You Need This Book. You Do.

January 17, 2013

When Katrina Kenison’s new book, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment, arrived in the mail this past week, I might have actually made the “squee!” sound. I was that excited.

She’s sort of a brilliant writer, Katrina. A beautiful writer. A bracingly honest writer, even when it hurts. What I admire about Katrina’s writing is that nothing is off-limits; she courageously exposes the underbelly of being human–the feelings of being broken, lost, fumbling for a compass.

But this book is so much more than about struggle. It’s about courage and compassion and growing up–even at a time in life when you think you are done growing.

Twice in my life, when I felt as if I was holding onto jagged shards of my own broken self, Katrina’s words helped me through. Her previous books, The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry were like maps for me, outlining the paths that–if I had I the courage and the will to travel them–would lead me out of the weeds.

Magical Journey is no different, and yet it is.

The book begins, as many hard journeys do, with loss. Kenison bears two swift losses: the premature departure of her youngest son to a far-away boarding school and the loss of a dear friend to cancer. Faced with an empty house and a wounded heart, Kenison faces the question that all women face in the “afternoon of life”–What now?

What happens when the white noise of mothering and caretaking and managing a household vanishes into the ether? The white noise that kept our lives so full that we didn’t have the chance to stop for a moment and wonder about what we wanted? Who we were? What hopes we still harbored?

The answer, of course, is not easy or linear or clear. Life doesn’t work that way. As I followed Kenison’s struggle to rediscover herself–to accept that maybe this life isn’t what we’d counted on–that something else entirely lies in wait, I could feel my own doors opening.

Wasn’t it just this August, when I put my newly-minted first grader on the school bus and wept for days, that I wondered who I was weeping for…my daughter or myself? Who am I, without that small voice asking for snacks and games and books?

With her honest and encouraging words, Kenison extends herself and her hands to the reader, inviting us to experience what comes–the ugly and the joyous–standing side-by-side, at attention.

It is this very attention, the act of quieting ourselves and opening our hearts to what follows, that provides the compass and the courage to navigate this second act in our lives.

Kenison writes: “I suspect now that growing up–or rather, growing up a soul–must always involve a time of falling apart. How naive I was, to ever think wisdom could come without loss, or understanding without experience…What I left behind [was] layer after layer of my beliefs and attitudes, judgments and fears. Those were the defenses I thought I needed in order to become a better version of me…The great surprise of growing older, it turns out, is not greater certainty about these things, but less.”

Kenison’s journey is a beautiful affirmation that life isn’t about crossing the finish line with the most medals. It’s the process, and the hard-won lessons and the people you love along the way that matter.

She comes to the point of understanding that, “The question that’s haunted me for months now–What am I going to do with the rest of my life?–has come to feel a little less urgent, a little less complicated. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, it has begun to answer itself…something more achievable, something right at hand, something closer to surrender.”

Like taking a long walk with a dear friend, Katrina’s book warms the soul, encourages the spirit and reminds us that we are not alone. Believe me, you need this book.

***

You do! It’s heartfelt, illuminating and oh, so wonderful. I’ll be giving away a copy of Katrina’s book a week from today to one lucky commenter, so write away! And if you aren’t already following Katrina Kenison’s blog, I encourage you to click over now. You won’t be sorry.

 

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty Sussmann January 17, 2013 at 6:51 am

I have also thoroughly enjoyed Katrina Kenison’s books over the years. I cannot wait to read the wisdom she shares in The Magical Journey!!

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:11 am

Hi Patty! Thanks for stopping by! The book is terrific; you’ll love it.

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Carmen DC January 17, 2013 at 6:52 am

I am also a big fan of Katrina Kenison. She is a beautiful writer and really touches the mother’s heart. So glad she highlighted this blog which is how I got to this site. You are also a great writer and I read a few of your posts and they really moved me. I am now a follower. :)

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:10 am

Carmen, Welcome! Hope to be seeing more of you!

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Jane January 17, 2013 at 7:17 am

What a heartfelt endorsement! I am now moving Magical Journey to the top of my book list! And with a daughter in college and two young boys at home (I call them my second chances) it sounds like her other two books need to be in the #2 and #3 spots, as well!

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

Jane,

“My two second chances…” I LOVE that!

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Justine January 17, 2013 at 8:31 am

I never used to read memoirs and self-help books, but then I started with Devotion, and when I was going through a bad patch, I read other books that helped heal some of my gaping wounds. Now I can’t wait to devour more, learn more. There’s always room for growth isn’t there? *I hope I win this book!*

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melissa January 17, 2013 at 9:35 am

thank you for this generous and exquisite offering. yes, katrina’s writing is soothing balm for the soul.

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Arnebya January 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

I never liked self-help books (I never really tried to read a self help book, is more accurate) but in the past year I’ve read many. I’m glad to have this new referral because there’s something about someone having lived through what you’re living through that is simply…needed.

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:13 am

Arnebya,

You’ll relate to her, I know it. It’s not so much self-help per se…more like talking to a good friend.

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Katybeth January 17, 2013 at 10:07 am

What next. Certainly a question I find myself asking, with a 16 year old who will be heading off to college in a blink.
Amazon here I come….

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:14 am

Katybeth,

College. Wow. What a milestone for both of you…

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Pamela January 17, 2013 at 10:12 am

Awesome review!! The white noise of motherhood … Such a wonderful description!

