Ep #251: How to Ditch Perfectionism and Dream Again with Mary Lawless Lee

I’ve had so many conversations lately with people who don’t know what they want to do next, unsure of how to get their ideas off the ground, and forgetting how to dream of something beyond the day-to-day. If this sounds like a familiar story, you need to hear from this week’s guest, Mary Lawless Lee.

Mary Lawless Lee is both the founder and the face of the influential fashion blog Happily Grey. She turned her passion project into a well-respected brand, with a brick-and-mortar store in Nashville, TN, and she recently launched a new skincare line for mothers called Nemah. She’s done so many inspiring things, while balancing all of them with motherhood.

To go after her dreams, she had to keep perfectionism out of the way, balance her work with her family life, and not lose her identity in either area, so tune in this week to discover what it takes start dreaming again and the power of being intentional, not allowing perfectionism to stop you from going all in on your wildest dreams.

Ready to completely transform your business and finally take the action you’ve been putting off to create your online course? You can find out everything you need to know about the Online Course Incubator by clicking here. We can’t wait to welcome you, friend!

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • How Mary turned something that started out as a creative outlet into a full-time business.
  • Why it seems more difficult than ever for new entrepreneurs to break into the online space.
  • Mary’s advice for going after your dreams in 2023.
  • The ways so many people talk themselves out of their million-dollar ideas.
  • How every successful business has overcome the same problems you’re facing.
  • How journaling serves as a form of meditation for Mary, providing clarity and illustrating progress.
  • The way that motherhood transformed Mary’s approach as an entrepreneur and provided valuable perspective in every area of her life.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 251.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.
Hey, friends, I hope your new year is continuing to go really well. It’s going fast. We’re in the third week of January, hard to believe already. I have a birthday coming up soon which is going to be super fun and I hope you’re off to a great start. I’m bringing you a podcast today that was originally supposed to run a little bit later but when I recorded it, it was just so good and seemed so timely for the conversations I’m having with lots of creatives right now.

And so I’m bringing you that interview early and it is an interview with Mary Lawless Lee. So Mary is both the founder and the face of the influential fashion blog, Happily Grey. She has a store by the same name in Nashville. She has a brand new or newish product line that is a skincare line for mothers and soon-to-be babies as well called Nemah. And she’s just done so many inspiring things while balancing it all with motherhood. And we have a really amazing conversation in this episode about how to keep perfectionism out of the way so that you go after your dreams.

How to balance everything when you have kids and other obligations and how to not lose your identity in either, your identity at work or your identity as a mom. How can those things both coexist and you keep your sanity and your health and all the things as well? So because I’ve had so many conversations lately about people who don’t know what they want next or who don’t know how to get ideas off the ground, or who have found themselves really forgetting how to dream, and forgetting how to desire and being stuck in the day-to-day and feeling really mired in all of that.

I thought you would love this episode, I think it’s going to inspire you. And then I’ll be back next week or maybe the week after, really soon with a solo episode from me all about how to dream again and really tap into that future version of you. But for now, enjoy my interview with Mary Lawless Lee.

Tobi: Hey, Mary, welcome to The Design You Podcast. I’m really excited about this conversation we’re going to have today.

Mary: I am too excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Tobi: You’re so welcome and it’s so nice to meet you. I didn’t know of you until your PR firm who I work with a lot on a lot of other podcast guests reached out to me. So I was so thrilled and I kind of was surprised that I didn’t know about you. Maybe I was under a rock at the moment that you were launching your amazingness in some moments, or I was probably in the thick of motherhood in some of those moments too which we’ll talk about in a little bit.

But for those people who also haven’t discovered you, didn’t know you, don’t know the list of the many things you’ve done that have been so exciting in your life, will you give us a short version of that or as long as you want really? So that we can know who you are and then we’re going to get into some juicy stuff.

