The Courage to Become | Camaron Brooks
The Courage to Stand UP. Follow the yellow brick road and find your TRUTH.
Manifesting Mama - I am an uber- believer in the law of attraction. I am also a self-help junkie. I've definitely manifested things in my life. I wanted a cookie one day while working as a reporter for KRGV and no sooner did I make my mental request did a co-worker offer me one dripping with chocolate chips. Exactly what I ordered.
I dreamed about a job in TV news dating back to the fourth grade. I anchored a school-wide broadcast and loved it. I told everyone who would listen what I was going to do with my life. In college, I heard "that's tough to get into..." or "you really have to have the right look." I saw their faces. I witnessed the doubt. I kept working. I interned at CNN (once catching a glimpse of Larry King in the elevator.) I interned at KTLA and when the staffers announced a contest open to college students (including me) I applied. I told everyone at school to apply too. "Wouldn't it be so great if someone from Cal State Fullerton got picked?"
And they did! My first live shot for the contest was at the Staples Center at an L.A. Clippers game. I kept advancing as the contest continued. I met the members of the 90’s band Smash Mouth, the Los Angeles Times printed my picture. Brian McKnight even asked if I needed a ride after a tapping. I said, "No, thank you." I had a boyfriend. I also secretly hoped he didn't see my car. Zip ties held the bumper of my green Honda Civic on in two places. The winner won $25,000 dollars. I made it to the finals placing second. As the runner-up, I got a Jack in the Box Ciabatta.
That was ten years ago. The footage helped me land my first TV job in Midland, TX. I drove that beat up Honda across four states a few months later. It was tough. I grew through major self-doubt for two years before I started looking for my next job. I applied to nearly 100 jobs during the great recession. I finally found a job at KRGV in 2009. The Rio Grande Valley felt like home. I learned so much about life and myself. I made great friends and I stretched until I was 29-years-old and practically prancing around the Channel 5 newsroom talking about how I wanted a family. I wanted babies. I told everyone. I made vision boards and started seeing a counselor, a life coach and read lots of self- help and prayed. (Not to spoil the ending but... My vision came to life. I’m married with two beautiful babies.)
Detrimental determination - I've always known how much our thoughts influence our lives. If I wanted something I could make it happen. Nothing could stop me. It's one of my best/worst traits. Now that I’m turning 34 I understand my own limitations better. I certainly believe my thoughts steer my life but I now know God is the sails and the wind and the sky and the sun. Steering the ship isn't enough. I can't make it to shore alone. I probably felt like I needed to go it alone because I started moving so young. My parents moved me from Illinois to California just weeks after I was born. Then we moved overseas to Germany for a few years before moving back to Stockton, CA. I went to three elementary schools and two middle schools and in my senior year of High School my parents moved two hours south. I ended up testing out of High School and starting junior college. Everyone told me I would fail without a proper diploma. I bucked the idea. I kept working toward my goals.
I know, it’s weird—I managed to ignore so many negative voices throughout my life when I spent so much time trying desperately to make people like me. I moved so often, I needed to fit in. In fact, fitting in was my life goal. I was so embarrassed when I won awards. Or stood out. I didn’t want to give anyone a reason not to like me. I was determined to be friends with everyone. I dragged this determination into my romantic relationships. I mistakenly believed I alone could make them work. I ignored signs of trouble. I ate my feelings. I drank too much. I did anything to help me ignore my own discontentment. I believed I merely needed to control my thoughts (and I suppressed lots of feelings in the process.)
In 2011, my news director gave me a great opportunity for career growth. I would anchor weekend mornings and report three days a week. I immediately felt enormous pressure and fell into a depression. I sobbed to a co-worker the day my nephew was born. I wanted to be there. I enjoyed my work but my nephew’s arrival forced me to see what I was missing and the job was starting to force me to stand out beyond my comfort zone. My face was on all the promotional videos. My determination had gotten me into what felt like a VIP party and all I could do was grab two crab cakes and a carrot from the bountiful buffet. I was too confused and embarrassed to enjoy it. Did I really want this? Or was I just so determined to reach my goal at any cost? Did I want a family more than my old dreams? A couple of years later I got my answers. I decided I wanted a family more than a career.
