Extraordinary Misconceptions

Today I want to address a couple of common misconceptions.

Extraordinary living is not just for artists.
Yep, it’s true. You don’t need to understand Michelangelo’s methods for painting The Sistine Chapel or how to DIY your way out of any death defying situation, to be able to live extraordinarily.

Extraordinary living is not just for entrepreneurs.
Yep, it’s true. You don’t need to be able to break down Google’s methodology or outwit Mark Cuban on Shark Tank to live extraordinarily.

Let’s review our definition for extraordinary living shall we?
“A Rare Existence, or extraordinary living, means to live the life you are meant to live regardless of risk, difficulty, opinion of others, weaknesses, or failures. This involves knowing yourself WELL, pursuing your passions, overcoming your fears, and working hard at all you do.”

See that? Living the life YOU are meant to live! Maybe I should add in “regardless of…. artistic abilities, entrepreneurial visions, how many kids you have, what your income level is, how much freedom you have, if you like eggnog or not, what religion you are, who you voted for, whether or not Modern Family is your favorite TV show, if you are pro Microsoft or pro Apple (OK well maybe this one DOES matter), or what defines the extraordinary lives by others around you”.

As you can see, an extraordinary life is for everyone who chooses to pursue it.
Living extraordinarily means understanding YOU and living the way YOU are meant to live. That’s the extraordinary part. The fact that you don’t choose to live the way everyone around you does. The fact that you understand that you have a purpose to seek out. The fact that you risk what others aren’t willing to risk to uncover and fulfill that purpose. That is a Rare Existence. And that is quite extraordinary.

So please don’t think extraordinary living isn’t for you.
If you find yourself thinking that you’re just not cut out for it, put down that McMuffin you’re eating (or whatever you’re doing) and return to this post to remind you of the truth! Having an extraordinary life IS your choice! It may be hard, it may (will) take years to develop, and you may have to take smaller steps than you like, but don’t surrender to the idea that you’re meant for nothing more than ordinary!

It’s time to let the truth win out!
We all need a little help fighting the lies from time to time so… you’re welcome!

Lie: I’m too boring for an extraordinary life.
Truth: There is no official measure for boring, you are just comparing yourself to people who have completely different roles in life than you do! No matter how boring you may feel, you have the capability to choose to do something extraordinary!

Lie: I have too many kids to pursue anything in life other than a nap.
Truth: See my post, The Extraordinary Family Life, to help you figure this truth out!

Lie: I’m not talented enough to live an extraordinary life.
Truth: Everyone has a unique set of skills/talents/experiences that make them who they are and that give them their purpose. Your talents may be different than others, but you do have some! My post, Discovering Who You Are, will help you figure out how the things about you all come together to help you serve your role in the world!

Lie: I like popular stuff (chocolate, Disneyland, good weather, etc) so I’m too much like everyone else to be extraordinary.
Truth: Popular stuff is popular for a reason! It doesn’t say anything about you if you do like it or don’t like it, it’s just good!

Lie: I don’t understand the answers to the questions in LOST so I must be stupid.
Truth: There were no answers to the questions in LOST so don’t worry about it.

Lie: I’m too focused on putting out daily fires to focus on moving forward.
Truth: See my post, Baby steps.. yes, that’s a real thing, to help you with this one.

Lie: I don’t know what lmao, yolo, or NPH (hint: Doogie) mean so I must be too old fashioned to do anything new.
Truth: So you’ll loose at a game of Scene it: Pop Culture Edition? So what? That doesn’t mean you don’t have other valuable skills that may have nothing to do with new fangled technology, the hottest “it” couple, or the wrong way for men to wear half shirts (IS there a right way really?).

Lie: I don’t know what I’m meant for, so it must be nothing.
Truth: It takes most people quite a while to figure this out. See my post, Don’t Expect to Find the Answers in a Day, for encouragement about this because it’s so worth the effort to figure it out!

Lie: Too many people depend on me so I can’t do anything risky or out of the ordinary.
Truth: People need you to be who you are meant to be, above all else. Not convinced? Read my post, Is Extraordinary Living Selfish.

Out of excuses? Good. Now focus on the identifying and living out the life you were meant to live!

