I met Brooke on Instagram last year. I was initially super intrigued by her waste-free lifestyle. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m super interested in reducing waste–I just need to see some examples. You know? So that’s why I was following her, at first.
As time went on, I was more and more intrigued by the way that Brooke gave herself so much grace and permission to take the time she needs and be gentle with herself regarding the way that life sometimes throws out a curveball. She lives an example of walking in grief, joy, pleasure, trust and everything else that we encounter along this journey. And that’s why I’m still following her and look forward to seeing her new posts every time they pop up in my feed.
How do you want to introduce yourself?
Hi, everyone! I’m so glad you’re here. Firstly because Libby is great, and I’m glad you found her blog. Secondly, I’m honored to share a bit about myself with you today! I’m Brooke, creator of the blog A Simple Alternative where I write and share what it means to live from my values in everyday life. I’m a big fan of simplicity, communication, laughter, and life’s sensual offerings, from a juicy meal to a sweet kiss! Much like Libby and my dear idol Glennon Doyle, I consider myself a teller of the truth, in all of its raw, delightful, and uncomfortable forms. Recently I’ve taken a break from publishing content to dive deeper into my current life experience of healing a broken heart. You can find me on Instagram where I post daily about grief, heartbreak, healing, and juicy living. More blog content will be coming soon!
What gets you out of the bed in the morning?
Trusting what God (life, the universe, the force, you know what I mean) has in store for me. I trust that I am here to learn, grow, and love.
What word/ phrase resonates the most in your life?
Grace and Trust have been my go-to soul words recently. Especially Grace. Everything in my life is enhanced by my ability to be in flow with Grace, to trust Grace, to melt into Grace, etc. I don’t mean Grace in with any specific religious tone, however (nor do I dislike grace in a religious context). For me, Grace names my underpinning commitment to trusting in love and integrity.
My favorite phrase is an excerpt from a Mark Nepo poem: “… It is the way I would have chosen had I been born three times as brave”.
What does your ideal day look like?
My ideal day is when I get to go with the flow, nothing particular scheduled. It involves eating nourishing meals, laughing with friends, being by water or in nature, walking, hiking, or swimming, reading a good book and writing. From start to finish: Waking up to no alarm, going for a solo hike followed by lunch with my best friend, reading, and writing by the Boulder Creek for a while, laughing with dear friends over food again, then headed to bed early.
Brooke–thank you for coming here to tell us a little more about what drives you through the world.
Everyone else, if you want more of Brooke’s perspective in your life, go follow her on Instagram and subscribe to A Simple Alternative.
If you know of someone that we should hear from, hit me up on Instagram or Facebook! Let me know who the cool women are in your life and we’ll try to get a conversation going!
Overwhelmingly, the thing that people keep asking me about in regards to my blog is if I’m ever going to bring back Feminist Fridays. My answer, for the longest time, was something between a very polite, “Oh, I’m not sure…” and Michael Scott realizing that Toby is back at work in Scranton. It’s not that I didn’t love doing Feminist Fridays–I really, really did. But it took a lot more labor than I ever expected and it only took a few months for me to feel completely burned out from it. I also feel like Feminist Fridays has served its purpose around here. At least, the way that I was using the interviews to, essentially, show that “feminist” is not a dirty word and there are so many facets to it.
But I hear you. You were loving the interviews and the reliability and learning about new, ordinary, super cool women on the regular. That’s what I like, too! So that’s why I’m introducing a new series called Meet Me Mondays.
Meet Me Mondays was inspired by this book [affiliate] that my brother-in-law gave to me for Christmas. This book is incredible and I whole heartedly recommend picking it up for yourself. The thing that I first loved about this book was that every woman who was interviewed was asked the exact same questions. I think that was a brilliant choice by the authors. When you ask everyone the exact same questions, you’re focusing more on her humanity than on her accomplishments or things that have happened to her outside of her control. Whether the person is a best selling author or an actress or an activist or a mom or a teacher or a meter-maid–they’re all on the same playing field. I’m not directing the conversation in any way–the person we’re talking to is the one in charge. And I love that. There’s no preconceived notions or right answers. There’s just, whatever you want to talk about. Wherever you want to go.
