Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Mediocre Life?

I read something a few weeks ago that really spoke to me -- it was one of those articles that makes you nod your head and yell "HECK YEAH!" as you read it. 

It's called What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life and you can find it here -- it's a fast read and I'll wait while you go take a look. ;) 

My only hesitation with the post is the use of the word mediocre. I could not agree more with everything she said, and it describes my outlook on life well. But my life is anything but mediocre. The definition of that word is "of only moderate quality, not very good." My life and what I do with it is anything but. 

I have a content life. Replace "mediocre" with "content" and I'm on board. 

I am not a woman of extremes, I do not always strive to be the best I can be. I do not tackle each day with intensity. I wake up and realize I get to do what I love -- be with my family, work on my home, visit with friends and write to you all. And I find incredible joy in that. 

It's funny, because within 24 hours of reading that post I had friends share numerous memes with the "mediocre" theme on social media. I could not have disagreed with them more: 
A mediocre life?

But what if I did? What if I don't want much more than to have a healthy, happy family, good friends and to write to you all a few times a week? What if I revel in the fact that there are not big extremes in my life? What if I want to sit my butt on the couch today? Like, for hours? Sometimes that sounds amazing.

I am not a dramatic person and I loathe drama in my life. I also think it's funny at how hard it is for me to deal with change that is thrust on me. I can change up my house all day long and LOVE it. But if it's beyond my control then it makes me crazy uncomfortable. 

A day without drama is one when I'm especially content. 

I've noticed the extremes a lot in the blogging world as blogs have exploded. There's a frantic feeling at times -- it's a race to be the biggest and the best and get the most page views and make as much money as is possible. 

And I am equally crazy proud of these women for creating something from nothing and wanting them to step back and breathe for a minute. I'm the old crotchety blogger who's about to say it -- it's not like it used to be. I am constantly wavering between not feeling like I'm doing enough and thinking what I'm doing is plenty. I usually end up with the latter. :) That's not to say I don't want to get better at what I do. But there is not high intensity. 

This was another one a friend shared the day after I read that article:

First of all, if you aren't afraid of failure I'm a little worried about you. And I had to laugh because if I was in the same place a year from now as I am today, I'd be counting my blessings. 

There are SO many people would give anything to be where they were a year ago. 

A mediocre life? I don't think a content life is mediocre but this discussion definitely spoke to me. Our world is so rushed now and there is a sense that if you aren't everything to the nth degree then you aren't anything. Maybe I just see it more in what I do? 


Do you feel it too? I think one of the readers who commented on that article said it best -- "If we live our simple lives fully, with gratitude and awareness, then our lives become extraordinary." Goodness, I love that.

I hope no one misunderstands this and thinks I'm saying you should do the bare minimum to get through life. I work hard and have for 25 years now. But there is great joy in sitting back and being content with the life you've created -- no matter what stage you are in. If life sucks I know it's easier said than done. Even at my lowest of lows I still tried to look to the positive things happening, even though that was a lot harder to do at times. No matter where you're at, there is usually someone (many someones) out there who would give anything to be in your shoes. (And yes, I know there are exceptions to that, but for the most part it's true.)

I am a motivated person, but I'm also one who can sit back and realize that raising a decent human being, loving a husband, keeping a house from imploding every day and running my own business is pretty spectacular. I find great joy in all of those things and work hard day to day, but if life stays this way for another ten years I'd be so incredibly grateful.

Being able to find the joy in the "mediocre" is what makes my life perfect for me. Twenty years ago I wondered if I would ever get through the tough times and get to the point where I could stop scratching to get to the surface of everything. Twenty year ago this is the life I dreamed of. I am so thankful for it.

74 comments:

  1. I adore your post today. I agree with you 100%. People need to stop trying to keep up with the Jones' and just take a moment to look around at what they have. I try to find something to be grateful for each day. I may not be rich or have a fabulous home but I have a HOME...I have a JOB...I am able to pay my bills..I'm surrounded by people that want the best for me..That's something to be grateful for.

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  2. Your words spoke to my soul. I agree with your take of content vs mediocre and am thankful for my faith, family, friends. You hit the mark.

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  3. I think you found the secret to life ;) I don't think every day can be amazing, or you constantly have to strive to be something more/better. I think those "motivational posters" are a real problem becuase they make people think they are never enough, or doing enough. I like a simple life too. Recently, i have been watching the docuseries "Cooked" on netflix, and it highlights how important it is just to do the every day things, like cook. For centuries, people had to work just to stay alive. Now we can heat up some food in the microwave but, what are we really acheiving? Anyway, I am in a pensive state too so this post was timely for me. I have been reading you for years, and you still remain one of my favourite bloggers because it is so simple and honest. Don't worry about changing!

