Book Therapy – Care: The Radical Art Of Taking Time

One of my all-time favourite people to recommend is Brooke McAlary

Brooke and her husband Ben, are the hosts of the Slow Home podcast, which is delightful to listen to and is very grounded in supportive tips for living a slower, more intentional life. 

Brooke cares so deeply about everyone and the world around her, and her slow home movement has helped lots of people create a life that they want, and change our impact as humans on climate change. There are no hard or strict rules with what Brooke recommends – she is always encouraging you to do whatever you can, no matter how little or insignificant you may think it is.

And that’s where her new book, Care: The Radical Art Of Taking Time, helps us work out what to do when the world’s problems feel too big and we are burnt out from trying, and we need to restore ourselves so that we can continue to care for things.

[Image Description: Care: The Radical Art Of Taking Time by Brooke McAlary. White with red tree ring circles book cover placed on a tree stump, with wattle, eucalyptus leaves and sticks surrounding it.]

This book starts by talking about different types of the care spectrum – self care, Small care and Big care. Self care, which can become self-indulgent, and that started as a prescribed complementary therapy, is now a movement driven by an elitist, profit driven, and social media fuelled industry. Big care is when we are consumed by the immensity of the global issues of climate change, poverty and inequality, that we become overwhelmed and feel that we can’t do enough to make an impact. Small care is the middle space of the spectrum, which is the main focus of the book, is about taking intentional actions that restore your energy while also having a flow on effect to the people and environment around you. The impact of Small care on yourself means that you are able to care more for everything around you. 

This is the care that we are missing out on because our environments are changing, our communities are more individualised, our communication is more digital, and are not supportive of the way that our human bodies and minds were built to live each day. Small care is all the things we need but aren’t getting because we invest in the superficial ‘self care’ that we hope will make us feel better but leaves us empty. 

Which means what we really need are more specific actions of Small care that come from deep inside us when we slow down and from looking at the bigger picture when we look outside of ourselves. 

“This book, at its heart, is about the hundreds of acts of Small Care that are available to everyone of us, every day, regardless of our circumstances, geography, income, physical or mental health, abilities or disabilities. It’s about the many faces of care and why some of its most transformative effects come when we simply take a little time. When we connect, are kind, find awe in the world, spend time in nature, rediscover play, create, heal and even do nothing at all, we are caring.”

Care: The Radical Art Of Taking Time by Brooke McAlary

Care is split into nine sections; connection, kindness, awe, nature, making, movement, play, rest and healing. Now, you may be thinking that you already do these things, however the important message of the topics presented in the book is how you engage with them and the way to get the best result from the actions with whatever time you have available. Every topic is full of information, experiences and scientific data about how it affects us, how beneficial it can be to our health and quality of life, and of course, the flow on effect it can have to the people and world around us if we engage in the practice regularly. 

At the end of each chapter, Brooke has included a brilliant list of suggestions to take action for each topic depending on how much time you have e.g. if you have half a minute, if you have half an hour, and if you have half a day. This is a vital part of the book as it gets you thinking about how possible it is to implement the suggestions and that even the smallest amount of time can be beneficial. 

[Image Description: book open to a poem with leaves creating shadows on the page.]

One of the best things about reading this book was that because I had listened to Brooke on the podcast for so long, it meant that when I was reading, it was her voice that I could hear, the grounded and reassuring tone and care in her voice. I found reading the book was a very relaxing experience (a rare thing for ‘self-help’ books); I didn’t feel that I was criticised for doing the wrong things or pressure for not doing enough. Brooke’s approach in this book starts from a place where she knows you are burnt out and need someone to pick you up and guide you through effective and efficient ways to restore your energy.

Brooke’s suggestions are so gentle that you feel encouraged to try and experiment. If there is anything that I have learned from Brooke over the last five years or so, it is to experiment, without expectations or judgment and see what happens. Experimentation has been a game changer for me! 

Care is a beautifully designed book (and carbon positive!) including Brooke’s own poetry at the start of each chapter and gorgeous illustrations by Katey Hawley. The hardcover book has thick pages and feels substantial to hold, and it has the same effect on you – that this is important and holds weight.   

To find out more about Brooke, and her work on the Slow Home podcast and her writing, check out her website here. I highly recommend if you enjoy this book that you check out Brooke’s previous book, Slow, as well. It is one of my favourites!

To Brooke, thank you for being my lighthouse. 

Take care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on. 

[Image Description: book open to an illustration of a person sitting on a bench in a park. Text under picture says ‘connect to the rhythm and feel of nature’.]

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