Saturday, August 9, 2014

Because They Save My Life Over and Over.

It's day five of writing my face off and I'm falling more in love with it every day.

Day 5: "Tell me about the five women who've changed your life."

The five women who have changed my life? Okay, here goes.

This might be the hardest question for me to answer. I can tell you the five women who have shaped my life quite easily. My mom, my three older sisters, and my Nana. Those five women are my life. Everything about them is vital to who I am as a person.They have influenced me in every step of my life. They have been there for me since day one and they are why I am who I am. That said, they haven't changed my life. They are my life. They have always been there. They have always been a part of me. I am who I am because of their presence in my life. Their love, compassion, lessons, laughter...everything about them has influenced who I am. I wouldn't be me without them. So in order to correctly answer this question I have to move beyond those five amazing women who have influenced me every step of the way and look for those who've come along and changed me.

1. Jamie Renee. Jamie Renee has been my friend since I was 10 years old. We've grown up together and been through everything together. She is the other half of all my stories. She's been there through first periods, first kisses, first heartbreak, first tattoos, grieve, loss, laughter, heartache....everything. We've worked our way through each new stage of life together. And my God has she changed me. Jamie is not afraid to challenge me. She's not afraid to call me out or tell me what I need to do. Jamie is always willing to push me and teach me and be there for me. She is everything I need in a friend and she has taught me so much and pushed me to strive for more. She has encouraged me through every step. I wouldn't be who I am without her love, patience, guidance, laughter, and understanding. I wouldn't be who I am without her willingness to change me and challenge me. I could never thank her enough. Clearly I won the best friend lottery.

2. Sheena. I met Sheena around the time I turned 19. We met at church. We were youth leaders and led a small group together. She started off as an acquaintance. Someone I saw every Sunday night and exchanged pleasantries with. I liked her bright, funky style and I appreciated her honesty. We both signed up for a mission trip to Japan. We left two girls who'd become friends and came back best friends. She came in like a well, to borrow from Miley Cyrus, a wrecking ball. Quite literally. She knocked me off my feet. She brought out my wild side. She knocked down my walls. She bandaged my broken heart. She was what I needed when I needed it. She came into my life at exactly the right time. And she shook me to my core. She changed everything. And I will never not appreciate her for all she did for me. For everything she showed me. And for all those fun, wild nights. She set me on the journey to finding myself. And she taught me that my words were valuable. That's a priceless gift.

3. Abigail and Juliana. I don't even know what to say here. I'm counting them both as my number three because they came into my life together and turned everything upside down. December of 2004 I was going through a really rough time in my life. Early one morning our phone rang. I rolled over and ignored it. A few moments later I heard my mom calling me..."Auntie Brittany, Auntie Brittany!" My sister had just found out she was pregnant. That spring we learned she was having twins! Two girls. On June 4th, 2005, after over a month in the hospital on constant bed rest, she gave birth to the most perfect people I had ever seen. Abigail Catherine and Juliana Elaine were born three months premature and spent the next several months in the NICU. Today they are perfect, sweet, hilarious, silly, strong, smart, healthy, creative, and loving 9 year-old's. They changed my life. In an instant. I walked into that NICU, scrubbed up, and fell in love. They gave me someone to love. They gave me a reason. They gave me something to hold onto. They were born during one of the darkest periods of my life. They pulled me out of that funk and I fell in love instantly. Those girls mean everything to me. They saved my life.

My Nana, my sister, My mom, and my favorite girls.

4. Ninah Conlyn. My 11th grade English teacher. This woman let me write my heart out every day. She encouraged me to read everything I could get my hands on. She let me come up with my own English curriculum and my thing. I sat in her class and wrote and wrote and wrote and read and read and read. I have always loved books and words, but Ms. Conlyn let me submerge myself in words every single day. She listened to me talk, she read my poems, so suggested things for me to read. She was there for me when I had no one else to talk to. She made me feel accepted and understood. She made me laugh. She changed my life. She gave me a place to feel safe. She saw my loneliness, my anxiety, my depression, and she met me where I was. Her classroom was my safe place for my last two years of high school. She was the best teacher a girl like me ever could have had. She is such a special woman. She was such an amazing influence in my life. I would've been lost without her.

5. Gwen Stefani. This choice feels the silliest. But I can't write this list without including her. 1995. I was 10 years old and Tragic Kingdom was released. I'm from Orange County. I live ten minutes from Gwen Stefani's high school. The younger siblings of members of No Doubt went to my elementary school. We ALL wanted to be Gwen Stefani. I fell in love the first time I heard Just A Girl. How could I not? Without knowing it I was already searching for my anthem. For something. For proof being a girl was okay. And I found it in Gwen. I waited years and years for the next No Doubt album. Finally in April of 2000 Return of Saturn came out. I was 15. I don't know if I have ever loved an album like I love ROS. I was in love. I listened to it over and over. I analyzed every lyric. I dyed my hair pink. I saw them live. I read every article. I collected every magazine. I learned who Sylvia Plath was because Gwen mentioned in an interview that she had been a major inspiration for the album. My relationship with Return of Saturn is true love. I've never held on to anything so passionately for so long. My style, my words, my confidence....Gwen Stefani has been an inspiration for all of it. This list would not be complete if I didn't mention her. "I'm going to the mall for the cookie cutter, the ugly duckling will always suffer. Contaminated standards, I try to fight it. I better get back on my diet."

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