Mary: For sure, yeah. So I am based in Nashville. I have a company here so my background, it’s interesting, my background started in nursing. I was a critical care nurse for seven years. I worked in the Texas Medical Center and then also at Vanderbilt in cardiovascular ICU. And I have always loved to write. I’ve written since I was a little girl and so as a creative outlet I started a blog 12 years ago. And this was prior to Instagram and Pinterest, and all of the term influencer blogger that it is today.

And I did it as a creative outlet and I was writing about fashion and street style at the time, that’s what I was really into. And it was divine timing because I kind of grew up with Pinterest and Instagram was able to establish a following and growth on there. And what was a creative outlet became a full-time business and I now work in digital media. About six years ago I quit nursing and started doing this full-time. I have a small team of nine here in Nashville. We have a storefront. I didn’t know anything about retail but kind of through getting into this digital world, I opened my first store in West Nashville.

Most recently I have launched a skincare brand for pregnancy and postpartum. We’re soon launching children’s this year which I’m very excited about. My husband and I cofounded it together a year ago. So that’s been one of my greatest passions and what I’m most excited about is getting further into finding solutions for mothers, and supporting them not just in products but also a community.

And then prior to those two, our store and our skincare brand I have worked, I have had a decade worth of brand marketing partnerships with different brands. And that’s really the kind of how I grew up in this digital media world is getting to partner and market other brands’ products. And that’s kind of where I learned that I wanted to create my own and how to create my own, and how to market our own brand. And so I just finished my first book, it’s called Happily Grey. So this whole journey started with writing and it kind of was inevitable that I really wanted to write a book one day.

And so that just published at the end of last year and I was just so excited for the opportunity to be able to really share the other side of the story. I’ve been able to share the highlight reel on Instagram the last 10 years. But this book really embodies the other side of the story.

Tobi: Yeah, and one of the things I love about the book, so I told you earlier before we started recording that I was kind of surprised, I knew the book was coming and you were going to be on the show but when I got it, I mean it’s bigger than a novel but it’s way smaller than a coffee table type of book. And I love it because it feels so readable, just like a regular memoir to me. But then there’s also pretty pictures in it. There’s also recipes in it. There’s also kind of guides and tip sheets in it. So it’s kind of this really interesting mix of all the things that you’re about.

And I can see how that, knowing that you’re a blogger I also started blogging probably around the same time you did. But I was an interior designer first and then a blogger, not the other way around. But being in those early blog years, that’s how I also developed all kinds of relationships and product lines and stuff. So interesting, things have changed so much now. So I love that I still see a piece of kind of what the blogging experience was in this kind of scrapbook-ish style memoir.

But I want to talk about, for all the people listening who are like, “I want all those things. I want a storefront. I want to write. I want brands.” It seems so hard for a lot of people to break into this now. It’s very crowded in the online space. How do you build that brand? And we’re going to talk in a minute about perfectionism because it gets in the way. But can we just start with for these people who are right now Googling you and your store or they’re like, “I followed her for years and I forgot about her or I’m still reading every day, or listening, or following every day.”
How do they want to change or want to think about going after their dreams today in 2023? Because things are different, yeah.

Mary: Totally, they are so different. We don’t grow on Instagram like we used to. I do not have the engagement that I used to. It’s a totally different ballgame and I was just – and I kind of am, I’m still in this because we just launched our skincare brand, Nemah, a year ago like I said and that was a huge leap of faith. I kind of have no right being in that space, and we really do our own work. And so I can relate to where do I even start type feelings, because I absolutely have felt that way in this new space.

And for me, I had to take a long hard look at my why. Knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing, and Simon Sinek, his book is kind of the root of where that started for me. Because I knew that I wanted to kind of dream past marketing just other brands’ products and being able to bring something to life of my own. And I visited apparel and shoes and had all these other ideas. And it wasn’t till kind of sitting down with pen and paper, I know it sounds old school and thinking about what am I passionate about, what are my long term goals.

