Book review: "Notes From a Blue Bike"

Seriously, I love public libraries. No matter where I've lived or what stage I've life I've been in, I've always found a use for my local public library. I've found some of my favorite books in the stacks at the library, learned about the services each community has to offer, and it's been a quiet place for my kids to enjoy. Whenever we move, the library is one of the first places I explore. It was no different when we moved to Grand Island. The library here has an awesome kids area and a great variety of books. During our last trip to the library, I ran across this gem (among a few others!) in the form of an audio book, and it's been keeping my company on my commute home from work each day.

The subtitle of the book gives a nice summary of its contents. It's divided into seven parts: Awakening, Food, Work, Education, Travel, Entertainment, and Revival. And while it's published by Thomas Nelson who publishes mostly Christian texts, the book's main focus isn't Christianity. (However, I would argue that God wants us to live intentionally where he's placed us, so maybe the book is, in essence, a "Christian" text...without being filled with scripture references.) Like any good book, this one has given me a lot to think about.

Even before reading this book, living intentionally has been a goal of mine--it's part of the reason why I quit teaching last year, it's why I was a vegetarian for two years, it's why we traded the busy city life in Omaha for a more peaceful, calm life in central Nebraska,  it's why we bought a home three houses away from a cornfield. This book made me think a lot more about food, travel, and entertainment. It's made me think about my family's values and how we express these values in the decisions we make. I won't bore you with all of my musings on these topics; instead, here's a list of some changes I've made lately in an attempt to live more thoughtfully (maybe this will bore you just the same!):

  • We've taken J-man off his ADHD med---this one was a tough decision, as you can imagine. The more we learn about J, the more we realize his struggles to focus and control his impulses might be related more to Reactive Attachment Disorder, which has no medication to regulate it. After lots of praying, thinking, and hours spent researching and talking with licensed professionals, we decided to eliminate this medication. It hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been pretty difficult. The medication did help regulate some of the less than desirable behaviors, but it often made him a bit more detached than what were comfortable with. We're trading the medication for "brain-gym" activities, more counseling, essential oil blends, and adjustments to our parenting styles. 
  • Our grocery cart looks different--I'm trying hard to avoid pre-packaged snacks (though, sometimes they are necessary) and make my own instead. I've swapped out grocery store eggs with eggs straight from a local farmer here in town. Instead of buying produce from the grocery store, I purchase a basket each week from Bountiful Baskets. I've swapped store-bought bread with homemade bread from either my bread maker (flashback to the 90s!) or from Bountiful Baskets. My coffee is fair trade, the yogurt the kids eat is Greek and natural (I can't stand the stuff, so I've just eliminated it from my diet). Overall, my grocery cart is emptier--I'm trying to exercise an 80/20 mindset when it comes to food--80% quality, nutritious food that is sustainable with 20% of the not-so-great food. It's taken some adjusting in our budget, but I've been able to have great conversations with the kids already about why it's important to buy local products that are in season whenever possible on our way to and from our egg pick up or our Bountiful Basket  pick up. 
  • I'm making our hand soap and laundry detergent--it saves money, it's better for our skin, and my homemade stuff uses sustainable products.  I'm hoping to switch to homemade, earth-friendly cleaning products once I get through the stuff I already have. Plus, it really doesn't take long to do.
  • I've implemented a capsule wardrobe- last spring I emptied my closet with the exception of a few dresses and two pairs of dress pants. I sold some and donated the rest. Embarrassingly, it took two carloads to get rid of my stuff. When I started adding up the money I spent on clothes that I hardly wore, I felt pretty silly. Some of the clothes were just stupid purchases bought on a whim because they were on clearance. With the help of Pinterest and some friends, I built a capsule wardrobe that forced me to buy more quality clothes in less quantities. I've just swapped out my summer stuff for fall/winter stuff---it just feels good to have less options and less clutter. 
  • I've deactivated my Facebook account again. Back in 2012 I ditched Facebook so I could focus on writing my thesis. This time I'm focusing on just using my time better. I found myself mindlessly scrolling in the morning for 15 minutes before I got out of bed, throughout the day, and even while driving. When I sat down to weigh the pros and cons of keeping Facebook, the cons were just higher. I don't need Facebook right now. I'm hoping to fill my time with more intentional activities: reading, writing, cooking, and praying. It's a little unnerving to go without Facebook, but I know it will get easier as time passes. 
  • I turned down a part-time job at a coffee shop--I would've really enjoyed the position...and the extra money! But as Nate and I talked, we knew our time would be crunched which would result in more stress...it just didn't seem worth it at this time. To save money, we'll just continue to make adjustments in our budget. 
  • We're limiting the kids' activities. It's easy to fill our time running kids to gymnastics, taekwondo, girl scouts, soccer, etc. because A) that is what we're used to (it's how we both grew up and it's what our culture values) and B) we see the value in extra-curricular activities. But.....we've decided that we value our time at home as a family. When we have time at home throughout the week, we just function better as a family. And our kids just need time for free-play.
There's a lot more changes I want to make, but for now...the list above seems manageable to me. If you're looking for a book that will make you think about your choices, check out Notes from a Blue Bike...and then let me know what you think of it :) 

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I love this post- since moving into a house that is slightly smaller than our rental, it has really forced me to be deliberate about what is worth keeping in my life. It's really freeing to get rid of clutter! I'm glad I stumbled up on this blog before you deleted your Facebook account- I've been reading regularly :) Get it, girl. ---Lauren Funk