As I sit down to write this review and share How A Hands Free Life Has Changed Me, I struggle with my emotions, my words are like alphabet soup flowing around in my head. Why you ask? I had something life changing happen to me when reading this book. I know what your thinking, how can reading one book change your life? Well I’m going to tell you how.
I’ve done a few book reviews over the years. I enjoy reading and I enjoy helping people promote something they truly believe in. When Rachel reached out to me a few months ago I read the title of the book “Hands Free Life” 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More. How could I not be on board with reading this book. Speaking of helping people promote something that they truly believe in. I work for Family Foodie and her amazing Sunday Supper Movement. A mission to get family around the dinner table every week. It’s an a amazing community of food bloggers and I’ve met some great people along this new journey. We use social media a lot. A real lot. It’s part of the job, if I ever want my website to become what I want it to become I will always depend on technology and social media. However Rachel’s 9 habits, stories and experiences have taught me that I can still be a part of the social media world but still disconnect and enjoy my family as well. This is something I’ve been struggling with the past few months. Just when I think I have the right amount of balance of work, family and personal time BAM….life gets in the way. Not this time, this time BAM Rachel’s book showed up at my door.
I thought long and hard about how I was going to put this review together, I don’t want to tell too much about the book because I really want to push anyone and everyone to go and buy it. So much that the first 5 people to make a comment on this post will receive a copy from me truly because that’s how much I believe it will change your way of living, the way your loving and most importantly the way your enjoying those precious moments life gives us. You can also pre-order your book with a bonus gift from the author if you click HERE. So let me tell you a little bit about the author herself. Rachel Macy Stafford. She also wrote a book called Hands Free Mama. I just purchased it! Her blog is also called Hands Free Mama where she explains that it’s all about re-thinking the way your living (or not living) and how to truly embrace what truly matters by letting go of that daily distraction. The mile high pile of laundry, the yogurt smeared floors as I call it, and the technology of today’s world. When telling my husband how I made out when writing this review I told him I originally didn’t know how I was going to set it up, then I simply said. “I just kept writing.”
When I first received this book I planned on taking it with on vacation the following week for a good beach read. My husband and I were headed to the Dominican to see our best friends get married. However, the book just kept calling my name. I of course gave in and started reading it. Within seconds I was crying. I was crying tears of realization. Tears because I felt like this woman was talking about my very life. Right down to the stories. One touched my heart so much I went to my husband and read him the page.
“In an especially chaotic rush out of the door to go on a family vacation, I sat in the passengers seat fuming. Mad because I didn’t have tie to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Mad because we were late getting on the road. Mad because the garage door was acting up. I am talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her over-scheduled life. Just before we were to pull out of the driveway, my husband, Scott, looked at me as if someone he loved very much had died. In a barley audible whisper he said, “Your never happy anymore.”
That paragraph was a turning point for me. That paragraph forever has changed me. That paragraph shook me to my very core and made me cry like a baby that night while reciting it to my husband. Can I just tell you how many times this has happened to me. Many times my husband, Andy, has looked at me and said “Life isn’t so bad hon.” When my youngest has spilt his milk for the 5th time that day, when my oldest screams at the top of her lungs because she is just “singing”, or when I groan because I forgot to change the laundry over and now must rewash it. So many trivial things I have made into such a big deal. I then thought about the introduction to this book. “Living a Life That Really Matters.” What does that even mean? My answer to that after reading this book is this:
Would I have regrets if I were to pass tomorrow? If I were rounding 86 years old like my only living grandmother is, would I look back on my life and love it? Would I know I truly lived it and not just “managed” it as Rachel says? My answers to all of these questions shined a light on me. This was my moment like Rachel’s moment was the “Star Fish” story she talks about in her book.
