Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

“Normal Day” Was Written By Mary Jean Irion

“Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure you are.”
Mary Jean Irion wrote that!

You are about to discover that I’m on a mission! There is a well-known quotation–usually incorrectly identified as a poem–that has meant a great deal to me. It has meant even more as sad, painful, frustrating and frightening things have happened in my life.

You may have seen the quotation too. It begins….”Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.”  It’s the second of two paragraphs at the conclusion of a two page essay. It reminds us that at some point in our lives we may yearn for a mundane, typical, normal day–with its usual frustrations and irritations–to take the place of the painful, tragic or anquishing day we are experiencing.

Here is where my mission comes in: Almost always those lines are attributed to Mary Jean Iron. Hundreds and hundreds of sites have that attribution. I was interested in Ms. Iron, because I wanted to read the excerpt in context. That is when I discovered that there is no Ms. Iron. There is Mary Jean Irion (Ear-e-yon), who, as near as I have been able to research, wrote it in the late 1960s. After it was published in McCalls magazine she included it in a book of essays published in 1970: Yes, World. A Mosaic of Meditation.

Ms. Irion lives in Pennsylvania, wrote for The United Church Herald and was a teacher of English Literature at the Lancaster Country Day School–I think she’s still writing!

She may not care that her name is misspelled on sites that use this quote–in fact I’m sure she doesn’t, given her expressed philosophies. But, I’m on a mission to get her correctly attributed. So far I have contacted 116 sites and asked them to correct it. Most have. I’ll recontact the others and keep going. There have been some interesting results to my contacts and maybe I’ll share those sometime. 

Read Mary Jean Irion’s wonderful prose, straight from the book. It’s the conclusion of thoughts about her day, which had both good and bad elements–a normal day.























If you see it incorrectly attributed, let the website know that the correct author is Mary Jean Irion, in the essay, “Let Me Hold You While I May”, in the book, “Yes, World. A Mosaic of Meditation”, published in 1970 by Richard Baron Publishing. And it’s on page 53.


April 23rd, 2012 Posted by | Life and Work | 21 comments


  1. Tina, you are a continual source of amazement to me. Who but you would get on a mission like this? OK, I’ll help.

    Comment by smartaleck | April 23, 2012

  2. I LOVE that quote! I always thought it was a poem and I have always heard that Mary Jean Iron said it. Thank you for setting the record straight. Good work!!

    Comment by P.A.H. | April 23, 2012

  3. I just now checked and I see what you mean. Almost every site says it’s Mary Jean Iron. I’m surprised Mary Jean Irion hasn’t done something about it before now. I think I saw that quote on a calendar and it was wrong there too. How bizarre! When I can I’ll let sites know about the mistake. You do good work!

    Comment by E.L.O. | April 23, 2012

  4. Leave it to you to be on a mission. But, this seems to be a worthy one. Dee says she loves the quote and has used it in her classes, but always credited it to Mary Jean Iron, so she’s changing all of those. Isn’t that strange, how such a mistake can start and continue and nobody notices? I’m glad you were on the job! Blessings to you, Tina.

    Comment by Don R. | April 24, 2012

  5. Don’t hate me, but I think she weakened the first two paragraphs with with the last part. She should have stopped sooner. I like the first part though and have never read the lead-in to it. Thanks!

    Comment by Critic | April 24, 2012

  6. Hello! I found your site while looking for information about challenging employees, but stayed around to read and have been reading for an hour! I have this quote at my desk and it’s credited to Mary JANE Iron, so even that part of the name wasn’t right. Thank you for giving this information.

    Comment by Jan C. | May 7, 2012

  7. Tina, I want to express more widely what I told you in our exchange of e-mails, after I found you and learned what you were doing. I have been so moved by your generous, giving, hard-working spirit, as you took on my cause. Someone you didn’t even know had lost her identity because of a one-letter typo— HOW UNFAIR! Your ethics of justice and equality under the rule of reason, your respect for the importance of a name, and most of all your dear humanness reaching out to rescue a name, a sister— it is all so loving and unusual (alas, yes, unusual).

    Thank you for being a model of what-we-need-more-of: not worship and prayer, always depending on supernatural rescue, but courage,conviction and persistence in BEING and DOING what needs to be done to honor our own species—the highest of all,the one with the big brain and the thumb (and a heart, like other animals). This IS prayer and thanksgiving sent out to the core and compass of the Universe, from which we came.

    Much is expected from humans, to whom so much has been given; otherwise, why wouldn’t the ever-creating, ever-destroying Universe simply cancel its own experiment with standing, walking flesh and try another: maybe beginning with robots?

