Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Notes from a Blue Bike

I think the only reason I put my name on the hold list for this book is because I had heard other bloggers refer to the book and to the author, Tsh Oxenreider, who blogs at The Art of Simple (formerly SimpleMom, a blog title which could be confusing since simple also means not very bright - a not too complimentary association for a blog name). I have never visited Oxenreider's blog. I suppose, for me, I figure I already live a simple life here on "the farm" and the pace of my life is slow to the point of almost being too slow. In fact, at the moment, I am suffering from the dilemma of not having enough to keep my mother-in-law busy during her visit (even though she is 85, she cannot abide the thought of slowing down to sit for one single moment). My life is too simple, too slow. It could do with some excitement and challenge. However, the subtitle of the book does draw me in: "The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World." As I've said, now that my little ones are no longer so little, I don't have the chaos anymore, but I do have a desire to live more intentionally.

Notes from a Blue Bike is both a memoir and a manifesto. On the one hand, it is filled with personal stories from the author's life (up to this point - she seems so young still). But, on the other hand, each chapter is written to present a call to that intentional and simple life which Oxenreider espouses. She uses moments from her story to urge readers to slow down, decide what purpose and values they want to live out more, and to take steps to make life count for more without pouring more time/money commitments into the mix. All very good messages.

I was a bit tripped up by the bouncing back and forth in time frame (in one chapter you're closer to the present time and in the next you jump back to 2008), but I understand the structure selected for the book and why the stories didn't follow a more chronological format. It also felt wrong that someone claiming to live simply, seemed to refer to so much chaos and busyness in her own life. It must have been exhausting to run a "best-selling" blog (both the writing and the business end of the money-making venture), homeschool, write books, and care for the needs of a growing family (or any family with small children - I had no job and it took it all out of me to care for two little beings when they were in the whirling dervish phase of life). Perhaps there was a bit of green going on, as well, as I thought "how do these women key in on what the world is wanting to read at the moment, make such a successful venture out of it, have the self-assurance to proclaim they have something to teach others, and rocket from just another voice on the net to Internet sensation with best-selling books on the market?" Okay, more than a little green.

If you are wanting to be more intentional about the use of your time on this earth, if you want to establish a family vision statement, if you want to read about others who took the time to carefully consider the way they were living and make changes to live more intentionally, then this would be an appropriate read. If you're already living a simple, slow-paced life, you'll still enjoy the stories, because the writing is good and the stories are interesting. It certainly has caused me to ponder what values I want to pursue for my family and to think about how to make those values more clearly established and expressed in our lives.

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