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Crafting My Life, With Thanks to Amber Strocel

I can’t tell you how delighted I am to share this book with you! When Amber of Strocel.com put out an invitation for readers to review her Crafting My Life Playbook, exchange guest posts, or otherwise join with her on the journey she has begun, I knew I wanted to participate. Amber’s work has been such an inspiration to me as I have settled into the role of mother and begun the task of figuring out where the intersection between my personal goals and my life as a mother lies. I knew I would enjoy reading her Crafting My Life Playbook, but what I didn’t know was how timely it would be for me.

I began reading the book early in the year, planning to methodically knock it out and take careful notes on its finer points for the purpose of writing a very professional review. Then the pregnancy exhaustion hit, and life slowed down. A lot. Before I really got deeply into the book, I had a date night with the husband and the dinner conversation turned to what I’ll refer to for now as my Big Dream. I had never clarified, even for myself, what this Dream was, in large part because I didn’t believe it was possible. As the husband and I chatted, I was able to describe, out loud for the first time, exactly what the Big Dream is, and it didn’t sound as crazy as I’d thought it was. It sounded huge, but feasible and so very worthwhile.

If you’re a regular reader, it’s probably no surprise to you that my Big Dream is Montessori related. You may remember that I embarked on something of a Montessori pilgrimage in February. It was during this trip, also a lifelong dream, that I was really able to spend some quality time with the Crafting My Life Playbook. Just thinking about how perfectly things aligned in that little chain of events makes me tear up a bit, dramatic as that may sound. The date just before the heart-honoring trip, just as I was giving this Crafting My Life thing a try – it was all quite perfect.

On the journey to follow my bliss, with a sleeping toddler on my back.

The Crafting My Life Playbook was just the encouragement I needed when I was stuck between thoughts of working toward the Big Dream and that nagging voice that tried to tell me I couldn’t follow my heart while giving my children all that they deserved. One of the sections of the book is entitled “Following Your Bliss,” and in it Amber talks about a common problem among adults: that of ignoring our “bliss” as we seek to be practical and responsible. Children, she points out, live their lives with great abandon and in doing so can be a great example to their parents. With that in mind, Amber writes “If we are willing to afford our children the privilege of dreaming, then we need to afford ourselves the privilege of dreaming, too; partly because we matter as much as our children do, and partly because the best way to lead is by example. Showing our children than we can follow our hearts and do our own thing teaches them that they can, as well.” That settled that!

There is so much more that I could say about this book, and so much that I appreciated. I know I’ll go back to it over and over again, and I’m planning to make time to enroll in Amber’s Crafting My Life E-Course eventually, but it’s that message that stuck out to me the most: I matter as much as my children do, and the best way I can lead them is by example. I know this, and have probably even had passionate discussions on the topic, but there’s something about the clear and matter-of-fact way that Amber presents this and many other truths in her book that really spoke to the heart of me.

The book is so much more than encouragement to follow your heart, too. The sections leading up to the discussion of “Following Your Bliss” are all about taking stock of your life, rediscovering what’s important to you, and making space in your life for those things. The rest of the book focuses on mapping out the path you want to follow as you embrace your bliss, (with permission, of course, to throw out old maps and create new ones at any time), figuring out what stands in your way and how you can combat it, making relationships work for you, finding ways to share what you’re doing with others, and finally – taking all of these ideas and dreams and moving forward with them.

The book is brilliantly organized, taking you on a journey to envision the life you want, and helping you figure out how to take hold of it, or at least where to start. It is neither vague, lofty philosophy nor dry, boring lists. It’s practical, clear, relatable, and simple-yet-profound. Toward the end of each section, Amber includes a printable “play sheet” consisting of prompts that encourage you to examine the concepts discussed as they relate to you specifically. These really helped me do more than just appreciate the truth of her words and usefulness of her ideas, and take it one step further to consider how I wanted to apply them to my life. Each section ends with a mission – something practical you can do to apply what you’ve discovered.