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Goal Setting Resources for 2013

Alright guys, goal setting time is upon us!

Resist the urge to go all hipster/ironic, or emo/anti everything, when it comes to goals. Yes, I know that only capitalistic robots who have been brainwashed by corporate America would even dream of doing something so cliche as setting goals that begin on January 1st (heaven forbid). But stop trying to be unique for just one second so you can realize that, guess what? You need to do it SOMETIME, and since most of us don’t remember the rest of the year, now is a perfect time!

To help you with your 2013 goal setting, I’ve come up with a list of resources to give you some direction!

 

Goal Setting Resources:

Discovering who you are…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Finding a valuable identity
2. Give them something (good) to remember you by
3. Discovering who you are

Outside Resources:
1. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
2. Myers Briggs Personality Test

 

Dreaming about what you want to do…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. The Discipline of Dreaming
2. Your ideal life
3. Your entire life in one word.

Outside Resources:
1. 5: Where Will You Be 5 Years from Today? by Dan Zadra

 

Setting goals and making a plan…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Baby Steps… yes that’s a real thing.

Outside Resources:
1. Your Best Year Yet  by Jinny S. Ditzler (I apologize, it’s a little boring, but it’s the only one I know of that gets the job done!)

 

Encouragement…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. John Mayer is a Liar and Peter Pan is a hero
2. Do Epic Shit
3. Remember why it’s worth it
4. Patience Grasshopper
5. You can do it my dear
6. Manifesting your manifest friend

Outside Resources
1. The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson *
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller *
*FYI: Both of these are Christian books, but still very encouraging even if you don’t agree with everything in them.
December is going to fly by, so I want to hear sounds of goal setting screaming from your computers now! Go, go, gadget goals!!!!

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“Fame” brings a definition of success

“There are some things success is not.

It’s not fame, it’s not money or power.

Success is….

Waking up in the morning, so excited about what you have to do that you literally fly out of the door.
It’s getting to work with people you love.
Success is connecting with the world and making people feel.
It’s finding a way to bind together people who have nothing in common but a dream.
It’s falling asleep at night knowing you did the best job you could.

Success is…
Joy…
and friendship…
and success is LOVE.”

OK I didn’t write any of that. It’s a speech from the movie “Fame” and I love it. I have to go work on my own definition of success now and I suggest you do the same.

What’s your definition?

 

Don’t expect to find the answers in a day

I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to decide what to do with my life.

And that doesn’t mean I just go through my normal day to day activities and hope the idea comes to me. That means I’ve spent hours and hours writing and brainstorming and breaking down ideas. Word associations, lists, rhetorical analysis. I’ve spent the past 2 years doing and I still am just barely touching the very tip of the answers to my questions!

I think it’s important you know this because when you find out that you don’t know what to do with your life it can make you want to throw your hands up in frustration and despair, thinking something’s wring with you, then debate giving up on your extraordinary journey.  But don’t give up! Because in fact….

If you don’t know what to do with your life, YOU ARE NORMAL!

You are like everyone else, even those who are living extraordinary lives! No one knows what they want to do at first! Particularly people who have unique personalities. If you are a unique person that means you’re meant to do something unique and uncommon which means that whatever you’re meant to do is not going to be the first thing that comes to mind when you first start examining the options out there for you. If it’s unusual it’s either going to be hard to come across it or it may even be waiting for you to create it! So just because it isn’t on the tip of your tongue, doesn’t mean you won’t uncover it one day!

Set aside intentional brainstorming time.

Don’t expect a rare magical idea to just float into your head unless you are giving it the time of day to come up with it. I spent the first year of my search having no idea what direction I wanted to go and it wasn’t until I spent a good 3 hours a day for a full 4 days straight (on vacation) sitting there and actually writing about various ideas in my journal that I even began to have an inkling of a possible idea. It was sitting there in a coffee shop in Mexico that I came up with the idea for this blog. An idea that never would’ve come to me if I wasn’t actively pursuing it and investing the necessary time and energy into finding it.

If you need help getting going, take the time to stop and do some of the exercises I’ve given you. Those will help kick start you into doing the kind of work that is essential for your extraordinary journey!

If you keep putting in the intentional work and have some patience, the answers will come to you and I think you’ll find out that they were SO worth the wait!

