HOW I MAKE IT WORK

IT TOOK BE­ING DI­AG­NOSED WITH SE­VERE POST­NA­TAL DE­PRES­SION FOR THIS BUSY MUM AND AU­THOR TO TAKE STOCK OF WHAT TRULY MAT­TERED AND START A JOURNEY TO LIV­ING A SLOWER, MORE FUL­FILLED LIFE

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - as told to Adri­enne Tam Slow by Brooke Mcalary (Allen & Un­win, $32.99) is out on Au­gust 23.

Au­thor Brooke Mcalary talks life in the slow lane.

Afew years ago, I was def­i­nitely not liv­ing any­thing re­sem­bling a slow life. I was preg­nant with our sec­ond child, my hus­band was work­ing long hours, we were ren­o­vat­ing, and I was run­ning a jew­ellery busi­ness. Life was hec­tic and un­en­joy­able.

Af­ter our son was born I was di­ag­nosed with se­vere post­na­tal de­pres­sion. I be­gan see­ing a psy­chi­a­trist, who asked me if I had ever con­sid­ered slow­ing down or sim­pli­fy­ing. At first I was re­ally of­fended – I thought she meant I was un­able to cope with a busy, mod­ern life. But the idea stuck in my head, and I dis­cov­ered this whole move­ment of min­i­mal­ism, mind­ful­ness and slow liv­ing.

My life­style now is all about pay­ing at­ten­tion; it’s about un­der­stand­ing what is im­por­tant. I say to peo­ple who want to live a slow life that they must first fig­ure out why they want to do it, what they stand to gain and what they want their lives to look like. Once you know that, it’s much sim­pler to make those changes.

My fam­ily has em­braced slow liv­ing. My hus­band is now self-em­ployed, which has al­lowed us more time to­gether as a fam­ily. I don’t talk to the kids about the fact we live this way – it is just some­thing they’ve grown up with.

De­clut­ter­ing the house was one of the first things I did, and it has been lib­er­at­ing. There’s gen­uinely not a sin­gle thing we’ve got­ten rid of that we miss. The kids are in charge of clear­ing out their toys. Ev­ery school hol­i­days they get rid of any­thing they don’t play with or use, and they are (usu­ally) happy to give it to some­one else.

It was only af­ter I started to de­clut­ter that I re­alised all this ex­cess – the busy­ness, the debt – made me feel heavy and anx­ious. I felt phys­i­cally lighter as we let go of thou­sands of items. Our dou­ble garage, once filled with boxes of stuff we never used, was empty. So we knocked it down. Now there’s a vegie gar­den there that our chil­dren play in.

Of course, let­ting go is much eas­ier when you are able to af­ford it. We live in a fast-paced, ex­pen­sive so­ci­ety where there are many bills to pay. But ev­ery­one is able to find tiny pock­ets of time to do some­thing as sim­ple as tak­ing 10 deep breaths. It may sound in­signif­i­cant, but it has a big im­pact on how we move through our day. And it doesn’t cost any­thing at all.

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