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Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment Hardcover – January 8, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"MAGICAL JOURNEY is a book that lives up to its ambitious title. Katrina Kenison shows us a path into the future that is generous, brave, and open-hearted. I've given this book to so many people and the response has been unanimous - love." --Ann Patchett, best selling author of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage


"Warm and wise. . . . Soul searching reflections by a woman coming to terms with the three major challenges of midlife: change, loss, and death." --Kirkus Reviews

"This luminous memoir is a gift to any reader searching for meaning, clarity, and perhaps a bit of hard-won joy. Katrina Kenison is the best kind of guide through our life's passages: a thoughtful, fearless friend who reaches out a hand and says, I've been here too." --Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion

"Katrina's beautiful observations on love, loss, growth and gratitude will brighten readers' worlds considerably. You won't find a better guide or friend to accompany you through the sorrows, joys, and mysteries we are all meant to share." -- Priscilla Warner, author of Learning to Breathe

"Deeply personal and gently instructive, this poignant memoir of loss and growth affirms that, in the ways that truly matter, we are all intimately connected, our humble human stories more alike than different." --Stephen Cope, author of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

"An extended meditation on a certain passage in life - one composed of loss and gain, deprivation and sustenance. She learns the way to relinquish old pleasures and to seek out new pathways. This is a guide that we all can use - warm, intelligent and compassionate." --Roxana Robinson, author of Cost

"No matter where you are on the journey, Kenison's own pilgrimage points the way home. She give us permission to stop trying to improve ourselves and invites us to relax into the wonder of who we already are." --Regina Brett, author of Be the Miracle

"Soul bared and hand extended, Kenison is right beside us as we, too, face life's next inexorable threshold: the elusive pursuit of self-acceptance." --Margaret Roach, author of The Backyard Parables

"After the kids are gone, Kenison faces the question that haunts every mother's empty house and every woman's passage beyond midlife. What now? Deeply wise and courageous, every page shines with beauty and pulses with truth. " --Karen Maezen Miller, author of Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life

"With clarity, honesty, and spirit, Kenison allows readers into the intimate work of self-discovery and renewal." --The Concord Monitor

"Moving . . . inspires readers to find their way in a world that can change in the blink of an eye." -Chicago Tribune



"Facing an empty nest, a friend's death, and changes at work, Kenison resists her usual antidote to unwanted change: keeping busy. Instead, she stops and takes stock of her life. It was so beautifully written, I wore out a yellow marker highlighting my favorite lines." --People magazine

About the Author

Katrina Kenison is the author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry. She has appeared on Oprah, as well as other shows. Her writing has appeared in O, Real Simple, Family Circle, Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, Health,and other publications. From 1990 until 2006, Kenison was the series editor of The Best American Short Stories, published annually by Houghton Mifflin. She co-edited, with John Updike, The Best American Short Stories of the Century (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). She wrote, with Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga (Random House, 2002).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455507237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455507238
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

KATRINA KENISON's work celebrates the simple gifts of everyday life, the beauty in the ordinary, the grace of the present moment. Her book Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry has become a classic for parents of young children. In The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir, Katrina shares the bittersweet challenges of life with adolescents. Her memoir Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment is an intimate account of loss, change, and transformation in the year following a dear friend's death and a son's departure from home.

A former literary editor at Houghton Mifflin Company in New Haven, New York, and Boston, Katrina became the series editor for The Best American Short Stories in 1990, a post she held for sixteen years. She co-edited, with John Updike, The Best American Short Stories of the Century. With her yoga teacher, Rolf Gates, she wrote Meditations from the Mat: Reflections on the Path of Yoga.

Katrina has been a featured guest on Oprah and her essays have appeared in O The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Family Circle, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Above all a wife and mother, Katrina is also a passionate reader whose idea of heaven is a hammock under a tree and a hardcover book in her hand. She lives in the New Hampshire countryside with her husband and sons and their border collie, Gracie. Her YouTube video of a reading from The Gift of an Ordinary Day, one of the most-watched book trailers of all time, has been viewed by nearly 2 million people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olSyCLJU3O0



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment came into my life at just the right time. This would not have surprised the book's author, Katrina Kenison, I am sure, as she writes often about the fact that life happens just as it should, despite all that we do; we simply have to "put one foot in front of the other."

