My Poetry Collection

Remember how I’ve been talking about that poetry collection I’ve been writing? And I was talking about self-publishing? Well, I went ahead and posted the collection on Wattpad, rather than waiting! Since it’s dedicated my mom and grandpa, I decided to make it their Christmas present.  So this is going to just be an entry telling you about the project.

The title of my poetry collection is….

Who Strengthens Me.

I named it after my favorite bible verse, which is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, which is Philippians 4:13.  The poems are mostly based on my personal experiences, although “Carve Our Names” is just a random love poem I came up with. (It’s all about a couple driving down Texas dirt roads, going to a lake, carving their names in an old oak tree. I really wanted to have a Texas poem in there, since I live in Texas!)

Anyway, here is the link, so you can read the collection:

https://www.wattpad.com/516264350-who-strengthens-me-a-poetry-collection-dedication

I hope you enjoy it and I hope you have a wonderful year!

— Brooke

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Don’t Put The Cart Before The Horse

I thought of another New Year’s Resolution, y’all. I want to stop “putting the cart before the horse.” You know those moments when you start to concern yourself about your future before you’ve even started trying? Yes, I am one of those people. For example, this is an example of me “putting the cart before the horse.”

My brain: “Will you EVER get your dream job?”

My rational side: “You haven’t even started LOOKING yet.” (That will change in 2018, though.)

See what I mean? I start worrying about things before anything has even happened. Tonight I thought about it and I realized that putting the cart before the horse just causes more unnecessary stress. Then I decided that I’m going to make that my official New Year’s Resolution. I am going to enjoy the moment and NOT worry about things that haven’t happened yet. I’m going to focus on doing the things I love (like writing, for example) and I am not going to allow myself to obsess over the future.

For years, I have had a fear of failed expectations. Rather than “just going with it,” I think about every perceived wrong that could happen. It’s almost like I can already feel the physical and emotional pain of failing to meet my expectations, and that, my friends, is far from helpful. When we constantly worry about the future and meeting expectations, it can hinder us from doing our best. Nerves tend to prevent us from doing our best in areas where we would normally do perfectly fine.

Trust me, I learned that from going to school. When I was nervous about a test, I wouldn’t do as well as I would have. When I just studied and did my best, and RELAXED,  my grades tended to be a lot better.  Why exactly was I so nervous about my tests? Yep, because I was worried about the results. BEFORE I had even started studying or taking the test. I mean, seriously. I was worrying about the test grade before the test had even happened.

This can apply to other areas of our lives too and in 2018, I plan on working on it. Just take it one day at a time and enjoy the moment.  Don’t obsess and worry about the end result, but instead focus on the task at hand. Just live, enjoy what I’m doing at the moment, and everything will be juuuuust fine.

It may take some effort, it certainly won’t be easy, but I’m going to try my best.

 

And it is now 2018 here in Texas. Here’s to a brand new year!

— Brooke

Mission: 2018

There are two days left in 2018. Can you believe it?! It seems like only yesterday that 2017 was just beginning! Wow. Now, I am going to split this entry into two parts: 2017 Rewind and Fast Forward: 2018.  So I’ll be talking about some of my favorite moments from 2017 including personal achievements and music + film, then my plans for my 2018.

2017 Rewind

College Graduation

  • Bachelor’s In Creative Writing!

Getting my driver’s license 

  • I used to be too anxious for driving and now I have a license. Woo hoo!

Discovering reversible sequin pillows

  • I now have two reversible sequin pillows, two reversible sequin iPad cases, and two reversible sequin bracelets. Totally random addition to this list, I know, but I saw the pillows, then the reversible sequins started appearing everywhere and I just really love anything reversible sequins.

Seeing “Dunkirk.” 

  • I loved it! Very good movie.

Niall Horan’s debut album

  • He’s cute, he plays guitar, and he has really good tunes. Of course I got the album! 

Reputation

  • I have gotten every single one of Taylor’s albums and this one was no different. 

