First, let me tell you that there will be a GIVEAWAY!!! But that’s the next post.
Before that, I have to tell you about the powerful impact of this new book: Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better and Loving More, by Rachel Macy Stafford. I really want you to know how intentionally pursuing even one of these habits can change you and your people’s lives for the better.
HANDS FREE SUMMER TO HANDS FREE LIFE.
I had just posted my last blog post on the fourth failed blog I’d attempted to write. The post was about the Hands Free Summer adventures we’d hoped to have as new Texans. We’d just moved to the state and were wanting to learn about our new home by experiencing these new things without our iPhones. I read the Welcome Guide and got some input from my son and posted the list with great hope. We quickly realized how overzealous we were and eventually turned the list into our “Hands Free First Year in Texas” list.
After getting all of the boxes unpacked and being settled into our new apartment home, I knew I needed to be intentional about curbing my desire to move into TVLand and letting my son fall in along beside me. I knew that I would need to make changes and new habits if I was going to change the culture in our home. We’d gotten too comfortable in our new space. Since we’re together so often, we often have great quality moments that are lasting and impacting but are severely outnumbered by our “separate corners, screen time filled” moments.
I decided to begin with being hands free during the preparation of and enjoyment of all meals.
This may be a no brainer for you and your family, but I’d fallen prey to the lure of showing off my home cooked meals on Instagram. Or posting my son cooking an elaborate meal (implied – the great lessons I was teaching him as a single mom) on Facebook. I enjoy cooking. Pouring a glass of red wine, playing an album and really getting in the zone. I missed it. I was cutting corners to get it done and rush through meals to sit on the couch or do other things.
Since I no longer have another adult in my home to share my proclamations with, I took to social media to share my new habit forming work of being hands free during meal prep and dinner and got this response from author of blog and book Hands Free Mama, Rachel Macy Stafford, on Twitter.
Hi Regina! Thank you for the lovely shout out to me on Twitter! You totally made my day! I am in the process of reaching out to like-minded writers to see if they would like an early copy of my new book HANDS FREE LIFE? Would you be interested? My publisher would mail it to you in early Aug. Thank you for your support and consideration! I love your writing style. So relatable!!!
She wanted to send me her book. And complimented my writing style! AND CALLED ME A WRITER!!! I was in!!!
HANDS FREE LIFE IN OUR HOME.
I was so excited and encouraged by her response to my attempt to implement this one habit and to further encourage me by sending me her book.
As my heart was converted by this book, I was more assured that refraining from social media on the weekends was a worthy goal. I set about apologizing to my son about the ways in which I’ve given too much of my time, energy and heart over to social media. And included him in my accountability plan to be more hands free on the weekends.
When reading the Hands Free Life over a two week period – I was intentional about reading every single word on every single page – I jotted notes in the margins, I circled favorite phrases, wrote prayers, made smiley faces and got specific about how I would put some of the habits into place immediately.
And you can do that with this book. You can read about how Rachel has developed her Hands Free Life and how God has blessed her in it while not being made to feel less than or guilty for not being in the same space as her. She is so gentle in her guidance through the nine habits and how she has lived them that I couldn’t help but want to put them all into practice immediately and to be her friend too.
In light of the other things I’d already committed to in my relationship with my son, I knew that I needed to choose a couple of habits to focus on tweaking and strengthening. I wasn’t going to be able to do them all well right away. And after recently finishing the book, The Teenage Brain (Frances E. Jansen), I knew I’d need to adapt some of the habits to fit our family dynamic and needs because it’s true; there is so much tension as he seeks to become more independent that it has at times been difficult to demonstrate sincere love. When “they” tell you that the teenaged years are hard, b-e-l-i-e-v-e them.
HABIT #3: BUILD A FOUNDATION – USING LIFELINES.
The habit that spurred me to action in response to this friction, is Habit #3: Build a Foundation. Particularly the section on “Lifelines”. I felt as if I was reading this section in slow motion, like a movie montage of our younger selves was being played out.
You see, I left notes in my son’s lunch boxes everyday for nearly four years after his dad died. When he got older, they were more sporadic and would be placed in other places to remind him that my heart was with him. As a teenager though, the handwritten notes had disappeared and their value seemed to also. But I knew, I know, that my son needs a daily lifeline to remind him of my love for him. That though we were battling it out about his tone, (dis)respectfulness or doing things with 100% effort, that I still loved and liked who he is as a person. At this moment. Not based upon his grades, his choices or his performance, but because of who God created him to be.
As a junior in high school, the idea of notes in a lunch box or his backpack would be like a social death sentence, so I decided to invest in his lifeline daily in another way.
Everyday of the week, at different times of day, I’ve set an alarm to send my son what is affectionately called a “motherlovetext”. It’s only been since I’ve read Rachel’s book that I have committed to this daily lifeline for my son. He doesn’t have to reply to the text or share his thoughts about it, he only needs to receive it.
“Today I will not assume they know how I feel. Today I will tell them by throwing out a lifeline. What really matters in life is literally at my fingertips.” | 77
There are so many ways to start, continue or deepen your Hands Free Life by reading about Rachel’s journey into it. God has truly blessed her family’s lives and I am so grateful for Rachel’s sister who encouraged her to start a blog and share about this transformation because it is having a profound impact on me and my son.
A COPY & GIFT FOR YOU.
As a result of Rachel’s generosity, I’m able to give away a brand new unmarked copy of her book. Included in the giveaway package, will be a bracelet reminder about the Hands Free Life, Starbucks gift card and a journal to record the gifts God is giving you as you embrace these 9 habits.
Stay tuned for the coming post about the giveaway details.