Who's Kristen Brooke Beck?
By Kristen Brooke Beck
March 12, 2012
The Bio Summary
My name is Kristen Brooke Beck. I'm a wife, mother, writer, mental health activist, graduate student, business owner, artist, computer geek, amateur scientist, vegetarian, health and fitness nut, nature-lover, comedy fanatic, and humanitarian. Most importantly, I'm happy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from Readers & Fans
These are comments and questions I've received multiple times from readers and fans for various reasons. It gets rather repetitive answering them, so I just put the answers here.
Why did you make this site?
This site started as a place where I could collect my ideas and share them with my friends, and since my ideas always focused on how to make life easier and increase happiness, the site evolved into having the same focus. (It must be emphasized that this is a personal website based on my personal opinions and should not be used as a source of academic or professional expertise.)
Striving for happiness is so important to me because I wasn't always happy. Growing up, I was plagued with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. As a child, I was afraid of everything and nearly always in tears. As a teenager I was angry and self-destructive. I dealt with my stress by binge eating, hurting myself, and hiding. I believed that some people were just blessed with happy lives, and I wasn't one of them. I often contemplated suicide. Fortunately, I still had hope that perhaps somehow, some day, I would be able to fix myself. That hope saved me.
Because of what I've dealt with, I understand what other people with these problems are going through. I also understand what it takes to overcome the problems you can conquer and how to let go of the ones you can't. It's not easy, but it gets easier.
Now my goal is to help other people find their own happiness, and I've discovered that this website has become one of the ways in which I've been able to help people.
Why don't you update the site as much as you used to?
I'm working on my Masters of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling, my post-graduate professional certificiation in Clinical Psychophysiology, and my certification by the American College of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer (to use exercise as a mental health intervention). On top of that, I work as a writer, am raising children, volunteer in the community, want to keep my marriage happy, and still need to find time to keep my sanity, so I've slowed down a lot on this website, but, I will keep it going, and I'll likely pick up the pace in the future when things slow down a bit for me.
Where are you from?
I've lived in a variety of places in California during the first twenty-five years of my life. I spent the majority of my childhood and all of my adolescence in Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley, two small desert communities near Joshua Tree National Park and the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Base. The Mohave desert was where I learned to love being in nature, learning about science (especially astronomy since the desert night sky is so beautiful), and creating art, music, movies, comedy, and writings (because there really wasn't all that much else to do out there).
I now live in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, quite the opposite of my desert upbringing. I absolutely love it here. Portland is filled with friendly, rain-loving, bicycling, hiking, jogging, camping, outdoorsy, art-literature-history-loving, intelligent, open-minded people. It's one of the best cities I've ever been in. Even better, it is also surrounded by beautiful scenery (and we try to keep it that way). From rivers and waterfalls to volcanoes and forests, every scene of nature is breathtaking. Then there are the rural scenic farmlands and urban cityscapes ensuring that Oregon is a photographer's paradise.
What [fill in the blank] do you like?
Music: I listen to everything. Yes, everything. Each style has something beautiful. I've got band-nerd roots, and I'm not afraid to use them.
Movies: No horror films! Give me an adventure, a comedy, a musical, or something that makes you think, and I'm a happy gal.
Television: I find myself watching lots of documentaries, lectures, news reports, and educational talk shows. Sometimes I watch sports for the action and to study athlete and fan behavior, but I don't pay attention to the scores. I'm a sucker for good comedy and often end up watching Saturday Night Live, Late Late Show, Monty Python reruns, the Simpsons, and the Daily Show.
Sports: My dad raised me on baseball, football, and NASCAR, and those are still my favorites. I enjoy a nice game of basketball if nobody's keeping score. I prefer to participate in individual sports, like running, weight lifting, and martial arts, but I love going to games of team sports and cheering.
Apple, Microsoft, or Linux: Apple for mobile devices. Microsoft for laptop, desktop, and media computers. Linux for getting my geekiness on.
Politicians: The ones I agree with.
Teachers: Everyone inspires me, from the kid at the playground to the gurus on television. The people who often give me those insightful, enlightening moments most are scientists and comedians.
