Processing Polygamy with Brook Andreoli (Doctrine & Covenants 132)

Monday, November 15, 2021


Join us this week as we bask in the wisdom of guest Brook Andreoli, a writer and "faith expansion" coach, who shares accessible tools and frameworks to process heavy and difficult topics like polygamy. With compassion and hope as her guide, Brook walks us through practices such as creating containers, morning pages, artist dates, and reclaiming the concept of "pioneer," through the lens of her own faith journey out of the church. You can connect with Brook through her website and on instagram @brookandreoli.

Sources mentioned in this episode (each source is hyperlinked):

Transcript by the incredible Heather B!

Channing: Hi, friends! I’m Channing.

Elise: And I’m Elise.

Channing: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast.

Elise: [00:00:12] But this is not just any Come Follow Me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the Come Follow Me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood. 

Channing: [00:00:22] Friends, this week, we've been exploring section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants through our mini series “Polygamy in Pieces.” We began by creating a rough timeline of early Mormon polygamy from the years 1831 to 1844. Then we moved to a textual analysis of section 132 as a text of manipulation. Next, we held space for the stories of pioneer women who were impacted by the practice of polygamy in Nauvoo and Utah. After that, we considered the Mormon brand of polygamy through the lens of consent.

[00:00:56] Then things got a little bit fiery as we witnessed the many acts of women's resistance to polygamy. Before we finally touched on the way section 132 is presented in the Come Follow Me manual this week and how we're personally wrestling with our emotions about this section. 

Elise: [00:01:13] In our last episode, we said that it was the final one, but we actually have so many more thoughts and honestly, as the series has progressed, we've seen and heard so much pain that's really come up for many of our listeners and we felt like we needed one more episode in order to try to salve the wound that the series has broken open. And in fact, we're so excited because we have a guest joining us today. With us, we have our good friend, Brook. Hello. 

Channing: [00:01:42] Hi, Brook. 

Brook: [00:01:43] Hello. 

Channing: [00:01:45] We're so excited that you're here.  I met Brook a couple of years ago in a writing group that we were in together. And over the years I've been really grateful that we've stayed connected. And Brook has been so generous with her sharing her life and her struggles and her heartache and all of the wisdom that she's gained through her life with strength and grace.

[00:02:07] Something that I love about Brook is that she's celebrated me. She supported me. She's cheered me on when things have been really difficult. And she's also been somewhat of a mentor and a supportive friend for me as I moved from brand new, like baby motherhood. When I first met her, I wasn't even a feminist yet.

[00:02:25] And through that time that I've known Booke, I have turned into the woman that, you know, on the podcast today. And if it weren't for Brook’s, years of steady and gentle encouragement and her love in sharing my voice and my words, this podcast wouldn't even be a thing. So it's really exciting to have Brook here and it's personally super meaningful to me. So, thanks for being here. 

[00:02:50] Elise: We were also shocked, honestly, at the amount of information and emotion that this series stirred up, not just for us, for Channing and I, but for so many of our listeners. As we've moved through this week and the series has progressed. We've received many, many messages that are filled with deep pain and questions, questions, and statements like, “how do I make sense of all this plural marriage? I didn't know about all these elements of polygamy before. How do I process polygamy with my ever-changing relationship with the church? Be that in out or somewhere in between.” And basically, “What do I do now after you just dropped this mini-series into my lap?

[00:03:31] And this may be one of the tricky parts about being soft chair siblings. We can share and hold space for each other but at the end of the day, these questions are deeply personal and require each of us individually, with the support of community if were to choose, to feel what we feel, to know what we know and to see what we see without turning away from it out of fear. It means sitting with discomfort and grief first, and then having the courage to move forward in whatever manner you choose.

[00:04:01] And while we appreciate the vote of confidence from our listeners, as if we have all of the answers, I can only provide answers for me. And Channing can only provide answers for Channing. Remember we offer one way, not the way. 

