A birthday for me, a gift for you

I’ve already received exactly what I asked for for my birthday tomorrow. I gave my sons Henry and Jack plenty of advance warning and then I was quite clear about my wishes: Handwritten letters, please. Not e-mails. Not hastily signed store-bought cards. Not presents. Just letters, from each of them to me.

Somewhat to my surprise, they both came through as requested — early, in fact. There are two sealed, handwritten envelopes sitting on the kitchen table at our house, and I can’t wait to open them.

But there are many other gifts, invisible ones, that I find myself thinking about today. The gift of friendship, offered me daily in so many guises and gratefully received. The gift of good health, easily taken for granted until it’s taken away. The gift of mindfulness, always elusive for me, yet always worth cultivating. The gift of gratitude, a choice I can make right now. The gift of the present moment, renewed over and over again without ceasing. The gift of breath — where would I be without it? The gift of marriage, constantly transforming and evolving, challenging me to become my best self. The gift of motherhood, which has shaped and sculpted every response I’ve had to life for the last twenty-one years. The gift of beauty, worth organizing a life around. The gift of memory, filling in all the empty spaces left by loved ones no longer here. The gift of presence, and the realization that there are so many ways to be present if I am really and truly willing to stay with what is. The gift of imagination, ready to take flight at a moment’s notice. The gift of dreams, expecially the ones worth sacrificing for. The gift of silence — expansive, rich, and deep. The gift of touch, love made manifest. The gift of spirit, infusing all creation. The gift of wonder, mine whenever I take time to attune myself to mystery. The gift of kindness, may I offer it generously and accept it with grace. The gift of joy, that most precious and precarious of blessings. The gift of sadness, the measure of darkness that lends meaning to all happiness. The gift of connection, which I experience with every word and thought and good wish shared in this space.

To celebrate my birthday, I would like to offer you a gift — an opportunity to receive the audio version of my book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, along with a copy of my favorite collection of poems by my very favorite poet, Evidence by Mary Oliver.

I have been reading and re-reading my own cherished copy of Evidence all morning, marveling as always at Oliver’s wisdom, generosity, and grace. How pleased I am to share these poems with you, each one a heartfelt hymn of gratitude.

Here is just a taste, a short poem that speaks directly to me today, as I contemplate my own dreams and aspirations here at the beginning of my fifty-third year.

I Want to Write Something So Simply

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think –
no you will realize –
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart,
had been saying.
Mary Oliver

To be eligible for one of two copies of Mary Oliver’s Evidence, along with an audio recording of The Gift of an Ordinary Day, leave a comment below. Tell me about a cherished gift in your life. Or, if you wish, just say hello. Your presence here is a gift to me, and I am deeply grateful!

I will draw two names at random after midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 11, using the tool at www.random.org. Winners will be notified by e-mail.

for my reflections & inspiration

your comments

  1. Happiest of birthdays to you! I adore your writing and your beautiful way of reminding us what is important in life.
    I too count my friendships as one of my greatest blessings.

  2. Enza Soby says:

    I have read and enjoyed both of your books! I want to purchase and keep both of the books as reference — so I can refer to them on “off days” when I’m having a hard time just appreciating and living in the moment! I too have 2 boys and I’ve always thought of myself as a good mother! After reading your books, I now believe that I am a “great” mother and both of my boys appreciate me even more! Thank you…. I look forward to another one of your books (hopefully soon?!?!?) Enza

  3. My youngest son’s birthday is today, October 2nd. We spent the whole day together as a family-three boys, two dogs and to parents. Nick’s wish is always to celebrate the gift of an ordinary day with all of us being fully present! His wish is a gift to all of us!! I’ve hit the time in my life as a mother where I’m learning as much from my children on a daily basis as they have ever learned from me! Wishes for you on your day!!

  4. Happy Birthday Katrina. Thank you again and again for your words, your wisdom, your gentle spirit that reminds me through your blog and book to be mindful, grateful and present in all that life offers up each moment. I shared the other day that with all the reading I do your book remains and I’m quite certain will remain my favourit of all. Blessings to you and your family and thank you for your willingness to share with us.
    warmly,
    Sheryl Puckering

  5. Happy birthday, Katrina! My most precious gift is my son Jack, who has PDD-NOS (on the autism spectrum), ADHD and SPD. I had nearly given up hope on ever being a mom, when we were blessed with him 11 years ago. He is the light of our lives! Through him, I’ve met so many wonderful, supportive, caring people in the special needs community. We’re all in this together. It helps to share. Have a great day!

    Debbie K.

  6. Happy Birthday! My boys birthdays are this month too. My oldest turns 5 on the 7th and the youngest turns 2 on the 6th. They are a gift that I never imagined I would ever hold and now I can’t imagine ever letting them go.

  7. Sara Ayres says:

    Amazed at how timely this is for me… After what seems to have been a non-stop frenzy of busyness these last two weeks, it’s good to remind ourselves about the many gifts we are given each day… So many of which are taken for granted without a second thought. My journaling today was about being thankful for the people who make my life more complete just because of who they are – my husband and three girls, who, just by being there, remind me to relish and treasure every memory. So thank you, your voice so often echoes the musings deep in my heart and for this I am thankful. Sara x

  8. Happy birthday. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of so many gifts that I often forget about.

  9. Shelly Howard says:

    Your writings always remind me to be thankful. I appreciate that. Your work is a blessing :)

  10. Happy birthday and many more equally special ones. You are a lucky woman.

  11. .•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨Happy Birthday to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.
    ¸¸♥ ¸ ¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday to you ♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.
    •*¨*•♫ Happy Birthday ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥
    ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Dear Katrina! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸
    ¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthd-a-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y-y-y ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•
    .•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨♫♪ …to YOU! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪…
    and many mo-o-o-o-o-o-re!