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  4. This is a wonderful post! It is absolutely what I aspire to as well. When I was growing up, we moved around a lot. And my family typically had a lot of drama (which aunt was talking to us this month? Who are we on the outs with this time?) I made a pact with myself that when I had kids, we would stay in one place and have a calm, stable life.

    Our simple little life makes me so happy! Neither my husband nor I have any desire to climb the corporate ladder to make more money. We'd rather have "good enough" jobs that pay the bills and allow us more free time.

    I also don't love those memes that imply that if you're not striving for change and excitement, then you are boring and stifled. I think there is so much value in having a simple, contented life.

    My husband's grandmother recently passed away, and at her funeral, I was struck by how many people she touched with her simple life. She was a homemaker and mother of 9 kids. She didn't work, didn't do much to "change the world," but always provided love, kindness, and was a wonderful listener, and that was enough to leave a profound impact on all of us who loved her.

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  5. Your post is perfect. I read the one on being mediocre and it hit home as well. However, you are so correct-contentment is where it's at! I am so happy being at home, creating, having my family happy and healthy and safe. I am simple but love a good family trip to Northern MI to create memories. I am happy with just "being". I like to stay busy for sure! I don't like drama either! I like things simple and sweet. So well put and thanks for sharing. Oh, and you have it right on the blogging! You continue to share and bring great information/posts to us. I see so many bloggers (it appears) working it to get all the freebies--and be bigger and better--fast! And with kids--who has the time!!?

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  6. Amazing post! Could not agree more! To quote a very wise woman... "it was one of those articles that makes you nod your head and yell "HECK YEAH!" as you read it." ;)

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  7. I absolutely LOVE this post. LOVE!

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  8. Loved this! I think the main take away for me is to be intentional about what kind of life I want and not caught up in the "shoulds" in the message we hear about being the best, do the most, etc. I love what you said about being content! Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Beautifully said. Thank you for having the courage to share your heart. Practicing gratefulness really makes a difference in our lives. Appreciate the nudge today. Darla

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  10. I love this post! I agree with (and appreciate!) the comments above.
    I wrote down the quote you shared, "If we live our simple lives fully, with gratitude and awareness, then our lives become extraordinary." That's going to be posted on our kitchen chalkboard, because I want my family to hear these words, too. THANK YOU.

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  11. Bravo! I agree with every single word.

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  13. Love this post! Ironically it's this type of post that lead me to so many beloved blogs a few years ago. Bloggers were more honest and wrote about everyday life more. It was less about sharing the next amazing makeover or tutorial or trying to sell us on some product. It's why I still come and read your blog every time you post something. When we keep a clear eye on what we do that is important to the ones we love and to our community and ourselves then we live fully. It's only when we start to look around and compare that the negativity and doubt creep in.

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  14. Fabulous post and article.
    After having our own business for 13ish years my Hubbie and I quit. It was failing and we were drowning. It was hard to do because who wants to fail? But you know what, my Hubbie was offered his dream job and we moved 200 miles away and now live in the little cottage of my dreams. I don't work, I potter. Could we do with the money? Absolutely. We've got a long way to go to be rid of the financial mess but I don't want to strive any more. I don't want to do something because everyone else expects me to. But what bothers me most is that I feel I have to explain myself when people ask what I do for a living. Housewife just isn't except able anymore, especially when you don't have kids.
    All I want to be is a housewife, in my little cottage, with my dog and cat and very happy husband.

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  15. I needed this post and that article so much right now. Thank you, Sarah

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  16. How about satisfied? It's commendable. Really most people are scurrying around dissatisfied. What kind of life is that? Appreciating where you are at and what you have is a fine quality. And, there isn't a more fulfilling project on earth than raising a productive, empathetic, resourceful, citizen. Good job!

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  17. I think this is a lovely sentiment. As women, I think society expects us to do everything—have careers, children, and have a Pinterest-worthy life (and all that comes with that, having nice homes, cooking delicious food, having extravagant vacations, etc.)—when in truth, no one can do everything, and those that do try, will fail.

    There's nothing wrong with trying, but you have you find your place where, as you said, you can be content.

    Most of us do live average lives, and that's okay. Because in that simpleness, we can enjoy the highs, like those awesome vacations, but when can also enjoy the downtimes (like when you get back from that awesome vacation and all you want to do is sit on the couch!).

    If we are the best person we can be and be content with that, then that's all anyone can ask for.

