Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley [Book Summary]

by | Jul 2, 2018 | The Library

17 min read

Emily Ley is the proud owner and operator of a product line and company that has grown in just a few short years. Her products, which are planners, are beautifully created and mimic the beautiful essence of Kate Spade, transferring stunning fashion into simplicity and grace.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This goes to help support me and The Success Mountain website – which I am so thankful for!

Quick Summary:
Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley

Emily writes about achieving balance in your life, eliminating what’s not serving you and your life, how to find your happiness and how to appreciate the people in your life.

The Hidden Gems


Chapter 1 – Discovering Grace


  • “True joy isn’t found and having all together. The good life is rich, slow, real, and flawed.”
  • “To me, perfect meant my parents were proud. Perfect meant my husband was proud. Perfect meant my children were proud. I believed the lie that perfect meant I was worthy.”
  • “Why are we running ourselves ragged trying to measure up?”
  • “I was determined to prove to the world that I could do it all. But here’s the thing about doing it all: even if you can do it all, no one can do it all well.”
  • “I’d honestly believe [the lie] that being put together in every area of my life would equal happiness.” 


Chapter 2 – The Empty Well


  • “What good are we when we’re overwhelmed, overbooked, and over committed?”
  • “Our hearts are moving, loving, organic things. You might say our hearts are wells – deep and wide. If our well is not fed by fresh water spring, where it can be replenished and refilled, we have no water to give to the ones we love. If are well as fed by stream of comparison, anxiety, and stress, guess what we will have to give our families? Sharp words, headaches, and impatience will be room at the top. Nothing good can come out of that poisoned well. But what would we have if we let our wells be filled with things like rest, laughter, confidence, good tea, hugs, and adventure? I want to overflow with that sweet water.”
  • “Give yourself permission to just stop. Press pause on this much as possible, and take inventory of your life.”


Chapter 3 – Planning & Simplicity


  • “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” – Gretchen Rubin
  • “Let go of the perfect plan, and pursue a good and flexible plan.”
  • “Sometimes the problem isn’t our lack of organizational solutions; it’s our abundance of things.”

If you are looking for more calm, joy, and happiness, you should look to three systems for keeping your life organized:

  1. Organize your time
  2. Organize your belongings
  3. Organize your home
  • “Don’t sacrifice the good to chase the perfect.”
  • “Sometimes there’s a bigger priority: a friend who needs a late night helping hand, or other work to be done, or a child to cuddle and the straightening up can wait.”

There are three types of things we keep in our home:

  1. Things we need
  2. Things we want to keep
  3. Things that take up space


Emily talks about her learning experience working in hospice in her hometown of Pensacola. On this, she writes something that moved me, and struck me as something very important to share:

“Time after time, I’ve heard stories of patients sharing memories, wishes, and regrets during their last few days.

The stories were sobering and beautiful at the same time.

Never did patients mention how glad they were that they worked late every day. Or how proud they were of the money in their bank account. Not once did they mention how fulfilled they felt at the number of followers they had on social media or how many achievements they’d racked up in their lifetime.

Instead they spoke fondly of once-in-a-lifetime love, family, and adventure.

They spoke about the raw real good stuff of life in their final moments, these people talked about big family dinners and long-awaited reconciliations with old friends.


They spoke deeply sincere heartfelt words of love and life into the hearts of their family members sentiments they wished they charity years ago.


They spent their final days marveling over the good stuff, the memories that made in there more margin not there because of accomplishments. These stories gave me a new perspective on life, one of gratitude and immediacy.

When our time becomes short our priorities are suddenly jolt it into place.

I don’t know about you, but this makes some of what I fill my days with seem very trivial and unimportant.


What if we lived every day with that perspective?”


  • “We don’t have to wait until the end of life. Right this moment, we can construct our schedules in a way that allows us to truly savor the good stuff in between the have-to’s of life.”
  • “Making margin in our days means clearing room in our schedule to slow down, but it also means choosing to be still even when tasks need to be completed.”
  • “Sometimes, the way to step off the hamster wheel is so literally step away from the stressor.”
  • “The battle for our hearts is won when we strip our schedules down to the essentials the things that truly fires up. It’s won when we budget our minutes like we budget dollars: carefully and with consideration.”
  • “We find happiness when we say yes to white space and no to the extra when we choose the good over the perfect.”


