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Like most people, Susan Harris lives an ordinary life. In Remarkably Ordinary, she challenges the notion that a person needs bright lights or golden spoons to live more productively. “Can we,” Susan asks, “find purpose in every experience, encounter or seemingly random happening?” In this compilation of twenty personal stories, Susan invites the reader to embrace everyday occurrences and intentionally reflect on their meaning in his or her life. These stories provide a way of seeing life’s experiences through new eyes and discovering the lessons that can be learned from them in order to find happiness right where you are. An ordinary life is a vibrant and successful life, and each of us can draw out beauty from whatever we encounter. Susan shares her ordinary life, from a childhood on an exotic tropical island to adulthood on the prairies, and reflects on how her experiences have changed her and enriched her life.
In sharing these experiences with her, you will be inspired to examine your own life. When you do, you just may find that the life you are already living is deeper and more meaningful than you ever imagined.
“It is not often that a non-fiction book can be considered a page turner, but Remarkably Ordinary is definitely one. Written by Trinidad-born, migrant author Susan Harris, this anthology, ripe with imagery, takes us on an amazing journey, traversing two geographic regions and over forty years of experiences, and exposing the reader to two very different cultures.
Those who had the privilege of working alongside this Management of Business teacher in the 90’s, in a secondary school in south Trinidad, will recognise the gentle, generous and vivacious spirit that comes through in ‘Paws and Guffaws’ and ‘The Girl in the Picture’. Equally familiar is the meticulous attention paid to details, as well as a flair for the dramatic, as observed in ‘Pink Hair’ and ‘Dancing with the Moose’, a thirty second encounter with a moose on Saskatchewan’s Highway 1 that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Possessing a BSc. degree in Management Studies from the University of the West Indies, it is no wonder that this author attempts to convince us of the need to effectively manage our time in ‘Doubling Up on Time’ and uses her knowledge of management theory in forming relationships in ‘Peering through the Window Panes’.
From a young girl in the town of Siparia, Trinidad, to having lived in three provinces in the “huge land of Canada”, Susan Harris’s experiences are diverse, and embrace the reader with accounts of nostalgia, humour, a bit of horror and just plain good sense. In ‘Mother- In-Law-Tongue’, a familiar and well-loved Trinidadian concoction, Susan provides us with the tools to ‘create our own happiness’ as she did.
By allowing us glimpses into her past, her anecdotes reveal to us how our own, every day, ‘remarkably ordinary’ experiences hold within them valuable life lessons, thus the need for ‘living intentionally’. This is indeed a good read for anyone, since it deals with an array of issues such as self-image, the Internet and social media, increasing one’s joy as well as the joy of others, being charitable and appreciating what life has to offer. Having read other inspirational authors, Susan Harris’s book is certainly on par, and provides a superb and insightful guide for understanding how we can make sense of seemingly mundane experiences.”
Christine Lakhan -Mootoo, B.A., Dip. Ed., Head of Department (English/ Language Arts), Siparia West Secondary School, Trinidad
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Dancing With the Moose
2. The Bouquet
3. What’s Your Brand?
4. Waiting for Weight
5. Paws and Guffaws
6. The Mix-up
7. In the Presence of Greatness
8. Toilet Paper
9. Doubling up on Time
10. Peering Through the Window Panes
11. Vessels in the Night
12. The Shooting Range
13. Creating Happiness
14. Finding Friends
15. The Edge of Discovery
16. Common Ground
17. “Are You a Doctor?”
18. The Message in Your Name
19. Pink Hair
20. The Girl in the Picture
“Susan Harris took me from her hair-raising, white-knuckled, early-morning drive in thick prairie fog in her opening piece, “Dancing with the Moose,” through a great variety of experiences, places and settings. Included among these were fascinating excursions to the tropical paradise of her native Trinidad.
In this collection of 20 stand-alone chapters, the author writes in a delightfully personal and engaging style. She sprinkles her writing with informative snippets of history and personal anecdotes—enchanting and never dull, such as in the poignant, “On the Edge of Discovery.” This chapter and several others reveal cultural contrasts between her life in Trinidad and her South Asian heritage and her present home in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
Leading the reader into the bathroom in “Toilet Paper,” Susan encounters a situation common to most all of us. She tells the story candidly and devoid of embarrassment. Through it she indicates the kind of vulnerability and humour that characterize her writing. The chapters throughout show these qualities as consistent with those of a strong and confident woman who can laugh at herself and who invites you to join in the fun. Laugh with her in “Paws and Guffaws.” Through her predicament, described in “Pink Hair,” she even invites the reader to sneak a snigger at her!
Each chapter concludes with a brief life-application section designed to inspire her readers to engage in life as she herself does—that is, to live intentionally right where they are. In “Doubling Up on Time” she describes how she put that philosophy into practice by making good use of ‘dead time.’
Susan Harris’s inherent authority for authoring this work is evidenced in the subject matter, for it is rooted in her own life experience. And varied experience it is—from her development and schooling and teaching career in Trinidad, to her further pursuit of higher education, and diverse work and business experience in several parts of Canada.
She offers something for everyone—both men and women, covering a wide age demographic. While the writing voice and point of view are decidedly female, they still engaged me—a senior male, drawing me into sharing her world and escapades. My guess is that once the word is out, this book will also garner a teen and young adult readership.
I can’t quite pinpoint why, but I sense an evocative resonance in her final offering, “The Girl in the Picture.” This lovely story provides insight into Hindu culture and its caste system. Susan touches on elements of her family history, her faith journey and her passion for helping disadvantaged children in India. It provides a heart-warming and somewhat wistful conclusion to Remarkably Ordinary: Living Intentionally Right Where You Are.
Enjoy reading this book . . . I did!” Peter Black, author of Parables from the Pond
“In Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are, author Susan Harris shares a refreshing selection of her life experiences. While some of her stories are ordinary moments in her life, others are far from ordinary. All of the reflections became engaging stories that captured my attention. Her rich descriptions enabled me to live these moments along with her as I turned the pages. Each story ends with a ‘Living Intentionally’ section that challenges the reader to find a deeper meaning which relates to their own lives. One of my personal favorites is ‘Creating Happiness’. Sometimes this has to be done intentionally and Susan Harris gives an interesting example of how to do this. The stories in this book cover a variety of experiences and everyone should find something they can relate to. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and know that I will refer back to it on many occasions. I do feel that it should come with a warning though. Once you start reading, you’ll find it difficult to put it down again!”
Tandy Balson, author of Inspirations from the Everyday
PRAISE FOR “Remarkably Ordinary”