Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Semicolon Mormon; (and more!)

There are no words that can fully do justice for the day I am about to share with you.
My absence from this Nation was spent finding myself and finding the words to share the story of the miraculous. Me. My miracle. 
The tragedy & the triumph.
Nearly a year has passed since the day I died and was miraculously saved and brought back to life.
I had chosen to keep this private until now, shared only with family and close friends, because it's sacred. It's spiritual. Now the Spirit is prompting me to be vulnerable and write it down to help and inspire others. This is for you. Friends, girls, and staff I met in treatment afterwards have made these comments: "You are a waking miracle."

"You are living proof of God's existence."

"Your story made me believe in God again."

I post their feedback here not as praise for me, but rather praise to Heavenly Father and His unconditional love and perfect plan for every single one of us.
This is a story of miracles made possible only by Him.
This is a story about how even when we couldn't feel further away from him at times, He is actually closer than He's ever been.
This is a story of being broken to be rebuild stronger.
This is a story of redemption through the Atonement of our Savior and His infinite grace.
This is a story of finding eternal, lasting happiness in the midst of our most intense trials and despair.
This is a story triumphing over adversity with His help.
This is a story of finding the light that's been inside of you all along.
This is a story of endurance--how we will never be put through more than we can handle.
This is a story about a life saved in order to save countless more.
This is a story of ending the stigma, silence, secrecy, and shame of mental illness, depression, and suicide.
I survived to share this story.
This is my story and now it's yours too.
On the eve of the eight month anniversary of that dark day, I present to you lovelies the prologue of the manuscript of the book I'm working on publishing. If my story can save one life it will have been worth the pain it took to get here. 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one person dies of suicide every 40 seconds.
They predict that number to increase by the year 2020 to one every 20 seconds
This is an epidemic that needs to change. I'm always saying more needs to be done. Well now I am doing and becoming the "more" to end this cycle.
Don't Take Your Life; Take Your Life Back.

 The Other Tattooed Mormon.
The meaning of the semicolon is this: an author uses a semicolon when they choose not to end the sentence. You are the author and the sentence is your life, and your choosing to continue and move forward.

The Legacy Project I made.

Untitled by @Charley Brooke Chriswell
(copywrited @IN)
"Nothing good comes without loss and hardship and constant struggle. There is no 'riding off into the sunset' like I used to imagine. We are never out of the woods, because we are always going to be fighting for something. People can say whatever they want about me, but they can't make me lose my mind. I've learned how to shake things off. Who you are is who you choose to be."
-Taylor Allison Swift

"Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced... It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."
-J. K. Rowling

"One of the greatest weaknesses in most of our lack of faith in ourselves. One of our common failings is to depreciate our tremendous worth."
-L. Tom Perry

"There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God's light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see."
-Hymn no. 220

