Genuine fulfillment

March 17th, 2009

To chop the soft and blemished fruit into a past-due breakfast parfait, lace with warm oatmeal, then cajole my daughter into eating it instead of the Trix she finagled from the cereal aisle and which I’m certain will give her sugar-induced pea green diarrhea.

To rise from my sickbed to do the weekend laundry, resurrected from my habitual resentments, appreciating this simple task as the essential business in a whole and healthy life.

To tenderly, mindfully, as though approaching an altar, hang nearly every item of my daughter’s laundry to air dry, because although it is our fervently futile wish that she never grow up, I can still do my best to ensure that she not too hastily grow out, and starvation is not an option.

To notice that, within the full hamper of cleaned clothing, not one pair of her socks had been worn in the previous week, meaning she is suitably free of her mother’s fastidious conventions.

To hear my grace, my Georgia, against her willful inertia, practice the piano and deliver to me the most lovely praise songs, thus knowing that my own mother, standing in her own kitchen, despite my fumbling artistry, once received the same sweet cup of satisfaction from me.

To flush and fill the fish tanks with fresh gallons of distilled elixir, a weekly baptism, comforted that in the vast mutabilities of this life, I can pour this gold into the goldfish forever.

To watch my husband and daughter circle each other in wary regard, to wrestle and shout a messy wreck of feelings, to see them suffer their deep adoration of one another, and leave it be, well and good and theirs alone.

To receive, sort and distribute 1,700 boxes of Girl Scout cookies into and out of my garage, ennobling each girl with the triumph of her participation, relieving each parent by the discharge of their duty.

To take, one by one, copies of my book to the good old United States Post Office, knowing these recipients by name, the readers by heart, and remembering full well that I can “wait a year to get rich.”

To see without doubt that when my dog places her muzzle on my left thigh while I sit here at the cockpit of my ruminations, it is indeed time to take her for a walk, because dogs are never confused about what time it is.

To relent and allow, when my daughter asks by name for an afternoon snack, the bowl of Trix she favors, and makes for herself, apprising me in the process that she had a bowl of the same yesterday and it didn’t turn her insides green.

To have all of this, to forget it, and then remember again, remember again, remember again.


  1. Reading how you pay attention to the moments of your morning and your day helped me find my own equilibrium. And I thank you for taking the time to pass along the message of awareness and acceptance to all of us.


    Comment by lala — March 17, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

  2. So lovely, so wonderful, a way to begin my day, nourished by the sweet richness of these words.
    I will go and delight in my gratitude now, for this tenderness of you.
    much love,

    Comment by bella — March 17, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  3. Trix might be tasty but you’ve got General Mills beat by miles.

    Comment by Kristin H. — March 17, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  4. forgetting and remembering. that’s the way it works, isn’t it?

    Comment by Rowena — March 17, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  5. This entire post is indescribably beautiful.

    “I can still do my best to ensure that she not too hastily grow out, and starvation is not an option.” That is just brilliant, but a bit disappointing.

    I was planning to implement a little starvation to pay for the retreat!

    Comment by Mama Zen — March 17, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  6. Ah, the Bella. A real breakfast parfait. Now I know that I am home.

    Everyone, please save me your Saturday, June 20 and come to my home. Details to come. All the Mama Zens will be there, skinny.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 17, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

  7. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Thank you.

    Comment by Puanani — March 17, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  8. Thank you for the reminder. And such a beautiful one, too.

    Comment by Jane_hates_Dick — March 17, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

  9. The delicate symmetry of beautiful moments that make up our lives. Moments all too often taken for granted, remembered, savored and stored in our heart space. (Hugs)Indigo

    Comment by Indigo — March 17, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

  10. How beautifully you elevate the seemingly mundane to the level of sacred. Thank you for changing the way I look at my day.

    Comment by Sharon Delman — March 17, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  11. Thank you, Karen 🙂 That chased the irritation and anxiety away.

    Comment by Meg — March 17, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  12. And reminded me that there’s a bunch of wet clothes in my washing machine I forgot about…

    Comment by Meg — March 17, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  13. Thank you yet again for reminding me to be right here, right now.

    With the laundry and the tea kettle and baking cookies and chopping salad, walking the dog and brushing her teeth, reading and journaling, driving to appointments and driving back home, playing games with the kids and kissing them goodnight. Be here now. In this moment. Listening. Watching. Giving thanks.

    Fulfillment, indeed.

    Comment by GailNHB — March 17, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

  14. it was a series of clippings from your life and beautifully shared.

    Comment by Cat — March 18, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

  15. I hope you feel better 🙂 Mothering is a job that never ends…

    Comment by Anna — March 18, 2009 @ 8:18 pm


    I don’t know why I thought of you when I saw that URL, but I did.

    I don’t know a thing about that website, just the chocolate and zucchini that run through my head when I see that phrase.

    Thanks for another lovely picture of cake.

    –Chris, eating a different flavor of cake here

    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — March 19, 2009 @ 1:28 am

  17. “We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

    Thank you for this reminder, Karen.

    Comment by Cam@Journey Wildly — March 19, 2009 @ 1:30 am

  18. i love this very deep in my heart.

    thank you, k.


    Comment by mb — March 19, 2009 @ 6:22 am

  19. what a wonderful post, Karen. Another much needed reminder for me to be mindful, and grateful, for the things that make up my day, and make up a life.

    Comment by lisa — March 19, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  20. How is that I always seem to forget the remembering again?

    But then again, that’s what makes it such a gift, each and every time.

    Thank you, again, for the gift of your wise words.

    Comment by Stacy (mama-om) — March 19, 2009 @ 11:43 pm

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