1. Your book, Chasing Slow, is about your journey toward a slower, simpler, more conscious way of living. How did this journey change the way you parent?
Slow living has a way of trickling into every possible surface of your life, and that was certainly the case with parenting. The biggest shift was in our decision to homeschool—to opt out of the hamster wheel of modern education.
Our days were transformed: slow, quiet mornings at home with banana pancakes on the stove. Chinese lessons twice a week. Afternoon playdates, or “field trips” to the grocery, library, botanical gardens, post office. My husband teaching math at the countertop, along with a smattering of all else: why an amplifier works, the science of magnets, how to hammer a 2×4. In between, we find our daughter reading on the living room floor, building obstacle courses in the sunroom, scrawling ‘Save the Tigers’ posters to hang throughout the neighborhood. There’s frog hunting and Hamilton choreography and sock folding, sometimes all in the same stretch of minutes.
It’s a lovely song indeed, offbeat and our own. Slow living has offered us much togetherness, and while it’s not easy, it is indeed simple.
2. You talk in your book about stripping away the excess, which can be hard in a world so focused on always acquiring more. What was your first step in simplifying and paring down? What advice do you have for others looking to do the same?
After the 2008 financial crisis, my husband and I fought hard to carve out a life with little-to-no overhead. We budgeted only for needs, not wants. We spent weekends and evenings building separate freelance portfolios, quitting our weekday 9-to-5s once we’d created sustainable demand for our work. We ate peanut butter sandwiches for dinner and called it lovely. We moved to an area where purchasing a home in cash was possible, even probable, where we could live a flexible life that wasn’t dictated or constrained by finances. I quit shopping for sport. We gave generously. We simplified in every area possible, and yes, there was a trade-off (there is always a trade-off). It was ever worth it.
My advice is to simply take one step: start small. Experiment. Ask yourself what area of your life brings the most stress, currently? Get specific. What stumbling blocks are ahead? Move them, or move around them. My girlfriend dreads picking up the dry cleaning, so she now keeps a strict No Dry Clean Only clothing policy in her home. Another friend despises her inbox, so she rewards herself with a Skittle for every email answered. Infuse tiny joys into your day in whatever way you can. You have far more power over this than you think.
3. Several times in your book you made bold choices to live in a simpler, more present way and then slowly (no pun intended) found yourself back in the daily grind of old habits (some fueled by genuine inspiration). I myself struggle with this and am curious how you manage to keep yourself in check and on a path that is congruent with your deepest desires?
Self-forgiveness (and others-forgiveness) is a pretty integral practice over here. Chances are, if you are reading this, you’re noticing a bit of a chasm between the life you lead and the life you want to lead, and here’s a secret: we all have this chasm! We all have this gap. We are each conditioned to want something different than what we have been given.
The trick, then, is to notice the chasm. Live with the tension. Cozy up in the space between; get comfortable with the discomfort. Once you’ve noticed the chasm, you’re well on your way to the good work: figuring out what it means to live a life that’s ripe with limitations and riddled with lessons, but resounding in love.
Here’s the truth: so many of us need to live a fast life to understand why we need to live a slower one. We need to chase the wrong things to learn the hard lessons the hard way. The failing nearly always comes before the learning, and sometimes, yes, even after the learning. It is an impossible step to skip. We have to allow it. To learn from it, and re-learn from it again and again.
This is life, in all its glory. I refuse to wish it away hoping for days void of failure.
4. As a bestselling author and renowned writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and designer, how do you practice digital minimalism without losing touch?
I actually have my mother-in-law to thank for my approach to digital minimalism. Whenever she calls with a topic that requires more than a quick response, she always, always asks the following question: Is this a good time?
It’s a question of kindness, a clear sign of respect for someone’s time, and it’s a courtesy I’ve learned to offer myself.
Before I check Instagram, is this a good time?
Before I sit down to work, is this a good time?
Before I fire off an email, is this a good time?
Am I in a proper state of mind to receive good news, or bad news, or something in between? Is this a good time for me to exercise self control, to weed out the sales and offers and enticements landing in my inbox? Is this a good time for me to respond to a seemingly aggressive comment with grace and curiosity? Is this a good time for me to react to what is required of me in a way that reflects character and judgment?
This single question has never steered me wrong.
6. You’ve founded an international homeschool co-op called Other Goose. Can you explain how it works and what led you to start it?
Yes, of course! Other Goose was born, quite simply, out of my own need. After traveling the world and searching for an all-inclusive classroom that valued play, freedom, and structure, I discovered the solution in my own (literal) backyard: homeschooling.
But when the time came to choose a homeschooling plan for my kids under 7, the search wasn’t so simple. Where was the methodology that valued all philosophies of learning? Where was the boxed curriculum that didn’t box out the parent? Where was the simple strategy that held space for open-ended discovery?
Other Goose was formed from these questions. Together with a team of thought-leaders, childhood development experts, research scholars, and environmentalists, Other Goose is proud to welcome all little learners and their families.
Members receive prep-free lessons customized for their unique kids ages 2-7, daily progress logs, custom tools to uncover their kids' individual passions, built-in support and mentorship, integrated notebooks to journal milestones, plus perks, discounts, and exclusive sales from our marketplace partners. It’s quite a robust plan, actually! It’s everything I ever wanted in a homeschooling experience.