Extra-Ordinary

cropped-10606338_10152718999440802_7621001213431286246_n.jpgStomps foot down and says in a huff, I was meant for more than this, I was meant for great things.

I didn’t really throw a tantrum, though it sort of felt like one in my head, mental foot stomping and all.  Sometimes our better selves appear to the world, but not always so much inside our own minds.

I’ve always had this idea, as many of us have I imagine, that I was meant for great things.  That I was meant to do something extraordinary, something beyond the usual, past the normal, over and above the every day.  I can’t really remember a time I didn’t feel this way.  And the feeling of it, the haunting thoughts that come with that feeling, are sometimes sort of depressing.  After all, I haven’t really achieved anything big.  Big in the I’ve written the great american novel and it became hugely successful kind of way.  So to have this feeling with me that I haven’t yet done “the thing”, whatever that might look like, can be a downer. You know, not having fulfilled my greater potential and all.

I’ve lived, to this point, an ordinary life.

And yet…

I say that, and then the next thought is… yeah, but… wait.  Think of this life I have, this life I’ve lived and am living.  Think of the wonder of it.

Think.

It occurred to me the other day, driving down the freeway toward Chicago with the radio blasting my current favorite playlist, that I’ve always had this feeling.  This feeling of not achieving.  I’ve had it, and never named it, never spoken it aloud, or even mentioned it quietly to myself.  Never the less, it’s always been there, taunting me, haunting me, and pressuring me since forever.  The next thought that day was that I’ll be turning 50 on my next birthday.  The big 5-0.  Surprisingly I realized I wasn’t dreading it.  In fact, I’m sort of excited to be entering the next decade of my life.  I think good things are ahead.

But, back to the deep thoughts I was having that day in the car.  All of this was passing through my mind, my strange expectation for extraordinary, my approaching milestone of a birthday, what my life has been and is, and then it hit me, the most simple of ideas.  The purest of truths.  My life is amazing.  My life is phenomenal.

When I looked on my life, the ins and outs of it, the ups and downs, I realized something wonderful.  I already have an extraordinary life.  My every day is impeccable.  My place in the world is secure, my mark on the world happening every day.  If I honestly look at myself I realize I’m a good person.  I treat people well, I’m there for people when they need me, I look at things with a bend toward the positive instead of the negative, I love nature and my fellow humans despite all of their flaws and sometimes because of them, and I truly believe we can all rise up to be our better selves if given the opportunity and sometimes a little help.  I’m a good sister, a good daughter, a good friend, and a pretty good partner.  I tend to think the best of people, want the most for people, care deeply about what happens to my fellow creatures great and small, I recycle, I dance in the kitchen, and I feel a deep sense of wonder and awe about the world around me.  I also realized in that moment that my life has been a wonder so far.  The people I’ve known and know, the places I’ve been lucky enough to see, the experiences I’ve had in small ways and big.  It was incredible.  An enlightening realization.  I have and am everything I need.  My life is already extraordinary.

Wow.

Sometimes small moments, little thoughts, turn into huge discoveries.  One minute you’re just driving down the freeway listening to music on a sunny day and the next you are shifting how you feel about yourself and your world.

I’ve spent most of my life to this point thinking there was more, should be more, was supposed to be more.  That I was somehow not all I could be or should be or might be.  And that feeling, as I said before, haunted me.  It informed decisions, lent itself to indecision, and pushed me in all sorts of directions at once, while keeping me stuck where I was more often than not.  All of it inside, occasionally making me feel incomplete.

My realization, my revelation, is that I am all I was ever intended to be.  The rest, it’s unimportant. I know now that by being who I am, just me, I have changed people’s lives.  I had jobs where that was a literal thing, and yet somehow I always devalued it, until now.  I also know that I have had a decent impact on the people in my life, hopefully a good one.  Not just those I have known and still know, but on those I once knew, and don’t know anymore, and on those I will know.  I feel this certainty now as much as I felt the lack of it before.  I know this because I know how much the people in my life have had an effect on me.  I know this because it is.  And that is extraordinary.

My life has to this point been a series of wonder-filled moments.  Incredible moments.  I recognized some of them as they happened, more so when I looked back on them, but to now feel this sense of accomplishment for just being who I am, for just living the life I am, for just touching the lives of the people I have, it’s ground breaking to me.

This life, my life, is far from ordinary.  My life, every moment of it, has been and is extra-ordinary.  Light and love filled, even in it’s darkest moments.  To know this, to feel it now, to see it for what it actually has been and is…. it’s joyous.

Rumination on Hate

10560688744_f669afe803_b.jpgMerriam Webster defines hate as, “a deep and emotional extreme dislike for someone or something”.  You might find it strange that a person who tends to write about kindness and joy and love would start a piece with hate’s definition, but today I was watching something, a story on the program Sunday Morning that I’d recorded, and it reminded me why I think kindness and joy and love are so important.  They are the opposite of hating and divisiveness.

