Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

From the Archives: Begun Is Half Done

Tipper planting potatoes

Sometimes I give myself pep talks. Do you ever do that?

The last few weeks have been unusually busy for the Blind Pig family. Oh I’m not complaining it’s all good, but is has been tough to keep our full plate from spilling over the side.

If I’m feeling overwhelmed I find myself repeating phrases Granny and Pap say about work.

  • Begun is half done
  • If you do it right the first time you won’t have to do it a second time
  • If you can’t do it right then don’t do it all
  • This too will pass
  • You’ll feel so good once this is behind you
  • You’ll sleep so good tonight once you get this finished

By far my favorite saying is the first one-begun is half done. For me dreading a chore is usually worse than actually doing the chore. Like planting 2 long rows of potatoes and starting 200+ tomato seedlings at the end of a work day when you’re not feeling particularly peachy. But as always Pap and Granny’s voices in my head were right. Once the chores were finished I felt so good knowing they were completed and marked off our list.

A few other work related sayings:

  • A stitch in time saves nine
  • As you sow so shall you reap
  • If at first you don’t succeed try try again
  • Make hay while the sun shines

If you’ve got any work related sayings to add please leave a comment!

—April 5, 2014

Eight years later I’m still giving myself pep talks to complete the chores I need to 🙂

Last night’s video: Cinnamon Cake = Easy, Quick, & Travels Well.


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  • Reply
    April 11, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    I heard all of those from my Mama and I still use them. Daddy always said do it right or don’t do it at all.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    Yes, I give myself a little talking-to on a daily basis. I’m alone here, so if I don’t do something, it doesn’t get done. Sure wish I had the kind of energy I could draw upon all through my “working life,” but for the past 10 years now I’ve just had to learn that it doesn’t matter if a task I used to do in 20 minutes, before driving to work, now takes an hour and a half and then I have to rest. The important thing is that I get up and DO the task and not give myself a hard time about how long “it used to take.”
    Here’s an old saying I like: It’s a poor worker who blames her tools. 😉

  • Reply
    Patty Hansen
    April 7, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    “He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest.” Dylan Thomas
    Best quote ever! We are a nation now that is always seeking “rest”, but rest from what? I know I always sleep better when I’ve put a hard day, with lots of accomplishment. My grandad had a hat that said “the faster I go, the behinder I get”. We always got a chuckle out of that. He retired early @ 60 with big incentive from the power company and then quit “working”, sat & watched tv, and slowly lost his mind. Don’t watch tv. Putter, read, garden, whittle for God’s sake, but don’t sit & watch tv.

  • Reply
    Patty Hansen
    April 7, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    Had a great boss once, that always said “Do the distasteful FIRST”. That was the best advice ever. Then the rest of the day is smooth sailing. Try to tell my daughters the same. Usually, its not even a hard thing, just something you don’t enjoy. Kinda like eating your broccoli first (while its piping hot) and then being able to finish with your tater tots! Don’t always follow this advice myself, but when I do I sure appreciate those words & the memory of that kind man, who put up with a lot of crap from his underlings.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    I will remember, begun is half done. I grew up hearing, do it right the first time or you’ll have to do it again.

  • Reply
    Liz Hart
    April 6, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Since I am now the only one at my house, I tell myself “If it’s to be it’s up to thee”.
    After 9 years I still miss my spouse. Appreciate them while you have them.

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    April 6, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Love “begun is half done” that is so true. This is similar to what my dad would say when we had a big job to do such as hoeing 7 acres of tobacco, he would do the first plant then say, “now all we have to do is finish”.
    One of my favorites is “if plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters”.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 3:15 pm

    A saying or question at the company I worked for was why is there not enough time to do a job right the first time but enough time to do it over. After completing a hard job you do have a good feeling when looking back and seeing what you have accomplished.

