Author, Hands Free Mama, (2013)
Blogger with 1.5 million visitors monthly
Former special education teacher
Married to Scott
Two daughters Natalie, 10 and Avery,7
Become a Hands Free Mom
For two years, Rachel led a highly distracted life. “My internal drill sergeant was continually pushing me to make everything sound better, look better, and taste better. My body, my house, and my achievements were never good enough. Holding myself to such unattainable standards weighed heavily on my soul and my inner turmoil eventually spilled out at people I loved the most,” Rachel says. One night, she recalls arriving home from a community event in which she had spent hundreds of hours planning. So exhausted, she collapsed on the bed fully dressed as her husband helped their kids get ready for bed. She was too drained to cry and too ashamed to ask for help. Electronic gadgets, packed schedules, and unachievable standards captured her attention and energy everyday. The hope of a joy-filled life seemed to drift further away each day. Laying there on her bed, Rachel became aware of how bad her condition had become. “I was buried beneath the weight of my distractions. I was no longer living. I was just barely existing,” shares Rachel. Shortly after realizing her buried state, Rachel was on a morning run when the undeniable truth hit her so hard it literally brought her to her knees. She realized that in “doing it all” she was missing out on life, on what truly mattered and sadly she could not get it back. Rachel says, “The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the person and parent I want to be.”
This breakdown-breakthrough moment propelled Rachel into living a Hands Free journey. She looked to God for help. “I knew I couldn’t overcome my distracted ways without God’s guidance and strength,” she says. With God’s help Rachel began to let go of daily distractions. When she first started on her Hands Free journey she told no one. For three months, she kept her small daily efforts a secret. She began with one small step: Seeing the flowers instead of the weeds (looking for what was going right instead of what was going wrong) For example, a messy room (weeds), but it was because her children had played quietly and cooperatively with each other (flower). Or, shoes spattered with mud (weeds), but the joy on her face as she splashed in puddles was unforgettable (flowers). The more she looked for “flowers” instead of “weeds” in her daily life; the positives began to outweigh the negative. Soon she gained a new perspective. “I realized much of what aggravated me was trivial,” shares Rachel. The tightness in her face began to relax and the smiles came more easily for Rachel as she realized what mattered was that her children were safe, healthy, and alive. “By making it a daily practice to notice all that is good in your life, the joy in your heart has the tendency to overflow. And when it does, you are able to funnel that excess love and happiness straight into the hearts of those you most want to see smile,” reveals Rachel.
Rachel began blogging about her daily struggles and triumphs toward a less distracted life at www.handsfreemama.com. Her stories encouraged others who felt trapped by their own distractions. She began sharing tips on unplugging and connecting to loved ones. “I have faith that there is plan for my life. I believe that God chose me to have a revelation about how I want to spend my days here on this earth. And it is because of my faith that I understand why God chose me. I was chosen to tell this story because of what really matters to me. Being a mother, a wife, a writer, a teacher, and an encourager has prepared me to show others how to let go of their own daily distractions and grasp what really matters,” shares Rachel.
A LESS DISTRACTED LIFE
When Rachel began her Hands Free journey she thought it would require one monumental and heroic action to overcome her distracted ways. Instead, she realized it was the small, everyday decision about how she used her time and energy which kept her on a much more connected life. “The most life-changing experiences happen when I stop trying to control and simply let things unfold,” shares Rachel. One day while making her daughter, Avery’s, lunch,
Rachel looked up and saw her daughter sitting on the sofa sucking her thumb. Instead of continuing to make her lunch or attend to the electronic devices battling for her attention with dings and beeps, Rachel set everything aside and sat with Avery. Grateful for her mom’s undivided attention, Avery took her mom’s hand and kissed her palm gently. This tender moment was confirmation to Rachel that her days of living distracted had officially come to an end. Living distracted causes you to miss priceless moments of connection that cannot be retrieved. Living Hands Free, allows you to experience (1) the joy that comes from being fully engaged with others and (2) to recognize the positive impact that mindful daily choices can have on your relationships.
STEPS TO A LESS DISTRACTED LIFE
Rachel shares how she use to want all household tasks to be completed as efficiently as possible. But gradually her desire for perfectionism was replaced by her desire to connect with her children and fill her days with laughter and love. “Sharing household tasks such as folding laundry or setting the table helps children realize that these tasks don’t magically get completed. As members of the family they have a responsibility to share in the responsibilities, but there is no reason these tasks can’t be enjoyable,” shares Rachel.
Below are some other tips Rachel offers to help you remove the phone-use temptation while driving so you can use that time to engage in meaningful connection with your family.
- Turn off phones or other devices before starting the car
- Put your phone in your trunk or glove box.
- Put your phone on silent mode.
- Change your voicemail greeting to indicate you are driving and will call back when safely parked.
After starting her Hands Free Journey Rachel struggled with guilt from past mistakes. She soon learned that letting go of past mistakes is an essential step in the Hands Free journey because it allows the gifts of the present day to become more apparent.
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