And then what am I going to put action behind? And that for me was answered through motherhood. And motherhood was kind of what connected my past experience of nursing to this now digital world. And that’s where my passion really lied was wanting to provide solutions to mothers. And my husband and I cofounded it together and we could have spent another year working on it but at some point, you do have to jump in. At some point, you can’t wait for it all to be perfect. We’re going to talk about perfectionism.

You can’t wait for it all to be perfectly aligned. And I will tell you, every mentor that I have which by the way I highly recommend a mentor to kind of guide you along this journey. I had two. And both of them said, “It will never be perfect. You have to jump in at some point.” And so ours cost more money, ours took more time. It looks very different than it looked even a year ago. But I knew why I was doing what I was doing and I knew that the passion was there. And so with passion, you’re willing to put in the hard work and the time.

And I feel like that’s where I really felt that that action and the accountability and follow through came with that. And when I was, prior to this when I was toying with the ideas in apparel and shoewear, I never had that same feeling. So it was kind of one of those gut instincts reactions that I had of knowing, okay, this is the answer. And then really just jumping in without having it all perfected.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that so much. So, so many of the people listening and that I work with and consult that are creatives and I’m sure that you encounter on a daily basis are mostly stopped by the perfectionism. They have so many ideas and some of them are legit million-dollar ideas, multimillion-dollar ideas that never come to pass because at some point they start talking themselves out of it or their dream version which might as you know, be iteration number 10, stops them from starting with iteration number one.

I love that you were just saying, you just have to start and already it’s evolved from a year ago. And that’s my experience too with everything I’ve ever done or created. So can we get into this, what was the thing that allowed you to not spin out in perfectionism and be able to move forward? Was it just the advice of others? Was it something you practised? How did you move forward?

Mary: To be honest and transparent it was a constant struggle and it is still today. I have to continuously remind myself, progress, baby steps, one degree. Today we just made a one-degree change. You cannot dream this up overnight and especially if you’re doing it in the right way. If you’re doing it in the right way, good things take time. And especially in the skincare world with mother and baby, it has taken so long to get to where we are. And we’re not even where I want it to be. But one, that’s a part of the process, you’re learning.

And I have to constantly remind myself that these one-degree twists in improvements and turns are really making a difference. And in six months I will, I’m going to be able to look back and not be so crippled by the perfectionism then and there but look back at the progress. And a big part of that for me is writing things down. I’m a big believer in journaling, that’s what got me into this whole creative world and why I wrote a book is journaling for me is a form of meditation. And it provides clarity and it shows progress.

And so if I feel stuck, if I feel like I can’t put one foot in front of the other, just writing down what those feelings feel like and then reminding myself where I am and where I want to be. And it’s all about those one-degree little moments that happen daily.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that.

Mary: My husband is a good reminder of that for me. I think having a support system around you that kind of holds you accountable to that also helps. He just so happens to be who I work with but it could be anyone. It could be a sister, a friend, a coworker, that someone just knows that your perfectionism and knows that behavior is common of you. And so they are there to encourage you to kind of pull out of that and focus on doing and not being crippled by where you think you should be.

Tobi: Yeah. Could you talk a little bit about the different – I relate to just everything you’re saying and I’m also a big journaler or I have been for 20 years. And my journals are a combination of like you said, stream of consciousness and then also sketches for something I want to build, and then also my grocery list and then also back to how I’m feeling. It’s just everything dumps out of my busy extroverted brain onto paper and that’s how I craft a lot of things too.

But as you were talking I was thinking about the difference between – because this is what I hear a lot of people are fearful of letting go of their perfectionism. Can you talk about the difference of loosening your grip on this perfect, I don’t know, vision you have and being able to kind of iterate up to it versus lowering your standards? Because we’re not asking anybody to lower, we’re not saying we don’t still have a perfectionist view of what the future version of this is going to be.

