Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Sacredness of Ordinary Days


Do you ever have one of those days?

You’re busy all day, yet somehow you end up feeling like nothing really got accomplished? 

Or maybe you’re like me, and you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night worried about this or that. And with a growing list of things that need to be done weighing on your mind.

Lately I’ve been struggling with a sluggish feeling that I’m sure is related to what sometimes feels like the slow motion progress in our house. And while I’ve always said I would never complain about the home renovation process because— well, it sounds so ungrateful…

 the truth is.. living in a house where there’s construction going on can feel stressful.

As exciting as all these changes might be, it’s hard to look around and see various stages of unfinished projects all around me. What happens is I start to feel overwhelmed. Which is really about me wanting everything to be done. Like..right now.

And when I’m in this mind-set it’s easy for me to start living in the future. All of a sudden my ‘Oh I’m just happy to be here’ mantra becomes, ‘Oh I’d be so much happier if THIS was only done.’ Which is really a dissatisfaction with the present moment and the opposite of being content.

Plus, have you ever noticed how easy that Type A-gotta-get-this-and-this-and this-done--- morphs into that sneaky old anxiety? Well, at least that’s my experience.
Fortunately I’ve been bumping into these tiny, serendipitous moments that remind me of what I know down deep.

One of these was an article by Heather Lende, an obituary writer in a small town in Alaska who has just published THIS book that’s getting rave reviews. In her article she tells the story of a 48 year old woman with terminal cancer who asked her to write her obituary so her husband wouldn’t have to, and consequently, Lende ends up talking with this woman throughout her last year of life.

During this period her family decides to take her on an exotic vacation –before her health worsens---but it turns out to be a depressing failure because everyone is crying and very aware that this was a “last time” experience.

So afterwards Heather Lende says to this woman, “You’ve got maybe three months, six months while you're still feeling good. What do you want to do with your life?"

And do you know what she said?

All she really wanted was just another ordinary day. She wanted to go to school and teach second grade and come home and eat dinner with her family.

And this was what her family wanted too. They didn’t want a fancy vacation they wanted their ordinary days back. All the simple, gloriously mundane moments that happen during the course of a regular day. Before a drastic illness changes everything.

Can you understand this?

Because I thought a lot about this woman and her two children and her husband after I read this; and it made me reflect on the preciousness of my own ordinary days which happen to be amazingly free of illness and death as I write this. And I thought about how easy it is to overlook the incredible gift of time we’ve been given.

Stories like this tug at my heart but they’re such teaching moments for all of us about appreciating what we have right now. And not waiting for some mythical time in the future after we accomplish a certain goal or get the house looking great, but appreciating right now.

This very minute. When you look up from your screen.

Today I’m reminded that real life is filled with messiness—relationships that need work and worries about our kids and our husband’s health, and carefully crafted to-do lists that will change daily and so there will be no “perfect” time to be thankful for what we’ve got.

There will be no flashing red lights reminding us to slow down, to open our eyes and notice those beautifully ordinary moments when they’re happening around us. We have to cultivate this habit.

We have to make time to be grateful.

We have to make time to thank those people who matter to us.

This is the reason I stepped away from the computer when my parents came into town. I didn’t plan on staying away from the internet so long but I don’t know how to be fully present without giving up some distractions.

My parents—John and JoJo—are both 74 years old now and thank goodness they’re still healthy and very active and we had a pretty incredible week with them, a collection of warm, funny, and chaotic moments that still make me smile.

And today I'm feeling refreshingly humbled. Because I really have nothing to complain about. 

Here we are watching the movie Grease with my parents on the last night of their visit…
(of all the restaurants, shopping and travels we experienced…
 this might have been our favorite night)

Have you had a favorite ordinary moment lately?




*yikes-excuse all these crazy spaces and inconsistent fonts. I'm having technical problems with my blog right now)

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