Friday, September 15, 2017

Unthinkable.

Yesterday the unthinkable happened.

Back at home in the USA, at a school where many of my children's friends attend, where many of my friend's children attend, where some old classmates work, and where I (very briefly) worked, there was yet another school shooting.



It's sad and sick that in this world, we're so desensitized to the term school shooting, that we barely bat an eye. We simply cluck, mutter a weak "my thoughts and prayers are with you" to the victims, then move on to figuring out what to make for dinner. But this time--this time--it happened close to home. A little too close.

I'm from a rural area. A clump of small towns that dot the rolling fields of eastern Washington state, each with different tiny schools and tightly bound social circles. It seems even if you move away when you're just about 18, you can never quite escape it, and you always come back. I hated it growing up there, but now that I am in my forties, with children of my own, I often lament about what it would be like to move back to the country to raise my kids in a tiny town, with a tiny school, where it is rednecked, yes, but also safe.

Yesterday that dream was shattered, because even my tiny corner of the country that I know and love like I love one of my children has been tainted with all that is wrong with our country. Hate, anger, bullying, disregard for life, access to firearms but no access to proper and effective mental health resources...

I won't post pictures of the shooter. He is a boy who was so tormented and under-intervened that he murdered someone in cold blood, and attempted to murder many more. Three young women (one of whom is a child of an old childhood friend of mine, and another who is my son's second grade teacher's child--just to put the small town connection into perspective for you) are in the hospital. One family is without a son forever just months after losing their husband/father. One family is shattered because their son is a killer. And a whole student population witnessed it all. The blood, the panic, the fear, the aftermath. They all saw it, and it will forever be a thread in the fabric that makes them who they are. It cannot be undone.

I will post a picture of the place I still call home, even 20+ years after moving away. Because despite being tainted with hate and sadness and shock, it is still without a doubt, my home. And it should be remembered as a happy, old fashioned area with old fashioned morals and down home sensibilities. It shouldn't be remembered as a place where a boy snapped and sought to kill his friends.



I won't turn this post political, because there are so many others doing that. Within minutes of hearing about the most recent shootings, and amongst their clucks and muttered "thoughts and prayers" (man, I hate that prepackaged sentiment!) they quickly Tweet and FB posted about the need for gun control, or how it could somehow be equated to Trumps presidency, or the Obama presidency, or welfare, or to racism, or homophobia, or whatever the trending hashtag of the week is....

When all in all it comes down to this: this child needed more, we did not give it to him. This child was not taught the quality of human life. Our children are not being raised with compassion and love and discipline, and they are growing up sorely lacking any moral gage as they text and tweet hateful statements to each other as if their words don't carry weight when they clearly do. We've seen it time and time again.

We failed this young man, and he committed a horrible, horrible act, and must be punished for it. The children who were shot did not deserve this fate, just because he felt he was being treated poorly at school. But when are we as a society going to take responsibility for raising a generation so lacking in compassion and personal accountability that they're actually capable of opening fire in a school hallway?

I don't know about you, but I never considered killing anyone at my school, and I was downright tortured for most of junior high and high school. I'm just saying...

 Sure, we need to make guns more difficult for children to get their hands on--there's no denying that--but without guns, does the rage dissipate? Does the feeling of hatred and hopelessness disappear? Does the bullying stop? No. Only the grown ups in these children's lives can do that. Metal detectors can work wonders at keeping guns and knives out of school, but until we heal these children's hearts, we're fighting a losing battle.

I am extremely grateful this horrible act of violence was stopped when it was (ironically, by yet another former classmate--these small town roots are so deep.) My heart goes out to the families of all the victims, including the parents of the boy who snapped. They all deserved to have a better day yesterday.

xoxo
Brooke

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Thoughts on 9/11.


Today (it's 9/11 here in the ROK) is a melancholy day for all Americans, no matter where they are, or what their beliefs are. 



My thoughts on 9/11 every year are always brought back to my firm belief in the atonement, and how it exists for *all* of us. As a proud American, I've set aside time today, as I have every year prior, to ponder this scripture: 

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39

xoxo
Brooke

Friday, September 8, 2017

Look what's coming sooooooon!!!!

Loyal readers and writer friends,

My next release!

Thanks for being patient over the last three years (I can't believe it's been so long. Moving abroad stole my mojo in a big way. But don't worry...I'm back and *hopefully* better than ever!)

Check out the blurb below to learn about Molly and Jamie's journey....


Sparks flew the moment fifteen-year-old Molly Kaff and Jamie Burnham locked eyes across the dusty Camp Chimalis parking lot. From that moment, they were undeniably and irrevocably in love.

Until they weren’t.

Months after the demise of their fifteen-and-a-half-year marriage, a mutual friend from those treasured summers at camp dies, rattling their tight circle of friends to the core. Her dying request? Bring everyone back to camp one last time.

Returning proves more emotional than Molly expected. Sweltering heat in un-air-conditioned cabins is just the tip of the iceberg. Memories, both delightful and dispiriting, press down on Molly as she grapples with the momentous grief from the loss of her friend…and her husband.

