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Present Over Perfect

If you’re looking for a new book to read that will inspire you, this is it. Also, this is going to be heavier on the spiritual side just to warn any of those who aren’t into that. (No judgement, just love)

Present Over Perfect Book Review

Shauna’s book is about how she went from living what looked on the outside to be a perfect life, to a life that was messier but much more fulfilling from all angles. It’s like talking to a friend who you haven’t seen in a while and she’s telling you about this new way of living that she’s found.

As a writer, wife and mother of two young boys, Shauna had what she was told to be the perfect career and the perfect family life. When I first started reading, I thought “what do I have in common with a woman in her late thirties with two kids?”. But honestly a lot of what she said hit me right in the heart.

In fact, it hit me in the heart so hard that camping this past weekend I talked to Matt about something that I don’t normally talk with to people easily or openly which is my faith. I believe that it is an incredibly personal thing for people, and have never wanted others to feel like I was pushing my faith onto them. But this book made me evaluate how I value myself and how present I am in my current life.

That being said, I tried to leave out a lot of the “God” parts of this book, but I really think that you don’t have to be very religious to get something from this book. In fact I think anyone who believes in a higher power will get something from this book.

My reality

I know that on the blog and social media it can seem like I have this whole adulting thing figured out, and how nice it must be to have a fiance and great family and friends and a nice apartment in a great city like Boston. But I have struggled with my own moments of self-doubt, so bad that I sometimes thought that it would swallow me whole.


Present Over Perfect Book Review

The pain & mess

I have spent a lot of my time running away from my own thoughts. By constantly being busy or losing myself in Netflix I am able to run away from what I was actually feeling. Overwhelmed, unsure or self-conscious I cover it up by talking about my feelings with someone (not diving too deep), and then ignoring them by doing anything but sitting in silence.

Since we’ve moved into together Matt made the comment that I can’t just sit and do nothing. I have to be doing something with my hands or other wise.

This passage made me realize what I was actually doing. I didn’t want to wake up at 35 and realize that I spent my entire 20’s running away from my own feelings.

Present Over Perfect Book Review


The past couple of years I wanted to be better than I was in high school. I wanted to lose baby fat, be at the top of my class, have a great social life, be seen as someone who wasn’t just a studious nerd. I also desperately wanted to be successful, to be noticed at a young age for being great in my profession. I wanted to be able to do everything and make it look effortless. Isn’t that what your twenties is supposed to look like?

So I did what I thought I was  supposed to do, but last year after getting engaged, I realized life is not linear. You don’t go from point A to B to C to D. It’s all over the place. Different things happen at different times for different people and that is okay. 

Some people haven’t figured that out yet though. The weird and negative comments coming from people that I thought were my friends was really hurtful because they thought I had it all together when really it was just one part. A wonderful part yes, but just one part.

I was told that since I was engaged I had to act a certain way. People would make comments about me going out to bars or parties, and I even got judged for having male friends that hadn’t met my fiancé. But for Matt it was completely different. People thought it was romantic and sweet that he had found the person that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

Why were the expectations so different? Why did getting engaged as a woman mean that I had to slow down and stop going out? I realized this spring that there was no way that everyone was going to understand our decision to get married young, or my lifestyle choices. So I stopped caring. I focused on me and my loved ones and that helped so much! I have not been very good at this, but I try not to focus on the negative rather look at how things make me feel. My parents do a great job in reminding and teaching me to look at things in perspective.

This passage above made me realize that we’re all different. No one is policing our lives, it’s about being happy. If people love you, they’ll be happy for you!

Present Over Perfection Book Review

This is me

I’m not a few things. I love to be surrounded by people, but also really need quiet time. I can be loud and boisterous, right in the middle of the action, but also quiet and on the edge of things. I might surprise you with my knowledge of something, but also have no idea about math.

Now I’m working on being me unapologetically. Admitting when I’m wrong yes, but I’m done saying sorry for things I don’t need to be sorry about. My friends definitely help me with that!

Our support systems

Shauna talks about how she used to say “must be nice” to her friends who seemed to have it better than her. But she realized that it was just envy. She said that now in her group of friends she realizes “your mess is my mess”

My group of friends is like that. I have called and texted them when I felt like I was falling apart. (This group includes my parents). They call me when they are having a rough time too. There’s no judgement, there’s no condescending advice. We just listen, and then we give our thoughts.

These are the people that we need to be real and raw with. We need to hold each other up and be grateful to each other.

Present Over Perfect Book Review

Being more than “perfect”

Instead of trying to do everything right and always trying to look perfect, I’m going to let it be messy. I’m going to be okay with not cleaning everyday, or even having a cleaning schedule.

With grace, I’m going to be okay with a chipped nail and having popcorn for dinner.

With love I’m going to put down my phone and watch a couple more sunsets with my best friend.

With connection I’m going to call my friends and family more.