  12. Wishing you a beautiful birthday, and a year of wonderful, ordinary days.

    Some of my most cherished gifts? A letter written on the first anniversary of my baby boy’s stillbirth; a hastily handwritten love note from my husband; my daughter’s smile.

  13. Happy Birthday Katrina! I look forward to each one of your posts and have read both of your wonderful books. I have three kids and they have given me the wonderful gift of being so very different from each other that I can’t help but just learn and learn from them.

  14. Pam Gardner says:

    I love your posts and books and I love Mary Oliver.

  15. MargieAnn says:

    I have read your book and count it among my all time favorites! And your blog is a gift for us all, too!
    Happy day of your birth!
    Blessings,peace, and joy!
    Happiness always,
    Margie

  16. I love how you manage to wrap up all the treasured gifts that I adore into one sweet, delightful package of words. I come from a family where the language of love differs so much from my own and for them gifts need to be materialistic to show you how much you are loved. It has always been a challenge to marry this gift giving to my own language of deed and words that have traditionally felt misunderstood and therefore not received. How wonderful that you can ask and receive such a valuable and rich gift from your children on your special day, how truly they must honour and cherish you. Enjoy!

  17. Happy, happy birthday! Thank you for a reminder to read poetry- I never seem to do it but do so appreciate it when I’m reminded….

  18. My greatest gift would be time. So often we rush through one day into the next not realizing the importance of enjoying that moment at hand. I wake at 4:15 am to get ready for work in order to devote my morning solely to the kids upon waking. Help them get ready for school, fed and run a load or two of wash, before rushing out the door. When my shift is over I rush back home to finish the chores yet to be done and make dinner for the family. Funny, dinner takes less time to make than it does for them to eat! Afterwards we start the process of getting ready for the next day all over again. There are days I wish I could freeze everything as it is so I can savor the moment. Thus your book “The Gift Of an Ordinary Day” rings true. Enjoy those little moments because they are fleeting. Happiest Birthday wishes Katrina. Enjoy those letters and tuck them away to read again and again. As always, thank you for showing us what’s important. God Bless. Mary Zent

  19. I wish you a delicious cake on your special day! One that you can share with family or friends or strangers, even if the sharing is through words and pictures.

  20. Happy birthday, Katrina.

    The gift of life, of sunlight, are among my treasures. Then there is the call of “mommy” from my 13 year old, the warm, thick hand of my beloved’s.

    Sue

  21. jen goldman says:

    HBD KK!

    I was just thinking about a great gift I got from a boyfriend I had in high school who is no longer alive unfortunately. I was having trouble in a writing or English class, and he met me after school, right after tennis practice. He said, I have always felt that in order to write well, one should have a good pen. Then he handed me a gift box with a beautiful Cross pen in it. I never forgot that, so thoughtful.

    He also wrote me a note with my best qualities on it (given at another time) when I needed it so much when peers had been unkind, to counteract every mean thing they had said.

  22. Happy Birthday! I find so much joy in reading your posts! As a wife, mother and nurse I cherish the gift of time. I sometimes feel like the days, weeks and months are steamrolling by and I could swear that my now 12 year old daughter just left my grasp for kindergarten. As a nurse, I have seen far too many patients, family and friends slip away only to leave me asking for more TIME! I want to thank you for reminding me to live in the now, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

  23. I have been blessed with an abundance of gifts, many of which I share in common with you, Katrina. I have also been blessed with the gift of faith, which inspires me to embrace all of the other gifts and put them to their greatest use.

    Wishing you a wonderful birthday, Katrina. Enjoy the letters, and your special day.

  24. Your gifts to me and the rest of your online community are boundless!

  25. Kathy Shiokari says:

    Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and dreams. So many times your writing has reminded me of the beauty of my life and family. Having four children has been a blessing and a struggle. Many times I look around and think about all the times I’ve failed with my kids. Reading your inspirations reminds me to see, also and more importantly, where I’ve succeeded – for my kids and husband and for myself. Wishing you many blessings in the coming years.

    Kathy

  26. Finding your book and blog this past summer was a gift for me! Happy birthday Katrina!

  27. Happiest of birthdays to you and wishes for a year that is filled with health and good blessing.
    My most cherished gift is this very moment. For the past seven years I have been given the wonderful gift of raising my son and caring for my aging parents. I have given up, for now, my career, but I have gained something that I never regret. Now that my son is older and off at school for a good part of the day, I spend that time managing and caring for my parents. I am lucky beyond belief that I found two wonderful nurses who share the job of live-in care. But I am there everyday – I manage the mundane aspects of another household, and afterward we go through photographs, talk about the weather, share stories, and then I go off to pick up my son from school and share in his day. I oftentime bring him back over there, and they have their special time with him. While it can be exhausting (and believe me, I rarely go without the gift to myself – a very long walk every morning), I know that the rewards are great, the riches unforgettable. I am giving a great gift to my son, as well. He knows how to care for others, that there is a slowness to life that is to be treasured. And that old has great value and lessons to be taught. Thank you, Katrina, for writing, for putting better words to my thoughts than I can. I moved west from Massachusetts a decade ago (still spend part of my summers near the Cape), and I thank you for your gift of the seasons in your writings. There is a wonderful quality to living in New England that allows one to recognize the cycle. I do miss putting my garden to bed (allowing it time to rest and awaken in the spring).