And that we’re not itching to get there and that it’s also not kind of painful, waiting and being patient until you get there and have the money or the time to get there. But I think that’s where a lot of people also get stuck because they’re like, “Well if I’m not going to do it right or do it to the nth degree I’m not going to do it. But there’s also the working your way up to that version, right?

Mary: Yeah. And that’s where like I mentioned earlier, that’s where you learn a lot. I mean just even in the last year I learned so much and had I had someone just handed me the money to go make the perfect product, we wouldn’t have learned all the steps to get to it. And I will carry those tools of what I learned into the application of the next hopefully 20 products that we launch. And it’s hard to see that when you’re in the moment. It’s hard to even want to accept that.

But every brand founder, every entrepreneur will tell you, it’s just not an easy path and that’s kind of the love-hate relationship with entrepreneurship is there’s this figuring out period. There’s this getting there period, this progression. And every successful entrepreneur will tell you that. It’s truly scary because you have this risk of failure. And I think that is kind of, for me it’s the root in a way. A lot of it is the risk of failure because it is really scary. But I think the regret feels stronger than not taking that risk.

Tobi: The fear, yeah, then the fear of failure.

Mary: Yeah, exactly.

Tobi: Yeah. Well, and I love also what you’re saying about, I love that you said if someone had handed me a pile of money because I think so often we think if I just had a pile of money I would do this right the first time. But what I know, and you know, and even people listening who are interior designers who know, sometimes when we have the biggest budgets we have the most creative designs.
And sometimes we think we need money to do all this stuff and then we create something that either someone never uses or it doesn’t really function the way we thought.

So there’s something beautiful in having to get creative along the way. And of course, you do need money and you need a lot of money but sometimes you don’t need all 20,000, or half a million, or 10 million, or whatever in one chunk. It’s a process of working your way up and really figuring things out and what you’re going to spend it on. So anything to add about that? Because I know where perfectionist isn’t stopping people it’s usually money that’s stopping them from going after their dreams or their ideas, yeah.

Mary: Yeah. No, so true. I think brand DNA money can’t buy that. And that’s really where the idea starts whether you’re building a brand or you’re doing something creative. That’s what I always come back to, knowing your why and knowing what sets you apart. And that’s probably the most important thing and there’s no dollar sign that can create that. And so I think that’s where you start, that’s the beginning, that’s the foundation. And we were super scrappy with how we had to start Nemah, our skincare brand.

We did a tiny friends and family raise, and we constantly talk about cashflow problems every week. And I think that that again, that is a part of learning and the progression and kind of in the initial stages. And I think that knowing your why and your brand DNA is really, really important. And that, I always revert back to that, I always, I’m telling you, that book by Simon Sinek, it’s so powerful. And when you’re trying to break through and find those, get to those ideas of starting something new.

Tobi: That’s so good. Well, and I love that you are even transparent about doing a friends and family raise because a lot of people think, well, they just have the money and they just started the thing. And just because a brand looks successful or because you have a retail store that’s supporting itself doesn’t mean that it’s supporting all of this liquid cash that you need to go start a whole new brand, or a whole other venture, or a whole other idea.

So thank you for being transparent about that because I think again, people look at what they think is happening with other businesses, brands, celebs, influencers and it’s not as rosy as they’re assuming that it is a lot of times.

Mary: I can tell you that we had so many conversations with brand founders and not just the skincare or beauty industry but in all different kind of categories, just still trying to learn. We’re picking up the phone calling everyone to learn how they did it, where they started. And I will tell you 80% of the time it was not a trust fund, it was not a lump of cash that was handed to them. And it was stories like – I mean Jen Atkins is one of my – I look up to her so much, she founded OUAI and she’s so successful.

But how scrappy she did it and her story, I mean you just would never expect because like I said, this outward appearance assumption that you make based on social media which is a highlight reel that you just see constantly. I think that’s, you know, our society is so used to that. It’s hardly ever that way and when you think that there’s a successful business behind, they have also experienced the same hiccups, it’s probably why they are there because they have taken the time to learn the steps. And then they have adjusted, they pivoted and they have evolved.

