out a couple of chapters.

The photoshoots and styling felt natural and fun.  The home projects we tackled didn’t always go smoothly, but I enjoyed the process of creating and making and I’ve been thrilled with the end results.  None of the work weighed on me like a huge project that I had to slog through until I reached the finish line.  There were times when I was almost giddy with excitement.  It all felt good and right and like some of the best work I’ve ever done.

I turned the manuscript in months ago and we’ve been working through the edits, the layout, and the cover.  And now the book is 99.9% done and I have time to reflect…  and question.  This is where it becomes difficult to trust what has come out of my hands.  Is it good?  Is it good enough?  Will other people like it?  Will all of the joy that bubbled while it was being created translate?  Is my taste unique enough to not be boring, yet broad enough to appeal to a wide range of people?

Oh, the questions!

They don’t plague me with anxiety or keep me up at night, but they do temper my excitement a bit, now that the work is done and set and can no longer undergo dramatic changes.

As I’ve been thinking through these things and thinking about my journey as a creative entrepreneur, writer, designer, and artist, I think that trusting what comes out of my/your hands, what you and I naturally want to create, might be one of the hardest parts of the creative process.  I think it’s a close second only to starting; dealing with a blank piece of paper, uncut fabric, or white walls.

creative home office | miss mustard seed

I first pondered the concept of trusting what came out of my hands when I was painting.  I have to admit that I’ll sometimes look longingly at the work of other artists and wonder why I can’t paint as they do.  Even when I try to study or emulate them, why does my work still have that Marian-esque quality about it?  That quality has followed me around my whole life and has been impossible to shake, no matter how hard I try to not draw like me, paint like me, decorate like me.

oil landscape painting | miss mustard seed | marian parsons

Isn’t it interesting that it’s hard to embrace our unique work even if that’s what makes our work recognizable, distinguishable, and interesting?  Other people see it, but we’re too close to it.  The fact that it’s not like the work of someone else should be celebrated, but instead, we judge it by comparison.  We estimate whether something is good by stacking it against something created by another hand, another creative mind.  And it’s all so subjective that you can’t possibly come away with a straight answer of how your work measures up.

living room shelf styling | antiques | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

So, I have really been working on this.  I’m trying to grow in the area of trusting myself, what I’m naturally drawn to, what my hands intuitively want to make, and what my creative mind conjures.  I want to celebrate what makes my work different instead of questioning why it doesn’t look like the work of someone else.  I want to embrace the work I’m proud of and allow the joy that comes from being genuine cast a lovely light on everything I do.

It may not be your thing, but it’s my thing.

And your thing, whatever it looks like at this stage of your journey, is lovely, too.  We can both do beautiful, meaningful work that is different and yet equally amazing.

1700s leather books | miss mustard seed

I have to say that the exercise of embracing what comes out of the end of my brush is helping me accept and celebrate my other creative work like decorating, writing, styling, and photography.  Just like the colors I intuitively mix on the palette, where I hang a mirror, how I paint a table, or the fabrics I choose for the curtains are all a part of my work.  They are all creative decisions that make up a room, an aesthetic, a distinctive look.

landscape mural | dining room | antiques | miss mustard seed

So, I want to ask you…  How are you at trusting the work that comes out of your hand whatever that work is?  Gardening, decorating, writing, drawing, painting, quilting, knitting, cooking…  Do you relax into it?  Do you embrace your work?  Or do you struggle with questioning it as I often do?

Is it too old-fashioned?  Too colorful?  Not colorful enough?  Too trendy?  Not on-trend?  Too amateurish?  Too quirky?  Too perfect?  Not perfect enough?  Too normal?  Too weird?