Chapter 5 – Surrendering Control


  • “Sometimes there is greater goodness in the mess then if everything had gone “according to plan””
  • “Perfection is overrated; there is joy in the mess;”
  • “What if we unabashedly poured love on our loved ones and our community’s, even when we don’t feel like it?”

“Just like socks on the floor don’t equal major character flaws, dishes in the sink shouldn’t always equal an argument. Pick your battles.” - Emily Ley

Chapter 6 – Invest in Your Person


  • “Just like socks on the floor don’t equal major character flaws, dishes in the sink shouldn’t always equal an argument. Pick your battles.”
  • “One of the most important things someone once told me about marriage is this: you were responsible for the way you look back on your life, when you’re 80 years old. You’re in control of the way you’ll feel that day and you’re rocking chair on your front porch. And you are also responsible for the way your spouse will feel. That’s a big deal.”
  • “He encouraged me, and I tried again. And I got it right that time. And we built a business out of it. When I’m 80 years old and look back on my life, I will be grateful for the way I was able to live out my dream because of Brian’s unwavering support, even when I fell on my face.”

Chapter 7 – Savor the Circus


  • “The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin
  • “If we don’t purposefully and intentionally slow down, free our hands, walk away, and say no, this precious messy season of life will pass us by.”
  • “My friend Rachel Singleton once said, “we’re all juggling a lot of balls sin the air. And when things get hectic, sometimes something has to give. You can drop any of those balls. But you can’t drop family.””
  • “Each of these special people in our lives, whether children or family members or peers, is flawed. They are imperfect, fallible humans. Just like us!”
  • “It’s our job to have grace with one another. I really believe that delivering grace says more about the deliverer than the recipient. The grace giver is patient, forgiving, and overflowing with love.”


Chapter 8 – Your Community


  • “It took three years of awkward conversations and transient friendships for me to realize what was keeping me from genuine community. It wasn’t my not so perfect house or the fact I wore the wrong clothes. It was that although I was trying to measure up and to be worthy of good friends, I was trying to connect on all the wrong levels, be a gossip or complaining or talking about all of my material wants. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to be totally imperfect in front of strangers that I found for real, genuine relationships.”


Chapter 9 – Routines in Relationships


  • “Most ordinary human beings do not burst from their cocoons every morning ready to be a blessing to the world. No, these things happen when we set ourselves up for success and remove a bit of frenzy…”
  • “Flexibility is everything”
  • “To pin down your best routine, begin by defining which parts of life brings you the most anxiety and stress.”
  • “Asking for help is not a failure or a weak or wasteful decision. It’s a noble decision.”


Chapter 10 – Gratitude Changes Everything


  • “Perspective is everything. The ability to operate the camera. That focus shapes our attitude and ultimately impacts our people in immeasurable ways.”
  • “Our friends are discouraged or encouraged by our constant complaining or constant gratitude.”
  • “We can choose whether to actively focus on tragedy or inadequacies or messes or our weakness or the weaknesses of other people. OR, we can choose to focus on all the [good things you have] – the big and obvious as well as the tiny, hidden pieces of goodness.”
  • “You control your perspective and the state of your heart in the situation you’re in today – even when you can’t control the circumstances. Choose gratitude.”
  • “Little moments of joy and reminders that, even when life is hard, it’s good.”
  • “I used to think I had to make life happen for it to be any good.”