Channing: [00:04:14] And this can be really frustrating. I know for me that there are times in my life where I've really wanted someone to tell me what to do. Like it happens pretty often actually. Cause that would make things really easy. But even though this is often what I think that I want, what really ends up being the most helpful are two things. One, the brave people who courageously share their stories and two, skills and tools that I can learn and use as I form my own thoughts and choices.

[00:04:40] And for me, like I said before, one of those beautiful, brave courageous people is Brook. I'm most excited to have Brook on the podcast because I strongly feel that her story and knowledge might have a positive impact for our listeners who might be struggling to move forward from polygamy, especially with maybe some limited resources. Brook and her family were long-time members of the church until her faith journey began a few years ago. I've watched her move through her journey with such gentleness, such compassion and beauty. And it's been incredible to witness her journey out of the church and into coaching others through what she calls a faith expansion.

[00:05:17] I'm really excited to have her here with us to share her experience. So, Brook, could you share a little bit about yourself with our listeners? 

Brook: [00:05:26] Channing, thank you so much for that beautiful introduction. I feel so honored to know you and to witness your own stepping into your power. It's very beautiful.

Channing: Thank you.

[00:05:39] Thank you. So a little about me. I was born and bred in Provo, Utah. I come from eight lines of pioneer heritage. I was raised next to a farm that my pioneer ancestors homesteaded. So I have deep roots. Although my own parents did not practice in an Orthodox away, there was something about it that called to me, and I made my own relationship with the church and the practices around age 12 and continued those through BYU, temple marriage, serving in callings, Relief Society, Primary, Young Women's presidencies, raising my children in the church. And a few years ago, there were questions that I had to sit with. I also sat with a time of living in a mixed faith partnership and what that meant and looked like. I reached out to a coach. I've worked with Sarah Hughes-Zabawa about for three years, and we have had a beautiful and important relationship in navigating this space with as much health and wellness and navigating relationships with health and wellness as well. Because of that amazing relationship, I have looked around and thought, “I wish each person in this place could have someone to witness them the way that I was witnessed, that there could be a hand and a soft space. And as you say, perhaps some soft chairs as well.” That's been my experience and I'm grateful for this opportunity to share some of the things that I've learned in my journey to see if those might also speak to you.

[00:07:33] While also understanding the beautiful modeling that we just saw earlier, that this is your own experience. And I support the self-determination of the reconciliations that you come with this, but also really want to honor you coming here, brave ones, of digging in to hard questions, sitting with the discomfort, sitting with your own knowing and making decisions that feel best for you, whatever that looks like. So I want to celebrate, and I'm so grateful to be here as we look at some of these situations. 

Elise: [00:08:12] Oh thanks, Brook. Everyone's going to literally love you on this podcast because you're already so amazing. And it was only the first question about, “can you share a little bit about yourself?”

[00:08:20] So, as we said before, we have moved through this week full of women's difficult and heavy stories. Many of us have ancestors in our family tree who participated in polygamy. And even when this is not the case, polygamy is still a pretty fresh hurt for a lot of people who have a heritage in the LDS tradition. For some of us this week was even the first time we might have looked for longer than a passing glance at this festering wound.

[00:08:47] Many of the interpretations that Channing and I offered this week on section 132 and for the historical perspectives is critical and contrary to current church stances and teachings on. For Channing and I, this interpretation is rooted though in deeply held values. Many, if not, all of which are part of a feminist ethic, such as prioritizing and believing women's experiences and stories, advocating for the safety, health, and protection of women, and critiquing systems of domination, objectification, and oppression. Because these values often come into conflict with the teachings of the church, many women experience a type of dissonance or discomfort between their actual lived experience and what they are told by others about what their experience should be or how it should look.

[00:09:37] This can be super challenging, especially when it happens in the context of an emotionally charged topic like polygamy. So I think for the first question, as we begin to take a deeper look and start examining the wound of polygamy, what practices or frameworks of understanding might be helpful here, Brook? What do you think? 

