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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 despi 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, with an emphasis on depth, connection and experiences. In Slow Brooke gently encourages you to find pleasure and value in a simpler life, sharing the practical tips and rituals that have helped her on her own journey, from decluttering to de-owning, messiness to mindfulness, from asking why to asking where to now? 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.


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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 despi 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, with an emphasis on depth, connection and experiences. In Slow Brooke gently encourages you to find pleasure and value in a simpler life, sharing the practical tips and rituals that have helped her on her own journey, from decluttering to de-owning, messiness to mindfulness, from asking why to asking where to now? 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.

30 review for Slow: Live Life Simply

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    3.5 stars! *non-fiction challenge*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Phelps

    Such a great introduction to a minimalist/mindful living lifestyle. The author does a great job of being personable and convicting without being preachy; she really makes you think, but reminds you that it’s okay to fail and failure doesn’t make you a terrible person. Highly recommend!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    KC

    An amazing and well laid out "planner" of how this author changed her way of viewing the world by decluttering, mindfulness, and just taking things slower. Although some of this has been written elsewhere, it was still wonderfully written. An amazing and well laid out "planner" of how this author changed her way of viewing the world by decluttering, mindfulness, and just taking things slower. Although some of this has been written elsewhere, it was still wonderfully written.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Smith

    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 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.” Thanks is extended to Allen and Unwin for providing me with a copy of Slow for the purposes of review. Slow is book 61 in my 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    In Slow, Brooke McAlary – creator and host of the uber popular Slow Your Home blog & podcast – shares her journey towards and through, living a slow and intentional life. Not so you can imitate her actions, but to help you realise what your own ‘why‘ is. Why does a slow, intentional life appeal to you? And more importantly, what are the things that matter, really matter, to you. What do you want your legacy to be? And Why. It’s not about the how. It’s about looking deep. Past the social mask and In Slow, Brooke McAlary – creator and host of the uber popular Slow Your Home blog & podcast – shares her journey towards and through, living a slow and intentional life. Not so you can imitate her actions, but to help you realise what your own ‘why‘ is. Why does a slow, intentional life appeal to you? And more importantly, what are the things that matter, really matter, to you. What do you want your legacy to be? And Why. It’s not about the how. It’s about looking deep. Past the social mask and the past the Joneses, deep into yourself and your intentions for being. I can’t put into words how affecting this book was for me. Brooke’s warm tone, her honest, straight-to-the-point narrative, and her ability to worm her way into your soul is mesmerizing. She shares both her own story, as well as practical advice and pathways that will be inspiring to those just feeling their way towards slow living, as well as those already embarking on their journey. Covering the usual topics such as decluttering and mindfulness, Slow is so much more than a ‘how-to’ manual. It’s a book that feels like a warm hug of reassurance that there is still hope for a meaningful and intentional life for us all. It’s a book that will spark something within you, and help you realise that tiny changes, can and do, make a world of difference – and a difference to the world. There’s not many non-fiction titles that I would choose to read again. Not from cover to cover at least. Slow is different. I want to hold it close, and re-read it again and again. Keep it under my pillow as a talisman. (Although maybe the bedside table is a better, less uncomfortable option!) Maybe it’s because I found it reassuring that I am on – and I use this word hesitantly – the ‘right’ path. The validation that my innate feelings and longings towards a simple life can be true and powerful. Or maybe it’s because it’s cemented the realisation that a slow and minimal lifestyle looks different for everyone. I’m not sure. But I love, love, loved this book. Having said that, it won’t be for everyone. Not yet anyway. some will still be up against the ‘life is too busy’ or ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘life is too full’ or ‘I’m in too deep to change’ mindset. And that’s okay. But if you are curious, even slightly, you must read this book. And re-read this book. And begin your own journey, no matter what it looks like – big or small – just begin.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Camille Maio

    Having made some radical changes in order to live a slow life, I've already done many of the things suggested by the author. But sometimes doubt creeps in and it's great to read accounts of others' choices and get a fresh perspective. I love her writing style, her honestly, and the very approachable things she suggests. And the cover - how gorgeous! This is one you'll want to read and then keep on your shelves forever. Having made some radical changes in order to live a slow life, I've already done many of the things suggested by the author. But sometimes doubt creeps in and it's great to read accounts of others' choices and get a fresh perspective. I love her writing style, her honestly, and the very approachable things she suggests. And the cover - how gorgeous! This is one you'll want to read and then keep on your shelves forever.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alysha Decker