  28. Oh how lucky you are- 2 letters from your boys!
    You will have such a cherished read, I am sure.

    And this on the heels of your letter from yourself.

    Maybe it’s the year of letters?!?!

    X
    Meredith
    ~ Meredith From A Mother Seeking Come find me on my blog, A Mother Seeking…

  29. Happy Birthday Katrina! I am grateful for the sadness I have felt giving way to new beginnings and happiness. One foot in front of the other….repeat.

  30. Catherine says:

    I treasure the gift of stumbling upon the video of you reading from your book, for I have followed your writing from that day on. Your boys are almost exactly the same ages as my two kids, and I entered the “letting go” stages at the same time that you did. Your grace in how you’ve dealt with letting them go has been a model for me.

    I wish you a year of good health, passion, confidence, security, comfort, joy and love!

  31. Happy Birthday, Katrina! I can’t improve upon anything you wrote in your spare, beautiful post. I echo every one of your sentiments.

    I will tell you that I am writing this now in a flood of gratitude for an answered prayer. My husband has formally been offered his dream job, and this move will bring great things to us all.

    With love and best wishes.

  32. Lauren Reilly says:

    Happiest of Birthdays to you! My cherished gift is my “miracle” having my oldest son be healed from brain cancer. Every day I spend with both my sons and husband is a wonderous thing, indeed. The little things in life truly are the BIG things. <3

  33. Colleen Fleming says:

    Hi Katrina,
    Happy Birthday! I have to say that besides my son and partner who are my best gifts, the most recent gift was getting your book The Gift of the Ordinary Day from my friend and coach. She sent it to me awhile ago, but I did not pick it up until last month. My family and I just moved across the country to Northern NE and I moved my teenage son so my partner and I could live our dream. In the meantime we are living in a temporary situation in a less than ideal house, waiting for our home to be ready in mid October. One day I was racked with guilt about my son and moving him, and told my coach. She said “Pick up Katrina’s book.” And I did, and what a gift it was, and so many parallels and wonderful lessons and gifts in that book. Thank you, thank you.
    Namaste,
    Colleen

  34. Karen Mellen says:

    Katrina,
    Your book came to me at a very pivotal time in my life. I too was feeling the mid-life pressure and have a nephew (high school senior) living with us along with my own 14 year old daughter. I am the one that is always looking ahead, making the next plan while not taking the time to look around me and enjoy what I have in the moment, right at this time. I can’t thank you enough for your insights. I have passed your book on to friends and my book group in the hopes that they will too will take away some of the jewels that you offer.
    Happy and Healthy Birthday!
    Namaste
    Karen

  35. I too have an October birthday. I have embraced a birthday tradition that someone shared with me. Every year on my birthday I hope to begin a new friendship. That is the loveliest gift I can imagine.

  36. Holly Miller says:

    We have all been “gifted” by your gentle spirit and gift of words. Thank you for touching so many lives! Happy “YOU” day!

  37. My Birthday gift to you
    Happy Birthday K.K.

    October gave a party, the leaves by hundreds came. The Chestnut,Oak and Maples and leaves of every name.
    The Sunshine spread a carpet and everything was Grand,
    Miss weather led the dancing,
    Professor Wind the band.
    ~George Coops~

  38. happy birthday, katrina. your soulful storytelling is a cherished gift. and the moments when i connect with and listen to my body wisdom. thank you for this generous and exquisite offering. my gratitude is deep and expansive. xo

  39. Diane J Wulf says:

    1989 was a tough year for me. In April my husband left me and our two boys, ages 5 and 3. He realized that he wasn’t cut out for “family life”. In July I was laid off from my job and in November my mother passed away quite suddenly at age 54. She had been a big help to me after the divorce and her loss was so unexpected.

    We moved to a smaller, more affordable place and the boys started at a new school with unfamiliar classmates and teachers. Needless to say, Christmas was tough and I went to a food pantry for the first time. We made Christmas wreaths from the pine branches in our back yard to give as gifts to family and friends.

    I realized that I was more creative than I knew, and I could make something “gift-worthy” out of practically nothing…which was about all we had.

    On Christmas morning, my 5 year old son gave me a little flat box about 5 inches square. Inside were pictures he had roughly cut from fashion magazines. They were the just faces and heads, but were all very colorful and smiling. He said “I know you’ve been sad since Daddy and Grandma are gone. These people can be your new friends. I put them in this box so you can carry them with you everywhere. See – they’re all happy and smiling.”

    It was almost 10 years later that my son was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s and was on the Autistic Spectrum. Very, very little was know about it or how to treat it.