Brook: [00:09:56] So first, I just want to acknowledge the heartbreaking moment of this and that we're here to honor your hearts. I know how hard it is to come across polygamy. I have several ancestors who practiced polygamy as well as how it affected my own life. I, Carol Lyn Pearson refers to the “ghost of polygamy” and how that showed up with questions for me about what that meant for me in a future space. Grappling with some of the history that I had never sat with before, or the questions that I had been hanging around since I read “The Work and the Glory” at age 15. So thinking of that, so I would love to share something that I learned from my coach, Sarah. This idea of when these big emotions come up, anger, grief, sadness, there's a tendency for these emotions to spill out everywhere. We can find that maybe it's the only thing we're thinking about, that it's distracting us from even everyday tasks, or if we want to lean into some things that we've learned from Brene Brown, that sometimes when we're in pain or discomfort, we can offload those big emotions.

[00:11:09] And sometimes, and most often, they're offloaded on people who have less power than we do. So something that has been really helpful for me that Brene Brown also teaches is the process of integration. So we move what we know from our heads through our hands to our hearts. So we can look at some tangible ways to make containers thinking of the grief that may be coming up or the anger and making something with intention.

[00:11:39] For me, for whatever reason, my container is often making tablescapes at my kitchen table. I will think about these big emotions. I'll set an intention. I'll light a candle that smells like my great grandma’s tea-rose perfume, put on a playlist that really speaks to my creative heart and think of that, the grief, for example. And I play with the textures, the colors, there may be images I add to the table or objects that speak to my heart. And I give myself that half hour, that hour to really let these things flow. And then I sit back and look at it, perhaps take pictures of it and having that container to come back to and knowing that it's holding that space for me and allowing me to move into other areas. I know Channing has also built some beautiful containers that I love to see. 

Channing: [00:12:39] Yes. I honestly enjoy, I had never conceptualized it as a container before, but then after hearing you speak about it, I was like, “yeah, that's exactly what I do.”  For example, right now, I really find myself in this space. I can kind of see like a type of death cycle starting to play out in my life. And so I wanted to create a space where I could kind of move. Yeah. Just like you said, move that from my head, through my hands, into my heart and have a, a space set aside that I could return to and remind myself of that. So above my fireplace, I have a mantel and it probably took me about a week to really gather all of the items that I wanted to be present on this mantle to be present within this container. And so I chose things that have been meaningful to me, the things that have shown up in dreams or in meditations or that are meaningful to me in other ways.

[00:13:37] So I have things like mushrooms, a Halloween skeleton, a moth, some taro cards are on there. Like lots of things that are meaningful to me because of what they represent or what, even just that the art is pretty or, herbs or candles or whatever. And having that dedicated space in my living space has been really important for me because I feel like I can return to it again and again, and I can touch and I can feel, and I can experience these things in a way that, yeah, takes it out of the mess in my mind and moves it into a place where it feels, like, organized. And I can see the beauty of it.

Brook: [00:14:14] That's so beautiful and love it. Some other ideas for containers might be a Pinterest board where you gather images if you want to. What would my feeling look like if it was a character, how would that show up?

[00:14:32] What would the color be? The taste? How do I feel? And putting that together in a Pinterest, or if you'd like to, collage, you have a piece of music that speaks to your soul and you want to sing it out with the intention of whatever you're grieving or angry about. Those are just a few ideas. Just to get you started, whatever speaks to you.

Channing: [00:14:54] I love the concept that we can create a container really out of anything so long as it's meaningful and significant and important to us. And speaking in terms of how would we create a container around polygamy? Something that I've been really grateful to be a part of in the past is I have a, had a couple of friends who have around Halloween-time printed out pictures of their ancestors, made lanterns or luminaries by putting them on a white paper bag and putting an LED candle inside and creating a dinner, like making some of our family's traditional recipes and sharing them in a community. And then toward the end, retelling our ancestors' story.

[00:15:37] Even the painful parts, even the parts that were like, “oh my gosh, I can't believe that this happened. But also if this hadn't happened, I wouldn't be here today.” And even just the power in having someone witness all of those things that are important to us that are meaningful to us, but are also painful to us.

[00:15:54] That's been one example that's been really powerful for me as I've worked through some of my own ancestors experiences with polygamy. And so even if you don't have a community that you can do that with, there's still so much power in sitting down to make a family meal, to looking at someone's picture, to writing a letter to them.

