What Toilet Paper Taught Me About the Power of Ordinary Moments


power of ordinary moments

Every day we each follow whatever routine of ordinary moments make the tapestry of our lives. These moments come and go as we start the day, accomplish errands, attend work, or school and eventually come together with our families in some format at day’s close.

How often have you said, “Wow that week flew; I don’t know where it went.” Have you arrived somewhere you routinely drive to and think “I don’t even recall the trip.” Ever felt on auto pilot during part of your day or just waiting to get through certain daily events to finally have time to relax?

How much of our life are we missing, instead of realizing the incredible power that exists in these very ordinary moments?

Chasing the Moments

Until twelve years ago, I was a chronic moments chaser. I focused entirely on what was coming, instead of what was right in my face. I constantly was living forward – instead of focusing on living in the present. It was so easy to do – even more so now in today in an Instagram image-driven world and in our society that celebrates life’s speed, busyness, looking ahead.

We get swept up in the notion that we will find joy or “arrive” at a certain point in the future: live for Friday, for vacation, for the next milestone and so forth. We thrive on “who can “balance” more, cook more, or attend more of our kids’ events. We will be “happy” when a certain goal is achieved, when the workday is done, when yard work is fully completed, or our kid is into the ideal college.

I get it. I totally get it. It wasn’t until it all fell apart – until my façade of this “non ordinary life” fell away – that I realized how incredibly powerful and spectacular the most ordinary things truly are.

That realization has created the most extraordinary, regular life.

Gift of Toilet Paper

The day I realized this is etched in my heart forever. It was all about a square of toilet paper. I had not had any regular access to toilet paper for six months. I don’t mean the early pandemic 2020 toilet paper insanity.  At the time, I was experiencing homelessness and literally never knew if I’d have some on any given day. And, on most days I did not.  

My life altering day was about two weeks into my very early recovery. While doing the most ordinary thing – reaching for some toilet paper – my entire life perspective shifted. In front of me was an abundance of toilet paper in my new, safe surrounding. An immense flood of powerful gratitude (and snot-filled crying) crippled me for about 30 minutes over this very ordinary thing.

Realizing that anything we take for granted is an extraordinary moment is life changing.

Even on my most busy or complicated days now, I shut my eyes and think of toilet paper. I still feel the immense peace and gratitude.

Importance of Ordinary Moments

The situation surrounding my realization is a bit extreme and I don’t wish it on you. But, all you need to do is pause. Stop. Just look at what is around you at any moment. Life IS powerfully extraordinary in every moment if we allow it: scenery, food, activities, people, and everything else.

You know what I miss the most about my kid being away at college? Every, single mundane small thing about him being present at home. I’m infinitely grateful that square of toilet paper taught me years prior to find the power in all the small moments of our lives together.

Invite awareness into ordinary moments—those in-between, seemingly mundane happenings. As uneventful as ordinary moments often seem, they comprise most of our lives. And we always have an opportunity to make them beautiful. The background conversation in your home, the taste of coffee in the morning, EVEN your kids fighting – ALL of it can be amazing versus mundane or expected. Take time to feel your days, as you never know what will happen tomorrow.  

Gift of Extraordinary

Being aware of the power of ordinary moments opens the door to create pockets of happiness everywhere for others.  I try to be a daily positive moment-creator for those around me, although some days it’s easier than others! What I love about this concept is that it’s an easy way to bring more positivity into this world. You quickly realize that the smallest acts of kindness really create enormous impact.

Give yourself a gift and take a few moments (see what I did there?) to think about making your life powerfully extraordinary. Removes the pressure from yourself that “extraordinary” needs to be anything more than just life. Stop waiting. Just pause and notice. See what is right in front of you.

As Brené Brown said, “A good life happens when you stop and are grateful for the ordinary moments that so many of us just steamroll over to try to find those extraordinary moments.”

I gift you permission to stop your steamrolling through life. And, feel the power of your own ordinary – extraordinary – moments. 

Previous article5 Lessons my Kids taught me while Fishing
Next article5 Ways Football Brings Families Together
Hi All, I’m Rebecca! I’ve worked in marketing strategy in the healthcare and wellness industry since college and my MBA for 20+ years (yikes!!). I’m blessed to have combined my geeky professional self with my passions: awareness of and mental health supports for disenfranchised populations and communities. I volunteer in educating the greater community about the real experiences of those in (and out of) recovery from the disease of addiction. I was so honored to give a TED talk in 2019 about removing stigma and shame by simply shifting the language we use, as this is near and dear me. Yet, at the end of the day, my family is everything in my world. I live with my husband Mike and two teenage sons in Lee, along with a crazy cattle dog (Maggie), cat (Leia), fish, 100 snails and soon to be chickens. While a Jersey shore girl at heart, living in MA and NH since the late 90s has fully converted me to a New England sports fan and avid skier, hiker and kayaker. I guess I’m a perfectly imperfect, harmonious, and happy runner, who cares deeply for humans, and Mother Nature. Follow me on Instagram @mommabear5786 to see what life in a house of boys, recovery, loud music, a bit of attitude, and nature looks like!