Everyday Extraordinaries

Last year, I was in Iraq. Living and working; hoping and dreaming in a place that challenged me. Inspired me. Scared me. Encouraged me.

Each morning was a chance for new adventures; unknown experiences just waiting to be discovered. Exotic smells, vibrant colors, melodic languages swirling around me, sweeping me along in the excitement. Deciphering cultures; learning relationships. Working with passion; with people yearning to make a difference in this world. Knowing they could make a difference in this world, at least for some.

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New. Different. Anything but ordinary. At least at first.

Today, I’m in Tulsa. Living and working; hoping and dreaming in a place that is familiar. A place that is known. A place that has always felt like home.

A place where life is chaotic and always crazy, but there are no surprises. There are no bazaars to navigate. No need to hope and pray for the best when trying to get to a friend’s home or the store, just not really knowing if this unmarked public bus will take me where I need to go, or if this particular adventure will end in a surprise trip to Baghdad. No need to carefully check the way I’m dressed, artfully arranging scarves and sleeves just so to avoid any shameful skin peeking through. No customs to struggle to remember; no daily embarrassing cultural faux pas to add to the ever-growing list.

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Comfortable. Easy. Absolutely ordinary. At least at first.

It’s easy for me to get lost in the ordinary. It’s even easier for me to put my worth in living the extraordinary. Always daring one step further; always jumping one foot farther. To feel that my “success” is determined by the where’s, the what’s, the who’s of life. That living in the “ordinaries” of day-to-day life is somehow worth less than living in the exciting; the unknown.

But you know, I’m learning as soon as you step into that unknown, after a time, it becomes known. The longer you do those exciting, extraordinary things, the more they become your “normal”. You acclimate. You adjust. You find that life again feels ordinary, even in the most extraordinary of times.

I’m discovering that this so-called “ordinary” is beautiful. The ordinary gives us the chance to search, lean in, establish community, to truly love others well. When our eyes are opened beyond the flashy “extraordinaries”, that wear off almost before they’ve begun, when we find ourselves finally living in this new ordinary, we realize that it’s not really that ordinary after all.

Everyday extraordinaries.

Moments that are far from unusual, yet everything but ordinary.

They’re all around us. I find them in Iraq, sitting cross-legged on the floor of a friends house, sipping sugary sweet tea and sharing stories. Climbing to the rooftops and enjoying the cool that night brings to the desert. A moment. A friendship. A laugh. Ordinary. But oh, so extraordinary.

Photo Credit: Dana Sellers

Photo Credit: Dana Sellers

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I find them in Tulsa, sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing Barbies or puzzles or stories with the littles. Flipping a rental home with lifelong friends. A moment. A sisterhood. A laugh. Ordinary. But oh, so extraordinary.

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Every moment we have has meaning. How we choose to use it determines its worth. Every minute presents with a new opportunity. Will I get lost in the ordinary, or choose instead to find the extraordinary within? We have the chance to take each moment, grasp it tightly with both hands, and dare to make something extraordinary of it. Teachers enlightening; artists creating. Engineers developing; mothers and fathers parenting. You are extraordinary. These moments are extraordinary.

Life doesn’t have to be flashy. It doesn’t have to be in an “extraordinary” place. I want to be present. I want to be invested. I want to be daring, no matter where I am. In Iraq. In China. In Afghanistan. In Rwanda. Or even right here in America. I want to truly realize the everyday extraordinaries that fill our moments and days, instead of wishing them away for the next new adventure.

Photo Credit: Dana Sellers

Photo Credit: Dana Sellers

Because when that adventure day comes, and yes, its coming soon, I want to know to jump right in and quickly find the ordinary; to settle down, to become at home. To invest, to commit, to love. Because then, only then, we can truly live in the extraordinary.

I recently found out that I have the chance to join an incredible team of women on a lifechanging trip to Rwanda with a team of storytellers. Hundreds of incredible women have entered, and somehow I have been chosen as one of the top three. I need your help, however…will you help me find the ordinary within this extraordinary trip? Please vote here, friends, just scroll down until you see my photo and the big blue “Vote” button. It would truly mean so much.

http://www.noondaycollection.com/styleforjustice#view/23056/2106092

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

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46 thoughts on “Everyday Extraordinaries

  1. My goal going into each and every day is to find something unique about it so that the day stands on its own merits, pondering the ordinary extraordinary has always gone a long way in helping to do that. Thank you for sharing this.

