30 November 2015


recently I had a friend tell me that she is no longer calling them "goals," but intentions. because, yes, I'm giving up goals for 2016. well, plans at least. so much of 2014 & 2015 were made up of plans. plans to move. how. when. where. and over again: three more times. plans to find a job, down to the last day I'd be able to pay rent without one. projects planned down to the wire so I could get paid for those as well. trips planned around time off from work and when the funds were available. (okay, that last part will carry over, nevermind.)
but, instead of planning and goals, or even intentions, I'm focusing the coming year on things I personally enjoy and things I personally feel like I need to do for myself to stay positive and healthy. I am lucky (knock on wood) that the start of the year will find me already moved in to my new place, and a job that I have been at for almost a year (mid-Jan!). but all the other stuff is where I want to focus - some of these are things I just picked up in the past year and hope to continue, some are things I've done all along and can't live without.
when I started headstands six months ago I kind of did it on a whim. I wondered if I could do it because it looked interesting and challenging. I researched a bit with youtube videos what it was about, what parts of the body were used, and decided I could accept that challenge. my first attempts were awful. with little to no upper body strength and very little core strength and having never spent any time upside down (I didn't even like to be the kid hanging from the monkey bars) I knew it would be a weird and tough thing to learn. but, what I found was I actually enjoyed the challenge. I practiced every day, against the wall at first, and within about a month I was away from the wall. what I was gaining alongside the feeling of a challenge accepted and met, was gratitude from my body. thankyou for using me for something different. thankyou for creating something for us to get energetic about. thankyou for taking your time and learning me and how I work. thankyou for choosing your practices thoughtfully (once you decided you liked it). it seems like a strange thing to get hooked on, but its taken a strange level of discipline, just like anything else I suppose, to get good at it. the outcome: more upper body strength, core & abs! and just the concept of focus. when I'm on my mat in my studio or outside on a blanket or in the middle of the woods on a jacket, as soon as I get prepped to get upside down, nothing else matters for a few minutes.
I know that a lot of people do headstands and yoga. a lot. but my goals (there's that word again) for it are personal and simple (in concept, not in practice) - cradled headstand into forearm stand with head up and facing out. why? because that personal challenge speaks to me. having found it, I encourage you to find what speaks to YOU. maybe its not yoga related at all. maybe its not being upside down that's your thing. maybe its more like you want to run longer than a mile at a time, or ten miles at a time. whatever it is. figure out what works for your body and challenge it. I've never been athletic. I've never set physical strength goals for myself or spent time at a gym. I'm not a climber, a runner, or a biker. but what I do love is being upside down.
who knew?
I've dusted off a paper journal. this is something I try to start at the beginning of every year and fail miserably at. mostly because online blogging has become so much quicker and easier and oddly gratifying. but, this year I'm hoping to get elbow deep back into paper and pen for myself. this may mean less frequent online blog posts like this one, maybe more quick little snipits on facebook. when I was in my teens and twenties, I would blow through at least one journal/notebook a month. it was crazy how fast I filled the pages. I brought them everywhere with me in my bag or purse, I would write on the shuttle bus into town on my way to work, I would write in cafes and coffee shops, I would write on my lunchbreaks and at night after dinner. point is, I made time to do it.
yesterday morning I woke up out of a fitful sleep at 2am and wrote until 3:45am. it was a slow process with unfocused eyes and I felt lucky I could even form sentences at that hour. but I woke up with so much on my mind that I knew if I didn't put it out somewhere I'd never get back to sleep. for me, writing is all the stuff that doesn't come out when I quilt. its all the stuff that can't manifest itself into colors or shapes yet. its stuff I think about that needs a voice or a body of its own. memories, ideas, thoughts. when I was younger I wrote poems. now I just write everything.
I'm enjoying the concept of writing more for myself and less for the world. I still want to be able to share my story and what I'm doing and why and how, I know that there are lots of people who have enjoyed following along and who have either learned from what I've been up to or know someone they can forward it along to. and that's very gratifying. its nice to be inspiring. but now that I'm past the launching pad part of my journey out here and a whole year has gone by and I have figured out some of the big things, I can feel myself settling. and for me, that comes with a feeling of wanting to hide away a bit. that the things I have now are more personal and less functional. and honestly I feel like I'm spread a little too thin. either too much social media, which is partly my fault because I love it so much, or too many people asking too many things that I sometimes just don't want to answer. so. if you see less of me, this is why. and its something I'm going to have to try hard at.
something I don't have to try at that has been with me as long as writing, if not longer, is quilting. if you've ever read my blog before, or my facebook, or my instagram, then you know. quilting is like breathing for me. even when I have projects piled up and not enough time to do them, its how I see the world. its how I feel relationships. its how I process information. its how I project who I am. and I am grateful everyday for a practice and a passion that I can rely on for all of those things. I recently put out the call for help for fabric, and the quilting community responded overwhelmingly (like, really, you guys where am I going to store all this fabric?!). it really reinforced to me why I do it. there is so much love for art and for craft out there, so many people doing similar things in such different ways. and so many people wanting you to succeed at what brings you joy. how incredible is that?!
to be able to throw my contributions out into the mix is so rewarding, even when things don't sell as fast as I'd like - for me, even at my poorest, its not about the money entirely. I will hold on to that last little bit of creative spark, even if I've been given all of the design plans and fabrics to work with. sometimes its just the process of putting the fabrics through the machine, when it can't be anything else. heading into another year, I'm leaving behind a year of 15 quilt finishes (2 minis, 13 large), and I'd like to meet or exceed that number. but mostly I just want to take the inspiration I've pulled from places I've been and things I've seen and felt, and create. easy peasy.
I don't meditate, but I think hiking is as close as I get. I choose, for the most part, early morning empty trails. unseasonal trails. spots that maybe aren't as popular. because I like the quiet. I could walk twenty miles happily without passing another person. I like to take my time (unless I'm hiking Thumb Butte, which is uphill on the way up and downhill on the way down and takes no time at all and I like to see how fast I can do it and maybe loop around a second time). hiking has become important for me: to get outside and get active. to stay engaged, similarly to headstands, with myself. so many mornings I've laid in bed and thought about what a great morning it is for a hike, and literally pull myself up and out to go. its about not giving in to a comfy cozy bed cave. its about the feeling when I'm done and get in the car to drive home and my legs are tired and I'm ready for a big-man's breakfast. its about the views I often see on these trails. if I could convince myself to go every weekend, I would. but I think its more reasonable to say every two weeks. at least to start. ;)
I'm collecting lists of places I want to hike locally, either again or for the first time. if you've been in and around the northern AZ area, send me your favorites! any hidden spots, bonus points.
the one I knew ya'll were waiting for. I mean, I'd rather eat ramen for the rest of my life than not take trips right now. but here's the reality of it: funds are low. even with moving to a cheaper place I'll be breaking even mostly. there will be some months where there will be extra, and there will be some funds coming in from quilts. there is a jar on my bedside full of coins and a few one dollar bills. that is where my trip money will come from... not just get in the car and go on one tank of gas type daytrips, but weekend trips to Joshua Tree. anywhere i might need to fly to. thankfully, the list of big trips for the coming year is small. no trips back to Maine on the horizon (so if you want to see me, you'll just have to come here!).
but, I do want to get out to J Tree as often as I can. honestly, if I camp and bring food, I can do it for about a hundred bucks worth of gas and fees. do I want to do it that way alone all the time?, not necessarily, but I suppose I would get used to it VS those adorably cushy little airbnb cabins I like to stay in. those cost so much more money... I'll have til spring to think about it, since its a little bit chilly out there in the desert overnight for my taste right now. but yes. I want to camp more. lets camp!
but for me, solo travel, like so many other things I've listed above, is about personal challenge. it feels good. when I get to my destination and see whatever it is that I want to see (daytrip or otherwise), its rewarding. to get the photos and experience the area. J Tree always feels like going home, every time; less about the challenge and more about the comfort, the drive is easy for me and I'm familiar with the town. its more just about being okay alone.
which I think we have all determined I certainly am.
so maybe I'll see you along the way somewhere this year. once I figure out where I want to go...
you can see I have my work ahead of me. things to stick to, things to pick back up. but all of it with good intentions and positive results. I'm looking forward to not so much even feeling a change, because I know it will be pretty gradual, but when this next year is up looking back on what I've accomplished. so different than this year I'm putting behind me in so many ways, but still the same me with the same values and hopes.
if you want to see positive change, you have to make positive change. and I guess that's my only "plan."

