Six Years

Seventh grade sucks for just about everyone, but I’d argue that there are even more unimaginable levels of suckage when you have to go through it as a 12 year old girl and things are already screwy. Whether it was bullies saying that my eyes were too big and that I looked like a fish or the teachers saying that my voice was too loud and that I needed to learn how to talk in hushed tones, the ridicule seemed never-ending. Every day seemed like a new day for torture, until the day when I realized I would take the torture of 1000 bullies than to go through even one day of the month of April in 2005.

I’d had a good childhood leading up to my middle school years. I was considered one of the lucky ones because I grew up in a nice home, in the kind of small town where you never had to lock your doors, and I had two of the best parents who would’ve done anything for my sister and me.

For six years before my seventh grade year, our family took the phrase “live like you’re dying” very literal. We traveled to the places we’d only dreamed of going, we never said no to opportunities that came our way and we always made the best of every situation we were thrown into.

Those six years were some of the best years of my life and were filled with more love than anyone could possibly imagine.

Although, never in those six years did I think I’d lose him.

Never did I think I would be brought to my knees, screaming on the sidewalk outside of my middle school after my mom told me that the doctors thought my dad was dying and never did I think I would watch my dad cry when his oncologist told him that he was in the early stages of liver failure and they had done all they could do.

Watching my father fight colon cancer for six years was like watching a boxer get the crap kicked out of him again and again during a match, but always managing to get back up on his feet. He would be bloodied and bruised, but would always come back swinging with a new level of determination each time that made you cheer for him even harder.

But, all fights come to an inevitable end and his fight was one of the greats.

Not once did he let on to how much pain he was really in or how scared he was to leave my mother alone and miss my sister and I grow up. Not once did he let my mother, sister and me go a day without knowing how much he loved us and how we shouldn’t be afraid to move forward and find happiness, even though he wouldn’t be around to see it.

After his death, it was hard to be happy without him, to laugh without him and to smile without him. But I always remembered what he’d said and knew that I would smile again. Someday, I knew I would.

Eventually, I would smile thinking about those six years of wheelchair races in the Mayo Clinic tunnels, of him helping me with my algebra, only to look in the back of the book and seeing a different answer than the one he came up with, of our car rides on the back-roads listening to Sting and the Beatles, of how he would come to my basketball games and cheer me on even though I was probably the worst on the team, and of him coming to school one morning to pull the bullies, who had made fun of my eyes, out of class and give them a stern talking-to.

I would smile thinking about how much love he had for his family, his friends and his life and I would smile knowing that my father fought and fought so that he could have six years with all of the people and things he loved, when his doctors originally gave him only six months.

This year marks the tenth year I’ve lived in a world without my dad, but I know I have to keep living life to the fullest anyway. I know he’d want me to, or at least that’s what I’d learned in my last six years with him.

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My fighter. My protector. My dad.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Everything Can Be Explained Through a Sports Analogy

This weekend was fantastically amazing in the fact that I spent the majority of it with friends laughing my ass off.

Going out Friday night with a good friend was not the best idea I’ve had, being that I would have to wake up at 8am the next day to go meet some other friends for a bar crawl, but I made it work. Four years at UW-Madison will teach you how to rally with the best of them.

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When the fella over there has hella good hair…

Of course, Saturday’s bar crawl really wasn’t so much of a bar crawl as it was just plain ol’ day drinking. My friends and I figured we’d go to a favorite Madison brunch spot around 11am for their bottomless mimosas before the bar crawl started at 1pm.

Being that you can’t just have one or two mimosas to make the $10 that you spent worth it, I felt like I needed to have like six. I still claim that it was not my fault for having that much because whenever you get about half-way done with the champagne glass, a waitress comes around with a water pitcher full of mimosa and fills you right back up.

It’s like heaven on earth, I swear.

Anywho, it’s now like 2pm and we think we should probably get to going on the bar crawl that we paid for…whoops.

But then when we get to the first bar, all I want is water. And Chipotle. And a nap.

Thank baby Jesus, I got all three.

After a glorious cat nap, I showered and got ready again to meet some friends and we ended up out at this tiny little quiet bar until 1:30am.

