When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, they say. Well, we are all well aware that this is something better said than done, but the truth is that when we put our mind to something and work really hard for it, nothings is impossible.
Cara Brookins found herself in an abusive marriage. Being a mom of five, she knew she needed to save her children from the toxic environment they were forced to live in, so she left her husband, took her kids with her, and built herself a new home from scratch. How she did it? By drawing construction plans all by herself and watching YouTube videos that taught her how to lay a foundation, build a wall, run a gas line, and install plumbing, among other building techniques. This sounds incredible, doesn’t it?
When she thinks about it at this point, she realizes that it does seem impossible the whole way through.
At the time she started building her family’s new home in 2007, Cara, who worked as a computer programmer analyst, couldn’t afford to buy a home that would be comfortable enough for all of her children, and that’s when she came up with the idea to build it from the ground up.
“It felt like, ‘If anyone were in our situation, they would do this,’” Cara said. “No one else saw it like this, and in retrospect, I realize it sounds insane.”
She purchased a one-acre land for $20,000 and got a construction loan of roughly $150,000.
Her kids, with the oldest being 17 at the time and the youngest one just 2, got involved in the building of their 3,500-square-foot home.
Her son Drew helped her with the creation of the plans, while 11-year-old Jada used buckets to transport water from the neighbor’s pond, as there was no running water on-site. She then mixed it with 80-pound bags of concrete and formed the foundation mortar.
Every day after school, the kids would go to the site and help in the process. For the most demanding chores, this determined mother hired a part-time firefighter with building experience for $25 an hour. “In terms of knowledge, he was a step ahead of us,” she recalled.
It was on March 31, 2009 when the family finally moved to the Inkwell Manor, named in honor of Cara’s dream of becoming a writer.
“We were mortified that building our own shelter was our best alternative,” Cara said. “It wasn’t anything we were really proud of but it turned out to be the most beneficial thing I could have done for myself.”
“If I, a 110-pound computer programmer, can build an entire house,” she said, “you can do anything you set your mind to.”
She then proceeded saying, “Decide on a single aim and stick to it. Find that large thing you want to do, take tiny steps toward it, and bring along others who need to heal with you on the journey. There’s a lot of power in that.”
Isn’t this one of the most incredible stories you’ve heard in a while?
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Love and Peace