Being Extraordinary

I love movies! Anyone who knows me knows that I love watching movies, and I will watch and analyze the same movie over and over again. Besides the entertainment value, movies can be inspirational.

Sister Act from Buena Vista Pictures

One such movie is “Sister Act” from 1992 with Whoopi Goldberg. Wait. What? A Whoopi Goldberg movie being inspirational? Okay, maybe not the entire movie, but a portion of it, as it relates to the growth of the character of Sister Mary Robert, played by Wendy Makkena.

When Sister Mary Clarence (Goldberg) takes refuge in the convent and first meets the choir, she’s suddenly thrust into the position as leader of the choir. As Goldberg takes the reins of the group, she notices Sister Mary Robert (Makkena) blending into the background and only mouthing the words to the songs. Mary Clarence then brings Mary Robert front and center. Goldberg’s character explains that Mary Robert needs to sing loud enough to be heard over the noise of a diner, with clacking silverware and loud waitresses. Finally, Mary Robert’s voice is heard, and it’s a sweet one. Throughout the course of the movie, Mary Robert is more front and center with the choir, and doing more solos when they perform. She’s come out of her shell and is no longer hiding in the back, just mouthing the words.

How often do we find ourselves hiding and merely going through the motions? Do you have big dreams, but are plagued with self-doubt? As I may have mentioned before, I’m reading a book by Alli Worthington called “Standing Strong.” In it, Worthington talks about “playing small.” In the sense of not letting comparison, fear, or self-doubt hold you back from pursuing your dreams, or just living your life to the fullest.

Mary Robert was playing small – not letting her gifts come out because of fear, and not believing she had a true talent.

Recently, I’ve come to believe there’s no such thing as ordinary. Whether you’re a CEO, a writer, a waiter/waitress, or a housewife (or househusband), you are extraordinary. It doesn’t matter what job you have! Anything we choose to do in our lives has value. Any time we come around friends to laugh and enjoy, or comfort and console, we’re offering something special to them – something extraordinary.

Yes, there are times we feel like we’re living in a mundane world, with routine lives, feeling plain and not special. But that’s not true.

In a recent post on this blog, I asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Is there a dream you haven’t achieved yet? For some, their lives may have taken a completely different direction, and they never had the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Goals can go by the wayside when we have the responsibility of a family and bills to pay.

That being said, remember Friends, you are not a failure. Maybe your time just hasn’t come. Or maybe you were destined for something else. I don’t know what God had in mind for you, but I know we have the ability to make our circumstances worse or better, by our own attitude. Even if we’re not where we want to be in our job or in our life, doesn’t mean we aren’t extraordinary. We can offer each other so much, just by giving of ourselves.

I’m blessed to be on a new path these days. I’m a college student again, finally completing my bachelor’s degree that I started over 40 (gasp!) years ago. Will school make me extraordinary? No, not necessarily. But school is proving to me that I’m not too old to keep pursuing my dreams. I’m not too old to influence those around me. I don’t have to keep playing it small.

My new mindset is going to be “There’s no such thing as ordinary.” Remember, you are special. You matter. You are extraordinary.

Do you believe this? Let me hear your thoughts. And let’s encourage one another.

Being There

As I write this, the world is talking about the shocking passing of Robin Williams. As the TV talking heads are going through his television and movie credits, I realize how many of his movies I’ve seen… and loved.  It is incredibly sad to lose such a great talent.

But through all of this discussion, this man who is being heralded as a comic legend, who entertained millions, has suddenly become very human.  Yes, we tend to put celebrities on a pedestal, forgetting that along with their immense talent, they are human beings, going through this life of ups and downs, marriage, children and everything else.

Obviously, Robin Williams was battling more.  He was always open about substance abuse, but did many of us realize he struggled with depression?  Severe depression.

It’s almost inconceivable that someone who was so loved and admired was in such a dark and lonely place where he was driven to take his own life.  He brought such laughter to everyone else, but couldn’t find the joy for himself. It’s tragic.

I’m almost embarrassed with my last post, when I talk about “wallowing” in my own sadness of recent events in my life.  Thankfully, I haven’t been to the darkest place where I’ve thought of a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  I always knew I’d pull out of this and things would get better.

But I didn’t share with many how sad I was feeling.  I don’t always share, because I don’t want to burden others, I don’t want to come across as a whiner, and I don’t want to be considered a negative person.

Was that mindset preventing me from getting the support and encouragement I needed at the time?  How do you balance reaching out without being a whiner?  How do you invite people in without pushing them away?

Hopefully, more discussion will come from this awful passing of Robin Williams about depression, about how to help others.  One thing I heard this morning was just be there. You may not be able to solve the problem, but you can come along beside someone and just remind them that they mean something to you, that their life has value.

Maybe this is a reminder to all of us to hug your family and friends and say “I love you.”  I hate that we have to be reminded, and that we’re usually reminded when someone else has died. We need make this part of our daily lives.

Life is short.  Reach out to someone.  Touch base.  Just be with someone today and hold their hand, give them a hug…. heck, just smile at someone and wish them a wonderful day.

What a difference we could make if we all did that every day.

A Leap of Faith

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the “Pioneer Spirit.”  And the week before that, we talked about “Living an Adventurous Life.”

Do you sense a theme here?  I’m now struggling with making my own leap of faith, while seeing others around me taking their own and stepping out in faith.

Photo courtesy of: http://transparentwithmyself.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cliff_jump.jpg

In my life group from church, we have transitions taking place.  One couple has just joined us. They were happy and content in their home state, with their family nearby as they raised their own family.  Yet he was unhappy with his job — very unhappy.  A friend told him about a job in Texas. They had never been to Texas, never even visited.  Yet here was this opportunity for them, and through fervent prayer, and discussions with their family, they took that leap of faith and moved to a state they had never been to and settled here. Thankfully, they found our church and life group and we’re happy to welcome them and look forward to getting to know them.  God has a purpose.

Sadly, another member is leaving us and moving back to her home state, to care for her ailing and aging mother.  She’s leaving her job and friends here to go back to her hometown. While her hometown is familiar to her (unlike the couple who had never been to Dallas before), she is still taking her own leap of faith to balance her life with that of honoring her parents, leaving her job and not knowing if this is a temporary move or permanent. Only God knows the plans he has for her.

Finally, another young couple I’m very close to is also leaving Dallas.  They are young, still in their 20s and newlyweds. She has a great job opportunity in another major city in Texas, and he is supporting her and so they are moving. It is a leap of faith for them to venture to this city that they’ve never lived in and know few people. In my heart, I know this is a great move for them and a wonderful opportunity, so off they go on their new adventure.

But not all leaps of faith require uprooting your entire life and moving to a new city.  Sometimes a leap of faith can be a new direction in your life, whether it be career oriented or a new church or just letting your kids grow-up and releasing them to the adult world.  It can be a change in your attitude, in how you conduct yourself day-to-day.

For me, I’m struggling with a change of direction in my own writing career. It’s a strange emotion as I let go of one dream and start to embrace another — still fearing, still wondering if this is the right decision.

So, it makes me ask: what makes you take a leap of faith?  I’d love to hear your stories and ideas. How do you get past fear and even your own emotions?  How do you get out of your own way to take that leap?