The Ordinary Word

The yin and the yang. The black and the white. The light and the dark. Perez Hilton and Vin Diesel. Our world seems to keep it’s balance through opposites. And it’s no different when it comes to extraordinary words.

For every extraordinary word there is an anti-word… an “ordinary word”.

The ordinary word is the one that sits on your other shoulder, taunting you and your goody two-shoes extraordinary word with his pitchfork, evil sneer, and sarcastic tone. I hate to tell you this, but if we’re going to pursue our extraordinary word, we have to forsake our ordinary word.
So what’s the opposite of my extraordinary word, freedom?  Are you sure you want to know…. it really sucks to hear.

The opposite of freedom is security.

Ew I know! Why does it have to be like this?  Why can’t they just be causal friends who only see each other on Christmas and Easter? At the very least they should be Facebook friends! Really guys, you should try to work something out here for those of us who don’t want to take sides. We want to hang out with BOTH of you, it isn’t fair that we have to choose!
But alas, it’s the truth. The more freedom you have, the less security you have, and vice versa.  As much as I want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I never heard that,  it’s true.

This is my great struggle in my pursuit of an extraordinary life.

If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you know that my Achilles heel is fear.  And in an attempt to fight the things I’m afraid of, control is my weapon of choice.  Fear and Control are definitely blood relatives of Security. On Christmas and Easter they all get together in Security’s giant house and eat the feast that their buddy Paycheck brought them. Freedom isn’t invited because he’s off sun-bathing in Tahiti with his friends, and besides they’d rather gossip about how foolish and irresponsible he is than actually talk to him anyways. Meanwhile, I’m just sitting at home praying for peace on earth so that we can all go enjoy Paycheck’s meal together!

This is the reason that every time I come to a crossroads in my life, a major battle ensues.  On the one hand… Freedom, waving his late bedtimes and quality relationships to tempt me.  And on the other road, Security is taking me on a tour of a beautiful new house that could be mine and reenacting for me the fictional story (that I once believed strongly) about how I can have complete control over my life.
Don’t be surprised if my head explodes from all of this one day.  And when that happens, I’m sure Freedom will just shake his head in disappointed sorrow that all of this could’ve been avoided if only I’d chosen right from the beginning.  And Security will just come and apathetically sweep up the messy remains that were once my life… which is the exact same thing he’d planned to do as soon as I joined his side anyways.

(Thanks to my brother, Paul McDaniel, who drew me this picture as a visual representation of this post!)

One of the reasons I’ve started this blog is to show people that we’re not magical, we’re not special, and we don’t have it all figured out.

I say that because people are always telling me how jealous they are of our freedom.  I do know why and I am very grateful for the benefits my job brings… because I know there are a lot of them. But it’s important that you know that we don’t have special powers. I promise, we don’t even have Spidy senses; and we definitely don’t have sticky, disgusting spider webs that shoot out of our fingertips (poor spider man got all the stupid powers).

We have the life we do because we’ve chosen it… and you can choose it too. But you WILL have to sacrifice things you may not be willing to give up. You’re going to have to leave behind your ordinary word. Maybe not right away of course,  it’s OK if you’re not ready for that.  But you’ll probably be asked to do it at some point, so steal one last kiss and start saying your goodbyes now because this train is leaving, Baby.

Ordinary people live by ordinary words. 

They can’t see past their deep-rooted fears long enough to reach for that intangible future. So they don’t.  They hold on tight to their ordinary word, often completely unaware that it is exactly what’s keeping them from clinging to their extraordinary word and the extraordinary life they’ve always wanted that comes with it. There’s a reason this existence is rare. The sacrifices are great, but the blessings from it are limitless.

Choose your words wisely.

Post #2: I always sat up straight and ate all my broccoli

Hi, nice to meet you.  We’re still kind of strangers but we’re about to get intimate really quick.  The kind of stranger intimacy that only happens when you are thrown together by a chance tragedy with a group of unlikely strangers and are forced to team up to stay alive (movies don’t lie right?).

The point is, if we’re about to embark on this journey of extraordinary living together, it might help to have a little “first day of school getting to know you” kind of time. The future direction I’m headed towards might make a little more sense if you know about the past I came from. So here’s my story.

Oh and one more thing before we get started…just so you know, a lot of the stuff I’m about to tell you about my life is old news. I wrote these first posts over a year ago in my beginning preparations for this blog and my life has already made significant leaps towards the extraordinary since then. But too bad, I’m going to make you sit in suspense for awhile and you’ll just have to keep reading Rare Existence to find out what happens to bring me to the point I’m at right now! Secrets, secrets, secrets!

So here goes…

I grew up with very little change in my life.  The timeline of my childhood probably has like 2 lines on it (and one of those lines is my birth).  I went to the same church from birth until high school and that church was also the school I went to from pre-school until 8th grade.  My dad was heavily involved in leadership at that church and my mom went from being on staff at the school to being on staff at the church.  So basically my entire life took place on the same church/school campus until I was 14.  Oh and let’s not forget the fact that I lived in the same house from 2 years old to 22 years old (when I got married) and that I still have yet to ever live in another state or city (I’ve been in the Phoenix area my entire life). I told you, that timeline is steady and straight! Eventually I stopped going to that church and I went to a public high school, community college, and then on to Arizona State University.  I graduated from ASU and went on to pursue a master’s degree in counseling (which I didn’t finish and is on indefinite hold).  My parents are still married, I’ve never lost anyone close to me, and my entire extended family still all lives nearby.

You can see that my life in a nutshell equals very little change.

When you don’t have any major transitions, trauma’s, or tragedies until high school (and still very few then), you grow up viewing life a certain way.  And for me, that life was marred by a constant fear of what happens when things DO change and when tragedy DOES strike!  I know it’s ridiculous and you can call me a pessimist, but while I was able to enjoy my easy going life (I am still SO grateful for it!), I also felt extremely guilty and had a lot of fear of the unknown.

This fear of the unknown, quickly transformed into me trying to prevent anything unplanned, or unapproved from entering into my life.

If you want to get right down to it (and I do, because this blog is about honesty), I became very controlling.  I believed I could control my world and the people in my world… so that everything could go how I wanted it to and I could remain happy always. The good thing that came from my young fearful state is that I was so afraid of getting into trouble that I always followed the rules and was protected from some of those life changes consequences that the after school specials warned me about. The down side to this is that it definitely fed my view that if I was “good” enough I could keep full control over my life and keep anything bad out.

I guess that’s the view you develop when everything does go your way for a really long time.  I’d never been confronted by the force of nature or by seemingly random acts of God.  So I started to believe I was the god of my own little universe.

While I never experienced a major force outside of my control, I did finally come face to face with a PERSON I couldn’t control (by the way I didn’t control my parents, but I didn’t need to try because my obedience led to very little conflict between us).  My husband was not about to let me control HIS world and mine!  So thanks to God knowing the kind of person I needed to marry more than I even did, I ended up being forced to confront the fake little reality I’d created and sat comfortably in for so long and instead step out and begin to take a few risks in my life.

If this were an after school special, it would end with a super dramatic chord progression and “… to be continued” written across the bottom of the screen.