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Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More Paperback – September 8, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 198 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Our society’s definition of success---in which success is defined just in terms of money and power---isn’t working. With a mix of powerful storytelling and practical tools, Hands Free Life offers the inspiration and the daily actions to live our lives with more grace, more joy, more gratitude, and more love. (Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive)

Rachel does it again! As I read Hands Free Life, I felt my pulse slow, my lungs fill, and my anxiety lessen. Rachel’s writing is a Reset button. Her advice is practical, and her message is clear, gentle, and true: Less stress! Less distraction! MORE LOVE! Thanks, Rachel, for reminding us what matters: our people. (Glennon Doyle Melton, author of New York Times bestseller Carry On, Warrior and founder of Momastery.com and Together Rising)

In this intensely insightful book, Rachel teaches parents how to engage with their children as they truly deserve: with heart, presence, and grace. Hands Free Life will inspire you to grow with your children and reach depths of your being like never before. Its words will allow you to discover your highest potential as a parent and thereby bestow your children with an inestimable gift: your engaged being. (Dr. Shefali Tsabary, New York Times bestselling author of The Conscious Parent)

If you need a clear-minded and clear-hearted guide to a more fulfilling life, this is it. Again, author Rachel Macy Stafford provides us with actionable and meaningful ways to love well, live fully, and leave a legacy we can be proud of. (Patti Digh, author of Life is a Verb and seven other books)

Rachel’s wise words inspired me to be a more connected, more present parent, and for that I’m so thankful. I’ll be handing this out left and right to the people in my life. (Shauna Neiquist, bestselling author of Savor and Bread and Wine)

It took one day. I only could allow one day to read Hands Free Life. I was busy being a dad, a husband, and a cancer patient. I knew I was distracted, but there was a purpose. I was on a mission, and I acknowledged my limited time. As I settled in to read Rachel’s words, my heart stayed in my throat the entire journey. She gets it. She knows we’re distracted, and it’s not just the number of screens we have in our lives. It’s our incredibly complex, crazy, and somewhat out-of-control lives. Rachel Macy Stafford will help you reconnect and build strong relationships. Even if you make a moderate amount of effort, your family will thank you for strengthening your relationships! Once again, I owe Rachel a big thank-you for bringing relationships and family to the forefront of everyone’s mind. (Garth Callaghan, The Napkin Notes Dad)

Reading Hands Free Life spoke to me at a deep, heart level. It challenged me to stop hurrying through life, quit worrying about what other people think, and start savoring the ordinary, everyday moments. I smiled through some parts, cried through others, and came away with fresh resolve to make each day count---not in more efficient productivity, but in more meaningful relationships. Highly, highly recommended! (Crystal Paine, founder of MoneySavingMom.com and New York Times bestselling author of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode)

Rachel’s words beautifully remind us of the little things---and the big things that make a LIFE. A happier, healthier, more fulfilled life. In Hands Free Life, we are gently but firmly guided to unplug from our 24/7 world and to passionately pursue the connectivity that is so vital to our children, partners, families, friends---and ourselves. Pick it up today---and I promise: you won’t want to put it down. (Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic―A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World)

Can I simply say: Read this beautiful book. It will feed your soul, free your spirit, and fill your heart. Hands Free Life is an irresistible wake-up call for all of us who wish to parent more thoughtfully, love more generously, and live more joyously. (Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God and The Gift of an Ordinary Day)

With her unique blend of transparent storytelling and thoughtful insight, Rachel Macy Stafford reminds us again why hers is one of the most important voices of our generation. (Joshua Becker, bestselling author of Simplify and founder of Becoming Minimalist)

Hands Free Life is the perfect combination of advice and anecdote. Stafford’s personal stories are engaging and enchanting, while her daily declarations serve as their punctuation; reminders that we need to pause and let go of the chaos, ensuring our hands are free to embrace the grace in parenting’s small moments. (Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure)

Rachel has written a beautiful and profoundly wise book, one that heightens our own joy of life and enables our children to fully thrive. (Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD, developmental psychologist)

Hands Free Life came to me right when I needed it most. Essentially a road map for intentional living, Rachel’s approach, stories, and message are making a difference in my life by teaching me to grasp hold of what really matters. (Ali Edwards, storyteller and author of Life Artist)

