When Arkansas mom Cara Brookins was left in the wake of an emotionally exhausting divorce from an abusive spouse, she found herself with four children and no place to live. The then-computer programmer had to sell the home she had shared with her husband, and everything on the market within her budget was too small to house her and her growing children.
To most people, it would seem insane to solve the problem by just buying an inexpensive plot of land and building a home themselves.
Brookins had a different outlook. After spending $20,000 on a 1-acre plot of land and taking out a $150,000 construction loan, she loaded up on YouTube tutorials and went to work.
We decided to do more than survive. We decided to Rise: http://amzn.com/1250095662
Her children were aged 17, 15, 11, and 2 when she took on the massive project. They had school to attend, and she had a job to work even while they were busy constructing a home from the ground up. That made for a grueling, arduous few years; Brookins would drop the children at school in the morning, head to her job, and then pick them up after work to drive them out to the construction site to work through the night.
"You want to know what you're made of? How big you can be? Get really comfortable with being uncomfortable." ~Cara Brookins #RaiseMyRoof
Still, using the pieced-together knowledge from YouTube and a little help from a local firefighter who was able to do some of the heavy lifting, Brookins and her children were able to go from an empty lot to a 3,500-square-foot home in nine months.
Set a massive goal and then go get it— because who in the world was ever inspired to work hard for a wee little goal?
Her 15-year-old son, Drew, was able to help her draw up the blueprints to design their dream home. Her 11-year-old daughter, Jada, helped lug buckets of water to help mix the 80-pound (approx. 36-kilogram) bags of concrete to lay the foundation. And together, they all tried to remember everything they could from the tutorials they’d watched the day before—since in 2008, when they started building the home, they didn’t have smartphones and access to the videos they needed while they were on the site.
“We were so weak [when we started],” she explained to TODAY Home. “We were carrying around these blocks and slugging through mud. We didn’t have proper work boots so we put plastic bags on our feet with old tennis shoes. We were completely unprepared.”
Slowly, though, the process brought the five remaining members of the family closer than they’d ever imagined. By the time they got to work on the interior, Brookins joked that she and the three older children could practically communicate telepathically—grunting and pointing at something and immediately getting their message across.
It was a frantic, stressful process, but it was worth it in the end. And by cutting as many costs as they could using their own labor, they were able to construct a sturdy manor full of love and and sentiment, and dubbed it Inkwell Manor. They had gone from panic and shame at the prospect of being unable to afford their own home to being able to live in something they quite literally built from the ground up.
My gardens at Inkwell Manor are slightly overgrown this year, but still making the hummingbirds (and me) happy!
Doing my part to keep the world reading on #WorldBookDay ! Share your library, no matter how big or small. #EveryBookMatters
Since the house was constructed, the family has grown up and Brookins has become a published author. But her success story, to her, is about more than just the home itself—it’s about facing down seemingly daunting tasks and believing you can get them accomplished little by little.
“If I, a 110-pound computer programmer can build a whole house, you can do anything you can set your mind to,” she told PEOPLE Magazine. “Set one goal and don’t waiver [sic] from it. Find that big thing you want to do, take baby steps, and take the people with who need to heal with you, go on that journey together. There is so much power in that.”
The sale of Rise, my memoir, was announced today in Publishers Weekly! #Rise http://carabrookins.com/rise-publishers-weekly/