Now in paperback!


“MAGICAL JOURNEY lives up to its ambitious title. Katrina shows us a path into the future that is generous, brave, and open-hearted. I’ve given MAGICAL JOURNEY to so many people and the response has been unanimous – love.”
Ann Patchett,
author of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

“So beautifully written, I wore out a yellow marker highlighting my favorite lines.” —People

amazon B & N Indie AudibleiBookstore

beautiful things

photo 1This quiet morning. My friend asleep in her bed, snuggled deep in a nest of pillows, her faithful terrier molded to the curve of her back. The gentle rise and fall of the covers, her breath coming slow and steady when I peek in to check on her.

Six a.m. My shift. The house is still but for the steady tick of the kitchen clock, empty but for the two of us. What twists and turns of fate have brought us to this moment? One woman engaged in the deep inner work of letting go of life. And the other, me, still here, striving to see this world as perfect, to love it as it is.

I pour coffee, slice a peach, and carry my breakfast to the back deck where the two of us have spent so many companionable, peaceful hours over the last year. The dark trees are still silhouetted against the sky. Clouds at the horizon melt to shades of rose. The sky lightens. In the new light, dragonflies stitch invisible seams through the morning. A blue heron wings by, heading from one secret pond to another.

photo 6My notebook is open before me, the lovely white page. I tip my full heart over and pour myself out. A list takes shape: all the hard, sad things. It doesn’t take long to write them down. Just putting words to these feelings brings a swift, unexpected relief, like setting down a bag full of rocks. Tears come. This, too, is a relief.

And then, as I read through my list, one thing is suddenly, startlingly clear. [continue…]

a friend remembered, a legacy
(and a video to watch)

Version 2I love this photo. Four friends who have just changed out of heavy boots and into flip flops at the end of a long day of hiking. We would sleep fitfully in our bunk beds that night in Greenleaf Hut, high in the White Mountains, under scratchy woolen blankets. We would smush soft pink plugs into our ears to drown out the roof-rattling snores from the mens’ dorm. And in the morning we would laugh our way down the mountain in the rain.

We would not talk about cancer or clinical trials or miracles. We would not mention what we all knew to be true: that this would be the last time we’d ever climb a mountain together. For twenty-four hours, we simply savored the moments at hand: the glorious views from the top, the soggy sandwiches in our backpacks, the slick trail under foot, silly jokes, wet socks, togetherness.

Just over a year later, in October 2010, my dear friend Diane died of ovarian cancer. (That’s her in the black fleece, looking radiant despite the fact she’d spent the early morning in the hospital getting an experimental treatment.)

As I type these words, I carry another close friend in my heart as she nears the end of her own journey with cancer. And I am reminded, with equal parts of gratitude and sadness, of the lessons Diane taught me during her illness. [continue…]


photo 13“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.”

There comes a moment.

You love your life and the precious people in it. And yet, suddenly the very intimacy you cherish feels like a burden you can no longer carry. You want to see yourself as a person who is competent and sturdy and kind. And yet, today you are able to be none of these things.

You can’t plan one more meal or push the cart through the frigid produce aisles one more time or carry one more bag of groceries in from the car. You can’t cook another balanced dinner or sit at the table and have one more meaningful conversation. You can’t anticipate or meet one more need, or set one more thing to rights.

You want to sleep alone in a narrow, clean bed and wake up in silence and let things go their own way.  You want to take a vacation from worrying and fretting and fixing. You want to have breakfast at ten and skip lunch and eat salad from the serving bowl for dinner — with your book propped in front of you. You want to take a walk at your own pace, slowly. You long for a conversation in which the only one you have to listen to is the small quiet voice inside, the voice that speaks without words.

You imagine what a relief it would be to spend a whole day without talking. Without cleaning or washing or weeding or folding anything. Without make-up, without good cheer, without a to-do list, without getting in the car, without reaching for your wallet or your phone or the dog leash or the sponge.

You wonder if anyone else hits this wall. The wall of too much. The hard unforgiving place of feeling crowded and tired and overwhelmed. Of knowing you simply cannot accomplish all that needs to be done. Or make good on all the promises you’ve made to others. Or live up to the expectations you’ve set for yourself.

You find yourself imagining solitude, craving it. The dark quiet cave of aloneness beckons.

And you think about where you might go, just for a little while, to privately fall apart and put yourself back together again, without causing anyone you love too much fuss or inconvenience.

You email a friend who has a cabin on a country road, the place you went once before to grieve the loss of a friend and to write the first, halting chapter of a book you weren’t sure you’d be able to finish. [continue…]

this (good) life

photo 4A mid-summer Monday morning. After a weekend away, I’ve spent a couple of hours setting the house back to rights. Emptying jars and vases of their dead flowers, vacuuming up the scattered petals, watering plants and deadheading lilies, gathering laundry into a hamper and getting the first load going in the basement.

The kitchen is quiet. Beyond the windows, which are all cranked open to their fullest on this steamy day, cardinals and blue jays vie for turns at the feeder — unaware, for the moment anyway, of the blueberries ripening on bushes just a few feet away. As always, it’s a race between me and the birds to see who will get there first to harvest the small crop. (Usually, I lose. A watchful catbird is already hopping along the top of the chaise lounge in the yard, taking stock of the bounty.)

I must confess I’m feeling a bit unsure about what to write here after a few months of not writing at all. No excuses for the silence, other than that I’ve been busy elsewhere. To offer a full “report” would be impossible for me – and tedious for you. Yet, sitting quietly on my kitchen stool, I discover there are a few thoughts that have been waiting their moment to emerge after all. I can’t say everything that’s on my mind, but I can say this: I feel softened by the season, slowed down in my thinking but perhaps a bit more raw and open in my emotions. Life has been tender and lovely and bittersweet, suffused with beauty, laughter, and tears.

There have been no big revelations, but rather countless variations on this one small truth: joy and sadness are not opposites. In fact, they co-exist, all tangled up together in the same day, the same moment, the same unguarded heart. [continue…]

mother, daughter
& a special mother’s day offer

IMG_6492 - Version 2My mom and I just spent ten days together at my parents’ house in Florida. We didn’t go anyplace and we didn’t do much. What I most loved about our time was that it was so quiet, so spacious, and so much our own. Introverts by nature, my mother and I have this in common – we are connoiseurs of companionable silence. We like to relax into our own rhythms, side by side but with plenty of breathing room between us.

She brought me coffee in the mornings. I made us healthy salads for dinner, except for the night we ordered a pizza to share in bed while watching TV. Most afternoons she took a nap and I swam naked in the pool. We read a lot. And in the evenings we got into our pajamas before the sun went down and then stayed up till after midnight, catching up on the last three seasons of Mad Men.

I didn’t blow dry my hair or put on lipstick for a week. There is something to be said for letting things slide. It wasn’t at all exciting, but it was what we each needed — time to hang out, time to read and write and think and be. There was no one to cook for or take care of, no one to worry about or sleep with. A perfect mother-daughter vacation.

At seventy-eight, my mom is moving more slowly, more cautiously than she used to. She’s not a great fan of the cane she needs for walking distances but it’s better than the alternative, better than risking a fall. She has dizzy spells and she can’t always trust her balance. She tires more easily. So, she paces herself. And when we run out of avocados or half and half, she lets me drive to the grocery store rather than insisting on going herself.

I’m moving a bit more slowly these days, too. It’s been nearly six months since my orthopedist pointed to a narrow, shadowy place on the x-ray of my hip and showed me why it hurts so much to walk up the stairs: bone on bone. [continue…]