Kelly McNelis

“Perfection is Overrated!” Interview With Kelly McNelis, Author of ‘Your Messy Brilliance’

Let’s ditch all of our unrealistic New Year’s resolutions and once for all end the myth of perfection! Kelly McNelis, the founder of Women For One and author of Your Messy Brilliance, is asking you to do just that! New Year’s resolutions tend to wreak havoc on self-esteem, therefore your only resolution this year should be self-acceptance. In the following interview, McNelis explains what inspired her to write Your Messy Brilliance and what resolutions you SHOULD make in 2018!


1. Kelly, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m not perfect, but I’m real. I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a mentor, and a businesswoman. I’m an incest survivor. I’m a Reiki master, minister, and a healer. Sometimes, I drink too much. I yell at my kids (I really try to minimize this one!). I am messy, I’m genuine, and I’m perfectly imperfect.

My life’s work has been about discovering my own voice and creating a community for women to experience that same kind of sisterhood. At some point, after a series of challenges including divorce and the death of a dear friend, I realized that I wanted to give back to the world from the lessons I had learned. I also wanted to create a global tribe of like-minded women who could learn from each other and share their own life lessons with a supportive community.

As the founder of Women For One,  an online community of women who share their stories to discover their voice and make life happen on their own terms, I create a space for women to get their voice out into the world. It is my hope that, in continuing to share women’s voices, Women For One will encourage all people to take a stand on the issues that most impact our lives, while building a supportive community.

Kelly McNelis

2. What inspired you to write Your Messy Brilliance?

From my experience with Women For One, I realized there was great value in fully owning my story and my raw vulnerability as a woman. I also knew that there was something important about modeling what it means to own your story. I wrote Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman to help women get curious about their lives and embrace themselves as they are: the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. The journey to get there can sometimes be messy (well, let’s be real—always), but I believe that we can do anything if we trust in our messy brilliance and work to bring that out in each other as women.

Kelly McNelis

3. What are some key takeaways you’re hoping your readers will get from this book?

I want each reader to understand your messiness is the total truth of who you are: the good, the bad, the ugly. Your brilliance is your true genius, which you can only uncover by diving into the messiness and accepting every single aspect of who you are. Your messy brilliance is your greatest asset precisely because it leaves nothing out. And when we fully embrace all parts of ourselves, we discover our power.

The whole purpose of highlighting one’s messy brilliance, which I do in my book, is to emphasize the idea that there is no magic bullet or instant solution for all your problems. The messiness is part of the journey. And perfection is overrated, anyway!

4. On owning your darkness and not being afraid of it —

tell us a bit more.

Darkness is the sum of our self-loathing, shame, rage and ugliness that we often run away from. We deny its existence because it’s too scary to face. But we forget these dark parts of us are often actually holding our power.

I encourage all women to take the time to write down some of the dark qualities they notice in themselves. When you come face to face with the things about yourself you find unbearable, you are able to decide what to do with them and how to harness the power that comes from owning every part of yourself – the good and the bad. This is an important step in the journey to uncovering your messy brilliance.

Kelly McNelis

5. You believe that we should ditch our New Year’s resolutions that relate to our unrealistic visions of how our bodies should look. What are some New Year’s resolutions we SHOULD make?

  • First, there is no rush to race to the proverbial finish line. Many of us are conditioned to believe that we need to have everything figured out by the time we are (insert arbitrary age here). That whole idea is a myth. Instead, my advice would be to grab onto the yearning and passion you have right now and alchemize them into fuel for your success in the future. Take baby steps, because they pay off. Enjoy the process and fall in love with what’s right in front of you rather than trying to step into some “perfect” future you. Because, as you intuitively know, perfection is a myth. Be present to your life in all its beauty, and you will be transformed.
  • Check your gut, always.This isn’t about simply trusting the intuitive “hits” you get—it’s also about connecting that trust to the information that’s at your disposal. Put those things together to make meaningful decisions. Get curious about what’s really happening and let go of the “shoulds” and “have-to’s.” This kind of discernment is so important, because a lot of times, younger women are taught that the older you are, the wiser you are. This isn’t necessarily true. I think deep wisdom comes from discernment, and a lot of us don’t take the time to cultivate it. We are usually too busy being impatient or judging ourselves. So drop down into your truth and don’t simply take someone else’s words or beliefs at face value.
  • Finally, always remember that the love of your life is YOU. Many young women are looking for love in all the wrong places (and let’s be real, so are a lot of older people!). When we focus on getting connected with who we are and what we want, we learn to deeply appreciate ourselves and to recognize our own beauty. This helps us enjoy life even more, and to be open to all that comes our way.



Kelly McNelisKelly McNelis is the founder of Women For One, a place where women from 50 countries share their powerful stories with the world. Over 500 Truthtellers, as Kelly calls them, have answered her call to action: Make life happen by sharing your messy brilliance. Their stories range from the devastating to the delightful, and everything in between.

Kelly is a mom, wife, friend, mentor, businesswoman, Reiki master, minister, healer, incest survivor, and a firm believer that there’s no such thing as “TMI.”

Formerly a nonprofit- and small-business consultant, Kelly now travels the world as a speaker, teacher, and workshop facilitator, empowering women to find their voice and discover their true power. She has interviewed global changemakers including the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Arianna Huffington, Regena “Mama Gena”
nnThomashauer, and Byron Katie, on the importance of cultivating our own inner wisdom and truthtelling voices.

Kelly’s work, husband, kids, and brilliantly messy life are based
outside Seattle.