[00:16:15] Perhaps maybe even, like you said, Brook, lighting a candle that smells like my grandmother's perfume. All of those things can be really wonderful practices of integration and really wonderful containers to hold this experience that can feel, yeah, flooding and overwhelming and really, really big. Yeah.

Elise: [00:16:34] Thank you both for sharing, like, both specific and personal examples, but also some more general examples for our listeners. And I know that on the podcast we share the value and significance of women's lived experiences, but it can be difficult for us to hold their lived experience sacred and valid when the constant messaging that we receive from the institution is one of denial and dismissal. And I think that this happens often. Women's lived experience is one of erasure and oppression. And that can often be incredibly messy for the church to acknowledge because they've had a hand in creating and participating in it.

[00:17:10] But for women, this tension between the ever-present undeniable experience that they carry in their own bodies and what the church waves away as mere speculation and distraction, these things are a burden that women carry. So with this in mind, I'd love to hear Brook, what are some affirmations or practices or frameworks that have helped you, or maybe that you would recommend to prioritize and value your lived experience and the wisdom of your heart and body. And then after that, what has been challenging about that process? 

Brook: [00:17:40] Such a beautiful question. I think one thing that's been a really important practice in my life is to find ways that I can really sink into my own knowing. Glennon Doyle models that really beautifully, in her book “Untamed” and uses that phrase.

[00:17:58] One that I've practiced for years comes from the book “The Artist's Way.” And it's a simple practice called The Morning Pages. And the concept is this: When you wake up or at a convenient time, you write three pages long hand in this experience, it's different than a journal. It's an invitation to bring our whole uncensored self to the page.

[00:18:20] Brene Brown also talks about the idea of having stormy first drafts. And she says, if it doesn't sound like your grouchy five-year-old self and you're probably not doing it right. So I actually found ap icture of myself at my fifth birthday party. And I was a pretty adorable child, but not when I turned five that day. I wanted a specific thing that I didn't get apparently, and I was grouchy.

[00:18:49] So I keep that picture as a reminder to show up honest in these pages and to allow myself the permission to say all the things for no one else to read. It's not even for myself to read later. I've made a pact with a good friend that if I were to die, she knows where they are. She will come rescue them and bury them in the bottom of a lake.

[00:19:13] If you would like to burn them after you write them, that works as well. In my experience, it has really helped me hear my inner knowing and I bring anything to the page. Anything that comes to mind, it can be a grocery list in the midst of a big awe-inspiring moment that strikes me. The key is you write for three pages.

[00:19:37] Again, I've used that practice for years and it's really helped me to hone my inner knowing. It's pretty simple. And I try to also buy notebooks that my inner child will love. So if anyone remembers Lisa Frank, with her bright colors and dolphins, I have stacks and stacks of those. So it's fun. Another thing that I have also loved from The Artist's Way is the concept of The Artist’s Date.

[00:20:05] It's a simple practice or seemed simple of showing up for ourselves, once a week is the suggestion, going and taking ourself out to fill our well. Recently, I had a client share her experience with The Artist's Way and with her permission, I wanted to share this story that I've been thinking about since she shared it.

[00:20:27] She acknowledged that it was a challenge to get away for her by herself. That her first instinct, as the book suggested, was it would be difficult. That she wanted to invite her partner as a date. She wanted to invite her daughter. She wanted to be productive, but she knew that we were meeting again and she had made a promise to herself to explore this.

[00:20:50] And she took her inner artist to a museum. And while she was there, she found that she was reading the plaques before she had her own experience with the heart. And she told me, I decided to stop reading the plaque, to stop looking at the other interpretations and to just have my own emotional experience, looking at the art and that that felt transformative.

[00:21:15] And for her next artist state, she said she wanted to take it as different step and to have an artist date in nature where there were no plaques. And I love that this speaks to the idea of, “if we're able to sink into our own knowing to give ourselves the space and the time, what wisdom does that bring up? What trust can we lean into in those moments of hearing ourselves- hearing our uncensored selves and welcoming it all?” Another phrase I love from one of my coaches, “It all belongs.”

