From the creator of the award-winning Slow Home podcast comes Slow, the perfect companion on the long road to living a simpler and more fulfilled life.
‘Dear Mr & Mrs Jones, I am writing to inform you of my withdrawal from the race to keep up with you . . .’
Once upon a time, Brooke McAlary thought she was close to having it all. Married to a wonderful man, mother to a lively young daughter, and pregnant for a second time, she’d acquired all the things she’d once thought important– holidays, cars, a renovated home. Yet despite this, she found herself utterly despondent. Realising that they wanted a simpler, more fulfilling existence, Brooke and her family gradually created their own way of living. Everything changed when she began decluttering. What began as an effort to remove some of the excess, slowly evolved into a complete transformation. Gone is the overwhelm, the clutter, the excess, the busy-ness, replaced by a simpler, more meaningful, and contented life.
In Slow, Brooke gently encourages you to find pleasure and value in a simpler life, sharing the practical tips and practices that have helped her and her family become happier and more fulfilled. Part memoir, part practical companion, Slow provides a fascinating insight into the benefits of slowing down. It will inspire you to forget about the Joneses and create a life filled with the things that really matter to you . . . slowly, of course. Now she and her husband are self-employed and enjoy a life centred on the important things – which, it turns out, aren’t really things at all.
Followers of my reviews will know that self-help books are not my usual forte. I used to read parenting guides many moons ago when my big kids were tiny kids (these kind of qualify as self-help don’t they?) and I skimmed, because it was a book club pick, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but I found this to be both preaching to the converted and over zealous. It’s not that I think I don’t need any self-help; it’s more that I’m just not all that interested and I have a million other books that I would rather read and fiction is my favourite, always my first preference and okay, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I need any self-help!
However, Slow, was a really good read. Brooke McAlary has a definite way with words, her prose is inflected with humour, a self-depreciating honesty, and a tell it like it is quality that I always appreciate. The premise of Slow is to simply ‘slow down’ and ‘be present in our own lives’. Be grateful. Be mindful. Stop buying crap you don’t need and working harder to afford a life you don’t even enjoy. At a base level, Brooke’s words made a whole lot of sense to me and I was pleased to note that in many ways, I was already adopting some of the practices of living slow. Don’t be fooled into thinking this book is a step by step manual on how to live slow; far from it, and that’s what appealed to me the most. Brooke explains within the book that living slow looks different for each and every person, but there are things to keep in mind that will help you shape your life into one you are delighted to live in.
At the beginning of the book Brooke asks these questions of the reader:
1. What is important to me?
2. What do I want to leave behind?
3. What don’t I want to leave behind?
4. What do I want people to say about me?
5. What regrets do I want to avoid?
The book is broken up into chapters that correspond with Brooke’s own journey to a slow life. I particularly enjoyed the chapters Mindfulness and Disconnect to Reconnect. But that’s the thing about this book: it’s the type of book that will offer every reader a different experience. I liked the fluidity of its structure; and the beautiful photos, cute illustrations, and boxes of text make this an easy read as well as a visually appealing one. It’s designed to be a book you return to and its hard cover ensures you can cart it around without fear of it eventually falling apart.
“There are, of course, many other ways of bringing mindfulness into your day, but this simple act of noticing was my entry point and it changed my perspective in enormous and tiny important ways.”
“If we can apply only one idea to technology as we move forward, it needs to be mindfulness. We need to make our use of technology intentional. Use it well. Use it to make life better. And then put it down and go do something else.”
Filled with insightful observations, Slow is a book that I recommend everyone read. It takes us back to the roots of what it means to be a decent human being: a person who smiles at strangers and stops to smell the roses. Even if you think you aren’t interested in adopting a new lifestyle, reading Slow is a reality check on the way our lives have evolved, a tool kit for examining our 21st century existences with a view to evaluating whether or not we are truly satisfied. From the perspective of an educator, I would love to see aspects of this book converted into seminars/lessons for teenagers, particularly with content from those abovementioned chapters. Being mindful and disconnecting from technology are both sadly becoming foreign concepts to our youth, something I see both in my home and my work. There is a lot in Slow for everyone and it’s content is presented in an accessible and entertaining way. As far as books go, this is a beautiful one to linger over. Coming from a person who doesn’t ‘do self-help books’, rest assured, I am not making this recommendation lightly.
“Perspective helps us to care less about the crap that doesn’t matter and recognise how lucky we are that these are in fact our problems.”