Ordinary Moments, EXTRAordinary Opportunities

by Mike Snyder

5/1/18

I had hoped to send this out yesterday but was traveling between sites most of yesterday so I ran out of time. I wanted to wrap up the month of Ordinary Moments…EXTRAordinary Opportunities and thank all of you who sent in stories, provided feedback, and added to this experience for me. It was wonderful to see how many EXTRAordinary Opportunities exist every day.

My hope is ALL of you realize just how EXTRAordinary you are! Nobody in this world looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, writes like you, believes like you, cries like you, laughs like you or loves like you. Out of 7.5 billion people on this planet, YOU stand alone as the only you, and that is not only EXTRAordinary, it’s amazing! So many times in life we compare people to others. He will be the next…or she will be the next…instead of realizing that each person is unique, and not meant to be the “next” anything, rather the FIRST someone. My goal for this month by sharing all these stories was to shine a light on just how special each of you are. You are an amazing teacher. You are a wonderful bus driver. You are an outstanding maintenance person. You are a fantastic supervisor. You are a spectacular cook. UMCHS is made up of awesome individuals, and each one of us brings a unique gift to the table that nobody else can offer. I love the fact we not only acknowledge that here, we celebrate it!

Enjoy being you, enjoy the life you have, and enjoy the ordinary moments because without notice, an EXTRAordinary Opportunity will present itself, so be ready! Don’t try so hard to blend in, be proud you’re different and stand out, sing loud, and enjoy the world as you and ONLY you see it! Be EXTRAordinary!

4/27/18

TGIF…Finally

I hope all of you have enjoyed the awesome sunny days we have been blessed with the past few days and are getting ready for warmer weather, which will soon fill our days.

Raise your hand if you like standing in line? My guess is there is not a ton of hands that shot up. We live in an age where time is literally traveling at the speed of light. We have computers in our pockets that could handle the job of a mid-level manager from the 80s, all done with our thumbs. Information is being thrown at us almost faster than we can process it, and life has sped up to the point that it can be very difficult to wait. We have kids in sports, meetings to go to, birthday parties to attend, BBQs to enjoy, homework to finish, etc. We are constantly being pushed to the next thing, and lines just slow us down and get in the way. I am not talking about crazy Disney Land or Black Friday lines, just the ones with 2-3 people in it at the local grocery store. We hope and pray we have not gotten behind someone with coupons either, that is going to slow us down even more!

But what if slowing us down isn’t a bad thing? Let’s be honest, I think we can all use a break, a time out if you will, in our busy days and lives, right? What if we looked at this Ordinary Moment as an EXTRAordinary Opportunity to get to know someone we may not know, strike up a conversation with someone instead of reading all the tabloid headlines or browsing social media. What is life is meant to have a pause button built into it, and we’ve gotten so busy we stopped appreciate that wait. It may seem like an insignificant act, but believe me there is a lot to learn about those around us and it’s fun to think about how connected we are to some people we may not even know.

If we are always in a hurry to get to the next thing, we lose sight of what is happening now. If we do not see what is going on right now, we can overlook the how. How we get to each moment is part of our story, and I believe we were meant to enjoy our story and make it EXTRAordinary by appreciating small things like a moment to catch our breath and stand in line with a few other humans who all have a story to share as well.

Take time this weekend to slow down, literally smell the roses, park a little farther away from the front door and enjoy the walk, pick the longer line and enjoy the talk. Don’t let technology and the busyness of life distract you from the EXTRAordinary Opportunity that may be standing right in front of you…with a basket full of bananas and bread. There may even be coupons involved, but that’s okay too 🙂

4/25/18

Sometimes in life, ordinary moments can turn into tragedy in the blink of an eye, but there are heroes among us who often step forward and face these moments as an EXTRAordinary Opportunity! You may or may not know the man pictured below, his name is James Shaw Jr. and he is a hero. James and a friend had gone to a Waffle House early Sunday morning to get something to eat, but the one they first went to was busy so they decided to drive to the next one down the road. While sitting with a friend at the counter, someone opened fire on the people inside the Waffle House restaurant. James bolted from his seat and slid along the ground to the restroom, keeping an eye and ear out for the gunman. When the shooter paused, Mr. Shaw ambushed him. The two wrestled for a bit, the barrel of the rifle was still hot when Shaw managed to free it from the gunman, tossing it behind the counter and the gunman fled. The encounter left Shaw with a burn on his hand and a wound on his elbow where a bullet had grazed it.

