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FindingME Podcast

overcoming feeling stuck

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PART 1 (1st half of conversation)

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Leith: [00:00:00] So I'd love to start off my conversations if you can tell me about the community where you grew up, and what you remember most about it.

Brooke: [00:00:10] Okay, that's interesting, because we moved around so much when I was growing up. I was born in Southern California a town called Lancaster; it's about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. And we were there until I was seven. And then we moved to Florida, and then Utah, then Florida, and Georgia. And within those moves, there were a lot of other moves. I've done the math before and I went to fourteen different schools. I lived in 17 different houses all before going to college. 

Leith: [00:00:53] Wow. 

Brooke: [00:00:53] So it was really that. I didn't have a consistent community other than really my family and that, you know.


Leith: [00:01:07] That was what it was.


Brooke: [00:01:14] So yeah, in some of those moves I have an older sister who was raised by my grandparents, and for a good portion of those moves, we were making an effort to live geographically close to them. So like, when they moved to Florida, we moved to Florida, just to be geographically close to my grandparents and my older sister. Yeah, I feel like I've veered. That's really scattered but that was my childhood.


Leith: [00:01:49] Right. So I mean, I think what I sort of like to start out with, like, get a sense of what was community to you as a child, and just get comfortable in that idea and it sounds like it was very much your immediate family unit.


Brooke: [00:02:06]  It really was and then I started performing when I was 10. Performing professionally, when I was 10. Everywhere we would go; my mom would try to find a dance studio so that I could continue taking dance classes. And you know, depending on the length of stay anywhere, because I don't really feel like it wasn't until high school that I really made good school friends. Like I would try to be pen pals with them for a little while. But it always, you know, petered out. We were always trying to find a dance studio and if we were in any one place for a lengthy period of time I bonded more with my classmates or my teachers at my dance studios. And then once I started performing professionally and doing theater that was my community. The theater always felt like home. 


Leith: [00:03:12] Wow. So has that impacted you in terms of community as you've grown older, do you think or you've maintained that sense of community through your theater all the way through?


Brooke: [00:03:23] Oh, it's definitely impacted. I mean I've always felt ungrounded if that makes sense. I've never really felt like there's a place I call home. And even though so my current home, I've lived here, the longest of any stretch of any place my whole life at this point, which has been 13 to 14 years now. I don't feel rooted here. I don't feel like this. I'm in East Tennessee. There are aspects of it that we like, that I like, speak for myself. But I don't feel really rooted or grounded here. And I don't know if that sort of feeling is really even possible for me. You know, based on what my life has looked like, because even as a performer for about eight years of my life, my home base was New York, but I was still traveling all over to take contracts. And yes theater still feels like that's my community those are my people, generally speaking, and all my closest friends are all over the world.


Leith: [00:04:51] Oh, really? You mean, close-knit friends within the theatre community where you live now.


