If you struggle with your Type A personality and find it tough to relax and smell the roses, you need to read these two books now. Post contains affiliate links.
I was in Barcelona with a friend watching flamenco in the most famous venue in Spain for this dance. I mean, honestly, Justin Timberlake has a picture on the wall.
We watched 45 minutes of an hour long show when the last dancer – and most famous – got on the stage. I suddenly was overwhelmed with the thought that if we didn’t make our way to the back, we’d have to wait hours settling our bills, and we’d never get out.
I freaked out my friend and we quietly made our way to the back. At the door we turned around to see the headlline dancer killing us with her crazy intense black eye liner eyes as though to say, “You dare to leave while I am on stage?” Then before it was fully over… we left. It was all on me.
I am so ashamed of this moment.
What kind of idiot goes all the way to Spain (I was living in Europe at the time but still) and leaves THE most famous flamenco dance early? And yet, it is so telling of my Type A compulsive tendencies to make sure I don’t get (a) inconvenienced, (2) held up or made to wait, and (d) out of control.
After having had four kids I’m far more laid back than I used to be. I’ve had to let go of some unrealistic expectations, give myself some grace, and start evaluating whether my choices were wise instead of “right.” This week I’ve read these two books and I cannot tell you what a breath of fresh air they are for a Type A woman such as myself. I highly highly recommend you read them back to back or even together because – while different – they are singing the same tune.
Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford
Hands Free Life is like some type of thick honey body butter, but for your insides. As I read it I had this feeling of a healing salve for my emotions and driven tendencies. Normally I shy away from books I feel are too “touchy feely” because who has time for all the descriptions of leaves and smells and for goodness’ sake, get to the point.
But with this book, I was riveted from the beginning because I felt myself relaxing and being filled with peace as I read. Aside from the Bible, this has never happened to me while reading a book. She didn’t discount the things of life that have to be done, but spoke to the things that really matter.
And what separated this book – in my opinion – from others that are perhaps similar is the storytelling. Each section and chapter had stories from her own life and those of her children. Because these stories are so relatable, you immediately could put yourself in her shoes.
“Do I just finish what I was doing or do I look my child in the eye?”
“Is finishing my (neverending) to do list really more important?”
I’ve been having this inner struggle for a while now, but hadn’t been able to quiet the inner turmoil. Her storytelling and writing did it for me. Honestly. I have been more at peace, more relaxed in expectations, kinder, and far more attentive to the little moments during the day that actually make up a life. Not because kids need us in their faces 24 hours a day, but because relationships with those we love are what matters most. For everyone.
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
For the Love has been such a breath of fresh air to me. Obviously it’s funny since she is a hoot, but it is like a little black dress.
It’s simple but special.
It goes with most everything.
Everyone should have it.
This book spoke to me about getting back to the basics and cutting through the fog of social media, our own (and society’s) warped expectations, and what really matters. What matters: people. What doesn’t: the minor details that weigh heavy.
Another part that touched my heart was her talk of community. Having moved frequently for the past – oh I don’t know, 10 years – has meant that I’ve made deep relationships, but then moved again. It takes time and effort to establish deep relationships, and when you are frequently moving it’s hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that you begin to stop building those because you can’t be bothered.
So instead of bemoaning the lack of a “crew” and praying for deeper connections, I decided to put legs on my wishes. A friend and I are actually going to start a supper club. Details to be worked out, but the goal is to have an inclusive place to just be together, have fun, eat good food, and do life. I feel such peace with this because – instead of complaining about a lack – we’re going to create something of substance.
But back to the book! It gives both forgiveness and a kick in the pants. Permission to relax as well as the desire to love others. It’s not a how to, but it births some dormant compassion inside of you that has been crushed by what you think you “should” do. If you’re sick of feeling you don’t measure up and can’t do it all then read.this.book.
So in short…
I highly recommend both Hands Free Life and For the Love and I recommend you read them either together or one after the other. The concepts they discuss aren’t the same, per se, but they build on and confirm one another. It’ll be like your own emotional spa treatment.
Do you have any book recommendations that have changed your life?
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