Channing: [00:21:49] I loved that example that you shared about your client at the museum. Elise and I, that's one of actually our favorite things to do together whenever we go visit each other is to go to the museum. And we did that once, the first time we had ever actually gone together and I kept looking at the plaques cause I was like getting to the picture. and I was like, “Ooh, I want to know what this one's about.” And Elise's like, “Hey, why don't we try not looking at the plaques?Because one of my professors said it can be really cool.” And so I was like, “okay, great.” And what actually ended up happening was I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn't read the plaques at all. And I took a lot more time with the pieces of art. And I'm remembering now, even in this conversation, that we were at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and they were doing an installation of what are called diptychs, which are two similar pieces of art placed right next to each other, kind of as a pair.

[00:22:45] And I remember as we moved through this installation, we were like, “Okay, let's try and guess the story of these two people or these two things that show up together here.” And there was one time that we came across one of these diptychs and it was this old tiny guy and this old tiny girl. And I remember Elise saying, like, “I think that's polygamist.”

[00:23:07] She's like, “I'm getting major priesthood vibes from this piece.” And I looked at it and I was like, “Yeah, I am too.” And so we talked a little bit more about like, “Oh, okay. Well, if we could imagine what their backstory is, like, what would it be like?” And we did all of this before reading the plaque, and then we looked at the plaque and we're like, “Oh my gosh, we were right.” There was, like, some experiences, or at least they came from Utah, they were married. Like we didn't, like, look into their whole history, but it was this experience that I'm remembering where I'm like, “oh my gosh, our intuition again was onto something! Like, we, we can trust that!” And that was a practice, even though it was, like, silly and creative and imaginative, it also, I realize now, looking backwards, like, that could be a practice of learning to trust ourselves and learning to trust that experience that we're having with that art. So I love that story that you shared, and I'm just remembering all of that. 

Elise: [00:24:07] Yeah. I love that too. And this is not my own phrase. I'm not sure who said it, but someone way smarter than me has already said that “every encounter with art is self encounter.” So every time we slow down and force ourselves to offer stories or offer interpretations and spend time with art. What we're really doing is encountering ourselves, spending time with ourselves.

[00:24:30] And I think, and one of the things that came up for me when I was listening to you, Brook, is just the fact that like, we're not trying to get away from our bodies and our experience here. The key is really to be with, to spend three pages worth of time with ourselves to see what comes up after all of the stuff on the surface kind of falls away. What’s lying beneath?

Brook: [00:24:51] That's just it. that's so beautiful. And other examples of an Artist's Date could be going to the thrift store, going to a bookstore, buy yourself a lunch by yourself out in nature. It doesn't have to be big or expensive. But just some time to explore what speaks to you or what doesn't. So, as we mentioned, it can be an invitation to check in with our body.

[00:25:19] Some ways we can do that is simply being conscious of our breath, we can look at ideas of how to be more conscious in that such as a box breath. Or body scan is another simple way to recognize what you feel and where. And meditation. In these situations, it can be an invitation to be really generous with ourselves, knowing that when we try anything new, it can create discomfort.

[00:25:47] I think about what Liz Gilbert says with the idea of creativity, driving the front seat and fear is often in the backseat. They're going to go together, but that's not going to stop us from moving forward.

Channing: [00:26:01] I love that concept of moving forward. And I think, especially as we've gone through this week, learning about some of these details about early Mormon polygamy.

[00:26:12] It can feel like a loss for a lot of people. One of our listeners shared with us. She said, “well, I'm glad for the dialogue and the information. It also comes with so much sadness.” And I know that’s something that we all discussed, kind, of in preparation for this episode was a concept of maybe this midwifing of death and rebirth.

[00:26:32] It's kind of this idea that one of our listeners said, she said, “you can't unknow some things.” And this is really similar to something that Elise and I often share on the podcast. We often say, “yup. Once you see it, you can't unsee it.” And that's something that we've said to each other all of the time, whenever we've come across something that feels particularly challenging or someone pushes back on us about, we always say “like, okay, well we can't unsee it. Like, I can't pretend like this pain or this hurt or this information isn't there anymore because I know that it is.” And so there's no turning back. There's no going back to the way that things were before. And in that way, there is a kind of death. It's this death of beliefs of maybe past beliefs, of maybe some innocence or ignorance, or maybe even of our ideals.

