Ordinary Is Extraordinary

This week’s guest post originally appeared on her brilliant blog, Surviving Life’s Curveballs 

Jennifer is a writer whose heartfelt and open take on life, allow us to consider just how extraordinary everyday moments can be….even the ‘curve balls’. 

Often I find myself busy in everyday life, rushing through the simple pleasures. Instead of enjoying my favorite parts of each day, I begin looking forward to a long awaited vacation, three-day weekends, holidays, or any special events thinking they will be amazing, making up for the moments lost to the hustle.

The truth is, the extraordinary lies in the ordinary parts of everyday life.

                    Ordinary is extraordinary

The unexpected giggles as I crack eggs for breakfast before we rush out the door, enjoying the beauty of nature as we walk to the bus, the warmth of my son’s hand as he slips it into mine; these are the moments that make life worth living. Rich beyond measure, the little things are what fill me back up when responsibilities, overscheduled days and long hours of work have depleted my reserves.

As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, full-time employee and so much more, the demands of life are plentiful. I see this reflected in the lives of my friends as well. We work hard to fulfill obligations pushing to the side anything we would truly like to do.

At one point last year, I had myself so busy that I began to sacrifice time with my family. I began missing dinners around the table, reading with the boys, evening games of badminton. My values no longer matched the priority of my to-do list.

After talking things over in depth with my husband he agreed I had taken on too much and I needed to simplify. Saying “no” to others would give me the freedom to say “yes” to my family. To myself.

The problem was, and still is, saying no is a monumental challenge for me. Helping my family, friends and community are exceptionally important. Being responsible and helping to take care of the community that takes care of me is how I perceive value in myself as well as others. How could I say no? How could I stop giving back?

It was my husband who uncomplicated that issue for me. He reminded me of my strong conviction of our actions speak louder than our words and asked me to think about what my actions were saying.

A very uncomfortable moment of clarity struck. My family, my beloveds, were not my first priority. I had bumped them down the list because they were the easiest to disappoint. They would wait for me at home, they would understand. Yikes!

What did I want them to understand? That other people and projects were more important than them? That, when they grow up and have families of their own their focus, should be elsewhere? NO! Absolutely not!

The multiple volunteer positions were the first to go, next were all the miscellaneous parties. I began attending only the ones with significance. With the additional time, I found myself back into the nightly routine of dinner, dishes, homework, baths and bed–loving every minute of it.

The daily grind sounds like such a mundane, horrible thing, but truly it is where I find the most satisfaction. Dinner around the table opens the door to deep conversations with those I love most.

Dishes are done by the boys giving my husband and I a few minutes of privacy to reconnect after the work day. Homework helps me check in with how school is going with each of the kids. Bath time offers one on one time with each of my sons to talk about anything weighing on their minds.

This is not to say that I have found the answer to life’s demands, our hectic schedules, or that our family lives happily ever after. What I am claiming is that my family is number one in both words and action now.

I still deeply struggle to say no when asked to join committees or attend functions that I don’t really want to go to. But I keep my husband’s question close at heart. I ask myself what my actions are saying because, in reality, that is my true self.

While I continue to look forward to escaping to the ocean for vacations, I don’t wish away the days leading up to soaking in the sun. Instead, I linger over morning coffee with my husband, delight in spontaneous trips to the apple orchard, and smile as my family snuggles up with each other on the couch to watch movies.

Now I focus on enjoying our extraordinary life in the everyday, ordinary moments.

If you enjoyed this post, pop on over to Jennifer’s site Surviving Life’s Curveballs and read more or check her out on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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The Quest For a ‘Great’ Life, Better Than ‘Average’

I’m going to be unabashedly honest right now. Sometimes I imagine what a life of ‘greatness’ would be like.

I’ll picture myself as a philanthropist, the founder of a great company, helping to save the Amazon rainforest from destruction.