Solo 1D music

  • Yep, I love One Direction, and Niall isn’t the only one to release solo music this year! All the boys have been releasing new music and I have really been enjoying it. 

Starting my own blog

  • I had been thinking about starting a blog and I finally created this one. I am so glad that I did!

Holding a Macaw + a ball python at the zoo

  • Our town’s zoo was closed for a bit after Hurricane Harvey and I was so excited to attend the grand reopening! While there, I got to hold a macaw and a ball python. Such fascinating creatures!

Spending Christmas with family 

  • We opened presents, had a delicious Christmas dinner, and spent time together! It’s so nice getting to be with loved ones.

Fast Forward: 2018

Now that I’ve listed some of my favorite 2017 moments, what do I hope to achieve in 2018?

Get a job

  • I want to get a job that I really love. I just want it to be the right one! 

Be more positive

  • Sometimes it’s not always easy to look at the bright side, but it’s certainly worth a try! In 2018, I want to try harder to see the positive side of things, and share that positivity with others!

Finish my poetry book

  • I am in the process of revising the poems for my book and I am so excited to have a completed project! I’m still researching self-publishing, so that’s a possibility!

Write a fiction novel

  • Fiction is so fun to write and I want to write a full-length fiction novel! At least the first draft.

Improve my drawing 

  • I love drawing and I’d love to get better at it! I want to draw something beautiful this year. I need to improve the shading and making my drawings more three-dimensional and realistic.

2017 has been difficult in some ways, but amazing in so many other ways. I want 2018 to be even better. I hope for happiness, positivity, success, and so much more. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 holds.

Happy New Year, everyone!

— Brooke

Holiday Reflection

Christmas. I love Christmas. It’s such a cheerful time of year, isn’t it? It certainly is!  The decorations, the presents, the food (YUMMY!!!!), and lots of time spent with the people we love. The most important thing about Christmas, however, is its true meaning. The birth of Jesus! Happy Birthday, Jesus! Many thanks for all that you have done and for all that you do every single day.

As for what I did this Christmas, I went to my aunt and uncle’s house, and we opened our presents and ate some delicious food. It was so much fun getting to spend time together as a family! As for my cat? Well, he’s an outside cat. He’s an independent little man so he stayed at my house and probably hid between the fences (because, for some reason, he has chosen that as his hiding place). And when my grandmother and I got back from our Christmas adventure, there was Pepper, lurking outside the back door, wondering when he would be getting HIS holiday dinner. Merry Christmas, Fluffybutt.

Now that Christmas is almost wrapping up (ha ha, see what I did there?), we will be moving on to New Year’s, which is when people make New Years’ Resolutions. A lot of people have a hard time keeping those resolutions. I happen to be one of those people. But this year,  I want to try to keep them. One) I want to finish my book of poetry and maybe find out how self publishing works. (Because I am interested in doing that). Two) I want to show more kindness and compassion.

I want to explain that second one, because I recently had an idea. A lot of times, you don’t really know what someone’s going through just by looking at them. Someone could have a smile on their face and be laughing, yet inside they feel pain. What if someone were to write a letter of encouragement and print out a few copies? Then leave a copy of that letter wherever you go, even leaving one on a table at a restaurant? or in the bathroom at a store? Imagine if we wrote a letter that reminds people that there is hope and that they are loved. What if someone sits at that table or walks into the restroom, and they read that letter? What if we could help someone, even a complete stranger, by leaving behind words of kindness and encouragement?

I’ve always been someone who is reserved and too timid in many ways, but you know what? I am tired of being that way. I want to get out here and I want to make a difference in someone’s life. There are people out here who feel completely alone and so broken, and they need to be reminded that they are important and loved, and that the next chapter of their story could be so much better than the last.

So that’s one of my two new years resolutions.  The other is, like I said, finishing that book of poetry. I’ve got a few more poems to write, then I have to revise and then write the paragraphs that I’ll be including before and after each poem. (It’s kind of a book of poetry and a memoir combined.)

