a follow up post to Why Failing is Fabulous


I said last month that I’d talk about the gifts that failure has given me – here we go.


“Toni, this is a gift in shitty wrapping paper.”


When all the hard, shocking stuff happened at the festival our Festival Patron, the wonderful Aussie 16 tony barry photoactor Tony Barry (right), said to me:

“Toni this is a gift in shitty wrapping paper.”

Privately I vehemently disagreed – how could all this loss and humiliation be any gift? It seemed a crazy thing to say.

It was years before I understood that everything about it, even the cruel way things were handled had turned into the best of gifts.



shitty wrapping imageSo Would I Want This Gift Again?

It was so painful, financially disastrous and 100 other things that I’d have to say “Hell no!.”

The trouble with gifts is that you can’t really give them back when they’re given to you.

Then on the other hand, I would definitely want the outcome of that shittily wrapped present (is shittily a word?) because I now think that this particular spectacular failure was the making of me.

This failure was the one that I began to embrace (though not for a year).

As I began to be grateful for what had happened the shitty gift wrap fell off and gems were revealed.




“Nothing is good nor bad, only thinking makes it so.”




My Favourite Gifts


I had to get pretty low to get some help – and that help was discovering how my brain worked which led me to realise that gratitude practice would change my brain.

It was directly through the festival falling apart that I discovered the practice of gratitude. As you’ve probably heard I think gratitude is the Wonder Drug and it has started a revolution in my life – one that I’ve been sharing with many others.

Failure taught me the practice and value of gratitude. Got to love that! Every day is better because of it.


I think it was the series of (what looked like) unfortunate events at/ post the festival break down that helped me grow up and become an adult. I had to face my role in what happened and have learned to take more responsibility for things going wrong.

We are only really adults when we begin to take responsibility for our own actions.


“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in getting up every time we fall.”

Nelson Mandela



Generally my response to pain would be to drown it with work or wine or some sort of escapism – and I still do that some of the time. Through the festival failure I learned, for the first time, how to sit with pain, feel pain, be less afraid of pain.

Weirdly this sitting with pain seems to make pain less painful which has been hugely helpful as life is full of pain.


Learning how my brain works has been enlightening, fun and utterly life-changing in so many areas – especially in relation to our stories.

It has been eye-opening to learn more about how we all spin facts and change our memories. We give ourselves so much needless pain winding up our stories. More on this next month.

Knowing this has made my life less painful.



I love, love, love teaching about gratitude and other life- changing skills and this was one of the gifts – a whole new passion. Whatever pain we face or failure we experience changes us and without those things we don’t get where we are now.

Failure opens as many doors as it closes.


“By then I’d figured out the gift of failure, which is that it breaks through all that held breath, all that isometric tension of needing to look good; it’s the gift of feeling floppier.”

Anne Lamott




Humiliation is the perfect medicine for the ego and mine got some good medicine! I think we probably all need periodic bouts of disaster to bring us back to empathy and care and derail us from our own world. I’ve found failure and pain connect me more fully with the human race.

In Anne Lamott’s words:  I get to be floppier – huge relief!


There are many more gifts – I’m sure you’ve received some  – I’ll stop yakking and move over so you can tell us (in the comments) your story. Love to hear it.


There is more:

If the subject of failure interests you (and you aren’t on my ‘Hello from Toni’  bulletin list) then you can check out both these pages that have some videos about failure.

Hello from Toni – July

Hello from Toni – August

Thank you for reading.

PS: If you’d like to hear from me every 4-6 weeks sign up for my Hello from Toni newsletter here.