    As I type this bit about his special Christmas gift, my eyes still well up with tears at his thoughtfulness. He was, and still is a very sensitive and special son. While the little box was a special gift, I think both my boys have been my best gift ever.♥ ♥

  40. What a lovely blessing today, reading your post. Thank you for reminding me of the most important things that life brings to us. Sometimes we get so busy with our life that we forget to smell the roses. I have four children and they have brought me joy and sorrows. All are out of the home now, on their own and I think I will ask for the same thing on my next birthday. I read and reread your post and it filled me up with gratitude. I am so greatful for the life I have lived. Peace

  41. Pamela Sharpe-Dovbniak says:

    Happy Birthday! I celebrate the gift of you!
    Thank you for the most beautiful book I have ever read.

  42. Happy Birthday, and I know you will treasure those hand written letters. I think that my special gift is just the fact that each day I wake up and possibilities await me…..and since 11 is my very favorite number, I decided I just needed to post. Enjoy your day!

  43. I always love to read your comments. You tap into what I am often feeling but am not able to write so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your insights and observations. Each entry you write is a little gem I love to savor.

    Happy Birthday!

  44. Happy Birthday! I just got home from a week away celebrating my Sept 30 birthday and found your post at the top of my email. Wishing you a wonderful, peaceful and “present” year.

  45. My gift is my faith that enables me to love and cope with all things that come my way! Happy Day to you!

  46. Lana Sanders says:

    Happy Birthday and thank you for the wonderful dose of inspiration.

  47. Your birth day is a cherished gift to all of us! Have a beautiful day!

  48. First I was amazed by the powerful manner that you speak my mind and now I found that we celebrate our birthday in the same week. Truly amazing.

  49. Happy birthday! My son is my greatest gift, and your book has taught me to appreciate “the simple” in our everyday lives.

  50. Happy Happy Birthday!
    Some of my everyday gifts? My daughter’s toothless grin, hearing the cadence of my run in the morning, and the ability to write and read everyday.
    Thanks for encouraging me to remember what is.

  51. Shannon Whiteside says:

    Happy Birthday! One thing I cherish most in life is family. They mean the world to me. I thank God every day for the time I get to spend with them. Life is too short. I almost lost both of my parents due to illness, and I am thankful everyday for the time I have been able to spend with them. It makes me sad to think of the family members we have lost too early in life. Every day should be celebrated like a birthday! Hope you enjoy your day!

  52. Katrina,
    I hope this birthday touches your heart & leaves your soul refreshed! I love reading your posts ~ they invariably inject a dose of peace into my day, & reinvigorate my intention.
    In answer to your question, the gifts I cherish most are meals lovingly prepared by my husband (who spoils me), and listening to my sons play piano, sax & bagpipes (separately, so I can hear the piano & sax :) No matter what else is happening, that ALWAYS makes me stop & smile!

  53. Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

    I am so grateful for my backyard. Everyday it brings me great joy. This past week two does and their aging fawns have visited everyday to nibble on the fallen acorns. Their ears perk up at the sight of my little French Bulldog puppy, with huge ears of his own. They exchange glances and neither fears the other. Time stops, and I forget every worry as I watch them.

  54. cindy standen says:

    Happy Birthday and thanks for the simple reminders of the things we all have to be grateful for. I’ve never taken time to appreciate poetry, but I sure loved the poem you shared. I’ll have to get her book.

  55. spending this weekend with cherished neighbors at a local Oktoberfest festival and embracing this toast…..
    Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemiitlichkeit
    Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemiitlichkeit
    (Cheer!) Eins, zwei, Drei g’suffa!
    Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
    Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
    Prosit

  56. One of my most treasured gifts was also from one of my sons: a counted cross stitch bookmark that says “Best Mom”. What makes it doubly special is that my son made it for me once (and he is my fine motor impaired child, not an easy task for him)…..and I lost it in a library book! So the following Christmas…..he made it for me again. Lots of tears and hugs later, I was able to choke out, “Thank you!”

  57. Happy birthday to you!
    I am grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with friends today–eating, chatting, shopping, playing with the kids, and exploring the outdoors.

  58. Aly Morrison says:

    My most cherished gift was when my Mom flew from NM to GA, on the encouragement of my husband and friends, to surprise me for my 40th birthday, in 2006. October 2, 2003 … 8 year ago today … my mother was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML).

    We *thought* she was in remission, but it was clear to her, shortly after Christmas Day 2005, the cancer had come back. However, she was determined to be here for my birthday surprise, even undergoing 2 blood transfusions the week before she arrived. Both of my brothers and their families also live in GA. She knew she was coming back for the last time. Cancer claimed her 11 days after my birthday. But every day, every moment I was able to spend with her, I will cherish forever.

  59. Stephanie says:

    Happy Birthday, and I hope it’s the prelude to another year of enjoying life’s simple pleasures and treasured moments. My favorite recent gift is the love my husband of 1 month has given me. He believes in me and loves me unconditionally for who I am and has helped me learn to love myself, too. Love is all we need.

  60. Happy birthday!

    Your blog is a treasured gift to me. I so enjoy reading your posts. It helps comfort me now when my kids are 8 and 11 years of age, and I know that my time with them is limited (even though it often doesn’t feel that way).

  61. Happy Birthday, Katrina! A cherished gift in my life is my daughter’s presence. Motherhood has truly blessed me, and your writing deepens my reflections on motherhood and life. I cherish your willingness to share your insights and thoughts with me–with all of us.