 

Slowing the pace to enjoy the race

I recently realized that our values went awry somewhere along the way.
We moved to a little place a block away from the beach in the most fun, entertaining neighborhood that I’ve ever known. We then proceeded to unpack. Work. Unpack. Think about going to the beach. Unpack. Work. Think about inviting new friends over for dinner. Work. Work. Long to go swimming in the ocean. Work…. you get the picture.  We moved here for the lifestyle. Yet we are too busy trying to pay for the lifestyle to be able to enjoy it!

The solution (aside from becoming independently wealthy through passive income in the next month)…
… is to work on the discipline of rest. Like a sabbath. That’s right. A good old fashioned, Biblical sabbath. Everyone’s definition (i.e. life and death dogma) about this issue is different so let me explain what it means for my husband and I.  It means no appointments, no to- do list, and above all, no guilt for that. It’s a day of rest. Basically we will refuse to feel guilty for being unproductive and we will enjoy the gift of life.

“But I can’t take a day off, I’m too busy!”
And you will never not be too busy so you need to stop waiting for “someday” when you finally have time to rest and enjoy life and you need to start living NOW. We have a tendency to believe that productivity is next to godliness and we all too often ask  “can I fit this into my schedule?”, when really we need to be asking “SHOULD I fit this into my schedule?”. These are the things we’re taught and we live by, even if we hate it. And now this is what bosses, spouses, friends and any other person you come into contact with expects of you. You must reply to my text or email NOW, you must squeeze me in this week, you must work late… and the guilt piles on as we get further behind and feel even more pressure to perform.  It’s time to give up and realize that you will never get it all done no matter how hard you try and the “someday” where you have limitless amounts of time might not come until the last 5 years of your life (if ever) which means you will already have missed most of it! Taking stress pills, sleep meds, caffeine inhalers, while continuing to have chest pains, ulcers, and emotional breakdowns anyways is not a way to live. It’s not worth it. A day off every week is EXACTLY what we need! No matter how hard it is to come by! It’s amazing how prioritizing time for rest can rejuvenate you for the rest of the week to be even more productive. And it’s even more amazing to realize that you still get just as much done (or not done) as you did before you started taking a day of rest. Don’t waste your life just trying to make it through the stress while ignoring all the joys around you.

“But I can’t take a day off, I get too bored!”
Of course you’ll be bored, you’re going to sit down for a full minute straight! It’s sooo different from your day to day life! That’s not a reason to not take a day off, in fact it’s the very reason you need a day off… you’re incredibly unhealthy! Even if you are just a high energy person, you still need to take time off to do nothing. I read somewhere that it takes a full 5 days of doing nothing before you relax and adjust to the pace (so screw 7 day vacations by the way, unless you plan on it being one of those fun, action packed ones that leave you more exhausted than revitalized when you’re done).

“But… oh wait, I’m out of excuses”.
Right, so give it a shot. One full day off a week. Or even one day off every other week if you have to work your way up with this!  A day of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. It could be spending time with others or by yourself (I know you can come up with a solution about what to do with the kids when a particular sabbath requires much needed alone time).  It’s one day with no performing, impressing, or pleasing on this day (doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!). No to- do lists, chores, or working on things you’ve been putting off.  It’s a day to sit back and be grateful while enjoying the fruits of your 6 day a week labor.

Start keeping a list of what you’re looking forward to doing (or NOT doing) on your next sabbath. That way when you have a few seconds to spare, you don’t panic because you don’t know what to do with them (you’ll get better at not panicking once you’ve had practice with this discipline of rest by the way). So when you find yourself hitting snooze on your alarm clock more than once, write down “sleep in” as what you’re going to do on your sabbath this week.

Here’s what I did on the first full day off I’d had in over a month and a half…

  • Read for 2 hours in the morning (not productive reading, just an Elizabeth Taylor biography that had more pictures than words- real brain food you know).
  • Went to Starbucks and got a tasty drink with REAL sugar in it!
  • Went to the beach with my husband (FINALLY took time to enjoy our surroundings!!).
  • Started cleaning out our side yard that I’ve been dying to fix up and make usable. Yes this was productive, but it wasn’t something I’ve been procrastinating on, it’s something I’ve been dying to have time to do and it was very relaxing!
  • Watched a movie (Grand Canyon from the 80’s. Really intense and interesting/weird movie!)  I have been DREAMING of watching a movie and I just haven’t had time!
  • Went to bed early. No working until 2 am on this day!