As we enter this new year, I encourage you to follow your dreams and spread kindness, compassion, and positivity wherever you go.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

— Brooke

Peace in Forgiveness, Love in Compassion

When you hold onto all the wrongs that have been done to you, are you really hurting the other person? No. I have always heard that you are only hurting yourself by doing that. I didn’t realize that as a child, but as I got older, I began to see exactly what that meant. No, this is not one of those diary entries where I am going to go on an hour long ramble about past screw-ups done towards me and people I care about. It’s in the past and this entry is about the now. Remember my last entry? I wrote about focusing on the present, rather than the future. Well, in order to truly enjoy the “beautiful now,” you also have to let go of the past!

My mother had dreams of a happy little family. A husband, kids, a nice house, etc. But by the time I was six, my parents had divorced. My mom and I went to Texas and stayed with my grandparents. She got a job working at Wal-Mart. We eventually moved into our own little apartment. Her plans changed, but overall, we were doing okay.  Then she started working at the local prison as a mail clerk. She didn’t have a husband, but she had friends, family, and a little girl. All who loved her very much.

We were settled in a routine. It wasn’t the life my mom had expected, but we were both happy. Then tragedy struck. I was eleven years old and suddenly, my mother was gone.  Her life had been taken. But it didn’t stop there. Over the next eighteen months, I was stuck in the middle of a custody battle that I hadn’t asked for. Even though the battle was won and I got to stay where I wanted to and where I belonged, the uncertainty and anxiety stayed with me for a long time, even though I pushed it out of my mind for a long time.

The fact that this ever happened made me angry and what made it so much worse was the fact that it all happened during a time when my family and I were still in the early in the grieving process.  There were plenty of wrongdoings, so my trust level was already at a low point. The custody battle just shrunk it even more.

But here’s where things take a positive turn. This year, I wrote a letter. It was a letter of forgiveness. With that letter, I chose to let go of the negativity and instead, I chose forgiveness. Because how can I live my best life if I don’t forgive? That’s how it should always be! To hold on to wrongdoings is to have a weight on your shoulders. *Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ plays in the background* Really, I had to shake off that weight and say, “As much as I have been hurt and screwed over, holding onto all that is only hurting me.”

It was a decision I do not regret. I replaced the negativity with love, compassion, peace, and freedom. I wake up each morning and just enjoy life. I appreciate the many blessings I have been given and think about all the beautiful things. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, especially when you have been betrayed, but I found the strength to forgive and let go.

Also, totally random note here. My journey to peace of mind (not just related to forgiveness, but also in general) has brought me lots of inspiration, which means some more writing! (mostly poetry, hahahahaha)

Anyway, until next time, stay strong and stay beautiful.

— Brooke

The Beautiful Now

When my anxiety and depression were at their worst, I had a lot of thoughts that ran through my mind, worsening the pain that had already been throwing one punch after another. One of the most memorable? My future. I was afraid  of the future. I didn’t even see the future in a very positive light either. No, I just imagined everything that could go wrong. Would I flunk out of college? Would I lose all the things I cared about? For a period of time, I even had a fear that something terrible might happen to me. There was literally no imminent danger in my path, yet I had that completely random fear. I kind of hate to admit that, but hey,  I want to keep things honest here.  Really, I had a lot of very irrational feelings about the future, complete with a big dose of paranoia and “oh my god, everything is going to fall apart.” When in reality, it’s very unlikely that any of those things will happen.

I know that it sounds dramatic and kind of ridiculous. Even I can see that. I don’t even know where some of that fear came from.  I’m even embarrassed to admit some of it. A few years ago, I probably would have kept most of it to myself. But truthfully, you can’t change the past and I can’t really stop Past Me from being terrified of the future and, well, the unknown.