Now, I’m only giving you all of the times and details of the alcohol consumption because I want you to understand how hungover dehydrated I was on Sunday.

And this was the day I said I’d go hiking with a guy for our second date.

Yeah…it wasn’t my best idea as of late.

After my extra-long shower and cup of black coffee, I jump in my car and head to the forest where I’m meeting this dude.

Don’t be thinking, “C!! You are going to go hiking with this dude you’ve known for a whole five minutes alone in a wooded forest?!” because he’s a whopping 5’7″ and probably weighs as much as me, so I felt like I could take him. That’s why you have older sisters –you learn how to fight scrappy. 😉

Homeboy shows up late. Which appears to be his MO because he was 15 minutes late for the first date. This is strike one.

Once we finally get to walking and talking, strike two doesn’t fall far behind. On our first date, all he could do was talk about his work; what he had done that day, what he still needed to do when he got in in the morning and then all of the office gossip that he’d heard –talking to me with people’s names as if I’m really going to remember them or as if I really even care about Ron and his partner, Joe’s, newly renovated home that is ‘to die for.’

But I give it to him because I figured he was nervous. Hindsight is 20/20 and giving him a shot at another game in the series was a bad idea.

After our 1.5 hour hike, I can safely say he was not nervous, he is just obsessed with work and everything that encompasses it.

Being that he would only talk about work, that meant he asked me 0 questions and I never got to talk. Strike three.

I feel like you’ve probably figured it out by now, but I’ll spell it out for you, just in case: I love to talk. I talk to everybody and anybody and I do it all the time. So for me having to spend hours of my life just nodding and agreeing, I feel like he may be too self-absorbed for my taste. Also, being that I was super dehydrated and hangry, I was not inclined to say that we should hang out again.

Oh well.

He may have striked out, but it’s a new week and I can feel another series coming up.

Let’s play ball.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Wise Words Wednesday – Be Kind

I know I missed last week’s Wise Words, so here’s double the Wise Words.

 I found this on Pinterest and had to share with you all in case you’re hard core struggling through your Wednesday like me.

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If those are some of the truest Wise Words, though… #preach

But, in all seriousness, here are today’s Wise-r Words:

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Remember that for every project you have yet to finish, every pound you have left to lose and every dollar you have yet to save, you are doing the best you can.

Whenever I tell my mom about something I think I’ve failed at, she always asks if I did my best. I always respond (maybe even a bit teary eyed, because I’m a crier like that, which has already been established here) with, “yes,” and then she always says, “then that’s the best you can do.”

If you do your best, you have nothing to regret. When you put forth your full effort towards whatever goal you have in mind, you’ve done your job.

Be kind to yourself and be kind to others; they’re doing the best they can too.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Detoxing

I’m not really sure about any of you, but whenever I come back from vacation, I feel like I come back with a renewed sense of clarity.

With a bunch of nastiness that went down in my life leading up to my trip to Hilton Head, I was only all the more eager to make like my golden doodle and kick some grass over that shit and move on.

So now that I’ve come back from vacation, I’m taking time to clean up my life and my priorities (and, possibly, my very messy apartment –unpacking suuuuuuucks).

You might remember that boy from a couple weeks back? Well, if not, whatevs. You didn’t miss much. But it just took me until now to delete him off Facebook. I know, I’m yelling at myself for waiting so long too.

Sometimes, rather, most times, Facebook creates more problems than it solves. Do I need to know that he added three beautiful girls as friends recently? No. No, I do not. Does he get to know details about my life anymore? No. No, no he does not. Is he still a butthead that I would run up and junk-punch if I saw him? Surprisingly, no. But I’d definitely think about it for a good three seconds.

I also took the time to unfollow an old friend of mine because she was toxic to my life. We don’t hang out or talk anymore, more because I guess she doesn’t feel like it, I suppose. So now every time I see her photos or status update, I get a little sad. But, I can’t waste any time being sad for people who don’t care about me. So, buh-bye, dear. TTYN.

