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Moments of Seeing: Reflections from an Ordinary Life

Order your copy now!

“Katrina Kenison beckons readers into her world and proves to be an insightful guide and companion through the vicissitudes of life.”
~ Chicago Tribune

In this long-awaited collection, Katrina gives voice to the simple joys and private longings of women everywhere.

Order here.

http://www.katrinakenison.com/2000/07/09/2305/

choosing joy

I’ve spent the last few weeks rummaging around in the basement, carting boxes of stuff off to Goodwill, decorating for the holidays, making granola and other gifts from the kitchen. When my mind is unsettled, I have a hard time sitting still. Better to put my body to work doing something physical that manifests visible results, whether it’s baking cookies or cleaning the shower drain (I did that this morning).

Still, it feels strange to be entering the holiday season, stringing lights and cutting greens, when there’s so little cause for celebration in the world at large and when so much of what we hold sacred (truth, democracy, and decency for starters) is under full-scale assault. To pay close attention to what’s happening in our country is to wrestle with painful realities most of us couldn’t have begun to imagine even a year ago. It is to open, as Annie Proulx recently observed, “a savagely difficult book without a happy ending.”

And yet, it is December, time in our house to put up a tree, to welcome grown children home, to bake cranberry bread and wrap gifts and gather with friends and family. What I always love most about these weeks before Christmas is the opportunity to connect with loved ones near and far, sending packages off in the mail, exchanging cards and holiday letters, lighting candles and gathering around crowded dinner tables. But this year feels different, as if the darkness of our human affairs has dimmed the lights of hope and faith and joy. [continue…]

a blessing for deeper knowing

“All life is interrelated. All persons are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”                                        ~  Rev. Martin Luther King

I spent a good part of Sunday flying from New Hampshire to Asheville, North Carolina, to visit my younger son Jack.  I love this kind of low-stress travel day, especially when what’s waiting at the end of the journey is not a professional obligation, but simply a change of scene and a son to wrap my arms around.

En route, I buried myself in a book. But a lay-over in Newark gave me an opportunity for people watching. It’s been a while since I passed through a state-of-the-art airport, so I was unnerved to see electronic tablets attached to the top of every flat surface. The restaurant tables all feature a pair of devices set up back to back, so that people sitting across from one another will find themselves gazing at hi-def photos rather than into each other’s eyes.  Any hope of leaning in and conversing with a friend or loved one while sharing a meal is extinguished by an electronic barrier of flashing pixels.

I stood for a while at one cafe where adults and children alike were intently focused on the technology, heads bent, leaning toward their personal screens as if magnetized. Couples and families occupying the same tables were clearly inhabiting different online universes. Everyone was staring and tapping and swiping and typing. No one was paying attention to the person across from them. No one was talking. No one seemed to be really “there.” [continue…]

making room

A few weeks ago I phoned my son Jack in Asheville. “How would you feel about me taking over your bedroom at home and turning it into a writing space?” I asked.

I’d hesitated for weeks before raising this idea. But Jack didn’t hesitate in his response. “Oh, that’s fine,” he said, “you can do whatever you want with my room.”

Although we have a tiny office on the first floor of our house, I’ve never written a word in it. The desktop computer is my husband’s and his in-box sits beside it, overflowing with not-urgent papers and clippings and instruction manuals. The window above the desk looks out to the driveway and whatever vehicles happen to be parked there. The counter is a repository for checkbooks and bills to be paid, stamps and envelopes. And the chair, just the right height for Steve, is not very inviting to me. The office is a perfectly good place to write a check or Google driving directions, but it’s not a space my muse has ever chosen to visit.

Most of the words I’ve produced over the last ten years in this house have come from a stool at the kitchen table, where I look out to a view of fields and mountains and sky. I’ve spent countless hours perched there, staring out the windows above the sink while trying to pull my thoughts together. As a mother, as a wife, as a cook and homemaker, and also as a writer, I’ve always been drawn to this room, my own home base, whether I’m chopping something, stirring something, washing something, or writing something. Soups and emails, jars of jam and blog posts, thank you notes and books, all have come from my kitchen. More often than not, several of these things are coming together at once, which means that the written work can easily be shifted to the bottom of my priorities list. No one actually cares if I write or not, but dinner does have to appear on that table every night.

