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Today I was using my riding lawnmower, engineered to cut grass, of course, to drag a thatcher, which I had weighed down by two forty pound bags of concrete mix. A thatcher is a relatively inexpensive device designed and intended for pulling dead grass from healthy grass so that the healthy grass can thrive and multiply. Only, I wasn’t cutting grass, nor was I thatching.

In late Spring I hired a good friend to come and rotor tiller a section of my pasture to create an outdoor area in which I could ride my horses at home rather than haul them to an offsite indoor arena. Over the course of the summer, that soil has to be tended and reworked ever so often to minimize injury to the horse from hoof dug divots and packing and hardening. And that’s exactly what I was using my mower and drag behind thatcher for.

It’s not at all how the tools I was using were intended by the manufacturer, so as a truck drove by, hauling a beautiful tractor (probably a rotor tiller too) on a flatbed, I felt a little embarrassed. Here I was, using all the wrong stuff, to accomplish a chore that the tractor could gobble up for breakfast.

Was I substandard for trying to achieve beautiful results with less than top notch equipment?

My heart replied, It’s not in the tools, its in the determination.

I let that soak in as I made circle after circle and overlap after overlap, until the dirt was soft and fresh. Twice the amount of time had passed than if I’d had a tractor, but it was still beautiful, and the birthday girl and all the teens that rode afterward were happy. The horses too.

As people - and me, as an author, when I was just starting out - we seem to often evaluate our ability to achieve a goal or dream the same way I evaluated my tools. Am I substandard or wrong for trying if I don’t have the “correct stuff”?

It’s not in the tools, it’s in the determination.

Steadfast determination - your work and will - with all the wrong tools, will last longer and is less likely to quit when the going gets tough than all the correct tools, but no heart. As they say, “When the going gets tough...the tough get going”. They never said, “When I have all the correct stuff, then I’ll get going”.

Whether it be on a lawnmower, or on foot, get going. Better tools will be available down the road. I certainly don’t have the “correct stuff” for rotor tilling a place to ride -yet- but over time I’ve collected tools that help me mow and thatch! It was pure DETERMINATION that got the riding area tended and reworked.

You are NOT substandard or wrong for trying to achieve beautiful results with what you have on hand Right. Now. Will you feel a little embarrassed like I felt when the tractor went gliding by? Maybe. But know this, your determination can get you twice as far and make you twice as strong in the end.

You’ve got the “correct stuff” if you have determination. And you can hang your hat on that.

- Lisa Slater



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