I already have a few cool women lined up for interviews and I’m psyched for you all to meet them! If you want to be interviewed, hit me up! Or if you know of someone that you think more people should know, let me know! This isn’t about celebrating women for the cool things they’re doing–it’s about celebrating women for being women and showing the world that there’s so much treasure in ordinary people.
Anyway, I hope you’re as excited as I am. I am v excited, after all.
You will be in a very Yes-Centered phase of your life. You will have just made a personal pact with yourself to not say “no” to anything because of fear. Your dear friend who throws her whole self into her ideas will approach you and ask if you want to start a magazine with her and another woman who lives her life full to overflowing with ideas.
Your instinct will be to say, “Haha. Yeah right.” But you’ll catch yourself and know that you’re in safe hands and that you’re capable and brilliant in and of yourself and so, instead, you say, “Whatever happens, I’m here for it.” And you mean it. And you start telling people, “we’re starting a magazine” even if you’re not entirely sure what that means.
And as the weeks roll on, you’ll tell more people about it and you’ll be shocked at how many people really pick up on your vibe. They’ll resonate so hard with your concept that when you ask for submissions, you’ll have more than enough in just a few days. You’ll fill your pages with such delicious content that you’ll wonder if you’ll ever be able to do it again for the next issue. And you’ll also know with your whole heart that you’re totally going to be able to do it again. Because as excited as you were about the first issue, you’re twice as thrilled about the next one.
You’ll have stress dreams and have to start taking sleeping pills to make sure that you don’t wake up in the middle of the night, stare at the ceiling and wonder where we’ll come up with the money for the printing and shipping costs. You’ll wonder if you’ll make embarrassing mistakes that you over looked no matter how many people you had helping to proofread. You’ll wonder if anyone other than your parents will want to buy a copy even though you kind of really don’t want your parents to get their hands on a copy.
You’ll be so proud that sometimes while you’re sitting in a coffee shop, looking over the proofs, you’ll try hard not to cry until you just pack up your computer and leave to go weep in the comfort of your own vehicle in a car wash so that no one can hear you.
You’ll explain to someone what your magazine is and what it will be about and he’ll say, “Oh, so it’s like a woman thing?” And you’ll be so filled with rage that everything in your field of vision starts to go kind of white and your face gets hot and all you can muster is, “N–uh–um–no?” But what you really want to say is, “Get your dirty, disgusting gender roles off of my baby!”
And you will go to the printer and fill your car with boxes of 250 copies of this magazine that you’ve created with some of the best people you know and you won’t be able to drive because you’ve never actually known what pride feels like–not for something that you can hold in your hands.
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And you will be overdressed to the party where people will come and buy their issues and celebrate with us. Because this year has been long and this year has been hard and this year has been all about seeing yourself as a beautiful, worthy person.
I am worthy to stand in my pride. I am worthy of being seen. I am worthy of taking up too much space in this room–in the photographs. I am allowed this and I will celebrate it.
Then we will all go home and start brainstorming for the next issue and running to the post office to mail out all the copies. And people will stop you in the store to tell you how good your project is. And they’ll tell you not to stop. And you’ll say, “I can’t.”
Why are we so afraid of anger? Anger is, I think, one of the most useful emotions we have in our toolbox. It’s one of the best motivators in this life. Second only to cheese, I think.
Think of all the human rights organizations that wouldn’t exist if someone didn’t first get really friggin’ angry about a certain type of injustice. Anger is important and can be used to do huge and world-changing things. It’s powerful and can be and definitely is often times mishandled but just because it has been used incorrectly does not make it wrong. Changing the lives of millions isn’t the only way to use anger correctly but it’s an easy example.
We are particularly uncomfortable with an angry woman. We can’t handle the thought of an angry woman, can we? What do we do with angry women? We shut them down. We say “I can’t listen to you when you’re talking like that.” We say, “why are you so angry?” We say, “be nice.” We police her tone. We write her off as a bitch.