Brooke: [00:05:00] The theatre community here is so different than what I had grown up with, I guess, is probably the best way to put it. Yeah, it's just a different place. It's a different ball of wax; it's a different sort of community. Let's see, if I'm being honest, in this place, yes, my closest friends will be those that I have performed with here in some capacity. So I know I shared this in our previous interview. But when I stepped in and kind of became a part of the wild woman project community, it was a different level of connection. It's just a different sort of connection and different depth of community than I'd had in a long time or experienced before. And so those women really feel like my people too. And then when I started working with a coach and did her group program, the coaching leadership mastermind, there were five of us in that program. And I mean that depth of connection, it's interesting. And I will say, like, throughout my career in the theater, there have been certain shows certain casts they just click in a certain way. But here's the interesting thing about theater is that you've thrown together with a cast of people. It's not like any other job, where you're probably going to be working with them for a long, long time, right. And like, you have time to develop a relationship, you're thrown in, you've got two weeks, generally, two weeks of rehearsal together, where you have to learn a show, and you have to trust one another right away. You have to, like, just dive into deep trust with these people whom, you know, who knows if you've ever met before, right? And you have to trust one another right away. And then, you know, by the time you've gotten through rehearsal, and now you're on stage and performing and it's just this accelerated experience of relationship. And then the longer you're in performance together, those things start to become clearer. Like, oh, yeah, I really do love this person, or I would not hang out with this person, but we can work together, right? Then that starts to unravel, the longer you're working together and those contracts sometimes are really short sometimes really long. So then you get a sense of what's a real sticking relationship and what's not so much. There have been a few casts were like, those relationships are gold and then you scatter. The contract is over and you scatter. So yeah, I can't say that like, I feel like the best casts that I've worked with here in Tennessee most of those people didn't stay here at this point. Like a lot of them have scattered so that's why I say like all my close people are kind of all over. Which on the one hand, like with the way we have the technology now is fine. When I was younger, that was really hard on me it would be like closing night for those sorts of really great shows that you like, never wanted to end like that. That was really hard on me when I was young but definitely established how I step into relationships or what community even means to me. And I think I definitely have a tendency to fantasize or idealize like, what it could be what I would love for it to be. I don't even know that exists anywhere is possible. You know, I have like my dream of the village that exists somewhere, but would have to probably be created.


Leith: [00:10:04] What's interesting, like you talking about being able to sort of, I don't know, maybe make judgments about whether you will connect with somebody very quickly. Do you think you're able to, like trust those people like right off or trust that the relationship has potential or I don't know. I just asked because, you know, having lived in different cities myself now, not to the same extent you have, but trying to make friendships has been hard. And maybe because I haven't necessarily trusted myself or, you know, been able to evaluate the friendship, I don't know.


Brooke: [00:10:45] Well, it's different, because there's a container for it, like in theater, that's what you have to do to get your job done. And the more experience you have at that, in that container, you understand that the quicker you can get to that trust level, the better work you'll be able to produce or you know I'll just leave it at that. But without that sort of container, and without that sort of collective goal with people like yeah, it is hard to make friends as an adult. I don't feel like, you know, just, I think that's one reason because, oh, gosh, I don't want to stay here long, but I'm going to just touch on it. So in this area, churches are a really big thing. And it sometimes feels like if you're not a part of a church, you are not going to have a community. That's how I have felt at times. And it's one of those things that like, it gives a container of like-minded, structure or belief system or purpose where people allow themselves to be trusting. That is frustrating for me because I don't follow any specific path. And we don't have a church that we attend so that can be frustrating to be in an area where like, that's where people make their friends and outside of that they're not very trusting the outside of that they're not very, you know unless they're trying to proselytize.




Leith: [00:12:46] So also okay, thinking about, I'll take veer off in a different topic. So since COVID, which is almost been here for a year, or at least our lives have almost changed, you know, for a year. What changes have occurred in your life? And can you speak to may be the most dramatic or the most important to you? 


Brooke: [00:13:11] Yes, please help me to stay focused on this because it's so vast. So we found out that I was pregnant on my birthday last year, which is January 19. And then we stepped into production that my husband and I have directed and choreographed for I think 10 years now.


Leith: [00:13:41] Wow. And is this part of your part the Dolly Parton world?