    Hoping you enjoy a nice, long Fall walk on your birthday.

  62. Helen Shafran says:

    Katrina, I wish you a joyful birthday tomorrow as you begin your new year and I begin mine–I will turn 46 tomorrow–and I offer my thanks for influencing my (our!) birthday and many other days in such thoughtful, positive, and hopeful ways. I am *profoundly* in need of inspiration right now, of HOPE, of perspective, and of presence with each of the gifts you name…I know and see them all, but the feeling and breathing in of them is another thing entirely. I am so grateful that you choose to make the connections you do, and for–among many gifts–one of my cherished friends who shared your site with me. Many blessings in your new year!

  63. Farida Zaveri says:

    Many Happy returns to you Katrina… I have enjoyed reading all your blogs & your book…Gift of an Ordinary Day… You write beautifully all the things I feel you put it in words… I feel your book is my story… Thank you Katrina

  64. Happy Birthday! What a great way to celebrate.

  65. Happy Birthday birthday-buddy! Thank you for all your inspiration. You always make me think and feel grateful.

  66. Polly Duprez says:

    Happy birthday to you! I have also requested birthday letters from my beautiful daughters, and I cherish them, reading them over and over.
    I adore your books. I found “Mitten Strings for God” when my kids were young, and “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” recently. With a 16 and 17 year old, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. You are a wonderful inspiration on how to live one’s life.

  67. I am grateful for so many things…when I stop and take time to realize them….but I am most grateful for the gift of being able to start again each day when I don’t.

    This is the best gift that we are given.
    The opportunity to start fresh each day.

    After a long day of being discouraged and thinking I am the worst Mom, I take comfort in the fact that I have tomorrow to do better.

    Thanks you for your continual encouragement and Happy Birthday!

  68. bookboxer says:

    Savor each moment – that’s the (occasionally unsolicited)thought I share with family and friends at most occasions. May you have that experience, also!

  69. Stacy Fletcher says:

    Happy Birthday! As I go back to work today for the 1st time after my maternity leave I am acutely aware of the amazing gift of motherhood and the sacrifice. I am blessed beyond measure to have 2 boys after years of infertility. God is good, His love is great, He is in control. I am letting go. I will choose to be grateful today. God bless you and your writing. Thank you!

  70. Yesterday was my mom’s 81st birthday. We had a wonderful time celebrating and eating and eating. Happy Birthday to you, and I hope that your letters from your sons bring you happiness!

  71. Shawn Trotter says:

    Katrina, have a wonderful birthday!

    One of my many gifts, is that of friendship. I have 3 girlfriends that I have know for close to 50 years from school, that I meet every few months for coffee. It is so gratifying to have someone who knows everything about you. Honest, heartfelt conversations, sage advice, laughter, love and concern. I am having coffee with them tonight and can hardly wait to get caught up.

  72. Happy Birthday Katrina! You are a gift to me everyday..reading your books or your blog. You inspire me to be a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend. Anytime I need a little inspiration I go to your books and just open it randomly. Doesn’t matter where I open it, it is always the right message at the right time.
    Hope you have a blessed day surrounded by the many people that love you.

  73. Grace Lenz says:

    Happy Birthday. God’s greatest gift to me has definately been my children and my husband. I can not imagine my life without them.

  74. Happy Birthday! I love the quiet thoughtful way in which you wanted your birthday celebrated…Mary Oliver’s poetry has a way of just covering exactly where one is on any given day…she is one whose writing I turn to when I just need to settle down. I always seem to find something that speaks to me in that moment, something to quiet down and ponder. I am grateful for many things through out my day but I am simply grateful for each day and its potential. I would love the opportunity to read (listen) to your book as I do not own it yet…and Mary Oliver? It goes without saying.

  75. Birthdays and hand-written letters…two of my favorite things. Happy Birthday to a writer with a wonderful gift.

  76. Wylie Hunt says:

    Dear Katrina,
    Happy, happy birthday to you! Hope your day is fabulous. I am sure that two thoughtful, lovely letters await you from your boys. My gift? I think, my husband, who is my rock every single day. My children and my new grandbaby. My daughter called this morning early to tell me that my granddaughter had a cold, her first, and she’d been up all night. And I reassured her as best I could, reminding her that she couldn’t keep her in a bubble, and exposure to other children would build her immunities. It was a gift that she called me. My yoga practice, and tonight I teach my first class! Birthday blessings to you….
    Fondly,
    Wylie

  77. Happy Birthday Katrina! A cherished gift that I have in my life is unconditional friendship. Though we may not see each other or even speak to each other for extended periods of time, our spirits are always communing. I turn 50 this Friday the 7th. Having 3 boys in their teens, I have pulled the wisdom that bleeds from your writing. Thank you.

  78. Mary Ousley says:

    Happy Birthday. I love your writing and your books. Would love to win one.