I was hooked from the first story. Rachel’s writing is like a bear hug from a loving parent---warm, reassuring, full of joy, and a strong reminder of love and security. This book will speak to every loving parent’s heart with wisdom and insight that is sure to strengthen every family. (Justin Coulson, PhD, parenting author, researcher, speaker, and father of six)

I want to give this book to every parent I know. Rachel Macy Stafford’s gentle spirit and insightful wisdom leaves readers encouraged, inspired, and challenged to cultivate more intentional, present lives. I am a better mother because of Hands Free Life. (Jessica N. Turner, author of The Fringe Hours)

In the midst of countless daily reminders to hurry up and catch up, does it ever feel like all you do is mess up? The message of Hands Free Life reads like a gift and a second chance. If you long to linger in your own life but aren’t sure where to start, let Rachel Macy Stafford show you how. Her gentle words will cast a hopeful vision for your family, with practical tools to help you create the margin you long for and the relief your soul needs. (Emily P. Freeman, author of Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World)

Just a couple of chapters into Hands Free Life, I learned not to sit down with the book unless I had a box of tissues at the ready. Rachel’s truthful style of storytelling brought me to grateful tears again and again, redirecting my gaze me back to the beauty found in my everyday, regular ordinary … and reminding me that perfectionism is not a prerequisite for a hands free journey. Such a freeing message! (Jamie C. Martin, author of Steady Days and writer at SteadyMom.com)

At last---a book about changing habits that didn’t leave me overwhelmed and doubtful, but rather excited and hopeful! Rachel Macy Stafford’s gentle tone, personal reflections, and easy-to-embrace habits inspired and encouraged me, so much so that I found myself instantly---and naturally---incorporating her insights and ideas into my day. Hands Free Life is simply a must-read if you want to be lovingly guided toward filling your days with more meaningful and enjoyable moments. (Sheila McCraith, author of Yell Less, Love More)

In today’s distraction-filled culture, it’s tempting to fill our days with “busy-ness” to feel like we’re accomplishing something, while the reality is we’re just moving farther and farther from the kind of authentic life we want to create. Rachel Macy Stafford’s new book, Hands Free Life is the antidote to the hamster wheel! With compassion and empathy, this “been there, done that” mother teaches readers how to build an authentic and satisfying life that matters. (Meagan Francis, author of The Happiest Mom)

With a refreshing focus on less pressure, more love, Hands Free Life beckons us to a life that cherishes the individuality of each family member and the transformative power of presence. This book is about less pressure, more love; less comparison, more perspective; less distraction, and more life! (Anna Whiston-Donaldson, New York Times bestselling author of Rare Bird)

Hands Free Life is such an important book! One of biggest challenges most of us face in today’s digitally connected, fast-paced world is how to disengage from technology and connect to the things and people that matter most. Rachel Macy Stafford’s powerful and down-to-earth advice helps us live with more presence, awareness, and perspective. (Mike Robbins, author of Nothing Changes Until You Do)

This book expresses what an amazing time we can have within the family dynamic when we learn to let go of the excessive demands we find ourselves in. It allows us to become aware of the way we self-talk about our parenting while promoting how to live life to its fullest in harmony. Rachel has so eloquently shared what it takes to “keep track of life” and how it impacts our relationships with those we love. (Lisa Hein, international bestselling author and motivational speaker)

Hands Free Life is a heartwarming book by a talented writer who lifts you up with inspiration and plants your feet squarely on the ground, ready to focus on what really matters. (Sandra R. Blackard, author of Say What You See® for Parents and Teachers)

About the Author

Rachel Macy Stafford is a New York Times bestselling author and a certified special education teacher with a Master’s Degree in education. A few years ago, this life-long writer felt compelled to share her journey to let go of distraction and grasp what really matters by creating what became the tremendously popular blog “Hands Free Mama.” Using her skills as a writer, teacher, and encourager, Rachel provides readers with simple, non-intimidating, and motivating methods to let go of distraction and connect with their loves ones. Rachel lives in South with her husband and two children who inspire her daily. www.handsfreemama.com



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (September 8, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310338158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310338154
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I looked around at the dusty counter tops, the rugs that needed vacuuming, the dishes yet to be put away. I was on the edge of tears, chastising myself for letting things get so out of control. The temptation to shove everything back and look away from the piles called to me like a sweet love song. But I was tired of the mountains of things around me, fatigued from always running from one duty to the next, exhausted from doing everything but what I felt in my heart was the most important thing; to enjoy my life.