Brooke: [00:13:46] This production isn't. There is a women's organization in Knoxville, Tennessee, and they do charitable work so similar to like a junior league if you're familiar with that, but they do charitable work and monetary contributions for the city of Knoxville. And I think they're celebrating their 75th year next year, so we're starting to plan like that production now. But they do a huge fundraiser every other year and it's this big production show and then dinner and dancing after. And I would say maybe like, you know, a handful of these women in the entire club have actually ever done performance outside of their club. Some are like the elite of Knoxville, like doctors, lawyers, you have a lot of housewives and surgeons and nurses, I mean, teachers of all kinds, like women of all backgrounds. So we've turned them into performers and we don't go easy on them. But anyway, they are amazing, and I should not. Now I'm thinking about a community like I absolutely cannot neglect to acknowledge the community and family that they have become to us. Again, it's a theater. That's a theater container, for sure. Though it's not, you know, for them their norm. So we stepped into that project right away. I think we had rehearsals that following week after we found out I was pregnant. And it's six weeks of rehearsal. It's really intense. And then they do three performances, and their last day of performance, I want to say was like, March 9th or 10th, something like that. And my husband and I had planned a road trip because we wanted to share that we were pregnant and see some people and family. And so we had planned this road trip, but we were kind of tentative after things started unraveling, like more and more was coming out around COVID and so we held off. I think we're planning to leave like on the 11th and we're like, let's hold off just a little and see how it goes, and then the 13th everything basically shut down. So with the pregnancy, I think my husband came to one or two appointments with me. And then after that, he was not allowed to be at any other appointments with me that was really hard. This is our first kid and maybe our only. That was really hard and luckily for the 20-week ultrasound, my OB was allowing partners to come but they couldn't come through they basically snuck him through the back door that's what they had to do to allow him to be there. But we were very grateful for that. But we didn't know what birth would look like. So I had again gone back to how I like to fantasize and sort of dream. I had sort of dreamt of like an at-home water birth and with the midwife and doula and it became pretty clear right away that with COVID, we wouldn't necessarily feel safe with that. And we didn't know I was due September, we felt like September felt far enough away. But there were too many variables that were like, you know, we're just going to go with the hospital birth. Just going to go with what we can sort of, kind of count on. But it was scary throughout the pregnancy to wonder like; will he be able to be with me when I deliver? And will we be able to have visitors and again, September felt far away. So we kind of felt like we could count on things being better. But obviously, that didn't end up being the case. So there's that sort of piece of it. 




The other piece was work. So as performers, again, once we found out, we were pregnant, we had planned, my husband and I wrote a show that we had, we'd started to take out on the road in 2019. And 2020 was going to be a big year to you know further that along. We had done so much work and we were ready to get an agent and like, get really out on the road. And while we were in the project with the akeema club that was not, you know, that wasn't a focus and so we were ready to shift gears. And with everything shut down we're like, okay, that's not happening. So my husband had taken a contract with Dollywood for full-time work in a show with Dolly's family called 'My People' and it was a show we'd worked with the previous year, but we were just outside swings. So what that means is like if anyone gets sick or goes out of town, or we would fill in. So last year, he was going to take a position there full time, and then I was still going to be the female swing. With some, it was just a sort of show that I could absolutely do at any stage of pregnancy, not a problem. And we were really excited about that and I expected to be really seen in my pregnancy, I was really excited to be on stage pregnant. And then as things progressed, with COVID, the park was open, like one day, and then it closed. And they opened before he would have even joined rehearsal, or started rehearsals and so then they shut that showdown. And we were both out of jobs. That was really hard and any bookings that we had in advanced all got canceled. And we were really scared, like, we were really nervous, you know having a baby and being unemployed. And then there were so many uncertainties around unemployment, there were so many uncertainties around, you know, just financial aid from our government. And yeah, that was a huge shift. And aside from the financial piece of it, for me, I was very isolated; I became very isolated in my pregnancy. I haven't performed live on a stage in well over a year that is so unusual for me that is such a huge part of my identity. And while I knew there would be a pause, once the baby was born, like, I felt robbed of that, you know, I felt like that was taken from me, because of the pandemic. So that was a huge shift. The other piece of my identity is I lead meditation circles. And I had been using a local yoga studio, where I would do that. And I also have been using the zooming space, you know, virtual space for that for a long time too. So I continued my virtual circles for as long as I felt well enough to and then as it got closer to my due date, I stopped doing that, and I haven't led one since he's been born. And so that was another piece like not to do those in-person felt hard after a while, like initially because I'm very comfortable in the zooming space and had been offering them like, initially, that felt good and fine and more people were joining because that was the only option. And just the more that went on, it just started to feel just lacking in that physical human connection. And then, of course, Walter was born and he was born September 17. And so many people want it to be if not necessarily, like the present for his birth, they want it to be here and those early days and weeks and months to help us and support us and we had to set boundaries around that. And ultimately had to decline all of that help. Because, you know, the recommendation and what we felt comfortable with was a two-week quarantine. And a lot of the people that want to help were also out of town. So they would need to have traveled here and then quarantined here locally for two weeks. So I never imagined that I would have to be turning away help with my baby and you know, that was a huge piece and we have been continuing to navigate that in his early life and he hasn't actually, you know, aside from video calls like, hasn't met any of my family. My husband mother and sister and brother-in-law live close and so they're about two and a half hours away. So we've had a couple of visits with them, but yeah, we've just been pretty isolated here in our home in our area, and it's really hard.