    I apologize for my earlier comment, this is not the place for that. After being together for 50 years it is hard for me to have the desire to carry on and sometimes it spills out. She was 16 and I was 17 when we begin going together I never looked for or wanted anyone else. Again I am sorry and low down too as she would tell me.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 6, 2022 at 7:32 pm

      Randy I know how you feel. March 25th and 26th were hard for me. I lost my wife on the 25th and the 26th would have been our anniversary. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. We plan all our married lives for the man to die first. That is the way it is supposed to be. When it don’t happen that way we are lost. Our lives get turned upside down and backward. We don’t know if we are coming or going. The 25th was the 4th year I’ve been without my wife and I’m still confused.
      You want to know what the real shame of it all is? I denied her things she wanted so that I could save money for her to live on when I died. I worked hard to try to secure her a comfortable future. She’s comfortable now in the arms of her Savior and I’m here holding her money. “Buy yourself something, Daddy, you deserve it!” I hear from my kids. But I don’t want anything.

      • Reply
        April 6, 2022 at 10:07 pm

        Ed, I appreciate your reply. I know what you mean about money and trying to be sure she would have enough to live on. I have went to the same church all my life and I remember this being said about marriage by two of the preachers. One saying was the man is the head of the house but the woman is the neck that turns the head and the other was the man is the head but the woman is the heart of the home. We all know without a heart the head is no good.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    One saying or question at my work was why is there not enough time to do the job right the first time but enough time to do it over? It does give you a good feeling to do a hard job and then look back and see what you have accomplished.

    I apologize for my earlier post, this is not the place for that. It is just after 50 years of being together and never looking or wanting anyone else it is hard for me to try to go on and sometimes it just spills out, again I apologize. She was 16 and I was 17 when we started going together.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2022 at 2:57 pm

      Randy-no need to apologize!! You are among friends here 🙂

    • Reply
      April 6, 2022 at 4:41 pm

      Randy, I think of you often and pray for you sometimes. I have become more aware of other peoples grief after almost losing my wife to a major heart attack and losing my only son back in November. We all will have a grand reunion in the not to distant funeral. Sincerely, Larry Griffith

      • Reply
        April 6, 2022 at 10:15 pm

        Thank you Larry your prays. I have thought about you and prayed for your wife. I did not know the outcome after your wife’s heart attack. My wife passed away during heart surgery. The doctor said in his 33 years he had never see anyone with veins as small as hers. It was either operate or she was going to have a major heart attack at any moment.

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    April 6, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    I grew up on a farm and hard work was all we knew. In the summer with tobacco barning and a huge garden to look after I can hear my Daddy saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” These sayings bring back so many memories. Thank you!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Tipper, my Daddy was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. He took tremendous pride in his work and figured if something was worth doing it was worth doing it right. 🙂 I remember my Mommy saying, “Wait (weight) is what broke the wagon down.” She would also say that me and my brother gave it a lick and a promise we would do it better next time. 🙂 I can also remember her saying, “Can’t never did do nothing.” I guess we needed a lot of pep talks growing up. I really like the one you shared, “Begun is half done.”

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. So true. Having worked over 20 years on healthcare equipment, i found that if i went strictly ‘by the book’, that item was probably not gonna come back to haunt me. Besides, it might wind up on one of my loved ones!

  • Reply
    wanda devers
    April 6, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Well begun is half done! That’s how we said it. Procrastination is the thief of time–may not be Appalachian but it sure describes some of my behavior!

  • Reply
    herman & dj williams
    April 6, 2022 at 11:54 am

    The shadows are interesting, the profile of the individual with the hoe casting a long stick like figure. But more interesting is the shadow that extends from the ground past your elbow, body and onto your head forming a monster with his mouth about to devour your hair.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2022 at 12:00 pm

      Herman-I loved the shadows too 🙂

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 11:08 am

    I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been covered already but it did make me think of something that don’t exactly fit. It was said by my papaw when we took our dinner break from hoeing a big bottom of field corn. When he decided it was time to go back to work he would say, ” grasshopper grasshopper give a little jerk, grasshopper grasshopper lets go to work.”

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 10:44 am

    My mother used to say “ Can’t never did do anything, but Try always did”.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 6, 2022 at 10:38 am

    And, of course:
    Step back and punt!
    Sleep on it and start fresh in the morning!