“I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it,” Shaw told reporters Sunday.

Heroes seem untouchable, Shaw told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday. “I just want to be put out there like a regular person,” he said. Maybe then, if people find themselves in dangerous situations, they’ll find “that same thing within them that they can project out,” he said. Four people lost their lives that morning, which is an extremely tragic event. However many lives were saved by the actions of one brave EXTRAordinary soul!

After all the interviews from the police and media, James went home, changed his clothes, and attended church with his family. That is what heroes do when the EXTRAordinary Opportunity passes, they go back to the ordinary moments of life.

4/24/18

We’ve all heard it said many times in our life, a picture is worth 1000 words. Now days most of us walk around with amazing high-powered cameras in our pockets, the pictures our phones take today make professional photography from decades gone by look poor in comparison. The temptation can be to view our world through the lens of our phone, which can cause us to miss some of the EXTRAordinary Opportunities happening around us. Having a camera with us at all times isn’t always a bad thing however, sometimes we are trying to take an ordinary photo and are blessed with the perfect shot, turning it into an EXTRAordinary memory. I recently saw the picture of the shark below online, and some have called it “the shot of the year”. It is an amazing photo taken at the perfect time, and it is very cool to look at.

Have you ever been surprised by what your camera has captured? I take a LOT of photos, and I delete many of them. However, every now and then the lens captures a special moment in time, in the best way, so that we remember just how special that was for us. Do you have any photos like that? If so, I would love to see them and hear the story behind them.

One of my favorite photos like this was taken down in San Diego years ago. My daughter ordered a root beer float just wanting something sweet to taste. When it arrived (almost as big as her), she was beyond excited and I was able to capture that moment perfectly, and this photo lives as an EXTRAordinary moment in our life. If you have a photo you want to share, please send it my way so I can share it with others as well.

4/20/18

I wanted to start your Friday by introducing you to a little friend of mine named Priyasha who took an ordinary moment and made some EXTRAordinary people very happy!

In January of 2015, a sweet little 9 year old girl who loved to sew, a skill that has been passed down through her family, decided to be the change she wanted to see in this world. Her goal was to make 300 pillowcases for kids with different illnesses and disorders. She finds most of the kids she creates for through Facebook, in fact that’s how I found her. She gets to know a little bit about each child, what they like, and then finds a pattern that will be perfect for each one. She has stations set up around her house for each part of the process. I have met many people and become good friends with some of them through Priyasha and her acts of kindness. She has well surpassed her goal of 300 pillowcases; the photo below was taken a while back and has her sitting with 200 of her pillowcases. She has expanded her kindness to nursing homes and the elderly, and has made many pillowcases for veterans as well. We often ask “what does a hero look like” and for me, a hero looks exactly like her! She has brought so many smiles to so many sick and hurting people, and as you can see below this brings a huge smile to her face in return! She took an ordinary thing like a pillowcase and turned it into an EXTRAordinary Opportunity to show love to so many who truly needed it.

If you want to follow her on Facebook they have a page setup for her – facebook.com/priyashapillowcases

4/18/18

I hope you are ready to enjoy TODAY.

