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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/

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a perfect February read

“Lives don’t last; they thrill and confound and circle and overflow and disappear because it’s like this, having a life.” ~ Kelly Corrigan

The Huffington Post has called Kelly Corrigan “the poet laureate of the ordinary.”

Damn, I thought when I first read that. I sort of wanted it to be me. Could there be any higher praise? But I’ll also be the first to admit: she deserves every bit of that acclaim. I’ve loved each of Kelly’s books, in part because of her rare, yet almost off-hand ability to create what feels like instantaneous, genuine intimacy between herself and the rest of us.

To open any Kelly Corrigan book is to think, “If we two could meet, we would definitely be friends.” Although she and I had never laid eyes on each other until last week, I had to keep reminding myself that I didn’t actually know her — yet.  More powerful than the truth was the feeling we’d been pen pals for years, ever since all our kids were young; or, rather, ever since I read The Middle Place

My guess is that if you’re already a Kelly fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not, no worries, you can start right here. Reading her heartfelt, self-deprecating, generous memoirs, one can’t help but feel both seen and validated, welcomed into what appears to be a charmed inner circle — a safe place in which female friendships are treasured, the ups and downs of marriage and family life are survived with good humor if not always grace, and the messy, unfathomable rewards and challenges of motherhood are honestly, often hilariously, chronicled and given their due.

But this circle is also a place where awful things happen, where decent people screw up, where teenagers behave badly, and where dearly beloved ones die too soon. Because of course there is no such thing as a charmed life, only charmed moments – fleeting, precious moments that are all too often missed while our flighty, petty, over-burdened minds are occupied elsewhere. And Kelly Corrigan’s subject isn’t some made-up, idealized life but her own imperfect real one, with all its pain and beauty, heartache and redemption, loss and love, hairballs and eggshells and toenail clippings, tender deathbed confessions and unexpected epiphanies. She writes, to quote mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, about “the whole human catastrophe.”  And in the process, she assures us that our own catastrophe is worthy of notice, embrace, and celebration. [continue…]

reason to hope

“I have decided to stick to love. . . Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  ~ Rev. Martin Luther King

There’s a neighbor up the road I’ve never met. I know his pick-up truck though, as I often find myself driving behind him as we come and go on our daily rounds. The truck is lifted, painted with camo, and festooned with decals and bumper stickers supporting the flag, the military, and the NRA. There’s one that defines gun control as “hitting your target.”

When I’m behind this man, I ease my foot off the gas and slow down, giving him space to roar off up the road and out of sight. Nevertheless, I’ve had ample opportunity over the years to absorb the slogans and messages plastered all over his vehicle, including this one on the center of his tailgate: “If you don’t like it here, you can go back to the shit-hole you came from.”

My heart clenches when I see those words. The angry bigotry, rooted in fear of the “other,” scares and saddens me. I’d never heard someone refer to another country as a shit-hole until I saw my neighbor’s bumper sticker.  I wouldn’t recognize the man behind the wheel if we met in line at Rite-Aid, and so I’ve been left to wonder: Who would think, let alone say, something so hateful? Now, of course, I know the answer to that question. We all do. [continue…]

spicy holiday granola

Be attentive lest you miss the grace that passes before you, whether as small as a single birdsong or as broad as the rising sun of your own life restored. Be grateful, lest these pearls have been thrown to swine. And be ready to speak of it in the grandest or simplest words or deeds. You have not invented your own hope; it has sprung, green and living, from the grace that has rained upon you, has welled up from deepest springs, has come to you in steadfast rivers.
~ Steve Garnaas-Holmes

The winter sun is pouring through the kitchen windows as I type these words. The temperature outside hovers around 20 degrees, as warm as it will get today. With six inches of powdery snow on the ground, the world looks frosted, ready for Christmas. I’m trying to ready my spirit, too.

All month I’ve been making lists, crossing things off lists, making new lists – grocery lists, to-do lists, gift lists. Somehow the act of writing things down and crossing them out calms me, as if each small accomplishment or task completed brings me closer to. . .what exactly? The finish line?

Of course, the idea of completion is an illusion. There will be to-dos until the day when there aren’t, and I’m certainly not in any hurry to get there. Nor do I want to look at December 25 as the end of some silly holiday race.

So my challenge today, and every day this season, is to simply relax into the day’s doings, whatever they may be. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the closer I stay to home and hearth during these short, dark days, the more peaceful I feel. [continue…]

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…]