22 November 2015

but first, you.

i have been trying for four weeks to sit down to write this blog post, because i haven't written about my trip to joshua tree yet.... but there's been so much thats happened since then that i haven't had a chance. or i haven't quite known how. or what to say.

groom creek, prescott
i'm going to start here with the most current thing, and work my way backwards a month. 

i am moving to a new living space in a month. yes, i'm moving again, for the 7th or 8th time in ten years. for the second time this year alone. financially and socially it will be a better situation. i won't have quite as much space to spread out (no separate studio space), but i'll have enough room to sew and i'll have shared use of the living room, which i don't have in my current place. my own bathroom. mostly furnished bedroom. but lets be honest, most of what i'm moving with (as usual) is not furniture or belongings, its plants and fabric. i've acquired three new bins of fabric over the last few weeks thanks to friends from all over the country, which is amazing as far as needing to create projects, but not so amazing for needing to move... this option came as a surprise and i'm thankful. i'll be living with a friend and it won't feel quite so much like i'm just renting a space in someone else's house, which is still how i feel after a year here. don't get me wrong, i really enjoy my rooms - i love this bedroom and am slightly sad to leave it. 

i'm excited for the challenge of getting into a new space again and making it mine, which is always something i really enjoy. and, the main reason is that it will afford me savings every month, which is something i desperately need. to catch up on bills, to start saving again, and to make small trips if i want to. an extra couple hundred dollars a month is the difference between eating ramen every day and cooking real meals, between taking that weekend drive or having to stay home to save on gas in my car, and having to ask for help VS continuing to do it on my own. its not going to put me back completely level, but it will help. (this coming week i have to sit down to make my new winter/spring budget. ugh.)

groom creek, prescott
so, in between deciding to move and starting prep for that (how is it possible i've accumulated a fairly solid amount of stuff since the last time i moved?!), i've had a lot of other things going on. mostly things that are harder to share and talk about. 

groom creek, prescott
Close your eyes and think about that boy. Tell me how he makes you feel. Let your mind trace over his tired shoulders. Allow your thoughts to linger on that beautiful smile. Take a deep breath and try to put those dark thoughts aside. For once, let go of the reins you’ve wrapped so tightly around your heart. I know you are scared. Who could blame you? Love is a hurricane wrapped inside a chrysalis. And you are a girl walking into the storm. -LL
i've recently decided to stop glorifying things that happened in the past, and actually take responsibility for them. there were lessons there to be learned, but they weren't some beautiful tragedies - they were mistakes. and its okay to be honest about them, but i'm tired of glorifying actions (mine or someone elses') for the sake of poetry. the last ten years have been emotionally exhausting for one reason or another, but i've started to get better at making "better" choices. bigger decisions. and i've started to get healthier at understanding why i'm doing what i'm doing. 

we all experience things. we have feelings, we make choices. sometimes those choices don’t pan out and they don’t take you where you planned to go, and you wake up one day to that realization. we all make mistakes, but few of us want to own up to them. because, well, its hard. so we reword them, rearrange the memories until they make something beautiful about a california sunset. we highlight and focus on the good, and use filters over the bad. finding the bad in something you once loved makes you seem foolish for choosing them. you thought that this person would be your everything, or your escape. it’s okay to admit that your past was a mistake. it’s not a bad thing. it’s a real and honest and important thing.

