Transcript:                    This is David Brower, and our special guest today from Phoenix, Arizona is Stacy Brookman. Stacy is a resilience and life story telling expert, and produces the Real Life Resilience podcast. Her mission is to tell stories of recovery from life’s most difficult traumas and provide tools for resiliency for kids and adults. Tracy, welcome, glad to have you here.

Stacy Brookman:           Well I am so excited to be here David.

David Brower:              So tell me, I mean resilience, that takes me in a lot of different directions, is it emotional, is it physical, is it, explain to me how the Real Life Resilience podcast, what do you talk about on your podcast?

Stacy Brookman:           Sure, well we provide tools for all kinds of things, and I got into it by starting with my own life storytelling. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. I was divorcing someone who was a sociopath, and that’s, I mean a true sociopath, not a, I don’t bat that word around lightly.

David Brower:              Right.

Stacy Brookman:           It was just devastating emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually, it was just devastating all the way around. Then the chaos of divorce on top of that and all the crazy, crazy stuff that was going on. In the middle of that I started taking a life story and memoir writing course. That thing saved my life honestly. It really did.

David Brower:              Is that like journaling on steroids, or what is that?

Stacy Brookman:           It sort of is, I mean you can journal to heal, but this was taking snippets of our lives and what I was doing, what they had the class do is take parts of your life and they taught a formula how to write it a theme. So I did that, and we brought them every Friday and we read them aloud to the class. Of course mine were so crazy it was just amazing, and you know, sometimes in my life you just had to laugh or else you would cry, it was so crazy.

David Brower:              Sure, yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           What I understood then, just naturally, was how beneficial having someone hear my story; what was happening to me, having someone hold that story without judgment and actually writing down helped me become clearer on what was happening. What I needed to do next, my emotions, because when you find words for what’s happening to you, like you’re surrounded in chaos, and we as human beings, have a huge capacity for pulling the wool over our own eyes.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           I have certainly done that. When you start writing, everything becomes clearer, you have to find the words to what’s happening to you. You have to find the words for your emotions. It puts it down in black and white so it’s not as confusing for you at all. So I did discover that naturally. I was calmer, I was able to get through that chaos with more peace than I would ever have imagined, and you know, find myself. Find my true authenticity and be able to discover really who I was behind the whole divorce thing.

David Brower:              What a gift.

Stacy Brookman:           Yeah. After that, I realized, I started doing some research into the, not only the art, but the psychology of life story writing. When I did that I realized there are so many research studies behind this that there really are benefits of writing your life stories out. In certain ways. I mean it can boost your immune system even. It reduces stress. It helps you get past, you know when people will say, you know, if you’ve had like a divorce or something else that was traumatic in your life or your past, or abuse or anything like that, “Just get over it,” or you know, “It’ll fade with time.” Those type of traumatic memories do not fade over time. When you have trauma those memories are formed in a different part of your brain than regular memory.

David Brower:              You may be, yeah, you may become expert at stuffing them, but they never go away.

Stacy Brookman:           Exactly, and it could be triggered by a sound, a song, a smell, something like that. You know, I mean we’ve all been angry at something for no reason, you know, probably you know just, something just trips your trigger. Well that could come out at any time.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           So what writing does is it puts those memories, those sharp memories that maybe you don’t, they’re hidden from you sometimes, you don’t even realize you have them, and when you write about it, you start remembering those details and you start forgiving yourself, first of all, for what’s happened. Put those in a regular part of your brain where they can no longer hurt you.

David Brower:              When you become that vulnerable, and it’s, and you, I’m kind of guessing here a bit, but when you become that vulnerable and you think or feel that okay, obstacle A is this, but really it turns out to be obstacle C that’s really the issue. How do you navigate yourself through the writing to find yourself being authentic? Is that a system that you work with people with to allow them to be so vulnerable?

Stacy Brookman:           Yeah, and it takes a little while to start being truthful because you know, my fear, and a lot of people’s fear is like what if I’m really not a good person? Or what if you know, people read this about me and they think negatively? You’ve got to just dispel that. Your first initial writing, or this is what I, the rough draft or the free write is what I call it, is only for you. You will never share that with anybody else. Only after you refine it can you, and you don’t even need to. You don’t ever, to get the benefits of writing about your life, you never even have to share it at all.

David Brower:              Good.

Stacy Brookman:           I recommend you share it because, let’s say you’ve been through a bout of cancer or some other type of trauma in your life, wouldn’t you like to be able to share your story and your wisdom, your newfound wisdom with someone who is just about to go through the same thing you did? So I do recommend you sharing your story with other people, but you definitely don’t have to.

