Cara wasn’t alone, so she couldn’t just run away from her problems. Even though that might have been the easier path. Cara chose to take the “road less traveled by”. She took her four children out of their home full of violence and hate and she swore to herself that she would make a new home for them. One that would be filled with love and good influences. And that is exactly what she did. Cara is not a woman of talk, she is a woman of action. And she is truly an inspiration, not just to mothers and parents all over the world. But to every type of human, no matter their race. Her story teaches us that from the lowest and darkest places we can still grow and that the situation is never as bleak as we think. It is always possible to start over. As J.K Rowling once said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” Cara has taught us that there is always hope.
If you like the hit television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition then you are just going to love Cara Brookins and her do it yourself attitude. You are not going to believe what this one woman did. With her four kids by her side, she felt that there was no such thing as the impossible. And we have documented every step of her journey. Find out how Cara Brookins and her four children turned their tragic story into an inspirational one. And most importantly, find out how they started over.
Cara was married twice before, both to abusive men and relationships filled with violence, mental illness, and anger. She was even stalked by one of them. Cara left her past and said that “I felt ashamed and I was worried that they had no self-esteem and no confidence.” She wanted to start fresh, but she had kids to take care of and not much money to her name. What exactly did she go through? Who were these men?
The first husband
Cara had felt trapped in her own home. Her life with her first husband was not ideal to say the least. Cara says that he “descended into full-blown paranoid schizophrenia.” She left him as soon as she could but not before he was able to leave his mark. Broken and disheartened, Cara and her four children left her first husband. But he was not easy to get rid of. Even after she separated from him, he would follow the family and try to frighten them. Sadly, things didn’t get better for a while.
After a bad first marriage, Cara kept looking for love. She found it with her second husband. But it wasn’t exactly smooth sailings. She told CBS News that “During that period, I remarried to a man who I thought was strong enough to handle it. But I was wrong and he turned out to be a very violent man.” That’s when she had had enough. She needed to protect her four children who at the time were toddlers and teenagers and she got out. But she needed a plan.
A new beginning
Cara wanted to find a new home for herself and her kids, one filled with love this time. She said that “my kids and I needed something,” but she wasn’t exactly able to afford her dream house. And that’s when she saw a foundation for a house that was tattered from a previous tornado. All that was left was the foundation. It was 2007 and Cara felt inspired and ready to form a new path for her family.
Getting to work
Cara immediately knew what she was going to do. She asked her kids “what if we bought some 2’x4’s and sheetrock and put that together? What would our dream house be? Would we want to build it?’” And after all the domestic violence and rough past, her kids were up for the task. They were going to rebuild from the outside in. Cara did not let the lack of funds, lack of experience, and zero tools to her name stop her.
An inspirational mother
Cara took out a loan from the bank to cover the cost of tools and materials for only $150,00 and got to work. With zero experience in building to her name, she went to where most amateurs go for quick and simple advise: to YouTube. Once they had their YouTube tutorials down pat, Cara and her four kids got to work. Cara said that her kids were totally up for the challenge and were excited at the prospect of actually building their own home with their own two hands.
Not so simple
It may sound like a Cinderella story, but it was far from simple. The kids worked hard, who at the time were aged 2, 11, 15, and 17. They had to learn how to frame the house and then pour a foundation. The finished product may look stunning but it took a lot of hard work before they got there. There were many steps involved including pouring concrete, laying bricks, and so much more. Sweat and exhaustion went into this foundation. And that’s what made it so worthwhile.
The foundation of a family
It is so amazing that these kids were able to take part of such a massive project and see it through. It is like hands-on therapy that they so desperately needed. These kids, including their mother, needed a fresh start. And they got the opportunity to physically make that fresh start for themselves. With each brick laid down and each layer of cement smoothed over, this family slowly but surely became whole again.
Dreaming of a better tomorrow
It took a long time to build a house. But Cara and her unbelievable kids had a vision that couldn’t be stopped. They learned teamwork, work ethics, project management, and probably more than they have ever learned in their time in school. Everyone should page a leaf out their book and do hands-on projects with their kids. Cara and her family truly accomplished the impossible. Instead of trying to erase their past, they decided to build a better future.
Before they knew it, the family’s hard work began to bear fruit, as the house started taking shape. These guys could really give Extreme Makeover: Home Edition a run for its money! The Brookins weren’t just building a house, though; they were laying down the foundation for their new home, which would be nothing like their last. A home that would be safe, violence-free, and ultimately become their very own safe haven.