[00:27:20] And I've also noticed that there's a grieving process that goes along with this of everything that's been lost. Sometimes it can feel like we are grieving the loss of what we've experienced, or maybe haven't had the chance to experience before this death has come to us. And then also at the same time, when this death process occurs we might experience that same feeling of losses.

[00:27:41] Things are broken up or bulldozed, or maybe even shattered in the process of, of the death experience itself. And so my question for you, Brook, is maybe, you know, speaking of this in the framework of midwifing, how can we midwife ourselves through this process of grief and death? And maybe, if you feel comfortable sharing some of your own experiences, how have you moved through that complex process of maybe this simultaneous gratitude, this experience of like, “oh, I'm so grateful to know what I know now, but also that sense of loss.”

[00:28:13] So do you experience that one at a time? Does it happen all at once? And, yeah. So I don't know if you would maybe be willing to share some of your experiences and maybe what has helped you through that process. 

Brook: [00:28:24] So many beautiful questions. I'm thinking about an experience that I had that I think speaks to this.

[00:28:32] There is something called the cord cutting meditation by Gabby Bernstein. It's a simple three minute audio where you imagine, for example, a sticky, tricky, or complex relationship that you would no longer like to be attached to. You perhaps imagine a cord between the two of you and cutting that cord for more health and wellness.

[00:28:55] As I made my transition from the church, it brought so much grief and pain. It was a complicated process. And at one point I thought, “I'd like to try this cord cutting meditation with my relationship with the church. Perhaps I could just imagine this and cut myself off from this.” So as I did this meditation, as I went to cut this imagined cord, I realized that there was no cord to cut. The cord between myself and the church were more tangled than a ball of yarn.

[00:29:28] I could no more untangle the cords then I could untangle the pathway of the veins through my body. It had grown me, it was my blood. Cutting off all of it and it's years of influence would be cutting off myself and I love myself very much. I realized that this thing would be a part of me. It's not as simple as amputating a limb and continuing on but accepting all of it and coming to some sort of peace with that. That perhaps I was not interacting with the institution of the church in the same way that I once had, but I did not need to cut some of the beautiful experiences or what had made and grown me out of myself. One of the most profound experiences I had was from the simple practice taught to me by my coach, Sarah, and it was making a list. Three columns: One was what I was grateful for with my experience with the church. The other was what regrets came up for me? And the other were what resentments. And again, in an uncensored way, being able to see that and that simple practice really transformed my entire transition.

[00:30:46] This allowed me to move through that transition and wholeness so that it all could belong. Just like that image, that so much of this was part of me and I could include all of it. And I didn't have to shy away from the hard but I also didn't have to leave the experiences that were beautiful to me, that I may want to look at those and reclaim them in a different way, maybe think about different meanings or maybe how I wanted to move with them in the future. But it was all a part of me. You also asked if I moved through this process all at once or one at a time and what was helpful. It certainly has been a process of looking at things as they arise:things that I didn't expect, situations that I had to renavigate, things I didn't know I wanted to reclaim, boundaries I didn't know I needed to set until I was there. So I moved through this process, sitting with a coach, talking with other friends and knowing that unexpected things will continue to come up. I will continue to circle back around, but one of the beautiful things now is after going through some of these experiences and grappling with these complicated emotions, there's a loose framework that I can use to apply to so many different situations, such as tapping into myself knowing our boundaries and having this has really helped me build self-trust. 

Elise: [00:32:16] I'm so glad that you talked about that because that the midwifing process and the death process, while we're trying to hold gratitude feels really challenging and painful. And I think that for lots of people we feel like, “okay, I'm in this position of pain and hurt, but, like, can I just get over it and, like, be healed so that I could just get to the good part of the rebirth?”

