Each of Us Is Extraordinary, All of Us Are Ordinary

Sunday, December 17, 2017

This podcast is in response to an email I received from a listener who was frustrated that all my guests on the show are too "extraordinary."  While thoughts swirled about me, I interviewed Melinda Peterson from Melinda Joy Writes to chat about how she has been writing a novel for ten years; but then we magically had a beautiful discussion on seeing the extraordinary within ourselves.

Listen in to hear our conversation on this topic, my own expanded thoughts, my response to this email, as well as a highlight from one my "extraordinary-ordinary" friends--Brittney Hanks from Homegrown Traditions--who has encountered some tough failures as she and her husband navigate running a small business together.

Excerpt from Melinda's email, following our interview (it's amazing!!):

Since our interview, I have thought a lot about our discussion regarding what it means to be extraordinary, and the difficulty we have seeing it in ourselves.

Let me paint a quick picture.

When I was a young girl, maybe ten or eleven, my sweet grandmother sent me a bunch of cassette tapes of church music by a specific group that has long since fallen out of people's memories.  Included in that set of tapes was a recording of a church fireside put on by a man named Don Black entitled "There Are No Nobodies." It was a great talk.  It was full of great stories, it made me laugh, and it taught me some really great principles.  The truth is, I would listen to it every single night for the better part of a year before I fell asleep.  I desperately clung to the message that there truly were no nobodies because if there was anyone who felt absolutely worthless and unnoticed and insignificant, it was me.  Don Black taught me that God did not see me as insignificant or worthless.  God saw me as His child, extremely ordinary, but worth something, and capable of greatness. 

I believe that God spent quality time creating each one of us, and that He does bury treasures inside of us.  But the quality of our treasures cannot be measured by social media. The treasures within us are small and simple and grand in their ordinariness.  Is writing a book or starting a business extraordinary?  Perhaps. But I can tell you for certain that those things are not the most extraordinary things that I do.  In fact, they pale in comparison. Do you want the real list? The list that is really making a difference?

Every morning I get up and spend time with God.  I let Him know I am His for the day and He quietly and gently wraps me in the arms of His love and goodness and grace. From there, the day gets really exciting. It starts with a request for chocolate milk from my two year old and a nursing session with my one year old. It quickly escalates to wiping bottoms, making lunches, preparing breakfast, finding clothes and shoes, getting backpacks ready, scripture study, family prayer and a reminder of our values. As the kids get on the bus, I remind them to be honorable.  They listen.  From there, it's reading books, and playing with toys, doing dishes, and sweeping floors, raking leaves, and more bum wiping -- always so much bum wiping. Soon the kids are home from school and it's after school snacks, homework, chores, piano and playing with the neighborhood kids.  It's making dinner, witching hour activities, and welcoming my husband home from work. Finally, it's family time. We eat and talk and laugh and then it's time for baths and clean up and sweeping floors again.  It's music and dancing and holding kids accountable.  Then there are the books.  So many books.  But also the kisses and hugs and so many "I love you's" and "thank you's" and "I'm so glad you're mine's."  I fall to my knees absolutely exhausted, often overwhelmed, but always so, so grateful.  Always grateful.

We don't really have what one would call an Instagram-worthy life.  Our couch is thirty years old, my husband and I haven't been on a fancy getaway since our honeymoon, and all that we own is mismatched and worn. We use pliers to turn the knob of our dryer, and a baby blanket for the curtain in our master bedroom. Each month we barely scrape by, but we live in great abundance.  We have everything we need and so much more.

If you visit my Instagram accounts, you will see that my following is small and seemingly insignificant.  I go days without posting, and will never stay on top of the almighty algorithm.  Instagram is not my extraordinary, and neither is my manuscript.

My extraordinary is calling my grandparents whenever I think of it, visiting with a friend on bedrest, and watching how high my son can climb his tree.  It is making recipes out of the Harry Potter cookbook with my nine year old, and singing Silent Night to my two year old every night of the year.  It's holding my baby before his chub melts into toddlerhood, and holding my husband's hand as I fall asleep.  It is texting with my best friends and cheering them on in their victories and crying with them in their losses.  It is remembering names and the things people tell me and forgiving people who have hurt me. It is my mom and dad, my brothers and sisters, my nieces and nephews.  It is the people.  It is always the people.

There is a reason why it has taken me ten years to write a novel.  Perhaps the bravest thing I am doing right now in this season of little fingers and toes is putting other's needs before my own dreams and raising children in a world that is screaming that our worth is defined by our appearances and accomplishments.

I am all for dreaming and accomplishing.  I am inspired and blessed by so many people who put themselves out there all while doing the things that I described above.  There are some truly extraordinary things being done by people who are in the thick of life. I am grateful for them - for their words and their art, their music and their products, their posts and their expertise. I cheer them on.

I truly believe that we all have so many gifts and that we are meant to use them to add meaning and beauty and goodness to the world. But I also believe that small and simple and seemingly insignificant is also just as powerful and needed as noticeable and grand.  So, if there were one more thing that I could tell your listeners, it would be that sometimes the bravest things we do are the things that go unnoticed.  Let your extraordinary be small and simple and seemingly insignificant.  Because there are no nobodies.  Because we all matter. Because we all have gifts. All of our gifts and all of us matter.  If we could all just see that -- if we could all just see each other's stories and everybody's potential, and truly be glad for it -- if we could cheer each other on and build each other up, it would make a profound difference in the world.

Embrace your goodness and your gifts, and go out and do small and simple and extraordinary things with them.  Because we all need your gifts, your small and simple, your you -- your extraordinary.

Hanks Family
Listen to this episode below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes
Melinda's website, Instagram, and children-centered Instagram
Homegrown Traditions website and Instagram
Recent interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas


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