    Thanks for everything you do…you are an inspiration to mothers everywhere.
    Good Bless
    Mary

  79. Carola Herrscher says:

    I find it a wolderful way of celebrating. I’ve got to know about you not long ago, by a friend. I’m reading now your first book and enjoing your newsletters.
    I find reading you very inspiring and similar to my own personal search.
    I send you a very happy birthday, from Buenos Aires, Argentina in a beautiful spring morning.
    Carola

  80. Deepest Birthday wishes to you, Katrina! Without knowing it, you have giving such a gift to me. This fall has felt wild with the kid’s return to school and activities. I have sought refuge in my old companion from when they were little – Mitten Strings for God. Even though they’re 10 and 13 now, the book is so fitting and even more important – the perfect reminder to Slow Down and appreciate. Thank you, thank you! Also, the Mary Oliver poem took my breath away. XXOO

  81. Happy Birthday! A dear friend introduced us over a year ago. I appreciate your soulfulness and your keen ability to articulate your feelings and place in the world.

    I, too, adore Mary Oliver’s writings.

    I would be honored to win!

    Namaste’.

  82. Happy Birthday, Katrina! I look forward to the day when Abra can write me a letter (actually, I look forward to the day when she can hold a Crayon in her hand). I look forward to reading your words every week. You always give me something to think about!

  83. Finding you and your work has been a great gift for me. What a joy to discover your blog and a kindred spirit. We’re close in age and I share your sensibility, the desire to appreciate the gifts of everyday life, ordinary days and the beauty all around us. Your work is an inspiring reminder about what’s important and how to treasure the moments and days of our lives, one at a time. I’m a huge Oliver fan and Evidence is high on the list of books I want to read next…why am I not surprised you love her too?

    In celebration of your birthday, these words from another inspiring teacher:

    People say that what we’re seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

    –Joseph Campbell

    Happy birthday and blessings to you, Katrina!

  84. Julie Parden says:

    I hope you are able to wrap your arms around the wondrous thought of how loved you are by so many, as evidenced by the kind words in all of your birthday posts. I am so thankful for the gift of my best friend, a true example of a gift that keeps giving, every moment of every day. I am also thankful for Michael J. Chase, author of “am I being kind” and founder of The Kindness Center, whose writing showed me that kindness to ourselves, to others, to animals, to our communities and to our planet, is perhaps the greatest gift of all. One act of kindness has such a huge wave effect, one that not only reaches out to others but also returns to its giver, rather like the tide…

  85. It is a beautiful day, I will see my son graduate from basic training in the Airforce in 2 weeks, and look forward to seeing his tiny “accountant” handwriting on his weekly letters. I just wrote a note to my aunt for her birthday and I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  86. My birthday is a week from today…I’ll be 68. I will re-read your reflections on that day and count the many blessings that fill my life. Your thoughts put everything into perspective.
    Thank you.

  87. I’ve just discovered your blog and have to tell you how peaceful and rewarding it is to read your words. Thank you for sharing!

  88. I am grateful for the Love of a King, our father, His lovely creations from stars and planets to pebbles and water and all who live therein. I am grateful for His mercy and divine friendship and devotion to me and you and all of us who breathe and die. I am grateful for the simple, the truth, the gradual unfolding of the day and its perfect revelations about the circles that intertwine and connect like hedges in a maze which up close are only a splotch of green but as you pull away and look over it a clear path is coursed leading one to the end and to a goal.
    Happy Birthday.

  89. First of all, thank you, Katrina, for the gift of this blog. I’m always refreshed when I pay a visit.

    My gift–and one I never take for granted–is the love and support of my wife. She fills me with joy each and every day. My novel was recently acquired by Grove/Atlantic and her squeals of excitement were even louder than mine.

  90. Hi

    I’ve just come to the end of The Gift of an Ordinary Day, your words touched me deeply. You have given me so much to think about…Many thanks…x

  91. How amazing! piece by piece i am picking the thread that join us. not only you speak my mind to bring reassuring calm in an otherwise often chaotic and distressing world, I happen to celebrate my birthday just days apart.
    There is joy in sharing and there is reassurance in discovering that you are not alone in your thoughts, ideas and longings. Katrina, your presence in this world is my gift on my birthday. Thank you.

  92. I loved the thought of a letter from your sons as birthday gifts to you. One of my most cherished gifts are letters from my parents to each other before they were married. I lost my dad 1 year ago and my mom 2 years ago this month and it is such a treasure to see them now through each others eyes.

  93. Sarah Craighead Dedmon says:

    Today I took a break from two squabbling little boys and went on a walk all alone. I walked past some incredibly odorous bait coolers someone is storing in the forest, on up a lovely dirt road edged in balsam. It had recently rained, so the woods were especially fragrant. The trees are too thick to see through, but on the other side of them I could hear the engine of a lobster boat starting and stopping as it checked its traps in the cove. Those scents and those sounds were my favorite gift today.

  94. Tobeyw13@gmail.com says:

    Happy Birthday! I am turning 40 on Oct13th! Your book Gift of an Ordinary Day, came my way last year, when my oldest son was preparing to leave for the Navy. Thank you for your words!

  95. Beth Smith says:

    Happy Birthday Katrina! I hope your day is filled with all that makes you SMILE!
    Thank you for your beautiful words, they have helped me so much! A dear friend sent me your book a few weeks ago. We had just left our beautiful home of 21 years, where we raised our 2 college aged kids, our wonderful friends, church, and a teaching job I loved! My husband and I are starting a new chapter, 500 miles away from where all of our roots are so deeply planted! Your book “The gift of an ordinary day” has filled my heart with hope, my eyes with tears and my thoughts with positive courage!

