Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 1, 2012

The Collection Of Extraordinarily Ordinary Moments

My friend Ginger sent me a link to an interview last week that included this quote:

“Well, that’s what life is — this collection of extraordinarily ordinary moments,” Alexander Payne says. “We just need to pay attention to them all. Wake up and pay attention to how beautiful it all is…If you were falling in love and you could go back in time and relive a day and see the banal things you did that you’d forgotten about, you’d weep, looking at that day,” Payne says. “Somewhat dramatic things happen, and you don’t even always notice them — that’s what life is.”

From the interview, “Those moments, unless you write them down or photograph them, drift off and away. They just go by. But movies — mindful ones — can make us stop for a while and notice what happens.”

Full text of the interview available here. Listen to the interview with Alexander Payne here.

Are there movies or books that make you more mindful in your everyday life?

HEIDI SWAPP is celebrating the launch of her new website today with giveaways, tutorials, freebies, videos and inspiration starting at 11am EST. Hourly fun stuff. Love that.


  • 1.
    Sue said…

    Most any book that is well written with the sweet,litle details and the language that invents pictures in my mind. Oh how I can get lost in a good book!

  • 2.
    Helen said…

    Lovely post, Ali. The film that always inspires me is the German film ‘Lives of Others’ – its such a perfectly structured story and so well acted. It always makes me want excellence and, when I’m in that frame of mind, I notice much more. Similarly any book by Calvino or Andrew Miller.

    • ….
      Lourdes A. said…

      One of my favorite films too! Superbly acted and well made.

  • 3.
    Mary-Lou said…

    The movie Enchanted April is one that remains me about how joyous all the little things, the emotions, the bonds that make up a colour rich life.

    • ….
      Mary-Lou said…

      That should be reminds me – which reminds me how richly imperfect life is – ah the gift of imperfection :-)

  • 4.
    LizzyM said…

    I heard that on NPR last week and totally had a “driveway moment”. I loved the interview – and how cool that he won AND thanked his Mom! :)

  • 5.
    DawnS said…

    There are 2 books I love that are great reminders to enjoy & celebrate the everyday, ordinary moments of life. One is “The Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The other is “A Short Guide to a Happy Life” by Anna Quindlen.

    • ….
      Annette said…

      Love Gift from the Sea! Such a good book.

  • 6.
    Lisa W. said…

    Gosh you bring us such GOOD “stuff”…thanks Ali:)

  • 7.
    Molly said…

    thank you for this, ali. I’ve just completed a month of ordinary moments collected at habit. and I’m organizing them together for a project. I hope you won’t mind if I include the very apt quote.

    I’m staying on at habit through march, and right now it is seamless with life.

    One movie that effected me in this way is the cinematography of Bright Star (about Keats and Fannie Brawne); every scene has the effect of a painfully beautiful still life.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I’m joining you this month at habit :) .

    • ….
      Sarah B r said…

      May I ask about “habit”?
      Is there a link?

    • .
      Ali said…

      Sure – it’s actually linked above (click on Habit). Here’s the direct link:

  • 8.
    Tashia D said…

    It’s all so true! I just love him and his work, plus he’s from Omaha, where I live! Thanks for sharing!

  • 9.
    Kendra said…

    The Four Agreements. A short little read but pretty powerful stuff. I wrote the 4 agreements downa dnkeep in tacked to my board at work. Helps me remember.

  • 10.
    Kim Reynolds said…

    The movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen is a lovely movie about living life. Even made my husband cry. It was the recent malfunctioning of my dishwasher that made me realize about slowing down and appreciating the little moments. I actually wrote about it on my blog last week (not a plug just easier than rewriting my thoughts here! lol)

    • ….
      Ali said…

      That one is on my list – thanks Kim.