David Brower:              When you find your authentic self, which has to be a journey in and of itself to say the least, and you find your authentic self and you’re able to share whatever those experiences are, whether it’s cancer, mental health, whatever it is, and there’s support groups all around the world that need really authentic experience, life experience people to help people get to go where they need to be. So you’re kind of putting people in just a wonderful, wonderful place to pay it forward, you know?

Stacy Brookman:           Absolutely, absolutely. Here’s another thing, when I was going through this and I, you know, when I first started writing, one of the exercises I did was to find our life’s theme. I was a professional business woman, I was handling this divorce, I was handling life, I had two kids and I was juggling it all, trying to make sure everything was going okay. From the outside, I looked okay, right?

David Brower:              Right.

Stacy Brookman:           On the inside, I was a mess. I mean I would have to go, just some of the crazy stories, I would have to go to a grocery store in the morning to wash my face and wash my hair because my ex had turned off the water.

David Brower:              Oh wow.

Stacy Brookman:           Or he cut the wires on the heater and then called child protective services. What I projected to the world was something totally put together and totally different than what was happening on the inside. When I did this, I discovered that my life theme to date was not raising my hand.

David Brower:              Oh wow.

Stacy Brookman:           Not in kindergarten, grade school, high school, young adult, I didn’t say, “You know, that’s not right,” or, “I don’t want to do that,” or you know, I never raised my hand. I was taught apparently, from a young age and through society and different things that I need to be invisible. My opinion doesn’t matter, those have to, you know, internal things that I had adopted inside my head.

David Brower:              Sure.

Stacy Brookman:           So that affected my adult life, and when I realized that I looked back and I’m like, “Oh my goodness, that matches everything that’s happened to me.”

David Brower:              When you grow up in a learned environment, I mean it’s all you know, that’s your comfort level. That’s your comfort zone, so you don’t know what you don’t know about other areas, right?

Stacy Brookman:           Right. Exactly.

David Brower:              Like I was an amazing introvert, amazing’s probably not the right way, but I was certainly an introvert pretty much all my life growing up, and only child and hung out by myself. Had very few friends, all that kind of thing. Then I got into a radio career and so I was forced to become an extrovert when the microphone was on. Then I would go back to my introvert and then I’d flip the switch and here comes the extrovert, you know?

Stacy Brookman:           Right.

David Brower:              So learning different things like that about yourself is so eye-opening, oh my gosh.

Stacy Brookman:           Well it’s really cool because then you can change your life’s theme.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           So once you discover what it really is, if you like it, great, do more of it, be more authentic with yourself. Share it with other people, but if you don’t, like I didn’t, you can change it. You know, and so I was able to live more authentically, live more joyfully, and become more resilient because I discovered it and I was able to change myself.

David Brower:              That is so cool.

Stacy Brookman:           It’s just been amazing since then, you know, in the relationships and you know I was always timid in any interaction, and things like that.

David Brower:              Sure.

Stacy Brookman:           Now, why? I am who I am, I like who I am, and I can project that with, when I’m interacting with other people. I feel more comfortable in my skin.

David Brower:              Yeah, when you are authentic and you feel more comfortable in your skin and you carry yourself with that kind of, not arrogance, but true confidence and authenticity, then even strangers walking by you pick up on that and go, “Wow, what’s going on with her?” Right?

Stacy Brookman:           True.

David Brower:              That’s cool.

Stacy Brookman:           People are attracted to it.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           You know what? Anybody can do it. This is, writing about your life is not about, you know, eighth grade grammar, or anything like that. I mean it’s just, it’s messy and that is okay.

David Brower:              So, when you get somebody, somebody gets a hold of you and they feel scared, motivated, terrified, inquisitive, all those different things and want to tell their story, want to become authentic, want to feel healed, how does that work? How do you ease them into that process?

Stacy Brookman:           Yeah. That is a great question because a lot of times people think, people feel overwhelmed. You know, it’s just too huge of a task. I’ve got to write a book. That is not true whatsoever. So I first take people, I have a webinar, it’s a free webinar that takes people through writing the very first chapter of their life story in just seven days. Then I give them the tools to write thereafter. Part of that is finding the milestones in your life, just write down the milestones; I was born, you know I graduated, my parents divorced, I was baptized, whatever milestones in your life that you have, and then I take them through a couple of other lists and matching up those lists. What is the one crux point that is kind of throughout those, all of those lists?

David Brower:              So a common theme in other words, right?

Stacy Brookman:           A common theme.

David Brower:              Okay.

Stacy Brookman:           Then, take it to one moment in time that represents that milestone. Was there one moment in time in your grandmother’s kitchen. Then lets describe that. Describe what the smells were, what you saw, what you touched. Was it you know, from like a table? Or was it your grandmother’s apron and was she cooking fried chicken, you know, all of those things.

David Brower:              No, she was baking homemade yeast rolls-

Stacy Brookman:           Oh, yum.