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on Thursday June 23, 2016? Was it just another average day? Did it change your life forever?
My mornings I was most awake for were spelled with a "u" in them. This one was no exception. As my family and friends went about their just-another-days they didn't have the slightest idea how horror beyond their worst nightmares would take over their night. This would be my last day on earth.
There are things about that day I don't remember...
...And there are the things I will never forget.
Everything happened so fast that it almost didn't feel real.
The sound of gunshots sent my ears ringing that soon blocked out all sound include my screams. I've never screamed so loud in my life. The smell of gunpowder filled my nose. It hung heavy in the air threatening to drown me. 
The pain. The intensity of the pain surpassed all the pain I'd ever felt in my life combined and times a million. This coming from the girl who was no stranger to surgery and health problems. The girl who had been given Narcan after surgery because they'd given her too much pain medicine to try and combat her pain. I've felt what it's like to have been cut into right after surgery and it didn't come close to touching this pain. This was real pain. The pain of metal bullets burning, cutting, and shredding my insides leaving two gunshot wounds like holes in my body like ghosts. (Yes, bullets. Plural. Although I had no idea at the time that I'd been shot more than once). On the infamous pain scale from 1 (no pain) to 10 (the worst pain ever) I'd rate mine at a 100. 
As I bent over in pain, I noticed my shirt was drenched in a warm liquid. I glanced at my hands to see they were covered in blood. 
Yes, I am still haunted by what I will never forget.
It's what I will always remember that matters most.
I remember with all of me the moment immediately after the gun fired.
A voice spoke to me, not out loud, but to my soul. I knew with one hundred percent certainty and conviction that it was Heavenly Father. I could feel Him. I will never forget the words: "It's not your time, Charley. You aren't meant to die yet. Your words are going to save someone."
The rest is where things get hazy and out of focus as I was going into shock.
I had been on the phone with my dad who heard it all and called paramedics.
He got to me before they arrived and pushed a towel to the wounds to try and stop the bleeding.
I remember screaming even after the ambulance arrived and I was told to "Calm down" and "Breathe". Breathing felt hard like my lungs were collapsing. I still screamed in agony and fear. "I don't want to die!" I sobbed and meant it. I could tell by their faces that this was serious. They couldn't even lie to me and tell me everything would be fine. It was the furthest thing from fine.
"AmIgoingtodie?" I managed to get out. The paramedics words haunted me: "I don't know. Maybe."
 By the time I arrived at the hospital, I was less than a minute from bleeding out entirely. I remember arriving at the hospital and being in the ambulance bay. 
The trauma surgeon who was called for my code saw me and shouted: "Oh my gosh! I know her!"
And then everything f a d e d away.
6/23/16 20:48 Status post gunshot wound to abdomen x2. Female. 26. Tachycardia. Acute respiratory failure. Hemorrhagic shock.
74 minutes of life resuscitating critical care.
In 74 minutes you can fall in love... or you can fall apart.

For anyone suffering, please never give up. Hope is always there. It took dying for me to come alive and realize I wanted to live. You are not alone. The world wouldn't be the same without you. And you're dead wrong if you think your friends and family would "get over" it if you died. (I survived and my family are still traumatized and not over it) Trust me, it gets better.
If you're thinking of suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Talk to someone. 
Don't make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings.
I would like to send a huge shout out to you and my incredible family and friends. I am beyond blessed to have all of you in my life. My heart overflows with gratitude to my parents, step-parents, siblings, extended family, and close friends who never gave up on me and loved me unconditionally. Happiness comes from within & Time heals all are true. 
Exciting things are happening with turning my manuscript into a book!
Aspire to inspire, lovelies.
<W/L3 (with love),
Charley Brooke

Thursday, January 12, 2017

More Worth Fighting For (In Loving Memory of Emily Schaeffer)

e m i l y s c h a e f f e r

 I will never forget the first day I met you...
I was returning from a near week long home visit.
You had arrived soon after I left. I was wearing my flower crown all happy, sunshiney, and with this hopeful disposition when I was told we got a new girl named Emily. I turned the corner and ran straight into you. 
I know many Emilys but none like you.
You and I were complete opposites.
I was glad to be back and keep moving forward...
You had just arrived and wanted nothing more than to leave...
Your face looked just like the picture above. Beautiful. Bold. Intense. Angry. Lost&Searching.
Truth be told, you scared me a little bit at first [which sounds ridiculous and humorous now].
You were hard while I was soft.
I was this 26 year old Mormon (LDS) girl who has never said the "F" word (which never failed to amaze & amuse her!)
She was a 19 year old girl from Willington, Delaware and her favorite--Philly. She swore like a sailor.
Em was in treatment for addiction.
I was there for suicide (a post is coming soon that is about that experience).
The last thing I'd ever thought we'd become is friends.
I'm overwhelmingly happy that I was wrong.

 Your gorgeous self, Natalia, me, and Krystal.
11/11/16. The last time I ever saw you in person.
I remember hugging you and not wanting to let go.
Had I known this was the last time I'd ever see you, I would never have let go. I can almost smell the perfume you were wearing.
That's not how hindsight works though.

