It’s the hard that makes it great

If you saw Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own you’ll likely recall this line. Sobering up for the women’s baseball championship, caught up in the team as it battles for a place in history, Hanks character Jimmy Dugan tells his best player Dottie that she shouldn’t leave to go home to conventional life as a farmer’s wife.  She would miss it he predicts. Dottie shakes her head and says that it was all just too hard. Dugan’s line has stayed with me all these years.

“Of course it’s hard. If it wasn’t everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.

How often I have thought this to myself as I struggled with whatever life doled out in that moment. It helped me develop a pit-bull’s bite of tenacity once I get involved in something. Even when I should be discouraged, I tend to grit my way through, the mantra in my head, “if it was easy, everyone would do it… it’s the hard that makes it great.

One of our Christmas presents this year fell into this category. We wanted to make those trendy signs we’d seen in all the boutiques, with big words painted on rough wood. Typical of me, I wanted really rough wood. I wanted recycled wood. I wanted to make signs and reclaim something off a scrap pile at the same time.


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I made it much harder than it had to be.

This is not one of those tutorials on how to make signs. Those all start with the cheery encouragement of how easy it is to make the signs. Not this one. It’s EFFin hard.

I choose a dark background paint that made it much harder to make the letters more visible.

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After making my stencils (I chose an elaborate script and a Serif font instead of wide blocky letters that would have been much easier to paint), we couldn’t successfully transfer them to the rough, ridged wood. I ended up carving the words in with an razor blade for about eight long hours leading up to Christmas. My bride then had to paint those letters, another eight hours.

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But when the kids unwrapped them, each one with a different part of our favorite family poem “Desiderata,” which has hung on our wall since they were small, it was well… great.

And that made it all worth it. Because it’s the hard that makes it great.

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