    3.5* I’m a big fan of Brooke McAlary and her Slow Home podcast. I wholeheartedly agree with everything she says in this book. However, I didn’t get a lot from it beyond the basics of what I could glean from the podcast. It’s beautiful written and I love the attention she paid to writing about the small details in life. This would be a fabulous book for someone who was new to intentional living, minimalism, etc. but I didn’t really get much “new” content from this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I appreciate how McAlary emphasizes that slow living isn't about minimalism and that much of what we see about minimalism is exactly the problem: it's keeping up with a perception of what we think we should be. Nothing groundbreaking here, but still a nice book to remind you about unplugging, about the power of breathing, and about finding what matters to you and focusing on those things while ignoring the rest. I'd put this on a shelf with BRAIDING SWEETGRASS and THE YEAR OF LESS, both of which I appreciate how McAlary emphasizes that slow living isn't about minimalism and that much of what we see about minimalism is exactly the problem: it's keeping up with a perception of what we think we should be. Nothing groundbreaking here, but still a nice book to remind you about unplugging, about the power of breathing, and about finding what matters to you and focusing on those things while ignoring the rest. I'd put this on a shelf with BRAIDING SWEETGRASS and THE YEAR OF LESS, both of which have done some mentality-shifting for me. Not so much about stuff but about time and energy. I did enjoy that there were no prescriptions or "here's how I did it" lessons here. It's about doing the work on your own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Otchen Makai

    Oh man, so much great information, tips, tricks, ideas, and an over all empowerment of love in this book. Great writer, and I plan to read this over and over again til it totally absorbs into my soul and I have it memorized. I'm going to listen to the audio of this while going through my next "things purge" to keep me inspired and motivated. If you find yourself way too absorbed in the culture of buying the latest and greatest ask the time, collecting things, and just overall accumulating stuff Oh man, so much great information, tips, tricks, ideas, and an over all empowerment of love in this book. Great writer, and I plan to read this over and over again til it totally absorbs into my soul and I have it memorized. I'm going to listen to the audio of this while going through my next "things purge" to keep me inspired and motivated. If you find yourself way too absorbed in the culture of buying the latest and greatest ask the time, collecting things, and just overall accumulating stuff you just don't use, this book needs to be in your hands until you have read it front to back and let it soak in . Recommended for everyone.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Emily

    This was my book club's pick for January 2019. Now, I have never really read self-help books. I skimmed a lot of it, and honestly I didn't even finish the last chapter, which is why I am not rating this one. I don't feel like I could accurately rank it since it's not a genre I have ever read (or plan on reading much again) and I didn't read it all. I do think there were some nice points, but there is nothing groundbreaking or new as far as ideas, and I even disagreed with a couple things. The boo This was my book club's pick for January 2019. Now, I have never really read self-help books. I skimmed a lot of it, and honestly I didn't even finish the last chapter, which is why I am not rating this one. I don't feel like I could accurately rank it since it's not a genre I have ever read (or plan on reading much again) and I didn't read it all. I do think there were some nice points, but there is nothing groundbreaking or new as far as ideas, and I even disagreed with a couple things. The book itself is lovely as far as the cover, the images, the little drawings and cursive-like script

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This was a good book on slowing down, embracing simpler living, etc. The author is a young woman from Australia, married, with 2 children. She started her journey to a slower life following postpartum depression after the birth of her second child. She discusses decluttering, mindfulness, letting go of perfection, reducing media consumption, figuring out what is most important, living intentionally, avoiding comparison with others, etc. She freely admits her flaws and mistakes and that it has ta This was a good book on slowing down, embracing simpler living, etc. The author is a young woman from Australia, married, with 2 children. She started her journey to a slower life following postpartum depression after the birth of her second child. She discusses decluttering, mindfulness, letting go of perfection, reducing media consumption, figuring out what is most important, living intentionally, avoiding comparison with others, etc. She freely admits her flaws and mistakes and that it has taken her a while to get to the point where she is at now, and that is one of the strengths of the book, I think, because she doesn't appear to have all the answers and does a good job of describing the process of re-evaluation and making slow changes. I liked her section on trying to achieve "wobbly balance."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ginny Beck