If a steady stream of questions like these follow you and your creative work around, that’s a good indicator that you are not embracing what comes out of you.  I think questioning, learning, growing, and reassessing are all a healthy part of the creative process, but when you have done your best, you’ve done good work that you’re proud of, that’s not the time to start asking questions that are subjective and rooted in comparison.

blue and white toile fabric wall | sewing room | antiques | miss mustard seed

The fact that your work (and mine) is unique is a good thing for so many reasons and in so many ways.  And I wonder how many people, including me, are editing themselves because they don’t trust what is intuitive, organic, and genuine.

yarn organization | art studio | craft room | knitting supplies | miss mustard seed

So, let’s do that.  Let’s trust our creative souls and what our hands produce.  Let’s run those questions and comparisons through a filter to determine if they are productive or devastatingly critical.  And, if they are the latter, well…we don’t say “shut up” in the Parsons’ house because it’s rude, but you can tell the critical voice that asks those questions to just shut up.

And then create something you love.

original oil landscape painting | miss mustard seed | marian parsons

52 Comments

  1. Lisa P

    Yes! I’m going to frame this one!

    Reply
  2. Kitty Smothers

    I struggle with this in my artwork all the time and I hate it. Why can’t I stop being so critical of my work? It is a process.

    Reply
  3. Brigitte

    I’m a papercrafter and have to remind myself that whatever I’m making is for the joy of it, whether it’s a gift or for myself. It’s taken me years to remember this.

    Reply
    • Jane Allen

      Congratulations! I think we all struggle with the questions you are asking. Our creativity is a gift from God, he made each of us more we show up and use our gifts the more they will grow. It is all exciting. Blessings to you!

      Reply
  4. Amy

    Gardener here. This is beautifully written.

    Reply
  5. Ginger K Evans

    When can we expect your new book to come out?

    Reply
  6. Laura

    Your paintings are GORGEOUS! I would love to have one hanging in my home. I have admired your interiors and your skill at reupholstering furniture for quite some time. Don’t change what you do so beautifully!

    Reply
  7. Sandy

    Thank you for such encouragement. God has definitely given us different talents to enjoy and share. Thank you for sharing yours.

    PS. Shut up was a no-no word at our house too, so when our son was about 4 he would use it as much as possible, saying things like
    ” That boy said shut up. He shouldn’t say shut up. That was not nice of him to say shut up.”
    It was a hoot. 😂

    Hope y’all are having a wonderful time visiting family.

    Reply
  8. Karen K from Buffalo

    Marian, I wouldn’t change a thing about you! You are so inspirational to all. I get many ideas from you, that may not exactly look like your’s, but I am happy with what I’ve been inspired to do & you should, too!

    Reply
  9. Amy

    How beautiful! You are so talented, and it is a delight to see the beauty you have created in your home. Thank you for encouraging each of us to nurture our own creativity.

    Reply
  10. Michele

    When it comes from your soul, it will be good. I can’t wait to buy your book!

    Reply
  11. Jo

    Thank you so much for this loving lesson. I so agree with Lisa, I am going to frame this one.

    Reply
  12. Patricia Dyal

    You do all things well. I love your style of writing, the way you encourage others to enjoy what they want to create making it their own and love your home. It is amazing to see you balance it all with family, ministry and friends. You have a great supporting family as well.

    Reply
  13. Julia Butler

    A Marian-esque quality is no way a bad thing, many of us strive to be more Marian and are grateful that you share your talents. Escaping into your blog posts is magical. Thank you for taking the time to share, encourage and lead us on our own creative journey. I’ve learnt so much from you and @shaunnaparkerstudio (her words are poignant and beautiful) and members of TCe Community.
    Hopefully your book will be available in the UK, Fall is such a long time away but I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

    Reply
  14. Donna

    Cant wait for your book! It will be beautiful!!!

    Reply
  15. Mary from Life at Bella Terra

    Marian,
    I love this post. It is so true what you said, at least it is for me. Every time I send out a blog post, I think, will anyone like it? Should I re-write it? But if it is genuine and from the heart, it cannot be wrong, bad, insufficient, etc. Will look forward to your book~I just know it will be amazing.

    Reply
  16. sandra

    Amen, sister !!