    One more and perhaps the best:
    Know your limitations!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 10:35 am

    Those quotes are what seems to have guided my life. There seemed to be an old saying attached to every happening. One I have clung to goes way back, and I still have to reassure myself with it. When our minds become overwhelmed, and we need words to put things in perspective, I always liked one I heard as a child. It was “It won’t matter in a hundred years.” A slight exaggeration, but even a couple of weeks can sometimes make what is urgent now seem irrelevant. At times I just have to “draw the curtain” if too many things happening too fast and there is sensory overload. You mentioned work related quotes, and I always seemed to need more coping strategies when I worked. Mom used to tell me, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I was also reminded to “Stop and smell the roses.” One that I believe wholeheartedly in is, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” These little reminders are an important part of my growing up years, and there is a lot of wisdom in many of these sayings.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 6, 2022 at 10:35 am

    Don’t bite off more than you can chew!
    Nothing to it but to do it!
    You’ll never know til you try!
    Gettin started is half the work!
    Nothin ventured nothing gained!
    Don’t be afraid to fail!

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    April 6, 2022 at 10:31 am

    If it’s worth doin’ at all, do it right!

    That was my daddy’s favorite. He was a man of few words, so when he said something, I took heed.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 10:18 am

    I know this is suppose to be a light hearted post but since my wife’s death one year ago on April15, it is hard for me to do the most simple of jobs. I have to force myself to do anything, this is coming from someone that worked all their working life on hard manual labor jobs. Just as soon as I would get home I would go outside and start working at home. Even now when I do things if I am not careful I find myself hitting it a lick and making no promises.

    On a brighter note I have heard all of the sayings above. My son would tease me after I retired that it would take me all week to do what I use to do on Saturday. My reply to him was I am not lazy, I am now energy efficient.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2022 at 12:01 pm

      Randy-I’m so sorry!!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 10:14 am

    If you have several chores do the hardest one first and the others are easier. Or “If you have to swallow several frogs swallow the biggest one first.”

  • Reply
    Rita F Speers
    April 6, 2022 at 10:09 am

    So true! “Begun is half done” shall be my new favorite phrase! Thank you! That’s so true of all my least favorite chores!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2022 at 8:44 am

    Once begun, half done was one of ours growing up. We also said:
    Slow and steady wins the race (said the tortoise to the hare).
    Without effort you have nothing.

  • Reply
    Betty Saxon Hopkins
    April 6, 2022 at 8:44 am

    Loved your quotes! I guess you could call me a quote-aholic! It seems I live my life by them and keep them posted all over the house. I especially liked the one “Work begun is half done.” I needed that today to push me forward on a project I’m working on. Now, what did I do with that “to do” list? 🙂

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 6, 2022 at 8:34 am

    Yep, when no-one else is going to, we have to encourage ourselves. That’s one of those mature secrets, the knowledge one can do by their own inner resources of attitude and fortitude when they have screwed their determination to the sticking point. One saying I recall is, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Dad would sometimes say about low or no durable return effort that it “would not put shoes on the baby.” Another one about tackling the dreaded job was, “nobody is gonna do it for me.”

    Sorta indirectly related to this topic is the legal phrase “released on their own recognizance”; that is, relying on the person’s integrity, honor and duty to; for example, show up in court because they promised to be there.

    I have a dreaded chore waiting on me, replacing a faucet. I will have to encourage myself as me and plumbing kinda circle each other like strange dogs meeting!

    I just gotta ask though, 200 tomato seedlings?

  • Reply
    Cathy Sparks
    April 6, 2022 at 8:30 am

    Sometimes when I feel myself feeling overcome with so many things I need to do I remind myself “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”. My husband had never heard that saying and thought it was so funny. I enjoyed hearing the weekly stories of Dorie and I just couldn’t wait for a whole week. I had to run to the library and get the book and read it all in 2 days!

  • Reply
    Ron Pries†
    April 6, 2022 at 8:14 am

    I enjoy work I could watch it all day

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 6, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Japanese immigrant turned Appalachian George Masa’s advice (regarding hiking, but with universal application):

    Off your seats, on your feets.