David Brower:              Hot out of the oven with butter on the formica kitchen table, in the basement of my aunt’s house.

Stacy Brookman:           Oh wow.

David Brower:              It was just her and I. I remember that like it was yesterday, and it was 60 years ago.

Stacy Brookman:           [inaudible 00:13:08] **Audio Dropped**

David Brower:              Uh-hmm (affirmative).

Stacy Brookman:           [inaudible 00:13:26]. **Audio Dropped**

David Brower:              Nice.

Stacy Brookman:           [inaudible 00:13:52]. **Audio Dropped**

David Brower:              Right, right.

Stacy Brookman:           [inaudible 00:14:03]. **Audio Dropped**

David Brower:              How fascinating. One of the things I stumbled across, and I don’t remember why, I used to write poetry a lot, I don’t so much anymore but when I would have a creative block, a writers block if you will, I would get out, I write everything on the computer, but when I’d have that block I’d get out a tablet and a pen and I would write with my left hand.

Stacy Brookman:           Oh, that’s interesting.

David Brower:              Which I don’t know how to do.

Stacy Brookman:           Right.

David Brower:              For whatever reason, it would open up the floodgates and all of a sudden I could go back to the computer and start writing again.

Stacy Brookman:           Right, just open up that subconscious-

David Brower:              Yeah, yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           I think that’s what that, what happens with that-

David Brower:              Yeah, it’s fascinating.

Stacy Brookman:           As well.

David Brower:              So you put on a, I was looking at your website, you have a free webinar that you do periodically to help people get into this place of writing and free writing and helping to discover themselves. How often do you do those?

Stacy Brookman:           I do it once a month.

David Brower:              Okay.

Stacy Brookman:           I do it every single month, so whenever you go to, it’s Stacy Brookman dot com slash webinars, and there, I’m getting ready to put up the next one, and there is always a webinar going up right there. So any time you can join and discover more about it. I love to visit with people over social media too and my website, so if anybody wants to write a note or email me, they can email me and ask me questions. Maybe I’ll answer that on Facebook or something like that. I just, I love sharing, in fact, when I got done with that class and I was in Rochester, New York, took that class and I started discovering more about it I said, “So many people need to know about this.”

David Brower:              Yeah.

Stacy Brookman:           I went out and learned more and I started teaching at the local community college.

David Brower:              Nice.

Stacy Brookman:           From there went, I was getting 15-20 people in my classes, but I want so many more people to know that they can write through their troubles. Write about their past troubles, and heal from that, not cram it down in their heads, but just heal from it completely, and live a more joyful life. That’s why I started my website a couple of years ago. I’m like, “I want to really help people understand how to be more resilient through writing their life story.”

David Brower:              Good for you, good for you. If you go to Stacy Brookman dot com, one of the things you’ll see, because as we talked earlier, everything can and probably is overwhelming when you think about this process, but on your website it says, “Write the first chapter of your life story in just seven days,” and all of a sudden you go, “Oh, well that doesn’t seem so overwhelming. I don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway and write a-”

Stacy Brookman:           Exactly.

David Brower:              A novel, right? Then you click on the free webinar tab, and then you’ve got a countdown to when your next webinar is, so very organized. Very informative, very easy to roll through and folks, we’re about out of time, but I want to encourage you to go to Stacy Brookman dot com. That’s S-T-A-C-Y, Brookman, B-R-O-O-K-M-A-N, dot com, and you learn more about Stacy. About how you can write your own story in seven days. The four-step process that helps you get out of your comfort zone. It’s just fascinating what you’re doing. Hats off to you.

Stacy Brookman:           Yeah. I just, I want more people to know about it because it’s not going to a counselor, which I really recommend, but it’s something you can do for free and on your own. So it’s a beautiful thing.

David Brower:              Awesome, and your podcast, how often do you air your podcast?

Stacy Brookman:           Yeah, it’s weekly, and it’s called Real Life Resilience. It’s on Stitcher and iTunes, or you can listen to it directly off of the website. You can click on the podcast on the website and listen to the latest episode.

David Brower:              Awesome., you’ll find it all right there and Stacy, congratulations on your authentic self and helping other people find theirs. What an enormous payoff for you and them, and one of the ultimate pay it forward projects I’ve heard of in a long time. Congratulations.

Stacy Brookman:           Thank you David. I’m really excited about what you do too, in bringing all these fascinating stories out to the world, and that is really cool.

David Brower:              Well thank you so much. Pleasure to have you here, and I wish you continued success.

Stacy Brookman:           Thanks David, appreciate it.

Allan Blackwell:            Your 20-Minute Podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David’s podcasts anywhere podcasts can be found, including I Heart Radio, the Spotify mobile app, and at David Brower VO dot com slash Your 20-Minute Podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.