A New Day quilt / oct 2015
i've been feeling slightly like the stereotypical millennial, you know, the kind of my generation that writes articles about what its like to never be in a committed relationship, or how to meet guys on a dating app and be surprised when they only want sex, or how to say i love you without ever saying the words.

there has been so much of my relationships that has been fueled by fear. by my inability to be honest about what i really want. and what i really feel. i am a nurturer at heart, let me care for you and feed you and clothe you and bathe you, and while you sleep i will lay there and think of all of the things i wish you would do for me in return. i lived five years of my life that way, in a constant facade of housewife making nice while hardly ever being intimate with my partner. i've dated men who are happy to say that they captured a pixie and could tell her what to do.

groom creek, prescott
perhaps only once in my life, at least in recent memory, have i been with a man who - while never having actually chose me first for any lengthy duration - has been able to make me feel like an equal. the kind of person you can still feel touching you long after they've left. after our short time together when he left, i recognized that the things i was feeling were such a big deal because in thirty five years of being alive, i had never felt them before. maybe it was because of him, or maybe it was because i opened myself up to it all, but off he went for months. 

i saw that face again recently for a couple of days that made it feel like those months had never slowly slowly ticked by, and i understood for the first time in my life that a wound does not always need to be a wound. that it does not always have be reopened painfully. that fear is an illusion, that we create scenarios in our minds and then we feed off them. being hard and tough gives me the  illusion of security, but it doesn't keep out the emotions no matter how hard i try. if we are lucky, our lives are full of moments we wish would never end. it could be something simple like a hot shower on a cold day or the comforting and exciting feeling of new relationship. but, change is inevitable.... and clinging to moments, past or present, will not bring us peace. i've tried, every day, for the last six months, to do just that and have failed. we’re always told to step back, to take a deep breaths, and to practice self care and self love but how often do i actually do it? half of the time i may not even know where to start. it’s always easy to see the good in others, but in ourselves, not so much. if i loved myself half as much as i loved him... 

there is a big difference between a california sunrise and an arizona sunrise. 

sunrise, nov 3
i spent two days beside him. talking, sleeping, snuggling. two completely different paths, one for him and one for me. but, give love without condition - do it with love or not at all. just because they cannot be beside you for very long does not mean that you cannot love them while they are. be present, because everything is now - if you're constantly looking back or ahead you miss the very thing that is right there with you. stop welcoming in trauma and conflict and anger. show up, connect, and be present... yes, he got in the truck to leave and i let myself fall apart for a while after. but its in those bittersweet goodbyes that aren't really goodbyes that i see myself forgiving more, letting discomfort move through me, and not letting myself feel shame for intimate moments that will never be the same with anyone else. i would rather have the experience feel difficult in the end than have missed the opportunity altogether.

how sad it is to walk away feeling reciprocation and recognizing that you have hardly ever felt that. i don't mean in the big overall picture of i'm staying forever and i promise you everything. i am talking in thank you's. in offering a ride to work. in holding my hand in my sleep. in moments that feel genuine. know that not everyone can stay but that it does not devalue your experience when they move forward, even if all of their experiences with everyone are special. that everything you do afterwards to brush yourself off and create and live means you are learning and you are taking that with you. even on the days you wish you could leave it behind, you know that its a choice to take it with you, and you choose to. that is your choice. 

love is a confession of character, and we all do it differently.

joshua tree
i am on a relationship sabbatical. that does not mean that i don't want to meet new people and understand what they have to offer, i simply am taking myself off of dating sites or answering those emails from friends who say, "hey i know this friend of a friend that is single and you should meet him." i'm tired of explaining to every guy i come across how i ended up out here and what my life is about, fending off requests for casual sex from men i've never met, and although i know i will miss the weird little butterflies you get on a first date, i'm just tired of all of it. if i run into a total stranger on a hike and strike up a conversation, so be it. if i sit next to a cute dude in a coffee shop and we have something in common, thats great. but right now i'm waving my white flag to dating. because with so much to offer i often feel a level of disappointment that i can't even begin to explain. 

joshua tree
two big quilt projects and moving and small trips will keep me plenty busy this winter. spending holidays without friends and family have become no big deal. my focus is less on things like who's cooking the meal or what does everyone want from santa. i'll be dogsitting over thanksgiving this year...

i'm more curious how i can stay motivated to create more and faster and better. so many friends donated fabrics to me when i said i was in need and i have no excuses now to not tap into all of the inspiration i've been carrying around with me for months. 

with heather in joshua tree
i gathered up a lifetime's worth of inspiration on my trip to Joshua Tree with my sisterfriend. same as always, i brought all of my woes and worries and that place took them from me and held on to them and then gave them back when it was time to leave - only they were given back to me in a way that i could understand them better. i love that place with every fiber of my being in ways that i can't put into words. i know that everything i'm doing here right now in this life in AZ is so that i can get out there, eventually. when the time is right and the money is there and i can accept that i no longer need it as my escape. 

my heart.
she and i camped out for a couple of nights in the cold and stayed up late talking and got up early to see the sunrise. we drove through the entire park, to edges i had never seen in the dozen times i'd been there. we stopped to photograph everything. we climbed some rocks, soaked in the sun, did headstands wherever possible, listened to emotionally appropriate music, walked through town, and sometimes we just sat in silence. we drove out to the salton sea and salvation mountain, two spots i'd never attempted to go to alone. every quirky weird stop along the way had our names on them. 

i'm not sure about her, but i refueled the only way i know how to there. people often ask me what it is about that place that draws me to it, why i like it so much. the fact that i can't answer most times leads me to believe its totally out of my hands. but if those trees could talk, i think they'd have their own language.

i am hoping to get back out there to visit over the winter, or at least in march. looking forward to that is one of the only things i want to do. i haven't set my goals for 2016 yet. 2015 has been full of so many plans and so many surprises and so many THINGS, that i'm almost a little hesitant to make a list for next year. maybe it can be the first year that i just blaze into it without a plan and see what happens. if you're alive and you're feeling this you're doing it right. (even on the days it all feels wrong.) i've had days this week that felt like i was spinning in circles and had no idea what i was thinking, back and forth between feeling amazing and awful, but every day that i admit i'm okay or not okay means passion and intention. 

i'm maybe not good at letting go, but maybe i don't need to be.