Trying to honor her wishes with the ex hanging around is one thing, but being stuck in the woods with no cell service and years’ worth of hurt and resentment is another. As Molly tries to navigate her way through the heartache, she starts to wonder if she was wrong about the reasons behind her failed marriage. And if maybe her friend orchestrated their Chimalis homecoming from beyond…

Can a few evenings sitting by the campfire eating s’mores be the salve her battered heart needs to finally move on?

Coming October of 2017!

xoxo
Brooke

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hair.

I've been thinking about something lately...and it irritates the crap out of me.

(We all know, Brooke. What doesn't irritate the crap out of you?)


I know. But seriously. What's up with men who think women have to be hairless, smooth, baby seal like creatures, in order to be considered sexy, feminine, and desirable?

Oh, yeah. I went there.

Where along the way in the evolution of the female species did women start believing that they have to present the facade of total hairlessness to the world--and especially to males? Despite the fact that we grow hair everywhere, we shave it, pluck it, wax it, and laser it until we appear like odd, hairless she-bots for the menfolk. And I straight up don't get it.

(Disclaimer: my husband is actually pretty chill about hair. Sure, he prefers it when my legs don't feel like a dried out Christmas tree a month after New Years...but when they are, he doesn't whine about it. He doesn't seem to care what sort of package I come in, as long as he's still the only one unwrapping it, if you know what I'm sayin'...)


So I actually prefer having shaved legs. It just feels better to me. When I wear PJ pants (an authors work uniform) or I climb into bed, I don't like the way it feels when my leg hair catches on the fabric. It shouldn't feel like you're starting a brush fire when you climb into bed. So that's why I preferred shaved legs--it's not because my husband demands that I am as hairless as Voldemort.

(Side note: second blog in a row I've mentioned Voldemort. I think I need an HP intervention.)



But I would never tolerate my husband, or any other man, or woman, for that matter, telling me that in order to be feminine and attractive, I must be hairless! I'm shocked that in this day and age of renewed hyper-feminism, and the very on-trend body acceptance movement, that we as women are still feeding into this silly stereotype that hairlessness = femininity.

I hate to break it to the word, but..... God made men AND women, and he made us both with hair in certain areas of our body. Both of us. So if dudes can walk around with fuzzy legs and armpits, then why is it gross when a woman does it? If a woman is choosing not to shave, pluck, wax, and laser herself into Caillou territory, then what business is it of anybody else's? Yes, even her husband.



(Sit down, haters. I'm a married woman, and I think my husband pretty much hung the moon. I am not a man hater. I just don't think men--or anyone else!--should have a say in what level of hairlessness or hairiness a woman chooses to exercise.)

I actually heard a man recently tell someone that he prefers women to be....er...hairless everywhere, otherwise he won't even consider sleeping with her. Do you see where I'm going with this? In the interest of keeping this blog PG13, I will not explain further, but here's what my reaction looked like:



Yeah. Not happy.

I just, I just....I can't even. Why can't every man be as cool as mine?

Dude. Let me break this down for you:



1.) God made each of us exactly the way He wanted us to be. Which means, he wanted women to have hair. Hair on our heads, hair in our noses, hair under our arms, hair in our  *whispers* swimsuit area, hair on our legs, hair on our toes, and hair in weird random places when our hormones go nuts, like nipples or chins. If He didn't want us to look this way, he wouldn't have created us this way.

2.) If you can only make love to a woman whose body is completely hairless, then you should honestly seek some counseling, because you shouldn't want a woman to look and feel like a 12 year old minor in the sack. Once in a while? Sure. All the time because that's what she prefers? No problem. But if that's the only way you can go the distance with a woman....you have deeper issues than I can help you with. FYI: grown women have hair. Children don't. Don't be gross.



3.) The women in your life work their tails off at being as hairless as they actually are--whatever that looks like for them personally--and rather than complaining and demanding certain standards to be met, why not be grateful they're putting forth effort at all? It takes time to shave your legs and pits. It takes money to get your brows waxed or your bikini line lasered. It hurts to grow back hair that has been removed. This is no small feat for women. Show some gratitude, boys!!

4.) Very few of you even attempt to man-scape. Let's get real for a moment: raise your hand if you trim and pluck and shave (other than your face) and wax and laser on the regular. Yeah. I don't see very many of you with your hand up. If you don't try that hard, why is it required of your female counterpart? I mean, honestly. Why am I even having to explain this? Let me break it down, you don't do squat and we love you anyway...how's about returning the favor?



I guess the whole point of this blog is...I think more women just need to be as hairy/hairless as they want to be, and that nobody else in her life, especially men, should have a say in it. It's not their body, it's not their business. And if you insist on demanding that the lucky lady in your life is as hairless as a plastic doll, then what's good for the goose, is good for the gander. Maybe you need to go see your wife or girlfriend's wax lady to tidy yourself up, too.......

