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)


ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

LOVE that last quote Leslie!! Glad you had a great visit with your parents...I could watch Grease over and over again:-)

Sarah said...

Another very meaningful post, Leslie. Like, Martina, the last quote is a keeper. Isn't this what we all want?
Glad you have a terrific weekend with your parents. Ordinary moments together! Thanks, my friend!

Laura said...

This is wonderful Leslie.

And yes-ditto a million times over. As is usually the case, changing my attitude is hardest when I know better. I know I shouldn't feel ____________ but I do.

I know better, but this knowing doesn't help.

But I then end up in the midst of an ordinary day and things level out.

Thank you for reminding me of this.

Enjoyed visiting,

White Spray Paint

Susan said...

I lead an ordinary life, with lots of ordinary days, and I love it!

La Contessa said...

I have done just that........I do not NEED to get I have a built a type of sanctuary here with my animals and garden.I love the fact this woman had the lady at the newspaper write her OBIT,so the hubby wouldn't have to do it!My husband does not take vacation...ever........long story.But he is VERY happy going to work and coming home to his home and PLOPPING as he calls it.I was just thinking today we really need to find our spot so when the time comes the BOYS will not have to do it!I think it saves them a lot if everything is taken care of and paid for already.I even thought today I want to get that JOB done so I can go visit MY SPOT and maybe do some gardening a head of time!!I KNOW I KNOW........I AM a bit eccentric.................HOW GREAT you have both PARENTS and can enjoy them! will make it through............ENJOY the camping it will be over before you know it!

Blondie's Journal said...

Very relevant, Leslie, and I LOVE the last quote! In addition to Heather's story, I read an by a sociologist who spent three years with terminal people and wrote an article on what they would like to have done in their lives if they had the time. It was heartbreaking of course, but not the cliché, "No regrets". More like family time, less work, family dinners and get-togethers. fearless adventures, less worrying---it was simply fascinating. We need to rethink our lives and priorities.

I recently read a quote---not sure what I think---Worrying is like praying for the worst thing to happen. What do you think?

Jane x

Unknown said...

Excellent timing (again :) ) !! Did more than just strike a chord in my heart, but an entire "harp" so to speak. At the moment (last few months)my daily life seems like everything happens in extremes. Extremely busy, or ground to a dead stop. Whether is be by circumstances, or my not making better choices (saying yes or no; to people or things that really at that moment are not a priority), or just wanting to do too much; too fast. At the end of the day, as I reflect on "what I accomplished/or not" I feel my soul aching for a "normal day", or a few hours of "nothing unexpected, or unusual happening". You asked what moment of the day, helps to refocus on staying in the moment, and enjoying that moment because it is just a normal/good moment. is my old cat, Max. He, in his old age, just wants to sit together, cuddle, and BE with me. I am not allowed to be distracted by phones, computers, chores, or doing things. The only thing that he tolerates me doing, with him on his have music on, drink tea, and read a book. And you know what....he is RIGHT. Because those are the things that I LOVE to do the most, on a normal day. Going to make a few hours few today for a normal day, with Max...

Karena said...

Dear Leslie, I loved this post because though I love a getaway, my home is my comfort, peace, refuge! So I am always doing little things to make it so.... a new flowering plant, a scented candle, a bottle of wine to share! Thank you for sharing!!!

The Arts by Karena
Coco Chanel

Karen said...

This is very timely for me personally. I made it one of my New Year's "goals" to practice being mindful, living in the moment, listing the things that I'm grateful for. Then some hiccup occurs and it's so easy to revert to the "waking up in the night, planning, worrying and listing the what if's"
Your post is a helpful reminder to reboot, return to the things that matter and focus!
I love those moments with family, when a vintage movie and good company make for the best time.

Lynne said...

You have the gift of perfect timing!
I love this post!
I am going to calligraphy that last quote for my dressing / guest room mirror!

I see that you love to watch movies under snuggly blankets and quilts. We have Friday night / party night movies with our grands. We drag out all of the cozy quilts and blankets. Last Friday night the kids and I were snug on the couch ( Mr D with our Lab in his chair) watching Disney's Cinderella and my granddaughter ... almost 4 yrs ... said, "Grandma, will you wrap me with your arms?" ***MELT*** Isn't that the best request for a hug you have ever heard?
One of my favorite songs is "Ordinary Day", by Sarah McLachlan, which happens to be sung for the cartoon Charlotte's Web, adapted from my favorite childhood book. Now thinking a MUST for next movie night. Gosh! Do you see where you sent me with this post, my friend?

Stonecropsister said...

Hi Leslie,
oh, this was so touching. It is so relatable, and your voice speaks (I think) for how many of us feel. My husband was recently away, and it seemed I spent either a lot of time in the car delivering my daughter somewhere, or picking her up, and then being totally on my own. I had this restless feeling, like I wasn't being productive, even though I had a long arms-length list. But you know, I think I am better than I was at appreciating my life as it is today. There are definite parts of my life that I savour. It would be nice to stress even less about the things over which I have no control, but I am grateful today, that I have come at least a little way to letting go of some of the wants on my wish list that used to consume me. xx Nancy

Botanic Bleu said...