I have read plenty of books with the intention of improving myself or my life, but this was so much more than any of those. I’ve read how-to guides on things like becoming more organized, becoming more creative, or otherwise getting better at something. These are all well and good, but not one has really and truly enriched my life. These types of books have done little more than encourage me to mold some area of my life after someone else’s ideal. I thought for awhile about what was different about the Crafting My Life Playbook – why it had made such an impact on me. The difference, I believe, is that Amber doesn’t encourage readers to adopt a specific program or mold their lives to achieve some goal imposed from without. With the Crafting My Life Playbook, she encourages readers and gives them tools to look into themselves and discover their own dreams, goals, or desires. She takes us on a path to discover the life we want to lead, and how, practically speaking, we can best do that.

The tagline for the Crafting My Life Playbook is “Living With Greater Intention.” Later in the book, Amber defines that by saying, “At the heart of it, living with intention is about listening to the very core of ourselves, and expressing that in our lives.” If nothing else, this book will give you an opportunity to look at the way your life expresses the things most important to you, and challenge you to bring your life more in line with what’s in your heart. After finally clarifying my own Big Dream, this book gave me the opportunity to envision how and where it fits into my life, among all of the other things I value, and map out some practical steps to making it more than just a Dream.

If this interests you, you can find out more about the Crafting My Life Playbook and ecourse at CraftingMyLife.com. You can also find encouragement and insight for your journey on the Crafting My Life blog.

_____

Disclosure: I received a copy of the Crafting My Life Playbook free of charge for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was promised or provided. All opinions expressed are my own, and I don’t benefit directly from purchases made by readers. I strive to review only items I think my readers will enjoy, from sellers I can recommend with a clear conscience. See my full disclosure on the About page.

11 Responses to Crafting My Life, With Thanks to Amber Strocel

  • teresa says:

    that sounds really good. I have to click over to there now.
    Great review.

  • Rach says:

    Oh what a coincidence! Friends and I were just talking about finding your dream job in the woods on Tuesday, and one friend recommended an e-course by Nick Williams called Discover your Dream. Everything you mention in your post sounds almost the same as what my friend talked about. We also discussed how the best way to inspire out children is of course to lead by example. And that the best way to get them to value and respect themselves and others is to show them how you respect and value yourself. Seems like we are on the same page, and I long to hear about your dream when you are ready to share. I will definitely check out that recommendation too.

  • Rach says:

    I had to add that I think you would be a brilliant guide for parents in all things montessori/respecting the child, not only because of your knowledge and wisdom, but also as you have such a gentle, non-judgemental, and funny way about you. Of course this is all great for guiding kids too.

    • melissa says:

      I’ll have to look into the ecourse you mention, too. That and Crafting My Life definitely sound similar. The leading by example bit is so very true, and can be surprisingly hard to remember! I’m really working on that, and am so grateful for your encouragement. I will definitely be sharing the Big Dream before long, and I look forward to seeing where your dreams take you.

  • This sounds like the exact book I need!

  • Impressive review! I love Amber and her blog, and I’m hoping to sign up for her e-course myself soon. I need to sit down and get my Big Dream into words and on paper. I think I’ve been holding back due to fear it’s unrealistic as well. It’s sad how silly & foolish it can feel to try for the things you want the most.

    • melissa says:

      You definitely don’t need to clarify your dreams before the course – it can help you do that! Or, well, I assume so if it follows the same path as the book. It just so happened that I had been discussing my own already when I got to that point – definitely not a prerequisite. I hear you on the issue of being held back by fear, too. It really is sad, but recognizing the fear is a great step on the way to beating it. I hope to hear more about your plans when/if you’re up for writing about them.

  • tinsenpup says:

    I read this post a few days ago and it’s really had me thinking. Your last book recommendation was excellent, so I’ll have to try to get this one too.

    • melissa says:

      Did you end up finishing Nonviolent Communication? I’d love to hear what you thought! Or I may be mixing up the order of books I have recommended here! Either way, I’m glad you enjoyed one!

      I definitely think Amber’s playbook is a valuable tool, too. Let me know what you think if you do read it!

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