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We can do hard things

Given the choice, I’d always spend money on experiences and travel over anything ‘house’ related. Covid washed away any hope of travel and forced me to spend at home. Pressure like that can make even the toughest gal crack and that’s how I found myself at the paint shop, buying 12 different paint samples. Now that might sound excessive but let me remind you there are four of us in this house, all very opinionated – especially the ‘not so short anymore’ ones.

The house transformed into a patchwork of paint samples and still no consensus. More trips to the paint store, more samples. Nothing. I had no choice, I pulled rank. “I spend the most time here working from home, so we are going with these two paint colours!” No major objections from the slightly terrified family and in no time, the house was painted, and we all loved the clean, fresh look.

Now onto the kitchen tiles, that was easy, we were getting into the swing of choice and agreement. Clearly, we’d need new kitchen blinds. Given the swish new look, we’d get them made. Two quotes later of around R9000 for just three blinds had me dusting off my sewing machine because ‘do you know that R9000 can contribute towards a very nice family holiday thank you very much!’

My eldest daughter and I headed off to find fabric. Just R1000 later for all the fabric we’d need and it was high fives all round for that massive saving!

Here’s where it gets interesting: I haven’t sewn anything in years. Like over 10 years, maybe longer. Still, how hard can it be? We watched a few videos on the University of YouTube, measured out the fabric carefully, pinned it all together and whipped up the two small side blinds in a day. A full, long, exhausting day. A day that had me questioning the R9000 after all.

But that’s the trouble with learning something new. It always works like that. In the beginning, it is really hard, it can take soooo long that your mind starts to play tricks on you, telling you this is a waste of time and you should focus your energies where you can get reliable results quicker.

Take property investing for example. After one deal do you think you will know all there is to know? Even after two? But if you bail at that point, thinking ‘this is too hard, too complicated, let me pay someone else to invest my money’, the opportunity is lost.

Back to the blinds. Now it was time to make the big 1600 x 2600 blind for the kitchen door. An entire Sunday later, we hung the blind. It didn’t work. It hung at an angle, it rolled up in a tangled mess. It was a fail. My Dad offered many creative suggestions to make it work. We unpicked the lining. Nope. We went and bought thin steel rods to brace it. Nope.

I needed a break. I put the sewing machines away and avoided looking at the kitchen windows.

Two weeks later, I was ready to tackle it again. Back to the fabric shop, new pretty fabric, another R400 later and back to the sewing machine. It took less time now because we knew what to do. Four hours later, we hung the blind. It WORKED! It looks amazing!! It still needs a final hem and some steel bracing but in principle, it works!!

The next time you are facing challenges learning a new skill, I hope you will knuckle down and push through it because we can do hard things and the more we do hard things, the easier they become.

Now am I going to carry on sewing? Probably not. It’s not really my thing, saving money for fun and adventures is most definitely my thing so if in future, I am called to dust off the trusty sewing machines, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d do it!

Key learnings:

  • Learning a new skill takes time, grit and determination

  • People often give up right before they master the very skill they are giving up on

  • It builds confidence and perseverance to push through the hard times and get to the other side of something challenging






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