Dr. Pat's Voices for Change

The brilliant and loving doctor who saved my life, Patricia Yarberry Allen, started a website several years ago called Women's Voices for Change. I've just done an interview with Susan Delson, who runs it; WVC is dedicated to examining and celebrating life after forty. Dr. Pat, as her patients call her, is a dynamo--as is my agent, Amanda Urban--and I've dedicated SLOW LOVE to both of these women, one who changed my life (it is because of Binky that I have written any books at all) and the other who saved my life. It is so important to have guiding spirits: these two women are mine.

I tell the story of Dr. Pat and my kidney cancer in SLOW LOVE. As another doctor said to me: "You have become our poster child for full body screening as part of preventive health." Indeed, had I not had a routine checkup that included an abdominal scan--only because Dr. Pat had an intuition that something might be wrong with me, based on a history of early kidney stones--I would probably be dead by now. Kidney cancer is called the silent killer; there is no chemotherapy, and the only cure is removal of the tumor, or, more usually, the entire kidney. I'm fine now.

Dr. Pat rather famously (to my friends, who bore with my whinging) put me on a strict diet, after I had tried to comfort myself with cookies and muffins for a year after I lost my job. She is the kind of doctor who, when she gets the diet going, insists that her patients email her every night to tell them how they are doing. And she answers! Trust me: that diet alone is worth the price of SLOW LOVE. It works. But the point I can never stress enough is that the diet isn't really about cutting portions, the timing of meals, and combining certain foods.

The diet is about mindfulness. And that's what Dr. Pat was--and is--always trying to teach her patients. How to be mindful of your body. How to be mindful of your health. How to be mindful of your relationships, so that they not be toxic to you. How to pay attention to what you are doing. And Dr. Pat's website is all about being mindful of what I call our intertidal years--the middle of our lives. I think it is as relevant for men as it is for women, by the way. Here's to Dr. Pat--image of me lifting a tiny glass of V*8 juice....

Interview Part 1:

Interview Part 2:

Book review:


Pattyann said...

Dearest Dominique,
I just 2 minutes ago finished reading Slow Love, and of course I cried. I cry now (for joy) that I am writing you. I searched the web a while back after reading your other 2 books looking for and hoping you had a blog. I am overjoyed to find you here now. I love your book....the last chapter leaves me speechless. I am in my intertidal years too (I'm 51)...I try to practice being happy where I am right now, here this moment. Thank you so much for your wonderful words of wisdom. I am so blessed to live in a beautiful setting on the farm where my husband grew up. I have always loved it here, but because of your writings, I have tried to take the time to really study my surroundings and honor it all!!! Since discovering you as a writer (I am sorry...I did not discover you through House & Garden), I feel a connection to you through your books. I admire you so much! I would LOVE to see pics of your home and garden, and am THRILLED to have found your blog!!!!
Cheers to you (with my V8)!

nelya said...

What a lovely tribute. I can not tell you how thrilled I am tonight to have stumbled upon your blog. I was a long time subscriber to House and Garden and still have every issue I received saved. Primarily because I want to be able to savor all of your wonderful editor's letters. They were my favorite part of the magazine. I have so enjoyed your books and have re-read them multiple times and I am thrilled to discover that you've published another. I look forward to following your blog and taking a stroll through your archives.

Have a lovely weekend-nelya

Anonymous said...

Like nkp, your essays were THE reason I loved H&G. I feel so very,very fortunate to have found your blog . . .

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

Your closing comments about "mindfulness" reminded me of a very funny (but, still, very true) section of Muriel Spark's novel "A Far Cry from Kensington" (great book...buy it).

The narrator of the novel is a literary editor who finds herself widowed, plain-out fat, & the recipient of far too many folks' unwelcome confidences &intrigues. She is reliable "Mrs. Hawkins" to everyone, whether she chooses to be or not. Basically, everyone regards and treats her as The Fat Woman Who Couldn't Possibly Have a Life of Her Own (Hint: they conspicuously treat her as though she were latter middle-aged, rather than her actual age, which is 29).

She decides that the FIRST thing she can do is to at least lose some weight. She informs the reader that losing weight is simple....all you have to do is to eat half of what you usually eat. Same things...just half-"portions". The point of the diet is, of course, that you find yourself realizing (probably for the first time in one's life) exactly what you're eating and how much you're eating at each specific meal.

Given that novel's set in 1948 or so, the diet's a rather radical concept.

In any case, the narrator loses a ton (almost literally) of weight, is quietly pleased with herself, has more energy....and happily notices that people suddenly begin-to-stop automatically calling her "Mrs. Hawkins"...and they also stop burdening her with their own private daemons.

Thenovel (like most of Spark's) is, actually all about extricating one's self from toxic relationships of various sorts. "A Far Cry from Kensington" is worth the purchase price just for the account of Mrs. Hawkin's dealing with her nemesis--- a third rate, social-climbing literary mediocrity whom she, with dramatically unfortunate consequences, regularly refers to as the "Pisseur de Copie".

your posting reminded me, this morning, of this very funny and insghtful novel.


David Terry

Kathleen said...

Just wanted you to know: 1) I ordered your book and 2) I love your blog.

Also, Gretchen Rubin in her book, The Happiness Project, (and on her blog) focuses on mindfulness. It sounds easy but it's not. You have to work at it.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This looks like a wonderful site.
I'm bookmarking it.

Gwen Driscoll said...


I've, just this weekend, FINALLY gotten a chance to dive into Slow Love. It's fabulous and your honesty is remarkable. Thank you for that.

Hope you are having a great weekend.

I'll do a little review on Ragland Hill Social when I'm finished with it. It has really made me think about so much in my own life.

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pve design said...

I began a "raw" pledge to eat raw fruits and veggies and the mindfulness of which you speak is incredible.
Life is all about making choices and somehow at the middle, we begin to realize some choices contribute to the profound cause and effect. Such a wealth of choices to realize clarity and mindfulness surely are living proof for all women who want to be heard and to bring change.
thank-you for your voice and sharing your stories.

Anonymous said...

I read the book on my Kindle (thanks for making it available). I am following Dr. Pat's diet, and I feel wonderful. I have lost 8 pounds already. THANK YOU for including it among your inspiring words.

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Deborah Robinson said...

Dr. Pat has been my doctor for several years and she is truly amazing...I am also proud to call her a friend. Tomorrow I will read Slow Love.

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