Tobi: It makes you resilient too when one night you’re like, “How am I going to pay my people tomorrow? Are we shutting this whole thing down?” And then you figure it out and you go a little longer and then you grow again. And then things start working, it’s all these little fits and starts, and fears, and celebrations all mixed together, right?

Mary: Totally, yeah. I mean so it makes it exciting.

Tobi: Yeah, it is exciting. So let’s go to the next part of this conversation which is you’ve overcome the perfectionism, you’ve gotten access to some money, you’ve done a ton of research, you’ve lived through all the emotions, have things up and multiple things that are in business and up and working. But you also are a mom.

One of the things I love that you said to me before we started recording was, “I love to talk about the balance between motherhood and work”, which is a topic of conversation for a lot of people and we’re always searching for balance but what you said that I love even more is how to not lose your identity in either. And so can you talk to us about that? Because I do think so often and I struggled with that. My daughter’s now 17, almost 18, but when she was little I mean I definitely put so much time in building my business.

And then I had some regrets of feeling like I wasn’t with my family as much and it was hard. And so what have you learned? What can we learn from you about balancing those things and really not being able to not lose either identity?

Mary: That was my biggest fear when I was pregnant with my first because I worked constantly, I worked all the time and I love to work, I love being busy. And that was my number one fear, how I was going to juggle it. And one of my mentors told me and I did not get this at the time. When I was pregnant she said, she said, “Being a mother is going to make you a better business owner.” And that’s all she said to me. She didn’t explain why and at the time I was like, “I don’t really connect that, I don’t understand.” Because I thought the other was kind of head-butting against the other one.

And so when I became a mother though it just clicked because my time and my values became so much more. My attitude towards business was so much more discerning than it had ever been. And it was really one of the skillsets that I was lacking as a business owner is that kind of sharpness and that discernment. And I think having kids and your time, there’s just never a better perspective than that. And so I think, well, first of all, I’ll say this, there’s nothing singular about it.

And if there’s a mother who also is balancing work life or business I think that we all can say, the only way it works is if you have the strength to ask for help and I did not before I became a mom. I was definitely one of those people because I’m a perfectionist, I want to do it all on my own, it’s my way or no way. Well, that quickly was out the window when I became a mother, one, because mother kind of broke me in a way that I – humbled me in a way that I had never been humbled but I had to ask for help. I couldn’t get through it without help.

And I think our support systems, they all look different, whether that’s one person, whether that’s a sister, a friend, or a team of people, whatever that looks like for you. I think you can find one person in your life that can support you in that way. But for me, the only way that I’m able to balance is I have put the time and energy and resources into building a team because I can’t do it all. I have to delegate. And that little person on my shoulder, that perfectionist in me sometimes it’s hard.

But if someone can do something 80% as good as you can you have to delegate it. And you’re losing ground if you don’t. And so motherhood is really what taught me that because that’s when I finally threw up my hands and said, “I can’t do this.” And I know I don’t want to give one of them up. And I do want to be a mother and I still want to be in the workforce. And so that, for me that looked like putting more time and resources into hiring. But then also having more direct conversations with my spouse.

We have Sunday night meetings where we talk about the week coming up. And it sounds really simple but having clear communication of here’s my schedule, here’s what I need, this is what I’ve got to get done, my priorities. And then him being able to voice the same because we both have careers but we both want to be present parents, just little things like that has really helped the juggle and the balance.

And then the other thing I’ll say too that has really helped me is when I am with my kids I turn it off, I am present. And right now we’re about to launch new products and we’re working a lot and that’s only two hours of the day. But my team knows from 4:30 till about 7:00, that’s kid time. And I won’t answer a phone, I won’t answer an email or a text and my kids have my full focus.

Tobi: That’s so good.