It was such a GREAT day and I couldn’t believe how positive I felt about my life for the rest of the week! Life felt enjoyable and I still somehow found the time to get the same amount of work done that week…. maybe because I was rested and ready to go for the next 6 days of work.

Friends of Wisdom

How are your friends?

I’m assuming you have fun together. If you’re a girl maybe you go dancing, shopping, spend long hours talking about relationship problems or your kids schooling. And if you’re a guy you… I don’t know… play sports and drink beer together? Is that what guys do? I’m mostly basing that on movies. Either way, I’m sure they provide lots of companionship, good memories, etc, etc. But my question is, do they provide true wisdom? When you come to your friend to tell her about the guy you just met that you really like does she ask “how cute is he? What kind of car does he drive? And do you think he’s gay?” and then leave it at that? Or does she say, ” does he have goals in life, how does he treat his mother, does he have anger melt downs, and does he ever look into your eyes or just at your boobs?”

Do you have at least one friend who ask you THE RIGHT Questions? If not, you need to find one (or two, or three).

Relationships that challenge you, inspire you, encourage you, etc. are kind of a lost art. They aren’t typically talked about or looked for. If someone listens to you and helps you when you need it, that’s considered good enough. Don’t get me wrong, those are good things but there’s more than just that. Especially if your friend is just “helping you” by picking you up at sleazy guys’ houses when you’re two sheets to the wind, and never actually approaches you (when you’re sober) about your decision making. A good friend, in my opinion would do both. You need both. We all need both if we’re going to grow.

The people you are around are intertwined with your level of personal growth.

If you are around lame people, you’re not going to get very far. In other words if YOU are the friend always picking your only friends up at sleazy guys houses every Saturday night, you may have a problem. I know I sound like your mom now, but if you don’t have people in your life to tell you this, I’m willing to do it for you…. for now that is because you still need to find better friends who will tell you this kind of stuff so I don’t have to!

There is nothing in the world like having intelligent, emotional, heart felt discussions and debates with people you know well and care a lot about.

Having people who ask insightful question to challenge you in your life is a gift like non- other… even if the questions are the difficult kind… especially if the questions are the difficult kind actually.  If the person you hang out with the most inspires you to be a better person- both directly and indirectly- and if you can return the favor, then you are both going to go really far… together…. which is the best way to get anywhere anyways. Go find friends. Go be that kind of friend.
P.S. Special thanks to Liz Boyd, Julia Schmidt, and Kristen Stanley for being 3 of the friends who have challenged me the most at different points in my life. And thanks to Jordan for challenging my ideas about extraordinary living enough to inspire me to write countless blog posts about our conversations!

Finding a Valuable Identity (a project)

Who you are, who you want to be like, and what you want… all that kind of info was on the tag sewn into your shirt when the stork dropped you off, right? That’s not how it worked for me, I was born into this world naked as a baby so I’ve been forced to do some figuring for myself.

It’s no secret that the stork with the glasses dropped me off and I was born a nerd. If you didn’t already know that, one look at this rhetorical analysis system I’ve worked out to help me figure out who I am will sear the image of a pocket-protector wearing bird into your mind forever.

This system is not actually as scary as it sounds and you don’t need a PhD to do it, you just need some time and space to do some writing with your thinking cap on (by the way, did you hear they sell those in leopard print now!?).

If you want to try it, here’s what you do…

1. Make a list of people in the world who you believe are doing something valuable with their lives.

2. Next to each name, list out single words or phrases that represent what stands out to you the most about what they’re doing that makes you see it as valuable.

3. Go through and underline the words/phrases that you see repeated.

4. Count up how many times each word/phrase was used.

5. List the words/phrases in order of how many times you used them (words used the most go at the top and the ones used the least go at the bottom).

6. Construct a short paragraph (one or two sentences) incorporating these words in order to find out what’s important to you.

7. If you want to simplify it further, summarize that paragraph into a short statement.

Here’s a small excerpt from my personal Valuable Identity project to give you an example…

People who I believe are doing something valuable with their lives….

