We’re eleven days into the first month of 2013. How are those resolutions going?
If you’re looking for a little inspiration not to pick up the pace or do 100 things at once but to simply enjoy the life you lead, lil omm yoga studio in Tenleytown has a treat in store next Thursday night.
The studio is hosting a yoga class and book reading on January 17 by a gifted writer who has just come out with a new memoir. Katrina Kenison, former editor of the Best American Short Stories series, has just published her third book: Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment. In it, she reflects on life on the verge of an empty nest, now that her two sons are 23 and 20. If the book as gorgeous as the video trailer, it will surely be a delight to read and an inspiration for living and parenting mindfully and with joy.
Kenison’s lovely Mitten Strings for God first came to me through the hands of a mom whose daughters when to the Waldorf school where I planned to send my son. I learned many things from this mother of three, who provided a glimpse for me into the future with older children, and Kenison’s book – subtitled “Meditations for Mothers in a Hurry” – was a great gift.
With chapters titles like “Quiet,” “Play,” and “Stories,” the book helped me think about the life I wanted to create for my son, and for myself: something different than mine spent eating dinner alone in front of the TV but also something that preserved the strong connection I had to nature in a rural setting before we moved to the suburbs.
In a postpartum haze and on the verge of our own home renovation when I first picked up Kenison’s second book, The Gift of An Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir, her description of her family’s uprooting from their longtime home. Too full of my own drama, I set the book aside until we’d moved in this summer. It instantly captivated me. I was both riveted and inspired to read about all that Kenison learned about herself, her sons, and the nature of peace along the way. I savored the book like it was a mug of warm honeyed tea, not wanting to finish it too quickly because I just wasn’t ready to be done with its deliciousness.
My mother-in-law, mother of two boys, read the book in a day during our Christmas visit, a trip where I gave copies to both my sisters and my sister-in-law.
In much the same way that having sisters and friends with older children has informed my parenting, Ordinary Day helps one take the “long view” to both see each struggle and difficult phase as fleeting and yet to also see the importance of the small choices we make in those moments. Without judgment or guilt, Kenison shares with her readers the ongoing choice to find and cultivate joy.
Kenison was about to embark on a tour for the new book, Magical Journey, when I had the opportunity to speak with her on the phone earlier this week. I asked about touchstones in her parenting of which she is glad, she shared that she and her husband always wanted to “impart to our children that family is a really high priority.” They included grandparents at every celebration, maintained regular family dinners even during busy sports seasons, and kept a practice of saying a simple grace at every meal. It wasn’t something she planned, she said; her children brought home the verse about thanking the earth and sun from their Waldorf nursery school.
I asked Kenison how her experience in Waldorf schools had shaped her parenting. A tradition developed by Germany’s Rudolph Steiner around the 1920s, Waldorf education values a connection to nature and a nurturing of the imagination. It also emphasizes daily rhythms and seasonal traditions.
Kenison said she learned a lot from participation in the school about the environment she wanted to create at home. It was already her instinct not to be too scheduled and busy – to, in fact, actually schedule empty time – but it was good to be part of a community where this counter-culture approach was shared.
“The thing is,” she told this mother of two young children, “those early childhood years are so brief.” Although her children at older ages went on to watch sports on TV and then movies and then to use other technology, she is glad the TV was not part of her family life when they were young.
“If we can protect them just a little bit… If we can to realize that what our kids need is not to have everything but to have a sense of wonder, not answers to all their questions,” she mused, “I think the efforts we make as parents to build walls around them, even for a little while, are worth it.”
I’m grateful to have had the chance to read Kenison’s beautiful writing about her journey as a mother, writer and person and can’t wait to read her new book and to see her in person next Thursday.
Katrina Kenison will lead a yoga class 7-8 p.m. and do a book talk and signing 8-9 p.m. on Thursday, January 17 at lil omm yoga studio, 4708 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20016.
Buy tickets for both events, each $10, at lilomm.com
Photo of Carrie Haynes by Deb Nigri, both teachers at lil omm. Used by permission.
In order to attend this event, Jessica Claire Haney is going to miss her first Holistic Moms Network meeting since she founded the Arlington/Alexandria chapter four years ago! Knowing the HMN meeting was a long-planned-for presentation on sex and intimacy, her husband is a little miffed at her priorities. But he also understands how happy Kenison’s book has made her and figures the good karma will make its way around. Jessica blogs about living naturally (most of the time) at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.