Chapter 11 – Define the Life You Want To Have


  • “Do you remember what it was like to be fresh out of high school, on the cusp of adulthood when Anything could happen? When we stood at the starting lines of our grown-up lives with seemingly hundreds of roads to choose from? What a beautiful, terrifying place to be.”
  • “I, however, had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I wanted the chance to be creative. I wanted to inspire people in to make an impact. I wanted to be challenged and pushed. And more than anything, I wanted to be a mama. Essentially I wanted it all but it wasn’t quite sure how to get there.”
  • “I stood looking out at my options, and I felt heavy with worry. None of the roads looked like the one I felt… was in my heart. None felt right for me.”
  • “He wanted me to follow the path of my passions. So what if those passions didn’t lead to a clear-cut career path?”
  • “So instead of choosing which hat to wear for the rest of my life, I chose the passionate path of uncertainty. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
  • “Sweet precious one, if one day you are worried about what God is calling you to do with your priceless gift of a life, listen to that heart of yours. Run like crazy down the path God has set your heart ablaze for, and the One who loves you will be around every corner, cheering you on. Be you, little one, and trust that heart God so tenderly gave you. If you don’t know what that passion is yet, then keep trying things until it finds you. And in the meantime, you can build a life you dream of.”
  • “Your job is just one tiny part of your life. We talk so much about choosing jobs for selecting careers. But what if we chose a life instead? Whether you’re 17 or 75, you can Define the life you want to have. Better yet, you can decide how you want to spend your days.”
  • “Instead of molding your life around your job, choose or create a job that supports and accentuates the life you want to have. Who says you have to work 80 hours a week to be financially or professionally successful? In fact, who says you have to work 40? Who says you have to go to work at 8 a.m. and clock out at 5 p.m.? You, my friend, have options. Yes, it takes hard work, sacrifice, and planning, but it is possible to create the life you dream of.”
  • “To discern where your heart is leading, it pays to spend time on self-discovery.”
  • “Now paint a mental picture of the life you want to have. Think about the big and the small. This exercise is great to do every few months as your circumstances change with your season of life.”
  • “So what are your non negotiables? What specific experiences or little life luxuries do you want your family to have?”

Chapter 12 – Get Your Hands Dirty


Emily talks about how she had originally started her brand before Etsy was big and popular, and she created her business around a facade that looks like her business was bigger than it was.

In other words, she had email addresses that said or This made it so that she seemed bigger to other people, and then she realized that this was a bit of a mistake. 

She thought to be respected as a business owner or successful business, she needed everyone to know that she had a giant team in her office. She use words like “we”, “us”, “our” etc. She learned that her current business name was trademarked after she received an email from lawyer asking her to cease and desist using the trademarked name.

She had it change all of that in order to redesign for company and it gave her some space to be more herself. 

  • “After everything, one of the best lessons I’ve learned is this: everyone has a story about how they started out. Every dream began in somebody’s garage or at someone’s kitchen table or over two pretty average cups of coffee. Every successful person was new once and had to ask a lot of questions to figure out the way. Every person you admire has accepted help and advice from others and has fallen on his or her face countless times. Show me a self-made success story of a person who’s never failed, and I’ll show you someone who’s telling you a fib.”
  • “No matter what your passions are in this life or what road you’re traveling or what goals you’re chasing, know this: it’s okay to get dirty. It’s okay to try one thing, mess up, and try something else. It’s also okay to keep trying to climb that same tree, even if you fall down ten times.”
  • “The difference between people who achieve their goals and people who don’t is their ability to dust themselves off and wear their dirty outfit proudly.”
  • “Your desire for a better life has to be stronger than your fear of what it may take to get there. It’s as simple as that.”
  • “Don’t put off creating the life you dream of because you’re afraid you can’t do it perfectly.”
  • “If you’re waiting on the ideal path to open up in front of you clouds parting and pretty rainbows marking you to stop, you’re going to be waiting a while. Today is the day.”


Chapter 14 – Cultivate Contentment


  • “Contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • “My dear friend Lara Casey started a movement called Making Things Happen. She was inspired to travel the country organizing conferences to inspire people to dig deep and discuss living life on purpose. They all wanted to feel deeply alive, make a big impact, and chase enormous dreams. They sincerely cared about what matters most.”
  • “To me, that is the very essence of what simplicity is all about. By simplifying our lives, we’re making space for what matters.”


Chapter 15 – Love Your Season


  • “Comparison truly is the thief of joy.”

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Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

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How to slow down, manage your time, be more productive, handle your life with grace and poise - Emily tells all about her life and how to cope with overwhelm in Grace Not Perfection. Written by Emily Ley [Book Summary] by The Success Mountain #simplifiedplanners #planner #journals #gratitude #success #mindset #emilyley #Gracenotperfection