The story I was watching was pretty benign, about a photographer who takes photos of lookalikes.  You’ve probably seen it going around Facebook, stories about this photographer and his project.  Today the story itself wasn’t the thing, what struck me most was the part about how the country of Colombia had commissioned this photographer’s work as part of an exhibit putting forward the idea of sameness and likeness, instead of difference.  The message they wanted most to convey was that we are more alike than we are dissimilar.  It’s an idea close to my heart.  This idea of sameness and likeness.

We tend to be afraid, apprehensive, and suspicious, of things and people unfamiliar to us.  It’s a natural reaction, or seems to be anyway, for us to pull back, be cautious, to see what’s different about a person instead of what might be the same.  It’s natural, yes, but it also creates barriers, divisions, and sometimes conflict.  Before really getting to know a person or a place we often begin to think the differences make them better than, or worse than, ourselves.  We categorize.  We judge.  We assume.  And sometimes, we hate.

I’ve felt this judgment in myself, and it shames me.  Yes, it’s natural, to be cautious of difference, but it can also be a band-aid for our wounded hearts and souls.  Our feelings of superiority over some people allow us to feel better about ourselves, helping us to feel so much smarter or aware, and ultimately, somehow, so much better than “those” people.  Our feelings of inferiority allow us to justify our anger about our circumstance and our feeling that that circumstance is somehow the fault of “those” people, somehow their responsibility.  I’m guilty of both.  So are you.

Now that I have grandchildren I think about the future, I think about the people they will become.  I want them to appreciate and celebrate the differences in people, in cultures, in themselves.  I hope they will grow up to a world that’s matured.  I hope they live among people who show kindness and live joyously.  I hope they find people who strive for understanding and live with love.  I hope they are those people.

It’s easy to get cynical when you watch the news and don’t agree with what you see, what you hear, but I still believe in the human heart, the human spirit.  I believe, seriously, that most people can be kind.  I believe most people prefer love over hate.  I believe we are more alike than we are not.  I believe most of us want the same things: to be loved, to love, to have a place we love to call home, to have friends and community, to not stress about money, to have good health and for our loved ones to have good health, to be safe, to be happy.  We all want these things.  So do our neighbors and the people we don’t agree with, and so do “those” people, whoever they are.

We are more alike than we are not.  And love, if we let it, will always win over hate.

Weston

Today is our little mister’s 8th birthday.  Currently he’s curled up in the chair in the corner of our living room sleeping.  He’s as cute as he’s ever been.  I love him so.

Our boy has brought so much joy, love, happiness, and adventure into our lives.  He is very affectionate, mischievous, hellaciously smart, loving, loyal, protective, playful, and insistent.  I say insistent because he pretty much demands attention when he wants it.  Pet me, play with me, feed me, pet me, give me love, I love you, I love you, I love you, love me, pet me now.  He has his annoying habits, of course, like stealing things.  We have to be pretty vigilant about kleenex and food and items on our metro shelf he thinks he might want to eat.  He steals from the shred bin in K’s office, off of tables, from inside backpacks he’s managed to unzip (an incident that led to a call to doggie poison control and a force feeding of hydrogen peroxide, which worked by the way).  He’s ingenious, and that ingenuity can be frustrating, but it’s also admirable.  He doesn’t give up.  I think he does it sometimes just to see if he can.  He’s tenacious.

Our little man can also be testy and nippy and down right semi-ferocious if the right opportunity presents itself.  Like when he steals something really good then hunkers down, dens, to protect it.  It’s not a time to reach in and try to get whatever it is from him.  We’ve all been gnashed at and nipped, we’ve all been trained to know he means business.  He can’t help it, he’s been this way since we brought him home all those years ago.  We think it’s because we got him so young, and that he didn’t have as much training from his mama as he should have, which may or may not be the reason.  It doesn’t really matter, it’s his way, his personality, and we know it.  We’ve always said he’s Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  Most of the time he’s the most loving, affectionate, cuddly dog you’ve ever met.  He’s happiest getting pets and giving kisses.  He wants to be touched all the time.  This can also be annoying, but how can you resist that face?  We can’t.  We love him.  And I love that about him.  When Mr. Hyde comes out, well… we know that guy too.  The one you don’t want to challenge.  When he has something he’s protecting, or he doesn’t want to be picked up in a certain way, it’s best to leave him be.  He lets you know that.  You always know where you stand with him, and what he wants.  He’s a passionate guy.

He’s been with us all but the first six weeks of his eight years.  During that time he’s traveled with us on many of our adventures: enjoying romps in the sand and sun; games of fetch in creeks and streams; walks in so many different places on so many different paths; travels in the car; sleeps in tents and trailers and hotel rooms; playing chuck-it in fields and parks; and playing ball inside of hotel rooms and the houses of family and friends.  He’s an excellent travel companion, a great little traveler.  We say this about he and Riley every time we hit the road.

What can I say, we love him.  I love him.  I can’t believe, and I say this all the time about him, about both of our pups actually, how much I do love him.  Life is so much richer with him in our lives.  So much more joyous.  There’s so much more laughter, love, fun, and cuddling because of him.  I am constantly amazed by how much I do love him.  What’s great is that he loves me, he loves us, right back.

Happy birthday to our beautiful, wonderful, fascinating, little mister.  Life with him is truly sweet.

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