 You always talked about how you hated girls and were never friends with them.
Then we all became the best of friends and that changed. You realized not all girls are there to tear you down. Some build you up and empower you if you open up and let them in. You changed our lives as much as we changed yours.

 The infamous watermelon story will always bring a smile to my face.
You never failed to entertain everyone. You were the life of the party, always making people laugh and trying to take away their pain (while hiding from your own anguish and turmoil).

 I love this picture.
I don't know how old you were (or should I say young).
I wish I could've known this girl, this Emily, this you. Before the disease of addiction had taken over. 

My friends and family shipped me more food/treats that I couldn't have ever ate alone. I decided to be sweet--literally and figuratively-- and share with everyone. Haha (: 

 I wish I could see the copies of the pictures I gave you this day.
You loved my Polaroid camera. I took a picture of you and the bird. We took pictures together. I wonder where they are now...

 My favorite picture of us.

I wonder where Emily put all of the affirmations and notes that I wrote and gave to her...
I wonder if she ever read them for fun or for encouragement on a day she was struggling.
I wonder if she treasured them as much as I did.
I wonder if mine helped her as much as hers help[ed] me.
One day, you cut up a bunch of quotes for every single girl.
You chose quotes that described us. For those who can't read this picture Emily gave me the following quote:

"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
-Roald Dahl

Followed by this note from Em: "Charley this was definitely written about you. Love you gorgeous."

I can't get over how seriously great you were.

 Your love for others was loud and fantastic too, Em.

 This is the last letter you ever gave to me and it breaks my heart to read it now.

E M I L Y 
I don't even know where to begin when this still doesn't feel real.
Maybe it's because you acted so invincible that I saw you as invincible. 
Maybe it's because I've been blessed until now and never have lost anyone close to me to death.
Maybe it's because we think things like...
D E A T H.

O V E R D O S E.

S U I C I D E.
don't happen to us.

But they do.
It's an epidemic.
 There needs to be less of a stigma attached to depression and mental health... especially for people actively getting help. I vow to do what I can to spread awareness and make it so people see "depression" like they do "diabetes" or anything other "normal" medical condition. 
I am a writer... yet all words fail me. 
You wrote to me that: "Sometimes it makes me sad thinking about why you're here."
I could say the same thing to her.
It's a struggle to think of a world without you. 
I want you to be alive. 
To be out of pain. 
To rise above adversity. 
To let go of the pain of the past you carried like a scarlet letter and embrace a blank-canvas-future that could be anything you wanted it to be.
To understand that big or small, every decision we make has an impact on ourselves, others, and the future.
To from the top of your pretty head to the blood that pumps through your heart to your toes that not only were you enough, you were more than enough.
To see that you deserved better than you chose to settle for at times.
To comprehend that you are a princess even if the whole world doesn't know it. You're a princess even if you don't like in a fairy tale or wear ballroom gowns. You are a princess because you are you. You were a princess Emily and that will never change. (All girls are).
To not feel pressured to be perfect (because it's not possible--no one is) and accept that you are imperfectly perfect.
To experience unconditional love from others and, most importantly, from yourself
To accept yourself--flaws and all. 
To bask in happiness and not drown in sadness. 
I know you're in a better place...
it just sucks (for lack of a better word) that you aren't with us, that we are without you.
I am relieved you don't have to suffer anymore. 
I will see you again.