    Nothing totally mind blowing, but a good set of reminders and a way to recalibrate. A good companion to “the frugal hedonist” which I read this time last year My favorite section was about focusing on long term balance versus daily balance Also: “striving for constant happiness is a denial of so many important feelings” “Being kind to others is addictive. Being kind to myself is addictive.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Crowley

    The first third of this book was great - thoughtfully introducing ideas and raising concerns. The second two thirds of the book was very long winded - summarizing and condensing ideas would have been more effective.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book came into my life at the perfect time. I had put it on hold based on the title and when it came in it was so beautiful that I just wanted to start reading it right away. Brooke McAlary was living the typical "keeping up with the Joneses" life of accumulating all the stuff society told her she needed, but she was overwhelmed and barely keeping her head above water. After her second child was born she had severe postpartum depression and that was when she decided to change her life. It w This book came into my life at the perfect time. I had put it on hold based on the title and when it came in it was so beautiful that I just wanted to start reading it right away. Brooke McAlary was living the typical "keeping up with the Joneses" life of accumulating all the stuff society told her she needed, but she was overwhelmed and barely keeping her head above water. After her second child was born she had severe postpartum depression and that was when she decided to change her life. It was a slow process, but little by little McAlary de-cluttered her house and life. She began to see that saying "yes" to everything often meant saying "no" to the truly important things like her family and health. She covers decluttering and de-owning, mindfulness and disconnecting from technology to reconnect with nature and real life. She also talks about the wobbly art of balance and how to deal with "backsliding" into our old ways. I loved that she wasn't pushing minimalism or a certain way to slow down - she reiterates that this process is all about whatever works for you and what is important to you. I also like that even though she has children the whole book wasn't about her kids it was more about whatever your family looks like or whatever your priorities are how best to enjoy that more. She also recognizes the importance of technology in our lives, but encourages serious boundaries - both with the amount of time we use technology and what we feed ourselves with social media. This is probably the most well done book about simplifying or slowing down that I've read. McAlary gives lots of great tips and ideas, but doesn't try to create a new "slow Joneses" to now idealize. Overall a wonderful book that I will probably end up buying because it's just so beautiful and inspiring! Some quotes I really liked: "Instead, think of decluttering as one step in the process of creating a slower, simpler life, not the goal. It's more about approaching our home - and the things we choose to keep in it - with intention. It's about choosing actively what things to hold on to, what things to let go of, and what things are meaningful to us. There is no right or wrong, but we do have a choice." (p. 43-44) "Clutter is deferred decisions. It's the physical manifestation of procrastination. It's overcommitment in the form of stuff." (p. 44) "As my raw, real, feeling self was revealed, two things began to happen. I began to experience more. More joy, yes, but also more realization, more discomfort, more pain, more bittersweetness. More awareness of the beauty and tragedy of life. For the first time in many years (maybe ever), I was becoming emotionally available, and it was stunningly uncomfortable." (p. 117) "There is constant stimulus in modern life, and the opportunity to let thoughts out rather than cramming more in is a rare one. By walking in silence, with no music, no podcasts, no audiobooks, we invite our thoughts to do their thing without impediment. So often, I will have a breakthrough in these moments of silence, as my thoughts, which need time to roll around in silence and put themselves in some kind of order, gradually work themselves out." (p. 132) "We do a lot to avoid feelings like anxiety, sadness, or anger. We stay busy, we self-medicate, we say yes, we say no - all so as not to experience the 'bad' feelings life has for us. But these feelings are important, because in order to feel the highs of joy and happiness, we also need to understand the lows of grief, envy, or disappointment. Mindfulness allows us to acknowledge and accept such feelings, feel them in all their depth, and understand that they are valid and important. It also helps us to understand that they are not everything - even on days that feel like sadness has swallowed the whole world." (p. 141-2) "The technology isn't the problem; it's how we choose to use it. And it is a choice. We choose to keep our phones in our pockets. We choose to put them on the dinner table. We choose to respond to emails at 11:30 p.m. We choose to update statuses when we're sick, or in bed, or on vacation, or while someone who loves us waits for us to look at them. We choose to document an endless succession of precious, personal moments, and we choose to view so much of our life through a screen." (p. 154) "Now I can see that the idea of balance is a good one, when viewed with two caveats: 1. Not everything in our lives deserves the same weight. Aim instead for the correct weight. 2. Balance isn't a daily act. Not everything will be given attention every day, and that's OK. The difference is the weight we give things. Keeping the house immaculately clean doesn't need or deserve the same weight as spending time with our closest people." (p. 216) "What does a (realistically) ideal day look like for you? One that fills you up, ticks the boxes you want ticked, makes time for the important things in your life, leaving you satisfied as you lie in bed at night? Not a holiday or day off, but a work-school-cooking-meetings-laundry kind of a day...Think it through, and write it down if you want to. Choose one thing in that ideal day that you aren't currently doing - make it a good one, one that will contribute to your core - and add it to tomorrow." (p. 236-7) "So often, we avoid doing things because we're afraid. Afraid to fail, fall flat on our faces, or admit we made a mistake. Afraid to backtrack, afraid to be judged. We don't make changes, because we're afraid the requirements will exceed our capabilities or the problems will be bigger and more complex than we anticipated. So we stay where we are. Comfortably stuck. Studiously avoiding change or new experiences, out of fear of what the other side holds." (p. 241) "Behavioral consultant Nicholas Bate refers to this regular checking in as 'taking your MEDS,' or, more specifically, paying attention to: mindfulness, exercise, diet, sleep Once I recognize which of these areas has changed, it's simpler (again, not necessarily easier) to recognize the issue and start fixing it." (p. 245)