  96. Jacquie Heil says:

    Katrina,
    One of my biggest gifts this year was reading your book, which came to me on the sage advice of my sister who said it resonates so deeply with the place where we are presently both at. I am still reading it, savoring each page on a plane ride home from Boulder this weekend. I was there to visit my daughter Emily who turned 18 and left home this summer for college. Such a difficult year it has been as my beautiful mother passed in December right before Christmas from a rare form of Cancer. My daughter had a difficult year as well with the loss of a dear friend in a tragic car accident returning from camp…six lives senselessly lost….but in the despair there were gifts and miracles. I have written every morning for 18 years, recording at first, my daughter’s life unfolding before us, and then the story of our family. My son is now in eighth grade, and I find solace and comfort in your words about your precious fleeting moments with Jack. How I so can relate as I have lost my mother and daughter in the same year….we must pay attention to the present…for that is the gift. October is my mom’s birthday month as well. My father has always referred to her as his Autumn as they met in the fall and as he says, “she brought all of the color into his life.” I will celebrate my mother’s life this month, as the leaves subtly change where I live in California….I will celebrate the simple pleasures of Autumn and find deep joy in last exuberant burst of life before winter closes in. I am so grateful and blessed to have connected with your lovely book, your beautiful writing, and the expression of the joys and sorrows of motherhood and finding one’s way in the world. I am so profoundly grateful. Happy Beautiful Birthday!

  97. Happy Birthday, Katrina!

    I’ve been reading your wonderful words since MittenStrings and have loved having your perspective as our kids have grown…

    Thanks for the poem and the lovely counting of gifts…

  98. Diane Bascom says:

    Thank you for sharing the gift of your insightful words with us on your special day. Happy belated Birthday! I treasure the gift of my children, who are both away at college. I miss them, and hearing from them (phone or text message typically) is the highlight of my day.

  99. I love reading your comments and would love to read your books, you are such an inspiration to me.
    Leslie

  100. Happy Birthday! I hope it’s day full of blue skies inside and out. Thank you for this reminder about the beautiful gifts I receive each day.

    xoxo

  101. Happy birthday to you, Katrina.
    I am enjoying the gift of a beautiful fall day, playing hooky with my two teenagers ~ making memories and savoring each moment of our relaxing day at home together!

  102. A very happy birthday to you! I guess one the of the most important things I have learned as life has progressed is that true blessings come to me when I share the gifts I have received, in whatever form they be; physical gifts, knowledge, talents, love… Thanks for sharing your gifts..
    Sincerely,
    Karen

  103. Wishing you a wonderful and inspired birthday.

    I believe I have several cherished gifts in my life. The ones that mean the most to me are my family and my very close friends all who support and inspire me in their own way. Thank you for your wonderful words and inspiring stories and thank you for sharing your birthday with us.

  104. Happy Birthday! What a wonderful idea for a gift from your sons. I am going to use that idea on my birthday. Thank you for all your words of inspiration.

  105. Happy belated birthday to you, friend. I have been thinking of the extremes today–dark/light, happy/sad. And reading your line about honoring each touched me.

    (I have Oliver’s work and I have your book so please don’t enter me!) xo

  106. Happy Birthday dear Katrina . . . as many of your readers have already expressed, your book has been one of my greatest blessings this past year and I continue to share your inspiring words and wisdom with all my dear friends. I think my own dog-eared/underlined copy has been passed through several hands and touched many hearts.

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder that our most precious gifts are already within us, ready to be cultivated and cherished each day.

    namaste

  107. What a lovely and rippling community you have gathered and woven together. That you know so well how to love is perhaps the ultimate gift, one that allows your spirit to discover its unity with all the ten thousand things while you live and breathe in your very life and body.

    While I may be a day late to your b-day, I guess Mary Oliver suggests that it’s always somebody’s birthday and therefore it’s always our birthday. Namaste

  108. I have received so many gifts, some of which did not appear as such in the beginning. The biggest gift I did receive was my son and the opportunity to raise each other. Your words are also a gift to me, they open my heart and carry me along. Thank you.

  109. Happy belated birthday, Katrina! Thank you for your writing and reminders of gifts. I especially like your idea of asking your children for handwritten letters as gifts. I just may have to ask my 27-year-old son and 24-year-old daughter for the same when my 56th birthday rolls around in March. Your writing is a gift; thank you for sharing it.

  110. Angie Locker says:

    Dearest Katrina,

    I feel lost today because I finished your book, Gift of an ordinary day. I cherished the last chapters so much I would only allow 5-10 pages a day. The first half I devoured in hours. We have so many things in common. I too, attempted to move my family to an old gift shop, much like the red cottage, on the North shore of Minnesota. We would be living there today, but it got a little crazy, too crazy to manage. We have 3 kids almost 16, 13, and 9. The days of all of us together are few and far between. I love family movie night, but can’t remember the last one…with all of us trying desperately to complete what is expected of us we are flying through life at warp speed.
    Since reading your book I have noticed so much more of what is important. To really listen. To take more deep breaths. To taste my food. To hug my kids and to spend time with my husband. Thank you for sharing all that you have your words have been therapy to my soul and forever I am grateful.
    Sincerely and with much love,
    Angie Locker

  111. I am grateful for the way that a column, blog, book, or word has the ability to change a life. It’s both marvelous and mysterious. A true gift.