But after confronting my anxiety and depression, I was able to blow away those dark clouds and see beautiful, bright light. I began to see that those fears about the future were irrational. These days, there’s not a whole lot I worry about.  I look at the future now with curiosity, rather than fear. But most of the time, I try not to think about it too much. I really prefer thinking about what’s happening right now and appreciating the beautiful things. I have my family, friends, writing, art (drawing, mostly), knitting, music, the fact that it recently snowed in Texas where it hardly EVER snows, and so much more.

It’s so much better to focus on the beautiful now. The sun’s shining, the birds are chirping, my cat is still adorable, and I’m focusing on the things I love. My inspiration has been high, so I’ve been writing a lot of poetry! I actually hope to create a book of poetry and I’m hoping that I can (possibly) self-publish at some point. Instead of being afraid of the future, I’m focusing on living my very best life and following my dreams.

And now, since it’s been a while since I last posted a poem, I’ll finish this entry off with one of my poems I wrote recently!

Ice Sculpture

A girl frozen in place

Sitting on her bed

In an empty room

And she stares out the window

While she listens to the wind blow

While the rain pours

Someone calls her name

But she doesn’t answer

She doesn’t move

She doesn’t speak

She wants to be free

Free from her own mind

Where darkness lurks

Ghosts haunt

And the pain follows her

At every single turn

So she sits there

Cold and frozen

And waits for the time

When she will finally melt

It was such a hard choice deciding which one to share because I have so many I’ve written, but I went with this one!

Anyway, remember to focus on the beautiful now and live your very best life as your very best self.

— Brooke

Winter Wonderland

Something amazing happened today, y’all. IT SNOWED! In Texas. The last time I saw snow was in 2004! I was just eleven years old then and now I’m twenty-four! It happened the December after my mom passed away and thirteen years have passed since then. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting any this year, but sure enough, I woke up this morning and the ground was covered in white fluff! Cool, right?

Yesterday I started hearing about possible snow, but I was wondering if it would actually happen. Because snow is pretty rare in Texas. When I woke up this morning and saw the snow, I was pretty excited. Okay, more than excited. I was overjoyed! I put on my coat and my hat, and I immediately went outside to get some pictures. Some really good ones, if I do say so myself *wink*

So, here are some of my pictures from the Texas Winter Wonderland.

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.1These are just a few of my favorites 🙂 Anyway, this year has been challenging in some ways (losing a loved one, going through a hurricane, etc), but in other ways, it has been absolutely wonderful. I graduated from college, I went to the zoo and held a Macaw and a ball python (really fun experience!), I passed my driving test to get my license, AND it snowed in Texas.

The snow has mostly melted now, but the memories will last forever.

— Brooke

Nerves be gone!

Well, everyone. I have GREAT news. I passed my drivers test!  It took some time to get to this point, but all that matters is that I did it! Today, I want to discuss two important points. 1) perseverance and 2) the annoying thing called excessive nerves. @nerves, you will NOT win! Nope nope nope.

In my journey to get my drivers license, I learned some very important lessons. Even when something doesn’t go right, do not give up. Instead, learn from your mistakes and use what you learned to help you the next time. Trust me, this works. Oh, and the BIGGEST lesson I’ve learned? Nerves do more harm than good. Seriously.  And it doesn’t only apply to driving either! This could apply to literally any situation.

When you let nerves get out of control, it can cause you to mess up on things that you never would have if you had been calm.  That’s why it’s so important to stay calm when you are working on an important task. For me to successfully complete my driving test today (FINALLY), I did a few things that were an enormous help.

