Monday, April 05, 2010

Halfway to Each Other

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter week! I sure had fun with last week's giveaways (still ongoing) and hopefully you did also. Getting back to our Regularly Scheduled Program now....

Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home arrived in my mailbox by surprise. I thought the premise sounded interesting, being about an American family who decides to live in Italy for a year. I picked it up one afternoon on a whim, expecting to at least moderately enjoy the ride that was this book. What I did not expect was to want to change so much in my life as a result of the thoughts which it provoked!

Halfway to Each Other details the Pohlman family's adventures in walking away from their busy live in L.A. and moving to 'the other side of the world' - a place where they didn't know the language and they had no ready-made friends. They were looking for a complete fresh start because their marriage had somehow been lost in the L.A. traffic. This gutsy and dramatic move was their last ditch effort to see if they could make their marriage work.

I read this book and heard American in it. I heard the busyness, the constant activity, the pre-made food, the internet, etc., that was tearing into the Pohlman family's ability to just live life. I heard it loud and clear and know that in a lot of ways, the American way of life creeps into my family's ability to just be. How many times has my toddler asked me to play with him and I've responded, "Wait! I'm busy. In a minute." or any number of other phrases to indicate that I don't have time for him because of the Almighty To Do list.

Susan Pohlman describes their adjustment to a new country - from the food, to transportation, the language barrier, their explorations while existing with few possessions and each other. I confess I started to build up some envy for the experiences that they had, learning how to relax and be a family. That's something that Jonathan and I very much crave and ability to do but we get tied down to our own excuses (kids are too young, work, work, work, house, etc.) How extremely difficult it would be to walk away from our fast paced lifestyle? How hard would it be to drop it? REALLY. HARD.

I enjoyed following along with this family's adventures. As you might suspect, the marriage not only survives in Italy - but it thrives! I'm not saying that the way to save marriages and live calmer lives is to run to Italy or some other non-English speaking country - but I am saying that this book made me think through why we have the possessions that we do. I'm on a whirlwind cleaning spree, ditching things which tie us down (or have the potential to.) I'm not cleaning out to leave the country. Rather, I'm cleaning out so that I'm free to do whatever it is that God would like us to do and to be as a family. In various ways we've bought into the world's craze to buy, buy, buy! I'd like to stop that. I'd like to simplify. I don't want to move to Italy. Rather, I want "Italy" (or what it represented to the Pohlman's - which is peace!) to reside in our own home. The items, the "stuff", the To Do lists which keep us from being family are things I would like to see go by the wayside.

This book has prompted a lot of conversation in our house (both Jonathan and I read it) and therefore I couldn't recommend it more strongly. Not only does it tell an interesting story, but it gives the reader plenty to think about. As it turns out (I didn't realize this) Jennifer also read this book and reviewed it over at 5 Minutes for Books. If you are curious for Jennifer's thoughts, follow the link! (I'll be linking this post up to the I Read It! carnival tomorrow.)

Thanks, Ideals Books, for sending this my way. It's one of the best surprises I've received this year!


Anna said...

Sounds like a book that almost anyone could related to. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Diary of an Eccentric

Judylynn said...

Have you seen the book Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine? I haven't read it, but I've looked at it and it looks interesting. It is the story of a woman and her husband who stop buying anything but the essentials for one year. They find that they can live without most of the "extras" that they buy.

I wouldn't recommend not buying anything that's not essential, but that seems like a good exercise to help some people see what they spend their money on and how much they could cut back.

Stephanie Kay said...

Sounds like a fascinating book! I'm also in a declutter stage but mainly because of water in our basement. :) I think my family does a good job of staying on top of spending but I know we could do a lot better. It's funny how stuff and busyness creeps into our lives little by little until it's taken over. Kinda like how water seeps into a basement little by little until your left with a covered floor and damaged stuff.

Janet said...

"I want "Italy" (or what it represented to the Pohlman's - which is peace!) to reside in our own home." Hmm... Me too!

This sounds very, very good. My husband and I have been talking for awhile about how to insist on the life we want, rather than the "inevitable" way of life that creeps in. This sounds like it would spark some good thoughts along that line!

Leslie said...

This sounds really good. I enjoy books that help me see what I could do to savor life more fully.

DanaB said...

I have this one on my list--it sounds wonderful!


Unknown said...

I also enjoyed this book. I keep thinking about it, too. And I would accept that prescription -- off to Italy! In a minute!

Unknown said...

Hi Carrie,

Thank you for your beautiful review! That year changed us on every level and opened our hearts in ways unimagined. I appreciate your helping us share our story~



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