Leith: [00:25:21] I feel like God this is giving me goosebumps, I have to admit because I mean, having a baby, your first baby is hard, to begin with. And to do that all by yourself, oh, Brooke, my heart reaches out to you through this. 


Brooke: [00:25:40] Thank you.


Leith: [00:25:43] Just like the emotions, you know, you're already in a hormonal roller coaster let alone you know, not having that support. But it sounds like to be a culmination in just your whole sense of who you are as being turned upside down. And you know, you say, you talked about how your perception of yourself as a performer and how that makes up your identity had to be I don't know, put on hold or I don't even know, just changed because you know, that work isn't there. And like you say, you haven't even been on the stage for over a year. How, like, I don't know, I imagine that to be a roller coaster. How have you even managed that? Or maybe you haven't? I don't know.


Brooke: [00:26:44] Well, let's just like maybe you could get a sponsorship from Lexapro because like, #Lexapro. I would not be as emotionally stable as I am right now without that medication.


Leith: [00:27:00] I don't even know that medication, but I think hormonal stabilizing something.


Brooke: [00:27:07] So after Walter was born, I experienced some very intense postpartum anxiety. And because of all of the work that I've been doing, you know, in my adult life, with therapy and with coaching and with meditation, and in those spiritual spaces, like all of that, I'm very self-aware. I can say that about myself. So I was very aware that this was more intense and more extreme than was healthy for my family and for me. So I talked to my OB, and we tried Zoloft. I tried Zoloft first, which is an antidepressant medication and it didn't work for me. So then we tried Lexapro, and it has worked well for me. And I have tried to find a therapist and, you know, it's like, yes, it's great. On the one hand, most therapists are meeting virtually right now. It just didn't really, that partnership didn't really wasn't a fit, as the best way to put it.


Leith: [00:28:22] It wasn't a fit with the person you found or the fact that they were online, like the lack of personal connection was challenging.


Brooke: [00:28:28] I think it was more the person I found, and I don't know if they were used to doing virtual counseling, which could have been a part of it. But yeah it wasn't as supportive as I'd hoped it would be so yeah, Lexapro. I really have you know, as Walter has gotten older, and things have shifted and I will say too that, like one of the huge blessings to come out of the pandemic has been having my husband home. Dollywood did open last year and at Christmas time, they offered him a contract in a show and they have a lot of protocols in place to keep their employees and guests safe. And we felt comfortable and confident in that so he did take a contract for a couple of months at the end of the year. It was November/December.


Leith: [00:29:40] Right. Okay. 


Brooke: [00:29:42] But aside from that, he's been home and he loves being a father and he's very involved. And you know, we kind of joke but it's really true. Lately, the thing we're arguing if you won't even call it that about most is like holding our baby. Can I hold him now? Because you've been holding him for a long time. Are you ready to let go of him? Can I take him now? So I feel very lucky in that and he was very involved in my pregnancy too, and working to make things as comfortable and easy for me as possible. But it was still like, we acknowledged as new parents that were really hard without help, but at least we had each other. So anyway, my big thing since things sort of evened out and regulated a little bit. My word for the year has been integration. I'm very aware. I have this opportunity it's like, almost clean slate, right. The only thing that I absolutely am sure of and wholly committed to is my family and our health. 


