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The Magic in the Minutiae

The Magic in the Minutiae

When my mom was in her early twenties her dad said the following to her regarding choosing who to marry:

“A lot of days are just 3 meals a day, so you better find someone you really like.”

The other night while we watched This is Us, I sobbed at the end of an episode watching Jack and Rebecca do the dishes in contented silence, simply enjoying standing next to someone they really liked.

Lately I’ve been so aware of how much of life is just the in-between moments.

Emptying the dishwasher.

Sweeping the floor.

Straightening the bed spread and arranging the pillows.

Singing the same lullaby for what feels like the millionth time.

Wiping the noses.

Wiping the bums.

Clipping the carseats.

Opening and closing the fridge.

Making tea.

Going pee.

Repeat. Again. Repeat. Again. Again. Again. Again.

I can get so caught up in the illusion that someday when this far-off, shiny, exciting thing happens (sometimes I have something in mind, sometimes it’s a vague longing), I’ll pop out of the minutiae and then I’ll be really living.

But it turns out that life pretty much is the minutiae.

We’ll never really be done chopping wood and carrying water. Because moments after the plate is put back in the cabinet, it’s taken out again for the next meal. And it begins again. And again. And again.

So what do we do, then, with this potentially excruciatingly boring, repetitive existence of doing the things that we have to do, day in and day out, to keep ourselves, the people we love, and our surroundings relatively clean, functional, and healthy?

Look for magic in the minutiae. twitter-logo

The Magic in the Minutiae

Putting on Pink and dancing around the kitchen with my girls as I clean the kitchen after dinner.

Sitting in the driveway in my car eating a takeout salad, having the first real conversation with my husband in over a week while the rain falls on the windshield.

Making faces at my little girl to make her giggle as she eats her bagel.

Savoring the softness of my sheets when I finally lay my head down at night.

Feeling the weight and warmth of my baby girl in my arms.

If we’re constantly looking for ways to rush through, avoid, or pop out of the stuff of daily life, we end up missing life.

Yeah, we’ll all have our shiny, pinnacle moments. The weddings. The births. The first kisses. The paydays. The phone call that changes everything.

But then we still have to figure out what’s for dinner and floss and fold our clothes.

Most days are just 3 meals a day and all the little stuff we do as humans in between to keep life moving along.

Let’s enjoy the people we’re eating with.

Let’s take in the moments standing next to the people we love doing the mundane.

Let’s feel what it feels like to be us doing the things that aren’t that fancy and never will be.

Let’s find ways to enjoy it all more and then still more and then even a little bit more each time.

Let’s find magic in the minutiae. Because at the end of the day, it’s all there is.


How do you find magic in the minutiae? Tell me in the comments.

P.S. What if you had more than enough time to truly take in your life and also do the things that really matter to you? Origin is my membership for busy women entrepreneurs to learn to manage their time and energy to get more of what they want. We’ll be opening the doors again in January, and you can get on the waitlist here to be the first to know when we do.


  • Maria

    Yep, that’s me. Every minute. I’ve LOVED every crazy (and sometimes very challenging) minute. Because I knew they wouldn’t last, I quickly learned to savor every day. Maybe because when I had my first child 26 years ago, I was gobsmacked by it all (in a good way) & realized how quickly time passes. When stage 2 cancer arrived, I took nothing for granted & loved even deeper. Always juggling, many times failing through happy times & heartbreak – that’s life; a precious & messy gift that we’re so lucky to be able to experience. Thank you for this beautiful post, Kate

    • Kate Northrup

      Oh thank you Maria. I’m so thrilled to know that you learned this lesson long ago and are a living example of the beauty it creates!

  • Nancy

    I have always enjoyed finding the manic in the minutiae!
    I have focusing on what’s in front of me. It’s so satisfying!
    In what ways have I/do I find magic in the minutiae?
    By being present with what is happening at the time. Before kids, I loved focusing on my work. Whether it was creating an advertising program or running a pet sitting business. I’d feel a real sense of completion when my art projects were done. And, enjoyed the presence of the pets I cared for. Plus, doing all the other ther tasks from being an entrepreneur. When caring for my horse, either brushing him or mucking his mucking his stall, I’d take my time and focus on my task at hand.
    When my kids were young, I’d sing and dance and play and snuggle with them. As they grow, I continue to enjoy watching them unfold naturally and facilitating their learning through unschooling.
    During all these times, I continue to learn new and interesting things. And my relationships with myself, my husband and our teens constantly evolve, while we grow together.
    Funny, I always thought I was slow at doing things. Now that I look at things this way, focusing on the magic in the minutia, I realize why the satisfaction of taking my time always appealed to me. Now I have a new way of looking at my approach to life. I like this way to look at it!

  • The helpful phrase I love is “I get to ________” instead of “I have to ______.” (Did I find this phrase in one of your posts?)
    What a different vibration that brings in! It brings me to a state of gratitude that I have a house to clean, people I love to care for, an older dog who I can shower with compassion. It nips the drudgery, victim energy in the bud and takes me right back into my heart! Thank you!

  • Me

    During the in-between, I wait for my son’s anxiety to be magically cured by all of the research, phone calls, appointments, talks, therapy and everything else I work on every single day. Once my beautiful son is happy and enjoying his life and back in school I will try to figure out how to leave my cold, critical and controlling husband so that I, too, can be happy again.

  • Lauren

    Thank you Kate for crafting these words in such a beautiful and truthful way that they brought tears of knowing to my eyes! Sending much gratitude and many blessings to you and all those who inspired this post.

  • Kacey

    Ahhhh, I needed to hear this. I struggle so much with the everyday mundane tasks. I always feel like there is more to life. I need this perspective shift; to focus on all of the small moments and find happiness in them. And let the bigger, exciting moments be a blip on my life’s timelime. Thank you, Kate.

    • Kate Northrup

      I’m so glad this was just what you needed Kacey. I remind myself so often, “This is life and if I can’t enjoy it, I’m missing it.”

  • Lyn Hopf

    I set my alarm in the morning 15 min ahead of when I need to get up for work. I use that 15 min to go to my husband’s side of the bed and snuggle. We hold each other, enjoy the quiet and warmth, then start our day with the reminder we will be back to do it again, repeat, again, ……..

  • On a day like today, when we have to deal with yet another mass shooting, we hold each other tight and revel in the very existence of our loved ones.

  • I loved this. It’s exactly what I needed to hear at the end of a particularly tough and unforgiving week. Lots of work, lots of repetitive shit that need to happen no matter what. It’s easy to get lost and fail to see the point after a while.

  • Laura

    Kate. I really enjoy reading your blogs because you can turn something really simple into a life experience and, by doing that, you make me reflect on stuff I don’t even think about. But yes, the present moment reminder, especially during the holidays, is a must. Congratulations on your new book (which I’m getting, yeiii! =)) and thank you for this very-needed message! Happy Thanksgiving to you and the fam! Laura

    • Kate Northrup

      Thank you so much Laura – I’m so happy this post inspired you to pause and think about things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Happy holidays to you and yours!

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