giveaway, and a new friend: katrina kenison’s ‘gift’

katrina snowshoesYOU KNOW YOU’VE MET SOMEONE SPECTACULAR when she lends you her snowshoes, hoping you—a fellow writer—can be lured away from the computer, for your own good. That’s how Katrina Kenison is: She arrives bearing gifts, but not the ones you buy at a store, necessarily. They’re more likely to be something that could nudge you into appreciating “The Gift of an Ordinary Day,” as her book by that title does. Meet a new friend, and comment to win a copy of “Gift”—and an advance one of “And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” too.  We’ll each give away two sets of them this week on our blogs. Here’s our story, and how the giveaway works:

If I hadn’t signed with the same publisher, I doubt I’d have met Katrina–our lives and stories appear so different, and she lives a few states away (though, as if by magic, one of her sons is just minutes down the road from me at school). Hers is “a mother’s memoir,” as the cover subhead reveals, co-starring a husband and teen-age boys; mine the tale of a single woman setting off to a rural life of solitude. But when we both participated in a booksellers trade show in October, we learned the meaning of that old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Or a life.

“I was reading your book on the way here,” she told me excitedly as I shook her hand at the show, bumping into her words with my, “I just finished your book last night.”

I had known about Katrina—many authors do, because her book video (above) became a YouTube sensation, the second-most-watched book “trailer” out there, apparently, at more than 1.5 million views. But even after viewing it, I wasn’t prepared for the strong identification I’d feel with “Gift of an Ordinary Day,” or Katrina herself. I had to read the book.

Turns out ours are both tales of transition; of career shifts and the related midlife transformations; of the deliberate choice of small-town living; of facing fears that arise when making big change. We each cast a beloved house—our true home—as a character in the plot. We share the love of yoga; tell tender stories of reliance on new neighbors; and of course, of the joys discovered when doing what in our old city lives would have seemed like “doing nothing.”

Whether you call such non-goings-on “gifts,” as she does, or “peace” (my term)—is mere semantics. Katrina is a kindred spirit, and I think you will love her book, her newly redesigned blog, her gentle generosity of spirit. And so many sentences she keeps on delivering that just hit home:

“I don’t have to be who I’ve always been, or stay afraid of the things that have always scared me,” Katrina wrote on her site the other day. (Sounds like, me–and maybe you–right?) Or this from week before last: “Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.”

Words to live by, at least for me just now.

To Enter the Giveaway

TO ENTER TO WIN ONE OF FOUR SETS OF BOOKS, comment here and on Katrina’s site, noting in both places the name of another book about personal transition that you identified with. Tell us why, too, if you wish. Regulars to my blog know that I understand some of you are shy and just prefer to say “Count me in,” or “I want to win,” but if you feel like sharing an inspirational book title and a sense of the “why” behind your choice instead, please do; all the better.

Entries close at midnight Sunday, January 23, with winners to be drawn at random (using the tool at random [dot] org) and announced the next day.

Remember: Once you post your entry here, go visit Katrina to double your chances—and tell her Margaret says hello, and that a full report on my snowy adventure is soon to come, thanks to her.

  1. Elaine Sullivan says:

    Let’s Take the Long Way Home – Gail Caldwell. With a mastery of words, her ability to write about a deep friendship and the loss of her friend, Christine Knapp was both touching and joyful. Their friendship was yet another version of sisterhood.

  2. SJ says:

    Wow, there are some really good recommends already but count me in to for a chance to win! My recommendation “The Places in Between” by Rory Stewart about his walk across post 2001 Afghanistan. I was really amazed at how the villagers throughout his walk, with so very little for food and material possessions, would nevertheless open their up their homes to a traveler (especially a Westerner) at each step of his journey. Something to be learned from that.

  3. I’ve been wanting to get your book. Very moving. I’ve read lots of inspirational book including, recently, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I always love the thought of new starts, even after hardships.

  4. Hi,

    I have been inspired by your book on gardening ever since
    I started gardening myself, 10 years ago.

    Over 20 years, ago, I left a job in retail to pursue a
    career as a potter and teacher of pottery.