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  18. This is very timely for me as I've been seeing those meme's bashing simple living a lot lately. One that sticks out in my mind was something to the effect of 'don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life'. What? What if I really enjoy the passing of the seasons and take joy in that? Why would someone feel the need to bash that?
    I also really dislike the 'my boyfriend/husband/sister/crew/etc is better than yours' type posts. Well of course they are better... for you.

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  19. Thank you for posting this!! This resonates with me so much! Sometimes I find myself thinking that if I could give up reading blogs every day, I would feel much more content with my life. Somehow they always make me feel like I am not doing nearly enough, or like the things I have and do are not good enough. This was a breath of fresh air!!

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    1. I have to fall back on Theodore Roosevelt's wonderful quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's sometimes tough to take inspiration and motivation out of blogs while still taking joy in what I already have.

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  20. Thank you for sharing! I needed to hear this.

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  22. This was a great article and post. I remember 17 years ago when I would sit and complain. I had two young children, I was (lucky) enough to be a stay at home mom. My dad was with us and I was very involved in my children's school. Yet, I complained that it wasn't enough. I wanted more, of something. Fast forward 17 years and as I sit and type this I realize that I had so much! Now, when it is silent, I sit and think about my young son who passed away from brain cancer, and how I wish he was still here with me along with my dad. Thing is, I never realized how perfect life was. We don't realize how perfect things are until some of that perfection is taken away from us. I have learned to celebrate everyday of life. Weather it is exciting, or, mediocre. We will never get today back. I really don't believe there is a mediocre life, everyday is a gift and in the end , it's no about what you did in life, it's who you did it with.

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  23. We should always strive to treat ourselves as well as we treat others. We are too hard on our own shortcomings , mistakes , strengths and gifts. We need to take a step back and look at the wonderful life we are fortunate enough to have. We can always do more, want more be more. The best gift we can give ourselves is to like who we are. Only then can you give the best of yourself.thanks for the reminder! I so enjoy your words of wisdom!

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  24. I think about this a lot. I always felt (and told my husband) how incredibly fortunate I felt to be a SAHM. I absolutely loved it. Now I am 66 y.o. and still love being at home, having the freedom to do whatever I want when I want. I recently had a friend (who works) ask me, "What do you DO all day?". This stunned me on many levels. First of all it sounded a bit condescending and second it implied I surely must be bored. Thirdly, I remember thinking that I don't have enough hours in the day:).

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  25. Sincere thanks for referencing the article. Speaks a lot of truth in my life. I just didn't like the word "mediocre". Gail

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  26. Well said. I love hearing that not everyone is 24/7 thinking about always needing more than what they have right now. I was thinking about that recently and being a-ok with one of my goals this year to drink more water. I decided I don't have change the world- at least not every single day.

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  27. I guess I am a bit confused. The definition that you stated for mediocre to me is not what she is explaining in her life's desires, nor yours for that matter. If mediocre is not of good quality and you are happy in what your everyday simple life is, well thats of quality to you. As for staying in the same life year after year, I don't believe that's true either. We continue to grow and learn as people so our lives ARE changed even if it's small changes. What I'm saying is that if you are content in your life, it is definitely not mediocre. :)

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    1. I agree, that's what I was saying as well. :)

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    3. Thanks for sending people over to my post:) I knew the word mediocre would ruffle feathers and chose it deliberately...I actually believe my life is beautiful. And at the same time struggle with all the messages about needing to do or be more. Having said that, I love learning and growing, but only when it is purposeful to me. Not out of pressure to be something I am not. I am unwilling to sacrifice my health or feel like I must 'compete' in this noisy, frenetic world.

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  28. I loved this!!!! You could not have described it better!!!!!?

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  29. LOVE THIS, and the link too, Sarah. Thanks so much for sharing this, I agree 1000%, and I love my contented life.

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  30. I interpreted the word mediocre a little differently. When I wake up every morning, as I'm doing my meditation and spiritual thinking, I ask Spirit to help me be the best me I can be. I strive to continue growing, be grateful, and be kind and loving toward my fellow man as that long-haired guy taught us.

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  31. I really want a slow, simple life. I do meaningful work - but don't want to always feel rushed or anxious about deadlines. I want time to just be with my family and listen my kids. Time to connect with my girlfriends and go on dates with my husband. And time to rest, to think, to write, to breathe. I called this mediocre to emphasize that many people in our society really do dismiss this as not enough. Or idle. But I've been to burnout and back and am not interested in returning:) Thanks again for sharing my post.

