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Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

Lately I’ve been appreciating the little a bit more. The ordinary. And when I’m not running full-speed ahead, I’m taking the time to celebrate the ordinary instead of waiting and only appreciating the extraordinary.

Because, really, isn’t life made up of more ordinary…and isn’t life more fun when we appreciate and embrace more than simply the extraordinary?

My mom was great at this. She instilled a love for making the routine extra special on a regular basis. While I was growing up, she worked full time as a teacher and was heavily involved in the church as a pastor’s wife. During a period of my childhood, she also was taking classes to earn her master’s degree.

I say all that to explain that chores were shared around my childhood home, as a necessity because no one can do it all. Everyone cleaned the house, we all pitched in and made dinner and cleaned up the dishes, and we did the extras around the house too like spring cleaning, getting ready for company, or making Christmas cookies. But my mom always figured out how to make it more like a party and less like work!

I wish I could say I passed that same tradition along to my kids, and maybe I did when they were smaller. As they have grown (and so have the number of jobs I’m juggling), the past few years have been less about fun and more about “get ‘er done.”

But not anymore. I’m remembering how to appreciate and enjoy the ordinary because those times really are the extraordinary! We have started to celebrate the little things that are big things: a summer job, a job that could be the launching pad into a lifelong career, good grades on that test one child was stressing about, a compliment from a teacher, a boss, a coworker. The first day of May. The last day of June. An ordinary Saturday and the privilege to sleep in. The opportunity to get up early and enjoy a day at the beach.

Celebrating and acknowledging the ordinary as extraordinary doesn’t have to cost money. It can be a picnic on the living room floor with food you were already going to make. It can be a trip to the local park and bringing your own cupcakes. It doesn’t have to involve food and can be a time to unplug from your phone and “taking pictures” in your mind by being fully present and capturing the emotions as well as the visuals.

It can be as simple as lighting that candle you got for Christmas because it’s a Thursday, it’s raining and you want to feel cozy. What if you stopped thinking about work days as “work” and started thinking of them as “special occasions?”

It could be wearing the lotion you were saving for a special occasion on a Monday and truly savoring the smell. It could be taking an ordinary grocery shopping trip with your husband and turning it into a game, or creating a date by reminiscing about past memories together.

What is one ordinary event in your life you can celebrate as extraordinary? Please share with us so we can celebrate with you.

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

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