Mary: And I have a three-year and it’s crazy how quickly they can pick up on that. I think she’ll call me out on it, like this, she’s got a lot of sass. And I think having that focused time fills me back up as a mother. I feel like I’m connecting with my kids. And then I don’t carry as much guilt into the next day if I’m trying to be with the kids but also juggling work. And so I think having those clear-cut boundaries is just really important. And I will be transparent. It took me having two kids and about three years to even figure that out.

Because I was trying to kind of – I would bring my kids to the office thinking if I’m with them, if I’m just with them, if I’m just in their eyesight then this is better than me leaving them. But in reality, I figured out, focus on work when you’re working and focus on your kids when you’re home. And that was a big turning point. And the last thing I’ll say that probably was one of those surprising things I have learned to balance it both was self-care. Don’t let self-care fall to the wayside.

And I think motherhood has really taught me that as well. If I can’t take care of myself how am I teaching my kids to take care of themselves? And so I think taking the little moments and for me, it’s a 30-minute bath. Getting a 30-minute bath that’s quiet and in the evenings is something that mentally clears my head. And so I think having those moments for yourself, not letting that completely fall off the table is really important to being able to balance all of it and feel like there’s still some to give to yourself.

Tobi: I want to hear a little bit about what a day looks like in your life because I’ve been in the last, I would say year or two really embracing the kind of multi-passionate person that I am. I’ve always done a lot of different things but I always had – I was always hearing from the outside, you can only do one thing at a time and you should focus on one thing. And what I really learned is that’s not true for me. I thrive when I’m doing multiple creative things.

And it sounds like you too because you had a blog and you have the store, and you have this new line and I’m sure there’s other things in your head that you dream of and you have the book. So can you kind of help us understand, do you get up early, do you sleep in? How much sleep do you need? Can you show us what a little snippet of some days, I know they’re probably all different, look like when you’re balancing kind of multiple passions and interests? Even though they’re all very related and they connect, they’re also their own thing each and every one of them too.

Mary: Totally. I can very much so relate to that. I love interiors. I have to always have an interiors project going and that’s not really something that I share on social media necessarily but it’s something that I’m just – it makes me happy. I also love plants. I am a huge green mom and I have a whole room that’s dedicated to it. And for two hours on Sundays, it’s all plant care and I love it so much. It provides us peace. But as far as day-to-day you’re right, it does look a little different every day but for the most part, I get up at 5:30 pretty much on the dot.

And I love starting my days early because my husband’s not up, my kids aren’t up and my dogs aren’t up. We have two Great Danes that feel like you’re living with horses. And I love the quietness and I love starting the day that way. And it kind of feels so centering, I make coffee. I’ll eat a small breakfast then and then my kids get up around 7:30. My husband and I both take my little girl to school. And then from there, we go into our office. And I’m in the office from about 8:30 to 4:30.

And that’s really focused time. We can be doing podcasts, or shoots, or I’m doing team meetings or buying reports for our store, just kind of all different things. And I am the most productive when I’m busy and so I like to really keep my days pretty packed. And then at 4:30, that’s when my team knows and that’s like what I was mentioning earlier, it’s very clear I’m going home. And this is the kid time and that’s from 4:30 till about 7:30 is total kid time.

And then after that, I will get a bath, a book sometimes. Sometimes it’s work. And my husband and I, we’re still figuring out because we are now, we used to not be in business together and so now we’re trying to figure out how do we operate in a marriage and now be business partners and not work all the time. Because he has a similar drive and personality as I do. And so we find ourselves right now a lot of the times at 10:00pm we’re talking about business. But it’s hard to turn off when you love it.

But that’s kind of what a day looks like, I try to be in bed by 10:00. I’m six months pregnant right now and so sometimes I’m crashing by 9:00 because I’m just exhausted.