1. Abby Tracy– helping children, helping the poor, helping orphans, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, self-sacrifice, defending the innocent
2. Doctors and Nurses- self-sacrifice, hard work, caring, facing hard stuff
3. Good school teachers- helping children, teaching life skills, hard work, self-sacrifice, passionate, teaching others
4. Kelli Freeman– hard work, helping children, helping orphans, caring, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, teaching life skills

In the end (my full project consisted of a list of 15 people) the words/phrases that I repeated the most went like this…

Passionate- used 15 times
Caring- 15
Hard work- 14
Facing hard stuff- 12
Helps people through emotional healing- 11
Life skills- 10
Teaches others- 10
Helps children- 8
Wholistic approach to helping the whole person- 8
Self-sacrificing- 8
Defend the innocent- 7
Generous with giving money- 6

In the end, the sentence I came up with to squeeze those words into sort of a missions statement went like this….

I need to use my passion to care about others. I need to work hard and work with hard issues. I need to help others with their emotional healing while teaching them life skills. I need to sacrifice myself to help children through a wholistic approach. I need to defend the innocent when necessary and give money when appropriate.

In a simpler version that has the ability to encompass all the words…
Help children wholistically.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a flawed system… but at least it will get you started in thinking about what’s important to you!

I’m not sure that helping children wholistically is what I’m meant to dedicate my life to, but I did learn things about what I value that I didn’t expect. For example, I had no idea that I thought hard work was all that important! When I first met my husband to be, my mom tried to tell me that one of his best character traits was that he was a hard worker, but I thought that sounded boring so I decided that my favorite thing about him was that he was tall. Apparently in my heart of hearts, I really did have a soft spot for that work ethic of his that he applies to more than just his career, but to all areas of his life.

So give it a shot and see what you think! Even if you don’t follow my literature geek model exactly, it will at least give you a place to start from that might just bunny trail you off into Wonderland or some other magical place that will help you find out who you really are and what exactly you believe is important in life.

** At this point you are well on your way to completing Step 2 in finding your extraordinary life which is “Identifying Who You Are and What You Are Meant To Do”. (In case you missed it, Step 1 was “The Discipline of Dreaming“). Of course since uncovering your identity is an ongoing quest, we’ll keep talking about it here… but we’ll also continue on and eventually we’ll head straight into Step 3: “Face the Fears”.

And one more thing… if you do this Valuable Identity project, leave a comment to share what you came up with, I’d love to hear it!

(if you liked this project and want to learn more about Extraordinary Living join the  Rare Existence Facebook community)!

 

Work on your character and a good life will come to you.

Beginning to Define it For Yourself

What?! You’re not me?! Really? Are you sure? I could’ve sworn…

Your definition for an extraordinary life is unique.

If everyone’s definitions were the same, it would just be called “ordinary living” and I definitely wouldn’t be wasting so many of my youthful years telling you about it (I have mountains to conquer and dragons to slay you know). You can’t compare your definition to that of others (unless of course yours is way better than theirs), and you shouldn’t stop reading Rare Existence if your definition is different than mine. If you have kids, your extraordinary word isn’t freedom, or you’ve worked hard to find yourself at the top in a very demanding career that you love….then you haven’t committed any terminal sins that prevent you from living an extraordinary life, you’re just not me (but you might want to try it because being me is AWESOME)!

I’ve met plenty of people who’ve known what they wanted to do with their lives since they were 5 (no, I didn’t say “what their PARENTS wanted them to do with their lives”, that doesn’t count) and some of those paths that they are SO excited to head down, don’t naturally involve much freedom.  But as long as they’re doing what they truly love, they probably won’t care much.  For them “success” might be their word and freedom could be their ordinary word and I wouldn’t think anything less of them. Besides, life isn’t all about your career, whether you put the word “extraordinary” in front of it or not.

No excuses are good enough.

While I just said that this isn’t all about your career and I’m alright with the fact that your career choices will probably be different than mine anyways… I take back all of  it if you are really just using your career as an excuse for why you aren’t pursuing your extraordinary life. Not cool man, not cool. I can see right through you… and so will everyone else when all your real goals and dreams come crashing down around you to reveal what you should’ve been doing all along. Your career is not an excuse.