At first glance, she and I do not have a lot in common. I am not yet at the time of my life that she is writing about in this book, when the children are out of the house (though not out of our hearts and lives). Indeed, my youngest is two years old. I am a Muslim, while she is a Buddhist. The differences are many. Yet, when I opened her book and began reading, I found that much of what she writes is universal, the harmony behind the gloriously different songs that are sung by women the world over.

Kenison writes honestly and evocatively of how her life changes when her youngest son leaves before she expects him to, leaving her and her husband alone in a home they built to house their family of four. Suddenly the role of "mom" that has defined her life for so many years is altered in a thousand different ways and she finds that she has to confront not only the emptiness of the house, but the empty spaces inside her own self.

With the passing of one of her dearest friends, Kenison's world, and her place in it, changes even more. Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment is about Kenison's spiritual journey to find her meaning and purpose as she waits to see what her new role is in this time of her life and what it will develop into.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lindsey M. Russell on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To say that I was excited to read Katrina Kenison's new book, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment, is an almost ridiculous understatement. I read The Gift of an Ordinary Day a couple of years ago in one breathless gulp, astonished to have found someone whose writing so closely - albeit more beautifully and more eloquently - mirrored the contents of my own heart and spirit. Quickly, I read Katrina's first book, Mitten Strings from God, which moved me as well. And then, in a twist of events that reminded me of how benevolent this universe can be, I bumped into Katrina at a coffee shop less than a mile from my house. Although we had never met, we recognized each other immediately. After that, we began corresponding, and I am now privileged and honored to call Katrina a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.

Reading Katrina's writing is a unique experience for me. It feels like a call and response chant with my own thoughts. In her trademark sensitive, lambent prose, Katrina touches on things, topics, and feelings that are among my most fiercely-believed, deeply-buried, and profoundly-felt. Many times as I read Magical Journey I gasped audibly, when I read lines from my very favorite poem or the description of a sentiment I know so well it feels like it beats in my own chest. Perhaps most of all, Katrina and I share the same preoccupation with impermanence; our spirits circle around a similar wound, which has to do with how quickly this life flies by, and with how irreplaceable these days are. Both The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Magical Journey are suffused with a bittersweet awareness of time's passage that is keenly, almost uncomfortably familiar to me.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie43 on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone nearing 50 years of age, or older....this is a key book. It will open new ways of approaching the changes we all go through. Poking forward to what is to come is the major thrust of this book. Magical thoughts, magical words, magical thinking is part and parcel of the Magical Journey!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marian Rhone on March 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Discloser -- I'm one of the old friends at her father's 60th birthday party, so I know Katrina and her family. Actually, I think this makes me more qualified to review her book. I know how hard she works on her writing, drawing it out and polishing it to make it just what people can relate to and be inspired by. The most important thing for me when reading a book is how well the author puts words together. As I read "Magical Journey," I kept saying that I felt that way in that situation, but I could never have put it so eloquently as Katrina. This is definitely my favorite book of hers. We can all relate to accepting the death of someone close to us. Her words of discovering that there can be something good and peaceful to contemplate along with the sorrow is right on the monney. I, too, like to surround myself in peace and tranquility, but I could not even imagine being able to explain it as well as Katrina.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Weiss on February 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"If You Fear Change, You Will Miss the Abundance of Your Life"

These wise words come from Katrina Kenison's latest book, Magical Journey. Kenison is just a few years older than I am, and in each of her three books, she closely parallels what ever phase I am in life, too. I loved her first book, Mitten Strings for God, which asked what kind of mother I wanted to be and helped me be present in the small moments of my children's lives so I didn't miss the magic of their childhoods. Her second book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, focused on the changes as kids grow older and careers ebb and flow. She focused on the question of making meaning out of life even as our role of parent is changing fast.

In many ways, I'm still in the second phase, but I'm definitely also perched on the edge of the era Kenison so eloquently writes about in Magical Journey, which focuses on making peace with loss, aging, unwanted change, and children growing up and making lives of their own. Framed by the loss of a dear friend, her own empty nest, and a looming unknown future, Kenison writs about how scary it can be to realize your time on this earth is finite and that life until the end will continue to be a series of endings and changes. And the end can come in a blink of an eye. It is this realization that drives her to ask the hard questions: What do I want to do and who do I want to be until the moment I leave this earth?

In each of Kension's books, she has asked profound questions and answered them so beautifully.

Whatever era of life you are in, reading Magical Journey will make you feel glad, grateful and awed by your amazing life still before you.
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