School Subjects: I absolutely love mind-body-social-eco sciences. Things like biopsychology, psychoneuroendocrinology, and psychoneuroimmunology keep me smiling. I also love human development, especially when coupled with interpersonal neurobiology, anthropology, and humanities. Business and marketing are also subjects that catch my eye, but I'm mostly interested in how humans make decisions about how they will trade in societies. Technology is also big on my list of interests because it has so many benefits for us, and the ability to innovate new devices and coding languages fascinates me. I can't get enough of health and fitness information, and I'm especially interested in oncology since I've had so many loved ones die from cancer.
Social Causes: Mental health, creating education opportunities for everyone, parenting, cancer treatment and prevention research, improving public health and safety, protecting children and vulnerable populations, equality for members of diverse populations, embracing the benefits of diversity, improved healthcare and nutrition availablity for everyone.
Other Little Common Questions
These questions keep coming up for some reason, and I never stop being surprised when they do.
"You're so funny! Have you ever thought about going into comedy?" I did stand-up comedy once. That was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. The audience laughed, so "phew!" but wow was it stressful. I tip my hat to anyone who is willing to go on stage every night to make people giggle. I've done drama and speech as well, and memorizing lines and digging up emotions in front of a room of people was nothing compared to stand-up comedy. Comedians have my greatest respect of all performance artists; you've got to have a tough hide to do that job. I do enjoy the comedy though, so I'll stick to comedy writing.
"Have you ever thought about doing educational videos or podcast?" Yes, but I'm just not ready to do it yet. I'll get there eventually.
"We'd like to have you on our [radio, video, web] show." Thanks, but I'm not doing any media appearances (audio or video) right now. I'll be happy to talk via email.
"How can I get famous?" It depends on if you want to be famous for doing something good, infamous for doing something bad, or well-known for doing something so bizarre that it makes the evening news.
"How do I write a novel?" Step 1) Write. Step 2) Repeat.
"Do you think I have [fill in the name of a medical illness]?" I don't know. Please see a physician or nurse practitioner for a diagnosis.
"My pregnancy test was positive/negative. Do you think I'm pregnant?"I don't know. Please see a physician or nurse practitioner for confirmation of your pregnancy test results.
"How do I fix [fill in the name of a computer problem]?" Please Google it.
"Should I get a divorce?" I really don't think that's a decision that I should be making for you. It may be helpful for you to talk to a marriage counselor.
"Is it illegal to...?" Please talk to a lawyer.
What education/experience do you have to write about this stuff?
Here is a long section... I'm not an "expert" in anything in particular. I like to learn about and do lots of different areas to understand how everything is interconnected.
No, this is not a traditional, professional resume or CV. I know. I thought I would do something a bit more personal, since this is a personal website. Enjoy!
I vividly remember cookies, milk, a bunch of cranky old ladies who yelled at me while they sat in in a big brown chair, and lots of kids throwing tantrums.
I went to three elementary schools:
- The first was lots of fun. It's where I quickly decided I was going to grow up to be a scientist. It didn't matter what kind of scientist as long as I could do something cool.
- At the second, I learned what it was like to be bullied by nearly ever kid in my class, the after-school kids, the teachers, and the kids in my neighborhood. Not a happy place in my life.
- While at the third, I learned to play the clarinet and piano, coded TI Basic on my Texas Instruments 94/A computer, and decided to become a writer when I grew up.
- Started taking honors classes
- Played clarinet in the school band
- Played keyboard and piano with my friends
- Wrote bad teen romance and sci-fi stories
- Discovered unhealthy dieting
- Spent hours in the computer lab after school
- Decided I wanted to work in computer science when I grew up
- Started being sexually harassed and assaulted by adolescent boys and learned that self-defense is a valuable skill for a girl to have
High School: Diploma (Honors)
- Focused on college prep and business classes
- Decided to become an English teacher to combine my love of writing with a stable career
- Programmed clunky computers, played with electronics and mechanics, and built various clunky (but extremely useful) contraptions as a hobby
AA in Liberal Studies (High Honors)
- General education
- Psychology and psychological development
- Computer applications and web site design
- Humanities: literature, music, art, public speaking (even a little stand-up comedy)
- Foreign Language: Spanish
- Weight lifting (perk, a hobby I could get credits for!)
