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When the ordinary is extraordinary

Published May 21. 2011 09:00AM

Sometimes thoughtful acts become so ingrained in our everyday routine that we stop noticing.

I think about that as I sit at the breakfast table with my husband, sipping a cup of perfectly brewed coffee. Just as he often does, he got up and made the coffee the way I like it, so it will be ready for me when I come into the kitchen. This morning I remember to say thank you.

We have a morning ritual we both love. We call it conversation, coffee and the morning papers.

Perhaps some take that morning togetherness for granted. Neither of us can. We both realize each ordinary ritual is a precious gift. And that morning routine is one of our favorites.

After we've devoured The Wall Street Journal and the local papers, I decided to start the day with a short walk.

"I'll go with you," my husband says.

So we walk around the neighborhood, comparing notes about what we like as we look at landscapes and admire the flowers.

I tell him I have to be back home by 9 o'clock to write. Sure, as a freelancer I could write any time I want. But I adhere to old writing habits and stay disciplined.

While we are walking home I think, as I often do, that I am thankful for this extraordinary day.

Oh, some might say there is nothing extraordinary about sharing breakfast and going for a walk. These are ordinary things. But I believe there is no such thing as an ordinary day. When I enjoy one ordinary activity after another, in my book that adds up to an extraordinary day.

David and I make the same wish we often do: We wish for more extraordinary days like this.

With columns to write for my Pennsylvania papers as well as the paper here, I later sit at the computer absorbed in thought for hours.

For me, the very act of writing is like taking a tranquilizer. It relaxes me and leaves me feeling uplifted.

Dave says he can always tell when I'm finished writing without my telling him. I always do something exuberant, like breaking out in song or doing my own version of a Happy Boogie.

Today, it takes me longer to finish because the phone keeps ringing. While I don't like interruptions before I get my columns to the editors, I remind myself what a blessing it is to have friends who care enough to call.

One call is from a favorite dancing friend. She tells me about a problem she is having with her boyfriend. Yes, he's very good about taking her dancing one or two times a week. But he leaves her sitting by herself while he goes off to dance with other ladies.

I play Advice to the Lovelorn and offer some strategies that might work. She giggles at my suggestions.

I giggle too, at how incongruous our conversation is and how it proves that love at any age has its thorns. What is so remarkable about the conversation is that my friend is 90 years old.

She must be a Cougar going with a younger man because her boyfriend is a mere 83.

People keep telling me we must have some sort of Fountain of Youth in Florida. We do. It's called sunshine sunshine that begets activity.

After the phone calls it's time to do something I love - cook up a new recipe. Today, I make Cranberry Chicken, a recipe I have been saving for a few years.

We both pronounce it as worthy of company so I tuck the recipe away in my favorite foods file.

After Dave and I do the dishes together we sit outside for a while on the lanai, appreciating how good the cooling evening breeze feels.

Normally, we would be rushing off to dance lessons but the teacher had to cancel them for a few weeks. Dave welcomes the reprieve but he knows I miss going.

"Come on," he says. "I'll take you dancing at the Cultural Center." I tell him we'll do it next Monday.

Instead of our own dancing, I sit watching my favorite TV show, "Dancing with the Stars." When it's over, I force myself away from the TV and do a few minutes of the exercises that help control my back pain.

All in all, it's been a routine day. Completely ordinary. In fact, it's been far less active than our typical days usually are.

But again I ask you, is there such a thing as an ordinary day?

I think not. Every day of life is precious and every day is special in its own way.

I went to a retreat a while back where we were asked to write down something special about our day.

I wrote about the warmth of the sunlight on my face and the pleasure of watching two ducks in the water.

Some would say sunlight and ducks are nothing special.

I counter by saying complete happiness comes from finding joy in little things. It comes too, from a grateful heart that appreciates all that is before us.

This is my daily prayer of thanksgiving, my humble homage to the gift of an ordinary day.

May you notice all the simple pleasures in your own world and may you appreciate the wonder of every ordinary day.

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