As I was getting ready for work I remembered a story I have heard many times. The story is about a man who, while out walking one day, is confronted by a ferocious, man-eating tiger. He slowly backs away from the animal, only to find that he is trapped at the edge of a high cliff; the tiger snarls with hunger, and pursues the man. His only hope of escape is to suspend himself over the abyss by holding onto a vine that grows at its edge. As the man dangles from the cliff, two mice – one white and one black – begin to gnaw on the vine he is clutching on. If he climbs back up, the tiger will surely devour him, if he stays then there is the certain death of a long fall onto the jagged rocks. The slender vine begins to give way, and death is imminent. Just then the precariously suspended man notices a lovely ripe wild strawberry growing along the cliff’s edge. He plucks the succulent berry and pops it into his mouth and says “This lovely strawberry, how sweet it tastes.”

I have heard many different examples of what this story means to people. The one I like the most is the tiger represents the man’s past, something that he feels is constantly chasing him (mistakes, regrets, painful memories, etc.) and the mice and jagged rocks below represent his future (worry, hope, finances, health, etc.), but the strawberry represents THIS day, THIS moment, which is meant for him to enjoy. Others believe the story is about a fool who neglects his duty to try and save himself for the enjoyment a silly strawberry. We are each given a gift every morning, a day in which “this opportunity does await you”, so we all have the choice to live for each day and enjoy it to the fullest. We can choose to focus on the past or worry about the future, but I choose to focus on today. Carpe Diem is often translated as “Seize the Day” but the literal translation means “Pluck the Day”.

I encourage each and every one of you to find your strawberry, pluck it, enjoy its sweet taste and make TODAY EXTRAordinary!!!

4/17/18

I saw this recently and thought it was a great example for the current theme of the month. In 1995, 14 wolves were re-introduced in Yellowstone National Park. Nobody expected the EXTRAordinary Opportunities the wolves would bring…

Often in life, one small change has much larger impacts on its surrounding environment. This is called the ripple effect – the continuing and spreading results of an event or action. That can start with a smile 🙂

4/17/18

I received another example yesterday from Selene Rosas. Having faith in someone other than ourselves is often an EXTRAordinary Opportunity in our ordinary daily lives.

“I have this little boy he’s six and named Messiyah. We like to call him Messi for short. He did something pretty amazing this past Friday that made me think what an extraordinary little man he is. As a family and at school we have been working with him in growing his Faith. Come Friday, I was feeling horribly sick to my stomach. Fortunately, I made it through the workday, but as soon as I got home, I started running a fever, chills, stomach cramps, and body aches. I was miserable. Around bedtime my son comes into my room and puts his arm around me and says, “it’s okay mom, Jesus is going to heal you”. I looked at him and smiled. He then said, “Mom, I’m going pray for you, close your eyes”. He began “Jesus, help mom feel better so she’s not sick any more, amen”. He gave me a big hug and said “lay down mom, you’re going to feel better”. I remember thinking wow; he has never initiated prayer except for at the dinner table. The next morning I woke up feeling great. He said “see mom, I told you he was going to make you feel better”. That was an EXTRAordinary moment that I will cherish forever and feel so blessed to have been able to experience with him. I strive to help him grow closer to God and build his own personal relationship with him. My favorite bible verse I like to include in daily prayer is; like Timothy, may my son be an example to believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)”

4/13/18

This is my last chance to encourage everyone for the coming weekend. I hope you have enjoyed the examples shared by your co-workers this week, and I hope you are inspired to seek the EXTRA opportunity in any ordinary moment. Take some time this weekend to look for these opportunities; I would love to hear about them next week!

Our final example comes from Shelley DeVore, a CCR&R Consultant in Baker City. Another EGGS-tra-ordinary moment if you will 🙂

“My girls made a daily chore EXTRAordinary!

This weekend I found my girls ages 15 and 10 out with the chickens gathering eggs, feeding and watering them. I expected to hear whining and complaining about doing this chore. Instead, they turned the chore into something extraordinary.

As I snuck up on the girls they were both loving on the chickens, petting them, and the youngest thanking the chickens for their eggs and for providing food for our family. The girls cared for the chickens, fed and watered them as they do daily. I thought this was an EXTRAordinary moment for my children to respect these animals that help feed them all year round.”

4/13/18

Deb Schnell sent in this wonderful example and she asks an important question? Who’s hero are you?