Emily said to me that I showed her there is "So much more worth fighting for."
It saddens me that she lost the fight.
 I hope the world knows that she went down swinging and giving life all she had the best she knew how.
I didn't know Em as long as most of you. I consider it a blessing that God put her into my life at all. It was an honor to be her friend.
The one example that touched my heart when it came to Emily and how she cared about others was this:
There were some girls going around saying disrespectful, offensive, and hurtful things about her religion (Jewish) and mine (Mormon). They weren't specifically targeting us. It had nothing to do with us. However, Emily wouldn't tolerate the intolerant. She held a meeting discussing how she had relatives who died in concentration camps and Auschwitz back in WWII. Then she surprised me by mentioning how my religion, the temples we hold sacred and worship in, and the values I followed as I lived my life were not funny and not to be made fun of [even if it was a joke]. The respect that Emily showed me that day, standing up for my religious freedom and right to believe and practice what I choose, took my breath away. 
I have experienced and witnessed first hand--through family, friends, and associates--the way addiction changes a person entirely. It's like a cancer that takes over and spreads more and more until it becomes you. Addiction makes you selfish. There is no "you" or "we" or "us" in addiction, but you can't spell addiction without "i" (two of them!). That's the ultimate tragedy. It slowly but surely steals the person you loved until all that remains is a shell of their former self. All the words, all the treatment, all the help, all the sleepless nights, all the prayers, all the wishes, all the work, all the time, all the interventions, all the changes, all of the people all around it.
The hardest, seemingly unbearable truth is that you cannot change anyone but yourself. You don't hate the addict; you hate the addiction. How easy is it to confuse the two? To get so worked up, frustrated, sick of it that you can't separate them?
My greatest hope is that people can see that while Emily succumbed to the disease of addiction (and it isn't something to be taken lightly or ignored or brushed under the rug), she isn't defined by it--at least not to me. Emily was more than addiction. She was a girl with a huge heart who didn't realize that no matter how hard and fast she tried to hide, you can't run from yourself, your mistakes, your choices (or should I say consequences), or your problems.
Despite all of our differences, Emily and I build this friendship and mutual respect for each other in treatment. The details and differences didn't matter though. It was the struggles and trials that we had in common. The universal language of pain and suffering. We were both fluent in our own ways, not immune to the darkness of the world. We both wanted happiness, light, hope, and a reason to go on in spite of it all. It took me literally dying (via suicide attempt by gun) and being brought back to life to realize I truly wanted to live. I have hope that cannot be extinguished. I don't believe Emily ever found that hope and sense of purpose, sadly. At least not in this life... 
While she was a very angry girl in the thick of the disease of addiction. I know she had light in her. I saw it and felt it. She may have lost the battle, but she went fighting and searching. I told her if she could overcome this, she could overcome and conquer anything. I told her she could be the first female president if she wanted to. I meant it. She had a gift for speaking, story telling, and making everyone around her feel important. She would've change the world for the better. She did mine. 

t h e last thing she s a i d to me
"Charley, You are a huge inspiration for me to get clean and get better. I have so much respect and love for you. You are so strong and so easy to love. Never stop fighting. You. Deserve. Life."

I promise to never stop fighting, Em.
I love you.
Till we meet again.

In honor of Emily, I'm posting this letter. I hope addicts who are in active addiction will take a minute to read it. It's powerful.

"We are all worthy of happiness, no matter how much we've destroyed ourselves."

"You're not a bad person for the ways you tried to kill your sadness."

"Rather than simply passing through trials, we must allow trials to pass through us in ways that sanctify us."

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable."
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"For Blue Skies" -Strays Don't Sleep
How's your halo?
Before all of this.
What did I miss?
I can't get used to it.
I'll never get used to it.
Could I have saved you?
What you couldn't do I will.
I'll forgive you.
These two songs remind me of her.

"Hear You Me"-Jimmy Eat World
May angels lead you in.
Hear you me, my friends.
On sleepless roads the sleepless go.
May angels lead you in.
"Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality."
-Emily Dickinson

"Grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at her suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning."

"Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there.' I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere. I hope it's beautiful."
-Looking for Alaska by John Green

"Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here are not endings at all."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"Sometimes it's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe."

"There is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe."
-Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

"There are two ways you can go with pain. You can let it destroy you or you can use it as fuel to drive you. To make you better."