    More walk, Less talk

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 6, 2022 at 8:08 am

    Those are all good and true sayings; I’ve heard them all! Like you sometimes hear them in my head when I get discouraged or feel like things are not happening quick enough.
    In your case, you are doing so many things at the same time…let me reemphasize that….you are doing so many things at the same time! You are an absolutely a wonder!
    You are amazing !

  • Reply
    Yvette Ridenour
    April 6, 2022 at 8:07 am

    “Finish one thing before you start another.” I was raised by my Granny from Kentucky, and this one echoes in my mind all the time! It’s so true and so helpful, as all the phrases you wrote about are, too.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    April 6, 2022 at 7:57 am

    I myself like “Once begun, you’re half done!” That saying there is a crown jewel for certain! The older I get, I find myself really dreading my mundane work load. Some days it’s a real struggle. Yesterday, I about broke down because of the milky white/yellow color that blocks the sun every day seemingly for most of the year. I miss the orange sun of my childhood. It was warm, happy and wonderful. It looks like the sun is sick hidden behind a net of white/yellow haze. I do think something quite sinister is going on here. I’ve also noticed predicted temperatures are fabricated out of thin air. It’s NOT been 69 or 73 here at all so it’s lies. If they told the sky will look sick and it’s going to be cold and miserable, who’d tune into their fabrications!? Lol

    • Reply
      Donna N.
      April 6, 2022 at 9:17 am

      they mislead by not pointing out the wind chill. i used to have a conversion chart that showed what it really feels like when the temperature & wind are factored together. i lost that somehow. but since then they have changed the formula to calculate the wind chill such that it doesn’t feel accurate to me when they do give the wind chill. my rule of thumb is to subtract the wind mph from the temp. it’s obviously not correct but it’s good enough for me to figure out how much clothing i need to wear to work. so i check’s hourly forecast 1st thing & get me a rough idea of what to wear. it changes very frequently here through out the day. And the wind is crazy here. i can leave my house & the wind will be so strong that it almost blows my hair off my head & go to my job 4 blocks away & it will be calm or some days it is just the opposite it’s calm at home & i get to work & almost get blown to the ground getting out of my car…is this climate change or what? i don’t know. i just know i don’t remember it being that way as a child & i rode the school bus & had to wait outside to be picked up both mornings & afternoons (our afternoon driver was always late & we usually had to stand outside the school waiting for 20 – 30 minutes for him to show). so my morning calculations are used to decide how many layers i need to wear & how thick each layer needs to be. obviously my body is very weather sensitive.

  • Reply
    Glenda G. Page
    April 6, 2022 at 7:34 am

    Another timely and ‘right to the point’ post this morning. Someone should post these to a T-shirt and have a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do. God Bless

  • Reply
    Derryn Anderson
    April 6, 2022 at 7:21 am

    I pep talk myself haha!
    I too was brought up having the same phrases instilled in me. I have heard all the sayings as wee a girl in New Zealand Sometimes it’s hard to stop ✌
    ‘Begun is half done’ your favourite one, is the only one I’ve not heard.
    The cinnamon cake looked delicious. I shall give that a whirl
    Thanks for the story telling. It’s dreamy. Loving Dorie.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    April 6, 2022 at 6:54 am

    Re your comment: If you do it right the first time you won’t have to do it a second time.
    Sometimes one will explain a “shabby” outcome by saying they did not have time to do it right?
    The excuse of not having time to do it right the first time begs the question of how did one find the time to do it the second time. That is a question hard to explain.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 6, 2022 at 6:24 am

    You are so right!! I dread doing somethings but when I finally start its not so bad…weeding is one

  • Reply
    donna sue
    April 6, 2022 at 6:20 am

    Boy! Do I know about giving oneself pep talks to keep going forward! Currently I am really having to push myself to continue in a one thing, so this is rather a timely post. I have said every single one of the sayings you listed here to myself and others all of my adult life. The only one I have not said is “begun is half done”. Thank you for this post!

    Donna. : )

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