    I was inspired, in part by the biography LUCIE RIE,
    (one of the greatest women potters)by Tony Birks.
    Lucie left a secure but empty marriage to devote
    her life to art.

    I look forward to reading both of your books!

  5. Michele says:

    Eat, Love, Pray for me too right now. She’s a v. good writer. When I read stuff like this it helps me relax and get some peace of mind and perspective. Margaret’s writing about gardening helps with that too and I can’t wait to read her new book!

    Here’s a new one… Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-Paced World [Paperback]
    Amy Wood Psy.D. (Author)
    You can read the first couple of chapters on Amazon. Very relatable to today.

    Margaret, thank you for bringing us all together and introducing us to Katrina.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I very much want to read both of these books!
    The books that were “transition” books for me were not necessarily about transition. Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle made me a localvore. Franzen’s Eating Animals made me a vegetarian. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now radically changed my life. Byron Katie’s Loving What Is brought me tremendous clarity. Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden deepened my love of gardening into a love of permaculture that approaches religion.
    I’ll be on the lookout for many of the book suggestions above! Thank you.

  7. Elaine says:

    To begin, three thank you’s for this particular post.

    Thank you for
    #1) a contest (they’re always fun because, well, you just never know when it will be your lucky day)
    #2) introducing me to Katrina Kenison and her writing
    #3) making me struggle with a difficult area (personal transition) in which I need to do more work…and leading me a few steps closer to understanding and answers.

    I want to answer your question honestly and to do so I have to be a little different — I don’t have a specific book to share. But on reflection (I’ve been considering your question since last evening when I first read it) I realize sitting quietly with poetry — especially Mary Oliver’s and Jane Kenyon’s poems — has been giving me insight, comfort and confidence. The poems have revealed truths and desires buried deep in my heart.

  8. k.braverman says:

    I’d like to win your book to read about the life I think I’d like to have. I say ‘think’ as I still love many things about NYC, like walking over to the Met when an exhibition is about to close and many other things.
    But to concentrate on gardening, to live the peaceful, private life that has huge appeal too.

  9. Carla says:

    I just finished The History of Love & it was amazing. The characters are moving in such a wonderful forward motion towards the next stage & when it all culminates, it makes it brutally clear what’s important.

    On another note, your new found friendship sounds delightful. I’m a mom of two girls and the first thing that went out the window once I became a mom is my friendships. I’m learning again how to be a good friend. It’s lovely and fun and such a great example for my girls.

    Nothing like a good girlfriend =)

  10. Judith Flynn says:

    Hello Margaret,

    I am soon to be in the country more or less full time……. so reading your feelings and new life is comforting as well as exciting…….. A book that I recently finished reading – “Brooklyn” tells about leaving one world to live in another – Ireland to Brooklyn, so leaving Long Island for the country is somewhat like this to me. Waiting for your book to come out, hoping I get to win a copy.


  11. DonnaLR says:

    I’m continually enjoying, and inspired by, the adventures your new life is bringing to you. Snowshoes were my first real purchase (after a few trees) when we got our property up in NW CT and they’ve gotten alot of use – especially this last week.

    “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” is something I was thinking about after a recent visit from my niece. Unfortunately, those words often take a few more years and a bit more experience to truly appreciated so I really enjoyed reading about your new friend Katrina.

    I’m an avid book-buyer but not the best book reader (need more alone time) but A Dog Year by Jon Katz was a book that I purchased and quickly read shortly after we got our first dog (a very smart, stubborn lab). I related to so much of it. One of the benefits of our country property is to have a place that the dog(s) can run – it’s such a joy to watch what she and her new playmate choose to explore. But even in the city I find it so nice to be pulled out of the house to have to walk the dog – my excuse for getting some fresh air, time alone and an opportunity to meet alot of very nice people. And she is still – 13+ years later, challenging, and rewarding, me ways I never expected.

    1. Margaret says:

      ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED (though you can add a book title anytime!). Selecting and contacting winners is under way…stay tuned. And thank you — so many new commenters and so many old friends, too. A booklist to come shortly as well…

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