What do we say to angry men? We say, “Oh, he was upset when he said that. He didn’t mean it.” We say, “he has a powerful presence.” We say, “he’s just telling it like it is.” We bend over backwards to try to hear past the anger to the message at the bottom of it all. We do a lot of work to dig deep and give him the benefit of the doubt.
At the end of last week, I made an offhanded statement in frustration that “ugh. Men are trash.” Which, if you look back over the past few centuries weeks in the news you might find that men haven’t really been doing a great job of proving themselves not to be trash. It’s just, I mean… UGH! It doesn’t feel great. It makes us angry. It should make us angry. If we were making a list of times when it’s okay to be angry, finding out that we’ve been supporting sexual predators for decades is certainly on the list.
I got responses ranging from, “you’re a reverse sexist” to, “how does your husband feel about what you just said??” to “I’m really trying to hear your heart but it’s hard because I’m just so hurt by what you said.” They said that I’m smarter than that and other patronizing excuses that patriarchy uses over and over and over again to dismiss and quiet down angry women.
This frustrates me because I really thought that the venue that I chose for this statement was one primarily filled with people who would actually get what I’m trying to say. It’s not the kind of thing that I would just say to anyone. But they call themselves feminists and allies. Though, if there’s anything we’ve learned after the Louis C.K. reveal, it’s that even our allies don’t get it as much as we want them to. As much as they say they want to. They just can’t get it.
So, now that I have the time, energy, and patience to do so, let me do the work of unpacking what I mean when I say, “men are trash” to a group of teammates:
First of all, if I was trying to make an intelligent and mind-changing argument, I absolutely wouldn’t have used a three-word sweeping generalization.
I will also admit that I was expecting too much when I thought that male allies would be able to mentally put the “some” at the beginning of the sentence. It was also a lot to expect them to have the self-awareness required to know whether or not that statement described them.
“Men are trash” means I’m so exhausted: I’m so tired from my regular everyday life of being a woman in the world. And then on top of that, you throw in how every single day we hear about new ways that men we’ve been supporting for years have been using that support as leverage to force women into degrading and dehumanizing situations. Situations that we’ve all been in and re-live over and over and over again every time we hear about it or think about it or fall asleep and have dreams and then wake up thinking about it and then, oh! What’s that? Another one? Cool. Yeah. Of course. Just pile that on. Nothing surprises us anymore. Just keep re-traumatizing us over and over again. It’s fiiiiiiine.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that this is happening. People should be held accountable for their abuse of others no matter how late it is. I’m willing to sit through the re-traumatization as much as I can as long as the world is changing because of it. Back when it was just happening with no consequences (you know, like when a sexual predator was elected to the presidency?), it was too much.
Then, in a moment of exasperation–at the end of one of these days at the end of one of these weeks I’ll say not the most intelligent and enlightening thing in the whole world. Please and thank you for telling me about how sad you are that I didn’t bend over backwards to make you feel good about yourself and how you’re the exception. Yes. That is very helpful. You’re out here doing the Lord’s work. Where would I be without you?
Even in our anger, even in our pain, we are expected to accommodate and smile and curtsey and offer tea and pray quietly that you’ll hear us. But you kind of can’t really hear us because we don’t sound serious enough because it’s all covered in a delicate sweet glaze and how angry can we really be if we’re serving you sugar? But then when we serve you our truth, you tell us we’re too much. You can’t hear us through our tone and your hurt feelings. Well, what do you want from us?
A man can shoot up a public space and the world grasps their collective pearls and says, “Oh, he was hurting or sick.” Meanwhile, I have to beg for a pass to express frustration in the presence of those who claim to be on my side. GAH! It’s so unsurprising, though, to those of us who have lived a life in a female body that you almost don’t think to mention it. Just a day in the life for us.
I am no longer responding to men who ask me to educate them for free. I’ll write here on my blog where I’m in charge of saying whatever I want whenever I want to but I’m no longer responding to men who want me to make them feel better about their advocacy without first sharing my PayPal information. I don’t have enough energy left in a day to not be getting paid for this labor. And if you’re the kind of person who needs me to personally come to you and assure you that you’re not trash because you can’t decide that on your own, well, then you’re kind of trash.
