Sunday, December 4, 2011

Work in Progress

Thursday, my big boy dog and I headed out for our customary walk, and stepped into a work in progress. The project began three months ago, involves five square blocks, and requires teams of city workers to cut holes in the streets. These holes are the size of Volkswagens. For safety’s sake, the workers cover these holes with vast steel plates at the end of the work day. They tack down the plates with ridges of asphalt high enough to ruin any SUV’s suspension. They heap their barrels and caution tape at the curb, and circle the whole area with those inevitable orange pylons. Result? It ain’t pretty.

Many of my neighbors are none too happy about this. But what can they do? The project may be time consuming—and it may be ugly—but it’s necessary.

This is a work in progress.

Well, on Thursday, one of my neighbors did something about this work in progress. He celebrated it. He strung faerie lights between the pylons, festooned them with red glitter balls, crowned his creation with Fosters beer cans, and voilá! As my big boy dog and I admired my neighbor’s handiwork, it came to me. Whether we’re wrestling with a manuscript, pounding the pavement in another round of job hunting, or pursuing our weight loss goals, we all have works in progress. At times, these works may not be pretty. But they’re necessary—to our wellbeing, to the wellbeing of those we love, to the wellbeing of our community.

Really, as we struggle with these projects day by day, we ourselves are the true works in progress. We’re not always where we’d like to be, not always as we want to be, not always as we hope to be—but we’re working on it. And that, my big boy dog and I decided, is certainly worth celebrating.

Do you celebrate your own work in progress? Does your celebration include faerie lights and Fosters? How do you celebrate where you are while keeping your eye on where you’d like to be?


  1. Nicole ~ I've found I'm someone who actively needs to practice celebrating the work in progress. I'm not naturally good at it. I'm good at looking ahead to the next stage and feeling frustrated by the time it's taking to complete the current project or the effort that's demanded. I think I need to practice "being" instead of "doing" sometimes. I get restless and want to move on, when sometimes the best thing I can do, the most healthy thing I can do is step back and enjoy the moment--enjoy the process. Great, thought-provoking post. Thanks!

  2. I'm not always great at believing my own press, but I do try to celebrate my work in progress and myself as a work in progress. Sometimes the act of working on the WIP *is* the celebration, like when I do my weekly Tuesday Night Write Club. Other times, it's more immediate and defined, like stepping the the scale and seeing another pound has been shed. I note that down on a chart and can really *see* the progress.

    I think when the progress isn't very visible is when I tend to bog down. That's when I need a little faith in the process as well as the progress!

  3. Hi, Candy and Keely. I'm in the same boat with you. "In progress" seems to pale compared to "done," doesn't it? That's why my neighbor's celebration really affected me.

    After all, where do we spend most of our lives? In progress. I figure if I don't remind myself that's a cool place to be, I'll be grumpy with where I am most of the time. And grumpy most of the time isn't cool!


    But I don't expect to always get the celebration mindset right--because I'm a work in progress, too!

    How's this? We'll all work--and work to celebrate--our individual works in progress together.

  4. I always feel like a ragged WIP, just barely finishing things that I need to get done. Lately, I'm not able to spend the time on my important WIP's but end up spending too much time on things that are not as important to me. I plan on spending the new year reorganizing my priorities so that I'm doing more of what's important to me and less of what's not as important. I want to maximize my efforts where they need to be so I'm not running myself ragged.

  5. That's a big part of being a WIP, isn't it, Lisa? Working smarter not harder! I have to stop myself from stuffing more to do into the gap after I complete a project. I've got a biiiig project that will be d-o-n-e in April and the trick will be to recognize I still have plenty on my plate. I guess that's all part of being a WIP!