On Celebrating Progress

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This is not what my backyard looks like.


A couple weeks ago, I surveyed the backyard, notepad in hand. I had written a list of 27 things that needed to get done in and outside the house, and I was adding more.


I felt myself getting angry. I have this vision of how I want our yard to look, but right now it’s all dead grass and overgrown hedges.

28. Trim Hedges

29. Replace Sod

It feels like we’re constantly working, and for what? We have so far to go.

This is the mood I’ve been in for the past six months, pretty much through this whole pregnancy. I can blame nesting hormones, but if I’m being honest, I have a natural propensity to be this way. I’m always looking at what still needs to be done, what still hasn’t been learned, what is ugly, what is unfinished, what is not where I want it to be.

30. Direct Anger Somewhere/Find Someone To Blame For Unhappiness

I decided to skip the first 29 tasks and go straight for the blame. It’s my husband’s fault! Why doesn’t he do more chores? He’s the reason our backyard will never be featured in Sunset.

31. Compare Self To Others Who Appear To Have It Together

Susan seems like she’s on top of all this. What does Susan do that I don’t. I HATE SUSAN.

32. Have Breakdown

Husband found me in my she-beast breakdown and risked his life in approaching me to tear to-do list from my claws.

You know what’s really hard for me? Breathing, Resting. Celebrating Small Accomplishments Along The Way.

No, my yard doesn’t look the way I want it to yet. But you know what I don’t see when I’m stomping around thinking of all the things I have yet to do? I don’t see all the work I have put in over the past year. I don’t see the large portions of grass I tore out and the drought-tolerant garden beds I planted in its place. I don’t see the walkway I laid with creeping ground-cover planted between stones. I don’t see the limbs of the oak tree my husband trimmed to bring in more sun on spring afternoons. I don’t see the hundred bulbs I planted in the fall that are nearly ready to bloom now. I don’t look at the pretty ceramic pots full of colorful perrenials I planted on the patio to cheer up my view from the kitchen.

Clinging to this kind of negativity means I have to overlook a lot of beauty around me. I have to dismiss a lot of hard work to only see what hasn’t been done yet.

This is about my backyard, and it’s about more. This is about how I approach my relationships, my career, my art, my role as a parent.

In my improv company, we nominate five great moments after every show. We call it Five Things. I like how it frames the night in positivity and helps us leave celebrating our successes.

I’ve decided to start my own personal Five Things list. For each show I perform in, yes, I will journal my five successes or favorite learning moments, but I’ll also be recording Five Things every day, for the things I’m grateful for, or the things I’ve done well, or the small accomplishments, or the moments that took my breath away. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop making to-do lists and looking to the future and hoping the ugly parts of life will someday heal, but I believe I can still have big dreams while celebrating the little ones realized along the way. To not is to dishonor a lot of hard work and spit in the face of a lot of good things.

I don’t think positive thinking requires anything but us opening our eyes. The to-do list doesn’t have to be finished for life to be beautiful.


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