Why I Wrote It: A New Journey

"I called my mom and told her I wasn't coming home," said Anna Stehle. She shared with me one of the great paradigm shifts of her life. Anna, a student at the University of Washington, wanted more time immersed in Argentina to improve her Spanish skills. So instead of returning to the United States, she postponed her flight for five months, moved out of her host family's home, rented an apartment with a couple of students from Buenos Aires and washed dishes at a local café to pay rent. Eventually she picked up a second job teaching English to locals.

When I heard her describe that moment - that once-in-a-lifetime recognition, that no-going-back place - I felt a shift of my own.  I was working a bad 9-5 job, but hearing her describe that moment with her mom - not asking permission, not feeling guilty, and full-tilt going for what she wanted - made me realize I needed to do the same. Life is short, do what you need to do for yourself right now, even if that means washing dishes and sounding crazy.

That's what Anna taught me.

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Anna was somewhat of a chosen one at the Noble Foundation. I heard about her before I was ever assigned her personal profile for Legacy magazine. She was a star, they said. Interviewing her allowed me to hear all about her academic accomplishments and personal life - rising out of a national scholarship selection process, being chosen as a Scholar in Agriculture, generally kicking all kinds of ass. In the end, the thing that impressed me most about her was that phone call she made as an undergrad. She was so unapologetic about it. Imagine calling your parents and not asking permission to continue your stay in a foreign country. Not "can I stay, mom?" but instead "I'll see ya in five months."

The best part? Her bravest moments weren't anything special to her. She didn't think twice about it all. She recalled her journey as surely as if she was explaining the color of the sky, or a scientific certainty.

Right after our conversation, she left to spend a year in Brazil with other Noble employees.

I think about Anna often, and her brave phone call. She was sharp, no doubt, but I think it was her bravery that separated her from everyone else.

XO,

J.

Read Anna's personal profile.

Other posts in the Why I Wrote It series:

Why I Wrote It: Second Chances

Why I Wrote It: Sweeney's Secret

Brazilian Bravery

I wrote Brazilian Bravery years ago, and today is still one of my most requested, read, and talked about posts. Here's an account of my first wax, and all the reasons I think you should get one, too. Enjoy.  It all started with a little black book of names, sitting open at the Lucky Rose Boutique in my hometown. In it was a list of mostly young women who graduated college, scheduled to get a Brazilian wax by the aesthetician who would stop by the shop every few weeks and do waxing, spray tanning and eyelash extensions. At first I scoffed at the list, and quickly decided me and my Venus razor were just fine by ourselves, thank you very much. Lisa, my decorator and the shop owner, insisted waxing was the way to go and everyone who love it.

Very quickly, her prophecy came to life. The list grew and grew, and women from all over town were flocking to the shop to give their hoo-ha's a hoo-rah. They were local school teachers, stay-at-home moms, business women and mother/daughter pairs. Some weren’t old enough to drive a car, and others were old enough to draw social security. As I gazed over the book brimming with names one day, I asked Lisa, “SHE got a Brazilian?! I was under the impression she doesn’t let her husband anywhere near her lady bits unless it's to conceive...”

Lisa rolled her eyes. “It's not about sex!” she insisted, arms flailing. “It's about feeling good about your body, it's about freedom!” My sister, who works at the shop, chimed in. “I’m getting one,” She said matter-of-factly. And there I was, caught smack in-between Tishomingo’s feminist movement and the fact my little sister had bigger kahonas (or, uh, whatever...) than I did. Well, I DID have a island honeymoon in the near future...

"Fine," I agreed. I'm a progressive, grown ass woman...right? Surely I can embrace this idea. "But you aren't putting down my name. Like I really want everyone in town knowing my grooming practices." (I'd rather save it for my fearless blogging.) Lisa put up with my diva moment. "What would you like to be called?" Only one name came to mind. "Kitty Woodcock." Yes, dear readers, I had a alias in my arsenal in the event my parents cut me off and I had to result to exotic dancing to pay my college tuition. So far, my parents have been very kind in providing for me...but if you ever see that name in blinking neon lights, know I've fallen on hard times.

Anyway, that's how I found myself being pleasantly welcomed as "Miss Kitty" to the back of the shop, to await my destiny. I had just returned from just short of a two week trip overseas. My homework was to, uh, let things go au-natural in preparation for my first Brazilian. To say things very "European" down there would be an understatement. I was just a couple hairy armpits away from full cultural immersion, and returned to the states and sprinted to my appointment.

I found myself naked and spread eagle in a well-light room, with a complete strangers face inches from my most prized possession. As you can imagine, the wax went on, and soon I was breathing in and out like a woman in labor as Heather worked diligently to erradicate the woodland creature that seemed to have burrowed itself in my crotch. Don't let Lisa Rose fool you...it was painful. The first time, I just tried to stifle my screams in order not to scare the customers browsing in the front of Lisa's shop.

But, I came out with a big smile and a real kick-ass attitude. Just as Lisa swore I would, I rebooked for a few weeks down the road. A few appointments later, Heather and I chatted as she waxed. I asked her, what's the secret? How can a town as up tight and (forgive me, y'all) prude as Tishomingo become the Brazillian capitol of southern Oklahoma in just a few short weeks? She replied that getting waxed, no matter what your age, wasn't about sex as much as it was about conquering the fears and the labels a woman subjects herself to: "I'm too old/fat/young/single/married etc to take pride and ownership of my own body" or, if you're like me, "I can't get naked in front of a stranger/suffer through it." I did something I thought I couldn't do, and conquering that little fear made me feel kick-ass enough to walk with a higher level of confidence. Yet, it's still so much more.

Heather, who is above and beyond professional during her work, is also a very encouraging. Plenty of times we've talking about the joys and trails of marriage during my appointments...an example of how getting a Brazilian became just another way for women in Tishomingo to support and cheer each other on. Young girls, embarrassed and insecure in those awful years of puberty, were able to come to Heather for a little confidence. In turn, the door of conversation between moms/daughters flew wide open, no doubt laying a foundation of open communication for the harder years to come.

Also, seeing older mothers and married women on the list served as a reminder that there is no age, weight, years of marriage or child limit to being confident or even sexy. Every stage of womanhood should be celebrated, and in being woman we are all sisters and owe each other the encouragement. And so, I now stand well-waxed and completely corrected. If you have the chance, stop by to see Lisa & Heather. Lisa's shop is adorable (Miranda Lambert's been known to stop by) and Heather is wonderful and professional. They are now just two more on the long list of bitchin' women working to turn this gal into a bride. xoxo, Kitty