Thursday, February 20, 2014

Notes from a Blue Bike

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
Publication Date: February 4th, 2014
Check out the Author's Hugely Popular Blog HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently.

It doesn't always feel like it, but we "do" have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.

The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized "Simple Mom" online community tells the story of her family's ongoing quest to live more simply, fully, and intentionally.

Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, "Notes from a Blue Bike "takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.

Entertaining and compelling--but never shrill or dogmatic--"Notes from a Blue Bike "invites you to climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family needs, and make some important choices. It's a risky ride, but it's worth it--living your life according to who you "really" are simply takes a little intention. It's never too late.
About the Author:
Image of Tsh Oxenreider
Tsh Oxenreider is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Art of Simple, a blog about the art and science of living simply. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe. She is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler, and Organized Simplicity. Tsh is also the main host of The Art of Simple Podcast.

Tsh and her nomadic family currently live in Bend, Oregon, but several dots around the globe have also been called home. Together, they love to travel, read books, go camping, and make homemade pizza for Friday Family Movie Night.

My Thoughts:
Maybe I am not reading the summaries of books well enough, or maybe I am just being mislead, yet here I am again saying: this book was not what I expected it to be. I think I expected some travel stories mixed with tips for living intentionally in a chaotic world. I was reading for tips, lists, charts, facts, I had my pencil poised and my maps out. What I got was a little different, but good in its own unexpected way. Instead "Blue Bike" is like a collection of small topical essays wherein Tsh describes, and defends, her life choices. Along the way there is a connecting thread of intentionality and how she attempts to obtain it.

The first thing that struck me about "Blue Bike" and Tsh's life was that while she is writing and seeking an intentional life, when she peels back the curtain and gives us a glimpse, it seems just as busy and hurried as everyone else. She even defends this at one point saying she loves working and thus checks her phone constantly. I am actually going to use the words of another Goodreads reviewer because she states it just perfectly: "...her descriptions of their life are go-go-go as she and her husband juggle the blog as their primary source of income and three small children. ...I found myself reading a book about a woman spinning her wheels like the rest of us - except that she has the freedom and flexibility of self-employment that so many people do not have." (Anna, Goodreads). And that really says it all. Perhaps that will make superhuman Tsh more human in the eyes of some readers, but perhaps it will make some, like me, feel a little bit let down and wonder if Tsh is really inspiring me to an intentional life, or a green/travel/work from home life. 
"...let the crux of this book sit in your belly and rumble true: we were made to live with intention, beyond the status quo."-pg 88
Something that may have played a part in my feelings: as much as Tsh fights not to be, she does come across as a bit snobby or stand-off-ish. *Eep* I am not trying to attack Tsh in any way!! I honestly believe that she and I probably have different personality types and this is playing a large part. But I have heard several other reviewers, bloggers, people say that she can be a tough woman, and from her (excellent!) writing, you can get the same sense. For example, she places tons of importance and focus on autonomy, stating that because she has a well paying blog business, she is able to live the life she does. Then she goes further and states that everyone should try to do the same. Well, of course everyone would LOVE to do the same! Sometimes it just isn't possible though. Tsh tries to provide some examples in the latter chapters of real people who approached their bosses about work at home options or flexible hours and got what they wanted. I would like to bet that most people who would try that would get a flat out 'No' at best. Plus, the world needs doctors, police officers, baristas...those jobs just canNOT be completed from home. I would hate for them to read this book and feel they cannot live a worthy, intentional lifestyle because they work a job they love. 

I know that this wasn't Tsh's intention, and she writes, several times, that what is in this book is her life and works for her family. But several other little thoughts here and there (her constant frowning on America) just has me thinking that we probably wouldn't be the best of friends. While we may not be best friends, I can certainly respect the lady. She has a take-charge kind of attitude that I can respect and a passion for life that I aspire too. Tsh's writing is superb, not poetic and flowy like many other bloggers and writers I've read lately, but intelligent, snappy, and with a "grown-up" vibe. The writing and layout were warm, inviting, welcoming, drawing you into her life manifesto, creating curiosity about how she lives life. 

"Blue Bike" may not have been as practical as I expected, it was certainly encouraging. Just reading about her life and how she pursues what she wants is inspiring. Tsh also stresses the importance of going out and finding your own simple, your own intentional. For example her words on page 214:
"We're each given freedom to choose our decisions, and that responsibility is the very definition of living with intention..."
I really enjoyed this one, despite my random mini-rant above. Women OR Men could read "Blue Bike" and enjoy it. It is not religiously based so all readers can dive in. A quick, cozy read for readers everywhere who enjoy a good memoir, who crave just a taste of travel, who already love Tsh's writing and/or blog, and for anyone at all with time to read! I'm rating this one as a 4.5 stars and love the way it's still got me thinking. After reading, I think an excellent 'follow' up book would be 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, which while being written in journal entry form, is a more practical intentional living book. Together they would pack a powerful punch and get your booty motivated to live intentionally!! 

Also, before you leave, a favorite quote:
"We would take the beauty of life in a slow, relationship-based culture, and mold it into something beautiful and useful in our native culture, where the prevailing mark of a good day is getting a lot done. We would ask questions like, 'Can we live effectively in the US without productivity as our primary goal?'..." -pg 23

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot


  1. I'm glad to hear this was inspiring for you. I've heard mix reviews on this one. Thanks for sharing with Cozy Reading Spot!


  2. Thanks for coming by Marissa! And I am kind of relieved to know that I am not the only one who is unsure about this one

  3. Thanks for the encouragement Rachael! I have 2 books I have to read for review first, and then I am excited to pull that one out!!