[00:32:36] So I think that my question here is why is it for you, Brook? Like, why is it so important for us not to skip over or gloss over or rush through all of that hurt just to get to the like healed part of us?

Brook: [00:32:49] Don't we all wish we could do that, please, please?

Channing: [00:32:48] Yes.

Brook: One thing that my coach had advised me at the very beginning was to slow down, to take my time. And she even had advised some specifics of waiting six months to a year before making any big decisions. I will say there was a moment, a knee-jerk reaction of wanting to move, to sell our house, hoping to escape the pain or the messy conversations, the complicated relationships.

[00:33:25] What this would mean, for myself and for our family. So there is so much beauty in slowing down, but also I really want to honor the feelings of urgency, the feelings of overwhelm, knowing our systems may be in overdrive. Something I really appreciate about my Mormon heritage, as well as growing up on the edge of my grandpa's farm from this homestead of processing was the beauty of gardening and seeing the life cycle of a garden, composting. There's something so beautiful to me of the laying the garden beds to rest. I just did that last week. I had so much joy in this beautiful cutting flower garden that I grew this year, all in shades of purple and there was something beautiful about putting it to rest.

[00:34:15] Catherine May in her book “Wintering” talks about the concept of rest through winter, just as we watch nature it doesn't produce year-round. Sometimes there's that season of gentleness, of withdrawing. In my experience this may be a season of boundaries. There may be certain relationships that we may need a little space from as we do our own internal work. It may not be shiny or flashy, that no one else may know about. But this work is worthy if we desire to dig in. 

Channing: [00:34:48] Brook. I loved what you mentioned about gardening and composting. That's a concept that I've heard you talk about in the past and it's been really meaningful to me because it's this idea of taking the good and the beautiful things that have maybe been let go of, or maybe have been through that death process and allowing them to kind of just break down and decompose so that.

[00:35:15] In real life composting, in a garden, when the compost is finished, like, when it's been all through the entire process what you have is this really gorgeous, completely nutrient-filled soil at the end that provides all of the necessary nutrients for the next year's plants. And all of that comes through the death process of all of the plants and materials that have been put into the compost at the beginning of the process. And so I think in the framework of what we've been discussing here, I think that composting can be a relevant framework to think about some of these practices, think about this wintering time.

[00:35:52] What gets to go in the compost pile? What are we ready to put there? What needs to be broken down and what parts of it do we want to keep? And what parts do we want to say like, “okay, birds, here are your seeds and worms, here's your dirt to eat and poop,” and let all those things go. Because at the end of the day matter can't be destroyed or created.

[00:36:13] It just moves on and becomes something new and beautiful all over again. So what can we let go? To give us something that's even more meaningful and important to us. I love that concept. So thank you for bringing that up. Thinking about some of that composting process and carrying things that are meaningful forward into the next part of our journey, I'm thinking back to our episode last week, where we talked about honoring the ancestors and honoring the people who have come before us in our lifetime, because there are incredible people. And we've tried to do that this week, as we've sat with some of these women's stories and listen to their experiences with polygamy.

[00:36:53] And I know for myself that I have ancestors who have practiced and Brook, you shared that you do as well. And I think that that's an experience that a lot of Mormon women, especially those who have, like, deep roots in Utah and other places in the Southwest,  I think that pioneer heritage is a really big point of pride for a lot of people, and that can be difficult to sort through when we know now some of the information that has been brought up this week. And so as we're considering midwifing this death process, midwifing maybe this composting process we've talked before about, what that might mean to carry forward. Some of those things that have been meaningful, like maybe our pioneer heritage.

[00:37:37] So how would we be able to reclaim that? Knowing what we now know, any suggestions, any thoughts? 

Brook: [00:37:43] It's one of my personal heart worries was what will my pioneer ancestors think of me if I leave the church? I knew their stories. I had walked on trek with them. I had spent hours studying their histories, collecting their pictures.

[00:38:02] I wondered if I needed to somehow duck my head and avoid them so that they couldn't figuratively see me. My coach offered a reframe. We talked about the idea of, “what is a pioneer? What were my ancestors seeking? Is a pioneer someone who forges ahead and creates a space for others to follow?” She asked me, “In what ways are you pioneering new paths?”