01 November 2015

a bit on quilts;

i still have so much i want to blog about my trip to j tree.. but first...as i've been working on some new projects, it occurred to me that *i* know what others have been saying about my work, and those thoughts & feedback should be shared. maybe its hard for you, as a customer, to understand the quality and feeling that gets put into every project. so. i asked some recent customers & friends (women AND men) from all over the country to weigh in on what these projects say to them. i did it mostly to share, but i was so humbled and felt so much love from these people - a real testament to why i do what i do. if you've been thinking about purchasing a quilt and are wondering if its worth it, remember: its hard for me to put a price on each piece of unique art, and love & experiences, but its the best form of communication i've got.... THANKYOU to everyone who participated, and for everyone who has supported this over the past 15 (okay, maybe 25, if you count my mom) years! /// http://www.etsy.com/shop/brookeapriltwo80 /// without further adieu... 

"Brooke doesn't make quilts, she translates visions. She takes the world in with wonder and excitement and joy, and sends that back out to the world in color and pattern. Her quilts aren't just fabric stitched together in pretty ways, they are Brooke's heart and soul. Her emotions and experiences and unique way of seeing the world sewn into something we can all be lucky enough to see and touch and feel. Brooke's quilts aren't just blankets. They're art." -HT

"Brooke Biette brings a fresh modern take on quilting while maintaining that nostalgic-homey feel that we all love about a great quilt. The tessellation patterns that she creates tell colorfully rich stories. These stories will make you smile to yourself as you drink your coffee snuggled-up under one. Whether a BB quilt is used as a decorative piece to brighten a room or as an functional blanket on those chilly mornings the owner will feel Brooke's creative love radiating throughout." -E

"As an artist myself; with all my years of training, experience, and two college degrees, I'm still baffled and amazed by Brooke's quilts.
Her ability to take a story, an experience, a place in time, and express it through The complex, abstract language of shape, color, and pattern in the way that she does is really wonderful.
It can be easy to dismiss quilts and quilting as "mere craft" but that's unfair at best. Even the finest crafts people deserve far more recognition than that. And among her peers in that world, Brooke stands out above most. Not only is her work exceptionally crafted, but it succeeds as fine art as well.
It's a rare artist indeed who can accomplish both of those things with such ease and grace." -C

"Having handmade things in my home is always a joy to me, but having Brooke-made pieces is even more special. She has a need to create that causes her to put her heart and soul into her work, which I think you can feel when looking at it." -A

"I buy quilts from Brooke number 1 because she is my friend. Owning a piece of art from your friend is like having a bit of them with you always. But her passion and commitment to her creative self is what shines through. Each creation is an extension of herself and her experiences, but they speak to others in different ways. She has an incredible eye for color and everything is so unique. I want my pieces to be used and loved and passed on to be the heirlooms they should be." -P

"I have to say that in terms of your quilting style it has opened up over the year (just as you have). It has become more expansive, diverse in pattern and in colors. It certainly reflects where you are living and I absolutely love the changes in both the quilts and in you my friend." -H

"I've commissioned Brooke for various baby quilts.My coworkers have been recipients of her work. The vibrancy and handicraft in her pieces have made them a unique and cherished gift." -J

"Hi Brooke, thank you very much for the recent quilt that I purchased from you. I followed the photos of it on Instagram as you were creating it, and became increasingly intrigued the more you posted your progress. The quilt is a log cabin, and the way you've arranged the blocks plus the fabric you chose to use really spoke to me. The colors are rich and deep and happy and vibrant! I love the fabric you chose for the back too, it's a nice little surprise when you're snuggling with the quilt. This is definitely a quilt my family will love forever, thank you for sharing your treasures with us!" -P

"Brooke's quilts are such an energetic, modern take on a very traditional symbol of Americana. Kaleidoscopic and nostalgic at the same time - like rediscovering a moment in time with new eyes. " -AV

"You always find a way to take unexpected color combinations and make them flow naturally together. You also have a talent for interpreting the meaningful parts of life into fabric. Outside of that, the quilt I received from you is vibrant, well-assembled (I still can't believe you don't have a seam ripper), and Tripp regularly steals it from me because he loves it so much. We'll be cuddling under it forever." -K

18 October 2015

letting go and letting in.

i have friends who have had babies that i've not been able to hold. i woke up this morning barely recognizing photographs of faces of men whose bodies i've spent time with. yesterday my brother got engaged (after eight years). 

sometimes change happens so fast.

and sometimes it feels like it takes forever.

it has been over three years since my last lengthy relationship - three years ago i purposely said goodbye to almost six years of life and stuff. since then, i've gotten so much better with myself. its a daily process that sometimes i fail instantly just by getting out of bed, but i'm getting better at that too. three years ago i hadn't even visited arizona yet.

the handful of exchanges that have happened since that relationship have been so varied and so unique and seemingly mostly unimportant in the way that they can all so easily come and go. for a while i started to think it was me - what could possibly be so wrong with me? that no one ever has the plan to stay? and then i recognized that i give, and i understand, and i love, and i am comfortable and i am good. and that it is not me, the leaving is not my fault.  

i could blame it on guys, or society, or the universe. but i guess you're only given what you can handle. and it seems that really i can handle a lot. 

in the past few weeks i've met some new people. i've been able to make the time to go out and get a beer and do social things that people in small towns do. i've had a couple of fun days with coworkers adventuring about. i've been able to talk on the phone to longtime friends and hear their voices. i've spent a weekend with my best/sisterfriend hiking and headstanding and drinking and laughing and admitting things. some people i haven't had a chance to see yet. but i'm trying. 

and i'm trying to connect.

i'm happy with silly things like the way my hair looks lately, the feeling of warm socks on these recently cold nights, and the stack of books next to my bed. my system, my routine, my self has settled in to trusting this impending fall and winter. its peaceful, like old hallways in the home you grew up in. i've made that safe space for myself to retreat to in case of emotional emergency. but i'm trying to be kinder to myself so that i don't necessarily need it. 

its been a couple of months, and really not that long ago i had a couple of pretty shitty weeks, but i'm starting to feel full again. if you know me really well, it might not seem that way at first. but i'm stretching and i'm pushing and i'm recognizing that when one door closes (even if it takes forever), another one opens. i know that the past six months has been trying to prepare me for whatever comes next. aside from feeling so much struggle, i know that i've given myself gifts. like reminding myself that a few bad days does not mean a bad life. like reminding myself that not everyone is going to be what you want them to be. like reminding myself that i'm worth so much more. 