Tobi: That’s so interesting and so then when you put in a – and I expected it to sound kind of like that but I love hearing that. And then what about when you do something that’s like a one-off project like a book, how does that fit in? Do you carve things out? Do you stop some things for a while? Is it around the fringes? How do you make something like that happen?

Mary: Totally, and we had to do that with the book. I slowed down. So a big part of my time in our business is brand partnerships so we had to slow that down just because to write a book, it was like we would have six or seven-hour sessions. And there’s just nothing you can really do outside that in a day because it is so consuming mentally and emotionally, especially with some of the topics we were writing with. So yeah, you definitely have to shift and pivot.

And I kind of had a good three to four months prior to starting the book that I knew, okay, this side of the business will have to slow for a bit while I focus on this. But that book was really important to me and I think everyone in the publishing world knows that books aren’t always as lucrative as the time and resources that you put into them. But I think the meaning for me to be able to write a book and share that with the world far outweighed that.

And so we kind of slowed down what is the most lucrative side of our business so that I could focus on this big long-term dream goal that I’ve always had.

Tobi: Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I love that – I didn’t even, you know, I never know exactly where our conversations are going to go when we have people on the podcast but I love that you’re so transparent and open about this because I think these are the very questions that so many people have. They’re like, “I have all of these dreams to do all these different things, some of them I’m feeling like maybe I’ve waited too long or I need to get started. I’m running this business and how do I do this other thing and is it a side gig? And I have kids.”

So just to hear people that are doing it and have done it and to hear that yeah, things have to take a backburner for a little while or you have to shift and not start all the things at the same time or do a lot of planning. And sometimes we’re sitting on ideas for a long time because we’re like, “Well, I can’t write the book while I’m pregnant and I can’t write the book while the skincare launch or vice versa. Or I can’t launch the skincare while I’m writing the book.”

And so sometimes we’re sitting on dreams for a little while too and I think we can get anxious about that like will we miss our window? There’s all this stuff that happens in our head so it’s really helpful to hear you talk about it.

Mary: You know, one thing that someone said to me recently is, “Sometimes you have to slow down before you speed up.” And man, that really resonated with me because I think what I’m learning with each year in life is it’s not about speed and go, go, go and busy, busy, busy. It’s about being intentional with your time and that’s why I always say, “Knowing your why, knowing your long-term goals.” I always come back to those because sometimes we do have to say no so that we don’t just totally bombard our schedules so that we have time for the things that really mean the most to us.
And slowing down for me is always such a good reminder and just being intentional about what I really want.

Tobi: Thank you so much. Well, as we wrap this up, it’s been so wonderful and informative and everybody’s going to want to go grab your book and you can tell them where to find that. But is there anything we haven’t touched on or anything that we want to reiterate as people that are listening? Because I think I had told you before, I encounter so many people who either stop dreaming or at least stop believing in the dream they have and don’t push it forward. And then when I see people like you and I do this a lot myself, make things happen.

I just want to inspire people to tap back into their dreams or just start dreaming again if they’ve stopped and listening to you I think it’s definitely going to do that, but is there anything you want to add to help them sort of get a little boost or a little motivation to go after those things that they dream of?

Mary: Thank you. Thank you. I have been in the same boat at times. I struggle with how to get past that kind of what can feel like that sluggish period. One thing I always come back to and I learned this as a little girl, gratitude. Coming to a place of gratitude in your head always resets your perspective. And a lot of times when I’m like, “Well, I didn’t do this or I didn’t do that.” Or I’m looking at other people and what they’re doing and comparison can be so crippling by the way.

And I always have to come back to this place of gratitude. And a lot of times that’s just writing, getting pen and paper, writing down what I am thankful for and what are good things that are happening in my life right now. And that always resets my perspective and gives me energy to then channel that into something positive. And as a perfectionist, it’s easy to kind of let that spiral and get negative. And I think that’s my turn is the focus on gratitude and nursing for me really taught me that too because gosh, just with working in critical care life is so short.

