Finding the Extraordinary

My family, like all families, is struggling to adapt to life under self-quarantine. It has been tricky because “normal” is redefined every day. California is now on state-wide lock down, and everything changes so quickly. 

I’ve asked the kids to journal every day. “This is history in the making!” I eagerly tell them. “Record it now, so in the future you can see what you were thinking, feeling, experiencing during this unprecedented time.” Groans, moans, refusals. 

I have to approach self-quarantine with four kids like running a marathon. In a long-distance race, if I think about all the miles that lay in front of me, I begin to panic. Self-doubt creeps in, how will I ever make it to the finish line? Fear, uncertainty, anxiety, dread. 

If I think about the weeks (dear god, months!) that lay in front of me, quarantined with these kids, my heart begins to race, my palms get sweaty, and I want to throw up. How are we going to get through this? How are we going to stay sane and make the best of every day? Fear, uncertainty, anxiety, dread. 

So, I can’t focus on all that lays before me. I can’t dwell on what I can’t see. I can’t spin infinite possibilities of scenarios that I can’t control. I can’t fixate on the unknown. 

I can only concentrate on what is in front of me now. One mile at a time. One day at a time. One step at a time. One moment at a time. 

If I am focusing on the moment, how does my awareness change? If I let go of the fear of what “will be” or what “might be”, how do I embrace the immediacy of this current experience? 

In our “classroom” at home, all is blissfully quiet for a brief moment. Kids have headphones in, laptops open, and they are engaged in their first lesson of the day. Pretty ordinary. 

Until you look closer.  

I sit. I observe. I notice. 

A furrowed brow, forehead lines creased – confusion. And then microscopically, the face muscles relax, open up – a dawn of understanding. 

Corners of a mouth upturned as a virtual classmate types something silly. Smile breaks wide open and eyes twinkle with mischief. 

Lips pursed together in concentration as chin dips toward the chest, eyes focused and non-blinking while striving for new level in Typing Pals. 

There is a simple beauty in these moments. The ache of love spreads through my chest as I silently observe my children. This ordinary, is actually extraordinary. 

My sisters and I have a new “quarantine challenge”. It’s been super fun to share our experiences with each other over text message every day. Now we are going to take and share pictures of ordinary objects that you might not normally consider, but are actually quite beautiful if you take a moment to pay attention. 

On my run yesterday, I probably looked as though I had gone Corona-loca with the number of times I stopped to take random pics of scenery around me. 

I have run this trail probably 100 times, maybe more, over the years. And yet, I have never fully been mindful of the beauty around me. 

The thousands of tiny purple flowers sprouting from wild rosemary lining the trail. 

The delicate green moss dusting miles of bright white fence.

Mottled birch trees, a vibrant juxtaposition of colors as tender layers of bark peel back to expose raw vulnerability. 

Light cascading through tendrils of dainty leaves, gently illuminating individual stamens.

We are surrounded, in every moment, by beauty. If we sit still. If we pay attention. If we notice. If we let go of the panic, anxiety and fear. If we focus on what is in front of us.

There is extraordinary in the everyday ordinary. All around us. In everything. Even in the uncertainty, the chaos, the unknown. 

Where can you find yours? 

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