I also took my skinny-pants–you know, the pants you keep around because one day you might throw them on and miraculously fit back into them? Well, I took them and threw them in the bag for Goodwill. I don’t need their size 6 tags looming in my dresser any longer and making me feel sad looking at them as I throw on my size 8 pants.

It’s pretty powerful when you’ve figured out that you really only need to keep up with the people who want to keep up with you and keep around the things that make you happy. And because they had once made you happy, you should never regret them. Never regret something/someone that made you smile once.

I hope you have the courage to do some ‘spring cleaning’ of your own, because it’s so worth it.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Vacationing from Life

Hidey ho everyone!

For the past week I’ve taken a step back from blogging and a step back from life to get some quality r&r on the beach.

I traveled to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on Saturday and am now crying in the airport as we speak having to go back to Wisconsin.

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The iconic Hilton Head lighthouse

Okay, so I’m not really that crazy woman sobbing at the airport gate, but I’m still super sad to leave such a beautiful place.

I haven’t been to the island in a couple of years and I always forget how lush and green the whole southern part of the U.S. is! Seriously, the ‘tree-tunnels’ over the roads with Spanish moss hanging everywhere was such a welcome sight after leaving the dead/in hibernation state that Wisconsin is in.

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Green. Was. EVERYWHERE. 😀

Not only did I miss seeing the lush green everywhere, I missed the smell of the ocean and the feeling of the sand between my toes.

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Animal friends, pt. 1

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Animal friends, pt. 2

I felt a bit like the start of a personal ad for most of the time there because I really did love the long walks on the beach. I took one at least twice per day. And during this time, I found six sand dollars! Now, I’m not sure if any of you are shell collectors, and I’m not really either, but I feel like a sand dollar is kind of a big deal. But I guess I’m just that awesome, whatevs. 🙂

Besides hanging out on the beach and laying out in the sun, my traveling partner extraordinaire, aka Gramma, and I went to all the must-see local spots on the island and even managed to take a day-trip to Charleston.

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The Salty Dog Cafe = ahhhhmazing Arnie Palmers

We had fun just traveling all over South Carolina because not only were we trying to get some r&r from our actual lives, but we were also trying to forget the hellish day we had traveling to South Carolina.

It turns out that both of our first flights were delayed and that my Gma couldn’t come pick me up in Savannah, Georgia like she had planned to before we both drove to the island.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “But, C, you can just rent a car and drive to Hilton Head yourself. Problem solved!”

Au contraire, mon frere. Au contraire.

When I got to Savannah, my Gma had just gotten into Charleston –a whole three hours away. I figured, “nbd,” but then I get to the Hertz desk and the lady says, ever so sweetly in her Southern accent, “I’m sorry darlin’, we don’t have any cars left and being that this is a such a small airport, I’m not sure if anyone else has one for you either without a reservation already.”

My mouth dropped.

Sure I could wait three hours, but I had already left the gate area where there was food and electricity that I could siphon. So since I had been traveling for the past nine hours at this point having nothing to eat, I was a bit hangry and a bit huffy-puffy.

After calling mom to vent a bit, I decide to try National to get a car. I figure, if anything, I at least have something to do until Gma gets here to pick me up.

I’m third in line and things look promising. Then the National desk closes and only Alamo is open, but since the two are in alliance with one another, they just said that the lines could merge.

This all sounds fine in theory, except when the lines don’t actually merge, but are actually kind of stacked on top of one another. Guess which end I got stuck on?

So now I’m seventh in line and the queue is moving about as fast as the speed of smell.

I then start to worry that there will be no cars available.

and then…LIGHTBULB!!!

I decide to go on Alamo’s website and reserve a car before I go up to the counter and act like I had reserved the car the whole time.

WOOHOO!! C. is cookin’ with gas now!

I get up to the counter and the poor soul working the desk looks like she is just about done with life, but is nice to me anyway and gives me the keys to a beautiful Jetta.

From that moment on, she was my favorite person that day.

I get the car and the only problem I have now is to make it to the island before my phone/GPS dies.

I’ll save you the story of my many prayers up to baby Jesus and just let you know that I got there in one piece.

Was I a complete hangry hot mess when I arrived? But of course.

I was just glad to be there and ready to go to bed at that point.

