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Own Your Messes and ALWAYS Tell The Truth

The other day I sent a note to my photographer for our shoot in April to say “zero photoshop is the only option aligned with my message.”

I’ve been feeling that way about my videos, too – I’d hired a professional video guy for my most recent shoots and he ended up bailing at the last minute so I’ve been doing it myself.

There are times when there’s much more truth and beauty in imperfection than all the efforts we make to “clean things up.” – Click to Tweet

The loving feedback I get from my community always reminds me that people don’t really care, it’s the the connection that matters most.

I learned this week that owning your messes and telling the truth is one of the best and easiest ways to connect.

The following is the story of the mess that inspired this post.

My messy ass car

My messy ass car

I’m driving down La Cienega Blvd in Beverly Hills on my way to meet with my Creative Director and I really want to sing loudly (for fun and to open up my 5th chakra and get my creative expression flowing).

The only accessory I forgot to upgrade when I got my iPhone 5 was the car hook up to play music so I was scanning the radio for a good song. Nothing.

I open up Spotify and scroll to Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys on my phone, press play, hold the phone to my ear and get fully immersed in belting that shit out as if Alicia Keys needed a stand in for her next show and I’m auditioning RIGHT NOW.

(note: I am an awful singer.)

As I’m singing and driving a cop pulls behind me and I get a little nervous realizing I am holding my phone to my ear, but no lights go on. Phew.

A few blocks later, the lights go on. He was just waiting for an opening to pull me over. Here we go.

Now is a good time to mention that I still have a New York State driver’s license and I was supposed to get a California one within 10 days of registering my car (10 months ago). I also don’t have proof of insurance with me. Also, my car is still full of the boxes from my official move out of Laguna Beach TWO weekends ago and there is a pile of forwarded mail taking up my passenger seat.

Basically I look like a total fucking disaster.

I feel a natural instinct to think of how I’m going to talk my way out of this, but just before the Cop #1 gets to my driver side window I decide not to. I made this mess. I’m going to own it and if I drive away with a few hundred dollars in tickets, that’s what I get.

Cop #1 asks me to roll down my passenger side window also so Cop #2 can listen in on the conversation. He tells me he pulled me over because I had my phone to my ear. I hand him my license and registration and start going through all the contents of my glove compartment and the huge pile of mail in my passenger seat hoping to find some proof of insurance.

As I’m doing this I explain that I wasn’t talking on the phone I was jamming out to a song, in case that makes a difference. It does not.

He gives me some shit for still having a NY license, make some comments about all the boxes in the back of my car. I tell him I’ve been holding onto my license because I don’t want to lose my identity as a New Yorker, which is true. He says something about the weather being way better here, also true.

We both realize I’m not going to find proof of insurance anywhere and he goes to his car to start processing what I’m sure will be no less than three tickets and hundreds of dollars in fines.

Cop #2 is super hot and nice, we chat a little about personal training, the song I was listening to when I got pulled over and I swear he must have been an Alicia Keys fan because he says, “My partner is usually pretty tough about this stuff, let me go talk to him.”

They both come back and Cop #1 says, “Well Elizabeth, I’m frustrated…” I’m thinking he means with me, but apparently the computer is really slow or something so he’s just going to give me a warning.


I thank them profusely, promised to get my act together and drove away with a deep intuitive feeling that nothing was wrong with their computer.

I’m not sure if they took pity on me because I was such a mess or they really like Alicia, too, but they had every reason to give me those tickets and they didn’t.

For the last two weeks that I’ve been driving around with those boxes still in my car I’ve been quietly judging myself a little bit for being messy.

Everyday I think “I should go to my storage unit today.” And feel like a bit of a slacker when I don’t.

I’m pretty sure because I just surrendered and had no intention of trying to flirt or talk my way out of the ticket, owned my messes, and told the truth, I drove away scott free.

And of course this story is just a small example of a mess, but the same principles apply to the bigger stuff in life – relationships, career, finances, etc.

When we make the choice to NOT sweep shit under the rug, make excuses, be defensive or even worse lie, we give people an opportunity to see us for who we are.

We “let the chips fall” as my friend Jill always says, and give ourselves the chance to trust that we can handle whatever that looks like.

Everyday in every moment we have these choices:

Own our messes or deny them.
Make excuses or tell the truth.
Be who we really are or pretend we’re someone or something else.

Life is easier (and often more entertaining) when we let people see our messes, stop trying to hide them and just tell the truth.

So what’s a mess you’ve been hiding or an opportunity you’ve been avoiding to tell the truth?


Own Your Messes and ALWAYS Tell The Truth
  • Mariah


    I so appreciate your honesty. This line in particular struck a cord with me.

    “When we make the choice to NOT sweep shit under the rug, make excuses, be defensive or even worse lie, we give people an opportunity to see us for who we are.”

    My website launches in just a few weeks and I have been sick to my stomach over using my airbrushed photos. I’ve had four babies and have been left with saggy belly skin. There’s just nothing I can do about that other than having a tummy tuck.

    As a health and fitness coach I thought there’s no way I can put those saggy skin pictures on my website. Who is going to ever want to work with me if I don’t look perfect?