Hello, Leslie,
Today is the first time I've read your blog. After reading StoneGable today, I scrolled down her Blogroll and spotted GWEN MOSS. For some reason, that's the one I clicked to investigate, and happened upon your well-written, inspiring post. Yes, ordinary days are what I long for. In the blink of an eye, life changes. About 6 years ago my life changed in a heartbeat and has never been the same since. Yet, today my sister called me out into the vegetable garden to photo some cucumber tendrils in the bright sunshine. The entire month of May has been filled with rain and violent thunderstorms with overcast days and no bright sunshine. So, this ordinary day of bright sunshine and cucumber tendrils with my sister have made this day just the kind of day I long for.

The row of cowboy hats surely have stories to tell... love them! I am now following Gwen Moss and look forward to reading you on ordinary days in my life.


Lori said...

And this is yet another reason why I love coming here. Ordinary days ~ the ones we take for granted ~ getting ready for work because I have a job and a vehicle to get me there and on and on. Why is it that we all need reminders and when we read posts like this and articles like the one you linked we all throw up our hands and say YES! I posted on Instagram the other night that I had my Mom and brother over for dinner ~ before they left I grabbed them both and took pictures with each of them. It was taking a hold of them moment and soaking it in like a sponge because you know what ~ none of us knows what tomorrow may bring. Thank you again for your wise words. Hugs xo

Art and Sand said...

First, I want to apologize for what you might think is ignoring your comments on my posts. For some reason, I don't get your comments in my email and I happened to be deleting a spam comment that did get to my email and saw your comment. Then when I replied from my blog, the reply went to my email and I don't know if it went to you.

Now, to your post.

I think what I love about old age, and there isn't a lot to love when every single day it seems like another part of the body hurts, is the ordinary, quiet days. Each night before Steve heads to bed and I head to the computer, we discuss what the next day will look like. Will we walk Lulu in the a.m. or p.m.? Will we drive to a different beach, walk our beach or walk downtown? Or should we go kayaking in our new pedal kayaks -(bought because of my hand surgery or Steve's shoulder replacement)? Each day is pretty ordinary, nothing to write home about, but we love our days and we don't take them for granted because we put in 30 plus years at our careers and we remember the rushing from work to kids sports to doctor's appointments, back to school, etc.

Enjoy your chaotic, torn up house, your visits with family, your sons - enjoy it all.

And now, I am going to do a bit of backward blog reading. For the first day since my carpal tunnel surgery, my hand is not hurting, I can scroll through blogs and I can comment. And, I don't feel anything which is how things feel when they don't hurt.

Unknown said...

Such a beautiful, touching and thought provoking post, Leslie...oh, the ordinary days...yes, I can relate to the lady in your's the ordinary days that make our life, the days when we're just ticking along and everything and everybody is okay...these are the days to be cherished.
'You find what you seek' true and you found these serendipitous moments lovely Leslie.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend...with my love xx

cindy hattersley design said...

Leslie this post really hit home. When our dear friend was dying the best times were the times we did nothing but we all gathered on his bed and laughed. Those are the times we remember...the ordinary ones. As always a thought provoking post (and it looks fine by the way)

michele said...

what beautiful expressions of such poignant truths, lesley! i so understand firsthand what you are communicating about your desire to remain in gratitude while waiting. oh the humanity of waiting! i'm there too. and i am encouraged by deeper thoughts on waiting. you know i have discovered there is a way to be with and lean on God that is only possible while waiting. i reflect on the ways waiting is honorable and how it stretches us. so if there is discomfort, well then, we know we must be growing. my parents have been visiting for several weeks, and it has been such a great relief for me to be present with them, unplugged, unhurried, and loose. in this little rental, we can all hear each other, and with just one TV that we barely watch anyway, we are connected in a way that just couldn't happen at the old house. they have excitedly joined the house hunt, and my mom is in her element designing rooms in her mind and filling us up with positive energy and inspiration. i wish you joy and peace in the waiting, knowing this whole experience is prospering you in ways we may never fully understand. xox

Jen Kershner said...

I really love this post and agree completely! Being a grateful person makes all the difference!

karen@somewhatquirky said... that you mention it...those 3 weeks on baby time were pretty dang wonderful. Taking an hour and a half between feedings to do an errand that would take me 20 minutes to do all alone was pretty wonderful. Taking a whole day to weed the garden when I got back, that was pretty wonderful, too. Thanks Leslie, for being so well spoken and such an inspiring friend.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is such a lovely post, Leslie. I've been away from the computer lately, too. We have been finishing off the dining part of our sunporch, as well as many family activities. I've had some of those sleepless nights, and I realize it IS because I just want ordinary days. You are so wise to take time and JUST BE with your parents, it is time you can never get back. Really ALL time, is time we can never get back. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful post!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

This is an interesting post. Live in the moment. Be grateful for what you have. I agree. But then I wonder how the law of positive attraction applies here, if even does? How do you attract what you want, AND be grateful for what you have now? I have always wondered about that. Maybe I need an adjustment in my thinking. But in what way? Do you have any thoughts on this question? I'd love to know and perhaps gain new insight.

Calypso In The Country said...

Love this post, Leslie. Not surprising since I love all of your posts but you have such a way of putting things in perspective. I have been having many of the same thoughts lately - maybe it's the house renovation that does it to us! Since losing my father in law a couple months ago I have been learning to appreciate the little moments more and more. My house might be a mess with construction dust and noise but my kids get excited when we "picnic" in one of their rooms for breakfast. We never allow food on the second floor so this is fun for them. I am sure that is one of the things they will remember most about this renovation! Enjoy your week and thanks for the morning inspiration!

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