With meaning I’m going to be honest with you on my blog so we all feel like we aren’t alone.

With spirit I’m going to take more time to sit in the silence and connect with God in order to be more me.


Present Over Perfect Book Review

Looking inside instead of outside

The same God who made puppies, the mountains, the oceans and flowers decided the world needed you. You don’t need to look outside for any justification.

Your career, relationships, family or financial status does not determine your worth.God made you, your soul is worthy, you are full of worth.

Present Over Perfect

So together, let’s work on being present in our lives for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s stop trying to be and look perfect because there really isn’t something such as perfect.

I encourage all of you to read this. Curl up somewhere with the actual book. Makes notes, highlight and cover it in your thoughts. Take some time to stop rushing through life. You may not have kids or be out of your 20’s. But why not learn from someone else, and just slow down?

How have you slowed down? Do you ever feel like you need to take some time? Have you ever experienced anything like that?



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  • I am definitely going to have to read this book! Thanks for sharing!

    xo Kylie

    • avickney

      I really do recommend it! Thanks for reading!

  • Wow, the bit on women and college really hit me hard. It’s a very big reality for women in our society and that’s a shame. Seems like this is a really good book. Even though I tend to stray away from those with a heavy spiritual theme, I might check this one out.

    Kirsten –

    • avickney

      It does talk about God, but I think the passages about how we need to stop running through life, being jealous of our friends and being more present are totally worth it!
      Thanks for reading!

  • Ashley it seems like this book led to so much insight on your own life and goals! I’m so glad you were able to take the time to reflect on who you are and what you want for yourself. I personally know the strife to be perfect can sometimes keep us from our best selves because it’s just too much unrealistic pressure. Yay for reflective mini self epiphanies, I’m all about those!

    • avickney

      It was seriously eye-opening! I’m so glad you liked it, it’s been one of my most nerve racking post to date! Thank you for reading!

  • mckenna bleu

    This book sounds amazing, thanks for sharing I needed a new inspirational read!

    • avickney

      It was the perfect length, I really recommend it!

  • Sara Kate Steadman

    Woww! Well I think that pretty much summarizes so many of my thoughts lately. It’s so refreshing to read all of this. This quote was my favorite. “The same God who made puppies, the mountains, the oceans and flowers decided the world needed you. You don’t need to look outside for any justification.”

    Sara Kate Styling

    • avickney

      I really repeat that line to myself… It’s a combo of things that take my breath away or make me appreciate life so I remind myself that I am as intentional as they are! So glad you can relate, thank you for reading!

  • Alex Lo

    Sounds like an interesting book! I’m always looking for something new to read, so thanks for sharing!

    • avickney

      It’s a great read, not to long! Let me know if you read it!

  • Melinda House

    This book sounds so inspirational! I need to read it!

    • avickney

      It’s a great length and very eye opening! Please let me know if you read it, it’s been so great for me!

  • Adriana

    I LOVE these quotes!! I definitely need to read this book, so inspirational!

    • avickney

      The quotes are great, it’s only about a third of the ones that I highlighted!

  • Such great quotes! I need to need this book its sounds so inspirational!

    • avickney

      I ended up highlighting and marking up quite a bit!

  • Savannah Ward

    “Life is not linear.” YES. YES. I love this post. I needed this.

    • avickney

      So glad that you can relate! There have been some pretty hard lessons the past year, but all worth it!

  • Rachel Mariana Timmerman

    Absolutely love this!! Yes yes yes, it is such a comfort to know that we don’t have to go searching for things ourself as we can trust in God and his peace and comfort fill us. I find so much comfort in that. This book looks amazing!

    • avickney

      Starting to look in instead of out for justification and worth is so much better for myself! God is so great, and knowing that in Him I find peace is comforting!
      You should really read it, it’s a great length! Personally I think it’s best enjoyed with a cup of something hot in the morning or at dusk 🙂

  • “By constantly being busy or losing myself in Netflix I am able to run away from what I was actually feeling.” Wow that totally hits home for me– Shauna’s book sounds amazing and something I should definitely read. Thanks for sharing!

    • avickney

      She made me think of my own habits, like Netflix, that I use to avoid important things. Its such a great read!

  • Oh this is such a beautiful post, my friend. I struggle with these things too. You aren’t alone! Remember, you never have to be perfect. You just have to be yourself 🙂

    • avickney

      Thank you! It’s a hard thing to struggle with as a Type A personality, but I’m slowly learning to let it go!

  • Merisa Ferrell

    I love everything about this post! This book sounds so relevant to my life at the moment that i’m definitely going to have to check it out. xx Merisa | Monogrammed Magnolias

    • avickney

      I think it’s a great read no matter your stage of life! Let me know what you think!

  • LOVE this! Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your struggles with us! Social media makes it easy to craft the perfect life, when we are all facing some sort of battle. This book sounds incredible and sounds like soemthing I need to read right now!