This June I’ve decided to take time to focus on non-fiction books because I’ve been inebriated on fiction as of late. That being said, after finishing Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider was recommended to me on Goodreads (omg, I love Goodreads). It’s been on my list for a while. I loved the cover and that was the primary reason I wanted to read it. I’m just that shallow.
It’s about Ms. Oxenreider’s life as a mother of three and a world traveler. As the subtitle implies, it’s about living intentionally in every aspect of life.
“Most of life’s decisions don’t come with black-and-white answers, and that’s a beautiful, marvelous thing. We’re given freedom to choose our decisions, and that responsibility is the very definition of living with intention, after all: making daily choices so that your life lines up with your passions and values. It should all make sense in your head.”
In the Food section, she talks about using local, natural resources. Our fast paced way of life has led to fast food and a lot of times supporting organizations that thrive due to slave labor or exploiting working conditions. She encourages the reader to support local businesses and to take more time savoring what you eat. I was pretty inspired. My mom and I are doing a whole foods challenge right now, and I’ve been failing. I want to do better though, and just hearing Tsh talk about the benefits of her simplified eating plans makes me long for that kind of life. I think it’s more difficult for those of us that have a full working day though and that she doesn’t take that into account, which was a little frustrating.
Tsh has an awesome job; she’s a blogger and makes all her income off of that entrepreneurial endeavor. I am totally impressed and jealous. If I could do this for a living, I would. However, I don’t have the discipline required and I’m called to other things in life. In the work section she really implores the reader to leave work at home, to manage time better, etc. She tries to relate to those of us that work traditional jobs; she has a whole chapter on it, but she list friends that have chosen to work alternatively, like she has, instead of exemplifying people that don’t have that option. Honestly, I found this section to be the most difficult to swallow. I can’t live the way she prescribes here because I’m a single woman with multiple part-time jobs.
You would expect that with all this talk of simplifying, she’d be a home-schooling mama. And she was for a year. She examines the options of homeschooling vs. traditional in-school education and I have to say I loved her point of view. The thrust of this section, however, was being life-long learners and teaching your children to be the same.
“I’m convinced that parents are the most essential key to unlocking the next generation’s curiosity, creativity, and innovation.”
I think that this was probably my favorite chapter.
Her sections on travel and entertainment didn’t really impress me. It was more of the same. Travel is important to education and we should all take time to go out of the country at least once (I’ve been twice, so check!). Entertainment-wise, she gave her family as the ultimate example. They only watch TV once a week and so on and so forth.
I was convicted as I read this book. I have a lot of the opposite problems that Tsh has. I know how to slow down and enjoy life at a slow pace. I don’t know how to wring joy out of working hard and setting goals for myself. My entire life is wrapped up in entertainment and I don’t know how to live any different. It’s a problem and one that I am now striving to fix. After I finished this I bought her 52 tasks book and have started changing my life a little at a time.
I will say that this book is not what I thought it would be. The title is a little deceiving. She rarely mentions riding her bike. In the front there is a map of the bike going all over the world, but she only received the bike after she moved to Bend, Oregon, her current home. I thought it would be more of a travel memoir of sorts and that’s what the description makes it sound like, but it’s not. Don’t expect that when you read it.
It is a great example of how to live life intentionally, and she’s careful to say (many, many times) that it will look different to every family, but it is just one example. Her word is not law. I can’t be her family. I’m just me right now, no husband or kids to think about, and sometimes it will be better for me to watch a movie than to spend hours cooking a meal from whole foods. That being said, my life can’t be fast food and movies. I definitely need to take more time to plan and enjoy the beauty of the creation around me. I need to try and be my best and I’m not right now. I needed this book and it’s message.
I’d definitely recommend this to others, with the caveat that it’s not for everyone.