i woke in my friend's trailer yesterday to a cold and rainy mountain morning, buried under a big heavy blanket, watching the fogged up windows streak with strings of water; and i could almost remember what it felt like to be happy with a partner - truly. but honestly, the past nine years have held a lot of pretending and a lot of trying and a lot of quickness, and its hard to remember the comfortable and quiet moments i was given in real and actual love. there are some. it wasn't all for nothing. there were moments of rest. even in LA, where i felt the most unloved, there was at least one morning when sunshine came in the window at the perfect angle, an arm around my sleeping waist, and things felt easy for a minute. just a minute.

i am ready for what comes next. 

for this trip to joshua tree, where my soul knows the way. where everything looks and smells and feels like acceptance. 

for more new people and what they have to share. we all start somewhere, and sometimes its not much of something but its enough to get by. these days i want to do more than get by. i'm ready for the level of reciprocation that comes with glittering anticipation, arms outstretched, and respect. a place to land. someone who has stories to tell and similarities, some sort of mutual love for this path. to connect through music and movement and adventure and sometimes just a really pretty sunset. the thing is that i don't want to fix anyone, i don't want to be anyone's untouchable pretty pixie dream girl. i want to create beautiful things alongside someone who understands where those things come from. 

i don't feel like we were made to do this alone. but i know we can't be good to anyone else unless we are good to ourselves. i don't think its weakness to go back to those old places over and over again, and i don't think its always strong to just barrel ahead paying no mind to what we're leaving in the wake. i just know that slowly, slowly i'm letting go and letting in.

11 October 2015

our perceptions.

i'm here in the middle of god's country watching storms roll in and out leaving behind gray skies and blue skies and middle of the night howls of the coyotes.

i am never proud when i have to take a day to regroup or recover or stay in bed or hide from the world - but i am proud of how i feel my way through things. i do not sit around and wait to be fixed. i don't walk around with the title of victim displayed like a badge.

but sometimes, i have to ask for help. one day last week when i. just. couldn't. do. it. i had to tell my boss and left work in a flurry of tears that i couldn't stop no matter how hard i tried. i went home and i ate a lot of food and i slept a lot of dreamless sleep, and the next day i tried again. better. 

my experiences have always been filtered through whatever situation or onlooker deemed as acceptable, i've done well to hold in my grief. to instead drive, as far as possible, with no destination in mind. just go. i have been small and emotional since birth, but i came out fighting against the grain (and really against medical miracles), and i continue to stand on my own.

i spend as much time on others as myself, not for them to make me happy, but to share in happiness. i am able to sit with myself. i have seen friends who do not love themselves and i know what that looks like - that is not my mirror. love is not a thing that i can keep on my own, tucked in a box, made a secret. that serves little use to me. someone told me this weekend, "i can hear so much love in your voice," and i replied, "do it with love or not at all." maybe its easier to be angry, or silent. maybe. but for me, most of the time, love is honesty. and i think with it comes all of those other things.

there have been a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of reminders of the way ____ used to talk to me. the way so-and-so is so pushy that i can't even bother. and the way he used to leave my sheets and me a mess, every time (well, when we bothered to even make it to the bed). the way i let every sound and every touch effect me.

what if you love someone who can't love you back? ...you accept it and you continue looking until you find someone who can. what if you want something as seemingly simple as dates that turn into a relationship because both people are willing to put in the effort and the open arms that it takes to reciprocate? ...you stop looking for love in hookups. what if you are not happy where you are? ...you move.

"easy" answers.

so many people often dislike people who are emotional. who stir up what things really feel like. who express things we can't, who are not afraid to. it forces listening, and it forces changes. emotions are not wrong, only when they're hidden and neglected. emotions are not too much, only when they stay in so long that they come spilling out in a sea of oversaturated apologies. i operate under the assumption that the only thing we can ever really all add up to is not what we did or how we did it, but how we felt. i feel sorry for those who are too scared of their own selves and their own hearts to tell me not to feel something; i don’t feel sorry for how much i feel.

anything i've ever felt has pushed me to do something that i've done and to end up somewhere i've been. 

i stood on the edge of the grand canyon yesterday, for the fourth time, and looked out into the abyss. its all so much bigger than you. than me. than us. than an us that never was, ten years ago, five years ago, two years ago, two months ago, yesterday. in less than two weeks when i'm in joshua tree, i'll feel the same way. for every hurt i allow in, i allow myself to be healed. for every day that i fail, i try harder later. for nights that include talking a friend down off a (metaphorical and sometimes real) ledge, when you're crying over your own problems, because sometimes its okay to take a back seat.

but sometimes its necessary to fill your own cup first.

a friend asked me yesterday what my goals are. "lets talk about brooke," she said. i still feel like i'm a blank slate. i don't see myself going back to school, at least not any time soon. i don't want to say that i'm happy to coast along, but instead i'm happy to find and wait for the right direction.

my main goal right now is to do things that are effortless. or at least, let them be effortless. i've grown up in a generation of struggles that have made so many of us believe that success only comes from the kind of hard work that is brutal and backbreaking, but i'm starting to understand that may be something that we impose on ourselves - who doesn't like to see progress? who doesn't like to feel like they have tackled and achieved something? but there is something to be said for letting ourselves achieve effortless things. effortless does not mean unmerited. i merely want to be more aware of not creating problems that aren't there.

effortlessness, simplicity. those things are sometimes difficult because it means we have to be more level headed. more clear minded. more focused on just breathing and less focused on everything else. but, we are nothing but our perceptions of ourselves, and our perceptions are only as meaningful as we make them. luckily, these things can change at any time. and luckily if you are honest and put out your own perception in the best way you know how, other people will see it too, if you let them.

if not, roots can be dug up and planted again.

04 October 2015

leaving / look ahead.

i have done a lot of leaving in the past few years. leaving relationships. leaving jobs. leaving home. leaving friends. leaving family. 

in all of the leaving i have done, i have left little pieces of myself behind.

i have had moments in the past few months when i've felt what its been like to be left behind. after all the leaving i've done, eventually it would catch up to me and i would be the one left. [and i don't mean like that time in joshua tree when a weekend full of arguments turned into a narcissistic goodbye that felt "good".]

i mean in the sense of a real goodbye. when you realize just how much you wanted someone to stay.

i am not good at these kinds of goodbyes.

