The Fulfilling Life Interviews — Karen Maezen Miller

January 17, 2013 55 Comments

I’m not sure how I first came across Karen Maezen Miller and her book Momma Zen. I do know that it is one of those books that sat on my shelf for a while, waiting for the perfect time to read it.

And as so often happens, the perfect time found me.

Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller

I read Momma Zen when my daughter, now 3 1/2, was about 3 months old. We had just moved to Columbus, where I didn’t know a soul and I was deep in the throws of new motherhood, to my second child. (Any of you with more than one child know that it is all new the second time.)

I have a very clear and visceral memory of sitting on our bed, which at that point was just a mattress on the floor, late at night reading Maezen’s words. I was overcome with both deep relief and still lingering grief. Tears just fell, and fell. Which for me is rare. It was the first time that someone shared something so simple and so incredibly true — motherhood is hard.

Reading Momma Zen made me feel heard, understood and ย a little less lonely.

I often tell people that Momma Zen is the best book about parenting, but you won’t learn a thing about parenting from it. Which is a strange description, unless you have read the book and then you understand.

Today it is my great honor to share the conversation I had with Karen Maezen Miller about fulfillment. I hope it touches you as much as it did me, with joyful tears falling, which I embarrassedly excused away when still talking to Maezen. They were tears. It was you. Thank you.


Karen Maezen Miller Interview from Kelly Dahl on Vimeo.



There is so much wisdom packed into this video. I’ve taken so much from our conversation, and more than anything I go back to the simple fact of being in the moment, right here, in my life. Maezen has taught me to let go and just empty the dishwasher, and in doing so see the beautiful in the ordinary.

“A spiritual life is an ordinary life and an ordinary life is a fulfilled life.” ~ Karen Maezen Miller

Click to tweet


Because I love Momma Zen so much I would like to gift a copy of the book to one reader today. It won’t be my copy though. I will get you a new one. With love. You can keep it for yourself, or if you already have a copy it makes a wonderful gift. Just leave a comment and I will select a winner. I will select a winner Sunday at 12pm EST and announce the winner on the blog Monday.

If you enjoyed this video please share it with your friends.


Karen Maezen Miller


Karen Maezen Miller is a wife and mother as well as a Zen Buddhist priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. She writes about everyday spirituality in everyday life. Her books are Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life and Momma Zen. To learn more about her work you can visit her website.







Comments (55)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Stephanie says:

    It is always wonderful to hear Maezen’s voice and see her beautiful face. Thank you sharing this Kelly < 3

  2. Britta says:

    โ€œThe most fulfilling thing in life is not what we do for ourselves, not what we give to ourselves, not how great we think we are, itโ€™s serving others. Period.”

    Wow. Loved this. Thanks for bringing it to us, Kelly.

    • kelly says:

      That is some powerful stuff isn’t it Britta. There are so many golden nuggets in this interview. Thanks for pulling out another one.

  3. Michelle says:

    Gorgeous interview Kelly and Karen. Thank you!

  4. Colleen says:

    Oh yes what a wonderful interview! Karen is one of my favorite authors- to hear her discuss with you this topic was *awesome*. Thanks Kelly.

  5. Deborah says:

    I enjoyed listening to this video. So much wisdom and truth to what Karen has to say. Thank you for doing this.

  6. Lee says:

    Lovely interview Kelly. As always, Maezen shares such great wisdom. Thank goodness you introduced me to her all those years ago!

  7. Love this! Would love to read her book too! Thanks Kelly.

  8. I’ve been meaning to read Momma Zen for YEARS! Loved the interview, amazing. <3

  9. mj says:

    May I infer that since my life is very ordinary, I am living a spiritual life? Wow! and here I’ve been feeling sorry for myself that things are just so very ordinary. Love the reframing, just like with art, a new mat and frame can make the picture sparkle with life.

  10. Roxana M. says:

    Thank you! This is just what I needed today. I’m a first time mom and sometimes I forget about “me”.

    • kelly says:

      It is such an easy thing to forget Roxana, especially when you are a first time mom. Remember you are doing everything right.

  11. christina d. says:

    I am very drawn to a simple, grateful life and lived such on my own for quite some time. Now five years into being a mother living with a partner, family, community that doesn’t quite value it…there is such weight of the status quo and the lonliness of the constant fight against it.