And yet, as summer turned to fall this year, I found myself longing for some other kind of place, a place not in the middle of the action but away from it. A place in which some new work might begin to take shape, privately and quietly. A place where there is nothing that needs to be chopped or watered or cleaned or stirred, where books of memoir and poetry would be easily at hand, and where my laptop and notes and papers don’t have to be put away at the end of the day so that placemats and napkins and silverware can be laid out in their place. [continue…]

no sides

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.” The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into fall — the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.    ~ E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

I’ve been listening to the crickets’ warnings all afternoon, trying to accept the truth: summertime cannot last forever.  Much as I would love a hundred more days just like this one, there’s no denying that change is in the air. From my “summer office”  — an old blue chair on the screened porch — I have a view of mountains, garden, and sky.  It’s as serene a vista as any human being could hope to call home.  There is not another person in sight and I’ve allowed my computer screen to darken into sleep mode on the table in front of me. And yet distractions are plentiful.

Bright, busy monarchs float from one purple verbena spire to another, and every few minutes I step outside to count them.  Six at once today, more than I’ve ever seen here at one time.  A pair of bluebirds splash in the birdbath while woodpeckers and jays come and go from the feeder. A breeze rustles through the leaves, clouds slide by, bees hum, the sun slips behind the trees.  As the day turns and the shadows lengthen, the cricket song intensifies, as if more and more insect musicians are finding their way into the field, tuning up their instruments, and joining the symphony.  It’s hard to get much writing done.

Every year, my family teases me for mourning the end of summer even before the 4th of July fireworks are over.  I always want more – more dawn hikes up the mountain, more strawberries and blueberries and peaches to pick, more arugula and basil to cut from the garden, more swims in the pond, more dinners on the porch, more bouquets of cosmos and zinnias, more fires on the hilltop, more s’mores eaten in the dark, more nights of deep sleep with all the windows open. [continue…]

making a difference,
one step at a time

“Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.”   ~ Alice Walker

These days, many of us are profoundly aware that the rent is going up. And, out of our deep love for our lives, our world, and each other, we respond in countless ways — with our voices, our dollars, our time, our conversations, even our bodies, as we dig deep and work together to make things better for all.

As every long-time reader here knows, one constant for me over the last seven years has been an annual commitment to help improve the odds for women diagnosed with reproductive cancers.

It has been seven years since my dear friend Diane died at age 55, after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer. I think often of all she’s missed — a daughter’s marriage, a son’s graduation from business school, seven Christmases, seven family vacations in Maine, the list is endless.

But I also recall the powerful ways in which her courage and grace continue to inspire those she left behind.  Her example galvanized the rest of us — to be braver and more generous ourselves, and to do our part to make a difference in the lives of others, one step at a time.

Raising money and walking the Jimmy Fund Marathon route with Team Diane is my way of upholding the legacy of my own beautiful friend who died way too young. But it’s also a way to ensure that we — those of us who walk, and every single person who donates to this cause — are making the odds better for each of the 22,000 women who will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year.

A month from tomorrow, I’ll be out there, walking 26.2 miles to raise funds for Dr. Ursula Matulonis’s cutting-edge team of researchers at Dana Farber.  Dr. Matulonis was Diane’s doctor and, in the years since, she has become both a friend to our group and an inspiration to all of us who continue to support her work with the funds we raise. Thanks to the clarity of Diane’s final wishes, every dollar donated goes directly to Dr. Matulonis. In the last seven years, much progress has been made.

This year, I’m especially looking forward to Sept. 24 because Team Diane will welcome Diane’s older daughter and her new husband to our ranks. Also, my own “soul” daughter Lauren will fly up from Atlanta to walk with us.

Our team began with loved ones, but the circle has grown to include many who didn’t know Diane but who have been touched by her story or by cancer in their own lives. This cause, and our annual contributions, have far exceeded anything we could have imagined when we first set out to support a fund in our friend’s memory. I’m pretty sure she would be delighted to know how far the ripples have reached.

Many of us feel stretched thin right now, as we look for ways to promote healing in our world. That said, I’d be enormously grateful for your support, in any amount. And please know, I will be thinking of you and your loved ones as I walk on September 24.

(One thing I’ve learned over these last months? Paying rent actually feels pretty good – much better than the alternative!)

Click here to learn more and to support my walk: http://www.jimmyfundwalk.org/2017/KatrinaDiane

Gratefully,

Katrina

Support my walk, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win two books.

It’s become something of a tradition for me to take this opportunity to give away a book or two, just to say an additional “thanks” to you — for reading, for being here, and for all you do.

If you choose to donate, be sure to leave a comment below. I’ll enter your name to win a copy of Mary Oliver’s “A Thousand Mornings” (because Diane and I shared a love of Mary Oliver’s poetry) and a signed copy of my own “Moments of Seeing” (because some of our long friendship is captured in those pages, and well, just because).

And if you want to meet Diane and see our team in action, take a few moments to watch this video Lauren created for us. It’s a great reminder of exactly why we do what we do!

Donating is one-click easy, here.  And I’ll choose a book winner at random on Sept. 25.  Needless to say, my heartfelt thank you’s will come to each and every one of you.

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