Updated: May 26, 2019
Brenna is a woman who is larger than life, always with a big smile and ready to give you a hug. Her story proves that no matter what life throws at you, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and believing in yourself, following your dreams and never giving up will always get you to where you'd like to be in life. She is an inspiring human being and her story is just beautiful and powerful.
You are currently working for Glympse Inc, which is a tech company in Seattle. Please tell us what is your position there and what do you do? Do you love what you do?
I love my job. I love the people, the company, the product. I wear many hats at Glympse. I am currently their office manager, but am working on passing off some of those responsibilities to my admin assistant and I also work on the marketing team. A small company demands dynamic individuals. I have always been very capable of wearing many hats and thrive in those types of roles. At Glympse I manage all aspects of the physical office space, I support the people in it in a multitude of ways, I run their social media campaigns, plan and implement their trade show presence and tend to be a catch all for all other needs at the company that aren’t owned by another person.
What is your work philosophy? How do you handle office politics? Are you more of a diplomat or an artist (says her mind) type of a person?
You get what you put in. This is true for anything in life; friendships, exercise, your blog. Step up, do more than your job description, and be respectful to your colleagues no matter their title. I also really love the saying “dress for the job you want”.
At work I am a diplomat striving to be someone who speaks her mind. Life has taught me that there is real value in speaking your truth, even if it is unpopular.
Did you love school growing up? Who was Brenna in school? Were you in the popular group or were you more of a floater or independent? What was your favorite subject in school?
I did not love school. It was something I was obligated to participate in. It wasn’t until middle school when I auditioned for and was accepted into an arts immersion program called CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) that I found my people and began to enjoy going to school. I felt at home with the artists and theater kids. I loved to sing; choir was my favorite class. I was very competitive as a vocalist, so being first alto was something I did with great pride.
In High School, you’d find me cutting class at the park, smoking weed, climbing trees and talking philosophy with my artist friends. I’d head back to school for my arts classes, but Freshman and Sophomore year, I failed nearly all of my academic courses. I had no intentions of graduating, and no interest in college.
It was a culmination of things that helped me turn things around. I had a math teacher early on in my Junior year who decided to give me some tough love. I came in for a makeup test, (and she looked me in the eye and told me I was better than what I was putting in. She asked me to start showing up and she would meet me halfway. I passed her class, and began to see her as someone I could turn to for support.
That same year, the kids in the trailer park had moved from smoking weed to smoking crack and were getting arrested for petty crimes. I cut that group off, and while very difficult and isolating, I know that decision played a major role in allowing me to right my path.
You got pregnant at a young age, do you mind sharing with us how did it happen? Were you in love with the father of your kids? How did you find the balance being a teenager, in school and pregnant at the same time?
I just watched the Brene Brown special. So here we go, vulnerable!
I was raised Mormon. Unfortunately, their abstinence based sex education didn’t work for me. My favorite anecdote to share was that AFTER I had had sex for the first time at the age of 14, I went to a youth meeting where one of the adult men had a cupcake in his hand, licked it, and then asked who wanted it. No one volunteered. He compared that to having sex before marriage - you’re a licked cupcake that nobody wants. Let’s just say that didn’t do wonders for my self esteem.
At 14, I was having a lot of unprotected sex. I was treated poorly by most of the boys that I was having sex with, but I did love the boy that got me pregnant. In hindsight I wouldn’t say I was in love. It was that needy, lusty kind of love that teenagers get. He was my boyfriend at the time, and I knew I was pregnant early on, before he broke up with me. When I told him I was pregnant, he didn’t believe me. He humiliated me in front of his friends, and I decided I would just go it alone. I realize how little this makes sense, but I was 14 with the image of an unwanted licked cupcake, my Mormon guilt, and a trailer park full of teenagers calling me a slut. I hid my pregnancy from everyone until it was obvious it wasn’t going away. It was June, and I was almost 8 months along when I told my mom in a mall food court that I was pregnant. After discussing it with my father and bishop, we decided to give the child up for adoption.