    • and actually this is wht life is all about …discovring the unique things in each and everyday and turning the ordinary things to extraordinary things with our special way

  2. Beautiful post! And yes, if we would all just put a little ‘extra’ into our ordinary, into being in that glorious moment that we’re in, how wonderful every moment would be! Be well. ~Karen~

  3. I’m in love with these lines “Every moment we have has meaning. How we choose to use it determines its worth. Every minute presents with a new opportunity.”
    This really seems like a life to live, just to live life as it is, living the ordinary is what makes it so extraordinary!

  4. Yes indeed I agree…there lies an extraordinary in every ordinary thing which needs eyes of a life connoisseur someone’s who loves life in itself with all it’s qualm and fancies….I loved your blog….will follow you….

  5. I love this! Going somewhere new, somewhere foreign is always scary and that relief you feel once you’re home, or back to your ordinary is so very comforting. However, I think the longer we do push ourselves to try new things, the more comfortable we get with the idea of new experiences.

  6. Wonderful post. Perhaps the message here is that our adventure is whatever captures us in that moment? A year ago it was Iraq that inspired your passions, now it is your family. Just shows how our priorities and passions change through life but that doesn’t make them any less important or exciting, just in different ways.

  7. Very well written. 🙂 You should be able to see the extraordinary in ordinary and ordinary in the extraordinary. Then your life will be extraordinary. 🙂

  8. I love this idea. It is so correct, especially when living abroad. I think it is really important to stop and gain perspective and see the delightful little differences that culture brings. Thank you for summarising this so well!

  9. I wish I had the opulence to describe how fantastic and liberating it was to read this and such a particularly new time in my life. Thank you and the very best blessings be to you 🙂

  10. I’ve been working towards this for years… After a cancer scare six years ago, I decided every day is extraordinary. Every day has things to be grateful for. Every day is full of promise and miracles – no matter where I am. And now that I’m a stay at home mom, this message is even more pertinent to my daily life – and trust me, there’s lots of extraordinary in a six month old… I just have to remember to take the time to notice those moments! (Good luck with the Rwanda trip! That’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit…!)

  11. Reblogged this on Real.Life.Rays and commented:
    Sometimes, beauty is found in the most unexpected of places…

    The clouds in summer are like a conveyor belt of thoughts. As the days pass by, the world is evolving.

    It’s hard to let things go. Sometimes it feels like your heart is swelling inside you as you fight back the tears.

    Then the sun comes out again. The night fades and the day arises.

    This is all just a metaphor, though.

    At this stage in life, it’s almost certain that one has experienced some form of heartbreak. Losing a family member, growing apart from a lover or having to see someone close drift further and further away- these are all difficult.

    I suppose this week has seen a lot of change. Change like the clouds that drift away and reveal the light. Next Tuesday, I’m going to Greece. This place is somewhere that is held deep in my heart, that I love above most places and that I wish I had grown up in.

    From a young age, I’ve travelled across Greece with my family. Amongst the rocky hills, dusty footpaths and smiley locals, it’s hard to feel like you don’t belong and even more difficult to return home.

    During times like this, whilst strolling quietly along the water front or looking back at an experience to analyse its splendour, when you truly realise how special life is.

    Visit anywhere in the world and the one thing that is hard to escape is the importance of the family unit to life itself. Grandparents live with younger generations of their children and grandchildren. Neighbours are also like the family, dropping off fresh groceries and helping run errands. Colleagues offer support during times of trouble.

    This is why I travel; to see this natural beauty- the family unit.

    I’ll be travelling in the middle of July and if I could stay, I’d stay there forever. Since starting a new job near home, I guess that wouldn’t necessarily fit in with the tranquillity of the Greek Isles. I often wonder if it would be possible to pursue a career in Journalism whilst living in Crete or Cephalonia. I have been told the main employment is in Tourism and Hospitality. There certainly wouldn’t be the trivial scandals of the Kardashians or ‘botched-up boob jobs’. On a second thought, there would certainly be more in the way of emotionally-charged investigative work which is the reason I chose to be a writer in the first place. Life in Athens, for example, is a daily struggle against governmental corruption and riots.

    This question ultimately led me to discover a blog by Arise and Go, who notes that actually, true beauty is found in the most unlikely of places. Iraq, in the aftermath of the civil war, in Tulsa, where ‘life is chaotic and always crazy, but there are no surprises’ or in China, where capitalism and communism clash.

    This blogpost will take the limelight for this week because, to be quite frank, I could never dream to write so well and provide so much inspiration to so many.

  12. Pingback: Sometimes, beauty is found in the most unexpected of places… | Real.Life.Rays

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