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. Angelica says:

    My child is still a baby, and I am currently expecting. Looking at this video reminded me once again to treasure the days.

  2. Laura K. says:

    I am deeply engrossed in “reading” Katrina’s book on my iPod while walking at lunch during my work days. When my dad died a couple of years ago, he reminded me to appreciate my two little girls before it was too late (a regret of his own since he worked two jobs and left raising the kids to my mom.)
    I appreciate very much the day to day joys and challenges of living with two small girls and holding down a full time job, and am trying to appreciate the moments now, before they’re gone.

    I recently enjoyed “Cutting for Stone”, which is a totally different kind of book, a coming of age story of an Indian man raised in Ethiopia, coming to America and practicing medicine here.

  3. Judy says:

    Count me in. I’ve already pre-ordered your book and I’m ordering both of Katrina’s on Kindle for my daughter. Her boys are only 5 and 8, but already I feel them slipping away from us.

    So glad to read of others’ inspirational books.

  4. Susan says:

    Count me in!
    Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle helped my transition to rural life. My husband and I moved to rural VA after our children moved on to lead their own lives. It was a long desire to leave our stressful careers and like Babara live closer to nature and eat local, however it’s been a transition with (for me) unanticipated adjustments. I am so looking forward to reading these two books as this same topic of midlife tranistion is explored.

  5. Melissa says:

    I love Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. It’s a book on writing but it can also be applied to life. Sometimes life can be overwhelming, but when we take it bird by bird, we can get through or do most anything.

  6. Priscilla says:

    Dip into The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo – an insightful, often insipring, reading is set forth for each day of the year. I went through it twice, an enormous support after my husband’s death and the end of our idyllic life together. But then I slowly found a way to carve out a life for myself that is new yet retains some of the old familiar, with roots still in the earth, growing things and creating beauty all around. And at the same time growing people and leading my company into the future!

  7. Cynthia Ellis says:

    My daughter bought a lovely book for me recently called Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century by Dick and James Strawbridge. Its right up my alley!

  8. Susan says:

    Favorite transition book of 2011: The Land Between by Jeff Manion. Speaking right to my life and compelling me to seize the desert as fertile transformational soil for my heart.

  9. walter says:

    The man who planted trees by Jean Giono about a man who transformed a desolate landscape by planting trees. Inspiring in that changes is always possible, especially if pursued with dedication, hard work and patience.

  10. Pam says:

    I’d love to have both of these books. I’ve just discovered Caitlin Shetterly and read her blog about her circular trip to the west and back home again to Maine – which is where I live as well. My boys are grown and live far away – they’ve been out of the house now for as long as they were in it! And I love my time and freedom and miss the hectic home that used to be with kids and kids friends around.

  11. ann says:

    My life has been good and is still good. I moved from Dad’s house to husband’s house and am still in the same county. Your imagination can fill in the rest. Finished Alice Peck’s BREAD BODY SPIRIT.

  12. Polly says:

    hmmm, I would love to read your two books. One recent read that was transformational to me would be When the Soul Listens by Jan Johnson

  13. Steve Zick says:

    Your recommendation is good enough for me! I’ve already pre-ordered your book–but if I win a second one I’ll pay it forward (or keep it greedily–to have one to read and one for the shelf!)

  14. Genevieve says:

    I’ve always been a fan of Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The way she’s able to move past her upbringing without leaving the good things behind is lovely. I’ve read it many times and have never grown tired of it.

  15. Jessica says:

    Love reading everyone’s inspirational reads – I love Kathleen Norris’ Amazing Grace. It’s a story of a Protestant raised Agnostic who comes back to God through retreats with monks of the Catholic Church. She’s a poet too, and her way with words gets me every time. I have an uncertain relationship with faith, but this book was a close companion for me for many years. Hope some of ya’ll like it! ;)

  16. Hi Margaret,

    Nice to virtually meet you growing out of my deep appreciation for Katrina—and such an exciting flurry of friendships, comments, inspiration and books.

    As for an inspiring book about transition, I would cite “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I read it as a teenager and related so deeply to it because it perfectly described horrific visions I had had since early childhood but never understood.

    Whether I’d picked up my ancestors’ trauma unconsciously or came to these terrible visions by some unexplainable means, reading about Elie Wiesel’s story proved grounding and validating to me and made me feel less alone in a world I found strange: suburban Chicago.

    Here’s to books. Namaste

  17. Anne says:

    Wow – What emotions that video stirred in me! I do not have children but I related to every bit of this – especially the wisdom of Katrina’s grandmother that everyone blooms in their own time…

    The current inspirational book I am reading is Embracing Your Second Calling by Dale Hanson Bourke. Very appropriate for those in their 40’s and up who find themselves asking alot of “what if’s” about the earlier half of their lives – and wanting to make the rest of it more meaningful (like following their hearts and moving to the country to pursue of life of gardening!)…..it’s very uplifting and motivating.

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