  15. 5 out of 5

    S.

    After reading a few books about minimalism, slow living was brought up a few times in those books before I decided to pick one that was dedicated to it. Living slow, is living with intention. Deceitfully easy and simple, it requires more presence. Taking time to know the core of your why, and avoid the nuisance and unnecessary turmoil in your life. This book will help you understand the nuance between the two lifestyles based on the author's experience. You can read this one at your pace, which i After reading a few books about minimalism, slow living was brought up a few times in those books before I decided to pick one that was dedicated to it. Living slow, is living with intention. Deceitfully easy and simple, it requires more presence. Taking time to know the core of your why, and avoid the nuisance and unnecessary turmoil in your life. This book will help you understand the nuance between the two lifestyles based on the author's experience. You can read this one at your pace, which is a thing I did - opening it every now and then to read a few pages - you'd still get the full experience. Anyway, slow living is about keeping what is important to you not what others are doing, or what your "status" require but is rubbish really ... It boils down to focusing on the most important things to you, to get out of the rat race if it's not serving you and isn't part of your plan. It's really a break and moment off to reconsider your life choices and see if they're still aligned with your values and your vision. It was acute read...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    I have benefited from Brooke McAlary’s words for a long time—starting with her blog a few years ago and then her podcast—so I have been eagerly anticipating SLOW. It was wonderful—touching, honest, illuminating, and funny. Brooke’s advice on how to live a slow life comes from her personal experience in needing to dial life back a bit so that she could be a well and present mom to her children. As a mother myself, I connect well with her journey from trying to be everything to everyone and totall I have benefited from Brooke McAlary’s words for a long time—starting with her blog a few years ago and then her podcast—so I have been eagerly anticipating SLOW. It was wonderful—touching, honest, illuminating, and funny. Brooke’s advice on how to live a slow life comes from her personal experience in needing to dial life back a bit so that she could be a well and present mom to her children. As a mother myself, I connect well with her journey from trying to be everything to everyone and totally burning out to focusing on what is most important. In fact, I have never read a more honest account of the daily challenges of motherhood. For Brooke, slow living doesn’t have a particular format. Slow living follows a personal format based on your own Whys of living and on the things that are most important to you. This books lays out the process for discovering that truest life for yourself and offers plenty of encouragement to be kind to yourself, as this will be an imperfect journey. I love this quote from the end of the book and feel that it sums up the lessons of SLOW very nicely: “You are allowed to make changes to the way you are living. You’re allowed to look after yourself. You’re allowed to decide what is important to you. And you’re allowed to create a life with those things at the center.” I

