How Are You Doing?

How Are You Doing?

Some days I feel so much, and others I pull it all together, go out and conquer my little world. Some days it is a little bit of both. Some days I find myself crying for no reason other than realizing the size of the world, and other days for purely selfish reasons. Sometimes I search the internet too much and other days I am wholly renewed in nature. Some days are made for breathing, and others for losing your breath.

We are not perfect. It is easy enough to say and we get told enough times, yet truly realizing that and being okay with others realizing that is something else entirely. I want to be perfect. I think that is a normal human reaction to life. We want to live as much as we can and give as much as we can and find perfection in our own ways. We will inevitably fail, yet striving for it nonetheless is the human condition.

I struggle with putting too much pressure on myself. I fail to recognize my success for as long as, perhaps, I should. The result is the need to do more. I want to live countless lives in one. I want to see everything, touch the hearts of as many people as possible. I want to live to live, not live to die.

I received an email from a very special person, someone who came with me on the artist retreat I hosted in the UK. In the sweetest, most motherly way possible, she told me that she worries about me. That she can see my energy drain by the end of the day. And she wants me to take care of myself. This sentiment is echoed by the friends in my life everyday, my family, and yet I ignore it as though a stranger were telling me my shoe is untied: Sorry sir, I’m late to an appointment. No time to tie it back up.

Life is such an interesting balance of contentment and restlessness. We strive to be content with what we have, yet we constantly search for more. We want to find happiness, yet when we have it, we know there is more out there. Life is an addiction that I love with all my heart. I believe it is to be cherished, yet also looked after. The decisions I find myself making, albeit for all the right reasons, aren’t always the healthiest for myself.

I need to slow down, this I know. I will burn out. My health will get worse. Yet I feel that burning desire to explore, adventure, inspire and be inspired. I am going to be on the road more than I will be home for the rest of this year, and I have more planned for the next. My point in writing all of this is not to say that I need to stop, nor even that I necessarily need to slow down in everything I do. I simply need to be more honest.

I need to find an honest place with myself and be able to share that with others. If someone asks me how I’m doing, I will alwaysย say wonderful. Because I am. I consider my well-being to be almost exclusively mental. I will answer that question with how I am feeling in my heart, not my body. And I believe that way of thinking is paramount to my personal happiness.

So this is me being honest with you. I am not always in good health. In fact, usually not. And to be honest, I don’t really care. I love experiencing life the way I do. It makes me that much more grateful when I can get out of bed and when I can push past my struggles. But next time I see you, and we ask how the other is doing, I might not be feeling so great. But inside, I’ll be the happiest girl in the world. So when I say I am wonderful, that is the most honest answer I can give.

Live in a world of gratitude, love and happiness.

How are you doing?

37 thoughts on “How Are You Doing?

    1. Aww thank you Sara! I have fibromyalgia and some symptoms are widespread pain and chronic fatigue, but I’ve gotten so much healthier over the last year and I’m learning to take better care of myself. I appreciate you so much!

  1. Sometimes I read your posts and think “how could she possibly feel these things at the same time I am?” Every single time I read one of your posts, it’s like I am reading my exact thoughts from the day before or the moments before being laid out before me. It’s kind of strange, but then I know that there is a reason I come here and that others come here….because you know how to connect. And that, my friend, is why we keep coming back. Absolutely wonderful post.

  2. Brooke… That was just a very good piece right there. Very emotionally engaging.
    I’m going to say something that may not be the best advice or even what you asked but please, never ever stop. The “work” aspect of what you do is taxing on you. I’ve seen it myself but I’ve also seen pure joy from you when you are in the middle of an adventure. I’ve told you before that it is contagious and that is why people want to just be in your presence. For me, I am completely content being with you in those situations. We don’t need to talk. I don’t need some amazing revelation artistically from you. I know I’ll be smiling because you are having a genuinely great time and that permeates into everyone around you.
    So don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You being you is the big show everyone wants to see and being yourself is pretty easy if ya think about it.
    Hope you have an inspired day:)

    1. Tom, that is probably the nicest thing I have ever heard. You have no idea what it means to me to hear that. I canโ€™t imagine ever stopping, because then I wouldnโ€™t be living. And I hope that we can spend time together on many, many more adventures to come <3

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this post. Lately I have not been feeling so well and have seen it affected my photography. I reached the point earlier this week where I just could not focus on what I was shooting/ editing – at all. My friends tells me that I push myself too much and I have decided to take a break til monday and just focus on myself and renew my body with some new power. I was wondering, what do you do when you reach points where you are not feeling well and you might have a week or two that hasn’t been productive at all because of your well being or something else? Or maybe that hasn’t happened?

