“Not only an elegant and meditative writer but a pungently witty one…” —New York Times Book Review
“I happen to love pruning, it is one of my favorite garden activities. It is much like editing; you have to find the shape of a sentence, or a paragraph; one that is natural, flows smoothly, but remains interesting, and prune away whatever interferes with the line.” —Dominique Browning
The former editor-in-chief of House & Garden, and the first woman to break the glass ceiling at Newsweek, Dominique Browning is the author of three memoirs: Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness (Atlas & Co., 2010); Paths of Desire: the Passion of a Suburban Gardener; and Around the House and In the Garden: a Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement. Browning also produced four books under the House & Garden brand: The House & Garden Book of Style, The Well-Lived Life, Gardens of Paradise, House of Worship.
Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness is about reinventing oneself after a life collapse and learning to engage in the world in a meaningful way: “I was forced to slow down when I lost my job—and the journey of grieving and recovery is what my book is about. Slow living led me to falling in love with the world, experiencing what I think of as slow love.” Maira Kalman states, “There cannot be a person on earth who does not sometimes wonder what the purpose of their life is. Dominique Browning was lucky enough to get fired, so she had time to find out who she was or might be. And we are lucky that she was able to write (often with great humor) about her loss, her loves, her pajamas and ultimately, her return to life.” Browning has since started a blog site, SlowLoveLife.com, inspired by Slow Love, where she continues the conversation about speed bumps: “the ones that surprise and challenge us, and the ones we put there ourselves, with purposefulness.” The site is dedicated to learning how to appreciate the beauty of everyday moments—and taking time to share them with one another.
An environmental advocate, Browning writes a monthly column about environmental issues for the Environmental Defense Fund website entitled “Personal Nature: Dominique Browning’s distinctive take on all things environmental”. As Browning describes, “It is only a small leap from caring about what’s going on in a garden to caring about what’s going on in the larger environment….I see how we disconnect, want to change the subject, turn back to tending our small patches of earth. We want to be able to take the health of our planet for granted. But environmental issues are hitting the very place we want to feel safest: home. Home ought to be a sacred place of retreat, rest, and peace. It won’t continue to be if we turn our backs on the world. This new column was born in the spirit of paying attention, talking about what we can do now. It isn’t enough to turn off the lights and turn down the thermostat—all those tiny, individual actions are necessary, but not sufficient. We have to turn to leaders with the vision and muscle to make change.” Through the EDF, Browning has founded Mom’s Clean Air Force, an organization to engage mothers on air pollution as a health issue, rather than an environmental issue.
A writer, editor, and consultant in the newspaper and magazine fields until November 2007, Browning was the editor-in-chief of House & Garden, a magazine of 950,000 readers. Browning began her career in 1977 working at Savvy and American Photographer magazines. In 1979 she became an associate literary editor at Esquire magazine. She then became the executive editor of Texas Monthly based in Austin, Texas. She went on to break the glass ceiling at Newsweek, becoming the first woman at any news magazine to be appointed an assistant managing editor. Browning left journalism for several years to be a founding partner of Edison Schools, a company set up to privately manage public schools. She went to Mirabella magazine as editor-in-chief before joining Conde Nast. Browning has worked with and written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, O, the Oprah magazine, Departures, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Body + Soul, Wired and On Topic, among others.
Browning graduated from Wesleyan University in 1977 with a major in Philosophy, Literature, and History. She is a classically trained pianist and also performed with Wesleyan’s Javanese Gamelan orchestra. She is the mother of two sons and lives in New York and Rhode Island.
Former editor-in-chief of House & Garden, and the first woman to break the glass ceiling at Newsweek, Dominique Browning is the author of three memoirs: Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness; Paths of Desire: the Passion of a Suburban Gardener; and Around the House and In the Garden: a Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement. An environmental advocate, Browning writes a monthly column about environmental issues for the Environmental Defense Fund and has founded Mom’s Clean Air Force, an organization to engage mothers on air pollution as a health issue, rather than an environmental issue.