My days were frenetic activity, the hours growing shorter and the years left with my children at home flying past me so fast I couldn't keep up with tearing the months' pages off the calendar.

I wanted to get off this highway. I wanted the side road—the one with the surprise of a fruit stand or a long forgotten picnic table spotted off in the shade of a Weeping Willow. But things felt too deep for me to even think I had a chance at a new life for us.

In 2012, I discovered Rachel Macy Stafford online from a friend's suggestion. Her blog, Hands Free Revolution, has held my hand ever since. Rachel reminds me that no matter how overwhelmed I feel today, I can bring myself peace with rest, direction, and a new chance tomorrow. I can make mistakes and start over. I can learn to love more and I will start with myself.

This is why today, I am celebrating the release of Rachel Macy Stafford's book, Hand Free Life.

It's for anyone who has gone to bed at night, feeling the weight of failure.
It's for all of us who begin out day already feeling defeated.
If you are the way I am, then you know what I mean when I say that disappointment in ourselves hurts far more than from anyone else.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the author's message was a good reminder to us all in our daily and busy lives, the message she delivers in her 9 habits are not unique and things we've all heard and read before. This book, in my opinion, would mainly appeal to mothers. The author uses her daughters extensively to expand upon the 9 habits. Unless you are a mother or particularly interested in her children, weeding out her advice beyond this amounts to a magazine article's worth of content. There are many other books on this topic that I believe speak to a wider audience.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished Rachel’s second book, Hands Free Life. As I read it, each chapter dedicated to forming habits to overcoming distraction, living better and loving more, I was struck by one theme: embracing imperfection. Each section—”Fill the Spaces,” “Surrender Control,” “Build a Foundation,” “Take the Pressure Off,” “See What Is Good,” “Give What Matters,” “Establish Boundaries,” “Leave a Legacy and Change Someone’s Story”—tells of a lesson Rachel learned by making mistakes, learning from them and paying attention.

Just like the rest of us, Rachel isn’t a perfect mother or wife. She writes from her heart, because she was once in a dark time when she was so clearly distracted and overcommitted that her husband finally said to her in a whisper, “You’re never happy anymore.”

Rachel is not just talking in her books. She walks the talk. She wants people everywhere to know that they don’t have to continue being distracted or unhappy; they can stop and listen and make a change for themselves and for the people around them. She’s not just talking putting down smartphones and stepping away from technology regularly, she’s also talking about getting out of our own heads to stop striving to be perfect. It’s about letting yourself be yourself, and letting others be authentic and real too.

What I love about Hands Free Life is that it embraces kindness and empathy, both toward others and yourself. I could pick up this book any day of the week and find a section that will make me feel there is something I can do to make my life better simply by slowing down and listening. Rachel’s sweet nature shines through, and the advice she gave me about my own doubts is something she believes herself.
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Format: Paperback
As a book reviewer, I'm blessed to be able to choose the books I'd like to review. That's why, most of the time I post glowing reviews. After all, who picks a book they think they're gonna hate, right? But every once in a while I review a book that doesn't "thrill" me. Sadly, this was one of those books.

Let me start by saying that I in no way "hated" this book. It just didn't "grab" me like I wanted to. As a mom, blogger, social media enthusiast, and self-professed perfectionist, I often feel the need to go "hands-free" - to let go of all the pressure and simply live life. I wanted this book to show me how. Maybe that was too much to ask? Instead, the book seemed filled with anecodotes of the author's life. While I love a great personal anecdote, this book seemed jam-packed with them - so much so that, if she dropped several of them the book could have been half as long.

There were definitely some valuable parts in this book, like this little gem:
"Although we've been led to believe that our fondest memories are made in the grand occasions of life, in reality, they happen when we pause in the ordinary, mundane moments of a busy day. The most meaningful life experiences don't happen in the 'when,' they happen in the 'now.'"

But sadly, I felt bogged down by all of the anecdotes. If you love a book that's silled with mostly personal stories, then this may be the book for you. If you're looking for a book that's heavy on info on how to live a hands free life, this book my not be for you.

I received a copy of this book, free of charge, from BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for my honest review.
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