  1. Prayer. I prayed last night, I prayed this morning, and I prayed right before my test. I asked God to give me the confidence to successfully complete my test. I asked Him to take my nerves away and give me a peace of mind so that I can be calm.
  2. Sleep. I do like to stay up late sometimes, but I did things a little differently last night. I went to bed a little earlier than I normally do and I made sure to get a good night’s sleep. I felt so much rested and calm when I woke up this morning!
  3. Food. I don’t mean to eat your whole refrigerator (that would be unpleasant, wouldn’t it???). No, I just had a small bowl of Chef Boyardee beefaroni and some water for lunch. And before I left to go and do my test, I ate a banana! Why a banana, you might ask? Well, bananas contain tryptophan, which can be converted into seratonin (which is a brain chemical responsible for happiness). They also contain B Vitamins, which helps to calm the nervous system! So don’t go bananas. Eat one instead!
  4. Positive Self-Affirmations. It’s important to speak positive thoughts to yourself. That’s what I did before my driving test. I told myself, “You know this stuff” and “You can do this.” You may have to repeat these affirmations to yourself a few times.
  5. Breathing. Breathe in through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Let your muscles relax. Repeat this a few times. I did this on the way to the driving center and it helped me a lot.
  6. Practice. Practice makes perfect, does it not? Exactly! I went to the testing center an hour before my test and did a practice drive. I’ve practiced several times over the past few weeks, but a successful drive before my test really got my confidence up. The same goes for anything else, such as an exam at school. Do some practice tests and keep trying until you feel 100% confident in what you’re doing.

So these are the main things I did before passing my driving test. I haven’t always been the perfect driver and sometimes I’ve been downright anxious behind the wheel.  Then I came to the realization that nerves do more harm than good. This journey hasn’t always been easy and there have been ups and downs, but once I learned to conquer my nerves, I was able to successfully complete my test and I couldn’t be happier!!!

Today my nerves and my anxiety did not win, and they never will.

On a different note, follow me on Twitter here!

— Brooke

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure isn’t uncommon. A lot of people are afraid of failure. I am one of those people. It’s the reason that I had terrible test anxiety throughout college. ESPECIALLY during finals. Whenever we would be preparing for a test, my mind would focus ENTIRELY on that test and every possible scenario that could happen as a result of failing that test. My concerns were something like “If I fail this test, I’m going to either end up on academic probation, flunking out of college, or having to retake the class.” But here’s the thing. I was being completely irrational! I just reviewed all my notes, prepared to the best of my ability, and took the test. Usually, I did much better than I expected.

Even now that I’m out of college, I still have that fear of failure. There are times when I wonder what I will do with my life and whether I will truly accomplish the things that I hope to do, and if I try, will it turn out like I want it to? Or will it be a flop? The truth is, I don’t know.  So yes, I still have fear of failure, but when such thoughts creep into my mind, I have to stop myself and think, “Remember, if one door closes, another one will open and whatever is behind that door will be even more amazing.”

I know, it’s easier said than done. But there are ways to confront fear of failure!

  1. Identity the cause of your fear. You can’t work on a problem if you don’t know what the problem is! So, is there a specific reason behind your fear? Whenever you identify the reason, you can begin to confront it.
  2. What will happen (or what do you THINK will happen) if you do fail? Contemplate every possible scenario and then determine if it’s rational, or if it’s irrational. For example, remember when I said that I was afraid that doing poorly on a test would mean academic probation, flunking out of college, or retaking the class? Well, obviously I didn’t want to flunk out of college, but that was a rather irrational thought. And retaking the class? It’s not the worst thing that could happen! And academic probation? Not fun, but I suppose it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. (Although, NONE of those things happened)
  3. Realize that failure is inevitable. None of us are perfect and failure is a part of life. None of us will get things 100% right 100% of the time. That’s okay! You just need to remind yourself that failure is something that can’t necessarily be avoided and that, if anything, failure can be a valuable lesson and it can motivate us.
  4. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If you fail at something the first time, don’t give up! Instead, find out what you did wrong the first time and work on it, then try again!
  5. Embrace failure. Like I said, failure is a part of life. So why not embrace it? Let’s talk about Albert Einstein for a moment. He once said, “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”  His teachers didn’t see him amounting to much when he was a kid. Did he prove them wrong? You bet he did! But it wasn’t something that happened overnight. He persevered and embraced repeated failure. Today, he’s known as a genius. So you see? He embraced failure and he didn’t give up when it happened. He failed sometimes, but he ultimately became a success.