PART 2 (2nd half of conversation)

Brooke:  I am Walter's mom. The first time we went to the pediatrician, he was like, he's three days old, you know, and we had just been discharged from the hospital and you have to go to the pediatrician the next day. And their COVID protocol is I have to call let them know we've stayed in the car until they have a room ready for us. And they call back once the room was cleared and the nurse was like, is this Walters mom, and I was like, uh-huh. Yeah, it sure is like it just hit.

Like, Oh, yes. I am Walter's mom.  So it's been an exploration. I'm in exploration around who am I now? What parts of me do I want, you know, from my life, pre-pregnancy pre- COVID. What parts of me do I want to bring along and integrate moving forward and what gets left behind. I just completed the program, as the part of the wild women project called immersion was the first time offering from them. And it was a four-week virtual retreat; I guess this is the sort of best way to put it. And that was really nourishing and two big takeaways from that apply here are that I don't have to try to like really figure out who I am now that the values I carry with me are showing like I'm showing up to them naturally. So I could kind of relax on that sort of worry in my mind. You know, that I showed up to the immersion that I worked to make that happen and reached out for financial support to make that happen. And even receiving that's been huge. Oh my gosh, receiving financial support from friends and family and fans of ours, just really showing up for us. We wouldn't be as comfortable as we are without that. So that is an easy flow. And then the other is performance. My husband and I have continued to do online performances, you know, just Facebook live concerts and different YouTube videos, just things that we could easily and safely do. So that was a big takeaway that like, it's not a thing I have to like figure out our puzzle piece together. My values are my values they'll show up. And then the other is that it's okay to have things just for me. So often, who am I kidding like most of my life, I have you know, I guess, naturally, for whatever reason, felt like any time taking information, I would take it in a sort of way of like, how am I going to teach this to someone else? Or share this with someone else. I think part of that's being a performer. I've been in leadership positions for most of my life, as things like that. And so it's constantly like, how will I more be the conduit for this information, whatever it is, rather than just like, how am I going to be with this for just for me, and it's something I became aware of years ago and have sort of, you know, worked with and whatever that part of me pops up. And in certain spaces, I do whatever tools I have, I used to, like, quiet it right. And I realized in this immersion experience that wasn't there this time. It wasn't there and I was so grateful. And I could just like things when landing is just for me, and I wasn't trying to, you know, get it right or take note of every detail in order to translate it for my clients, or students or audience or whomever. And the knowledge that, of course, made participating in this program was not only a benefit to me that it radiates out to others; I am in contact with them. And most importantly to me right now, my husband and son, our dog. I knew that would have such a positive impact on their lives, too. But I didn't have to work at that. It could be just for me. That was a real gift.

Leith: [00:37:02] Wow. Like that, to me seems like there's something that's shifted in you, or to me, do you feel like you're worthy of taking in that information just for you? And do you think it's just been this past year? The experiences? 


Brooke: [00:37:16] Well yes. I mean everything has slowed down. Everything, all the noise, all of the ambition, all of my hustle energy. It also down and we really make became very clear on as the pandemic progressed, you know through each step, there was a refocus of, okay, what's our value right now? What's most important to us? Because like I said, we're still in this space of risk mitigation. What risks are we willing to take in order to continue to keep our family safe. And like, how are we going to move forward, and with that comes a focus, like a huge shift in focus. And that really became around our health. That was number one. And then our happiness, it just everything slowed down, and it all came into like this super zoom focus, which for some people that might come easy, that might be their norm. For me, that certainly wasn't I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a performer, I'm a coach, I'm a leader. You know, I'm very driven and very motivated, and not that that's gone. Just as you said it has shifted and so I think that the slowing down supported that and, you know, as hard and as wild as it seems to have a COVID baby. I really do see that was a blessing in many ways. It's an opportune time.


