Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary

I’ve been drawn to slow living in various forms over the years. I first became aware of “slow living” when I was in my early 20s and obsessed with minimalist fashion and design – namely through the ideas of capsule wardrobes, thrifting, DIY, and sparse neutral decor. As I started business school, the concepts of slow living returned in books I read about setting intentional goals, creating meaningful habits, and leadership in today’s noisy digital world. I spent a period of time post-college reading about relationships, mindfulness, and gratitude. In recent years, I’ve been interested in seasonal living, the slow food movement, and urban homesteading. All this to say, slow living is definitely something I aspire to. But lately, I have a creeping sense of self-doubt. I often feel whatever hobby, habit switch, or self-practice I’ve adopted is inauthentic, just a side effect of whatever is trending. Likely because my go-to inspiration and resources are blogs and Instagram, and sadly these places have morphed into lean marketing machines thanks to paid advertisements and sponsored content. I see more and more click-bait headlines in the women’s lifestyle articles and newsletters I read, all ending with product placement listicles disguised as “helpful tips.”

Last week I was (mindlessly) scrolling the available audiobooks via my library’s Libby app. I’d been struggling to find the motivation to read fiction and felt overwhelmed by the constant Covid-19 barrage in the media. How about a non-fiction audiobook?, I thought. I stopped scrolling when I saw SLOW: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary was available. The audiobook is about 6 hours long and the description sounded like a typical light-hearted self-help read, so I downloaded it and started listening one night while cooking dinner. I ended up pausing the audiobook to grab a notebook. I couldn’t help but write down McAlary’s words and try out her prompts.

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