The Biggest Takeaways From Erin Napier's Memoir

Having millions of viewers worldwide obsess over the homes that you design may seem like the pinnacle of success. But the hosts of "Home Town" still had dreams left to fulfill. For the couple dedicated to revitalizing their little Mississippi town, the real dream was putting their stories to paper, bound up in the form of a book.

In "Make Something Good Today" written by Ben and Erin Napier, the couple takes readers through the journeys of their childhoods and into their whirlwind college romance. The story goes beyond the untold truths of "Home Town" and dives into their struggles and triumphs. The couple exposes their imperfections and how they learned to revel in all the glory of their flaws.

The Napiers remind readers small acts can make a big impact and community is the most important thing. Their journey from self-proclaimed artists to world-renowned names isn't the ostentatious tale you expect from stars. Rather it's grounded in finding meaning in their work, learning acceptance, and focusing on the abundant beauty sometimes hidden in this world. Here are the biggest takeaways from the Napiers' memoir.

Erin was always an artist

If there's one inescapable truth uttered in this book, it's that Erin Napier is an artist. Both she and Ben Napier describe falling in love with creative mediums as children. Their artistry shaped their lives from small beginnings to the household names they are today. Fans of HGTV's "Home Town" already know this. They see it in every episode, every custom wood piece Ben builds, and every design the couple brings to life. It's their artistry that keeps viewers watching.

But it's more than just the visual arts compelling the Napiers to create. Ben studied English in college, and they both hold a love for words. Erin started writing years ago, and while it's not her claim to fame today, it changed her life. Their flair for turning a phrase transformed their life story into a compelling and inspiring read. It's easy to get lost in their romance, feel the overwhelming excitement of change, and end up inspired by their journeys.

It's okay to ask for help

Chronic illness is a burden that feels inescapable. It's an experience that can last a lifetime, a member of every moment of your life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Lifetime diagnoses usher patients into a new world similar to the one they knew and yet, at the same time, irreparably different.

The news that Erin Napier struggles with such a condition is shocking. In "Make Something Good Today," Erin describes spending what felt like a lifetime trying every product available to calm the rashes and pain around her eyes.

As a visual artist, her eye health is an integral part of her life and career, so discovering she had periocular dermatitis must have been a serious challenge. But Erin was relieved for answers. As you read about her journey with illness and anxiety, you see her show up for herself and seek help from others. She praises the benefits of therapy and medication, encouraging everyone to get help when it's needed. Asking for help is a tool, not a weakness, and should hold no shame. No matter how much or little you have in life, it's okay to get help.

Success doesn't have to be linear

While most people plan their careers on a straight path, reality often looks very different from those goals. In Erin Napier's memoir, she painted a picture of a resume unlike what you might imagine. While Ben Napier's apprenticeship with wood began in childhood, Erin's career took several turns. When her job didn't satisfy her, she moved on to something else.

Erin's fearless pursuit of her passions blossomed into much more than she ever intended when she started an online journal as an outlet to share updates from her day such as renovation projects she worked on with Ben — which is how Ben and Erin landed their HGTV show, "Home Town."

"A casting producer for a home renovation show on HGTV ... said she had stumbled across my blog and was interested in us for a new series they were developing," Erin wrote in her memoir "Make Something Good Today." To no one's surprise, HGTV fell in love with their work immediately and the rest is history!

Practice acceptance daily

Practicing acceptance doesn't mean letting people walk all over you. Instead, it's a mindset to help you manage the things you can't change. Every person has a list of hardships to deal with, even if it's not apparent. Overcoming these struggles becomes all the more difficult when neglected emotional baggage weighs a person down.

You don't have to read "Make Something Good Today" to know that Erin and Ben Napier's business is built on accepting the unexpected. It's one of the guarantees of renovation jobs, especially when dealing with old homes. But there's more to their story than anticipating wiring issues when tearing down a wall. Erin battled with accepting her chronic illness, anxiety, and even body-image issues. She talks about body acceptance and dismantling the notion that everyone needs a supermodel physique. It's an important reminder to love the body you have instead of wrapping up your self-worth in achieving an air-brushed flat stomach.

