I’m reading Rachel Stafford’s new book, Hands Free Mama. It’s a short read filled with poignant easy-to-describe words. Rachel focuses on living a less distracted life. She went from being a tech-obsessed, task-oriented, fast-moving mom to the kind whose little girl placed her tiny fingers on her cheeks and said, “This is the mama I always wanted.”
I thought this would be the kind of book I’d nod my way through, share with others proudly, and wrap a little blog post review bow around. But starting right with the sub-title, this wasn’t the case.
A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters
Why did these words take my breath away? Because I (clearly) saw my need for them.
This book is about letting go of distractions to live a better life more focused on what truly matters. Each chapter is meant to take the reader through a thought-provoking process. Digging a little bit deeper, each chapter is meant to help the reader change. And if you’re anything like me, change can feel uncomfortable.
As I read Rachel’s poignant essays, I found myself wincing at the words. I saw myself as the mom with the phone in hand saying she was too busy to do things like play. The wife with the mile-long to-do list and the distracted hellos, goodbyes, and evenings filled with TV watching (him) and book reading (me).
I take some solace realizing that I’m not wincing alone. Throughout the book, Rachel repeats this mantra: The truth hurts, but the truth heals and brings me one step closer to the person I want to be.
Ah yes, this.
So the book starts at the very beginning and delves (deeply) into what happens when you lead a distracted life.
Chapter 1 is called: Acknowledge the Cost of Your Distraction and, like I’ve never had happen while reading a motivational book before, this first chapter is the one that sticks to my ribs. These are the words and thoughts and feelings that pop into my mind at random times. The ones that, even though I’m tryintryingtrying to move toward being more Hands Free, bring me back to my goal.
The book starts with a focus on Awareness.
Rachel describes an evening drive home where she was feeling emotional, stretched, maxed. She stopped and cried and was (uncharacteristically, for that time) still and in that moment she saw a glorious sunset. You know the kind that fills the sky with colors that looks like they were painted by an unabashed artist with the widest of paintbrushes, probably a child.
And in that moment of noticing beauty, she realized that if she had been distracted—on her phone, multi-tasking, trying to squeeze efficiency out of her drive—she would have missed this sight, and she would have missed the chance to revel in it. Rachel says, “Because truth be told, this extraordinary sight would have happened whether or not I’d taken the time to watch.”
This is so very true of all of life’s offerings, isn’t it? They’re right there whether or not we choose to see them.
From this turning point, Rachel coined the term Sunset Moments. These are the moments with our spouses and children and friends—the people that we love most—that happen whether or not we’re paying attention. They’re the moments we miss when we’re distracted.
Rachel says, “Life’s Sunset Moments are glorious, rejuvenating, and gratifying to behold—but when I’m caught up in daily distractions, they are so carelessly missed.”
And this is what strikes me time and time again. I want my Sunset Moments.
Brody’s newly found handwriting grip, little sounds stretched out between tiny lips as he begins to write.
Chloe’s reach for her sister as she tries a coveted rainbow loom move.
Kayli’s grace as she masters a gymnastics move that she’s wanted so badly for so long. And the smile on her face when she realizes that she’s got it.
Ohmyeart, when I find myself looking into disappointed eyes after words come out of my mouth, I know I’ve slipped a bit and it’s the thought of missing out on a Sunset Moment that refocuses me.
There are twelve chapters in this book, assuring me that this is a process and that authentic change takes time. Each chapter is focused on a tiptoe you can take and why you should take it.
Rachel shares her thoughts and experiences via three poignant, beautifully written essays in each chapter. Each essay is followed by a Weekly Intention—a small step to take toward the direction you want to go. And each chapter ends with a Hands Free Reflection and a set of questions to ask yourself—thought provoking words to keep your mind and heart focused on what you want.
I can’t recommend this book enough. I saw so much of myself in each chapter and gleaned (sometimes painful, but that’s okay, right?) insight to my own distractions and, importantly, how they affect others and, even more importantly, ways to move forward and change.
In the end, each of these small steps will lead to one more Sunset Moment. And that will become the life we actually want to live.