Comments 11

“Do, Undo, Redo” In Construction and In Life

This morning, like the last 10 mornings, I sat in my big comfy reading chair I put in my new favorite spot. The chair’s new spot lets me look out my new french doors – 24 feet of windowed wonderfulness and because I can see both south and east I can watch the sun come up over the trees. It’s a great way to start my morning and today, as I looked at, and out, these windows I have waited 13 years to get, I thought about how in about an hour the contractor’s crew is going to be here to take them out.


They are coming out.

BUT, hopefully, if all goes well, this time they will be back in to stay.

And as I was thinking about them coming out I thought too about something I started saying the more I got into construction,

“Do, undo, redo.”

It just so often seemed to be the way it went with me. Whatever I built, there always was something to change, to fix, to do better. And to do so meant I had to take apart that which I had spent sometimes days doing. At first it hurt, this dismantling process and I felt sorry for myself, like redoing was a unique turmoil saved especially for me. And always one to be super hard on myself, I would assure myself I was lousy at whatever it is I had been doing.

But then, after I got whatever it was apart, made the adjustment and put it back together, which by the way almost always takes about half as long as the original installation, I realized construction is just like this. I also realized just how very much the construction process mirrors the process of life.

Doing something, anything and then stepping back and assessing, seeing how it is wrong, or at least could just be better, and then taking the time to make the change, and just as importantly accepting the change, and even more importantly accepting myself for having to make the change, not because I failed the first time but because I know I can do better. I learned much in that first, not quite right, go around and if I apply that learning to my redo the potential is there to have a finished product I am satisfied with, not to mention, proud to have made. Mistakes and all.

When I realized this, when I realized “do, undo, redo” is not failure, but life, and making change is natural, I stopped beating on myself. I now (sometimes) when the undo is about to begin can even laugh and gently shake my head and say, “Charlotte, you know girl, it’s do, undo, redo.”

So these glorious doors have to be reinstalled. After the initial upset, that knee jerk, “you’ve got to be kidding” reaction, I realized even professional contractors have “do, undo, redo” moments because they too are human.

And what I noted the most, in a time when taking (or not taking) responsibility for mistakes and making sincere apologizes is in the news, was how Scott the contractor, when confronted with the installation problems, offered no excuses other than the stupid human error that attacks us all. He apologized for the problems and said he would do whatever he had to do to right this wrong and would work till I was happy.

So, as I sat in my chair this morning I thought about how construction has given me so much more than bookcases and kitchen cabinets. Construction has taught me a valuable life lesson about how we can’t escape “do, undo, redo.” No. It’s reality and rather than fight it or fear it we just need to go into it. We need to accept it and treat it as natural and be kind to ourselves and to others because of it. And finally, we need to┬áhope, hope with all our heart that we have within ourselves the full measure of effort it takes to make our life redos into masterpieces we can step back from and look at and say proudly, “I did that.”

For my friend David who gave me the knowledge and the courage to go forth with this “redo.”


  1. Thank you for this reminder that the do, undo and redo aren’t failures but learning experiences. I shall forward this one. ;)

    • Thanks my friend. The Do, Undo, Redo lesson has been an important one in my life and I am glad I can share it. Soon you two will come over for dinner and drinks to celebrate the completed doors. I look forward to it! :-)

    • You are of course welcome. It is good for me to remember them, it brings peace and well, peace is good! Hope you are well. :-)

  2. Thank you for this post! I am in the middle of major construction and feel overwhelmed sometimes…but my vision is coming together beautifully, if not as quickly and perfectly as I would like. Hmmm…exactly like life!

    • You are more than welcome. Thanks for coming by! Having been involved in major projects before, oh like taking an ENTIRE house down to the studs, I know well the anxiety and I also know how it comes together (and sometimes untogether, temporarily of course!). Hang onto that vision, it will serve you well and in the end, when all that dust settles (and has been vacuumed up) just think about being able to step back and finally have before you what was once only your head. It’s powerful and magic and makes you believe. Good look and post pics. We DIYers LOVE pics!!! :-)

  3. Where does the time go? I read this when you posted it and didn’t have time to comment…now it’s over a week later and I wonder if you have the doors all back in, snug and tight and straight. The photo makes me totally envious, but I guess it’s one step at a time, and patience rules the day, and “Do, undo, redo” certainly is another appropriate motto for remodeling and life. I’m glad you have an honest contractor and a good relationship with him. It takes two to tango so I’m sure he’s responding to your own straightforward attitude, too. I hope it wasn’t too crazy this week!! Looking forward to hearing more…

    • If you find out where time goes, please let me know. Not sure though it will change anything as it probably will still fly by, but it would be an answered question. As I type this the contractor is at the house fixing the doors yet again. Third time is a charm? I am doing my best to send positive vibes his way and today I feel much more at peace than I did on Thursday when I discovered the problems from the second attempt at installation. You are right though, I am grateful he is honest and has admitted the mistakes and is working to right them. Oh the patience… :-) Now to relax some more and go visit your site and see some awesome photos.

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