Those of us who know [knew] Emily know that she probably wouldn't want to be referred to as an angel or anything too girly... Princess and Duchess were okay but that's it. This is, after all, the girl who said her favorite color was, in her own words, "Black. Like my soul." I always laughed at the sarcasm in her voice when she said that. All the talk of Emily being an angel now got me thinking to a time at the beginning of September when she referred to me as "an actual angel". She went on about how I kept her up at night sometimes whenever I walked down the halls because I have such a "bright, angelic, glowing aura around you everywhere you go". As I reflect on that conversation, I realize Emily had that same light inside of her all along. She just hid it deep down. I caught glimpses of it when she let her guard down (which was rare). I like to think of her being able to step out of the darkness and into the light not of the sun, or the stars, or the moon, but the brightness inside of her. 
I think she is shinning brilliantly now for us and herself whether it be a soft, warm glow in our hearts or the infinite stars in the night sky.
Emily didn't want a million admirers, she just wanted one: Sarah. 
 And she got it.
Sarah was the best thing to happen to Emily since I've known the two of them.
 Maybe she wasn't loved widely, but she was loved deeply. And isn't that more than most of us get?

I love you gorgeous.

This song is for Em's family & friends (especially Sarah)
"Fix You"-Coldplay

Friday, June 17, 2016


When life gives you lemons, lovelies...
(you know what I mean)
If you only ever read one post I write on here, let it be this one.
Everyone needs to read this... not because it's the most profound blog post you'll ever read, and I'm the Shakespeare blogger of the 21st century or the next J.K Rowling.
(it isn't and i don't claim to be--my lack of talent pales in comparison to their overabundance of it.)
or because you're my Nation full of lovelies & I'm your fearless princeless princess who loves love too much for her own good.
(although you are all the loveliest humans i've been blessed to interact with & i love each & everyone of you.)
 nor is it because I care about "how many followers I can get" or "I want endless profile views".
(i don't...i'd be a liar if i said i didn't want people to take my words & sift through them with me for meaning & purpose meant to teach & inspire. but that's not the reason i write. it's not my Nation, it's yours too. my words are for you, lovely. after all, what good is anything in life if you don't share it with anyone, if you keep it locked away in the dark when you could be inspiring others who are inspirationless & about to give up, when you could potentially save a life with your story because the people who need to hear it are either headed or already on a path full of trials & heartache [almost identical to yours] that you've survived & could help them through it by being vulnerable & brave enough to share your experiences, when it's part of what you were born to do, when you turn your blood into ink, when we are saved only by love--love for each other & the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share by being a writer; being a friend, as Tennessee Williams observed 'We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love', when you're letting fear stop you even though you are a massive forest full of beautiful and vibrant stories and every single one of them deserves you more than those that abandoned you to hell, when words are magic, when they bring light to those stuck in that hellish dark place and you could offer a glimpse of heaven, when even though I feel like Peyton Sawyer--either saying too much or not enough and then they're gone--but I don't care what the haters, the naysayers, the worldly people out there think [i, for the record, don't hate anyone] if we all gave in to people like that, what a sad place this planet would be, i refuse to let one of the greatest regrets in my life be what others want me to be, rather than being myself and loving me for me, and when i know the reason and always have...)
i write because it's right.
Lovelies, don't squander your astonishing potential because your life and potential are priceless.
I am a small city girl with big dreams.
To those who tell me my dreams are too big, I counter that and confront them with the truth that theirs aren't big enough. 
We all know that famous, cutesy Audrey Hepburn quote: "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'i'm possible'."
Those of you who know me know me, know the girl behind the blog of inspiration and endless love, know that one of my top 5 dreams is to write and publish my books, my novels, my story. I want to be a writer. The only bad writers are the ones that give up. Believe. I am here to tell you with an infinite amount of certainty that miracles, as rare as they are, are real. They happen to the ones who work hard, never give up, endure, love, change, grow, hurt, keep the faith, and don't let the bitter ones bring them down. I am a miracle. But that's another story for another day...
Even if my dream of becoming a best selling published author never see the light of day, if this blog, if these posts (my heart and soul in words) can save or inspire even one person it will have counted for something and worth everything.
As I said, if you only ever decide to make time to read one entry this is the important one.

