I still remember where I was sitting and where Kyle was standing. We were in the living room of our long-term temporary home in Austin, where we were transitioning between our life in Turkey and who-knows-what’s-next. My first book was released about three months ago, so we were enjoying the first bit of calm in quite a while.
Kyle stopped at the bottom of the stairs, and I was lounging on our red couch. And he announced, “Hey, I have the topic for your next book.”
I glared at him incredulously. Next book? Was he smoking something? Writing a book is like birthing a baby, so I was in that post-newborn letdown of exhaustion and hormonal craziness. And here he was, talking about getting pregnant again.
“Um…. okay. What?” I had my doubts.
And he proceeded to describe what I had to admit would be a pretty gorgeous book. A book that would take a lot of work, one that couldn’t be finished for years, but a beautiful storyline. I let it swirl around in my head for a few minutes, and then I said, “Um… Yes. I agree. I think. At least, you’re on to something.”
Not long after that, my (now) agent sent me an email asking if I had representation, not knowing that I was in search of some. (Neither of us also knew that just a few months later, we’d be moving an hour away from each other and would become actual friends.) Together, we worked on an idea that resonated so deeply in both our lives, on the production of a book that we both wanted to read.
Because if you want to read your own book, I figure that’s a good start, right?
So... My next book is officially in the world! It’s called Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World.
The writing became a cathartic process for me, healing wounds I didn’t know were still there, scabbed over and begging for balm. I wrote this book for you, yes, but I also wrote it for me. I needed to work through the process of reading and researching, long days at the public library, and late nights screaming for sleep from the exhaustion of it all.
It’s not like anything I’ve ever published before, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Notes from a Blue Bike is part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, where I journey through my past and essentially ask the question, “Is it possible to live slowly in a fast-paced culture?” It’s a lot of stories—stories from my time in places like Kosovo, Russia, Wales, and Turkey, where I’ve experienced the slow, rhythmic daily process of sucking the marrow out of line-drying my laundry, and spending six hours with a neighbor.
I explore the notion of whether it’s possible to live as though I’m part of a relationship-oriented culture while actually living smack-dab in a productivity-obsessed one.
I invite you to climb aboard your own bike, ask yourself these same questions, and explore your own ideas for slowing down. From the conversations I’ve had with many of you, it sounds like you’re dying to veer over into the slow lane as well. Less chaos, more freedom, fewer events on the calendar, deeper relationships. Many cultures around the world aren’t running the treadmill of efficiency. So what does it look like to live like this in the Western, post-modern world?
I cover the topics of food, work, education, travel, and entertainment, for a grand total of 48 chapters and an epilogue, along with a collection of discussion questions in the end for personal journaling or for a book club gathering. (Don’t panic; the chapters are short. I’m a parent with a lot of balls to juggle, too.)
If you’re aching for a slower-paced life, this book was written for you. If you’d like to make some risky—but ohsoworthit—changes in your family’s daily life, this book was written for you, too. And if you’re merely curious about my own family’s quirkiness and enjoy a collection of short stories on the nightstand, this book might be for you, too.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step handbook on how you should specifically live, you might want to look elsewhere.