  112. I am grateful that one year ago I began a program of mindfulness and spirituality. It provided a fresh perspective on life that has changed me in numerous ways. It enriched my life and enabled me to love my children more tenderly and to let go of trying to control so many things and instead appreciate each day as a gift! I finally think I get that we are here for such a short time and I love everything good and bad… I laugh and look more. I appreciate people and nature more. I am practicing living in the present moment.

    Happy Birthday!

  113. Happy Birthday!! What a gift, your talented expression with words! I found you at a local yoga shop…after several months of rehab and physical therapy (I am checking out core strength yoga to continue to improve) from a virus and emergency back surgery this year…so the first gift that comes to mind is my health. You are right, so often taken for granted until it’s gone. I have wonderful friends and family, along with many prayers that helped me through the past few months along with my life before. I am also gifted with an 18 year old; although when I start to think about him not needing me anymore since he’s an “adult”, I know that is not at all true. There are so many, many more. Looking forward to reading your books! I have them on my list for next trip to the book store.

    Again, hope you have a fabulous birthday!

  114. Laura Zausmer says:

    Happy Birthday Beautiful Katrina! I read Meditations from the Mat years ago and it is my favorite yoga book. I then went out and bought Mitten Strings for God and have given it as a gift to all new mothers. I was so excited to learn of The Gift of An Ordinary Day through an email Utube post from a friend. I cried my eyes out the first time I watched you reading to your book club. I still cry when I watch, but I no longer need an entire box of klenex. I bought the book and led it for my book club. I recommend both books to all who will listen to me. We just sent our last of three kids off to college and I was lucky enough to discover The Gift a year before Mike graduated. It gave me the time to rediscover the every day ordinary gifts with our loved ones. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Love you! Laura Zausmer from Michigan (P.S. We have a cottage in the upper peninsula of Michigan and it is our “Journey’s End.” The kids love the woods and lake. Reading your book about the little red house touched my heart and you were reading my mind.)

  115. It appears that we share a birthday so happy birthday from a fellow birthday girl! I turned 39 – seems like such a significant year – and was delighted to have received the first cards my three sons actually chose all by themselves. Those special words they are too young to write for themselves just yet meant the world to me.

  116. Happy belated birthday! Hope you had a wonderful day. You are a gift to all of us. Thank you for continuing to write – your books, this blog. I look forward to every posting.

  117. Hi Katrina,
    Belated Happy Birthday, I have read both your books and am inspired by the simplicity of your advice. I wish I could have read them earlier in my life to implement it. Yet I am grateful for everyday and when I am down all I have to do is read your blog and it helps me see things the way I should.
    Thank you.

  118. Happy Birthday to you! Love the letter idea. While reading your post, I thought how lucky I am to have mentors on my journey as a mother to three young boys. I think of my mom, who raised nine children near Chicago, but who often felt isolated in motherhood. She had no one but her immediate family to look to, few books beyond Dr Spock and the cut-out columns of Erma Bombeck she posted on our fridge.
    Now I live in a very small, remote town in Utah and yet I have so many sources of inspiration. I’m grateful to know your words and grateful to all those who light others’ journeys by sharing their own story.

  119. Joni Bouchard says:

    Katrina,

    You and I have communicated through email on a couple of occasions back in June when I shared with you that I asked my best friend to read some of your words from “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” at my youngest son’s Celebration of Life on May 29. Sadly and so suddenly, I lost my precious twelve-year old son, Will, in a tragic accident, almost five months ago, on May 22 and this Friday (Oct 14) would have been his first day as a teenager — his 13th birthday. Will lived a beautiful life, though much, much too short. His life was beautiful because it was full of ordinary days; simple pleasures, fun with friends and family, good health, a mom and dad and two big brothers that loved him to the moon and back and inside out and upside down and back. His older brothers looked out for him (even when they were clearly pushing his buttons and he, theirs). It wasn’t a life full of lavish gifts and expensive trips, but instead a life full to the brim of the most important gift that I/we have. You, Katrina, have said it better than any of us, but that gift is “the gift of an ordinary day”. So, for me the most cherished gift that I have is all the ordinary days that I had with my Will. If I’d not chosen to live each of those days moment to moment and chosen grace over annoyance (even when annoyance wanted to show it’s ugly head), then I wouldn’t have all of the countless beautiful, ordinary, cherished memories that Will and I had together… today.

    Happy belated birthday, Katrina, and thank you for sharing your gift – your beautifully written books and the important message they convey. I am forever grateful.

    Joni

  120. florencia says:

    Happy birthday Katrina!!!!
    I asked for handwritten letters for mother´s day which is next Sunday here in Argentina. Hope to get some!!! Glad you got yours!!!
    I am grateful for the gift of being awake to everything that goes on in me.
    Big Hug!!
    Florencia

  121. My freshly signed copies of BOTH of your books are some of my newly acquired treasures! Having a husband as thoughtful and romantic as mine is quite a gift indeed! I hope the boys spoiled you rotten for your birthday!

  122. So glad to find you. I read your first book 10 years ago right after I had my first child, and have loved it and given it as a gift many times. Found your blog through the wonderful Bonnie Harris, and can’t wait to hear from you more often! What a gift!

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