[00:38:31] I would also like to share a thought from Esther Perel who is a relationship expert, and her parents were Holocaust survivors. She had a conversation with Glennon Doyle on her podcast and in it, they said, “we tend to think the way to get through trauma is to continuously go back to it, to keep mining it. But there is an element of moving towards what is warm and joyful and other people. That is also a way of addressing this trauma. You can take off the cast, but it doesn't mean you have learned how to reuse your arm, let alone enjoy it.” So remembering through all of this, these, this hard experience, these hard emotions to also find lightness, or play and joy. What are you wanting to pioneer? What are you wanting to envision? While also recognizing that joy is the most vulnerable emotion. So give yourself permission. If you do not want to spend all of your time digging into the trauma while you were in this process, knowing it's important and meaningful work, that you can also offer yourself play and connection.

Elise: [00:39:41] Oh, Brook. I love that so much: reconceptualizing or reclaiming what it means to be and act like a pioneer. I love that, but also the reminder that you issued us, that we don't have to stay and spend time digging and digging and digging through all of the trauma when we can also give ourselves permission to experience joy. You have shared so much wisdom with us on the podcast thus far. And I think the last question we want to end on is if you were able to look back and talk to your younger self, is there anything you would tell her?

Brook: [00:40:11] That's such a beautiful question. Thank you for asking. I would tell her, trust yourself with the next right thing.

[00:40:20] I'm thinking Anna in a Frozen 2 in that cave, just the next right thing. That you don't need to know all of the steps. And as a pioneer, you may not know all of the steps, but it's just that next right thing. I would allow myself to show up in a messy, imperfect way as I find my way out of that cave into the next right thing.

[00:40:45] Some valuable questions that my coach has asked me in the past are, “What can you trust about yourself? What do you know about yourself? What are the experiences that you've had, where your self-trust has served you well? How do you know you show up in hard times?” I would also invite all of us to give ourselves some grace to give ourselves permission, to change, move, evolve, shift, and pivot, which was one of the most beautiful invitations and permission givings that I've been given over and over again by my coach. That the next right step is just that. And I can trust myself. I can trust myself again to change if I need to. 

Elise: [00:41:35] Oh, that's so good. Especially because there is so much grace there, so much tender care. And I think that's one of the things that’s standing out to me through this whole conversation and going back through our messages and comments from people throughout this whole series is that people are so affected by this series and by polygamy and by this ancestral pain, because they care because they're showing up to experiences with their full selves. So really everyone, thank you all so much for showing up throughout this whole series and showing up for us on the podcast with your whole hearts, your hearts, that care, and especially a big thanks to you, Brook, for taking the time to be with us and talk with us and be vulnerable and share your own experiences along with some tools that our listeners might be able to draw from you.

[00:42:23] And so before we leave, would you mind telling the people where they can follow you? Like, what are your socials if they want to connect. 

Brook: [00:42:29] Yes. And thank you both of you for your wise, compassionate, amazing selves. Thank you for the way that you've shown up today. You can find my website, and on Instagram @BrookAndreoli. 

Channing: [00:42:54] Thank you so, so much, Brook, we're so excited. And for all of our listeners, we will link to Brook's website and her Instagram from our show notes and make it super easy to find her again. We just wanted to issue a huge, huge, thank you both to Brook for showing up, but also for you, our amazing listeners who have come here with brave hearts, with open hearts, with your caring and your love and all of the things that have made this Faithful Feminist community, such a fantastic group to be a part of we're so incredibly grateful for you.

Channing: [00:43:40] and as you move forward over the next few weeks, as you maybe practice using some of these tools and skills of integration, creating containers, writing your morning pages, going on an artist date. We hope that this inspires you to move forward in that pioneer attitude, maybe embracing some of Anna and some of Elsa finding that authentic voice, that soul voice within you that sees what it sees, knows what it knows, feels what it feels, wisdom to guide you into a place that feels safe, whole, authentic and true. Friends, we love you so much and we'll catch up with you next week. Until then, Bye .

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