The photo to the right is of me and my mom at a recent dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – which is sadly now closed.
We didn’t know when we were there that it would be last, and it strikes me that’s the way it almost always is, isn’t it? We so rarely know when we ever have our last anything until we look back.
And here’s the thing: Hopefully when we look back, we remember it with love and appreciation, or at the very least, acceptance that we did the very best we could with what we had to work with.
These are the thoughts I’m having right now, especially after I finished a new book by Katrina Kenison (author of the also wonderful The Gift of an Ordinary Day), Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment.
Then just last week, I was leading one of my clients through a session of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, better known as Tapping). I’ve shared about EFT before because it’s the best powerful tool I know to help in any stressful situation.
One of the most powerful aspects of the practice is that you identify the problem and focus your full attention on it. It can be difficult and painful to do this – think of unwrapping a package covered with rough sandpaper – but that’s the way you reveal the gift inside.
During this session, I reflected back the feelings she shared with me:
I feel so stressed about my son. It’s so hard to see him struggle. I feel so guilty for not being able to help him.
As she repeated back after me, we both cried. What mom hasn’t felt powerless in the face of her child’s suffering? What human being, for that matter, hasn’t felt inadequate in the face of their own struggles?
So – this article isn’t about my client or EFT (though I’m happy to say she got a lot of relief from the tapping process – and also from the positive affirmations and creative solutions that arose out of it), but about Katrina Kenison’s wonderful new book, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment.
But I did mention my client and her struggle for a reason, and here it is: her problem was not at all unique, yet she felt very alone with it.
And that’s one of the things that makes Katrina’s book such a revelation. She is strikingly honest and forthcoming about her own struggles, and her feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness in the face of them. What makes her book essential is that she shares the path she chose to find relief from those feelings.
She shows how curiosity, acceptance, service and a consistent mindfulness practice helped her, and how they ultimately formed a bridge for her to cross to her own definition of success and happiness.
You really do have to read it yourself, because it’s so lovely – you feel like you’re enjoying a long weekend with a dear friend, full of conversation over sunrise hikes, afternoon yoga sessions and slow-cooked meals, but I will leave you with some of my favorite passages to whet your appetite.
You see, after her children left home, and after her dearest friend died of cancer, Katrina came to the realization that her life was irrevocably changed. The book starts as Katrina wonders, “Do I have what it takes to create something new in my life, to discover what’s important to me now, and to claim that, become that?”
What she found was most important as she explores these questions, is to “silence the chatter in my mind so that the quiet voice of the soul may speak.”
She decided to cultivate that place of stillness by participating in an intensive month-long yoga teacher training, where one of the first lessons she learns is that “you are not here to remake yourself, but remember yourself.”
And as my client and I learned during our EFT session, “the best antidote to anxiety about the future is to be fully present in the here and now – you’re in a place in which pain is transmuted into growth.”
I talk about purpose a lot in my writing, because so many of my clients are struggling with the idea that they should know their purpose (purpose with a “capital P” as I call it), and they are so hard on themselves because they don’t know it.
So I was especially delighted to see that Katrina quoted Joseph Campbell’s writing, “The purpose of the journey is compassion.”
Katrina goes on to say that in looking for her purpose, she “followed the faint trail of an old dream and it led me here, to this moment with fellow seekers, learning to be kinder to themselves in the hope of bringing a bit more kindness into the world.”
What’s more, as she followed that old dream, she discovered that she hadn’t been asking the right question. She realizes that instead of asking, “What am I meant to do?” there are other questions that carry much more significance. In fact, the real question may be as simple – and as endlessly challenging – as “How do I become a more loving human being?”
In the end, she realizes that her ability to love is her greatest gift, and that, whatever she decides to do, whether it’s her Purpose or not, “if I do my work, all of it, with love, then it’s worthy… it’s not for me to judge the gifts I have to offer the world, but it is up to me to summon the courage to offer them.”
As a fellow seeker, I’m happy for that to be the final thought on that subject.
Katrina has generously offered a free copy of her wonderful, truly magical, book to one of my readers. If you’d like to be entered into a drawing for Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment, please leave a comment. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday, January 24th.
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