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    1. I could not agree more! The basics of life are the most wonderful. I totally get it. I was sooo busy in my old career and it didn't make me happy. I thought crazy busy was what you were supposed to be to be successful. I've learned success and hard work doesn't have to mean being stressed out and living a frantic life. Perspectives change over the years! :)

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  32. Love this. I agree with so much of this. It is like the reaction I see when I read all about happiness isn't a destination it's the journey. I disagree. It's not the destination OR the journey. I teach my kids that happiness is a choice and one you make everyday. So choosing to be happy and grateful for what you have is definitely the secret to being happy and grateful. :)

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  33. Love your message in a world that is so enamored with more, more, more. Sometimes it's good to maintain and be happy!!

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  34. I just love this post! I feel the same way and I think we all need to sit back and appreciate everything we have. There are times when I think to myself that everything feels so right at this very moment. My kids are healthy, they are doing well in school, we don't have any major problems in our lives and that just feels good. There is a lot to be said about being content...because life can change in an instant. Loved your thoughts so much that I am going back to read this again!
    Shelley

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  35. Great post!
    It feels very good to read articles like yours saying we should start enjoying what we have instead of feeling disappointed for the things we didn't get or didn't get sooner.

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  36. I have had so much drama in my life for the past 6 months, husband had a heart attack back in October the day before his birthday, I found out on that same day he was having an affair (the hospital gave me two phones one with only her name on it) and had been for over year, I had to put my beloved old dog to sleep and I fell down some marble stair at our house and broke a bone in my back on the 5 days before Christmas and then last week my car broke down...the car is fixed and my back is on its way to being fixed the other things I am working on but seriously I would love a little bit of peace in my life...I have felt some of those things in my life never being a good enough mum, feeling guilty about not spending enough time with my kids, thinking that my house always has to look perfect, thinking that everything was ok in my hectic life. Thinking I am not good enough is a biggie at the moment, so peace in my head and peace in my life would be a welcome relief!

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  37. I love this and was compelled to respond, even though, because the title caught my attention.

    I wrote a post about this very topic nearly a few years ago because I also questioned whether mediocre was enough and if it was okay being mediocre. And I concluded with this: as long as you've worked your butt off to be the best you can be, and aren't using mediocre as a reason for not achieving more because of fear of failure, then yes, mediocre is totally acceptable (here's that article for anyone that wants to read it: http://getyourlifestraight.com/is-it-okay-being-mediocre/)

    And years later, I feel the same way. As a blogger who has grown over the 4 years since starting my blog, I have fought with my own doubts about how far I want to take my business and if this, where I am right now, would be ok. But I think you have to listen to what your soul is telling you. If this life is enough and you're completely happy and content, great! If there's more you want, then it's okay to go for it. Just don't let fear of failure be a reason for holding back.

    Serena - Thrift Diving

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  38. Totally agree, Sarah. In the world today with social media it makes you feel as though everyone is doing more. And there is a lot of comparing. Sometimes it's just enough to be you raising your family. And that is the most important job in the world!

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  39. If contentment is considered by some as settling for mediocrity, sobeit. It's been my life-long goal that I feel I am finally reaching. “If one's life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.”
    ― Dalai Lama XIV

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  40. Love your perspective on this and couldn't agree more! Thanks for sharing!

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  41. BRAVO Sarah! I agree with everything you said!! Great post. :)

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  42. Love, love this post.

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  43. AMEN - I love this post; thank you so much for sharing!

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  44. Mic drop. Walk away. Slow clap. BRILLIANT.

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  45. I agree. PLUS...and others might not agree...I am intimidated by the over the top blogs where there's a project every day. I feel like a loser.

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  46. Awesome - you are so right, my friend. My favorite days are those simple days spent puttering around my little humble home. I'd rather be there doing 'nothing' than pretty much anywhere else on earth. Great post.

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  47. SO COMPLETELY AGREE!!! Well said, Sarah. I constantly remind myself to "Push the Easy Button Whenever and Wherever Possible" and that "Boring is Beautiful". When I stick to those two things, I have more of myself to give to my family. Amen, sista'! :)
    Sofia F.

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  48. This is wonderful. The older I get, the more I enjoy my simple, peaceful life. It makes me happy to know that my family comes home to a calm, relaxing place at the end of what can be a stressful day out in the 'real' world, all because of the conscious decisions we've made to simplify our lives and not participate in the drama that surrounds us.

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  49. Love this post, Sarah! There's definitely something to be said about being content with what you have.

