Brooke is a writer and entrepreneur who has traveled the world to promote wildlife protection and women and girls’ empowerment.
Brooke, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Oh god, my story. Well, it certainly includes a good amount of heartbreak and tragedy. But it’s also been full of adventure, enduring love, and inexplicable magic.
And, as things usually play out, it’s been the heartbreak and tragedy that brought me the greatest gifts, one of which was writing.
So, what brought me here summed up in one long sentence: An unfathomable amount of trauma happened in a 6-month period, which forced me to start a blogas a way to cope with it all, which led to the discovery of a gift I didn’t know I had…a perfect example of the Universe at work.
The fact that I’m still here is borderline miraculous, although “here” is nowhere near where I want to be. But I’ll get there. After all, there are adventures to be had, enduring love to find, and lots more magic to conjure up.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I wear a lot of hats, but my two main passions are writing and my social enterprise, Briya.
I started Briya after spending six months working at a chimpanzee sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After seeing, firsthand, the devastating impacts of poverty, I couldn’t just walk away and ignore what was happening. Briya is my way to actively support organizations implementing a holistic, sustainable, community-based approach.
Briya produces unique, adventure-friendly bags that allow you to travel in style while promoting positive, lasting change across the globe. (You can explore our collection at www.briyabags.com)
Writing is a relatively new endeavor for me and what I’m most proud of. I think what sets my writing apart is my ability to connect with people. I love orchestrating words- finding ways to make them dance while hopefully offering something rich and meaningful for people to enjoy.
But my writing can also be extremely raw and painful. So when I can, I try to extract the beauty that still exists, even in our darkest hours. And I’m kinda funny, so there’s a fair amount of wit and humor sprinkled throughout. 😉
This has been a bittersweet gift, to be sure. But there’s nothing more fulfilling than reading something I wrote and thinking, “Damn, girl, that’s really f*cking good.”
It doesn’t happen often, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.
You can follow my adventures at www.summoningmagic.com
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
First, I think it’s important to celebrate the fact that we, as a gender, are finally coming into our own, and unapologetically so. Women of all ages are boldly taking command of their lives- cultivating our talents, challenging ourselves, and speaking out against the injustices we see and experience. I also see more women actively supporting and empowering each other in myriad ways.
But yes, barriers still exist. We continue to be dismissed and criticized when we have bold ideas, strong opinions, and passionate emotions. The antiquated stereotypes persist- if we act passionately or defiantly, we are considered “dramatic, irrational, or a bitch.” And if we have the “audacity” to demand, persist, or refuse, then we are clearly just crazy.
I also think we’re still held to a standard that is unattainable and destructive. We are still expected to be perfect on various levels.
Most of us learn from an early age that we’re defined by our “assets or inadequacies,” which are imposed on us by a society obsessed with shiny, pretty, and flawless. It’s ingrained in us that we have to have perfect grades, a perfect body, perfect skin, perfect teeth, on and on. Only then, will we be worthy or capable of finding the perfect job, perfect husband, perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, on and on.
The thing is, most of us don’t have all of those things. We’re all messy in our own way, but that doesn’t mean we’re inherently flawed. We simply can’t lose ourselves trying to be something we’re not or we’ll extinguish the things that make us inherently beautiful.
Bottom line: perfectionism breeds shame, cripples courage, stifles creativity, and extracts the joy out of self-discovery. If we don’t give ourselves permission to get a little messy, we will never uproot the source of our perceived inadequacies…and we will never be good enough.
And honestly, who wants to be around “perfect?” (just sounds so…vanilla).
BUT, there are also countless men doing their part to dismantle these stereotypes by honoring our opinions, strengths, and contributions. I truly believe this is the only way we’re going to evolve as a society. All genders have to celebrate each other’s unique, inherent strengths that are meant to complement each other, not conflict.
What advice do you have for women who are facing challenges or trying to piece their lives back together post-heartbreak or tragedy?
I certainly don’t have everything figured out. But I do have a fair amount of wisdom at this point, and a lot of lessons-learned.
These three truths are, by far, the hardest and most profound lessons I’ve had to learn:
Bad shit is going to happen, people are going to hurt you, and you are going to want to give up.
And these three, the most rewarding:
Beautiful things happen, people will overwhelm you with love and support, and you will not give up; you’re stronger than that, and you have shit to do…the good kind.
So I’ll leave you courageous women with a few mantras I try to live by…
Embrace your faults, but don’t fixate on them.
Celebrate your strengths and fixate on those.
Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Remove yourself from those who don’t.
Perfect is boring.
Follow your heart, but use your head.
Not everyone will like you. Give your energy to those who do.
Live boldly, take risks, and do what feeds your soul.
My hope for all of you is that you seek out experiences that challenge, enrich, and empower you. Give yourself permission to fail, and then pick yourself back up and try again until you don’t. You’ll inspire others to do the same, and you’ll always be the colorful, dynamic one with fascinating stories to tell.
And trust me, colorful and dynamic are way more attractive than perfect hair and teeth.
- Website: www.briyabags.com & www.summoningmagic.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/summoningmagic/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/briyabags/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BriyaBags & https://twitter.com/summoningmagic
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalie-brooke-breazeale/
Amy K Wright Photography, Jenna Sparks Photography