  • 11.
    Paula G said…

    The Friday Night Knitting Club and the sequel, Knit Two, reminded me of bonding moments with my closest friends that I’d forgotten about. Reading any books aloud with my kids are also ordinary yet extraordinary moments – for instance I’ve read the Harry Potter series with both kids over the years. My son and daughter are 7 years apart in age. By writing down their different reactions, I’ve captured quotes that range from hilarious to heart-tugging. Right now my daughter and I are midway through The Hunger Games. Last night I wrote down that she said “I already know what is going to happen because I wiki’d it…(huge smile) I love spoilers! Everyone should love spoilers, I can’t live without them!” Reading together and recording our book discussions is something I’ll always do – when I look back, it is so true that without this documentation, these memories would be gone forever.

    • ….
      Kim Schiller said…

      I’m glad to read that you’re reading Hunger Games with your daughter. Although the language is definitely “early young adult” the themes are not. And, though it is riveting (I couldn’t put it down), I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not. Something about kids killing kids just strikes me as wrong and I think our young ones need some family discussion along with reading the book. Just 2 cents worth from a social studies teacher. :)

  • 12.
    Suz said…

    Love that quote. I have often long thought about celebrating those moments. It’s actually why I named my blog what I did 6 years ago; “Live a Life EXTRAordinary.” I wanted a daily reminder to do just that. :) Good stuff as always Ali! TFS! Have a beautiful day.

  • 13.
    Cynthia said…

    Great interview and thanks for sharing. I think this must be why so many people are enjoying Project Life – it’s all about the ordinary. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman is an exceptionally beautiful movie (the cinematography is gorgeous) about everyday life made exceptional. Love books by Pema Chodron and Thomas Merton (about noticing ‘in the moment’) and anything that involves noticing what is around you.

  • 14.
    linda said…

    Thoughts right out of the play “Our Town”. Love it!

  • 15.
    sharon said…

    great movie that makes me think of the everyday life is Steel Magnolia”
    love it love it

  • 16.
    Cecilia said…

    gosh. what a great quote. i can’t think of a book or movie, but i CAN think of so many blogs i read that put me in a mindful mood: yours, Amanda Soule’s, lots of others of course. reading people’s memories makes me want to build my own, which makes me notice each small thing that’s happening around me even more.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Love Amanda.

  • 17.
    Lee Currie said…

    Lovely. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • 18.
    Laura said…

    Thanks for this quote and link. Just what I need on a rainy Thursday.
    Some movies/t.v. that come to mind for me

    Bread and Tulips
    Mostly Martha
    Anne of Green Gables
    Parenthood ( – check out Hulu)

  • 19.
    Tracy said…

    The Way is an awesome movie…I just watched it last week. We just found out today that a friend of ours ( 44 years old ) died yesterday. His daughter came home from school and found him on the couch. We never know what will happen in this life and yes, we should take in all we can…photograph & document this beautiful life God has given us.

  • 20.
    Rosa said…

    I just ran into this image in Pinterest and it reminded it so much of your one little word for the year combined book/movie theme for this post…just go check it out

  • 21.
    JennyB said…

    Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts and her website, help make me more mindful and grateful in my daily life. I also appreciate Katrina Kenison’s books and her blog

    • ….
      Paula G said…

      Also, I heard Shania Twain sing “UP” – definitely a song that may find it’s way on one of your pages this year Ali, it’s worth a listen!

  • 22.
    libby gordon said…

    I really love this discussion…..and it so true. I thought my PL might be boring because I look at my family’s life and think we’re pretty ordinary. However, after finishing week 8, looking at all the little bits and pieces (I even print texts between my teen-age boys and I, I write the hilarious comments my 10 yr. old daughter makes all the time-my favorite this week me: “Honey, why haven’t you made your bed yet? I asked you to do ten minutes ago!” daugher: “I have other things I need to do!” me-”Well, like what?” daughter, “I don’t know!! But not THAT!”), I realize how really precious our life is and I’m really glad I’m saving all of these stories. I think if I had just stuck to scrapping the “big” things, I would have missed all of these little jewels.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Exactly what I love about it too.