Leith: [00:39:22] Well, what I like time, just to focus on your baby and as you're saying, all the noise disappears. I mean, as you said, it comes with the good and the bad. You can't accept the help necessary in the same way you might have.


Brooke: [00:39:37] I mean, it's so hard. I say all of that, you know, and yes, I am able, again, I attribute it to all the work I've been doing in my adult life for at least the past six years. I'm able to zoom out and I'm able to see how things are showing up for me. But it has not always easy and especially in this climate that we're in like, it's a world pandemic. My country is a very tumultuous division politically it's just been so much. And it's all been very hard and postpartum anxiety is real and challenging. 


Leith: [00:40:35] Oh no you froze.


Brooke: [00:40:36] Am I frozen. Am I there? Can you hear me? 


Leith: [00:40:41] I can hear you, yeah. Anyway, can you see me or hear me? 


Brooke: [00:40:44] Yeah, you've frozen. So I didn't know if all right.


Leith: [00:40:47] Well, I wanted to just go back to something that you touched on before was this idea of receiving help? And how that's played into your experiences or why you sort of said it in a way that sounded very hard to do. And I speak personally, too. I think that's very hard. So I'm interested to hear like, how did this come to be? And how did you manage it? 


Brooke: [00:41:12] Yeah. Can we pause one moment, my son is hungry, so I'm going to grab him and the nurse.


Leith: [00:41:19] No problem.




Brooke: [00:41:21] Thank you. This is Walter.


Leith:  [00:41:23] Look at those eyes oh my god. Hi Walter, I'm getting little waves. 


Brooke: [00:41:38] This is how I see faces. 


Leith: [00:41:41] Have you started solids with him yet? Or not yet?


Brooke:  [00:41:44] Not yet. But he's very interested.


Leith: [00:41:48] Yeah, turn on the stack. Oh, that's exciting. Oh, God, then that's another world. Right? Like, it's crazy. 


Brooke: [00:41:57] That is a hard part too, is like, I'd love to be like a part of like mom groups, in-person mom groups and that's not happening. And I'm not really interested in that in a virtual way. So I do have some friends that also had babies last year. So we've been connecting, but yeah, that's hard too.


Leith: [00:42:29] For somebody like you who's lived your life with other people, like in performance scenarios. And very much like, in person, like, I mean, I'm finding that hard, I can only imagine for you, that's like, so hard.


Brooke: [00:42:46] When my husband and I decided that we were going to, you know, set ourselves up as a duo. And like, you know, can write our show and, you know, a gig that way, because prior to that it was we were very much like our own individual had our own individual performing career. Once we decided to do that, we sat down and wanted to be okay. Wanted to outline our values and what was, you know, and our mission statement and all that one of our greatest values is the connection, it's so important to us that in our performance, we are connecting with our audience on a deep level. And that is so hard to do in a virtual way. You know, you don't really think about it, but like zoom would be the one really those sort of platform, I know it's not the only platform, but it's the ideal platform to receive audience interaction. But the sound quality's terrible, it's terrible. So, it's not really great to do a zoom performance, where we can see everyone, we certainly wouldn't be able to just have the volume up and hear everyone because the sound would be so distorted so that we ruled out early on. And at the end of the day, Facebook ends up having the best sound and video quality or broadcast, but for us on the receiving end to really deeply continue to deeply connect with our audience. We're singing to a phone and like I set up my computer so that we can, or whoever's watching can leave comments and we can sort of interact in that way. But that's been there. That's been really hard for us to not have that deep connection in that way. But we do what we can to be creative and figure it out. It's just, it is tricky, but yeah, you had asked about receiving as being acknowledged. That has been hard for both of us, I think pride is a big part of it. I became aware of my challenge to receive, really, I want to say a year or two before even 2020. And so that had been in my awareness and something I had been exploring and, you know, feeling into and just being.