Thankfully, Grams took me to dinner and we had crabcakes that were so good, they pretty much salvaged the night. 🙂

I thank heavens that the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. We came at the best time of year too, because it’s not tourist season yet and we would miss all the craziness of the RBC Heritage PGA golf tournament this weekend. While I would’ve loved to stay and watch the tournament, I’m glad I got to leave before the tourist rush.

I’m so glad I was able to spend a week in paradise just relaxing and forgetting about all the troubles back home. However, now that I’m sitting at my gate going through all of my missed work email, I’m kinda wishing I could go back and stay forever!

I hope your weeks were as good as mine and that your weekends coming up will be even better!

Until next time,

C. Brooks

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Probs my favorite picture from the trip. Dat reflection doe…

P.S. If you want to see more photos of my trip, feel free to follow me on Instagram!

Relay, Relay, Relay!

Today’s the day! It’s RELAY DAY!!

No, I am not running a relay, but rather walking in one…all night long.

I’m participating in my alma mater’s Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) Relay For Life tonight and I couldn’t be more excited! I used to be very active in the American Cancer Society affiliated organization when I was in school and it makes me happy that I can go back once more this year and see all of my CAC friends while partying and fighting back all night for a good cause.

It’s a cause that is near and dear to my heart because my dad passed away from colon cancer when I was 12 and ever since then, I’ve been wanting to do whatever I can to help out.

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The sad truth is, even though my dad died from cancer, we were one of the lucky families. He was originally given six months to live after being diagnosed in 1999, but he went through numerous surgeries and chemo, radiation and experimental treatments that gave him that extra time with us.

However, some families get a lot less time with their loved ones than we had, and that just breaks my heart. No one should ever have to hear that they have cancer and that’s why I put a lot of effort towards fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Without their support of cancer research, a lot of drugs, like the ones that helped get my dad five and a half more years than he was supposed to, wouldn’t exist.

I truly see them as a one-stop-shop type of organization. The American Cancer Society helps with educating people on how to prevent cancer or find it at its earliest stages, helping patients when they’ve been diagnosed by giving them access to care and numerous programs to help with the burdens cancer brings, funding and conducting research for fighting, preventing and understanding cancer and, ultimately, fighting back against cancer by rallying communities and lawmakers to band together with one common purpose.

I’m so excited to go fight back with all of my friends tonight and I know it’ll be the start to a great weekend!

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Wise Words Wednesday – Trial & Error

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetIt’s Wednesday and do you know what that means?!?!

It means that it’s almost Thursday, which means it’s almost Friday!!

Okay, I’ll tone down the pep, but I’m going on vacation next week, so I cannot wait for this week to fly by.

Anyway, in regards to the Wise Words, they aren’t so much wise as they are blatantly true.

But, for you folks that need the wise words, I’ll leave it to good ol’ Thomas Edison to explain:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Now, I could totally sit here and write down all of the times I’ve tried something and failed –relationships, friendships, jobs– but that would be more like a sad novel than a blog post. So, I’ll save the drama for my mama.

All I know about trial and error in life is that you have to try something in order to figure out anything. The only kicker is that you’ll get a lot more error than you will success stories, but that’s what makes life interesting.

Until next time folks,

C. Brooks

If I Was a Man

Last night I was at a restaurant/bar, just enjoying the NCAA national championship game with some friends. Everything was going just swimmingly. We found a large booth, got our beers and deep fried cheese curds (yes, they’re as amazing as they sound) and started watching the game.

Not long after I had finished my first beer, my friend next to me gives me a nudge and says that there’s an old guy (probably 55 or so) that keeps staring at me.

I turn to my right, and, sure as shit, there he is just-ah staring away. I quickly look away, hoping that since we made eye contact, he would stop looking at me.

He didn’t.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “C, he’s just looking at you. Don’t be so sensitive!”

I was thinking that too, however, he started looking at me kind of like how starving cartoons look at their cartoon friends and turn them into burgers. All smirky, like they have all the power to pounce on them at any given minute.

I’ll pause so you can finish shuddering, because just the thought of him looking at me like that makes my skin crawl.