If you read ANYTHING today, read this 👇🏼
To every girl and boy who gossip about me publicly, privately, on social media, in hushed corners, to those who judge me, to those who have stabbed me in the back, to the closeminded or misunderstood, to the just plain mean, to those who love to try, with every fiber of their pathetic being, to make me feel worthless, unworthy of love (or anything), and use my pain and my past to taunt me as a sick form of entertainment, pleasure, and power, to those who broke my heart. 
Guess what? 
You may have made it your mission to break me [and I'll admit you almost succeeded with the living hell you turned my life into] but you didn't. I'm not broken. All of you challenged me to become the girl I wanted to be my whole life. The best me. The badass princess that I am. I am stronger because of the pain, trials, sleepless nights, overwhelming anxiety and deep depression you put me through, and no matter what you have done to me, you have unknowingly done so much more for me. I will ALWAYS be unconditionally and unfailingly kind. Your bitterness and hatred can't change that. As the heroic, Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said best: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." 
Your hatred will never take away my love. Your cruelty won't make me pernicious. Your ice cold veins can't steal my warmth. I'm one of the kindest, most loving girls in existence. You may be heartless, but I have a heart bursting at the seams full of love. You can take everything I have, try to tear me down, but you can't take me or break me. I am not you. And I never will be. You can pin me down with a hundred arms, but I will resist. I won't stop believing. I will love into hate, into refusal, against hope and without fear.  Remember. You cannot take it. I am fearless. I forgive you AND love you. 
I honestly pray that you will someday find true happiness and discover that trying to steal other people's happiness will never make you any less miserable.
I would never treat or inflict hurt upon a person like that. Being the sweetheart that I am, I always try to see the good in people and ignore the bad. Thank you for teaching me I can love people that have harmed me and not let them back in my life.

Love > Hate.

 This world needs love and decency. There's enough heartache, warring with yourself, chaos, tragedy, trials, sadness, and misery in this world. You never know what someone is going through. Choose kindness. Have heart. What it all comes down to is this: all 7+ billion souls and human beings, despite our vast differences, want to be loved. Don't be a bully. Be better. Love is the answer. It always has been and it always will be. Fight for love, don't love to fight. 

<W/L3 Charley Brooke [aka Queen C, the next best thing to Queen Bey ;)]

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To Wish Impossible Things

For your reading pleasure, lovelies. 
We're flashing back to 2012 and excerpts of my journal "Here(Hear)You Me".

Friday July 20, 2012
"Christian and I were discussing what we would do if we won the lottery, today. I'd like to know the secret of "how to do and get everything that you would do and get if you won the lottery without actually winning the lottery". I could leave this town and run forever. I could move to North Carolina or Utah or Washington or Oregon or maybe have a home in more than one state. I could build and pay off my beautiful dream house. I could get agents so I could become an actress and model and taking acting classes. I could find a publicist and become a writer and publish my journals and books. I could get porcelain veneers, a new surgical smile, a gorgeous smile that would light up everywhere I went. I could afford to buy a Forever 21 or whatever store I love for my closet. I could afford to shop at Saks, Urban Outfitters, Vera Wang, Bloomingdales, and Free People. I could actually buy real, lovely vintage dresses and shoes. I could travel the world... visit the USA, Canada, Australia, Italy, England, France, Fiji, anywhere and everywhere. I could take cruises.
I could get some sort of role (big or small) on Grey's Anatomy. I could have my own huge library full of endless books and DVDs. I could work towards or contribute to curing cancer and other terrible diseases. I could have a pink Voltswagon Beetle.  I could take amazing art classes and become an artist. I could help my family, especially my mom, to repay them for all that they've done for me. I could accomplish everything on my list of things to do before I die. I could donate to the church and charity. I could change lives and make a difference.
  Now I know they say that money can't buy you happiness. Love, family, and friends are true happiness (heaven on Earth).  However, life, this life, doesn't come with any promise or guarantees when it comes to love. Our birth certificates don't contain a declaration that states one day our prince, or our true love, will come. No matter how much you wish, dream, hope, pine, and think about love, you can't will it into your life. Happily ever afters are as rare as once upon a times.
Can you be a princess without a prince? A princeless princesss? What makes a girl worth saving, worth fighting for, worth slaying dragons for, worth taking to a ball? I like to believe true love exists and that you can make your life a fairytale, more than that: a fairytale even fairytale characters would be jealous of, but until I see evidence to the contrary, I know fairytales are merely fiction told to children and little girls to make the difficult task of becoming an adult, or growing up, less painful.
I believe that money could buy me happiness that I could share with others. It could make me as happy as possible in a life lacking love. After all, winning the lottery seems more realistic than the chances of finding, and falling in, love."