Leith: [00:45:43] When you say received, do you mean receive love, receive money receive, or all of the above?


Brooke: [00:45:50] All of the above, a very independent person. And, you know, I could go deep into that, from like, early childhood trauma and all of that we're not going to go there. But for all the reasons to keep me safe and well balanced in my head, you know, became very independent and felt that it wasn't safe to receive all of that. That I had to be responsible to provide for myself. And I mean, that has shown itself in so many ways throughout my life, even like, between my husband, and I, you know, when we first started dating, he'd want to, like, carry my bag for me or like, get the door for me and I resistant, I feel like I got it, I can do it. I don't need you to do that. So like, even with the pregnancy, he loved it because there are so many things I couldn't do for myself anymore. And he's a giver, he loves to give and take care of people. So that was a challenge for him to be told. No, thanks. Don't do that for me. But yeah, so that's something I had already been in sort of exploration of, and then here shows this huge opportunity and like huge need to ask for help. And to receive it in the way that you know, it's showing up, whatever that is. Meanwhile, declining help in the ways that you don't feel safe to receive if that makes sense. So yeah. There have been feelings of guilt. Like this voice in my head that tells me that I'm a taker that I'm too much of a taker, not a giver, that I am a mooch, and feelings of like, well, when you're in a comfortable financial position again, you need to XYZ, fill in the blank. You need to give back in a major way or you need to pay everyone back or whatever and like everything we've received whether physical gifts or monetary gifts, like everything we have been given, has been given in love. With so much generosity, like no one's asking for anything back like it's just all that it's just pride build up. But yeah, so It has been a challenge that I've been riding the waves of you know, our son. If anything we've just seen that like we are so loved and he is so loved, he is so lucky.


Leith: [00:49:26] I can see him just watching you too as you talk and oh, he's just taking it all in. 


Brooke: [00:49:39] I set up his nursery and I look around and I'm like we have bought the dresser, off of the Facebook marketplace. Like everything else in there has really been provided for us like gifted. It just blows my mind and when we do our concerts, we did for our well-being, and because it's in alignment with our values, we continued to donate 10% of whatever donations came in, for our concerts, or our Facebook concerts and that felt really good to be able to do. And it was hard but I think sometimes in that challenging when it feels like a challenge, sometimes that is where a lot of growth is available. So we did do that but yeah, there have been so many hard things throughout all of this.




Leith: [00:50:47] Well, you sort of said it, you know, as you are obviously gifted or had to receive, whether it be physical things or even monetary things. But I think you've just pointed out to be something that comes with love. Is there really a distinction between receiving love and receiving a physical or a monetary gift?


Brooke: [00:51:13] I think just the biggest distinction is in how it's given. How do I want to say this? In the relationship that I have with my parents, when it came to money, it's always been a touchy subject. And I almost never felt that any monies that were given to me were given without an expectation or sort of something looming over my head. So in that way, I don't feel that you know, that it was necessarily gifted with that unconditional sort of loving, there were always conditions.


Leith: [00:52:13] Yeah, that's been your experience. 


Brooke: [00:52:17] Yeah. So, this is different for sure to be gifted from the space of unconditional loving, it's different for me.


Leith: [00:52:36] What a gift. 


Brooke: [00:52:42] It is wild. It's not like it's a resource that's dried up either, you know, and I feel individual in our experience, for sure. And also, I'm aware that, you know, so many people are facing financial trials with the pandemic, and there's been so much fundraising and so many people asking for help. And so it's not lost on us, like how our people have really shown up for us in that way when their resources could have gone other places.


Leith: [00:53:37] When you think about let's say if you had a magic wand, what would you need from your community at this point in the pandemic?