    Surely, Tina, your kind of living brings its own joys, raising the quality of “Normal Days” until each and every one is special in its own way.

    My major way of doing this (at 90) is to sit here and write. It is what I do best, and I dig deep to try to correct the massive traditional errors that prevent our evolving in wholesome ways.

    But what I do worst is modern machines and marketing, because I never have time off from writing to learn, understand and use the brains and guts of biznus. And (although I confess that I thought about it) I will not turn this letter of thanks into the Hard Sell of an Iron Commercial.

    I just want to send you, Tina, another hug for doing all you have done for me.

    With love,
    Mary Jean Irion

    Comment by Mary Jean Irion | April 7, 2013

  8. Thank you for giving the book from which this wonderful poem / writing has come which I have read and reread over decades. Much appreciated.

    Comment by Sue Lyons | April 13, 2013

  9. Thank you for making this clear. In a book titled “Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much” they have the Best quote in the book written by Mary Jean IRON!? No wonder I couldn’t find more on her.

    Comment by SBA | May 24, 2013

  10. hello Tina
    I have just finished reading @Hope and Glory, by Stuart Maconie.
    He concludes his book with this quote, which I hadn’t come across, and loved it, but indeed he credits it to a Mary Jean Iron – please add him to your list of authors to put right!

    Comment by Janet Thornton | December 12, 2013

  11. I have just re-discovered this quote. Working in the dark I hoped that I could find this beautiful expression of the essence of a normal day. It was once kept on my refrigerator and had since been lost. The name of the author was not even known to me, but I will not forget again. I love writing, and poetry is one of my creative outlets. By the way, I have always been called Tina even though I am “darling Clementine”.

    Comment by Clementine M | February 28, 2014

  12. Thank you so much for doing this for my grandmother! I was raised by them and have always been proud of the Irion namesake. For me it’s been misspelled over and over throughout my life…even while I flew search and rescue in helicopters in the Navy (when right there on my flight suit was “IRION” plain as day). Seems I could never get away from being called “Iron” or “Irons”…though I could never equate where the “s” at the end had come from? Haha

    Thank you once again!!

    Comment by Michael Sean Irion | October 6, 2014

  13. I saw that you are attempting to correct her name where the quote is published. In the FranklinCovey Day Planner (Monticello -Classic) they use the quote for their April 23rd page and her name is spelled “Mary Jean Iron”. It is a printed document so may be hard to change but thought I would let you know in case you are that ambitious. 🙂 They have a site Franklinplanner.com

    Comment by Anthony | April 10, 2015

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  15. Oh I’m so happy to find this again! I saw this in McCall’s magazine sometime in the 60’s and loved it so much that I cut it out and carried it around in my wallet for years. I lost it somewhere; I would never have just thrown it away. It spoke to my heart. It’s beautiful! Faye Black

    Comment by Faye Black | March 14, 2017

  16. I’m so happy to find this again! I saw this in McCall’s magazine sometime in the 1960’s. I loved it so much that I cut it out and carried it around in my walletfor years. At some point I lost it; I would never have thrown it out. It just spoke to my heart. It’s just beautiful

    Comment by Faye Black | March 14, 2017

  17. Hi Tina,
    I live in Perth WA and have written this quote in my work diary each year since I first read it, oh, several years ago now, to remind me how precious each day is. But the good news is that Mary Jean Irion was referenced properly wherever I read it! ( can’t remember where unfortunately) perhaps that was thanks to you? Good on you for doing this. A quote as good as “Normal day…..” Deserves to be referenced accurately. Kind regards, Mary

    Comment by Maryobrien | June 19, 2017

  18. I read this in McCalls magazine in the 60s and cut it out. Kept it all these years after copying it and typing it out then later putting it in my computer. I have been looking for it in my computer for a couple of years and could not find it and could not remember the authors name. I typed in the word ‘Let’ in my finder looking for something else today and there it was. Always thought it would be a good monologue for our actors in our traveling community theatre.
    Let Me Hold You While I May
    By Mary Jean Irion

    Comment by June Jordan | March 26, 2018

  19. These thoughts have sustained me since I bought this as a poster in 1974 for my counseling office.It was attributed to ‘anonymous’ & I could never find it again until today. I had remembered most of the lines but not perfectly. Thank you Ms Irion for this beautifully-put wisdom!!

    Comment by Sharon Gilmour | September 12, 2018

  20. Found in book, Attitudes of Gratitude.

    Comment by Jeanne | January 16, 2021

  21. And the perfect sentiment for COVID Times!

    Comment by Jeanne | January 16, 2021

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