While it might seem easy for people as successful as the Napiers to find acceptance in the unexpected or uncontrollable, the lesson is valuable for everyone. Self-acceptance improves confidence (via Harvard Health) and your overall emotional well-being. It's an incredible tool for mental wellness that's often a lot harder to achieve than it sounds. 

The perfect parent doesn't exist

Perfection is all but a myth, and realizing that is good advice for anyone, but especially for parents. There's a bombarding of opinions on parenting the "right" way. Whatever a parent does, there's a philosophy telling them they did it wrong. Of course, there are some parenting mistakes you should avoid at all costs. But for the most part, it's an excessively subjective role.

Even the Napiers, with all their ingenuity and success, can't escape the challenges of parenthood. Mistakes are inherent to the gig, but they know enough to grow from them, learning on the job like anyone who's ever raised a kid. Seeing the duo — who seem to have an answer for every mess on "Home Town" — struggle through the common mishaps of parenthood reminds readers they're just as human as the rest of the world. 

Navigating parenthood can feel like navigating the complicated and ever-changing world of nutrition. You know you need to find the right mix, but it seems like it's constantly wavering. A 2021 study published in the American Psychological Association exposed the precarious lines parents must balance between too little and too much involvement. It's a reminder it's okay to make mistakes because even the parent seemingly doing the most for their child isn't doing it "right."

Life is a beautiful mess — embrace it

Finding beauty in the mess is what you do when you renovate old homes, but it's also an excellent mindset for life. A positive attitude can improve overall life satisfaction. Seeing the beauty in the chaos can manifest more happiness than you realize, as a 2020 study from the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health found.

The Npaiers don't just find beauty in the messes in old homes but in all types of messes, flaws, and failures. Erin's call to readers for body positivity is all about seeing beauty where you didn't see it before. She shows readers that just like the charm of distressed farm decor, hidden beauties lie in your body's flaws. You just need to give them another look. Embracing your flaws is more than one of the Napiers' core beliefs; it aligns with a Japanese concept having its moment in interior design.

Wabi-sabi is the idea of embracing imperfection, and it may be the answer to a world too caught up in perfect images (via the Journal of Medical Humanities). When applied to design, it allows the old to become new again, bringing back life and chipping away wasteful mindsets. Instead of constantly upgrading everything until your life appears near perfect, find the beauty in the old and the flawed. Take note from Ben and Erin; the mess is full of wonders and delights.

Friends and family are the best investment

Everyone has limits to their investment capacity — energy, money, and time dictate the opportunities before you. But the one investment that's always worth it is your friends and family, no matter how low your resources get. These people make life worth living; they enrich your experiences and ground you when needed. Friendship is a two-way street, though, and both parties must put in the effort if you want them to last.

Erin Napier's memoir is an ode to friendship and family, and not just because a lot of the story focuses on the Napiers' accounts with their community. The couple repeatedly uses their experiences — from how Ben and Erin Napier really met to starting a business together — as a message to readers to make time for their community and put in the effort when they need you. "Relationships are the most important thing in life. They're what makes life worth living. Whether it's our family, our friends, or our community, the connections we make with others are what give us meaning and purpose," Erin explains in "Make Something Good Today."

They're not wrong, either. While you don't need to be close to your biological family, a connection with a group you consider family plays a significant role in your wellness throughout your life.

Leave things better than how you found them

The message goes beyond leaving things how you found them imploring readers to seek opportunities to improve their world. In many ways, the memoir is a call to action to make a mark on your community. You don't have to change the world. Small acts of kindness go a long way, creating a snowball effect of good deeds in its path (via Journal of Happiness).