Brooke: [00:53:59] That is such a hard question like a magic wand I would eliminate COVID like I need physical.


Leith: [00:54:08] Well that in itself is something.


Brooke: [00:54:10] I need physical interaction and I want to share physical space with people and like integrate that part of my life you know, we have had some people visit and we have that have come by to meet Walter and since he's been born and we just visit like through our glass door and it's like, I'm so grateful for that and then I also get really emotional because it really sucks. 


Leith: [00:54:42] So close yet so far away, sort of. 


Brooke: [00:54:51] Yeah and, despite that, like even you know, going to visit we took a little road trip to visit Jonathan's, my husband's family, just Monday it was we just did it for one night, we felt like okay, Walter is old enough for a two and a half hour road trip. We didn't make any stops there. It's like, a lot of people have pandemic pods, you know, and we've not been able to find anyone locally to us that is taking the same precautions as us. So we don't have that. Really all we have is his family that's far away. So this is our first time going out there to visit and even still, we wore masks indoors and Walter's aunt and uncle did not hold him. Just Walter's grandma held him because she's been quarantining. But being in that space, like hard because for me, there's just this looming fear. Like, I want to call it just this looming awareness, but it is a fear, like, I'm afraid. It's not only for my son but for my husband or myself. Like, I don't want any of us to get this illness. I know a lot of people who have had it and have recovered from it and I'm so grateful for that. But I don't want to take that risk of us getting it and any one of us being in the 1%. Like, I can't handle that I have a very big fear of death, presently. And I can't even put words to that fear. So yeah, it's very hard to didn't even think about getting back out into the world. How that will look. So I don't know what I need for my community beyond what they're giving. I just need COVID to go away. 


Leith: [00:57:20] Right 


Brooke: [00:57:22] I think everyone please give vaccines.


Brooke: [00:57:29] With the pandemic and I just I'm like, you know, our country doesn't really have a maternal leave program that is really good and no paternal leave. So we inadvertently ended up with maternal and paternal leave that we might not have had otherwise. I can't imagine taking my baby to childcare, eight weeks old, even 16 weeks old, even now five months old. I can't imagine.


Leith: [00:58:13] Well, what is the future for you? I mean, obviously, there's the industry, the Dolly world that's not still operating as it, or is it back?


Brooke: [00:58:25] They're gearing up to open soon. I happened to have an interview for a job as a stage manager. I have been offered a job at a theater as an outside swing, so filling in for one of the vocalists there. But they start rehearsals in March, but I won't need to participate in that. You know, I'm cautiously optimistic. I am a performer and that is what I want to do. I want to be back on stage. And also the priority is our health and wellness. So I am cautiously optimistic that I can move forward in that job offer easily, but I am not afraid to advocate for our values and say, you know, I'm sorry. No. So we'll see. It's really hard to say, you know, and I said this throughout my pregnancy a lot too that like I can't envision what our world looks like with the pandemic continuing or post-pandemic and I was like, and I can't envision what my life looks like with a baby, with a child, I have no idea I really don't know. So just sort of like one day, one week, one month at a time.


Leith: [01:00:12] Just checking in the uncertainty of it, I find is part of it. 


Brooke:  [01:00:16] Yeah.


Leith: [01:00:19] It's hard.


Brooke: [01:00:20] But I can guarantee I will continue to take care of this little one. We will continue to do virtual concerts and offerings of that sort. Those are the things I feel committed to right now. Anything outside of that is gravy.


Leith: [01:00:44] That's a nice way of being too. Well, Brooke, thank you so much for just being honest and sharing the trials and tribulations of you know, this past year, thank you.


Brooke: [01:01:03] Thank you for giving me a safe space to share and reflect.


Leith: [01:01:14] Thank you for introducing me to Walter. Oh I mean, I have to admit, just this breastfeeding experience is just I love it, takes me back and that connection right there. So amazing. 


Brooke: [01:01:28] It's everything.

Brooke Part 2
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