Wild Spirit- I may love cardigans, reading (especially anything Oprah suggests) and quiet coffee shops but there’s also a wildness to me most people don’t always recognize. I probably don’t want people to see (the part of me that went skinny dipping in a Las Vegas pool, or who jumped out of an airplane, or who wrote a book and published it). So, I find it difficult to properly put myself out there. My book debuted without pre-orders or parties. It’s like I found an unwanted kitten, posted it on Facebook and dropped off at a shelter (convinced I’d done my due diligence.) I tried to move on but it nagged me. The book was funny and enjoyable—at least the few people who read it told me. Couldn’t I do a little more? Didn’t my story deserve my best effort?
I cried in the shower, wrote through contractions, and discovered how difficult it is for me to enjoy the moment. That’s why I started writing my story. I couldn’t be the only mom going through this massive identity crisis. Motherhood opened me up the all the ways I tried to control my thoughts and emotions. My new role tested me in every way. Pre-baby I focused on my career and the future. After baby, I needed to commit myself to living in the moment. I found comfort in retelling the stories of my reporting days while incorporating it into my new reality.
My e-book debuted almost a year ago. Today, I see how clearly I tried to hide behind the difficulties of the self-publishing. How I refused to be fully seen yet again. I didn't believe I deserved the spotlight. Sure, I could manifest a cookie but what about a successful writing career?
Get Out of the Vault- I ran tapes to and from the tape library during my internship with CNN. It was quite an elaborate system with barcodes and specifically labeled tapes. During my frequent visits to the vault I met a nice man who managed the archives. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him what I told everyone… “I wanted to be a reporter.”
“Then go where they’ll let you report.” He said. “I always wanted to be a photographer. I took this job because I thought it would get my foot in the door. That was twenty years ago.”
I heard what he was saying. I went far away from Southern California to a place where I could be a reporter. I learned the craft and sharpened my skills. Over the years I started to realize my favorite part of my day was the moment I sat down to WRITE. I enjoyed the other aspects of my job, especially hearing all the amazing stories from the people I met. BUT I was called to write. Writing felt sacred. I continued to write online after I left the business because I remembered those words.
If you want to be a singer (for example) go ahead and take the job in the mailroom at Sony Records only if you’re singing in church, coffee shops and on the street. Don’t take the job and wait for someone to give you a chance to sing. You’ll never get it. Start doing what you love TODAY.
As the saying goes…“comfort is a hard habit to break.” Stay far away from the vault!
Limiting Beliefs - Parenting certainly finds a way to show you what you believe. I stood in the middle of a Toys-R-Us when one of my limiting beliefs smacked me around. Brandon held tightly to a Paw Patrol Control tower. We’d just given him a very expensive battery-operated truck. "Brandon, you can't have everything..." I told my three-year-old with conviction.
And there it was. The belief—limiting everything in my life. The idea living inside of me saying I couldn't have this amazing family AND an amazing career. Somehow I always believed I must choose. Motherhood certainly asks us to prioritize at different times our kid’s lives but my unexamined belief meant I needed to choose. Success or family. Never both.
I want my son and daughter to know the value of things and I want them to be generous. I also want them to know that they can work and eventually manifest everything their little hearts can dream up. Life is bountiful! We should all enjoy the buffet. That’s why I'm currently trying to shift my thinking away from my old limiting beliefs. I’m tired of holding myself back.
Instead of trying not to stand out, I am focusing on standing up. I'm a woman with important stories to share. Aren't we all? Doesn't every soul on this earth have a powerful, beautiful, stirring story in their heart? I know you do. I want to read your story.
My becoming will unfold until my last breath. I’ve learned so much and still have so much to learn and give. I love cheering on Catia Holm as she chases her dreams. She makes me feel like anything is possible with her brand of fearlessness and self-confidence. Plus, isn’t becoming contagious? She reminds us all to stand up for our dreams.
Trusting God’s Timing- Being in a relationship can be another way to hide. I’ve certainly hidden in my past relationships. I didn’t need to venture out and truly be myself because I was a part of a couple. I remember telling an ex-boyfriend I might want to be a teacher or a writer. He scoffed and told me “you’re a reporter.”
