Simple Abundance and Simple Living: An Essay on Embracing the Everyday

by Susie Cortright

Now that the wintry weather blows through my drafty windows and curls across my floorboards, my toddler has decided she wants to wear only dresses. Short-sleeved, frilly dresses. If you look at her for too long, she bats her arms against her sides in what seems to be a mixture of embarrassment and pride. Suddenly, the pride wins out, and she will start to twirl. Then she'll ask you to dance. 
 
Last Sunday, my husband had finally taken a much-deserved day off. It was early in the morning. He was wearing long underwear with an open bathrobe slung on top. "Tie your dress, Daddy," our little girl said. And then, with her partner sufficiently groomed, she hollered. "Let's dance!" 
 
I was all for this dancing idea because it meant I could take some much-deserved time off, too. I threw another log on the fire and poked it around until it started to crackle. Then I put my feet up and opened a book. 
 
The moments of alone time I get with my precious books are so rare that I sometimes regard them as little snippets of heaven, thrown down to keep me going. Whenever I get even the smallest fix of quiet time, I immediately engross myself in the book at hand, which is why, I suppose, I became so overwhelmed by what I saw in my living room when I finally looked up. 
 
It was silent except for the soft, easy crooning of Randy Travis. The pops from the logs in the wood-burner embellished the warmth of the room. And there was Cassie, her hands reaching up to high to meet her daddy's. She stared at him as they swayed, and, just at that moment, I could see straight into her little soul. There was something separate in there. Not a reflection of me or of her daddy or of her grandparents, but of pure Cassie, of the unique soul she's discovering herself - day by day - to be. 
 
When the song ends, daddy teaches her how to curtsy. His leg juts out, as though he were preparing to do a cartwheel. 
 
"Is this right?" he asks. And so I finally join the moment. Cassie looks at me, and something in her face, the set of her jaw, that impenetrable gaze, speaks a quiet wisdom. Some part of her recognizes the feeling that has grown familiar to her mommy, the feeling of being torn between enjoying the moment and stopping to figure out - in desperation - how to suspend time. 
 
But in the end, we realize the more we try to slow time, the faster it goes. And so we learn to savor the everydayness of the everyday. Sometimes it takes an unexpected shaft of light to illuminate the ways that our most ordinary moments hold the most striking magic, like those moments when you make no plans but to tie on a dress and dance.

These are the moments that make up a life, and the most foolish thing we can do is to rush through them trying to get to a bigger, better, more dramatic moment. Let us elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary, this holiday and everyday. 
 
 Happy birthday to the little angel who illuminates such moments for me. Thanks for two magical years, Cassidy Grace.