    1. Oh no! I hope you feel better! I’m so glad you’re taking time to rest.

      And boy do I have those weeks! I have them frequently. I don’t let them last that long usually, but every time I come home from a trip I take one day to relax. I shut off my phone, shut down my computer, lay on my bean bag, and watch Stargate. That is my happy place when I need to rest. My husband takes really great care of me so he is often forcing the rest a little bit, which I need. I have come to realize that it is okay not to be productive. We need to listen to what our bodies need and give it. There are times when I push myself, and times when I know I can’t. And I try to listen to both.

  4. Oh Brooke, you have hit the nail on the head. Your words are exactly how I am feeling. Life IS an interesting balance and everyday I am seeking balance and hardly ever find it.

    I too struggle with poor health (but actively working to change that) but try my best everyday to get up and live with gratitude in my heart knowing that things could be worse and that there are people out there that are worse off than me.

    I love how you say that you answer with how you are feeling in your heart and not your body. I will try to remember that and do the same.

    Love you so much for your perspective on life and I wish you only the best of health. You are so inspirational to me, not only because of you art but also because of your heart! I hope to be able to attend one of your workshops one day so I can meet you. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

    Be well!

    1. Ah Cami I appreciate you so much! Thank you for being so lovely and for lifting me up today! I hope that our paths can cross someday soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I also have a health problem, as already mentioned you once, and sometimes my doctor gives me a slap on the head, because I abuse the daily rhythm. I literally forget my health problem and always do the things at a high rhythm, always with great passion and enthusiasm. Inside my head is always new ideas to emerge, even before I finalize a particular idea I had. Even not being well, I always say that I am ok, not to hide, but because I like to live every moment of my life the best way possible. You ask how I am doing. I’m doing fine. And from the bottom of my heart, I hope you’re okay too. And I know you’re. <3

  6. Thank you for the daily inspiration Brooke…not only are your images a place of peace in my life but your words draw me daily to a place of contemplation and challenge me to go deeper.

  7. Brooke, this made me tear up and I want to fast-forward the next few weeks so I can give you the biggest hug. You’re one of the people that have a very special place in my heart and I truly wish nothing but the best for you. I really hope you feel better soon <3 thank you for being so honest.

  8. When I was growing up, I had a doctor, who, in one of his patient rooms โ€“ which I later affectionately referred to as his room of hope and despair, had on one wall a full length mural of Ansel Adams’ “The Tetons and the Snake River” (which is still my favorite photo of all time) and on another wall he had picture of a pair of men’s brown dress shoes. Under the shoes was the caption “I used to complain that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”.

    Now, I don’t know if the good doctor had a conscious reason behind the collaboration of these two images, but they did have a profound effect on my thinking as I got older. It is easy to choose to see that others have it better โ€“ Ansel Adams getting to go and photograph these great vistas and beautiful places, and it is also easy to find that there are other people who have things much worse with medical problems, poverty, and other things that can prevent them from accomplishing things that they may desire in life.

    The reality is that most people have some combination of both and the difference is that those who appear to have it better don’t let the negative things in their life hold them back. They fight through it using whatever will they can muster. I don’t know if Adams was the picture of health throughout his life, but I suspect that he had some sort problems as most everyone I know does. Like most successful people, he let his work define his being and not his problems.

    I like your posts because they remind us that each day you have a choice on what will define you. In the end it is you that gets to choose.

  9. Brooke: Because you live life truly and authentically, you allow the full expression of YOU to shine. Each of us continue to wander in your wonder as you journey into each new adventure. Your gift is sacred and, as you walk in the mystery of your own creativity and touch what is universal, we surely try to follow and bask in your ethereal embrace.
    Always listen to your heart, your temple, and own it.

  10. “I answer that question with how I feel in my Heart, not in my Body”

    Such wise words to live by – and I believe it’s why your work is so stunning and breath taking.

    While it may look dark – a reflection of your body – it is beautiful and breath taking – a reflection of your heart.