The same applies if you have kids. Please, PLEASE do not let that be your excuse!  I’ll tell you right now, it’s not a good one!  A unique challenge maybe, I’ll give you that. But an excuse, never. In fact, I believe that the very reason you absolutely need to be living your extraordinary life is BECAUSE you have kids and they need a healthy parent who is a good example of how to live with passion and joy (didn’t you read my Emma Pillsbury quote at the end of post #4?).

I know plenty of families who have lived very extraordinary lives together. Since you might not believe it from someone who doesn’t have kids yet (me) I am going to hope I can convince you by enlisting plenty of help from extraordinary parents I know who seek to live extraordinary lives right along with their kids!  Just the other day I just met a man from Holland, who lives in Mexico, and sells Argentinean food.  He has two kids and he moved to Mexico with is girlfriend in search of freedom and a home on the beach… it can be done!

It’s OK if you have NO IDEA what your definition for an extraordinary life is!

I think it’s pretty normal to feel clueless.  Any discovery process is complex, confusing, and can be quite overwhelming.  That’s why we’re doing it together… and we’re starting out slowly.  These first few posts are just to get you on board with the concepts I’m talking about here and we’ll dive more in-depth into some pro-active steps for you to work on soon enough.

Perfection is not required.  Complete clarity in your identity is not needed.  Inexplicable, mysterious, or magical talents are not a pre-requisite for this course (but if you do have some of those, please tell me so I can proceed to steal them… Brewhahah!!).  All I’m asking from you at this point is that you’re ready to start thinking. And I’m hoping that you’ll eventually be ready to start acting on your thinking.

So wherever you are coming from, wherever you are at… it’s time to start moving towards where you want to go…. whether or not you even know exactly where that is yet.

 

 

Post #5: Your entire life in one word

Everyone has a single word that defines them.

At least that’s what Elizabeth Gilbert told me in “Eat, Pray, Love”. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve begun to believe her.

She begins explaining this concept by naming various cities and what their words are.  For example, New York is ACHEIVE, Los Angeles is SUCCEED, Stockholm is CONFORM, and Rome is SEX -or POWER if you’re talking about Vatican City (I’ve never been to Rome so I can neither confirm or deny these rumors).

So, do you know your word? Is it FAMILY, DEPRESSION, PLEASURE, FAITH, DEVOTION… etc, etc.? It doesn’t have to be a positive word, it only has to be true.  If your word happens to be one you don’t like then go ahead and name it, but make sure you add on to it the one you WISH was true… we’ll call that your “extraordinary word”. And that’s the one we’re going to be working on here.

So what is it? What’s your word?

I knew my word without hesitation.  When I asked Scottie his word, it didn’t surprise me that he answered with the same word without even pausing for a second.

Our word is FREEDOM. 

By freedom, I don’t mean that we lack disciple, rules, and boundaries.  I have those, I want those, and I need those.  The only difference is that I want to have a say in where to place them.  I want to set up my life so that I feel like I am always able to choose to do what I believe is best for me and my family, rather than to have an outside person or force choose for me. Time freedom, freedom from debt, emotional freedom, freedom to choose where to place my energy, freedom from addictions, freedom from unhealthy societal pressures,  freedom to choose a unique lifestyle for me and my family… all of those things (and many others) are small parts that go into this bigger picture of freedom for us. The last thing we want in the world is to end up in a place where all our decisions about those things have been made for us – without any regard to whether or not they are good for us – because we were too passive to care or too lazy to act.

We believe it’s our responsibility to make the rules for our life and that we shouldn’t rely on anyone else to do it for us; not society, the government, social norms, family pressures, etc., etc. It’s our job and if we choose not to do it, we have no one to blame for the results but ourselves.

 

Why is this level of freedom so important to us? Because we got tired of being hypocrites.

We continually found ourselves saying what was important to us, only to look around and see that our lives didn’t reflect those things at all.

“Relationships are our #1 priority.” Oh really? Is that why all you know more about the characters on the TV shows you watch while you work than you do about your best friends?

“Our marriage is our #1 priority.” Oh really? Is that why you just called your wife a Fatty-McButter Pants after a stressful day at the office?

