10 Women Who Changed My Life
In July 2015, I wrote a blog piece about this, but I'm no longer proud of it. Growing up changes your perspectives end up changing a lot. This was originally inspired by a featured article in every issue of print copies of the magazine, Glamour. I don't know if that article is still a monthly thing now that the magazine is digital-only, but I do believe they lost that article long before they went digital-only.
1. Ms. Kalea: Ms. Kalea was my childhood best friend's mom who always treated me as her own kid. She had me doing chores at her house, looking my best for her church, having me over for spring break when my mom was away. That never meant I got out of exercises or wearing my leg braces; things I really wanted to get out of as a kid. A very prominent memory I have as a kid is when I was arguing with my best friend, and so she ran off thinking that was the end of it but no, I started chasing after her. All you can hear is Ms. Kalea saying, "Run Brandi (her daughter's name), run, she's chasing after you!" Ms. Kalea's also the only adult along with her husband that I treat with that level of respect even if I'm states away I always call them Ms. Kalea and Mr. Mark.
2. Mom (biological): I may not have given her the respect she deserves while I was growing up. She taught me so much, and she was the strongest woman I knew and know. She raised our family a lot while being a single mom and making it seem like it was no big deal. She supported our extracurricular activities, asking people for help with transport when she needed it. She took us to all of our appointments, and boy, did I have a lot of doctors appointments because of the Cerebral Palsy. As I grew into an adult my mom taught me budgeting, how to properly pack to move, and the importance of a debit card over a credit card,
3. Mom (Mama Chico, my mom-in-law): I met her at a pretty rough point in my life, and she knew it right away. She took me in, but a month before I was going to move in I got hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer. My doctor had the worst bedside manner though and would not tell me what happened or if and when I was going home. I would call and text the whole Chico family terrified, and they would comfort me. After a few calls from me, Mama Chico called the hospital to get answers for me. When the movers hassled me she hassled them right back. Mama Chico helped me get into the college of my choice by finding out what documentation I needed that they refused to tell me because my FASFA wasn't working. With her help I was able to get the best grades possible in my English classes, got my second book edited, and got my very own apartment.
4. Twin (no longer revealing real name 😅 ): I met Twin right after I moved to Colorado after high school. It was amazing to meet such a great confidant who didn't know all my other family and friends. She was and is incredibly sweet, and we immediately hit it off like we were in fact, well "twins". We were always there for each other when things got too crazy to deal with because we came from similar situations. We're still best friends, but as we grow up we can't talk all the time. I am so proud of who she's become.
5. Grandma Sally: She's my grandma on my mom's side, but she's not my mom's mom. She has been in my life since forever. We used to hang out all the time when I lined in California as a young kid. Back then she babysat a lot. They had a pool that according to her I lived in, and she taught me to sing. As I got older and they got a new place she taught me to ride and care for horses and cook. Now that we live across the country from each other, she supports my writing from afar because we email each other often.
6. Nana: Nana is my nine-year-old niece. Because she has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), she is the first person I've met who also has a hard time walking, and that's given me a new perspective on a few things. Before her I pushed myself way too hard because I thought I had to. Now I give myself breaks when I need them. I also pass on advice my parents gave me. Nana also showed me important it is to have representation in the media, something I hadn't thought about since I was a teen. The heartbroken look on her face when she made me think of it... I never want any kid to feel like that. There will be two links below for Nana: one explaining her SMA, and the second is one the piece I wrote about representation being important.
7. Jess: Jess is short for my sister's name Jessicah, and I'm sure she hates that I call her that, but I'm just so used to it. We didn't always see eye-to-eye growing up, but she always had my back and I've had hers. She's an amazing woman who I really admire; strong, caring, and no matter what she has a positive outlook on things. She's also a wonderful writer and wonderful teacher.
8. Ash: Ash is short for author Ashlynn Stone. Ash was an editor who actually showed me in what vein of writing I wanted to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm going down so many avenues, but back in 2018 I was helping her by writing a few guest blogs for her. This was before I knew how far I could dig to write the full story. As a kid I was often silenced, told it wasn't "my story" to tell, but when I was writing for Ash's blog it was quite the opposite. She would write me back not only with questions she'd have but with questions she'd know others would ask as well. So it got to the point where I'd dug as deep as I possibly could. That worked for her. When her blog had to be taken down I started my own blog for those sensitive topics.
9. Clara: Clara is the kindest and sweetest person you could ever meet. We met while we were both volunteering at a church-sponsored tutoring place. It was free for anyone who needed it, and we were paired up with kids in grades we thought we could handle. We became fast friends when she offered to give me a ride home after one of our meetings to get set up. Clara was just the kind of friend I needed in town, someone to look out for me and pulled me out of my shell. I did the same for her. After I moved we stayed in touched, and she even remembered my cell number after years which most people don't do. I really admire.
10. April: There were times where I thought this woman was the greatest, and she really wanted the best for me. But just because that's not true doesn't mean she didn't earn her place on this list. I won't say much other than she taught me how to be self-reliant, brave, how to show no fear, and how to stand up for yourself when you have to. I became a strong woman inside and out because of her.