Category Archives: Life Lessons

Learning to Engage: Rachel Macy Stafford, the Hands Free Mama

I am inspired. I am inspired by a woman who took the time and made the effort to change herself and her life into something she saw as important and worthwhile. Her name is Rachel Macy Stafford, and she started the Hands Free Revolution.

Don’t we all want our lives to be important? I know I do. Rachel Stafford felt that she was living an important life, until suddenly she wasn’t. She had fallen into the trap of “too many distractions,” and felt that her children were falling that way, too. And what was worse: her children ” had no idea they were being given the leftovers, the worthless scraps of their stretched-too-thin mother.” She realized that her children were also not living important lives; at least, important enough to warrant her full, distraction-free, loving attention. And they were learning that this was normal, accepted, and expected. For Rachel Macy Stafford, her inspiration for changing her perspective in life was her children.

She writes that she has discovered. or re-discovered, what is important to her, and took baby steps on her journey to re-connect with those things and people. This is what inspires me. Not that she chose her path of connection through disconnecting from technology, but that she chose to change her life in what she saw as a better and more positive way. She worked on herself, which took time, dedication, and no lack of constant motivation.

This. is. difficult.

I know from personal experience. I have changed my life once before; just after high school, I took myself off of a destructive path because I did not want that for myself. It took years and years of constant awareness and work and mistakes and practice. And here I am, working to improve myself further. Sometimes I just get tired. Tired of constantly questioning whether I’m making a good move, or struggling to understand the effects of some past decision. But people like Rachel, who have stuck to their guns and made worthwhile changes and successes in their lives are my inspiration to keep going.

What’s your inspiration? What’s your motivation? What do you want out of your life? 

Find the answers to these questions, and I guarantee you are stepping softly towards your own path of fulfillment and thoughtful living.

Discover more about Rachel Macy Stafford’s Hands Free life at her blog: Hands Free Mama.

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3 Life Lessons from Lousia May Alcott

Everyone takes inspiration from those who came before them, I believe. When I was studying at my University, one of the books I was assigned to read was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. For some reason, the morality and strength of all four little women (plus their mother) really resonated with me. So when it came time for me to select “someone who came before me” to examine and learn from, I wanted to know more about the author who created these inspiring and wonderful characters. I should have expected her to be just as amazing.

Lesson #1:     Live plainly and think highly.

Louisa May Alcott was raised as a Transcendentalist during the time of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. For those of you who aren’t sure what a Transcendentalist is (or have never heard of the book Walden), it is an early 19th century movement  to find “an original relation to the universe,” as Emerson put it. You can find more information about it here. In any case, the education she had from her father and his contemporaries Thoreau and Emerson gave Alcott a strong belief that she should focus on a thoughtful connection to the world around her–beyond society’s fads and distractions. And, to be honest, the idea is just as relative in today’s world; the world offers so many distractions and escapes from reality that many people fall into what I like to call foot-in-mouth syndrome. This sort of attempt to really connect and discover yourself is actually quite admirable.

Lesson #2:       Don’t ever give up.

Alcott grew up in a time when she was at a double disadvantage; she was born into poverty, and she was a woman. Her father moved her family out to a cottage rental when a business deal went south, and in order to help her family make ends meet, Alcott joined the work force at an early age. At age 15, she reportedly vowed that she would “do something by and by.  Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!” She then went on to work any job she could find until finally achieving her dream of being a writer. This sort of determination is an extremely valuable trait in any day and age, and I, for one, will attempt to achieve it within my own life.

Lesson #3:       Follow your passions.

As stated above, Alcott achieved her dreams despite all odds against her. She had wanted to be a writer from an early age, most likely due to the influence of family friends Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller, and she wrote plays for her sisters and her to act out in her younger years. She began publishing her poetry and fiction under a gender-ambiguous pen name, and eventually published Little Women successfully as Louisa May Alcott. She wrote stories and published up until her death in 1888. She found what made her happy and pursued it her entire life with a steadfastness to which we can all reach for.

Too often we give up when things get rough or we are denied success. I, for one, will attempt to reach for my dreams with an awareness and determination, and try, try, try again!