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Susan T. January 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

It’s so fun to read a review of a book I plan to read myself (and savor)…to see which parts resonated with someone else. I’m excited about this one because it seems so perfectly timed with all the transitions I’m facing in life.

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:16 am

Susan,

I felt the same way!

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Cathy January 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Oh how I know that you must make way for the life in front of you, even if it’s not the one you had planned. Sounds like a worthy read.

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:16 am

Cathy,

Indeed, you DO know. xoxo

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jacquie January 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm

it sounds like a truely remarkable and meaningful book. i wonder though how much of it more applicable to – no that is not the correct way to say it since the basic idea sounds like it is for all – how much of it involves the moving on of children so is more meaningful to mothers? versus more generalized so would be able to “touch”/be related to the experiences of a women without chilren or a man? it does sound like a journey that many of us are forced to take and may we all grow wiser in the process as she seems to have.

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Debbie January 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know Katrina’s work, but holy cow! I will now. Things we need have a way of finding us, and I need this book. Of course, your writing could convince me that reading obituaries is fascinating, but I trust you – I’ll be reading Magical Journey.

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:17 am

Debbie,

You’ll really like it.

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Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri January 17, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I am reading it right now, underlining passages, putting stars next to phrases, re-reading and journaling all the way through it. So much wisdom in Katrina’s experiences and words.

Just wanted to chime in and say that I agree with you. Everyone definitely needs this book. (No need to put my name in the giveaway!).

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:18 am

Rudri,

You should see how dog-eared and underlined my copy is!

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Lisa @ The Meaning of Me January 17, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I love Katrina’s books! My first was Mitten Strings from God – a gift after my daughter was born. Loved it and had to get Gift of an Ordinary Day, too. I have seen her blog, but somehow lost track of it – thanks for the link back! :)

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Alexandra January 18, 2013 at 3:59 am

I need this book.

To soothe my self battered soul.

So much I wish I would have done differently, I hope she addresses this, I’m betting it’s the undercurrent of the book.

Can you fix it so I win (only half kidding…)

xo

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:19 am

Alexandra,

She does address it. What she decides to do about those regrets will surprise you.

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Maggie S. January 18, 2013 at 4:35 am

So if I’m falling apart, I’m right on schedule, then?

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:20 am

Maggie,

Right on time, girl!

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suzicate January 18, 2013 at 5:10 am

Ok, this is a sign. You’re the third person this week talking about Katrina Kenison! I took it as a sign so I just ordered it on my kindle, so I’ll start reading NOW!

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Sam January 18, 2013 at 7:32 am

Kitch…you had me at nothing’s off limits.

I’ve declared 2013 “The Year of Me”. Not in a selfish way, but in a way to make me a happy person in hopes of becoming a more grounded mom. My night stand is now stacked with books to help me on my journey; “The Happiness Project” and “Happier at Home” by Gretchen Rubin; “Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood” by Karen Maezen Miller. And several more on my wish list. Your words of using books as your maps is exactly what I’m hoping for this year.

As great as Katrina Kenison’s newest book sounds, perhaps I should start with the first two you mentioned. They seem like they will fit in perfectly! Thanks for the awesomely-timed book recommendations!

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 8:21 am

Sam,

I recommend all of those books highly!

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 9:26 am

Good to know…now I just need to find time to actually read them. Gosh…(attempting) good parenting just takes so much time! By the time I get the kids in bed, I’m ready to mindless sit for a few minutes.

“With what pleasure do we look upon a family, through the whole of which reign mutual love and esteem, where the parents and children are companions for one another, without any other difference than what is made by respectful affection on the one side, and kind indulgence on the other.”
-Adam Smith

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Anon,

This book is not about good parenting. It’s about the regrets you have about the things you didn’t do/say/accomplish as a parent, a wife, a writer. What Kenison does with those regrets made me so hopeful.

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Brandy January 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

I had never heard of Katrina but I’m glad I stopped by…the timing couldn’t be more perfect. My daughter and my stepson are seniors this year. I have fretted many times over the past couple of months of what my life will be like when they are off at college or off starting their lives. I get teary eyed everytime I think about my daughter not being here everyday for me to talk to and see. I have added these books to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list and will be purchasing them shortly…I think I am going to need all the help I can get dealing with this.

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TKW January 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Hi Brandy,

Thanks for stopping by. College is hard–my mom told me (many years later) that the first year I went away to college, she would go into my bedroom, sit there and cry. At least twice a week.

If the tears I shed when Miss M. boarded the bus for first grade is any indication, I will be a Wreck from Hell. I hope they’ve figured out how to make a fashionable straightjacket?

If you ever need to talk, I am here.

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Nina PA January 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

The gift of an ordinary day sits on my nightstand, i have one son in college and my last one starts in the fall. I dont need any convincing, but i enjoyed your review!

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Privilege of Parenting January 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

I totally agree, and I’m not even through the whole book! Resonant across every stage of attaching and relinquishing. I’m just thrilled to float in the mingling of you words and Katrina’s.

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Heather January 20, 2013 at 7:37 am

Wow… Sounds like right where I’m at right now and my littles haven’t even begun thinking about fleeing the nest. She has rapidly moved to the top of my reading list. Thanks so much for sharing the recommendations!!! Glad you stumbled across her :)

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Tiffany January 22, 2013 at 6:11 am

Going to request all of these right now…and visit her blog! Thanks!!!

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