- Discovered I'd rather be a science teacher instead of an English teacher
- Fell in love with creative expression
- Began to "find myself" spiritually and philosophically
Certification in Freelance Writing
This was a program that taught me about the professional writing industry and took me from the "I want to be a writer" dream to actually getting paid to write non-fiction articles for organizations and publications.
B.A. in Natural Science (Cum Laude and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society)
- Earth Sciences: geology, Oregon geology, oceanography (focusing on the Pacific Ocean), and astronomy
- Biological Sciences: zoology, botany, wildlife (focused on the west coast of North America), ecosystems, environmental studies, health and human biology, human physical development and movement performance, organic chemistry, biochemistry
- Education (for teaching): child development, curriculum design (early childhood, elementary, and middle school ages), student teaching, science instruction, learning theory, juvenile sociology and delinquency
- Philosophy: ethics in science, comparative religion, death (multi-cultural perspectives), Judeo-Christian-Islamic history, Neo-Paganism, Eastern religions
- Humanities: drama, storytelling, children's literature, children's music
- Computer Science (studied at the same time but not a part of my degree): hardware, applications, repair, programming, website development
- Special talents: I learned how to sleep just about anywhere as I juggled work, school, and the dramas of life.
- Learned how to be a better mom by studying education and child development
- Learned how to be a better citizen of the planet by studying how we are all connected and how the universe works
- Learned how to laugh at life by hanging out in comedy clubs
- Explored and experimented with a variety of religions in my ongoing spiritual and philosophical quest to "find myself"
Motherhood (Official Job Title "Work at Home Mom")
Becoming a parent has been the most educational experience of my life. I'm happy that I had a background in child development and education because I believe it has helped me become a pretty good mom (not perfect, but my kids are doing great, and I have very few regrets). My background in science has been great for answering all of their "why" and "how" questions. My college experience of sleep deprivation came in handy when dealing with the sleep deprivation that comes from motherhood. There's a lot of it, and it can wear you down like nothing else. My years of practice in juggling roles and commitments also was very useful because parenthood is one big juggling act, and nobody tells you that if you want to be a parent, you should take juggling classes first.
No description of my early experience with motherhood would be complete, though, without mentioning my postpartum depression and anxiety. Everything was wonderful at the beginning, but not long after our first baby came into the world, my lifelong struggle with anxiety returned in ways I never imagined it would. I developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic attacks. After the birth of our second child, my OCD intensified, and I slipped into a deep depression.
I was lucky to have a strong support system: my husband, postpartum support group, and psychologist. A friend who had gone through a similar experience told that these obstacles in my life would be the "best worst things" to ever happen to me. She was right. It completely changed my life for the better and compelled me to study psychology and neurobiology.
M.S. in Mental Health Counseling (in progress...)
I'm currently enrolled in graduate school in a CACREP program.
- Psychological and Sociological Theories: Human Development, Multicultural Studies, Personality
- Psychopathology Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- Mental Health Counseling and Psychotherapy
- Addictions and Compulsions
- Counseling Children, Adolescents, Couples, Marriage and Family Systems, Human Sexuality
- Career Counseling
- Group Counseling and Therapy
Post-Graduate Professional Certificate Clinical Psychophysiology (in progress...)
I'm studying how the mind and body interact, especially with regards to stress, mental health, physical health, and chronic pain.
Personal Fitness Trainer Certification (in progress...)
I'm also studying to become certified as a personal fitness trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). In my own experience, and in my studies of neurobiology and psychology, I've learned that improving your physical fitness and general level of health can have a huge positive impact on your mental well being. Plus, it's just plain fun. I'm happy to say that I'm a proud health fanatic with an appreciation for athletic achievement.
See other Kristen's Guide topics in this category.
Using mind, body, and community to promote mental health and physical fitness through Counseling, Coaching, and Training