    Reply
  17. Dianne

    Everyone is unique and different and our talents are as well. Different forms of art really bring this out. I found out a couple of years ago when I started painting how unique each person is. Each piece I do is unique to me. My friends have very different styles, but each one is a beautiful expression of creativity. No right or wrong. I paint in watercolor and I’ve tried several of the paintings you posted last year: the cow, the pear, the bottle vase with flower. They turned out different from yours and the others, but I still love them. It often seems like an experiment . . . I am not at the point yet where I am super confident, but I love painting and this year I’ve painted all of the cards I’ve sent, including our Christmas Card. They have been well received and I have been able to encourage others to try painting, assuring them that it will be totally unique and wonderful to them. And it has been!

    Reply
  18. Wendy

    Can’t wait for your book. Love everything you do.

    Reply
  19. Marlene

    Thank you and so true, it would be terrible if we were all alike, our homes, clothes we all wear, and hairstyles all the same, boring!!

    Reply
  20. Val

    Best blog post ever! This is just what I needed to read today. 😊

    Reply
  21. coloradoliz

    ”Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

    This quote explains it all. 💙💙💙

    Reply
    • Babs

      What a wonderful quote and so true especially for artists and would be artists. Thank you for posting it…I had never heard that one and it speaks to my heart.

      Reply
  22. Krista

    Your uniqueness is why I’ve followed your blog for 10 years and gave up 99% of the others I initially started following back then. The others all started to look exactly the same everyday. I love how your posts are always something different, with a variety of topics, are down-to-earth, authentic, humble and always relevant to all of us!

    Reply
  23. Elaine

    Thank you for this post ~
    I am struggling with my art again. Sometimes it gets impossible to move forward. It’s been hard tho pick up a brush. So thanks, )))hugs(((

    Reply
  24. Amy

    Marian, everything that makes your work unique and special are the reasons I follow your blog. There are a lot of trendy copycat ideas out there and they are boring! You are fresh and fun and one of a kind. I am thankful for all that you present…truly a feast for my eyes! Remember, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

    Reply
  25. Carole T.

    Beautiful essay! I love all of your posts, but I think this one might be the best.

    Reply
  26. beverlee Lyons

    Beautiful words. Another gift you share. When she was about 4 yrs. old, she told her mother that I said the ‘s’ word. it was ‘shut up’…said in jest, but she was offended….

    Reply
    • beverlee Lyons

      oops, left out the ‘grandaughter’ part.

      Reply
  27. Patricia Kasparian

    I’m so looking forward to your book!! 🙂

    Reply
  28. Dana

    Dear Marian
    Thank you for being open and honest, it’s a rare quality these days. I too am always questioning myself, comparing myself and (often I don’t realize that I do it but) putting myself and my work down.
    We need to help one another and embrace our differences because they’re what make us unique and exceptional. So thank you for sharing yourself and your work; for being you, Marian Miss Mustard Seed.
    PS. Can you find a way that we can share our work with you that has been inspired by you?

    Reply
  29. Debbie

    A watercolor artist that I follow named Sarah Cray recites this oath at the beginning of every lesson, with right hand raised: “I promise to be kind to myself. I promise not to compare my work. I promise to have fun”.

    Reply
  30. Ronda

    Thank you for writing this for me today, it is timely and very much appreciated.

    Reply
  31. Anna

    Thank you for writing this Marian. I think we all needed to hear this. So many of us struggle with these questions as we create.

    Reply
  32. Cheryl

    Congrats on your book Marian! From my point of view, you always do beautiful work on whatever you touch! You are a big inspiration to me! Thank you.

