An Extraordinary Life
I recently gathered with a great group of women. We sat in front of a cozy fire on a blustery fall day, talking about the ins and outs of our lives, when someone asked the question:
What is the most amazingly wonderful thing that has happened to you?
One woman had a story about the overwhelming love she experienced at the time of a loved one’s death. Another had a story of a strong spiritual connection felt with a stranger. One by one each woman shared her most fantastic story. Then it was my turn. I shared what came to me most immediately, though, at a glance, it may seem a very ordinary experience.
As I brainstormed a response I took stock of my history. I married a kind man who loves and respects me and our family. He has made it his life-purpose to support us in our goals and dreams. I have three children that have lived healthy lives filled with many of the usual experiences of our time and culture - school, sports, friends. We always had more than enough of our material needs met. And we’ve always had just enough challenges with all the usual worries and concerns that come with living in this world.
So in this seemingly ordinary life, what is the most amazingly wonderful thing that has happened to me?
I pictured a film of my life, a mental montage similar to what I’ve read about when a near death experience causes a person’s life to flash before her eyes. And the life that flashed through my mind was filled with the moments of pure joy I’ve seen in my family’s faces throughout the years. I can still see them now-- the laughter as my kids blew out birthday candles, pride-filled glances shared with my husband at ball games, the warm feeling of getting cozy for a family movie night at home, and the sparkle and light in the eyes of my children each year when they splashed around in the ocean and played in the sand on family camping trips on the Washington coast…
These subtle experiences may sound boring to some. But I can’t help but feel appreciation for how extraordinary my life has been in its ordinariness.
I am grateful for all the things that had to go “right” to have this extraordinary life. But I am also grateful for all the things that had to go “wrong”. I realize that even negative moments have in some way contributed to things going right. There is a cause and effect relationship in all that we experience, and I am grateful for the certain magic in how life flows together.
I truly believe that the Universe (or God or Life or whatever you choose to call it) always provides. I have decades of proof that the Universe really does have my back! I think of all the times I chose to look at the bright side of things when things were chaotic and less than perfect. My husband and I made habits to always notice how fortunate we were, even when our life might have looked unfortunate by many external standards. And believe me, by external standards we faced a far amount of challenges. As a young couple with three children and nothing else to our name, we moved to Seattle to start a new life for ourselves. So often, especially in times of challenge, we survived on the practice of gratitude. And now, more and more, current research is confirming the benefits of practicing gratitude that we already know--that our attitude sets a frame and focus from which we perceive the world, and that we perpetuate what we perceive.
The prompt, what is the most amazingly wonderful thing that has happened to me, has me in the position to look back and watch how my life has unfolded. Wow what a ride it has been.
Now as a professional coach, I work with many younger women through my coaching practice and I find that in ways I am often coaching a younger version of myself. I can offer the wisdom that has come through my experiences. And I can offer empowering questions for women to find their own answers, so that they can express their best selves in their lives. Through coaching I get to witness the shifts that move people into a different perspective, shifts that create space for gratitude and inspiration. I get to see people set themselves up for their own extraordinary lives. And that too, is an amazingly wonderful thing.
What is the most amazingly wonderful thing that has happened in your life? What had to go right, and what had to go wrong, for your amazingly wonderful experience to happen? How can you shape your perspective to lead you to an extraordinary life?
I would love to hear about the most amazingly wonderful experience in your life.