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ita

    I loved this book, very easy to read and put into practice. I already do most of the things to live life simply and slow but I needed Brooke's reminder to get rid of the things I no longer need or love. I also waste too much time on social media. So now I will do my year to clear and spend more time connecting face to face wherever possible. I loved this book, very easy to read and put into practice. I already do most of the things to live life simply and slow but I needed Brooke's reminder to get rid of the things I no longer need or love. I also waste too much time on social media. So now I will do my year to clear and spend more time connecting face to face wherever possible.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    This is a great book if you struggle to understand what’s really important to you and if you’re feeling overwhelmed in life and like your constantly busy. Lots of advice and examples to help you. Loved it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    4.5 stars. Review coming to my blog soon; alwaysandforevereading.wordpres.com

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peta Campbell

    This is an excellent guide for figuring out what's important to you and living a fulfilling life. This is an excellent guide for figuring out what's important to you and living a fulfilling life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alysia

    This is my book of the year....or maybe my life! I know I need to go back and re-read it, to make notes, to ponder, to question, to find my WHY. A beautiful book that is a must read for all who want to live slow, mindful, intentional lives....and to also realise that what that looks like is different for us all.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melody Warnick

    Halfway through I realized I had no intention of taking her (solid) advice, it's just soothing to learn about someone who's gotten her life together. Halfway through I realized I had no intention of taking her (solid) advice, it's just soothing to learn about someone who's gotten her life together.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    If you are going to read one book about simplicity/slow living/minimalism, this is the one. It's interesting and well-written. It's certainly not rocket science and most of the information wasn't new to me, but McAlary has a relatable voice and thoughtful approach to these issues. If you are going to read one book about simplicity/slow living/minimalism, this is the one. It's interesting and well-written. It's certainly not rocket science and most of the information wasn't new to me, but McAlary has a relatable voice and thoughtful approach to these issues.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Straka

    If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. It was amazing. I recently purged almost half the books I own, but I am going to buy a copy of this. It’s definitely one I’m going to want to reread over and over again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    If you previously spent your life reading fashion magazines and now want a simpler life this might be the book for you. It was definitely not the book for me. Nothing new here.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Nothing new here.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Shawver

    At the beginning of each year, I try to pick a word to focus on and embody. I chose "content" for 2020, much before life changed thanks to COVID-19. However, I don't find it a coincidence that this was the word I selected—the entire world has been living out the "Great Pause" and we're finding ourselves in situations we probably never expected. Being content where we are—much, much easier said than done—is a lesson I have to be reminded of time and again. And, it's probably the reason I've been At the beginning of each year, I try to pick a word to focus on and embody. I chose "content" for 2020, much before life changed thanks to COVID-19. However, I don't find it a coincidence that this was the word I selected—the entire world has been living out the "Great Pause" and we're finding ourselves in situations we probably never expected. Being content where we are—much, much easier said than done—is a lesson I have to be reminded of time and again. And, it's probably the reason I've been drawn to so many books about slowing down, saying no and relishing in what I have already been blessed with this year. Slow, by Brooke McAlary, was no different. Brooke begins by telling us that she lived a fast-paced life as a mother, wife and mother ... but was forced to suddenly slow down due to post-partum depression. Having struggled with a bout of it myself after the birth of our son, I know that sometimes simply making it through the day is victory in and of itself. It's the ultimate slowness. Brooke uses her book to exhort ways of doing just that: slowing down and being content. Whether it was limiting her time on social media, pre-planning the day ahead so she could have more time the next day, or simply stopping bluntly in her tracks to be present for her children was such an uplift to read about. I was encouraged by her words specifically around choosing a life for you—and not what others may either expect or want for you. While others may be taking lavish vacations or upgrading left and right, it's OK to draw a line in the sand and say, "Nope, I'm good ... not for me ... I'm fine with my book and tea thank you very much." It isn't wrong to want those things; but when others make you feel bad about not wanting those things, it is. She explained how friends and family thought she and her husband were crazy when they threw out thousands of items from their home, solely for the purpose of clearing the chaos/clutter and getting back to the basics of life: simple living, focusing on family and slow days. But Brooke said it was the best thing they ever did. Additionally, not only did Slow remind me that life on social media isn't real life, but that it has stolen a lot of our life in general. And, I have to catch myself from falling into the trap. Standing in line at the store? Whip out the phone to scroll. Commercial break during a TV show? Whip out the phone to scroll. Any potential down-time moment with nothing to do? Yep, whip out the phone to scroll. What does it get us? Not much. I loved her advice about putting the phone away during specific periods of the day (for example, from 4pm until your child goes to sleep) and to not look at it right before bed or first thing in the morning. Her tips weren't earth-shattering, but for some reason, they hit home. We sing a song in our church that says, "This world's in such a frantic race, I can't keep up this maddening pace ..." and I feel that way a lot. The to-do list is ever-growing and sometimes I don't even know where to begin. But then I think back to my word of the year: content. Being content right where I am and knowing it will all get done (or maybe it won't! and that's OK!) and that life wasn't intended to rush through. There's a reason we need to take deep breaths, get fresh air and and slow down. It's a reset, a recharge. And, that's what Slow did for me. It was a positive reminder that you can control so much of the pace of your life ... simply by saying no (to material things, to plans, etc.) and that the parts you can't control, you still can in a way: by choosing to be content and slowly move through that season of life. A lovely read during a challenging year. #slowdown