    Reply
  33. Shelley Humpal

    I call thoughts like those “Demons in my Head”! When the demons come I try to quickly say to myself “CANCEL”. This is something I have struggled with my whole life. There is no reason for it either because I had the best, most supportive parents whose talents were incredible. They were a good team, if she could dream it, he could build it. It made for a very interesting life and they taught me courage, self reliance, and the ability to dream. Dad taught me how to build things and mom taught me design. So much more than I ever learned in college! I’m proud of my style, my home, my success and even so, I still suffer from those same demons. Oh well, carry on, this too shall pass! Great post Marian, very thought provoking. Thank you

    Reply
  34. Annie Beckett

    Ah, yes, those questions. I know how to get rid of them. Live long. I’m pushing 80 and finally, finally those questions have fallen away and I’m able to truly enjoy my own work and everyone else’s, to delight in the infinite, blessed variety that is life. Always I’ve had guidance dreams. One of the most profound was simply the gigantic Hollywood sign, you all know that iconic thing on a Hollywood hillside. Only in my dream it said in those huge white letters: “ACCEPT”. At the time it was talking about terrible losses we’d had, but over years I’ve decoded that message as it applies to just about everything. Discernment, certainly. Improvement and growth, of course. Judgment, no.

    Reply
  35. Laura B

    This post reminded me that I admire your vulnerability. You (rightly, with wisdom) limit your exposure in some areas, specifically regarding your husband and children. But you allow us to see you, and I think that’s incredibly brave! Thank you!

    Reply
  36. PJ

    Thank you for this inspiring message! Perhaps this week I will finally get myself to cut the fabric for a slipcover and not be frozen with a lack of confidence.

    Reply
  37. Jean

    I’m just so happy to see something that isn’t all “Studio McGee” which has taken over Instagram. Not that there’s anything wrong with the look but it lacks a certain personality which is so evident in your lovely, calm work. I constantly compare my handiwork to others but I think that’s how we learn – so long as it doesn’t result in a trip to the trash heap. Thank you again for another encouraging message of love and humility.

    Reply
  38. Cheri

    This, my friend, are the words I needed to read! And reread. I’m so excited about the book I can barely stand the wait!

    Reply
  39. Kim

    So well said, Marian. Wisdom.

    Reply
  40. Annabelle

    I’m guilty. I have never been able to resist the allure of beautiful art.
    Before I painted, I was an art collector. The collection I keep reminds me of a patchwork quilt. Every painting is unique, each with its mark like a fingerprint that leads you to the identity of the artist that created the work.
    I question and compare everything because it’s my way of learning; I never studied art in school, wish I did. Books are another source.
    Even though I agree with what Coloradoliz said, “comparing is the thief of joy.” I still do it.
    Sometimes, I forget to be me when I become enthralled by another artist’s work. In the end, I gain from the observation and create something I love.

    Reply
  41. Laura

    Yes. Amen and thank you.

    Reply
  42. Diane

    Hi Marian, thank you for this post. For me, this is the best one yet! From the comments, I gather it hit every artist, decorator, blogger, every creative’s heart and soul.
    I’m going to copy and keep at my desk and reread often.

    Reply
  43. Kathy B

    Happy Sunday Marian!!..I am looking forward to reading your book!! I know I will love it!! Be Well!!

    Reply
  44. amy Mogish

    This is a definate re-read, let it sink in kinda post. Thank you from my heart and hands.

    Reply
  45. Anita Sams

    All this is so true!…Once, my husband was disturbed that I had made helpful suggestions to a fellow artist, saying that it might help her work outsell mine. I told him that I was not in competition with her… My competition was with myself. That is still my belief.

    Reply
  46. Lorraine

    I enjoy all your blog articles, but I think this one is my favorite. I wish I could have embraced this philosophy years ago. I now feel comfortable and confident with things that took me years (and many mistakes) to master (like cooking and sewing), and didn’t recognize at the time that I was improving… I often put myself down and stressed about it instead of embracing the process. I still suffer from this mindset at times. Currently it’s with my paintings. Like you said, starting is the hardest part.

    Reply
  47. Vallie

    You are and have been such an inspiration in Everything you do. I was looking around my house at all the things you inspired me to do and improve on. Thank you! I’m excited for your book to come out! You are enough!!

    Reply

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Hello!

Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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