“When I got home yesterday, I was met with a huge smile and my daughter holding something behind her back. She had received the anti-bullying award! The Stanfield Police talked with the children about bullying and about being a hero. After the talk with the police officer, the officer asked the children if they believed they were heroes. Marissa stated, “Mom, no-one raised their hand! But I did and I said to the class, ‘All of you should have your hand up!’” Not only did Marissa believe she could be a hero, but she believed in all of her peers. Then the children were tasked with writing down someone they felt was a hero. Come to find out, over half of Marissa’s class wrote her name down.

Here at UMCHS we believe in each other. We believe in the heroic because we have all been someone’s hero. I was brought to tears when I saw how deeply this belief impacted my daughter and her school. This may have been an anti-bullying award, but the Stanfield Police Department and the Stanfield School started something that has already made a huge impact! Who’s Hero are you?”

4/13/18

Roxann Malmberg sent in this wonderful EXTRAordinary Opportunity to share with all of you.

“I wanted to share this special moment with 3 of my grandchildren over Spring Break. I took them to Idaho where we visited family and decided to visit the Idaho State Capital in Boise. They were so in awe of the Capital. It was so awesome to be able to share with them that I had visited the Capital when I was in the 4th grade for our Idaho History class and again when I was in high school.

The picture of my grandson looking over the balcony to below was priceless. The picture of the 3 grandchildren was in front of a statue of George Washington that was carved out of Idaho wood by Charles Ostner and presented to the Territory of Idaho January 8th, 1869.

I love these special moments with them.”

4/12/18

This EXTRAordinary Opportunity comes from Daisy Ramirez who works in Human Resources.

“About 5 years ago I started my fitness journey. Around this time my son was only 5 and my daughter was 2. My kids’ first sport was indoor soccer through the city league and they were very shy and didn’t like the running. So I had to think of a way to get involved and show them that being physically active was very IMPORTANT! That’s when I decided to start working out at home. When Isaac and Iaunny saw what I was doing they asked “Mom why do you do that” so I explained about being strong and healthy. Little did I know that this would be a very big impact in their little lives and now they are little champs!!! They play soccer, basketball and wrestle throughout the year. (Iaunny this year was the only 8 year old girl who took first place at wrestling regionals and my son took 3rd 🙂 ) They are on the go all the time. When they don’t have practice they workout with momma at home. These are my EXTRAordinary kiddos! P.S my sister recently started to work out this last month as well 🙂 (YEY!)”

A little chat with your kids can make a huge impact on their lives, and now the whole family enjoys exercising together! Thanks for sharing Daisy!

4/11/18

Reagan Bass shared this wonderful EXTRAordinary Opportunity with us…or as she called it EGGS-tra-ordinary 🙂

“Well, we definitely had an eggs-tra-ordinary moment in our neighborhood last week. Looked up in the yard and saw the 5 youngsters, age 8 to 6, the bored group was looking for something to do on a nice sunny day.
So, I asked them what they were doing and they ran over to our yard. The kiddos explained they were together, because they missed Easter holiday. I explained that our family missed the holiday due to do to work schedule.

I asked them to go home and ask their parents if they could dye eggs and eat cake. The kiddos returned, on our outdoor porch we dyed eggs, hid eggs, and ate cake. It was an eggs-tra-ordinary day!

My 4 year cried when the kids had to go home, she wanted to still play with the eggs. I redirected with washing the front porch off with the hose and everyone was happy again.”

What a wonderful example, and she got to know her neighbors at the same time!

4/10/18

First I would like to thank everyone who sent in stories and examples to me yesterday, those were fantastic! One of our staff shared a moment with us that was very personal, and reminds us that the EXTRAordinary Opportunies can be found in moments of sadness and grief.

