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.

Reminder Day

Like a lot of us, I’ve been in a cycle of worry, of feeling sad, and even being short-tempered with my husband, when he doesn’t deserve it. I HATE that!

I fret about my parents and their health.

There have been other family health issues as well. My mother-in-law just went through Hurricane Ida. Oh, yeah, we’re still dealing with Covid and decisions to get the shot or not get the shot, to mask or not mask, to stay open and go into lockdown again.  I am in this cycle of unease about so many things, yet part of me doesn’t want to face any of it.  

Where’s my faith?

I’m pre-worrying about a lot of things (emphasis on “pre”). Things that may or may not happen. I guess I’m trying to be prepared, but again, it’s “pre-worrying.” I don’t know if anything will change, if we’ll have to make tough decisions, or will things continue status quo? It makes me want to cower in a corner.

I didn’t know what to pray for anymore…how to pray. I hit a wall.

With all that said, today was what I’m calling “reminder” day. I’m reading the book “Standing Strong” by Alli Worthington. She inspired me previously with the chapter on self-doubt. Today, I’m in the middle of a chapter on praying  called Ask for it. On page 148, she quotes a text from her friend, who says “Ask for manna. For strength to live off manna. Because after manna comes abundance.”

Manna. Daily manna. The Lord provides just what we need when we need it. So, all of this “pre-worrying” is a waste of time. I know that. However, I certainly needed this kick in the pants reminder! Daily manna.

God heard my unspoken prayer with a reminder that he provides and he’s still with us — always, all days.

Fear can have you cowering in the corner instead of plunging ahead, facing your fears, and getting through them to grow stronger. Life’s worries can be easy to ignore, to back away from, and hide your head in the sand when everything is overwhelming.

Hide my head in the sand. Really? When God’s strength flows through us?

I have to believe that his strength will flow through me, and believe that the manna he provides is enough. And he provides manna every day. No stockpiles for a rainy day. He provides just what we need at the time we need it.

I’ve written about daily manna before. But apparently, God knew I needed the reminder. He answered my prayer when I didn’t know how to pray.

Are all my problems solved? No. Am I still concerned for my parents and everything else going on in the world? Yes. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed. But my perspective has. God answered my prayers with the reminder that he is with us every day, and he provides. I need only to look to him.

Trust — all days, always.

Thank you, Lord for reminder days.

What about you? How does knowing that God provides help you with your worries?

Let’s encourage one another!

Advice to my Younger and Older Self

17-year-old younger me

You know the question: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Well, I always want to say “Have more confidence in yourself. Don’t be afraid. And don’t say yes to the first guy who asks you to marry him!” (😉)

Recently, I think I’d also want to say “Don’t waste time.” Frankly, I’m saying that to my current self, not just my younger self.

As we get older, it’s easy to look back and see where we wasted time and notice the missed opportunities. I don’t like living a life of regret. Truthfully, there’s very little I regret, because everything in my past has led me to where I am today, and where I am is a pretty good place to be.

However, there are moments when I feel like I’ve let opportunities pass me by. I got lazy and didn’t work hard for what I really wanted. Other times, when I was ready to embrace an opportunity, other life events got in the way.

Then frustration builds. I’ll say to myself “I want to quit this writing gig, because I’m never going to finish my novels or get published.” Or “I really blew it this week with overeating and too little exercise, so what’s the point?”

Do you see how easy it is to let frustration, doubt, and disappointment begin to color your future choices?

Nothing changes if nothing changes. I can’t change decisions and missed opportunities from the past. But I can start again from today, right now. I can get off my butt and exercise. I can keep writing. And I can pray that God will give me another chance. If he’s closing the door permanently, then I pray he shows me the new path he wants me on.

Some days we really have to battle and pray through all of the negative thoughts. Why are they so much stronger than the positive ones. Ten people can love a story I’ve written, but the one negative comment will leap over all the positive ones.

It’s time we quit being so fragile. Yeah, easier said than done. But when we know what we’re supposed to do, then it’s time to do it. If we mess up for a day, then get right back on the path the next day.

It’s simple, yet so very hard. I admire the folks who seem to have such confidence that nothing throws them off their game. However, I bet they even have bad days. They just know how to get right back on the horse.

In days of doubt and discouragement, I’m learning to make a concerted effort to fight off those negative thoughts and keep pushing ahead. It can be a daily battle.

But I believe it’s one worth fighting.

Are You on the Hamster Wheel?

Why is it I struggle so much at the beginning of the new year? The new year is supposed to bring a promise of great things, a new beginning, a fresh start. I’m excited and awakened to new possibilities. Yet, it’s not too long into January, where I find myself floundering….already. It’s so discouraging!

You’ve heard it said that most new year’s resolutions fail before January is over. Another study says by the second week of February. In other words, resolutions are difficult to keep. I don’t necessarily make resolutions, however, I do set goals and try to go after them with a renewed vigor. But like last year, when I felt like I was being batted around like a ball in a pinball machine, this year, I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, spinning faster and faster, and never getting anywhere. It is frustrating. I can see how easily the “new” from the new year wears off, and the gray days of winter overtake us again. Then like I said, I’m back to floundering, and frustrated…. And any other f-words you can think of, like freefalling. (And shame on you if you went “there” with the f-word – grin).

In looking at my January flounderings, I wonder if I get too overwhelmed at the prospect of all I want to accomplish in a year. You’ve heard the joke about eating an elephant? You can only eat it one bite at a time. Like many of us I believe I look at the entire elephant, and think there’s no way! Not even in bite-sized pieces. Once you’re overwhelmed by looking at the entire elephant, or the entire year before you, it stops you in your tracks. You give up, say there’s no point, and chuck your planner in the trash.

There’s one the key thing to remember when you reach this point: STOP! Stop beating up on yourself. Stop looking at the entire elephant, and focus only on what you need to do next.

Get off the hamster wheel, and tackle what needs to be done today and only for today. How do you do this?

For me, time management is usually my problem. Knowing this, I’m going to try to schedule my days better. Go back to the basics: Make a list. Then do the next thing. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow’s list, or beat myself up for what didn’t get done on yesterday’s list. I’m only going to focus on the next thing. If I get interrupted, then I adjust my schedule. Sounds simple, right? What if you don’t know what should even be ON the list? Well, I’m not sure I can help you there. But here’s a thought. If you can’t get specific with itemizing a list, what about blocking off chunks of time to work on a certain project? Then another block of time will be devoted to the next project?

If you get interrupted within that block of time, then shift it to another day (making sure you have some flex in your schedule to shift to).

This concept is from one of my writing groups, where the author blocks off her writing time, then blocks off family time, then has exercise time, etc. She leaves one day free in her week in case something does need to shift. This all makes sense to me, and that’s how I’m scheduling my days.

I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out, but I have to try something. I want to get off this hamster wheel, and work toward my goals. Whether I succeed or fail, at least I can take the next step.

What about you? Are you floundering this year? Going in circles on a hamster wheel? What advice do you have for getting off the spinning wheel and making progress?