Here I stand, four whole years after writing this, and I thought I found love. I was the happiest girl alive , and thought I'd found forever, but it turned out to be a lie. I got married. Then my world, my dream, my love all came unravelled, undone, transforming into a nightmare that showed me the painful light of truth which I was too blind in love to see, until all the beautifully gorgeous lies were discovered. No matter how many lies you try to bury it with, you can never hide the truth. Remember that, lovelies. As much as it hurts (hurts being the understatement of the day), I'd rather know the piercing truth than live a lifetime of lies. My forever only lasted two years.
Be of love a little more careful than anything.
Sometimes Prince Charming is really no prince at all. He'll tell you sweet nothings that are the best words you've ever heard. Never forget that actions are more important than words. It's no secret that I LOVE Taylor Swift. It's like she saw my heart and situation when she said the following things:

"Real love doesn't mess with your head. Real love just is. Real love just endures. Real love maintains. Real love takes it page by page."

"Part of me feels you can't say you were truly in love if it didn't last. If I end up getting married and having kids, that's when I'll know it's real--because it lasted."

This is what it comes down to...

"Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds. When life gets hard, when things change, true love remains the same."
-William Shakespeare

It is my sincerest wish and prayer that you find love. Read that last word one more time. Not infatuation. Not a crush. Not a one night stand. Not a fling. No. I'm talking about true love. You deserve a love that will not alter, grows stronger every day, is sure (leaving no uncertainties, no lies, no fear, no second guessing), and lasts forever. Never settle. It's better to be alone than with the wrong person who takes you for granted and treats you as anything less than the exquisite, perfectly imperfect, extraordinary, lovely miracle that you are. I have to have faith that it exists despite all the evidence to the contrary... because make no mistake, love is the reason. Love. It's why we're here. Love. One word, four letters, that means everything, is misused and abused by the world, while people who find love can testify that no other words in any language can even begin to touch and do justice to the enormity of its definition.
Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be (and more). That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything... you risk even more.
Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love, but in reality love is the only thing that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in this world that does not hurt.

 Charsley & Lambsey
twins 7 years apart.
I am the most blessed older sister in the world.
I love all of my three siblings and even my four stepbrothers.
Family is everything.
I'm sending a shout out in this entry for my little brother, Christian (Lambsey) because he is the one who had the lottery conversation with me that led to this post. I love this boy fiercely. I can't believe he's growing up so fast! He's turning into such a handsome man. He has the biggest heart and the best personality. It's impossible not to love Lambsey. I could shout out [or write] loud about how proud I am for all he is and does. He's a pillar of strength. Someday, some girl out there will become the luckiest girl to have him! I love you, little brother. #bft

Quote time...