Ultimately, I ended that relationship in order to find my own happiness. I left in a blur of tears and suffered a miscarriage in the middle of the breakup. (For a woman, praying for a family it was shocking and painful.) Looking back I see how God was whispering for me to trust Him and His timing.
My husband was the first man who didn't try to control me. He’s excited if I tell him I'm going to write a children's book, or a screenplay, or launch a podcast. (Or whatever I've dreamt up this week.) He's my number one supporter and fan. I'm his too. But now, I'm determined to become my own biggest cheerleader. I've started writing articles and sharing them. I revived a blog site and started the process of pitching a picture book manuscript to agents. I am embracing the process and loving the excitement of not knowing WHEN everything will come together.
There's no choice between my family AND success. The world is big enough and bright enough for me to celebrate both. I'm finally standing up—Guys, I’m back in line at the buffet table and I’m going straight for the chocolate chip cookies. Life really is sweet.
A little ditty about courage and motherhood…
There is nobody more courageous than a mother. We’re asked to let go from our baby’s first breath. I remember holding my tummy and missing the baby inside hours after giving birth. Pregnant no more. We feed twelve times a day and get used to watching our angels sleep in our arms. Then seemingly out of nowhere they’re too heavy to hold. It’s time to roll over. It’s time to stack and clap and laugh out loud. Then we get lulled into thinking this is how life will be. An ear infection hits. We lose sleep. Teeth break through. Weeks crawl then so do our babies. We lose time letting go of our ideas of what motherhood would be like. We adjust to what it’s really like. We let go of everything we can no longer juggle. We let go of our expectations. We become things we never thought we would. We become ourselves. We become just like our mothers. We become courageous as we watch our loves teeter on their own feet for the first time. Then we’re asked to say goodbye to a baby and greet a toddler with birthday cake and balloons.
More change. We’re asked to let go of their hands when they want to play at the park with friends. We’re asked to let go of picking out their clothes when they decide what to wear. We’re asked to change the radio when they don’t like a song anymore. We’re asked to let go of who we were and who we thought they should be. We’re asked to let go of knowing what will happen. We’re asked to reckon with our own limitations. We can’t always protect them. We try. We pray. We let go a little more. We’re asked to let go of everything we once believed about parenting. We thought we’d never…fill in the blank. We’re asked to say goodbye to the idea of love. We’re asked to truly and courageously pour love from and beyond ourselves.
This is the gift and challenge of motherhood— it’s an unraveling of the soul. We’re tethered to change. It’s like folding laundry with kids. They’re always playfully pulling us apart, unfolding the tidy ideas we hold of ourselves, tugging at our bound up emotions. We wrestle with fear, anger and annoyance. We practice patience. We practice gratitude. Kids teach us pure presence. We play again. We let go of our need to be perfect. We let go of just knowing—we start living. We read more. We learn more. We follow thought leaders like Dr. Brené Brown and Dr. Shefali Tsabary. We tackle our limiting beliefs. We pray. We let go a little more. We’re asked to let go of the cruelty we once reserved for ourselves. We’re someone’s mother. We practice compassion. We’re expected to explore our own dreams so we don’t shove them onto our children.
We become, again and again. We let go of the idea that we’ll never be scared. We’re scared at least twice a day when we look into their lovely little eyes. God please keep them safe. We’re scared when we turn off the lights. Did we teach them enough? Did we hold them enough? Do they know how much we love them? Did we scold too harshly? Did we enjoy it all? Did we savor the time? We breathe. Tomorrow’s another day of letting go.
Essay by: Camaron Brooks
Wasn't that awesome?! The first time I read it, I was shaking my head up and down mumbling, Yes, yes, yes.
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I'm Catia, a woman, wife, mama, sister, sister friend, you know -- I wear a million hats just like you.
One of my biggest whys is that I want people to feel good about ALL of who they are. Including you.
If I could choose ten words that best describe me I would say: honest, welcoming, giving, curious, loving, earnest, empathetic, spiritual, playful, and sassy. Let's add: adventurous. That's 11.
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