Ordinary and Otherwise

This blog post is written in sync with a #wholemama blog link up by Esther Emery.

Love you forever1My mom sent me a batch of pictures she took during our vacation at my parents’ cottage in July. Because I’m usually the photographer in my little family, Siena and I don’t have a lot of photos together, and Mom sent me a few of us in action.

I got to catch a glimpse into my ordinary life.

Ordinary. As in–the life that I began living after dealing with my Evangelical Hero Complex. The one in which I buy a house in a city in the States and live there. Our white picket fence is actually taupe. Sometimes I forget that the ordinary is extraordinary.


The FAm

This is my ordinary.

Kylie Siena

These two faces.


And a computer, writing, students, and dreams.

When I think about my ordinary, a line from Psalm 16 comes to mind: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

I know it won’t always be so. Someday it will be otherwise, and I will, like the Psalmist, cry out to God in tears. I have been there before. I will be there again. But I am not there right now.

Right now I am grateful that my ordinary is filled with

  • two tiny arms that reach up for mine
  • hands that clutch my swimsuit straps in the city pool
  • being able to chase away tears with a hug and change of scenery
  • a man who regularly cooks new recipes from scratch
  • board games and television on our nights in (which are all of them)
  • a computer that works (even when my mind doesn’t)
  • friends who are cheerleaders
  • the doing and teaching of writing
  • open doors for yoga and writing and, dare I say, my vocation

Oh, we have our hiccups and our sleepless nights and finicky eating and bee stings and head bonks and writing blocks and unpredictable paychecks and all of the crazy that comes with fledgling businesses and tiny humans. We so easily focus on these things in our house.

But my ordinary is spending my days with people I love, and we’re making space in our lives to chase our vocations, to chase what God put us on this planet to do. From this vantage, my ordinary feels holy.

It could be otherwise. The word “otherwise” comes from a poem that I’ve carried with me since high school; it was written by Jane Kenyon, the late spouse of poet Donald Hall:


I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.


Here’s a writing exercise: write an “otherwise poem” about your ordinary. See what you find.

Fam sidewalk



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7 thoughts on “Ordinary and Otherwise

  1. Oh I love the idea to write an otherwise poem! What a great way to refocus and remind ourselves to stop, remember and live in thankfulness for the ordinary!

  2. An otherwise poem is a great idea! I see how it could really help us to focus on what we do have right now. I love your pictures, too. It’s nice that your mom was able to send them to you. I took most of the pics in my family, too, so there weren’t as many with me and the kids. Of course, now they are all grown and we do selfies together. LOL Seriously, though, it does help you to see what your ordinary is like when you have the pictures to remind you. 🙂 Blessings and have a great weekend!

  3. thank you for this. I’ve never read that poem before and it is so insightful. All the little things can slip by unnoticed. I might have to write my own otherwise poems . I’m thinking about journalling each day in August and maybe I could form my writing as an ‘otherwise’ look at each day ..

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