Funny how sometimes a title just resonates with you. Perhaps the wording or the topic instills you with a sense of familiarity or intrigue. When I read the title Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, by Tsh Oxenreider, it was all the above for me.
I first learned to ride a bicycle on a blue bike. That rusty old bike served me well for many years. I have many great memories of flying down the country road past fields of corn with my hair whipping backwards (before helmet laws), the wind in my face, and thoughts of freedom filling my head. Good memories, indeed. And, let's face it, after last fall, we all know I could benefit from some thoughts on how to 'live intentionally in a chaotic world.' When I saw it was up for review,
In the prologue, the author states her purpose and intention for readers. Oxenreider hopes readers will learn from her personal experiences as she and her family attempt to live with purposefully within their beliefs. The book begins with a general summary of chaotic living and how the author discovered her own desire to live with more intention. From there, the book is separated into parts dedicated to specific areas of life, like food, work, and education. Finally, the last section includes personal thoughts on living intentionally within your own culture and how that might look differently for each individual family.
Oxenreider does a fine job of sharing her family's experience and her own personal thoughts on intentional living. For the most part, the book reads like a memoir and not a self-help book. This I liked. Sometimes, reading about another's experiences and how they arrived at solutions, what worked, what didn't, and what they would recommend is more inspiring than a listing of steps one should take.
The book is well organized and easy to navigate. Each chapter is clearly labeled with location and date. This labeling is necessary due to the number of locations which Oxenreider has called home and the breadth of the time covered. The chapters of self-contained, but for the most part, flow easily from one to the other. At times, her thoughts appear jumbled, but generally by the end of each section she has woven these distinct thoughts together coherently.
Her humility in admitting to 'having not arrived' is also refreshing. I did not feel like she was offering a one solution fits all to the problem of chaotic living. However, she does write from her own experiences, which could limit the benefit for readers who do not have the same situations. For instance, I am a stay at home mom who happens to homeschool. The sections on work and education were interesting to me, but not truly applicable. Although Oxnereider tried to counter for this by offering a few situational stories and solutions of fellow intentional living friends, these seemed a bit forced and not truly diverse.
Throughout the book, Oxenreider does not shy away from the realities of American culture and its celebrated chaos. This I appreciated greatly. It is not easy to intentionally live in a society where many things call for attention. Every reader can relate to the difficulties of intentional living.
Though this book may not offer the exact solution for your life, or mine, it will offer an inspiring example of one family's path on the road to more intentional living. If nothing else, it will help readers to think about the need for intentional living and the possibilities for their own lives.
Read it, not for a specific solution, but for the inspiration and encouragement.
Fine Print: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this honest reaction to the book.