    The problem is, I won’t be able to sleep at night knowing I’m using airbrushed photos. We’re inundated with images of perfection everywhere we look. I refuse to add another airbrushed photo into the world that could potentially make another woman feel badly about herself.

    So at the last minute I switched out all my airbrushed photos for the “real me.” I have no idea how this is going to go, but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night. Your post made me realize I’m making the right decision. Thank you! <3

    • Liz DiAlto

      YES YES YES. I’ve learned a big lesson the last few months – that women are really craving permission and as leaders we can easily give it to them by just going first. You are going to inspire so many people, Mariah. You might also get some shit, but it really won’t matter – I feel like whenever we choose to go with our intuition, our personal power increases 10 fold.

      • Stefanie Rennert

        Mariah- loved your story. Thanks also for your comment which prompted Liz to say this! Liz- you are so right. I was VERY MUCH craving permission and your post is really what ignited me into taking action. Thank you for leading and going first! #ForeverGrateful #IntuitionFTW πŸ™‚ #ReinbobyteIGNITE —> Today I actually shared my vision with Marie Forleo and the internet world! Here’s my Bschool Video P.S. I’ll sing for you if you exercise for me! hehe just kidding πŸ™‚

    • Katie

      LOVE IT! I am so happy that you decided not to use airbrushed photos. I can’t remember where, but I recently saw a un-airbrushed picture of 3 women standing next to each other, a Victoria’s Secret model, professional athlete and plus-sized model. It was so powerful. The plus-sized model was an average sized beautiful woman. The athlete trim and toned. And the Victoria’s Secret model without airbrushing looked like Skeletor. The razor sharp bones of her shoulders were exposed, along with many others.

      The truth is powerful. People love you for your message and wisdom and the life you give demonstrated by the perfectly “saggy belly skin” you’ve earned!

  • Jaclyn Mullen

    You are such a great storyteller Liz and the best part is that you are just honestly sharing your experiences which are relateable for us all! I once got a speeding ticket, forgot to pay it and when registration came around the following year, had to pay $980 dollars in fines, court fees, etc. It was an expensive lesson for me to take care of my personal responsibilities before anything else.

    • Liz DiAlto

      This reminds me that I have an unpaid street cleaning ticket, thanks Jaclyn!! haha

  • Courtney | The Rule Breaker’s Club

    Besides the obvious beautiful message in this post, it also makes me think about all of the messes I allow myself to keep around because for some reason I feel like I’m letting myself off the hook if I don’t clean it up. But honestly, it feels worse to have the mess than it does to clean it up….USUALLY πŸ˜›

    • Liz DiAlto

      I am guilty of this all the time when it omes to putting away laundry, I imagine it taking forever when really 5 minutes and it’s over!

  • Lisa Van Ahn

    ‘Girl on fire’…sing it out (in this case write it out). Such. a. great. story. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been sweeping for awhile and finally started tripping over it, pretty hard to ignore a huge pile under your rug.

    My heart has been calling me towards my girls inside out self-defense program and out of fear I’ve kept teaching fitness classes in my studio.

    Told my partners last month that come spring I’m stepping away from the studio and teaching fitness to pursue my dream fully and WHOAH!

    I’m totally terrified AND excited. One thing I know is it feels a lot like when you clean out your junk drawer and you’re like “Oh, Yea. This feels good”.

    • Liz DiAlto

      Usually when I’m terrified I’m moving in the right direction, Lisa – very excited for you. Keep me posted!

  • Annalicia Niemela

    Oh my goodness..

    “We β€œlet the chips fall” as my friend Jill always says, and give ourselves the chance to trust that we can handle whatever that looks like.”

    …so powerful! Thank you! πŸ™‚

    • Liz DiAlto

      This practice pushes me to my limits regularly – then when I get there and realized I can handle it – sweet sweet expansion! You are welcome, Annalicia, thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

      • Annalicia Niemela

        It’s so true! It’s really ironic that you would write that. I’m currently in a very potent time in my life for experiencing this truth…it’s been scary, but incredibly beautiful! I’m also in the process of rebranding around a very similar idea. So, thank you for the sign I needed today that I’m on the “right” track. πŸ˜‰

        Random question for ya…

        Would you be willing to share what camera and wireless mic you use to shoot your videos? I’m in the process of recording a bunch of yoga, Pilates and stability ball videos for my new website and struggling a bit with the audio aspect.

        Thanks for the courage to be who you are, Liz, and do what you do! You’re an inspiration!! πŸ™‚

        Lots of love,

  • Kristen

    Great post Liz, I can totally relate! It’s hard to constantly meet our own standardized expectation of ourselves for not having our stuff together. Being a leader in an industry doesn’t mean we always have out ducks in a row, want to “do work” during our working hours or know how to allow ourselves to just BE.

    Thanks for the honesty.

    • Liz DiAlto

      Appreciate this, Kristen.

  • Natalie Sustaire

    Ugh! Thank you! Not that I needed anyone’s permission to own my own but hearing it from someone else helps. My most important relationship is a disaster right now and I’ve been stressing about it, feeling judged by myself and others, needing to connect but not wanting to be too vulnerable; basically crazy right now haha! It’s a mess but it’s mine and I love how it’s evolving (painfully slow) into something funtional. Thank you Elizabeth!