Stonger than ever
The house was getting close to completion and kids were stronger than ever. They learned invaluable skills while Cara got her self-confidence back. They couldn’t believe what was coming together before their very own eyes. They soon started to dream up which room would be whose, where the library would be, how the kitchen would look. Slowly, the hard work and exhaustion turned into excitement and planning. They even started to discuss what to name their house.
One block at a time
Ever since she was little, Cara would ask her parents what could she build, and they would always answer she should build whatever he heart desired. She started with snow forts and cardboard box kingdoms, before finally graduating to a real-live house. This was her concrete mixer that she borrowed. It spat out one of its own gears after two hours, after which point it they had to mix the cement by hand. On the bright side, Cara said the work was made more fun thanks to her son Drew’s mixtapes, which had them dancing while they built together.
The biggest hurdle
Cara says that one of the hardest part was convincing a loan officer to give a loan to a woman and her four children to build a home. Even contractors had a hard time getting a loan, and she was explaining that she would figure it out with YouTube videos. When she did finally get that loan she only had 9 months to build the house before she would default on that loan. It wasn’t an easy task, and even her father said not to do it. In the end, though, he was right along side them, helping his daughter and grandkids build their dream home.
With only nine months to create a home from scratch, you would imagine that this would call for the full-time work of a trained and experienced staff. Instead, Cara was still working full time as a computer programmer (is there anything this woman can’t do?) and her kids were still in school. They worked on building their house after work and school hours. Cara says that “it’s a powerful thing, to build something so much bigger than yourself.”
Books and fame
Cara wrote a book about her story and building a house with her kids. Apparently this was another one of her hidden talents: all in all, she has written a total of eight books and has since become a professional speaker. Her story has gone viral, has been viewed all over the world (in 65 countries to be exact), with over a billion views! Titled Rise, her memoir has been optioned to become a major motion picture. Despite all her success, she still also works as a computer programmer.
Welcome to Inkwell Manor. It has been the home of Cara and her kids for the past eight years and is still standing as sturdy and beautiful as ever. The house is 3,500 square feet of hand built beauty. The family has five bedrooms, one for each of them, and a garage that fits three cars! They even made a tree house that has two stories – because why build one house when you can build two? This glorious house looks even better on the inside…
Check it out
This is Cara’s most cherished room in the entire house – sorry, we mean manor – and she’s even admitted to it being her “favorite place in the entire world.” It is a library with walls only made out of bookshelves and a cozy reading chair to boot. It also holds all eight of Cara’s very own books. The house additionally has a handmade mosaic by Cara that is made with the “things that warm my heart.” Cara said that once the house was built, “our mindset shifted from scarcity to abundance.”
Cara said that they are not the perfect family but rather their dinners are “just like yours.” They squabble and laugh and enjoy each other’s company but also get on each other’s nerves. She does have a house full of teenagers, after all. But they have changed through this experience. Cara says her kids are “now fearless” and that “They dive into anything. There’s nothing you could suggest to them that they could not do. it’s an incredible thing”
Cara didn’t originally want to write this story. Cara and her family felt ashamed of their past. They didn’t even tell other people in the neighborhood about the house they were building. But once it was completed, everything changed. Their scars that they once covered up were now filled with pride and accomplishment. People kept going up to the family and telling them how they were inspired by Cara and her kids. They took on projects a bit too big for themselves too like a new business or even a marathon run. And so Cara was inspired in return to write a book and share her story.
Nine years later, Cara finished writing. She couldn’t believe it when it was sold in a massive New York publishing auction. The next thing she knew, her story went viral and there were reporters outside of her house. There were phone calls from producers and TV talk shows. But it still wasn’t enough for Cara, who is always working on some project and always looking forward to the next chapter. “We are still hard at work building bigger and better things,” she says.
Speaking about the future
Cara was once afraid of public speaking. In school, when she was younger, when she had to do a public speech she ended up dissolving into tears. But now, people all over the world were asking her to be a keynote speaker and to share her story in person. So she took on the challenge the way she’s done in the past – by giving it her all – and it became her true passion. Cara says she loves “motivating a room full of people to look beyond all the tough stuff in the past and take an enormous leap toward their future. That means moving out of your comfort zone – even looking a little crazy. But you know what? It’s totally worth it.”