UPDATE 8/2/15–Take a look at Katrina’s newest blog, “Solitude.”
UPDATE 9/29/13– Take a look at Katrina’s inspiring blog, “September Afternoon.”
UPDATE 1/28/13–Katrina Shares Her New Book, “Magical Journey”
UPDATE 2/20/11–Katrina’s First Day at Kripalu
Author and mother Katrina Kenison has captured a movement, one ordinary moment at a time, thanks to her book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir, a popular blog, and the second most-watched book trailer online that you can see below.
“Begin each day with gratitude for what IS rather than worrying so much about what still might be.” Katrina
Katrina simply asks us to appreciate that parking spot that magically appears, the birds chirping as you walk your dog, your young son saying “thanks” for the fun day you just had….moments so simple and ordinary, and gone in a flash.
While it’s a mother’s memoir, it appeals to even the non-moms like EYE contributor Stacey Gualandi. As she says, “After talking with Katrina, I realized ordinary has universal appeal, and I understand my mom so much more. We also found out we both practice yoga. I teach and she’s about to become a teacher herself!”
And for the first time, Katrina’s sharing with us news about her next plans…something her fans and readers will be excited to hear!!!
EYE: With your book and your very successful viral video, you’ve put “ordinary” on the map. Is “ordinary” the new black?
KATRINA: Ha!! I thought a lot about that word. In our competitive culture, that word has a bad rap. We don’t want our kids to be ordinary, we want them to be extraordinary, and so we all work so hard to give them everything we can, in the hope that they’ll have the extraordinary lives we want for them, and turn out to be the extraordinary people we believe they ought to be.
That creates a huge amount of pressure. We think everything we do must be extraordinary. I feel just the opposite. I think there is a great comfort accepting our kids just as they are and loving our lives just as they are.
As my boys got to be teens, I was already feeling nostalgic for those moments captured on the video, moments that were already over. So “ordinary” is a word that we need to bring back and redefine and honor. Ordinary is good enough!
“From the original 200 I sent it to, the video has reached almost two million viewers!”
EYE: Speaking of your video – which has been anything but ordinary–why do you think it’s resonated with so many?
KATRINA: I put it up December, 2010, and it just went viral really fast. From the original 200 I sent it to, the video has reached almost two million viewers! One person sees it and they want everyone they know to see it too. I think it’s because it’s a very personal video but at the same time its theme is universal.
Every single parent goes through those feelings of “Oh my gosh! Life is so slow, will this ever end?…my kids are pushing my buttons…” and then realizing this time of children and parents living together is not going to last forever. The day comes when the kids really are grown up, they leave home, and we don’t want to feel that we missed the best parts, or that we have regrets.
So there is that reminder to just pay attention, to be present, knowing this life that we have is already in the process of turning into something else.
EYE: Every time I watch the video, it brings me to tears. Why is it so emotional?
KATRINA: I happened to write it a time when I was really feeling all of this; the emotions kind of poured out. It’s not a direct reading from my book. I wanted to create something special. One of the amazing things about writing is that when we pick up the pen or keyboard we don’t always know where we’re going so I often find out what I feel by writing about it.
Then going through photo albums and finding the photos just brought the whole thing together – my husband loves to take candid shots, the type of ordinary moments that I cherish…kids in the bathtub…crying…melting ice cream cones. This is the stuff of everyday life that is so easy to miss.
We always tend to arrange everybody in formal portraits, but we fail to capture those silly, ordinary moments that are so fleeting and forgettable. But when you look back, you realize that was really it. Those small moments aren’t small after all. They’re the ones that matter.
EYE: You’re book’s subtitle says “…a mother’s memoir”. Now I don’t have kids (unless 2 mutts count!) so I might not have picked up your book. But after reading it, I felt I could still relate on some level. Were you just writing to fellow mothers out there?
KATRINA: Yes, but a number of women I heard from, and it surprised me, are not mothers. They have said the subtitle suggests that it’s just for moms, but it’s for all women. I think we all nurture something. And if we’re women we definitely have those maternal instincts.
We look for ways to express them whether its taking care of a garden, dogs, parents, friends. We do care for others and also go through big changes and transitions and losses that are definitely universal and part of our life cycles as women.
“We can give ourselves the gift of time to reassess and renew and then make some deliberate choices about how we want to live and who we want to be.”
EYE: You refer to it as “opportunities for transformation.” Explain what you mean.
KATRINA: We all go through different seasons in our lives, and we all experience losses and endings. It’s very tempting to gloss over those confusing, painful feelings. We tend to get on to the next thing rather than taking the time to feel those feelings around change and transition and love and honor them.
It’s good to take enough of a pause to really creatively confront whatever is coming next. It might be coming to “the end” of one career and realizing that was good, but it’s not who I am anymore. It’s important to take some time to reflect on that and ask some questions rather than just jumping into the next thing that comes along.