And just seeing things through a lens of gratitude really I think helps flip that perspective and I’ve found that really helpful in the entrepreneurial space as well.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that. I love that several of the things you’ve talked about people hear a lot. Of course, we need a gratitude practice. Of course, we need self-care. Of course, we need journaling but I love how you’ve really brought them in kind of to more of the actionable place of how you really lean on them or use them because I think it’s not like a prescription, everybody has to have all of these. It sounds more like they’re tools that you can access, they’re tools in your toolbox and you access them when you need them.

You’re not beating yourself up if you don’t practice five things every single day in a gratitude journal but you’re using it as a tool to say, “I’m feeling kind of stuck, or sluggish, let me grab that tool and use it to give myself some momentum or a reframe or something.” And I love that so much.

Mary: Totally. Yeah, it’s all about your toolbox. One of the other things I talk about in my book is the doable digital detox. And someone asked me the other day, “Do you do this all the time?” And I was like, “Wait, wait, wait, no, no, no, I do not do this all the time.” I do this three to four times a year when I feel like the boundaries of social media and my personal life are blurring.

But it’s all about having the right tools to kind of know what to throw at things or having the mentorship or the support system around you for those people to kind of wake you up and say, “Hey, you do have things to be thankful for and you are really smart and wonderful. And I’m going to enable you to get out there and do this.”

Tobi: Amazing.

Mary: Yeah, yeah, it’s a journey.

Tobi: Thank you. Thank you. Well, I loved it, it was so fun to have a little peek into your journey. I’m only five hours from Nashville, I live in Little Rock so that’s why I was saying, “I don’t know how I didn’t know about you.” We’re going to be in Nashville soon actually because we’re big sports fans and so we’re going to head over and watch some basketball in March. So hopefully I’ll come check out your shop.

Mary: Yeah, come and see us.

Tobi: Yeah, I will.

Mary: We’re in West Nashville in a little marketplace that’s kind of like set up like a Chelsea market and there’s lots of small businesses in there. It’s a fun little market.

Tobi: Okay, cool. Well, I will definitely come and check you out and everybody listening, you all, that’s where she is so you can go check her out too. And if they want to get their hands on your book or check out your website or all the things you do, connect with you on Instagram, where are the best places to find you?

Mary: Yeah. I’m Mary Lawless Lee on Instagram. And then we are just And that’s our retail store. We have a huge online store and then you can shop the book on that store.

Tobi: Perfect, awesome. Well, thanks again, it was just delightful to talk to you. Good luck with the baby and all the skincare, we’re going to check it all out. And just thanks for being here.

Mary: Thank you so much.

Okay, wasn’t that inspiring and just so I don’t know, I loved the conversation it was just so easy and down to earth and transparent, and helpful. And I hope for all of you who either have forgotten how to dream, you’re inspired to do it again. I’m going to be back soon with an episode to help you really figure out how and what’s in the way of you dreaming. And for those of you who are like, “I have no trouble dreaming, Tobi, I just have trouble launching, or trying things, or getting them off the ground.” I hope this will inspire you to take the next steps.

And if you want help making that happen be sure to DM me on Instagram and let me know because our programs like Design You and Millionaire Mentorship are perfect incubators for helping you go to the next level in your life, and in your business, and launch the things you love. So I’ll see you in my DMs on Instagram and just also let Mary and I both know, if you loved this episode share it on your favorite social media sites. Let us know on Instagram that you loved it.

We can’t wait to hear from you and I’ll be back next week with one of those promised topics that I’ve been raving about right here of how to dream or what to do next. We’re going to get deep into that next week so I’ll see you then, bye for now.

Thank you so much for listening to The Design You Podcast, and if you are ready to dig deep and do the important work we talk about here on the podcast of transforming your mindset and creating a scalable online business model, there has never been a more important time than right now. So, join me and the incredible creative entrepreneurs in my Design You coaching program today. You can get all the details at

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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