This is just a taste of the story, obviously. I was able to balance school and being pregnant because I pretended I wasn’t pregnant at all. There may be a reason I am so good at compartmentalizing…
What would be your advice to the young Brenna if you could go back in time?
Wear a condom. LOL. No, seriously. I would tell her she’s beautiful and smart. To value herself and stop worrying about what others think. I’d let her know it’s all going to work out and to keep dreaming.
Where did it all begin? Where did you grow up and how did you begin your journey to be where you are today?
I was actually born out here in the beautiful NW at an Army Base hospital just south of Tacoma in 1982. We landed in Rockford, IL after my father was discharged from the army when I was about 4 years old. Rockford is a complicated place for me, full of difficult memories, but also some of my fondest. I was always a dreamer. Summers meant laying in the grass or climbing a tree as high as I could and just staring at the sky. I loved my solitude growing up and spent a lot of time alone, which might surprise those who know me now. I was deeply introspective and curious. I have always had a passion for understanding people’s perspectives and the world around me. This led to me studying earth sciences for my associates degree, and later political science for my bachelor’s.
What was growing up in a trailer park for you? And how old were you when you moved out from there?
Growing up in the trailer park meant decay, giving up, poverty. The truth is, when I was younger, our trailer and the neighborhood were pretty nice, but as the years went on, my dad quit working and my mom was out of the house most of the time working two jobs, and the trailer literally fell apart around us. It seemed the neighborhood itself mirrored this decay. The playground and creek where I grew up playing slowly became a place for vandals and drug addicted teens to waste the day.
I never had people who didn’t live in the trailer park over to my house. Once I was a teen, I spent most of the time on the streets until about 16. I left that trailer park when I was 18 and moved into an apartment with my best friend.
Do you have a role model or someone you look up to?
I admire my mom. She is a survivor. We both had to overcome a lot to get where we are today. I am impressed by her optimism and patience. She brightens every situation with her smile and sense of humor.
What is the number one challenge do you find being a working mother? How do you balance it all? Do you ever feel overwhelmed? How do you overcome that feeling?
The biggest challenge for me is boundaries. When I am home, it is very easy to respond to emails or take someone’s request as urgent. I remind myself every day that there are no real emergencies where I work. We’re not working on anything that is mission critical to life on earth. Things can wait until I am not in the middle of cooking dinner or a board game with my family.
Being intentional about my time and planning is essential. When I am spending time with my daughter, I need to be focused on that. Taking time to plan the week and the day is how I stay organized. I get overwhelmed often. I make a lot of lists and make sure to take deep breaths.
What is your morning routine like? Do you like to pre-plan or figure it out as you go?
Step 1: Coffee. :) I have a cup of coffee first, no matter what. Check emails while I sip my cup, then I prepare breakfast, pack lunches, and get ready for work. About 3 days a week before work I get out for a run - after my coffee.
What do you do to zen out or destress?
Dance. I love to go dancing. It’s where I can let go and just be.
Do you have a favorite designer or label you always buy from?
I don’t, but I feel like I have a particular style. I’d like to think its Meryl Streep meets Ilana Glazer… but maybe I’m not that cool.
How about your go to places for brunch, favorite dinner spot and for drinks?
Pettirosso for brunch. Their coffee is my favorite, pastries are beautiful and their food is so flavorful.
I love the cocktails at Quinn’s.
I am a big fan of Ba Bar or Tallulah’s for both drinks and dinner. I live most of my life in and around Cap Hill!
And when or in what context do you feel the sexiest as a woman?
I feel sexiest when I am feeling confident. This can be when I am working a trade show and nailing my pitch, when I am hosting a dinner and everything is going perfectly, or when I am feeling free on the dance floor. Let’s be real, it usually means my outfit and makeup are perfect too.