I think feminism looks different nowadays. Instead of it being a "stick it to the man" mentality, it's more of a "do what makes you happy and comfortable" vibe, and I rather like it. I think all women should just do what feels good on their own bodies, and if the men in their life doesn't like it...maybe he's not the man for them. Just sayin'....



And to the dude in the cafe talking about only being able to nail a hairless chick....

Get some counseling. Stat.

xoxo
Brooke




Monday, September 4, 2017

Vulnerability.



I've been told many times, in both my childhood and as an adult, that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. That by portraying myself as vulnerable to emotions, to sadness, to fear, to disappointment, to hurtful things that other people say or do, to anything that makes me anything less than happy...is a sign of weakness, and therefore must be quashed. Immediately.

Well, today I call B.S.

Actually, I've been calling B.S. for a while, but today I'm going to blog about it. Because that's what I do. Instead of a journal, I blog...and send my words out into the universe like astronaut pee.



Unsure why I said that? Google it. That's what I do with my words. Type them out and then WHOOSH. They're out there floating around forever. It's what I do.

I would like to refute the notion that being vulnerable is a bad thing. That by being open and susceptible to unpleasant emotions means that you are broken and need to be fixed. That being willing to admit I'm not good today means you need an intervention...or better yet, need to be promptly shut up. Why? Why?


Why are we, as humans, to turned off by vulnerability? Frankly, some of the most poignant moments of my 41 years have come at the heels of being extremely, painfully, embarrassingly vulnerable in a situation that God placed in front of me to bend me, push me, change me, and force me to grow. Sure, when I'm in the middle of that dreaded vulnerability, I hate it. I hate that people can see beneath my hard candy shell, to the squishy, overly-sensitive mess that I am. I hate that I am being pushed to grow. Growing sucks. At least it does when it's happening. I hate that I sometimes have to open all of my most private moments and secrets and fears and sadnesses to the world, in order to achieve that d*mned growth.



I don't like people seeing me in a vulnerable state. I detest people seeing me at my worst. It makes me feel like that helpless, gross, messy Voldamort horcrux that Harry Potter sees when he "dies" and meets Dumbledore in the heaven/Kings Cross station place. Remember that?


Yeah. Yucky and pitiful. Vulnerability at it's grossest. That's what I feel like when I expose myself for the vulnerable mess I am. Especially to folks who resent it, or worse yet, reject it. Rejection sucks. We all know that. But yet...vulnerability opens us up to it. It's part and parcel of the whole growth gig.

But it isn't all bad...

In my life experiences, I have found myself coming out of the other side of a vulnerability moment infinitely grateful I went through it in the first place. It has been in my moments of greatest sadness, weakness, anger, fear, and uncertainty that I've found friends. True, strong, loyal friends that become like family, and stick with you until your dying day. It's all because I've held them up when they were weak, and I've allowed them to hold me up when I was weak. Friendship blossoms not just when you're strong for someone, but when you allow them to be strong for you, too. It is as good to give your friends opportunities to serve, as it is for you to serve.



I've found love in vulnerability. When my husband proposed to me, he said "I want to take care of you" (among a dozen other romantic things--le sigh!) and he'd done that because I'd exposed every single fear and worry I had to him. I'd opened myself up and let him see all of me--the good, the bad, the ugly....all of it. And he fell in love with it. With that vulnerability. He appreciated that I didn't gloss everything over. I didn't pretend to be okay when I wasn't. He knew what I was feeling when I felt it. No guessing games. He loved me for my terminal vulnerability, and somehow, by the grace of God, found it to be a positive attribute.

I've touched my children with my vulnerability. Since my son left for his mission, I've written letters explaining things about my fragile family relationships that I've always sheltered him from. I've exposed my flaws and my fears, my shortcomings and my mistakes to him, and stopped glossing over my life disappointments. I've admitted defeats. I've asked for forgiveness. And in return, I've been given more respect and consideration from my adult child than I ever expected. He has forgiven my flaws, and complimented my attributes--adult to adult--and it has been more life affirming than anything else I've experienced as a mother. It is in those (rare) moments when I've allowed myself to break down, to show the raw-ness of being just another flawed human being that has allowed my children to see me as a fellow human being. I'll always be mom. But I'll also be human.



There have been times in my life when my family has been in the thick of grief and sadness so deeply, it felt like we were positively choking on it. It was during those times when I've reached out and told my fellow humans: we're not okay...please help us...please show us compassion. And it's because of that willingness to expose our inner gross, weak, vulnerable Voldamort, that we've found ourselves buoyed through the roughest waters we've seen as a family. Those times are irrefutably the most pivotal moments on our life journey, hands down.

Without vulnerability, I wouldn't have some of the most significant relationships I have. Without being vulnerable, I wouldn't have come through experiences that would've broken a lesser woman. Personally, I consider vulnerability an asset. I wish I'd figured that out years ago. I wish I'd accepted my whole flawed, vulnerable self at 20, rather than 41. I hope I'm able to teach my kids this lesson so that they don't spent 20+ years resenting themselves for being "weak" from time to time.



Vulnerability is not weakness. It is strength personified.

xoxo
Brooke