In the past, whenever I felt overwhelmed and neurotic and heading into an endless downward spiral, I would read Anne Lamott’s book of essays Traveling Mercies, and I would snap out of it. Because here’s someone even more neurotic, even more overwhelmed, overall just crazier than me, and somehow she manages to learn to forgive herself and live anyway…
…I’m almost definitely even more neurotic, even more overwhelmed, overall just crazier than you, and somehow I do manage to learn to forgive myself and live anyway. ~Kenna Lee
A Million Tiny Things: A Mother’s Urgent Search for Hope in a Changing Climate, by Kenna Lee, is absolutely one of my favourite books that I have ever read. (Have I ever mentioned that I read a lot?)
From the moment I picked it up, I was hooked (I’m telling you it was as bad as the last book of Harry Potter!). I was literally laughing my head off – and alternatively near tears – with just about every other paragraph, and ultimately so sorry when the book came to an end that I turned around and read it right over again!
There is no better way to convey the why of what made me love this book so much beyond saying simply: Kenna gets it.
Let me ask you – are you a mom? Have you ever felt eco guilt? Have you ever pondered how difficult it is to do what you know/feel is right combined with the necessity of balancing family and half a million other things and maybe maintaining your sanity at the same time? Yes? OK then – you will want to read this book.
There is so much wisdom – so much funny – so much truth in these words Kenna has bared her soul to share. And yes, she probably is more neurotic than you – but she’ll still inspire the heck out of you while she’s at it.
A Million Tiny Things follows Kenna’s journey through the first 3 years of her third child’s life as a “wannabe green mom”, and the struggle she goes through to answer the question: “How do we stay out of denial without getting depressed?”
Through her constant challenges to answer this question, she has so much to offer to anyone who identifies with her (raises hand) – both in the challenge to do better, and the challenge to accept forgiveness for all the things we can’t/don’t do along the way.
There’s also the fact that as busy parents, we often can’t be part of the grand gestures that we feel passionate about – and how our small efforts can seem useless or hopeless. One of the many applicable passages from the book illustrates the opposite idea powerfully:
As a younger woman, I often looked at my mother with condescension for her passe version of feminism and her seeming refusal to lay claim to her own power. For years, as she walked from one barn to another, going about the daily chores of farm maintenance, she carried rocks from one area of the creek to a section where the bank was wearing away, one or two at a time in her out-of-style skirt pockets.
With a mere half day of backhoe rental, I knew I could do the task she would seemingly never accomplish. But over time, I have gained an appreciation of her method, and in her honor I christened it the Sally Lee School of Incremental Change. What I saw as powerlessness was just patience: she doesn’t have to see a result right away, or even soon, knowing that change will come in its own time. Rock by rock, year by year, the creek has slowly shifted back over to its original bed. No need for fossil fuels, nor for the collateral destruction which backhoes invariably create. Just one aging woman, moving a few rocks as she walked by on her way to the barn.
Ultimately, Kenna realizes the power of judgment and how crippling it can be – whether it’s of ourselves or others – and the importance of the need to continually fight against that power with the action of forgiveness. She’s very honest about how hard that can be – and how necessary.
I chose to post this review and chance to win A Million Tiny Things on Mother’s Day because I truly believe these words of Kenna are a gift to any mom struggling with these questions – on any level, and I hope that many will get the chance to read them and be both comforted and inspired as I have been.
You can buy the book HERE – or enter for your chance to win below. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada and closes at midnight on Friday, May 25th. There are no mandatory entries – you can do as many or as few as you like. All I ask is that you be honest – dishonest entries will be disqualified. Good luck!