“I want to share a moment I had with my grandson this week. Over spring break, one of his friends committed suicide. The school had candlelight vigil walk to remember the young lady on Friday evening, and of course, my grandson wanted to attend. He is 17 and has seemed to be well past the age for receiving hugs from grandma. However, Saturday afternoon, he had been back in his room and came out and walked into the kitchen where I was and then followed me to the family room. When I sat down he asked, tears in his eyes, “Can I have a hug?” I stood and hugged that boy with all my might. He said, “I am just so sad.” Having lost a close friend to suicide when I was a teenager, I felt related very strongly with the feelings he was experiencing. I must have held him for 10 minutes while his 6’4″ frame bent over me. That one moment lead to a very deep and needed conversation where my grandson opened up about things he had been holding in for a long time.

When he went to bed that night, he came over and gave me a hug, and said, “I love you, Grandma”.

Being available to him for that hug when he needed it most lead to words that bridged a gap in our relationship that I feared would never be resolved. An ordinary moment that lead to EXTRAordinary opportunity!”

I just read an article yesterday that talked about a new study released that states the more you hug your kids, the smarter they get (helps brain development). I would agree whole-heartedly!

4/9/18

I want to encourage everyone to look for EXTRAordinary Opportunities in Ordinary Moments throughout the week. When you find one, capture it and don’t let it escape! Take a photo, write a note about it, whatever you do send it to me! One of the benefits of having owned a gift shop in the past, we have some cool things left over from that. I have three little books of encouragement to hand out at the end of the week. Anyone who sends me an EXTRAordinary Opportunity will be eligible to win (picked at random). I have “Q&A a day for moms” which is a 5-year journal with little questions on each day. I also have “Thanks to You” which is a book full of little encouraging messages to yourself. Finally, I have “YES…Life is Waiting. Are you ready?” which is another little fun book to help encourage you in your daily life.

So now it’s up to you, will you take the challenge in your ordinary days to find something EXTRA? If so, please send me your example so others can learn from you!

4/4/18

Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.

Eckhart Tolle

By Michelle Maros

I find it is really important to remember that we are in charge of creating our own destiny. Yes, we will have high moments and low moments, but what we do with the in between moments really matters a great deal. How do you treat the ordinary moments of your life? The day to day activities? Do you simply live for the high notes, or do you make the ordinary extraordinary? My wish is to share with you how I make ordinary moments feel extraordinary and how we can change our mindsets from the mundane to the spectacular.

  1. Be present to how you feel in each moment. What is the present moment bringing up for you? As soon as you identify how you feel you can pinpoint your action plan. Get familiar with your feelings, as they are a roadmap to life.
  2. Allow what feelings arise for you in any given moment, but remember you can choose how you proceed.It’s easy to get in a downward spiral when it comes to feelings, feel the feeling then remember that your thoughts create your reality, choose wisely!
  3. Follow what excites you. Being in touch with your feelings you are able to notice what makes you truly happy. Follow these clues of what makes you happy from the inside out.
  4. Find acceptance in what is. Difficult, but so important. We tend to live life waiting for the next big thing, and losing sight of what’s happening in front of us. Bring yourself back to the present, find peace in what’s happening in the now, and have gratitude for what this moment brings.
  5. Remember that even “low” times have a time and a place. If we lived on a high for our entire lives we would never appreciate the good stuff as much due to lack of comparison. “Low” moments give us that comparison and the space to learn and grow.

I believe every moment is a chance to share our own magnificence. How do you choose to make your ordinary moments extraordinary? I would love to hear your thoughts!

4/3/18

I had something planned to send out today, but my ordinary morning was interrupted by something EXTRA.  March 21st was Down Syndrome Awareness Day and the staff at Punkin Center decided to celebrate that by wearing crazy socks.

“The Wednesday before Spring break was Down Syndrome Awareness Day. To symbolize this, you wear crazy socks.  So that’s just what we did! Here at Punkin Center 1, as part of our spirit week, we celebrated those who have Down Syndrome and all of their uniqueness by wearing CRAZY SOCKS! The kids’ favorite part was being able to take off our shoes to show off our socks for our picture!”

