Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nothing is Really Routine

It comes four times a year - my favorite magazine. About the time I'm ready to let go of one season and embrace the next, I find it, folded into my mail box. It comes when the walnut leaves start dropping, when snow is stacked thick on the ground, when crocuses poke their heads and push dirt, when the sprinkler is hauled to the middle of the grass for tiny feet to scamper through.

I read it in two days, cover to cover. It is one of the few print magazines I receive. And it's unusually appealing, because it has no advertisements. There is nothing affronting or diverting, just gorgeous photography and graceful prose.


This magazine is put together by a talented editorial staff in Cambridge, Mass. who to my surprise, return phone calls when you leave a message, care if you don't receive your issue on time, and answer your questions happily and graciously. Because they like what they do.

Why print a magazine like this?

Here's their philosophy.

Our lives are the sum
Of each moment, each interaction.
Each day we work, eat, laugh, teach, play, read, remember...
And work at it all again the next day.

Within seemingly small moments we find opportunity
To build relationships, develop character, find joy
For the price of our time.

Life's most essential possibilities are realized at home.

Where we share, teach, grow, learn, serve, give
Our best without praise or fanfare.
Because every effort, every moment matters
In the development of a person.

Nothing is really routine.


Profound, isn't it? Those phrases drift through my mind often.

"We find opportunity to build relationships..." as I teach Ali how to shred lettuce, congratulate her on her careful work, wrap one arm around her as we stand at the sink together.

"For the price of your time..." We might be late if I stop now and open the flower press Eliza has been begging to see. What if I slow down long enough to crack its seams? What will it matter if we're a few minutes late?

"Nothing is really routine." I lather Sami's hair in the tub, pour water down her back, and smile as she tells me about school.

Family life feels routine. But it is composed entirely of moments that build lives, forge relationships, and make a difference not just at home, but to the world. We change the earth one family at a time.


We eat together.


We work together.


We play together.


We listen.


We teach.


We laugh.


We build.

And the summation of all these efforts eventually becomes something much bigger than the noodles I put on the table for dinner, or the pile of laundry waiting to be folded. Yet, both remain part of the equation.

I share this with you because a year of reading these issues has changed me - helped me see what I want as a family - here and now - in the middle of so many seemingly rote rituals. It's made me more deliberate with the kind of home I want to create, moved me to see my children as a relationship I am building, not dependents I must care for. And it has reminded me that each interaction I have with my husband and my five littles, is anything but routine.


I pulled covers up to their chins tonight, caressed their foreheads as I sang their favorite songs, then kissed each child on the cheek. The work we do in our homes is unparalleled. It is hard work but good work, powerful work. And the more I see it for what it really is, the more joy I find in each chore, each mess, each clean-up, each child.

This magazine has become one of my favorite gifts to give. There is something so satisfying about holding it in my hands, leafing through it's elegant pages, and keeping it on the counter so I can open it again and again.

Each time I do, I discover some new truth. Some new way of seeing the every day.


  1. Like, like, like! I think I need to order this magazine too. You do such a nice job gathering perspective of life.

  2. Out of curiosity and since what you wrote in this posting relates to it: how are you doing on your gratitude diary?

    I found, that after a while I didn't need it anymore, because it soon wasn't (in lack of a better word) an effort anymore to see the good in the day.

    Take care and enjoy!

    So long,

  3. i definitely want to check this out. thanks cath for sharing. xox

  4. Thanks to you, I just ordered a subscription!

  5. Absolutely beautiful pictures and words. Thank you for sharing. I had never heard of this magazine. "Nothing is really routine." Most definitely. It's so hard to keep this in mind each day, but I am grateful for the moments when I see the grace and beauty of my everyday life.

    I hope Ali's okay. Did she get burned? (Judging from the sidebar's list of gifts today). My Chris loves to see what's on my counter and has burned himself a few times on hot pans as he reached up. Burns can really take some time to heal. Have a good weekend, friend. xo

  6. thank you for this post. That magazine sound wonderful. I've never heard of it. I need to remember these ideas today...that nothing is ever routine, that cleaning my kitchen yet again still remains part of the equation that adds up to something so much bigger.

  7. Becca - I think you would love it. Deb too. A good thing to put on your Christmas list? ;)

    Corinna - loved your question. You might have noticed my list of "gifts" on the sidebar. It changes (almost daily) as I continue counting to 1000. It's good for me to write them down. I want to be able to look back and see/read how each day was full of blessings. Even the hard days. I wish I had your ability to make gratitude more effortless. But for now, I feel like my gratitude journal is an important help to me. I plan to do a post next week with respect to "how it's going." Thanks so much for your sweet follow-up. Hoping you and your family are well.

    Lani - what a sweet photo of you and your baby girl. blessings.

    Cristie -it's a must-read. you (and your girls) will love it.

    Grandma Honey - yeah! I'm excited for you!

    Anne Marie - I've thought of you often when reading this magazine. It's right up your alley. As for the other Ali, it's been a hard week. She had a bunch of small warts burned off on Monday. Not frozen, but with a topical ointment called cantharidin. It doesn't hurt initially but within a couple hours the skin blisters and becomes very painful. Ali's entire back of her knee turned into one enormous blister. So painful she couldn't sleep or bend it. I've had to change the dressings a couple times a day, and each time, the wound site just looks redder and more raw. I'm going to try an antibac ointment tomorrow to keep the "non-stick" pad from sticking. After doing wound-care in PT for several years, I don't wince, but oh... when it's your own daughter crying and holding her sister's hand while I work on her, it's hard. Long story there. Sorry for the lengthy explanation. You were so sweet to ask. Love you!

    Samsel - It's a gem of a find. Love that you're singing and writing and living so fully. xoxo

  8. Oh, Cath, I'm so sorry. Poor Ali! That sounds so painful and awful. She couldn't even bend her knee without it hurting. Ugh! I hope there will be noticeable improvement soon. It is very good that you have some experience wiith this sort of thing.

    I am really excited for your Segullah post. I just love your insights and am always happy to take them in. Your "shedding layers" idea has come back to me frequently as I am trying to manage some expectations and demands right now. The symbol of the layers is a powerful one. xo

  9. You, lovely lady, are someone I would love to spend time with in person. Your blog is beautiful, and a joy to read. Thank you for sharing your life!

    The mag looks amazing. Shipping costs as they are means Segullah is my one extravagance, but it's so reassuring to know there's quality out there.

  10. I received a copy of this magazine last year at our Relief Society Retreat. I don't remember why we were given it, but I thought the same things as I looked through it. It was stunning and beautiful! Now I know more about it. Wonder how they are able to publish it without advertising?

  11. Kellie - Oh that we lived closer. I feel the same about you dear sister! And yes, Segullah probably IS your one extravagance. Next time you're here, I'll give you some of my old copies. :)

    Candice - It's pricier than other magazines, and I think that's how they manage to print it without ads. Lucky you to have been introduced to it. I agree, it is stunning. Loved seeing you this summer. Wish it was more often!

  12. Cath - have you heard of Kinfolk magazine? It's available both online and in real paper versions - from what I've seen, it's gorgeous and full of honest sentiments. I thought of you when I read my email reminder about it:

  13. Thanks for sharing this.

    I want it.

  14. Kellie - I watched the little vimeo ad. Wow. And it comes wrapped up so pretty! I love the concept behind it. Maybe some day I can afford both! ;) Thanks for the introduction. xo


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