"Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic." -Robin Sharma
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
I'm a huge believer in finishing strong. In my book, enthusiastic starts are easy. There's plenty of motivation to be found in the early stages of any commitment, but sooner or later, every enterprise hits a seemingly solid wall of frustration and failure.
And many times, that's where the project dies. But it's no cliche to say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The satisfaction to be found in not only finishing what I've started - or even better, finishing stronger than when I started - is to me the sweetest success of all.
* * * * *
Back in the day, I used to make a lot of journals. For decades, I've logged my then-babies' milestones, logged our family road trip adventures, and collected a hodge podge of old-school recipe clippings. As my daughters grew older, they started making journals too. Some were undertaken just for pure artistic fun, others served as custom collections of essays, reports, and projects done for our classes.
About ten years ago, two significant events changed up my journaling mojo.
1. My youngest daughter wrapped up her homeschooling career as well as mine, and there went my best excuse for journaling as a priority in life.
2. I began to present my journalistic endeavors in blog format. Editing photos and typing text trended over glue sticks and cardstock, and the old days gave way to the new.
This double whammy of a transition probably happened over the course of several years but looking back now, it feels to me like a dramatically abrupt shift. Apparently, I ran out of journaling juju in a snap.
Because this weekend, I ran across my ancient pile of half-done journals.
Yep. Some were barely started, others almost done, but each one had come to its own special place of hitting a wall, and in my frustration, I'd laid it aside and never come back to it.
But as I sifted through the pile and looked over my abandoned works in progress, my finisher's instincts kicked in and I made a promise to myself.
I'm finishing up each one of these suckers, no matter what.
So let's consider this Part One of a series, and take a look at my first completed project.
The Presidents' Pocket Biographies.
That aforementioned fourth born once made me a cute blank book for Christmas. The inside pages were simple squares of printer paper but the covers collaged together iimages of some of my favorite U.S. presidents (yes, I have favorites and yes, my fourth-born knows who they are) and photos of our dearly beloved pets at the time, Ranger, a big red dog, and Padfoot, a sweet black cat.
Back in the day, I'd decided to write a few notes about each of our nation's presidents - we'd just studied them all in a year-long class, so I had opinions.
To make the journal a bit more visually interesting - and to strategize around spelling errors or ugly mistakes - I wrote on bits of assorted graph papers designed to fit on a half page. I went the extra mile of occasionally attaching an extra slip of paper by means of a small metal grommet, creating a flip feature.
^ Pretty sure I stopped working on this journal because time had passed and I could no longer effortlessly recall presidential tidbits. And apparently I was too lazy to look them up.
Sadly, I had petered out at President #26, Teddy Roosevelt. Which is a particular shame because he's one of my favorites.
Did you know his wife and his mother died on the same day? He made a big X on the date in his journal and wrote, "The light has gone out of my life." Then this sickly city boy decided to go west and become a cowboy - he needed to mend his broken heart and ended up falling in love with our nation's wilderness and greatly expanding our system of national parks. Bless him.
These facts did not pop fully formed out of my memory. I grabbed the book we had used in class and spent a lovely afternoon re-reading the entries about Teddy as well as Presidents #27 through 44, and finished this journal with a stimulated mind and a full heart.
^ Poor Ranger (bottom right corner of the book cover) got horribly sick when he was two years old. In one of those wretched diseases where the immune system attacks itself, the skin around his eyes and nose turned horribly pink and swollen. Until we found a veterinary dermatologist who knew what to do, his doctors told us we might lose him. Thankfully, Ranger lived a long and happy life, and this terrible season of illness became a distant memory.
As it turned out, there's one page left at the back of my presidents journal. One, I supposed, must be used to record our current commander-in-chief. I may just write a big X, too.
One more empty section remains to record my favorite tidbits about #47 and I look forward to seeing who will take the honor of completing my book.
So while I suppose one could technically argue that my book won't be truly finished until the final page is full, I'm calling it good.