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One of the reasons I love to explore and experience is when I return home, everything’s better.

Things that were ordinary before I left become extraordinary when I return. The dirty dishes, laundry, and barren landscape that wildfires love to claim become something bigger and better than they were just a short time before.

My humdrum routine is washed of prior expectations and seen from a fresh perspective and gratitude easily flows into everyday events.

Earlier this year, I went to California to visit family and cross off a life list excursion. Since returning home, I realized a litany of everyday gifts incorporated into my daily existence.

Expensive Location

Between the beaches, mountains, and big-earded adventures, California has adventures everywhere. I visited a couple of gems including Newport Beach, Downtown Disney, and Joshua Tree National Park. They all had their flavor of interest but each event had an expense.

The beach had meter parking, Disney had excessively paid parking, and Joshua Tree is in a remote location with an entrance fee.

Everything is more expensive in California. 

I noticed gas was $2 more than what I typically pay and cringed when I heard what homes were selling for. 

As much as I enjoy the scenic offerings, I felt grateful to live a more financially sustainable life in Montana. We are lacking every inch of an ocean but instead have prices that make homeownership a possibility instead of an impossibility. 

Plus, many of our sites are fee-free. As a gov employee, I know that fees pay for amenities and I’m not asking for everything to have the free 99-discount but I appreciate that my favorite activities are closer to carefree and fee-free.

Soul-Sucking Traffic

I’m unaccustomed to traffic since I’ve lived in medium-sized towns for over 15 years. Five minutes of traffic on my daily commute is about the extent of my frustration with traffic. 

I ferment like a salty sardine if canned up on the interstate for too long. 

But it’s a daily toll that Cali residents pay, I feel an abundance of gratitude to avoid congestion and extra idle expense that residents pay every day. 

Lifestyle Differences

My grandparents are getting to a point where age is noticeable like a neon billboard on a moonless night. 

My paternal grandfather is doing remarkably well for a 92-year-old, whereas my maternal parents are not as active, healthy, or happy. 

From my narrowed perspective, a lifetime of habits compounded with old age. 

Seeing their decline is vastly different from the centurion candidates I typically trade wit with. 

There is little, if anything, I can do to change their lifestyle outside of being grateful and taking the unspoken lessons for what they are including:

  • Fitness isn’t a placeholder for future intent but a daily event
  • Food is fuel, choose wisely
  • Learning doesn’t have an expiration
  • Pursuing passion and purpose shines with time
  • Humor leads to healing

Going From Ordinary to Extraordinary Antidote

When the days blur into one and ordinary delights become doldrums drags, I can’t run off to the next adventure. 

As a front-liner for the feds, that isn’t a good look. 

Instead, as I wait, save, and build for the next adventure, I can manufacture the extraordinary of ordinary.

The extra in ordinary comes from gratitude.

The rainbow sheen in soapy water, chocolate melting on my tongue, or hot water after a week with a busted water heater, has a different sheen with a gratitude filter. 

Gratitude can shake dark inner dialogue that wants to temper joy with corrupt beliefs that I don’t deserve joy or it won’t last or I will somehow jinx the joy right out of it. 

This isn’t just my fluff, insight from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley has pretty words about gratitude too: 

“We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:


  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking


  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness


  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.”

Home. A 4-letter word

A comfy bed, clean dishes, and air so crisp it nips my nose. 

Little ordinary things that put the extra in extraordinary. Far from seeming mundane, daily routines have taken on a fresh texture. It could be the subtle layer of gratitude, the extra splash of humility, or the sweatpant routine on repeat.

Whatever it is, I’m loving it and the next couple of weeks are going to be seeded with extraordinary. 

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3 thoughts on “Going From Ordinary to Extraordinary

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