And most importantly, remember that failure does NOT determine your worth. It never will! Whenever something doesn’t go like you hoped it would, don’t beat yourself up and do NOT base your worth on this. You are HUMAN and humans are imperfect. Your worth is not dependent on whether you pass that test or get that job or anything else.

YOU ARE IMPORTANT AND YOU ARE LOVED. REMEMBER THAT. ♥

— Brooke

Reflection

Well, Thanksgiving has finally arrived! And you know what? I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on some things. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve been so caught up in a whirlwind of anxiety that I didn’t truly stop to think about my life and all the good things that have happened to me. Yes, I do think about some of the not-so-positive moments (losing loved ones, having a panic attack back in 2013 in which I felt like there was a giant lump in my throat? Yeeeeaaahhh, not fun), but what’s the point in dwelling on it? There is no point in sitting in a corner and swimming through an ocean of negativity. Trust me, I probably would have drowned in negativity a few years ago. It was all I thought about.

But the great thing is that changing is possible and WOW have a done a lot of it. Now negative thoughts are just a passing thing, rather than something I think about 24/7. These days, I think a lot about the positive things that have happened and the amazing things that my future holds for me. *claps hands* Oh, the possibilities!

First of all, I graduated this year! I have an actual college degree! It may have taken me six years, but I did it! I was smiling the entire time I was at the ceremony because I was so happy and excited.

Next, I’m getting my drivers license soon! I tried when I was sixteen, but I only got my permit. Truthfully, I wasn’t confident enough to be behind the wheel on my own back then. But now I feel so much more comfortable with it and I actually love driving! I took a bit more time than I expected, but oh well! Better late than never, am I right?

Then there’s my new motivation to actually get in shape and lose some of the weight I gained through college. Freshman fifteen? Yeah, I think I gained more than the Freshman Fifteen. So I now have an awesome exercise bike that I’ve been using and I am eager to see the results as they begin showing! (My knees and hips hurt after the first day,  but I realized today that the seat simply needed adjusting. I used my bike two times today and I feel GREAT!)

And that’s just what’s happening lately! But what about the future? Well, I definitely look forward to getting a job. Just gotta look around and see what’s available. I look forward to meeting new people too. (I used to be a huge introvert, but not as much now. Okay, maybe a little, but not AS much as I used to be). I just look forward to having some amazing experiences and becoming the person that I am meant to be.

Now, I want to get a little sentimental with the help of, you guessed it, poetry! As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I lost my grandfather this year after a long battle with COPD. I also lost my mother back in 2004. This poem is for them.

Thank You

You were young

You had years ahead

You were full of life

Until it was suddenly taken

I only got eleven years

But those eleven years

meant so very much

The late night talks

The weekend outings

The movie nights

The I Love You’s

That were always unconditional

The ups and downs

The tears and the loneliness

You faced so much

And yet

It never stopped you

From loving me

From caring for me

As a mother should do

And when you suddenly had to leave

So very soon

Tears were shed

I had no idea what would be ahead

But through the grief and the heartbreak and the sorrow

He was there

The man who raised you

Would now raise me

Stricken by your departure

I know his heart was broken

But that didn’t stop him

From loving me

From caring for me

Like a grandfather should do

He was not perfect

He had his moments

That could leave one feeling frustrated

But he was always there

His love and support was neverending

Even as his health began to falter

The strength of his love was never altered

And now he has reunited with you

In heaven above

And what remains is love

From you both

Your physical beings may be gone

But two beautiful spirits live on

And as much as I miss you both every single day

I know that with God above

I will find my way

 

Just a little message to my beautiful mom in Heaven, letting her know that my wonderful grandfather and my grandmother have taken good care of me and I am doing okay ❤

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Have a wonderful day, spend time with your loved ones, eat some delicious food, and give many thanks!

— Brooke