We can give ourselves the gift of time to reassess and renew and then make some deliberate choices about how we want to live and who we want to be.
EYE: OK, Katrina; you are speaking directly to me! Hitting my forties, changes in career, accepting the decision not to have children…
KATRINA: The whole decision about whether to be a parent or not and then finally realizing that children are not going to be a part of your life — that’s a rite of passage just as much as letting go of grown children is I think.
EYE: Recently stepping out of my comfort zone to become a yoga instructor was a challenging decision; you’ve written about and practiced yoga. What does yoga mean in your life?
KATRINA: You know what? Guess where I’m going in February? Kripalu (in western Massachusetts) for a whole month to do a 200-hour yoga teacher training!!! I’m 52, and I’ve wanted to do this since I was 40. At 40 I was pretty sure I was too old to become a teacher.
Here I am 12 years later and I’m going do it. Back then I had a paying job, and a job raising two young kids, but then later I lost the publishing job, and as the kids got older, they needed me less and less. So I lost a huge part of my identity–as well as a steady income–but I’m not sure if I hadn’t gone through those losses that I would have ever written a book.
Now in my 50’s with the kids gone, I’m writing a new book about this time of life…this second adulthood. I had to face up to “what am I going to do? Sit home?” I had to do something. Now, I can leave home for a month, so off I go!!
“Once you’re willing to take the first step on a path, it’s amazing the way the support you’re looking for comes to you.”
EYE: BREAKING NEWS!! Your fans are going to be excited you have another book in you…!
KATRINA: I just gave a proposal to my publisher. Hopefully I’ll write it in the next two years. It’s about this magical journey of midlife. When we get to this moment, we realize whether we wanted to or not, everything is changing.
We can dig in our heels and hold on to what was, but holding on for dear life never seems to work. Or we can take that leap of faith into something new and embark on this magical journey. Once you willingly take the first step on a path, it’s amazing the way the support you’re looking for comes to you.
EYE: You wrote about the “noisy, fast-paced overcrowded” world we live in. What can we do about this fast track we are on?
KATRINA: We need to be aware that our technology is changing us, and if we’re not conscious of that then we are putting ourselves at some risk. So I think its important to step back regularly and really reassess and think about what matters here.
Is it answering the 100 emails, watching youtube videos or hanging out on facebook wondering what 200 people are doing, or getting outside and walking the dog? I have to make myself aware of that as much as everyone else.
“I have to give up that feeling that I have to control everything…”
EYE: You are quick to point out that writing a book on motherhood does not an expert make. But do you think you’re a good mom, that you’ve done a good job?
KATRINA: Once in awhile I think “Boy, by the grace of God, I said the right thing there….” And I’m grateful for every time I don’t ruin a moment by sticking my foot in my mouth. What I have learned is that things usually go better when I approach everything from a place of love and faith and not fear.
As I look back at the moments when I feel I really made mistakes as a mother, it was always because I was afraid. As in, “If he does this now, what is he going to be doing when he’s 25?”
I have to give up that feeling that I have to control everything, and just have more faith in things as they are. If I can remember how simple it is–to be truthful and loving, to put the relationships first– then everything falls into place.
EYE: What do you hope women specifically learn from your experience?
KATRINA: The most important thing is that even though the details of our lives may seem really different on the surface, we women have so much more in common than we assume. As soon as we start talking about it and tell the truth about our lives, there is this shared trust and that’s when the judgment falls away.
We realize that we really are all in this together and that we are fellow travelers, and we can support each other. What a relief it is to find out that we are not alone after all. So many times I thought no one would read my book and that no one would be interested in it.
But as letters started coming in (over a thousand!), they all had some variation on the theme: “I don’t write to authors, but I felt you really wrote what was in my heart.” I wasn’t alone. What the book has done has opened up a much wider and, I think, very healthy conversation for women to have.
“Love in the laughter. It was one of those perfect moments.”
EYE: What is your favorite ordinary day?
KATRINA: Great question. Recently, both kids were home for a few days and the whole family was together. Breakfast went on for hours, everyone was just hanging out, nobody had to go anywhere or do anything, lot of laughs, and watched a home movie on DVD that I had made. Love in the laughter. It was one of those perfect moments. No other place I would have rather been.
“I think the greatest gift we can give anyone we care about is to just shine the full light of our attention on them.”
EYE: We began with the word ordinary, but is there any other word you hope people take away from your work?
KATRINA: Attention. We are all multitasking all the time. But we kid ourselves if we think we are “with” someone as we’re doing something else at the same time. I think the greatest gift we can give anyone we care about is to just shine the full light of our attention on them.
EYE: Thank you so much, Katrina. Your words have certainly helped me to understand everything my own mom has gone through with me and my sister. Good luck on your yoga training! NAMA-STACEY!