My next guest writer for my Midlife Matters series is Wendy from The Art of “Why Not”? I met Wendy through a blogging group and she and I just clicked although we live half a world away from each other. I love Wendy’s attitude to life and also where she came up with the name for her blog. You can find out from her website which is listed at the end of the article.
Wendy’s topic is how we can find the extraordinary in our everyday lives. Most of us feel that our lives are pretty boring and are always looking for something exciting to happen.
In Wendy’s article, she teaches us ways we can find the ‘extraordinary’ in our ‘ordinary’. Ways to find extraordinary in our relationships, in being creative and in just being ourselves. Even though she writes from her experiences in midlife her ideas can easily be translated to any ‘season of our life’.
I’m excited to introduce Wendy to you and know you will love her writing as much as I do.
There is a fallacy that in order to be extraordinary, a moment has to be elaborate, fancy, or lavish. I don’t buy into that. To be extraordinary, a moment merely needs to be noticed and experienced. Every season of life offers unique opportunities to give special significance to everyday moments, no season more than midlife.
I remember the first time I heard the term “middle-aged.” I was watching an episode of The Flintstones, and let’s just say my little 7-year-old psyche was permanently scarred! One scene in a silly cartoon cemented in my young mind the idea that “middle-aged” was much older than it actually is. To this day, I struggle to call this season “midlife.”
Time, however, doesn’t stop for my little idiosyncrasies, and I am now staring this nameless season of life right in the eye. I’m happy to say there is no looming midlife crisis nor a consuming need to reinvent myself. 😉 I do, however, desire to develop more fully into what God made me to be in this season. As I tentatively peer into the uncharted future, I see opportunity. I am excited. I am expectant. And I have a sense that I am on the precipice of some of the best days of my life!An #ordinary moment merely needs to be completely experienced to become #extraordinary @wendyrstatonClick To Tweet
The dictionary definition of extraordinary is “unexpected; going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.” In contrast, the definition of ordinary is “not different or special or unexpected in any way; usual.” I don’t know about you, but that definition of ordinary sounds an awful lot like boring, and becoming a boring old lady is NOT on my bucket list!
Determined to avoid this frightening prospect, I entered this new season with guns blazing, resolved to try something every single week that would stretch me out of my comfort zone. I forgot to factor one little reality into my scheme: even in midlife, everyday events can still derail the best laid plans. And frankly, when plans go awry and life gets busy, “going beyond what is usual” can be exhausting. I haven’t given up my lofty goal of regularly breaking my comfort zone barriers, but I’ve learned something along the way:
An extraordinary day does not have to consist of elaborate moments.
Rather, it is finding a moment in our day and intentionally making it a little bit better. And the treasure in that is that “better” can take many different forms. From dream vacations to movie nights at home, our imaginations and our willingness to be intentional are the only things that limit our extraordinary moments.
- Everyday evenings. Nothing says ordinary louder than sitting in separate chairs, mindlessly watching the same TV shows every night while you each simultaneously surf the internet on your handheld devices. However, get both of you on the same sofa, choose a movie and watch it together (without falling asleep or checking your electronic notifications!), and your ordinary night just became a little extraordinary.
- Time with friends. Invite a friend over for lunch (and use the good dishes occasionally!). I’ve met one friend for lunch innumerable times over the years, but the times I remember the most are the times we’ve been either at her home or mine instead of a restaurant.
Learn and create
- Take a class, any class! Whether a college class, a free community center class, or a special study at your church, don’t stop learning! Make it a point to learn one new thing every single day — a new word, a bit of historical trivia, a new feature of your phone (now that’s an endless learning opportunity!).
- Create something. “Art” doesn’t just happen in a studio. Plant flowers. Pull together items from around your home and create a seasonal vignette. Write a heartfelt card to someone special. Decorate a cake (find examples and tutorials on the internet or get a book from the library). Try your hand at something you think you can’t do, or even better, something you think you would hate doing! You may surprise yourself!
Be productive AND be still
- Necessary but mundane activities. Is there a big chore you’ve been avoiding that you must finally tackle? Find a way to make it more enjoyable. Listen to the audio version of a book on your “to read” list. Or put on your favorite upbeat music and turn the volume up (way up!). Then relish in your sense of accomplishment when you’re finished. 🙂
- Observe your surroundings. Don’t walk for exercise only. Go out with your camera and take time to notice all the little things along the way — the single dew drop on the wildflower growing in the sidewalk crack, the rabbit watching you from the shelter of a tree, the colors and shapes of the clouds. When you are out and about, keep an eye out for photo opportunities. Some of my favorite photos are impromptu phone shots in unlikely places!
It is ordinary moments that make an extraordinary life. I truly believe that. What I don’t believe is that those moments of ordinary life should be boring. I want a little bit of the special and unexpected in my days!
I would love to be able to say that I capture moments daily and make them great in some way. The reality is I don’t make time every week to try something new, or make creativity a regular part of my routine. Honesty compels me to admit that I’m a procrastinator (and lately, a mindless TV watcher!).
Intentionality is the key for all of us, regardless of the season we are in. Whether you are a young mother or an empty nester, there are demands on your time. Nonetheless, we can all choose small ways to make an ordinary day just a little bit better, just a little bit extraordinary.
I love these (slightly paraphrased) words of Brene Brown:
Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you, ‘I’m not messing around, use the gifts you were given.'”
Now, “Why Not?” go grab a moment and make it extraordinary!
Wendy’s writing journey began as a way to document her “empty nest” endeavors and push her to accept her own challenge: “Learn something new every day!” Her greatest desire has become encouraging women to find extraordinary moments in the midst of ordinary days by living intentionally in whatever season God has placed them. This is how she finds the courage to do the same!
Happily married for 24 years and mom to one adult daughter, she has a burning desire to learn to paddle board and ballroom dance!
You can find her sharing her stories at TheArtOfWhyNot.com.
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Let’s Keep Sizzling!