“Helping others is our #1 priority.” Oh really? And the last time you did anything like that was….? It doesn’t count that you gave the neighbor kid a quarter because he was short for change at the soda machine.

I got so tired of feeling like I “had” to do things a certain way, because those certain ways made me feel like I was unable to do what was really important in life. So I started looking around to see if I could find other ways to do things. And I found that the answer was to seek freedom because that will be what enables us to do our best at what’s really important to us.  Things like, creating and maintaining community, being generous with any kind of resource we have (whether it’s money, love, knowledge, hospitality, etc.), living a healthy lifestyle (we still have a LONG way to go on this one!), traveling, pursuing our passions, loving endlessly, and experiencing overwhelming joy and beauty in life.  That is an extraordinary life for us, and the key to all of this (in a really long and complex way that is too much to explain in one post) is freedom. So freedom we shall seek.

So what is it? What’s your word?

Post #1: Epic journey’s are not just for hobbits

This blog is going to be epic. See, even the first sentence is pretty epic!  I considered starting off humble or humorously self-deprecating in a lovable Liz Lemon sort of way, but I prefer to be honest.  The fact is, I think we’re going to rock it up in here. Let’s just say, if this blog isn’t epic (which is not a problem we have to worry about, I’m telling you) then I’ve wasted the last year that I’ve spent writing and preparing for it… and possibly much more of my life if the entire concept is weak because I’ve been working from this particular world view long before I started writing about it.

Since living a “Rare Existence” and practicing “Extraordinary Living” is by definition the exact opposite of living in a way that is common and ordinary, you obviously can’t have a definition that is common or ordinary. Each person’s definition for it is unique. So no, you can’t just figure yours out by observing what others are doing or by writing the right answers on your arm (cheaters), it’s much more complicated than that and definitely requires you to wear your thinking caps as a permanent accessory (mine’s in black, so it goes with everything).

This is where most people (average Joes) stop… and where you (the rare and extraordinary) keep going.

Everyone knows what they DON’T want to do in life -and ironically it’s usually exactly what they ARE doing-but very few people know what they DO want to do in life.  The really ridiculous part is that when people finally get out of what they know they don’t want to do in life, they usually panic and scramble to get back into what they just got out of because they don’t know what else to do. How many people do you know who used every ounce of energy to get to retirement, only to take on a new job as soon as they get there? Exactly.

Extraordinary living isn’t all about what job you have, but my point is that it’s time we put in the energy and effort needed to really figure this stuff out before we find ourselves with a great opportunity to change, only to waste it by returning to the familiar and comfortable ways that we were so miserable in. Even more importantly, lets figure this out BEFORE we reach the age of retirement and realize that we wasted our whole lives being miserable or not doing what we were meant to be doing!

My purpose here is to help you identify what you DO want to do and to give you the tools and support you need to actually do it.

This is bigger than your career choice, or any individual choice you make for that matter. It’s bigger than day to day habits or schedule; bigger than all your ideas, decisions, and views… because it’s all those things put together. It’s everything that makes up you, being used with intention for the bigger picture. It’s the opposite of passivity. It’s living a life of purpose. A purpose that is decided based on who you are as an individual, as a member of your family, as a friend, in your community, and in the world.

Though the specifics of our definitions of extraordinary living will vary (remember, unique snowflakes), I want to have a common starting point for us all that we can use as a base to build our own specifics onto.

“Extraordinary Living” means living the life you are meant to live regardless of risk, difficulty, opinion of others, weaknesses, or failures.  This involves knowing yourself WELL, pursuing your passions, overcoming your fears, and working hard at all you do.

These are the kinds of things we’ll be working on together if you’re choose to embark on this with me. I know…it sounds really hard. It is. But it’s totally worth it. And it’s something we all need lots of support to do. Which is why I’m here and hoping you’ll be here for me too.

Part of my personal definition of extraordinary living involves living in community and sharing my life with others. So as my husband, Scottie, and I seek to discover what an extraordinary life looks like for us, as individuals and a couple, it is completely necessary that I involve like minded souls (or at least people who are just curious and are destined to become like minded souls) in my/our personal journey.

Plug your nose and hold your breath… we’re going in… together.