"To fall in love is easy, even to remain in it is not difficult; our human loneliness is cause enough. But it is a hard quest worth making to find a comrade through whose steady presence one becomes steadily the person one desires to be."
-Anna Louise Strong

"It is impossible to fall out of love. Love is such a powerful emotion, that once it envelops you it does not depart. True love is eternal. If you think that you were once in love but fell out of it, then it wasn't love you were in. There are no 'exit' signs in love, there is only an 'on' ramp."

"Trouble's part of your life, and if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you enough chance to love you enough."
-Dinah Shore

"We chase wild dreams and long for all that eludes us, when the greatest joys are within our grasp, if we can only recognize them."

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
-Ecclesiates 4:12

"It's easy to be happy when things are going well. Marriage is about making it through, staying together, even when things turn to crap."
-One Tree Hill

"Love means giving chances when there are no more chances left to give."

"It wasn't a matter if I loved you, it was a matter if you fought and stayed."
-R. G. Moon

"Real love asks us to do hard things--to forgive one another, to support each other's dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn't easy--and it's nothing like the wedding day--but it's far more meaningful and wonderful."

"No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice."

"Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always, one more time."
-Maya Angelou

"i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete 
i could light a whole city
and then
i want to have you
cause the two of 
us combined
could set it
on fire."
-rupi kaur

All or Nothing by Lang Leav
If you love me
for what you see,
only your eyes would be
in love with me.

If you love me
for what you've heard,
then you would love me
for my words.

If you love,
my heart and mind,
then you will love me,
for all that I'm.

But if you don't love
my every flaw,
then you mustn't love me--
not at all.

"Repeat this until you understand it: I do not need people who do not need me."

"Your feelings are so important to write down, to capture, and to remember because today you're heartbroken, but tomorrow you could be in love again."
-Taylor Swift

THIS--->"Perhaps the problem is not the intensity of your love, but the quality of the people you are loving."

"The best feeling in the whole entire world is meeting your next love. To meet a person who completely mends your heart and fixes you piece by piece, injecting love into your veins and reminding you of who you were before your heart was broken. It's something that you never believe will happen, but when it does, it's so amazing, it's impossible to describe."

"I would apologize for my sadness, but then I would have to apologize for my words. For my heart, all the thoughts cooped up in my mind, and for this love that never seems to leave me."

"In a dating and courtship relationship, I would not have you spend five minutes with someone who belittles you, one who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor. Life is tough enough without the person who is supposed to love you leading the assault on your self-esteem, your sense of dignity, your confidence, and your joy. In this person's care, you deserve to feel physically safe and emotionally secure."
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

"Here are the things I know for sure: when you think you're right, you are most likely wrong. Things that break--be they bones, hearts, or promises--can be put back together but will never really be whole. And, in spite of what I said, you can miss a person you've never known. I learn this over and over again, every day I spend without you."
-Jodi Picoult

"You know what will make a difference? Pour your heart and soul into everything you do and watch every aspect of your life change one by one."

"All we have endured will make us invincible. From the fire comes strength."
-Tyler Knott Gregson

"Love is never wanting to give up."
-Jodi Picoult

"Sometimes you look up and there just seems to be so many more stars than ever before. More. They burn brighter and they shine longer and they never vanish into your periphery when you turn your head. It's as if they come out for us and to remind us that their light took so long to come to us, that if we never had the patience to wait, we never would have seen them here, tonight, like this. That as much as it hurts, sometimes it's all you can do, wait, endure and keep shining knowing that eventually, your light will reach where it is supposed to reach and shine for who it is supposed to shine for. It is never easy, but it is always worth it."
-Tyler Knott Gregson

"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."
-Oscar Wilde

"If you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"If you stay, stay forever. If you go, do it today. If you change, change for the better. If you talk, make sure you mean what you say."

"The hardest walk is walking alone. But, it also makes you the strongest."

"Sometimes, we go through the worst to get to the best."

In all things, make love your constant companion. Be loving. Be lovely. Be you. Believe.

<W/L3 Charley Brooke