Brandy Brooks. A bold, black cowgirl with a story lassoed by mother nature, nurturing the ever-evolving next chapter of healing and recovery; woman to woman. Today, Brandy is a fierce trailblazer, a wordsmith, and an advocate for other people of color to harness their journey outdoors and tell their stories, too.
Brandy grew up close to nature, but like many of us, lost close connection after childhood. In womanhood, she experienced divorce, a confounding tornado that left her to process intense emotions and in turn develop an addiction that felt like a never-ending spinning spur with jagged edges.
During the midst of her struggle with codependency and perfectionism, she went on her first backpacking trip to Sequoia National Park and was instantly made small under towering, scarlet trees. At the time, hiking to Heather Lake was the most challenging experience of her life. Even here, she had abused medication, falling under the influence, with everything else she needed strapped to her back. Arriving at her resting place, a transcendental, crystal clear lake took her breath away and removed the blindfold of addiction along with it.
“I fell in love with the fact that I could actually hear myself think for the first time because it was so quiet,” she said. At that moment, she vowed that she wouldn’t use again, and has kept that promise to this day.
This small, but meaningful introduction to a basic way of living provided Brandy with a sense of peace she had never felt before. From this moment on, she traded her insecurities and unhealthy coping mechanisms for fulfilling her soul’s purpose and connecting with it outside.
When Brandy started to independently get involved in the outdoor recreation scene, she thought she was one of the only people of color with similar hobbies, a seemingly lone ranger. She was gratified to quickly uncover and join an entire community of BIPOC explorers online, despite the systemic racism built into the outdoor industry. She found that much of the black community in recreation found a sense of therapy outdoors and that they were demanding action and approachability for more people to be able to do the same.
Brandy’s heart was restored, born again, moved in different ways. Growing up admiring white role models, Brandy never felt like she would fit in as a leader, but now gains her confidence from powerful black influences that inspire her, like Judith Kasiama, an outdoor adventurer with a force within her purpose, a woman who prioritizes giving back to others.
Freed by the forest, and supported by her community, Brandy was now as strong as a wild mustang, rearing into her most fearless form, bucking off the heavy expectations that held her captive for so long.
Brandy says she uses the outdoors to connect to the world around her by breathing and pausing when she needs to, taking time to escape urban environments, and remaining in a state of flow. She found that her story, like a trail, was the way it was because it is the most clear path for her, even when it didn’t feel like it, and learned to trust the journey. She has redirected her physical commitment to backpacking stronger and loving more intuitively, being in a place of presence herself, and sharing the stories of other BIPOC explorers who are joining her bold herd of stallions.
“There’s no shame in fear. But understand this – the coward is ruled by fear, while the hero rides it like a wild stallion.” -David Gemmell
Find Brandy on Instagram at BrandyBrooksWrites and read more of her writing at babblingbrooks.me.