Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Extraordinary Act of Being Ordinary

   Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
John W. Gardner

The blogosphere hosts an abundance of smart, educated, interesting and unique individuals. There is a range of Ph.D, JD, MD, you and me and everything in between. People who travel all over the world, often to far off places, people who live in countries not of their birth. People native to countries that I will never visit. Artists, writers, dreamers, smart, witty, urbane people who can delight you, make you think beyond your borders and people within your borders who through their intellect make you wonder about their lives and your own.

So as I explore these places, these often deeply personal spaces, sometimes flip and irreverent glimpses of life, I wonder at my own ordinariness. Where, I wonder, do I fit into this unbelievable arena of extraordinary? I read their words, I am pulled into their places and I think, whoa. I'm so ordinary. 

  Just Jules    is doing something called 'I Am' and you fill in the blank. I must put a photo of my response on my blog on white paper in black marker. Those of you who have followed me from the start know I am Wonder Woman and you know why. My answer got me thinking about my extraordinary ordinariness. How we are all extraordinary, but we don't look and see. We see the lives of others and we sigh. That is so much different from my ordinary life. And it is. It really is, and it probably is wonderful and exciting and fulfilling. But in some way it is also ordinary to the person living it.

I thought of my ordinary life. I thought about the things in my life that are extraordinary and yet so ordinary.

The ordinary things: giving birth to a child and rearing him to a kind, productive manhood. Or witnessing and sometimes aiding in dozens of lives being born to my mares over the long years. Listening to that nicker as mama talks to her baby for the first time, seeing that small body attached to so much leg struggle to rise and stay standing. Hearing the first suckling sound as baby finds the source of life in mama's udder. Watching them run for pure joy and being so fortunate to see them thrive.

Facing the extraordinary that sometimes happens in an ordinary life. Working in concert with volunteer firefighters to free a pregnant mare from a collapsed pole barn on a February morning. Feeling the rush throughout the body of relief when she is up and out of the wreckage and alive. Then the heartbreaking sadness when the filly she carried and nurtured dies at four months.

Ordinary on a breeding farm, but not in my core, to watch my foundation mare bleed to death after foaling her colt. Realizing I can't mourn the mare, I have her son to raise. Keeping him alive and raising him to be Zing. So I mourn the mare still, because I never got the opportunity to do it when I needed to. So I cry as I write about her.  And I wonder in amazement at the foal I raised to this gentle horse.

I have managed to stay married to my second husband for many years. This is not always easy, I think because it becomes so ordinary. Maintaining a marriage is ordinary and very extraordinary.

Being bitten, stomped, tossed, pushed, trampled, dragged. And I still like raising horses. An often ordinary day on a breeding farm. Watching the breeding horses talk to one another over the fence line and knowing its not all ordinary, sometimes it's magic. 

Holding an animal in your arms as it takes its first or its last breath, around here that is ordinary. And it is another moment of magic. The coming of life and the final wisp of breath as life leaves its shell. It's just as important to tend to dying as to arriving. Very ordinary, but so extraordinary. 

 Knowing I'm so much more than I ever thought I was, but realizing I'm less than I could be. And having to live with it.

And I am Wonder Woman because I am. I don't live in an exotic location, I don't spend my days with clever people. I spend my days with clever horses and annoying dogs. I go to these places via the internet and I yearn a bit for the lives so different from my own, these people who look beautiful, are funny and smart and chic. I look at my ever expanding waist, my feet encased in work boots, my gnarled hands with dirt under the nails and my wardrobe that consists of elastic waistbands and tee shirts. I tell stallions to put it away, I give a balding horse his herbs and hope he will be OK, I pull burrs out of manes, notice when they are sick, spend my life in their company. I often believe I speak their language better than my own. I made the call to live this ordinary life. They in turn made me Wonder Woman. I am deeply grateful.


  1. i think those are extraordinary reasons to be wonder woman. :-) me, i'm still over here practicing the jumps, just in case. :-)

  2. It took me years to become, so you have time. But keep practicing!

  3. Lol, Sandra, I think living the ordinary well is rather extraordinary in itself. There aren't many genuises around & more often than not they were a right old pain in the whatsit, but to be kind & gracious, to be fully present at birth & death, these are the true substance of a life well lived. Besides, the good Lord loves ordinary people; it's why he made so many of them! ;P

  4. Wow. What touching pictures you paint with your words, Sandra.

  5. You are everything BUT ordinary! Sometimes (and I do this all the time myself) the grass seems greener on the other side - until you actually step into the other side. Then you realize that your own "ordinariness" is where your heart lies.
    Say this with me in Rainman's voice - "Definitely Wonder Woman. Yep. Definitely."

  6. I certainly am one of the many and whether I have had a life well lived will be determined by others, I think.

    Jean, if the gender weren't wrong, I would say you are Superman.

    Britwife, the beauty and glory of it is, I really am ordinary. And I'm Wonder Woman. It's rather wonderful, don't you think?

  7. Oh I love this exercise - once in a while a plan in my silly little head works - thanks for helping me realize will get this posted after see one #4 has his "puter" time - he may just rip the screen off if I don't give him his turn.

  8. Loved your post Sandra, I think everyones life seems ordinary to them once they are inside of it. It is why everyone continually strives for something more : ) Not always a bad thing but it is good to stop and notice the extraordianry things about our own ordinary lives : ) : )


  9. Julie, you had a very good idea. I don't need a prize, the idea in itself was enough.

    Ashley, I'm always pleased when I see you show up. I know you are so busy, but the www misses you.

  10. Knock my socks off, Sandra...you are very far from ordinary...definitely EXTRAordinary...you give the extra a whole new meaning. Loved this post..one of the best ones you have written (imho)...tears just reading it as I could envision every scene, smell and sound. Wonder Woman is a good moniker. Thank you...for being "ordinary" you so we can enjoy the extra by living through your words.

  11. I absolutely adore your perspective, Sandra.

  12. Thank you Alicia, but I think my Ode to Dog Hair is my masterpiece. : ) : ) : )

    Hi Jean, long time no see. I guess my point is even my really routine life has it's extraordinary moments. And that there is often wonder in the everyday.

  13. This post was like a great movie. Each thought brought out different emotions. Some sentences made me want to cry--others nearly made me laugh out loud. Some parts were pretty close to home for me. It touched me.....

    Me thinks you are no ordinary blogger.

  14. You certinaly are wonder woman.
    I think you have acheived alot.

  15. Jean, it resonated with you because it mirrors your own life. You tell stallions to put it away too. : )

    Thank you Liss. Some days I just wonder if I can get moving. But I always do!

  16. you ARE wonder woman! The work you are doing with the horses provides puts you right at the heart of the cycles of life and living and dying. What an experience!

    I love this part so much:

    "Knowing I'm so much more than I ever thought I was, but realizing I'm less than I could be. And having to live with it."

    Is what I think this journey is all about.

    Thanks for reposting this!

  17. Marion, sometimes we need to look a little deeper to appreciate who we are and where we are. Like looking into the face of your daughter.

  18. I'm blinking back tears and warming up goosebumps here Sandra. Beautiful post and beautiful responses from many ordinary extraordinaries. The word that comes to mind is grace. We are given such grace to live in, to grow in and to be in.

  19. Deb, I like to think I can live in grace. It is usually not so, but it is something to strive toward.


I really appreciate the concept and sentiment behind awards, but I cannot participate in them anymore. I have too may and I have not got the time to devote to participating properly. To all who have honored me, I am grateful but I don't have seven more things to tell anyone about myself! And I'm a terrible passer-oner.