SLOW LOVE: HOW I LOST MY JOB, PUT ON MY PAJAMAS, AND FOUND HAPPINESS (Memoir, 2010)
“In burnished, exquisite prose, Browning describes her feelings of being set adrift until she gradually transforms her helter-skelter days into a deliberate, contemplative way of life….There’s a lovely ‘thinking out loud’ quality to Slow Love that makes the reader privy to Browning’s soul.” —The Boston Globe
From beloved author Dominique Browning, a humorous and moving book about losing a job and winning a life. In November 2007, former editor-in-chief of House & Garden magazine Dominique Browning experienced what thousands have since experienced. She lost her job. Overnight, her driven, purpose-filled days vanished. With her children leaving home and a long relationship ending, the structure of her days disappeared. She fell into a panic of loss but found humor despite everything, discovering a deeper joy than any she had ever known. It was a life she had not sought, but one that offered pleasures and surprises she didn’t know she lacked. Slow Love is about wearing your pajamas to the farmers’ market; packing up a beloved home and moving to a more rural setting; making time to play the piano and go kayaking; reinventing yourself; and not cutting corners when it comes to love, muffins, or gardening. This elegant, graceful—and yet funny—book inspires us to dance in the kitchen and seize new directions.
SLOW LOVE: HOW I LOST MY JOB, PUT ON MY PAJAMAS, AND FOUND HAPPINESS (excerpts)
Slow living, I have come to understand, opens up the prospect of slow love, the most sustaining sort of love I have ever known-a love that comes of an unhurried and focused attention to the simplest things, available to all of us, at any time, should we choose to engage: family, friendship, food, music, art, books, our bodies, our minds, our souls, and the life that blooms and buzzes all around us. Perhaps even more importantly, slow love comes out of the quiet hours, out of learning from the silence that is always there when we want it. I still hardly know how to describe it, but somehow, during the long months after getting knocked off my career track, and at the same time having to face the end of an intense love affair, I connected with something under and beneath and over everything, and caught a glimmer of peace. I still have my moody seasons, the occasional blights, the drooping days, yet even then I feel as if I have grown a new taproot, one that reaches deeper into nourishing soil. I am more resilient. If I had to pin it down, I would say I finally fell open to the miracle of this world.
—from the Prologue
• • •
Things are going so well on the new food-consciousness front that I decide to venture further and stock up on items like milk and pasta. But within a couple of blocks, I develop drawstring problems. I should have tied a double knot. My [pajama] pants are sliding down. Breathless, I pause in a doorway to address the dishevelment, and I realize that on top of it all, I neglected to brush my hair. I worry for a moment that I might have gone too far with the pajamas thing. I glance around, furtively, like a trapped animal gauging her chances for escape.
In a flash, panting in that doorway, I see that I could never look out of place, no matter what I am wearing. In that moment I understand that I am no longer alone in the world. I have rejoined the living. All around me are people running their morning errands, loading up with groceries and newspapers and cleaning supplies, wearing yoga tights or baggy pants and long T-shirts. No one wants to change out of bedclothes.
All around me are people who didn’t want to get out of their pajamas. They just aren’t ready to admit it. Yet.
—from Farmers’ Market
PATHS OF DESIRE: THE PASSIONS OF A SUBURBAN GARDENER (excerpt)
[T]he story I want to tell is not really about how my suburban garden looks, though that matters, and it certainly isn’t about how to design and tend a suburban plot; I claim no wide mastery in that department and can impart only the knowledge culled from by small adventure. I wish I could describe a garden filled with rare treasure hoarded over years of exploration; I wish I could point slyly to the stunning Meconopsis betonicifolia I coaxed through difficult seasons, or the Rodgersia podophylla I carried over from England. The fact is, even if I had such specimens, I would never remember their names, for I am as hopeless with the name of plants as with the names of people. This affliction has grown worse with the years, and sometimes even the name of a familiar shrub, one that I have seen as often as I have seen my own children, eludes me (as, at times, do the names of my children). Rather, I’m mostly intrigued with the tale of how the garden feels, or said another way, how the garden makes me, and those who visit, feel.
—from the Prologue: My Kind of Garden