    Keep living your life to live Brooke – because you my dear live it beautifully.

  11. Brooke,
    you’re one of the most inspiring person I ever “met” and I have to thank you for that. I admire every day the person you are, because of all the talent, happiness and kindness you share with your fellow man.
    Be as kind as you are with others with YOU also, take care !

    I want to be perfect too. And I want to live all the lifes I can and find perfection in each, it hard to feel that sometimes we fail… I think there is no answer, we just have to try if this way makes us happy..!

  12. I really recognized much of myself again what you wrote. Need to be perfect, need to do everything, and maybe little burning your candle from the both ends.

    I am glad that person told you her worries, and it got you thinking. it sometimes is better someone stranger or not your closest friend or family member to say those things out loud, even you already know them.

    I hope you get your balance together, health and that artist thing too. You are amazing person, amazing artist, and your talent is not going anywhere even if you will slow down a bit. But if you burn out completely, it may effect into your art. Worst case it may take away your love into your art.

    Feel well,

  13. Thank you for sharing this, Brooke. I, like many others, feel the same that you do. The past month I have felt like I have had severe allergies and I have not done anything about it. I have also been very busy and I do not stop what I am doing just because of how I feel. We are not all perfect, but we push ourselves to be the best we can be (and so much more) that day. As always, you continue to inspire me with your strength and constant creativity. Thank you again for sharing, and thank you for inspiring many others to live every day.

    Hope you feel better soon,

  14. Hi Brooke. I’ve had CFS for almost 15 years, and like you, my symptoms are up and down. I’ve no advice, as you clearly know the importance of pacing yourself. I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone.

    You are so stoic. I can understand the frustration of trying not to let your weary body hold back your beautiful mind. Especially as an artist. You want to be recognised on the merit of your work, and not out of any special treatment. This is truly noble, but please Brooke, don’t forsake yourself at the alter of integrity. You have nothing more to prove. We love you. We love your art.

    The world owes you a holiday. It’s the least it can do.


  15. Hey Brooke, well this just made me cry. I know that wasn’t the idea and it is uplifting listening to you be so positive but it did make me just want to jump on a plane and come give you a massive hug. I need to tell you, that you have touched my heart more than you can ever know, so just say the word and I’m coming over to see you and we can just chill together all day. I’ll even let you introduce me to the crazy world of Doctor Who and I’ll bring my Marks and Spencers dates, natures sweets no less. Love you, miss you, just say the word ๐Ÿ˜‰ xxx

  16. Hi Brooke
    I have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I am frequently being told my my doctors, my fiancรฉ, my family and my friend that I need to slow down , to pace myself, to recognise and accept that sometimes there are limitations on what I can do and most importantly that it’s ok to step back a little when my body needs it. And honestly, I do struggle with this – I have so much potential in my mind just bursting to get out and I get very frustrated when I physically can’t keep up.
    Recently I have become good friends with someone who also has fibro and fatigue and it has been very encouraging for me to just have someone there who truly “gets it”. I have felt less alone in my situation.
    So I guess the point of this message is not that I have any magical advice to give, but just to say this: you are not alone. For me it has helped to know this – that it’s not just me, that I am not the only person in the world who has to step back sometimes and that it’s not a failure, sometimes my biggest success is knowing when to rest ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hopefully it helps you in some way to know this too.


  17. i think your honest self reflection and compassion for your situation is what makes your message in your work so beautiful. Also it does spread out to others to , it is equal, this compassionate honesty, and it is a very valuable skill for artists ….and rare.
    luv your work as always. take care

  18. Brooke honey, I feel as if it was written for me. I had Lupus as you were growing up, you know that and I never let it get in the way of my parenting, and career as well. I didn’t feel well, yet in my head I did. When asked who your babysitter was, you said babysitter, the teacher said yes, you said no one. She asked me at teacher conference who my sitter was, I said family, she said that explainers it. We bury it, it’s unimportant when we had obligations, when free we rest, aw not me, I still worry about you, but that what a mom does! I learn from you daily, keep calling me every day, and being my mom love you! Mom<3