  • 23.
    Ange said…

    I saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close yesterday. It was heartbreakingly beautiful. I loved it so much, that at the end of the film I went straight to my favourite bookshop and bought a copy of the novel. I needed to include it in my life.

    I loved the way the father challenged his son to explore life and ask questions. I also loved the glimpses into the internal world of other families. All beautiful in their own way.

    This movie has changed my life, as all beautiful things do when we really see them.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I’ve seen the preview a few times already and I get choked up each time. I’m on the waiting list for the book at the library.

  • 24.
    Kristin said…

    I heard that interview in the car last week as I was coming home from work. I immediately thought of you and wanted to send you a message about it. Then I thought about what I am doing to save the ordinary moments in words and photos. It occurred to me after that interview how important it is and how glad I am to be doing it even though it’s not always perfect or complete. Much of what I scrapbook these days has been inspired by you. Thank you for that!

  • 25.
    Karina said…

    Ali !!!
    This is the first time I comment in your blog, but I’ve been a follower since a loooong time ago. There are three things I want to say :

    1 ) I love this post. I can see I am not the only one who has ” those ” days :-)
    2 ) THANKS SO MUCH for all your work, you REALLY ARE an inspiration – not only for me, but for many people.
    3 ) Now I have question that has nothing to do with this post ( sorry !!! ) : I recdive weekly the 52 — Lifts. I made a mistake, and deleted # 2, 3, 4 and 5, thinking that I was going to be able to find them in your blog, but … Could you please tell me where those are ? I don’t want to miss any of them !
    ThNks in advance

  • 26.
    Karina said…

    Sorry, I forgot tu type the word ” creative ” !!!
    Thanks again,


  • 27.
    Donna said…

    Beautiful! I missed it on NPR so thanks much for bringing it to our attention.

  • 28.
    Leslie cannon said…

    “the Gift of an Ordinary Day”-Katrina kenison. She has such a way with words-expressing the most poignant feelings, especially those of us moms. My favorite gift for moms of seniors. Get the Kleenex ready.

  • 29.
    sharon said…

    I love this project “5″ we made it at Creative escape and I get so many compliments. Back to your post on 52 Creative Lifts i had that day today just wanting to not motivate or do anything…I did the
    launch party at Heidi Swapp but not much more feel out of sorts but I did so much yesterday that I ran out of juice…you know what …I mean I just have to pace myself…some family emotional issue and worry is a detour for me….I just gave it up and turned to One above….i so want to do just a ordinary day but I wonder is there really such a thing!!! LOL hugs, blessings
    Sharon Phoenix

  • 30.
    Kary in Colorado said…

    I woke up to this interview the other morning on my radio (Susan Stamberg is amazing) and as soon as the kids were off to school, I went to my mac,looked up the transcript, wrote down this quote and put it on the title page of my Project Life! Love it. May we all “wake up and pay attention to how beautiful it all is.”

  • 31.
    dawn said…

    Hi Ali,
    Thanks for this post and link. For me I am reminded of this by reading your blog and a few others that have changed the way I see my everyday. Thru your blog and the others I’ve slowed down more and really look and treasure the little things everyday. I feel that I’ve grown into being a better mom, wife, person and that I’m doing the right thing by telling our story.

    I can’t tell you how many people can’t believe that I scrapbook, take all these pictures and especially about project life. They just shake their heads and say it’s wasted time. Thank goodness I don’t listen to any of that and I can’t imagine not telling our story.

    Just reading thru our PL over the last 3 years and seeing these everyday moments that I have told makes me so happy. Each Sunday I sit down and do this it reminds me again of how awesome my family is and what a great life we have and it’s all right there for us to see. This is what inspires me daily, just looking for that right moment to capture and remember forever.

    Thanks again for all you do!

  • 32.
    Jana said…

    One of my favorite movies – Amelie – deals with an extra ordinary life that embraces each unique nuanced detail! Life truly is a wonder… xo

  • 33.
    Naomi said…

    Definitely Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium! We watch it at least once a month with our family … it’s amazing.

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