(do it with love or not at all.)

for everything that i put out there into the world, loud-mouthed and happy to share experiences and photos and stories and everything in between, there are just as many things that i hide. most times in the right then and there moment, i don't have the words. the words come later, and often in long strings of texts dropped like little bombs from miles away. one of my flaws is that my honesty comes at all of the wrong times. 

not a lot of people / friends / family knew what i was doing five months ago, or with who. i shared little bits here and there and more with my closest friends, but most often i was so busy being present that i forgot to photograph it. i found myself jotting down notes and writing in my journal so that i wouldn't forget the things that seemed the most important. 

the way it felt to meet someone new in a new place where barely a soul knew you. the way it felt to take a risk and to open up. i think sometimes people are put smack dab in the middle of our path when they have something to show us. sometimes these people are not meant to stay.

i related to that wandering spirit that couldn't stay in one place. sometimes its just easier to run and start over somewhere else. sometimes its easier to not look back. sometimes it feels cleaner to not say too much. sometimes even when you know you're leaving something or someone behind, you go anyway. 

i have felt all of those things, now on both sides.

mine is a heart that never asks for much in return. it only asks for explanations after the fact. it carries a lot of burdens and over the years it has made a lot of excuses for a lot of things. it has spent a lot of time alone... but it needs people. 

just now its realizing it needs people. 

sometimes its just all a little bit much to go it alone. 

momentary copilots seem to be all that i have been given. 

i have been strong when i thought i couldn't be. i have been weak when i've wanted to be stronger. but more than anything i've wanted to be honest when nothing could come out - when i hear, "how are you?" and reply, "i'm good!" ...i AM good. i'm always good. even when i'm not. 

i have always opted to take on hurts - either mine or someone elses - often over the truth. especially if it means that the other person is happy. this is the life of an empath, and the role that even the strongest parts of me have assumed. i'm good at it, for better or for worse, and when i love i love hard. when i let go, i let go even harder.  

in traveling and living and adventuring alone, i have recognized who and what and why are important to me. i have held tight to a lot of things  - very authentic and vulnerable things - that have made my journey what it is. there is not a single piece that i regret, except for maybe not saying some words sooner. 

i think sometimes people are put smack dab in the middle of our path when they have something to show us. 

to show us how to move on. 
to show us how to look ahead.

sometimes these people are not meant to stay. 

and, it hurts to be left behind. but only when you let it.

27 September 2015

one year.

one year ago today, my younger brother and i got in the car that i had packed up the day before, and left Maine - headed for AZ.

i knew that i was making the right choice for myself, but i can remember so well the feeling of knowing how disappointed everyone was to see me go. i have never found it easy in life to put my own needs in front of everyone else's - which finally meant that yes, absolutely, i needed to do this. it was time.
since january, when i secretly made the decision to move 2,500-3,000 miles away, i have found myself trying to be excited. my excitement has always felt bumped out of the way by something negative, which has made the whole experience less enjoyable than i'd hoped it would be. i think i had this lofty dream when i decided to move that i would be able to spend the next nine+ months planning and saving, without realizing just how much of a physical and emotional toll it would take on me.  /// 21 Sept 2014
the pastel pixie hair that i had a couple of months prior had changed to red, and the red would fade to pink in the four days it took us to drive across the country. (you can read my last blog post written in full, before i left, HERE.)

photo by Jessica Weiser, 2014
photo by Jessica Weiser, 2014
i no longer own the WEIRDO shirt that we used for the photoshoot. a quirky little tee that made me giggle and feel more normal. but i think, somewhere along the way, somehow, i realized WEIRDO is not a word i relate to anymore. other words like "wanderer", "traveler", "empath"... those are words i would use to describe myself now, but not "weirdo". (my hair no longer looks weird. my tattoos do not make me feel weird. i explain the things i love to people with pride. i've learned how to own who i am, whatever that means.)

i spent a month in AZ once i got 2,500 miles away; traveling around to the fun little local hiking and scenic spots, spending time with Ian and his family, and preparing myself for the next few months ahead in Los Angeles. (you can read my first blog post from Arizona, HERE.)

i've written a lot here along the way about my time in LA. learning that it wasn't for me. understanding that people are sometimes not what they seem. recognizing that a hard decision would only be made more difficult by relying on people who were not good for me. ...a precious lesson that took longer than it should have, but i don't regret the first half of the september to september year. (you can read the last post from LA, HERE.) i had fallen in love with a lot of things, but those things were not for me. 

getting back to Arizona and finding a place to live, a job, settling in - that felt like the normal progression. i started meeting a couple of people. i found a routine. it took me a while to catch up with myself. i started selling my quilt work again. AZ made me feel a little more more like me. a lot of people look at my work and tell me its beautiful - i look at my work and see hours, days, years of love | heartache | time | travel | choices | movement. i like to keep it intimate. its about connection. 

from the outside, friends and family may have seen this entire year as me just trying to find myself, and maybe that has been true. on the inside, so much of what i was doing was about connecting with others, or so i thought. looking back over the past year i can see now that it was so much more about trying to connect with myself. 
in my backyard, first day of fall, 2015.
i have known and met people along the way this past year who have changed my path. soul sisters in LA who have the same tattoos as me and understand why i am who i am. muses in LA who never once had earned or deserved any inch of love that tried to give. quilter buddies who showed me new ways to do things. friends to have conversations with. friends to hike with. AZ friends who will put you up in their home even though they already have a family of six to take care of and who will pick you up at the bus station at the drop of a hat. i went on dates, adventures, camped overnight at the top of a desert hill. i was allowed to spend time with people who did not belong to me and were not meant to stay, and i have had to learn how to give them back. i met my sisterfriend, who i now consider my bestfriend, and spent time up in the woods and talk to every day. i wrangled my emotions in and was thankful for every experience i was given.

and for every experience i gave to myself. (HERE.)