Laurel, Mississippi had been dying for years, and Erin and Ben Napier wanted to do something to bring it back to life. "We wanted to create a place where people could come and feel inspired, where they could see what was possible if they just put in a little bit of effort and a whole lot of love," the couple wrote in their memoir. The Napiers' work is about more than doing art every day; they're seeking ways to make a positive impact. Their memoir focuses not just on their work for their community but on encouraging readers to do the same.

Community service doesn't just help others; it can also improve your overall well-being. You can do something as simple as picking up a piece of trash or as big as helping a neighbor build a fence. It's up to you and what's within your limits because you aren't helping anyone if you're hurting yourself in the process. 

Be your biggest champion

One of the biggest takeaways from Erin Napier's memoir, and really life in general, is everyone needs to be their biggest champion. There is no one you spend more time with than yourself, and therefore no one whose message gets deeper inside your head. Make that message a positive one by believing in yourself, or at the least fake it until you make it. Even if you doubt yourself as you cheer yourself on, you'll still have a cheering section.

Erin tells readers: "Believing in yourself is the first step to making your dreams reality." She keeps returning to this message throughout the book, imploring readers to become their biggest champions. It's about more than just telling yourself you can do it too; it's about being kind to yourself and seeing yourself in the best light. Another major aspect is trust in yourself, something you can achieve through small steps. Let every self-assured accomplishment deepen your faith in yourself.

Continue dreaming

Life stops when you stop dreaming. It can only grow as big as you imagine it. So don't ever stop imagining what's next; it's akin to living.

Even the Napiers continue to dream, with all they've accomplished, from turning a small business into a renovation team with millions of fans. "Dreaming is about being open to new possibilities and never giving up on what you truly want. It's about having the courage to take risks and chase after your passions," the HGTV couple writes in their book. Erin Napier's very memoir was an actualization of another one of her and Ben Napier's dreams. The self-described bookworms could only dream of earning the title of "author" until they made it their reality. And while every fantasy can't come true, like skin that never ages, there are versions of those dreams you can actualize.

Setting goals is a great way to accomplish your dreams, and turning those fantasies into concrete images gives you something to work towards. There are all types of ways to do this, from your imagination to creating a vision board.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and focus on the good in between

Gratitude can change you if you embrace it. Life is full of twists and turns, and it's okay to prepare for them, but it's also essential to focus on the good moments in between. Naming things gives them power; by naming the good things in your life, you give them more power. Don't empower your struggles when you could exalt your happiness.

Learning to practice gratitude is a lifelong journey; as such, Erin talks about it throughout the book. While finding things to be grateful for when millions of people tune in for your opinions on design may seem easy, Erin's practice started long before her time at HGTV. Her autoimmune disorder and general anxiety inspired her to shrug off their heavy weight and focus on the positive things in her life. Her struggles didn't disappear; she still contended with their realities every day; they just stopped getting her focus.

Planning for the worst gives you the security of a solution if all goes wrong. Until then, hope for the best and enjoy all that's good. In the best case scenario, it never happens, and the worst is you have to implement plans B-Z or however many you made. Letting go of fear and focusing on gratitude can improve your mental health. It's not an immediate fix, but the more your practice it, the bigger the positive impact it has on your well-being.

Creativity can change the world

Platitudes like "creativity can change the world" might sound more like bumper sticker material than foundations to build your reality from, but that's precisely what the Napiers did. They used their creativity and dreams to change the world around them. Ben and Erin Napier breathed new life into Laurel, Mississippi, Erin's hometown, through their creative outreach and solutions. They do more than remodel homes in the small town; they get involved with their community.

The Napiers aren't satisfied with their impact, though. They want readers to use creativity to change the world too. "Make Something Good Today" uses the Napiers' accounts of innovation and imagination changing their lives and the lives around them to show readers it's possible. As the Napiers explain in their memoir: "Creativity has the power to change the world. It allows us to see things differently and come up with new ideas and solutions."

Creativity seems like the right medicine to improve things in today's complicated world. It helps solve complex problems, fuels innovation, and creates a pathway to change with the times (Harvard Business School).