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

    This is a meandering collection of advice and insights, drawn from a particular life and therefore focused on the author's particular challenges. I didn't find all of them to be relevant to my life, but some were quite useful and thought-provoking. My favorite bit was the advice to "start with why". In this setting, it's about why you want to make a change (and this is something you can return to when your motivation flags). But it seems generally useful to have a "why" for every (big) thing you This is a meandering collection of advice and insights, drawn from a particular life and therefore focused on the author's particular challenges. I didn't find all of them to be relevant to my life, but some were quite useful and thought-provoking. My favorite bit was the advice to "start with why". In this setting, it's about why you want to make a change (and this is something you can return to when your motivation flags). But it seems generally useful to have a "why" for every (big) thing you tackle. Taking a class? Start with why. Embarking on a project? Start with why. I'd like to adopt this in other areas of my life, too. I also liked the discussion of mindfulness and the reminder to stop and admire the beautiful fall leaves, the scent of hot tea, all of those little pleasurable moments that we encounter but are gone if we don't notice them. Finally, I liked the idea of identifying your "core" - your source of strength and balance, not just in the physical sense, but also in the emotional and mental sense. Brooke encourages us to visualize what an ideal day looks like and to enumerate its properties - when do you get up? What's the first thing you do? What rituals do you follow? Whom do you interact with throughout the day? What activities do you do? And then incorporate one or more of them in every day to keep yourself strong and centered. Good advice! I would have given the book more stars, but I found it to be pretty light on content and repetitive :) Still, three good ideas from one book is a good return!

  29. 5 out of 5

    DonutKnow

    I like how intelligently simplified this book is. McAlary doesn't claim to know the answers, and she doesn't force this idea of 'slow living' onto the reader, which I really appreciated. She gave me the opportunity to decide for myself, and ask myself what 'slow living' can mean for me- not what it should look like. I got a bit confused, and at times frustrated, with the overused metaphors that stretched them a bit too far but it still got the message across- albeit at times long winded. I would I like how intelligently simplified this book is. McAlary doesn't claim to know the answers, and she doesn't force this idea of 'slow living' onto the reader, which I really appreciated. She gave me the opportunity to decide for myself, and ask myself what 'slow living' can mean for me- not what it should look like. I got a bit confused, and at times frustrated, with the overused metaphors that stretched them a bit too far but it still got the message across- albeit at times long winded. I would really like to thank the author for writing this book because it opened my eyes to the simple truths in life and the fact that although life will be complicated, I can decide whether to exacerbate the situation or find some good in it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kellie Hoffman

    Brooke & I could be besties! She articulates all of the things that have been running through my head these past couple of years. She totally makes sense, especially the chapter on wobbly balance; I could completely relate. I feel excited & empowered to put some of her suggestions into practice in my daily life & see what eventuates. Ironically, despite borrowing this from the local library & reading the section on decluttering, I totally wish I owned this book! It’s one I could easily dip in & Brooke & I could be besties! She articulates all of the things that have been running through my head these past couple of years. She totally makes sense, especially the chapter on wobbly balance; I could completely relate. I feel excited & empowered to put some of her suggestions into practice in my daily life & see what eventuates. Ironically, despite borrowing this from the local library & reading the section on decluttering, I totally wish I owned this book! It’s one I could easily dip in & out of many times; it’s easy to read, real & not in the least condescending. I know I have already benefitted from time spent reading this & are so grateful to have found it on the library shelves.

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