The sock thing started with a guy named John, a young man with Down Syndrome.  No slave to fashion, John has long cherished socks that speak to his mood and his personality. He became a connoisseur of sorts, seeking out any store that might let him add to his collection.  John and his dad Mark have started their own company called John’s Crazy Socks.

“We seek those socks that will make a difference, that will make you smile or laugh, that will tug at your heart, that will add some zest to your life. We are all about socks that will matter to you, that you will love and cherish.”

John and his dad took something ordinary (can you be more ordinary than a pair of socks?) and created something EXTRAordinary to help add zest to life, to make people smile, to start conversations with one another.  That’s amazing!  And through that, some of our staff and children got to take an ordinary moment and spice it up with some fun socks creating an EXTRAordinary opportunity to celebrate.  If you have never had the EXTRAordinary opportunity to meet someone with Down Syndrome you are missing out, they are truly some of the happiest and most loving people I have ever met!

You can read more about John’s Crazy Socks here:

https://johnscrazysocks.com/pages/our-story

4/2/18

As many of you know April is Child Abuse Prevention Month so we are going to focus on some ways to take ordinary moments and help make them EXTRAordinary for children and families.  Often times in life we tend to look for amazing things and often become bored or even depressed when life is just…well normal.  There are so many opportunities in every “normal” day we live to make special memories.  This past week my family took a break over to the Oregon Coast to spend some time making memories.  I was constantly aware of how easy it would be to miss an extraordinary opportunity simple because it seemed like any other ordinary moment.  One of the first things I noticed was how quickly my children all bonded together over tiny things, but all of those combined to create a fascinating world.  When my kids are in their ordinary element, they have so many distractions and often do not spend a lot of time playing together any more.  However, when we hit the beach, even in the cold misty rain, their world exploded before them!  They spent time TOGETHER, which was EXTRAordinary in itself.  They were having so much fun looking at all the creatures that make up life at the ocean.  I stopped to listen and observe all that was going on, and they were enjoying each other so much and the excitement was pouring from them.  It would have been very easy to sit back with my wife and simply say, “the kids seem to be having fun” and chalk it off as another day.  By actually choosing to be part of it all, diving into their joy, it really turned something simple into something amazing.

So many times, we think of abuse as someone doing harm to a child, but abuse comes in many forms including neglect.  Do not neglect the opportunity you have to be the extra in a child’s ordinary.  Rather than focus on the negative, I want to highlight the positive influence we have enriching the lives of young children by participating in ordinary moments and doing little things to make them extraordinary.  This month I hope to encourage all of you, whether you are in the classroom creating dreams daily or are part of the wonderful backbone of this agency who help keep the wheels turning, we all have ways in our days to see the extra in the ordinary!

Now that I have introduced the theme for April, I want to invite each of you to participate in this with me.  I would like to hear your stories of how the ordinary became EXTRAordinary so that others can see how easy (and wonderful) this can be.  If you have something that might have seemed ordinary but turned into something extraordinary, please send those stories to me so I can compile them to share with staff and use on Social Media.  Each of you has amazing stories to share, I know because I have heard many of them!

Here is a great example from that beach trip I mentioned in my last email.  The first morning we woke up at the ocean I was in the kitchen of the little condo we rented making breakfast.  I looked up and caught this (see picture below) moment and had to snap a pic.  I first noticed the powerful surf crashing into the beach just outside our window, but then I noticed the moment taking place right before me, which may have seemed like ordinary but it was quite spectacularly EXTRAordinary!  My children are like many others these days, which means they spend a lot of time on their phones and social media.  What caught my eye was the simplicity of this moment, but how impactful this would be on my kids and my family.  My girls (wife included) all sat looking out at the ocean talking.  No television or other entertainment needed (although one girl still has her phone with her).  I sat there for a few moments listening and loving it all; it was truly an extraordinary moment out of what might have seemed like an ordinary morning.  I could have sat in that moment all day, but the bacon was burning!

Something simple like this can end up being something you always remember, I know my kids will look back at the time they had at the beach and the connections we all made with one another in new and exciting ways.