10 things I’ve learned from Brooke and Alexx


Next month I’m running this event with two of my online besties Alexx Stuart and Brooke McAlary. How did I meet these guys?

Well, Alexx was introduced to me by a mutual friend and I like to say ‘I knew her before’. That is before she started creating her real food recipes – turning favourite treats that were stacked with flour and sugar into more nourishing propositions. Before she started to garner a following for her invitational, realistic approach to reducing our exposure to the toxins that are now an integral part of modern life. Before she grew her Facebook community completely organically from 0 to 50,000 in a tick over four years. These days Alexx is one of Australia’s leading voices for living a healthier life that also looks after our planet and I’m in awe of her having watched the journey she’s made over the last 4-5 years.

What about Brooke?

Given I can’t pinpoint an exact time or place where she became known to me, I am going to assume I got to know her via osmosis – that general awareness you have of the people who are writing in the same space as you. Brooke started documenting her journey from stressed out business owner to an intentional person living a simpler life (sound familiar?!) at Slow Your Home. Out of that came The Slow Home Podcast which was named in iTunes top ten new podcasts for 2015 last year. Brooke actually interviewed me on that podcast and I think the reason we now have the Let it Be podcast today is because we both enjoyed that conversation so much!

What do Brooke and Alexx have in common (besides me?!)?

They have very pragmatic, non-dogmatic way of sharing their message. They help people make change by simply inviting them to give things a go. And constantly reminding them that there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ when it comes to leading a simpler, healthier life.

Both girls have also significantly impacted my life over the years. Thanks to them, I have made many small yet highly positive changes/adjustments and I always get a little smile on my face when I do a certain thing that reminds of them. So, without further ado, here are the mindsets or things I learned from both girls, or now do thanks to them. Things that make life a tiny bit better every day.

Brooke …

Is big on feeling your feelings

This one has come up in our podcast a lot. My usual method with feelings (both good and bad) is to suppress them. Good feelings because joy scares the shit out of me, bad feelings because … they’re bad. This year Brooke has managed to insert the phrase ‘feel the feelings’ into my brain and whenever I catch myself in ‘suppression-mode’, I recite it like a mantra. And it’s been interesting seeing how allows myself to ‘feel the feelings’ gives me access to greater joy, and has shown me that I can deal pretty bloody well with any bad stuff that occurs.

She feels minimalism isn’t about having less stuff, it’s about being intentional about what stuff you have

I often see people trying to adopt a minimalist lifestyle and find themselves struggling with all the ‘rules’. So I love that Brooke is always at pains to point out that there are no rules! Contrary to popular belief minimalism isn’t about having only 10 pieces of clothing and no material possessions. It’s much more about simply being intentional about what you choose to keep/bring into your house. That’s it. No more, no less.

Believes that you have to go fast to go slow

This is sort of related to the concept of whitespace for me – but I like how Brooke describes it as ‘front-loading’. She points out that slow living is not about setting up your life so you can meander through each and every day. Slow living, like minimalism, is about intention. So intentionally choosing to work 12 hour days in the lead up to a holiday, in order to leave your laptop at home on that holiday? That’s going fast to go slow. That thing I do where I’m completely head down bum during my 5-6 hour work day, but am able to move slowly in the morning before school pick up and in the evening when the kids are home? That’s going fast to go slow.

Also believes the world owes you nothing

I mentioned in last week’s post that I used to have quite the entitled mindset. I felt that if I worked hard and was a good person, then I deserved to have a good life. And if bad stuff happened, that was really unfair. When Brooke wrote this post in 2014 (it’s the closest I’ve seen her to ranty), it was almost precisely at the point in time where I realised the world owed me nothing! Good stuff happens to good and ‘bad’ people. Bad stuff happens to good and ‘bad’ people. There’s no karmic register where nice things are dished out only to those who ‘deserve’ them! I cannot tell you how FREEING it was to come to that conclusion and how much angst it removed from my life.

Washing my face with honey

I have no idea if Brooke even does this anymore but I heard her mention on a podcast one day that she washed her face with honey (instead of using a commercial cleanser) and that it left her face clean and surprisingly soft. Ever since I heard that from her, I’ve used honey as my facial cleanser of choice. I wish I could also adopt her thing of never using shampoo but I simply don’t have enough hair to make that work!

Alexx …

Says ‘Just eat real food’

I distinctly remember being at the airport a few years ago and grabbing a pre-packaged sandwich. Just as I was about to tuck in, my eye caught the ingredients list on the sandwich and it was looooooong. And full of numbers and things I couldn’t pronounce. Now Alexx is not big on food wastage, but I’d heard her talk about ‘fake packets of weirdness‘ so often, I couldn’t unsee that ingredients list … so the sandwich went in the bin. I think that was also the point where I really made the commitment to pretty much never eat from a packet again unless it contained only ingredients I could pronounce + no numbers.

Doesn’t want us to just throw ‘toxic’ stuff ‘away’. She says just replace when needed

When you decide to go ‘low tox’ it’s also easy to decide to throw away your cupboards full of Teflon coated pots and pans, commercial cleaners and cosmetics. But, as Alexx points out, there is no such place as ‘away’ – everything we throw ‘away’ ends up in landfill. So simply wait till that thing is used up or doesn’t work anymore … then replace it with something less toxic. Easy and sustainable. Both for the environment and also for people wanting to make change in their life.

alexxmiaBelieves involving your kids in food prep helps them make good choices

Now, I hate cooking. With a passion. So I do it as little as possible, as quickly as possible and I have no doubt it’s a large part of the reason both my kids are carbohydratarians (they prefer to eat things that are white carbohydrates over pretty much everything else). One day Alexx came to my house for a visit and we went to the local farmer’s market where we bought fresh veg for a colourful summer salad. While she prepped it in the kitchen Mia sat on the counter and watched in rapt fascination. And (amazingly) gave bits of it a taste once made. I’ve since changed my approach to cooking with my kids and I love hearing Jaden tell me about the conscious and healthy good choice he’s about to make. Win!

Has the best nourishing banana bread recipe bar none

My family is a tough crowd whenever it comes to healthy eating. I’ve made countless ‘treat’ type things over the years using ‘healthy’ recipes and they always go down like lead balloons. Not Alexx’s nourishing banana bread recipe, however. That’s received the tick of approval from even the toughest marker in my house (Ant) and disappears so quickly every time I make it, I actually have to limit how often I make it. (It doesn’t matter how nourishing something is – a family of four shouldn’t knock off a whole loaf of banana bread in one hour!)

Has shown me idealism is ok

My INFJ personality is hugely idealistic. And that idealism frequently tips over into earnestness which makes me cringey at myself. (Mainly because I just assume over-earnestness is a complete turn off!). But Alexx too is hugely idealistic. And when I see her in full flight I am inspired, not turned off. It’s impossible not to get caught up in her enthusiasm. Seeing her in action is a constant reminder that this world needs us idealists! Even if we can be a little ‘OTT’ sometimes

A Simpler Way

So now I want to talk about the event Alexx, Brooke and I are running next month.

In a time when there are millions of ways being noisily sold to us about how to do things ‘best’, our aim for the afternoon is to provide practical ideas and methods for getting clear on exactly what ‘simple’ looks like for YOU. We promise a non-judgey, non-dogmatic approach, opening up a genuine conversation about the little things we can all do to make life simpler, happier and more fulfilling.

Perth people – this is rare – you get first bite of the cherry! If this first event goes well, we will have a look at running it in other Australian cities. A Simpler Way is on Saturday 29 October, costs $79 (includes afternoon tea) and we’d love, love, love to see you there.

More info here.