Hand Wash Cold

New Book Offers Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life

Contact: Kim Corbin, New World Library
800-972-6657 ext. 18

It’s easy to think that meaning, fulfillment, and bliss are “out there,” somewhere outside of our daily routine. But in Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life (New World Library, 2010), author and Zen priest Karen Maezen Miller brings her clear eye and gentle hand to the questions that disquiet us all. Where do we find a life of greater purpose? What is the secret to happiness? The mystery of love? The path to peace?

In this intimate account of her own spiritual awakening as a woman, wife, and mother, Miller reveals the ancient wisdom that we too easily overlook — the care instructions that come tucked inside our ordinary lives. Like the laundry tag sewn inside a precious garment, Hand Wash Cold tells us to pay attention to ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. Only then will we find happiness at the bottom of the laundry basket, love in the kitchen sink, and peace in our own backyard.

Hand Wash Cold has three parts. The first is doing the laundry: revealing the pure wisdom that resides within. The second part is washing the dishes: bringing that wisdom to life as compassionate action. The third part is tending the yard: sowing peace in the patch of pavement and grass we inhabit.

This playful yet profound reflection on awareness follows author Miller through youthful ambition and self-absorption, beyond a broken marriage, and into the steady calm of a so-called ordinary life. Household chores and caregiving tasks become opportunities for self-examination, lessons in relationship, and liberating moments of selflessness. Miller shows that with attention, it’s the little things — even the unexpected, unpleasant, and unwanted things — that count.

“With only a change in perspective, the most ordinary things take on inexpressible beauty,” writes Miller. “I wrote this book to atone for the messes I’ve made, to see the wisdom I’ve overlooked, to offer the care I’ve left undone, and to show both you and me the inexpressible beauty that comes tucked inside an ordinary life.”