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  50. YESSSS!!! You just completely articulated something that has been knawing away at me for awhile. Facebook, Instagram, etc can really make you start to question yourself, your life, your choices. I was a teacher turned shm. I never went back. I've been substitute teaching and flipping the occasional house now for 8 years and I am always feeling like I should be doing more...going out more...finding a career...traveling more...But the fact is, I love my life, I love being home,I love the flexibility I have with substitute teaching. I can spend the day with other people's kiddos but still be home and present for my own in the evening. I like driving my minivan around with items from Menards in the back...delivering them to my latest flip house so my handiman can make it look spiffy and new. I love that I can stay home today and make chili for 48 musical theater kids for dinner and work out. I don't have to conquer the world. It's ok to just enjoy my life as it is...my wonderful husband and my great kids. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who feels this way or there's something wrong with me. Thank you Sarah for your post today! I am feeling VERY content!

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  51. I have noticed this so much since I retired. I had a job with much stress, and always said I could not WAIT to be able to stay at home and do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. No evaluations or suggestions on how to do it better and faster.....
    Once I DID retire, everyone wanted to know what I was going to do. How much volunteering was I planning on, was I going to look for something part time, etc. Again, I had always said exactly what I wanted to do. And that is what I HAVE DONE. I am a home-body, and I do keep busy!! I read a lot, love to garden, putz around the house is such fun, and I do a few little crafts here and there. I am beyond happy. And I am NOT too "busy". If there is one word I would love to abolish it is BUSY, and how we glorify it. It really seems to be a sickness like keeping up with the Jones's, we want to be busier than them, too.
    For goodness sakes.... slow down and enjoy the moment. It is only here once... and good enough really IS good enough!!

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  52. Yeah, I really don't like the word mediocre either. I don't connect it with living simply or being engaged in a meaningful existence. For me, mediocre means barely hitting the basics. That's not fulfilling.

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  53. I call it being present in the moment! If you're not, how are you happy today? The focus on the next thing diminishes our happiness with the right now. LOVE your post!

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  54. I couldn't agree more. I'm very content with my life. Yes there are a few things that we're working towards, but I'm not unhappy. I like the contented stage we're in.

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  55. Amen and amen! When people ask what I do for a living, I now respond with a very enthusiastic and completely honest description of how lucky I am to stay home, take care of my family that I love, my house I love, and do alllll the hobbies I always dreamed I could do in the meantime. Nope, I'm not a movie star or a millionaire and never will be. But I'm so blessed!
    You're amazing Sarah!

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  56. I agree completely! Please don't feel pressure to do more, post more, be more exciting, blah blah....you are my favorite DIY blogger and I would be SO sad if you got burn out! You keep doing you.

    I've followed enough ultra successful blogs that have crashed and burned because the blogger couldn't keep going at 500%. That attitude may have gotten them popular, but instead of taking that advantage and slowing down and pacing themselves, they are now shadows of their former selves and have quit or nearly quit altogether. Please don't do that :(

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  57. Everybody longs to do great things...yet not everyone will achieve it...BUT everyone can do LITTLE things with GREAT love - my favourite quot from Mother Theresa

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  58. Great take on life! And I will tell you this, I view you as anything but mediocre! I think you are fabulous, and the things you do are wonderful! I have been blogging for three years and my blog is not the biggest or the best. But I keep doing what I love, and I try really hard not to let what "everyne else" is doing affect me and what I am doing. And you know what, if I don't feel like sitting down and writing a blog post because I'd rather watch The Real Housewives, that's ok by me because it's my blog and no one elses! I look up to you, and getting to see you at Haven last year was a thrill for me. I didn't get to meet you, but maybe this year I will have the nerve to march up to you and say hello. I read every post you write and have for years. Keep being you, because you are amazing!

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  59. Thank you for the lovely post! I agree with you completely.

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  60. All I wish for is a peaceful life. I had too much drama and difficulty in a few years and I prefer peace, calm, uneventful days. Days of breathing without panic, days of hearing the soft twitter of birds without heartbreaking moans of pain, days of feeling worry-free and no stress. During the last 6 years of my husbands life he had physical ailments and dementia and those I do not miss, tho I dearly miss him.

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  61. Oh, I'm SO glad you went there with this post! I've often struggled with this, feeling like a failure because I don't want to stay up until 1 am working on a new course or ebook. I'm happy with a quiet life and don't really want to be 'all that.' Now, just to figure out the balance. ;)

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  62. I LOVE this post! I'm in a period of transition in life right now and I feel like the feeling that I have to be GREAT at everything is keeping me from doing ANYTHING.

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  63. Thank YOU! I needed to hear your words today. BLESSINGS~ liz :)

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