Finish As Strong As You Started

For the better part of three months, I have been singularly focused on the two weeks ahead of me now…. the end of renovations on our lovely, old home.

The whole process has not been unlike training for a marathon. Initially, the race is so far away that day-to-day efforts seem trivial. The slow ramp-up of mileage over the months hardly relate to the race at all until finally, we reach that long, grueling 20-mile run and realize in a matter of weeks all this training must come together so we can run the full distance… and survive. It is at this point of realization that also brings with it a touch of panic.

faucetFrom the moment we determined the remodeled floor plan of this old house, my attention turned to finding the perfect finishes to transform this blank canvas into our home. Finishes that would complement the architecture, yet reflect our personal style. My InBox holds no less than 35 emails confirming various orders from toilets to drawer pulls and a doorbell; items that required varying degrees of effort to uncover them from the vast sea of online shopping.

Had my piggy bank been stuffed with unlimited funds, this job would have been straightforward. There were oodles of perfect choices where money was no object. This project, however, was more like searching out the best bottle of wine for under ten bucks.

The parquet fit perfectly in the kitchen.
The parquet fit perfectly in the kitchen….

The treasure hunt for some items was downright delightful. The light fixture for the main stairwell, for example, appeared in Wayfair’s clearance corner quite unexpectedly. A $400 fixture that now sat in an open box for $89. I threw it in my cart without a second glance.

There were a pair of faucets for the master bath reduced to $40 each by a nice vendor on Amazon, and the beautiful parquet tiles my Aunt had stashed in a warehouse were the exact number of tiles needed to fill the kitchen, which was completely void of hardwood flooring.

These were the things that came together effortlessly…perfectly.

.... with just enough tiles left over for the butler's pantry.
…. with just enough tiles left over to highlight  the butler’s pantry.

Then there was the 10″ toilet.

Who knew toilets were configured by their rough-in size? I spent weeks searching every nook and cranny under the planet for this one toilet. It was the item that nearly made me looney as I tried to will the look I wanted onto this strange toilet, at the price I wanted. That toilet tormented me to the very end.

Finally, these beautiful treasures began arriving at our doorstep. The kitchen drawer pulls shipped straight from China; the packaging still retaining the smell from this foreign land. A beautiful, gold faucet was packed in a cloth bag as if it were a piece of jewelry.


Not everything was perfect….fridge text

The toilet for the 3rd floor bath was cracked, the dining room chandelier was missing three crystals, the granite slab for the kitchen counter-top broke, and the handles on the refrigerator and freezer did not match.

Things were falling apart right there at the finish line.

Training for the marathon, we work our way through a training plan that best fits our level of experience and life, yet we may still find ourselves challenged by something. We urge our bodies to respond to the challenge, willing it to adapt. Pace, speed-work and nutrition are researched in an effort to prepare ourselves to go this distance. Finally, we arrive at the starting line….where things can and will go wrong.

Somewhere in the middle miles of this race, when you’re tired and irritable, it’s easy to make bad decisions. We begin to accept second-best…. we just want this race (project/job/commitment) to be over. The thing is, when the race is over you can’t take back what you’ve done. Better to hold true to your resolve…. stand firm to your commitment to do this thing right.

My husband has given us advice over the years whenever we have decided to leave one job in favor of another, “Finish as strong as you started.”

The devil is in the details, true in life and in running, but we can stand firm to our commitment to do this thing right, and finish as strong as we started.

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