At first I was thinking how can these woman’s stories “change my ways of thinking” how could these 9 habits really help me? I didn’t have the answers to those questions but it urged me to keep reading. Staying up late some nights and when we left on vacation I was devastated to realize I left my copy of the book on the airplane on the way home. I was sad because I couldn’t go and buy a new copy, it’s not even out yet! Not only did I want to write this review I wanted to actually finish the book. I reached out to Rachel by going back to the original email she had reached out to me through. I explained what happened and how upset I was that I had left my book behind but what was getting me through it was realizing that maybe just maybe someone else needed that book more than I did. Whether it be a stewardess or a passenger that sat in the seat after I exited. That book is in someone else’s hands and that person just needed it more than I did at that moment. She wrote back to me within 24 hours and told me she would have her publisher send me another copy ASAP. She was touched that I worded it in a way that someone else was in need of her book more than I was. I got the second copy within 6 days.
As I finished the book and made my notes, highlighted my “ah-ha” moments I realized her 9 habits and her stories, was just enough to make me see that I was indeed not “living my life.” I was simply “managing it.” I will list the 9 habits however the title of these habits are nothing like reading the words behind them.
Habit 1: Fill the Spaces
Habit 2: Surrender Control
Habit 3: Build a Foundation
Habit 4: Take the Pressure Off
Habit 5: See What is Good
Habit 6: Give What Matters
Habit 7: Establish Boundaries
Habit 8: Leave a Legacy
Habit 9: Change Someone’s Story
Each of these Habits I’ve already inserted into my daily life. So much so that I was only about 50 pages into the book when some pretty amazing things happened to me. Read about them here. It’s just proof that by practicing these simple daily tasks can really help you change for the good. I set up this activity to show you how living a Hands Free Life truly has changed me and made me see the little things and just love life more.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: My daughter comfort my son when he fell at the playground.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: My 2 year old finding his big sister’s Pup Pup and missing the hug they gave each other when he gave it to her.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: Finding silly cloud creations with my oldest while we laid on the picnic blanket
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: How the simple giggle of my children could light up my heart because all I did was tickle their feet.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: My husband laying his head down on my lap at night because he says it completes his day.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: Seeing my husbands face light up when I did indeed know every word to a song that came out back in 1991 all because I listened to Rachel’s advice and sang even though I may have”looked silly”.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: My son hop on one foot for the first time and just how happy that silly little accomplishment really meant to him.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: That children don’t like to hear “Stop Growing” we as parents say it often because we want to capture the moments and embrace the younger years, Rachel explains why saying this to your child can actually be stressful to some kids. My husband and I have since reworded our feelings.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: The beautiful picture I saw when I went for a jog one day.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: Kissing my daughters tear streaked face after putting a band-aid on her “boo boo” rather than rush her out the door.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: When my baby boy was able to get on his tricycle by himself because a week prior he still needed my help.
If I didn’t live a Hands Free Life I would have missed: That proud moment when my daughter spelled out her name on a piece of paper that wasn’t expected and really wasn’t spelt correctly but man was I proud.
Honestly the list is endless these are a lot of things that have opened my eyes in the past few months. In the care package that Rachel sent with the copy of her book their was a framed poem titled: “In Our House” it’s a list of rules her and her family have come up with that they all live by. It’s beautiful. Just to name a few:
“In Our House, there’s nothing wrong with doing nothing every now and then.”
“In Our House, we XO before we go, even if our hands are sticky, even if were running late.”
“In Our House, we set out to encourage one person each day.”
“In Our House, we speak respectfully, even if we disagree.”
And my favorite one:
“In Our House, There’s time for one more, One more hug, One more cleansing breath, One more Prayer, and One more page of our favorite book.”
My husband and I are already in the middle of creating our own “In Our House” list to frame and hang next to the one Rachel has given me.
I’m creating a list of things we can accomplish in 6 seconds: it’s amazing when you think of all the good you can do, the heart you can melt and the words that could change a life all in 6 seconds. (page 208)
I now disconnect at 4pm everyday no matter what. I log off my computer or phone and give my family from 4-8pm every night.
As I close out this review let me leave you with one more question:
Do you let special moments remind you to keep the good in your life? Do you allow the things that your little ones say really stand out and move you in a way that can forever change you?