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

4.6 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My first reaction to this book was, frankly, a little negative. I confess I found myself bummed out, thinking, "only privileged women who can afford to stay home and raise kids, who define themselves by that experience, would fail to notice the fact of their own mortality. And then be so shaken by it when the nest empties." Or some such. So what could this woman possibly say to me?

But I kept reading, and I realized she HAD been thinking about life quite a lot even when she was a young mother, and then I started highlighting. After a while, I noticed the number of highlighted passages was rather high for a book I didn't like. And then I read something that made me cry, and I paid more attention. I cried some more and highlighted some more. This gal's on to something, I thought.

When I finished it, I felt grateful that she wrote it, because I gained two powerful insights: one, that I have given perhaps too much energy to a particularly large fear of mine, and maybe if I face it, acknowledge it, let it live, and try to learn from it, I can diminish or vanquish it (or maybe we can at least coexist); and two, maybe there's more going on - between humans and in the cosmos in general - than I thought (more chemistry, more electricity, more magic, more intuition, more subconscious communication, more LOVE) and I might find more ease and less anxiety in life if I were to slow down, be a little more open and allow myself to perceive these things.

Thanks to Katrina Kenison for a wonderfully introspective guide to managing existential angst.
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