Oh, and, PS My husband doesn’t care that I say “men are trash” on the internet for the following reasons: 1. He’s not the boss of me and I don’t have to answer to him. 2. He knows that statement doesn’t describe him. 3. He knows that, yeah, some men are certainly proving to be extra trash these days.
You know how I know we’re going to be okay? It’s because you’re so good at giving me space to be myself. You’re excited to see who I turn into. No one’s ever been on my team the way that you are for as long as you have been. Even when it feels like things are a little bit too big. Even when it feels like we might burst and all these years that we’ve devoted to one another will get washed away–even then. You tell me what you’re afraid of and what I’m afraid of too. You say, “I don’t want that to happen.” And we both hold on a little tighter.
Part of the thing about a long term friendship, though, is that “holding on tighter” actually means to loosen your grip. We stay together because we stay elastic, flexible, and able to move without losing our own shape. We are that perfect pair of jeans infused with just enough spandex to keep your ass looking great but not so tight that we’re uncomfortable.
This is how I know we’ll be okay.
There are things in this world that, no matter how much I love the person who is saying them to me, the my instinct is just that flat mouth, wide-eyed emoji. And when a person is laying their heart out for me like that, I can’t just allow myself to respond that way. My care for them is what drives me to dig just a little bit deeper. To move past my initial instincts and reach down, in that moment, and practice being the kind of woman that I want to be. Do I want to be reactive or do I want to be the kind of person who invites the wholeness of the other person into the conversation? Because discomfort is a part of life and it’s easy to overcome. Just takes a little shift.
A lot of my life was spent working on the appearance of things it’s the soil where I was rooted. Everything was great so long as we had happy smiles and clean counter tops and we said polite things to one another. But under the surface, there were ants and anger problems that we dealt with in toxic ways–aerosol sprays and avoidance. Wipe it away. Pretend it was never here.
My favorite people to be around, these days, are the ones who are able to accept the contradictions of life. We can have clean counters and we can get ants in the summer–that’s a thing that happens all the time. That’s a thing that has no bearing on us as a people. We can smile and feel angry, too. One doesn’t counteract the other. You can hold both. You have two hands. And even more than that.
The past few years have been the most achingly happy of my entire life but they’ve not come without unimaginable pain.
I used to keep my soul so under wraps. It was private, a thing just for those closest to me. Just for those who had earned access to my heart.
Except–it grows when you give it away. Rip a piece off, hand it to someone, it’ll grow back. Really–it does. Try it. It’s worth it. That person might not know what to do with it, sure. But someone else might find a way to hold it with their own. Smoosh it together and create something new–just the two of you. Until someone else comes along.
The universal They is always telling you to guard your heart but I’m not there. That’s why I’m ripping open for you, here. I don’t know everyone reading this. I do know some people who are reading this–some of those are people that I am angry at or people that I would avoid eye contact with if we were in the grocery store. But that’s the practice, isn’t it? Right now, that’s my practice. Here, hold a piece of me. There are enough careful and grateful hands that I can spare a little extra.
So when someone tells me a thing about themselves that causes me to react, I want to take a step back. Sometimes that means responding in a way that isn’t coming that naturally to me, so that I can practice being the kind of person that I want to be. Sometimes in the moment, that’s the right thing to do.
And then go home and think.
I don’t want to think about the ways that my reaction was right. I don’t want to think about the ways that the other person is wrong. I don’t want to hold judgement.
I want to know myself. I want to know where that feeling came from. Where did my guard come from and why did it try to block me so hard? What’s keeping me from reaching out to my friend and holding this piece of her heart that she was so brave to hand to me?
And then I want to grab it. And I want to smoosh it into mine and let it live there, something brand new. And I want to go forward and keep handing it out to the other people that I love. And in time maybe we’ll all have a piece of one another.
This is how I know we’ll be okay.