I’ve been thinking a lot lately about less. How little is more than enough. About doing less and being more grateful. So, it was not exactly happenstance that on my recent trip to the Rockies, my daughter asked to use my Kindle in order to finish reading her digital loan of Pretty Little Liars. Of course, I acquiesced and relegated to choosing one of the many ‘real’ books on a dusty shelf in my office that I have lined up waiting for me to make time to read. In a rather random way, my eyes locked in on The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison, which has been on loan for more than a year from a dear friend who said she thought I would enjoy. The subscript reads: “A Mother’s Memoir,” which was not exactly enticing to me since the brief description talked about her grappling with college admissions and holding her breath during her younger son’s adolescence. Not enough of a selling point for me, however, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its’ cover and I trusted my friend, Caroline’s, recommendation.
Caroline was spot on. It was the perfect grab, especially for this trip, for my 49th birthday and for where my head has been lately. I strongly recommend this read for anyone who feels that the sands of time are fewer in front than behind, who wishes to pay more attention to what’s worth caring about, who strives to understand on all levels that this life where we are right now is the best life there is. Period. Personally, the first couple of chapters were a slow start. However, as the story unfolds, she weaves in many meaningful, heartfelt morsels of wisdom about doubt during tumult and the longing for feeling totally at peace as she describes her experience deciding to leave the Boston suburbs somewhat spontaneously, losing her lifelong job as an editor, living in limbo with her parents for several years with teenagers and the rather irrational, emotional purchase of a rickety, rural cottage in New Hampshire. Each step, she realizes, is a lesson in letting go that she describes as a sort of spiritual maturation; learning to move away from physical comforts and into more of the mystery of life. It’s more than just a mother’s memoir, it’s a typical woman’s revelation of how the mundane moments are often the most magical and most likely to be missed or undervalued told in a way that makes sense and makes you reflect. By the end, you realize that there is no such thing as a charmed life but there are charmed moments, that a thoughtful life is not rushed and that it is totally ok, in fact it’s wonderful to feel small, full and grateful.