Salome, AZ / september 2015.
the desert has become my home. it is where i have been able to travel alone and find quiet spaces. its where i've connected to the giant blue sky. its where anything that has gone wrong, has turned right again. (read more about that one desert drive, HERE.) 

i wrote about how the southwest has softened me, HERE. how its changed my perspective and opened my eyes to so many different things and different people and how i feel, for better or for worse. i've fallen in and out of love so many times this year with places and people, that some mornings its been hard to get out of bed - but it never once has felt in vain. when you're faced with both excruciatingly beautiful things side by side with heartache, the only possible choice is to brush the dust off and move forward.

i visited maine last week. i saw friends and family and the ocean and ate lobster. i slept in the guest room that i had stayed in the two months before i moved. i stayed up late talking to my parents and i hugged my brother. i revisited all of the guilt i had before i moved and although i loved seeing everyone so so much, i knew that maine didn't feel like home anymore. the faces did - and i love them all - but i felt relief when i stepped off the plane in phoenix (and not just because it took so long to get back). the ocean is beautiful, but the desert keeps me steady.

portland, ME / sept 2015
this has been a long and tough year. i have faced a lot of emotional challenges, money challenges, time challenges... i have had good days and bad days. i have seen an incredible amount of things and places and people. and every time i think i'm right on the verge of giving up, i keep going. today, on the one year anniversary of leaving, i have made the choice yet again to keep going. i have had a lot of help and a lot of support. but the not so instant fixes, the ones that don't include car problems, i have dealt with by myself. 

"every positive change in your life begins with a clear, 
unequivocal decision that you are going to either do 
something or stop doing something."

i have not second guessed myself one bit. i have made mistakes and i have made amazing decisions and i have allowed myself to open up to things i never would have done before. i have kept in touch with people, i have done the best i could from afar to help, and i have given myself space to do a lot of loving and let go of a lot of things. i have also given too much away, something i will never apologize for. 

people keep telling me to learn from experiences and do better next time, but i think what i've actually taken away from this year is that no matter what has changed around me and for how much i have changed, i am still me. i still love too hard, drive too fast, and freak out when my car breaks. 

so, self, happy anniversary. happy one year of doing what you needed to do despite what everyone else would have rathered. of loving and fighting and traveling and photographing and making. of letting your guard down. of letting people in. 

and of always looking ahead. 

you've still got a lot to look ahead to. and you deserve it. saddle up, lady.

12 September 2015

a tourist.

in five days i'll be back visiting in maine.

but before i do that, i had to take one last desert drive, out on my favorite highway, to my favorite spot. the day before, i'd had the biggest headache of my life and had crawled in bed for six hours to sleep it off. i only let those days last one day. and then its time to go.

this spot is one that i've passed many times on the drive to / from LA / joshua tree, and have driven the two hours randomly just to see on days when i needed that little extra reminder. the desert gets me. its alone and its empty but its sustainable and its thriving the only way it can. i don't know what this old abandoned building used to be - what it used to hold or what people spent their time in it or what kinds of memories it contained. today its full of graffiti and broken glass of every color, and yesterday on my visit it was nearly 100 degrees outside in that desert sun. 

next door and beyond is a cluster of what looks like abandoned motel shacks, all in a line, boarded up. behind it all, a couple of run down out buildings and a trailer full of stuff that seems to belong to no one. a busted toilet lying sideways on the ground. broken furniture, cactus, birds, lizards. 

out there, it seems as though the earth is simply accepting and taking in what the people have left behind (i know the feeling). slowly the wood is breaking down, the sand is getting in, and the sun has faded away any sign of color. but big strong tall and overwhelming mountains line both sides of this street, a sight that never gets old for me. the first time i made that drive from AZ to CA i was so excited i barely took in the landscape, i just drove until i got there. coming back was much the opposite. i was disappointed, scared, tired, and knew i then had such a task ahead of me - i had to take what i had just learned about people and life and make something for myself. i cried on that drive back through this desert stretch, but i've written about that before. the way the palm trees finally thin out until there is only one alone in the middle of twenty miles of nothing. 

i've had days since then, nine+ months later, that i still feel like that one lone palm tree. swaying in the wind. standing tall. 

change doesn't have to be this big overwhelming thing, but i suppose often it is. many of the changes i've made have been big relatively speaking. but in meeting people along the way i have come to realize that so many people have made similar changes in their own ways - choosing to pack up and move long distances, quitting jobs, learning what it means to be alone. i'm finding more and more its the smaller changes, the everyday little ones, that often go unnoticed. the way that some days you wake up feeling amazing and other days you can't get yourself out of bed. the way you learn to just do it anyway. the way one day you can't do a headstand and two months later you already feel stronger and better and have gotten so good at it. the way some nights are just made for texting every last ounce of crazy that you've got out onto your sisterfriend who really doesn't think you're all that crazy, you just can't help but think you are since thats how so many people have often made you feel. and because these days you take so many things in stride as just part of the deal that it takes a second to realize its not really crazy at all - simply ranting and rambling about things that actually mean something to you now. 

you've started to acquire things that mean something to you again.

that is not a small change. 

i thought about 9/11 and where i was. i thought about how lucky i am now to have a sisterfriend willing to share in my adventures and who is willing to let me into hers. i thought about how ____ never fought for me when he absolutely should have. and i thought about what it means to be authentic and intimate and how so many people have shaped me over the years and how i want to know that i've shaped someone in return and when i say i miss you what i really mean is ______.

five more days until i head back to maine on a quick trip that will practically take longer to make than it will to actually be there. and there are things, aside from seeing my family and friends, that i feel like i have to do. things that i cannot do here in landlocked, desert southwest. i want to see the atlantic ocean. i want to eat real lobster. i want to go to LL Bean. and if i can find a way to get downtown, i want to take my photo infront of the Portland Maine mural on the side of the Asylum club building. 

i'll be a tourist.

a tourist going back to the place i grew up.

my parents have started making plans, my brother is picking me up at the airport late at night on a work day, my grandmothers have started to forget who i am, and i will be a tourist. part of me is worried that in visiting i will feel like too many things have shifted. faces and places will be familiar, but i no longer live there. it will be two weeks shy of exactly one year since i left. ONE YEAR. i'm hoping it will feel like coming home, but what if it does not. i am not the same woman that left. in so many ways i am better... but i am not entirely sure i am ready to see just what i left behind. and i am not sure when i will have another chance to visit again. another year? two years? longer? 