Or a professional athlete taking my body to the limits, competing in the Olympics. A celebrity on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (why not?) busting some saucy moves on a glitter ball dance floor.Ideal writer

And of course a respected writer, providing readers with escapism from the everyday

Please tell me I’m not the only one?

Don’t we all, even just occasionally, dare to dream of a life better than average?

But yes, guilt swiftly follows and a personal assessment of my situation helps me rationalise my existence.

While my life may not be as glamorous, over-stated and highly acclaimed as these day-dreams, it is pleasant, safe and by most reasonable accounts, devoid of too much drama.

This is a very good thing! But seeing as I’m being honest, it all feels a little (dare I say it) ‘average’.

It is also of course a wonderful and loving and happy and full, very full life. So absolutely Noooooo complaints. Totally grateful here!

BUT, when we are so easily exposed and perhaps seduced by stories of those living the extra-ordinary life, the sensational, the exceptional, the rags-to-riches and the empowering, it can leave our semi-uneventful lives feeling a little…..well, less.dreaming

Maybe I’ve just been viewing too many TED talks lately? Possibly need to lay off the Olympics coverage too?

Nothing ‘average’ about it

Firstly, I’ll put to bed the argument I can hear rustling it’s way to me right now. ‘We all have unique, individual, special lives, so how can a life be average?’

And it’s a valid point. I stand on solid ground agreeing with. Yup, no one has had the same experiences, family, friends etc as you.

But for the purposes of this philosophical argument, I’m wondering how we can see value in our everyday, ‘average’ life?

How can we feel (especially if we aren’t famous or well-known or recognised by others) ‘great’, satisfied or fulfiled with our lot, amongst the dirt of the everyday?writer desk

I think at some level we all want to DO many things with our lives, some ‘great’ things even, yet the effort involved in simply running the day-to-day errands of life which are so quick to hold us down, can stifle our plans for creativity, dampen our spirited sense of adventure and deny us spontaneity for the outlandish.

“Live a life less ordinary” Benedict Cumberbatch

So where does that leave us?

I could offer up a list of ways I reckon we can satisfy our cravings for greatness in the everyday. Something like this:

  1. Take risks: see the world as a smorgasbord of opportunities on offer each day, waiting to be picked, played with. Throw caution to the wind a bit
  2. Make sacrifices: know that with all things great, sacrifice is inevitably required so shoulder this willinglyProcessed with VSCO with 4 preset
  3. Ask questions: it’s normal, right and good. Be open to new ideas, new people, new places, new experiences etc
  4. Read: it’s a wonder! Reading is a form of escapism at the very least, but its true power lies in its ability to fill our minds with knowledge, inspiration and the unreal.

But, It seems a bit cliché, a little cheesy and perhaps even condescending.

So I’m going to be frank….. again. I reckon it’s ok to want to be more, to do more and achieve ‘greatness’ on some level. It’s this pursuit for the extra-ordinary that will undoubtedly mean our lives are richer, simply for taking up the challenge.

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” Seneca

The reality is that even for those who are ‘great’, the everyday mundane still exists. Olympic athletes still have to pay bills, philanthropists still have to deal with pressures and stress, acclaimed novelists still have to wash up the breakfast dishes.

So really, it’s not about being ‘great’ it’s about DOING ‘great’ that makes all of our lives more than average.

Doing ‘great’ I think means making sure that we funnel our energies into an area we are passionate about, are willing to work hard at and keep aspiring to, in spite of the everyday mundane.Woman Free

It’s no doubt also about doing ‘great’ for others. Giving something of ourselves (hopefully the best bits) to those around us for the ‘greater good’ and in turn feeling part of something more than just ourselves.

So, in order to satisfy my cravings for a life of ‘greatness’, I’m going to keep on practicing my dance steps, pondering my next novel and making a mental list of ways to save the Amazon, while washing up the dishes and cleaning the toilet.

If nothing else, it makes the mundane seem a little more meaningful.

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