After a few more attempts and icy glares towards him, some given while even making eye contact with him, he still didn’t get it.

As if that weren’t bad enough, when I stood up to let my friend out of the booth to go to the bathroom, my other friend at the table said she watched him look me up and down.

I’ll pause again for the shudder…

SERIOUSLY?!?! Why, why, why can’t men take the hint?! If a woman is giving you all the signs to leave her the hell alone, you do it. No questions asked and no ifs, ands or buts.

Not only do I hate this guy for objectifying me and successfully giving me the heebie jeebies, I also hate him because he made me feel uncomfortable and made me, in the 45 minutes that this was happening, not want to be a woman.

I mean, how ridiculous is that?! I can understand if you don’t want to be a woman in certain situations when you’re swimsuit shopping or when you’re on your period, but to not want to be a woman because of the way a man makes you feel, it’s just the most horrible feeling. When I got home last night, I was feeling at the lowest of lows.

I hated that I kept thinking that if I was a man, I could have just sat there drinking beer and enjoying the game with my friends. However, because I’m a woman, and our patriarchal society tells men that they can look at, creep on and treat women any way they want, I sat there wishing I wasn’t one.

A friend said that his type of male gaze was all “just because I was too pretty.” To which I replied that I could give a shit less if he thought I was pretty. Just because you find someone attractive, you don’t have any right to ogle and objectify them, making them feel so uncomfortable to the point where they have to yell at you to leave them alone.

For any person saying that we already have gender equality, I argue that if the power were equal between the sexes, I wouldn’t have sat in that booth last night, wishing I was male, all so that I wouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Long Weekends Make for Long Mondays

Mondays after a long vacation are the worst. The worst. It was like Thursday yesterday, right? Apparently not.

This past weekend was a great time to spend time with my family (including all 7 of my nieces and nephews) and friends. It was also great to get out of town for a bit and take some time to chill without the stress of everything that went down last week.

I’m from a little small town way back in the sticks, where cell reception is optional. Feeling a bit unplugged, I was able to clear my head and focus on the true meaning of this weekend: eggs and candy. 😉

Turns out spending the majority of your time dying hard-boiled eggs, searching/hunting for the plastic replicas and eating the Reese’s ones made up of chocolatey-peanut buttery goodness can be very cathartic.

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What can I say? I’m an egg-dying extraordinaire. 🙂

Plus, I was able to watch the last two rounds of the Shell Houston Open, which only added to the perfect weekend r&r. It got me even more excited to watch the Masters this coming weekend and I’m kind of debating calling in Thursday and Friday so I can watch it…kind of.

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Hickory prefers Animal Planet, but I had the remote.

I hope you all had a great and relaxing holiday weekend! May you also still be on a sugar high that helps numb the pain of coming back to work today.

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Until next time,

C. Brooks

Wise Words Wednesday – Putting the Pieces Back Together

Happy Wise Words Wednesday!

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Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I’ve been a little out of sorts. Since ending things with the new boy, I was lost in imagining all that I thought I had lost in the “what could have been’s.”

Obviously, when things are going well with someone new, you begin to make plans. Nothing too huge, but still plans all the same. You begin to wonder what your life will be like with this person and all of the possibilities floating around you can give you a high.

However, once a person pulls the rug out from under you, all of the plans quickly fall and crash all around you and you become a bit lost in the broken pieces.

It’s always important to remember that you can let yourself wallow in the shattered pieces for a time, but that you shouldn’t let it consume you enough that you feel you aren’t strong enough to piece them back together again.

For me, I took a couple of days to wallow and get out all of my sadness and frustration. But then this morning, it just kind of clicked that I needed to start moving on and remembering that there is someone out there that will help me keep all my pieces together and maybe even help make new ones.

In any rough situation that knocks you down, you have to remember that you are tough as hell and can pick yourself back up again. Sure, you can lean on your good friends and family for support, as you should, but you must remember that you are the one who can make the most strides in getting back to happy.

In any situation, try not to lose yourself in the broken pieces. Remember that you are tough enough to move forward because happy is just around the corner, you just have to have the courage to pursue it.

Stay tough and until next time,

C. Brooks