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Interviews

Erin Loechner

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Interview by Samantha Hahn

Erin Loechner has been blogging and speaking for more than a decade. Her heartfelt writing and design work has been showcased in The New York Times among other notable publications garnering over one million fans worldwide. Her debut book Chasing Slow, describes how and why she turns away from fast and fame and frenzy, blazing her own way toward a new-fashioned lifestyle—focusing on what matters most. Erin found her own way to live, and realized that she already has what she needs even if everything isn’t easy or perfect.

Her underlying tip seems to always be “be gentle to yourself” which is advice I need to heed. Chasing Slow has the same genial tone as her essays and blog posts. You feel like you’re listening to her on the other end of the phone or maybe even sitting across from her at the table. She has this magical way of painting a detailed picture of a scene, the people in it and especially a depth of knowledge about her inner self.

Samantha Hahn: You’ve been writing for years. In your book, you talk about what prompted you to become a blogger and make writing about your personal life and coming of age and becoming a wife and mother and so on. What prompted you to want to expand on these topics in book form?

Erin Loechner: You know, I’ve always heard you should write what you know. But I’m much more interested in writing what I want to learn, and I wanted to learn to live better. I wanted to find out how to accept the life I’d been given and appreciate the path I’m offered, rather than chasing elusive happiness just around the bend. There is so much beauty in telling your truths in black and white, and it’s been such a treat to have this book change my perspective in so many ways – from living life online to serving my marriage to leading my children and – lastly – to embracing myself.

SH: What was the book writing process like for you? Was it different than writing a post?

EL: Writing this book was hard because it was so personal. I remember many times feeling raw/spent/depleted after a long morning of writing where reacquainting with the actual world felt trickier than usual (I write a lot about the ins and outs of my process here!). I suppose it’s different from a blog post in that it’s an actual marathon — it’s just you and the page, you and the pavement, and you vow to finish despite writer’s blocks or hard feedback or near-paralyzing self-doubt. It’s profoundly different, and also deeply worth it.

SH: What is the main message you want readers to garner from reading your words?

EL: I’d love for readers to learn that there’s no metric for a life well-lived. We are not here to curate our experiences, to measure ourselves by some standard we snap for Instagram. We are here to accept the imperfections and contradictions and hypocrisies in ourselves and others, and there is so much tension in that, and it’s OK. It’s better than OK. It makes for a truly abundant life.

SH: What’s one thing I can do right now to be gentle to myself while maintaining my ambitions and juggling family and work life and bills and so on?

EL: Consider a five-year journal and write a sentence or two about something interesting you learned, did or saw throughout the day. You’ll be amazed at how, throughout the years, what you thought was ordinary was decidedly extraordinary.

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SH: What are some books you loved as a child? Any stories you love reading with your kids today?

EL: Harriet the Spy was an all-time favorite, as well as anything Roald Dahl wrote. I still have my entire Dahl collection from my childhood and am so looking forward to passing them along to my kids. Currently, my daughter and I are working through the complete collection of Aesop’s Fables. They’re so beautiful, and I find myself learning valuable life lessons right alongside her!

SH: What are your five favorite books?

EL: I love anything Joan Didion writes, but Blue Nights is probably a favorite. Franny and Zooey (Salinger), A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle), The Giver (Lowry). Anne Lamott’s writing is superb, and I’ll forever keep a soft spot in my heart for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Lewis).

SH: When you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed and Ken (your husband) isn’t around, and you have a deadline, and your baby is crying, and your little girl is trying to show you something…how do you handle it? There’s a line on page 260 that I love so much about realizing that your worries and anxieties are “just thoughts.” That’s such a helpful way to look at it. Can you pull a few lines from your book that we can cling to when the going gets tough?

EL: Ha, witching hour often gets the best of me! I find that apologies go so, so far. I’ll nearly always lose my cool in the heat of the moment when there are a million things competing for my attention (I’m a natural born single-tasker and don’t do well when overstimulated!). I’ve found asking for forgiveness is one of the best lessons to teach my kids — and myself, so I’m forever uttering “I’m sorry” when I miss the mark.

Here are a few favorite lines from the book:

“I used to think the opposite of control is chaos. But it’s not. The opposite of control is surrender.”

“But the answer is not to lower the expectations we have created. The answer, I believe, is to live up to the expectations that we have been set up for.”

“I do not know that everything happens for a reason. I simply know that everything happens.”

“Thank you = a one-sentence prayer.”

“We are doing ourselves no favors when we look to the crowd to tell us where we are.”

“Trying + failing = learning.”

“Sometimes, when we’re not looking for what we want, we find what we need.”

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