  19. Wow. To hear you are living with fibromyalgia is actually quite a ahock! Having know a a colleague or two who suffer with it, I know how debilitating it can be. Yet here you are, running around the world, inspiring everyone, doing amazing things with your life and not letting it hold you back and learning how to best manage it to keep your dreams moving. This year I’ve had a new photography class, seniors in the school and I have started using your videos to teach them, inspire them, to show them how amazing our art form can be-but also-that there is a great life out there. For all of them. No matter their circumstance. They see you, thy see your passion, they just think it’s little ol’ you doing your thing because you simply want to, because you can. Little do they know that it is probably a fine line between the passion and the pain. If you don’t mind, because we’ve become so familiar with your work this year, that I speak about this with them? A discussion on personal barriers, and finding the strength to overcome them? As always, love your work, love every thing you do to share your love of your work and passion for teaching others! Be mindful though and find your perfect balance x

  20. I hope you feel better Brooke! The second picture in this post had me stop on my tracks, the light is just magnificent, the pose of the finger, the curves emerging from the darkness, and the hair scattered on the ground, wow! I love all your images, but this one, this one really got me.

  21. Wow! This is exactly what I needed to read today! And just how I’ve been feeling. I have fibro as well and am in the midst of a pretty bad flare up currently and made the difficult decision to close my photography biz this week. The hardest thing about it has been people’s reactions and how much they think I am giving up what I love. I’m still an artist and photographer and still will create my artworks when I can. But now I will be doing it when I am
    well rather than having to keep a business running regardless. I love those moments of clarity we have about looking after ourselves and moving along our path in life. Thankyou so very very much for your post ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Brooke, thank you for your amazing photographs and words.. I would have loved to reply something truly insightful and uplifting… But I’m lacking words… You are incredible!!! That’s all I can say! And no, life isn’t an easy balance… I was an “A-type personality” that two years ago was diagnosed with Lupus. Couldn’t get out of bed, except for right after I took my steroids in the morning. Every day I pushed through and went to the gym. But I was even too tired to love my kids. At my lowest point, I could hardly hold up my head. My kids were sitting by my bedside playing and all of a sudden I was filled with the deepest gratitude I’ve ever felt. Happiness does;t sit in your health, my ability to think, or do… But in gratitude… I wasn’t grateful for things that I earlier taken for granted, like health, but for the moment.. A year later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had double mastectomy and chemo. My “outside” was taken… and additional fatigue… And know I truly learnt, it can get worse so just live in the moment.. Cherish what is here and now! Thats the only thing we have control over… Who knows about tomorrow! I’m so utterly impressed by how you dare to living your life to its full extend, even though you can’t always rely on your body being there for you. And as you say… You know that you have to listen to your body… Do listen!!! Because if you don’t, the body will speak louder and louder… the best of luck… can’t wait to see your future photographs!!! Therese

  23. Yes! It’s about finding the good when sometimes it seems most elusive. Before I read in your comments reply that you had fibro, I related to your writing completely. Then I got the goosebumps thing – somebody who ‘gets’ it, as I too have fibromyalgia. The hardest part is its invisibility, the misunderstanding and the judgement by others. I have found my own way through and, after many years, the end result is that I live according to the same philosophy as your own. Then, it becomes a gift rather than a syndrome ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s the only way.
    I wish you good days and happy moments.

  24. Dear, lovely, wonderful Brooke, – please feel better and LOVE yourself to have some more rest. Just a tiny bit more. You are amazing. xxx

  25. As somebody who has a chronic illness , who is symptomatic daily, your positivity and the way you have chosen to see your life is inspiring , Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Brooke-

    As a fellow artist I feel this same push and pull. The love of creation is a charming beast. I receive the same directives from people to slow down, but some of my happiness comes from living in the creations I am making. Sometimes it is difficult for others to see the power and energy that comes from that creation. If the creative spirit is causing you ills, then it is bad, but if the work you’re creating is fulfilling you…it is good. Being tired is something the human body is okay with, in my opinion. It means you have worked that day. It means you have tested yourself. That all being said, being honest about your conditions is the most important thing you can do. Kudos to you for acknowledging the need for honesty in your life. I am still struggling with this myself.

    Please take care of yourself and be well.

    Thank you for everything you have given me through your books, videos, and workshop. I am continuing to grow because of inspiration from you and your team, Brooke.


  27. Awwww ๐Ÿ™ Yes you do always say “Im wonderful!” and you are so upbeat and inspiring, you have made yourself that way and you are such a many blessing to others Brooke. Do take care of yourself!

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