much unlike when i left maine, there are many uncertainties i now have the answers to. but, in light of that, i've started to accumulate more. the initial getting out here and getting settled is now a memory. lots of roadtrips and sight seeing and hellos and goodbyes behind me. i've moved on to what comes next. is it possible i have even been here long enough to meet someone and already miss them? is it possible i have even been here long enough to consider another town, another move, another climate change, another big step for likely a year+ from now? ...is it possible that now that i've started seeing and moving and feeling and exploring, i may never want to stop... 

i've become that kind of person who drives three hours one way just to take ten photos on my phone and turn around to drive back home. i've become the kind of person who can't stay at home on weekends (even with a big pile of sewing i'd like to get done so i can put it in the shop!). i've become the kind of person willing to entertain the idea of meeting someone halfway, 1,000 miles from here. i've become the kind of person who can't go to bed without doing headstands, planks, and knee crunches (WHO AM I?!?!). 

and yes, i am looking forward to visiting maine. 

and yes, i am looking forward to coming back to AZ.

and yes, not all of my nights are good and there are still things i lack and there are still things i want and there are still things....

but i'm that palm tree.

31 August 2015


there's a funny thing that happens when you see a friend from back home for the first time in a year since you left: it feels like no time has passed at all, and yet you feel like a completely different person. 

somewhere in the middle of getting drunk by the pool in one hundred degree weather and a tattoo convention, i had the epiphany that i'm just not that angry anymore. (cue this little interlude by paramore.) i'm not sure when it happened, but if i had to guess it was sometime in between coming back from LA, galavanting off into the joshua tree wilderness, and having to fight for the right to just freaking be me again this spring. was it the day i stopped thinking about texting someone who didn't care one tiny ounce about me? was it the day i told all of my girlfriends i was sorry because they had all been so right for so long? was it the day i sat by a creek holding a PBR in freezing cold water staring at a beautiful man getting a sunburn? was it the day that i realized i could make it through this arizona summer without losing my mind completely? i have no idea. but here's the thing: it happened and i don't even think i had any idea at the time.

chris and i have been friends for somewhere around ten years, he was a huuuuge supporter of me getting out of town and figuring my life out in all of the awesome ways, and he has been around for more conversations about weird crap that felt like the world was ending when it definitely was not. (plus sometimes he tattoos me.) its no wonder we were able to pick up like a year had not passed. that kind of familiar face and comfort and general easiness had been slightly lost on me this year... and it was awesome to spend a weekend watching him paint in a convention center full of freaks all trying to out-freak each other. 

anna and i have been friends for less than two years, but when two maine girls end up in arizona within a year of each other, you kind of bond no matter what. she gets me. we get each other. we can talk about dudes, or we can talk about makeup, or we can talk about the harder parts of life like being away from home (since we have the same one). my girl friends here in AZ are each over an hour away from me, but sometimes its like a kick to the face when i'm reminded they're indeed here. spending the weekend with her was much needed and a good introduction to PHX, even though i didn't get a chance to see much of the city. she loaned me things like sunblock and didn't judge me when i admitted silly things that other people would scoff at. 

these are the kinds of friends i am becoming increasingly aware that i have and ever more grateful for. these and a few others in my life are reminders that the feeling of needing drama in my relationships in order to feel like something significant is happening are gone. it makes me feel old, but it also makes me feel wise(r). (i'm not ready to say that i make all the right choices and don't invite in any kind of weirdness or drama ever, because come on, we all do it. chris and i had a long talk one morning this past weekend about how everyone's lives are just f-ed up in some way, and if we would all just admit that and move on it wouldn't be so difficult.)

i met a few cool new people and wandered around the convention feeling incredibly under-tattooed to be in a crowd like that, which is usually kind of the opposite. in that crowd i stood out for looking pretty averagely normal. that was fun to experience again, its been a long time since pre-dyed hair and pre-tattoos. 

i think the thing about life these days for me that makes me want to feel better is that i'm learning how to accept that not everything is a damn competition. how we dress, how we work, how we love. i still look at other women or other blogs or other whatever and think about what my life is like in contrast to theirs, how theirs must be better or more interesting, but i think feeling less angry about everything and everyone and my interactions with or without them means i must be happier. i think its normal to want to peek in like a voyeur at what someone else is up to to see if you measure up. i'm still sometimes surprised when i realize i'm not really missing much out there, that i'm doing okay here and that some things just really aren't as amazing as i picture them to be in my head. real life, ya'll. we're just living it. ain't no thang. 

so here's the deal. i just saw friends that i hadn't seen in a year. in just a couple of weeks i'll be going back to maine for a long weekend to see the rest. how much different is that going to feel?! and what will it feel like coming back here to arizona knowing i won't see them again for likely even longer next time? and how okay am i looking ahead with my eye on the prize into the next year or two or five without any clue who will still be around or who will come/go... well, two months ago i never thought i'd be able to stand on my head. today i added in another move that makes it even more difficult, and even though i fell over twice before i got it right, i got it right. and the metaphors are everywhere lately. 

i can be as metaphoric or poetic or cliche as i want about things, but the bottom line is this: yes, i've changed a lot in the past year. yes, its taken some shit to get me this far. yes, i still wake up and want to change some things and honestly i will wait as long as i have to to see if they will change on their own first, but i've become much more proactive. i've become a lot more honest even though some things haunt me. and i've gotten a lot stronger. i'm really not that scared anymore. and i'm certainly not as angry. my body talks to me differently now, and i listen. i try to voice things i never would have voiced before. and sometimes, sometimes i have to stop myself from apologizing. 

so to my soul sister in LA that i haven't seen in what feels like ages, i miss you.
to my parents and brother and family and grandmothers and friends and old coworkers, i miss you.
to my sisterfriend that i haven't seen in just a couple of weeks, i miss you.
to the one traveling and somehow still magically saying a few things here and there, i miss you.

but i'm not sorry... and whether its been ten days or three months or a year, we'll see each other soon. i'm excited to see all of the ways you have changed, too.... and for all of the change, there are so many things i hope have stayed exactly the same. xo