    Highlighting and underlining the heck out the written word of someone who understands helps. Thank you for the chance to wear this one in.

    • kelly says:

      Be gentle with yourself Christina. Don’t underestimate the big shift. Value yourself and everyone else will too.

      • christina d. says:

        Kelly i just wanted to say, thank you. I was having a hard week and your response (totally not expected because a. You are a busy blogger and b. Because you shared some wisdom that i really needed) was cherished.

        I appreciate your time spent on a few sentences. And hope that if you ever question your blogging and if it’s worth it to anyone else….it most definitely is. In the smallest ways. Namaste, dear soul.

  12. Cristen says:

    Been of fan of Karen Maezen Miller for a few months now, after reading Momma Zen and finally finally hearing someone else openly admit the hardships of motherhood. So nice to see and hear her voice for the first time, thanks for that!

  13. Kris says:

    Great discussion. Just what I needed to hear at just the right time. I love it when that happens!
    Thank you!.

  14. zainab says:

    Hi Kelly. This is an amazing interview. Thank you both. I struggle with perfectionism, and being and doing enough “meaningful” work. But I too have experienced the fulfilment of emptying the dishwasher, of a diner plate coming back empty. So, among so many pearls in this video: “to be completely engaged, attentive and involved” in this moment” currently speaks the loudest. Live where you are. With love and peace and many thanks again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Julie says:

    Simply amazing.

  16. Darrah says:

    This interview came at the perfect time, as I’m adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always been a go-getter and am learning to embrace the ordinary everyday routines of motherhood. I, too, read Momma Zen when my daughter was a few months old and would love to give the book to a friend if selected for the give-away.

  17. shannon says:

    Hey Kelly,
    That quote that you highlighted is the one I loved the most, but I didn’t even see you had highlighted it before tweeting it. I loved your interview. You both are beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration. xo

  18. Linda Plaskota says:

    That was beautiful and profound. I will listen and again and share. Thank you.

  19. Shawn says:

    I enjoyed your interview Karen Maezen Miller. It seems like such a simple concept! Funny I did a task this morning, that made me feel great. Something that I have wanted to get to for awhile. So now I feel gratitude for all those simple daily tasks that I am able to complete.

  20. Astrid says:

    Just finished watching the video. It’s very touching to witness a true encounter between two people meeting in mid air. Being totally present and open for each other in the moment, that’s fulfilling beyond words… Thank you and Karen!

  21. May says:

    Loved the interview. I have been following Karen’s blog for a while.

  22. Sarah Stanton says:

    Maezen makes me cry too. I started reading her last winter. My life has never been the same. It takes courage and love to share our stories with others. ANd her courage and love, and yours too, makes the world go round. xoxo

  23. Deb Keiser says:

    Being satisfied with what we have.. what we do.. who we are.. it should be so obvious,yet a reminder is often in order.. the ordinary moments are so often the ones of import..

  24. Great video. Karen Miller is one of my heroes.

  25. Brenda Muir says:

    I appreciate being introduced to you and your blog via Karen Maezen Miller, Kelly.
    A fantastic interview,..will share on my FB page. “I’m so glad the sun doesn’t feel like that”

    • kelly says:

      Welcome Brenda! So glad you enjoyed the interview. I share your appreciation for the sun, even when it is hiding behind clouds like today.

  26. Shelby Lessary says:

    I just love her. Hand Wash Cold changed my life and I haven’t read Momma Zen yet but I can’t wait to!

  27. Victoria says:

    Thanks for this interview, Kelly. So much wonderful stuff here… it’s going to take some time to unpack it all. But that’s fine with me! Nothing wrong with taking your time.

  28. Heather says:

    I love this book so much. I loaned my battered and loved copy to a friend and I don’t think I’m going to see it again, and that’s ok. It’s one of the purest books about parenting I’ve read.

  29. Rebecca says:

    I lucked upon “Perched To Fly” on Facebook, and seems to be just what I need to be hearing right now. Thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    P.S. A new book would be awesome!

  30. Heidi says:


    Thank you for tackling this topic that we all struggle with.

    The message here is powerful and beautiful.

    I will come back to this video again and again because there is so much truth here.


  31. Stacey says:

    My life has become very ordinary as of late. My comfort with this goes up and down. Perhaps the perfect time for me as well?


Leave a Reply