My name is Santana Brown (Simpson) and I grew up in Mission BC with my single mother who just happened to love her booze a LOT! My younger brother was my side kick and occasionally by older sister was around when she wasn't in foster care.
My childhood was less than ideal to say the least. A lot of crazy shit happened when I was young, including being taken from my home and placed into multiple foster care homes with my younger brother. We would run wild some nights (We were no older than 6/7) until way to late, put my mom to bed and keep going on the streets until the wee hours. I would wake up in the morning and help my little brother get ready for school, empty my moms puke bucket then rush to get our shoes on only to miss the damn bus. We then had to have to walk our sorry asses to elementary school 3.2km away according to Google Maps. I mean it wasn't all horrible but the point I'm trying to get across is that is was definitely challenging at best and more than any young child should have to deal with.
I should clarify though that there were good parts also, my mom was doing the absolute best she could and for that I am always grateful. She worked hard to put a roof over our heads and provide for us. I can only imagine what it would be like to raise three young kids on my own and keep my shit together. I often wondered why she didn't just throw in the towel and send us all away. My mom is a strong, beautiful and loving woman in the ways she knows how to be so I don't want to drag her through the mud. We had good years and we had hard years but no matter what I will always thank her for instilling in me the strength of a thousand women. She to this day is one of the strongest woman I know, and I am working my ass off to make sure that my three daughters grow up with the strength and perseverance of a million women.
So fast forward to my early teens, I was 15 and decided that it would be in my best interest to go live with my older sister. She took me in and cared for me as she had all my life, I was her biggest fan. Like my mom she was also incredibly strong, brave and driven. Nothing could get in her way and she got herself through dental hygiene school, bought her own car and now had an apartment where she was supposed to be living her 20's the way most 20 year old do. Instead she shared a bed with her younger sister and worked her ass off to provide stability for me. I moved in the summer of 2001 and started at Moscrop Secondary School in Burnaby BC that fall. I quickly got my first and my second part time jobs while balancing my grades and teenage drama. I went from straight A's overachiever to barely passing grade 12 while juggling two jobs and busing my way through this foreign city. I cried, I laughed, I got into trouble but in the end I was still as driven as ever to succeed as my sister had. My grad year my sister decided to finally do something for herself and moved to Toronto Ontario to upgrade her dentistry. That meant that at 18 I was off to find my first apartment all on my own. I worked three part time jobs now as a nanny, at Panago Call Center as well as American Eagle until I was saved by a better paying position my English teacher had hooked me up with. I started for TD Bank in Surrey (1h 1/2 commute by bus everyday each way) where I learned very quickly what it was like to have a big girl job. It had it's bumps but I sure grew up fast through those couple of years. I made my rent EVERY month and was never late, I knew that I could do this thing on my own. The fall of 2004 I met Matt and we moved into his studious apartment 6 months later.
Now at this point you're either thinking holly SHIT how did this girl survive or you're thinking hurry up an get to the point already. When I moved in with Matt my whole life changed. We knew we wanted to move to a quieter area and have a home with children. We achieved all of that and MUCH much more together as a team. We were married in 2008 at the beautiful Lone Pine Ranch in Vernon BC, a year later we had our first daughter (Lily, 9) and then quickly started building our first home. Along came our second stunning daughter (Amalia, 7) in September of 2011 and another (Charlotte,5) in January 2014. Shortly there after we purchased HopDawgs (2015) and knew that we would need a bigger space for our growing family and my endless business ideas. Because I don't know when to quit, we quickly started building what is now our forever home that our three amazing daughters will enjoy learning all about farm life. Matt works a full time engineering job (45+ hours a week) in Salmon Arm BC and I am at home doing well everything else. We run a successful home brewing supplies company, take care of three girls,14 goats and 50+ chickens all well holding our shit together. Did I mention I just opened a wellness studio?? Haha Seriously though, we are very very happy and only slightly over worked but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Why am I telling you all this? Why does my childhood have anything to do with where I'm at today? It gives perspective and hope and hopefully strength to thousands of other woman. I feel like from the outside it looks like we have it all, and you know what (hah!)? I am SUPER grateful for our lives, even the hard stuff because it keeps me in check. But I know that I have worked my ASS of for it all. WE have built this life for ourselves, no one else did! That is what I'm getting at, that anyone and everyone is able to make changes and grow and become what they want to be. For fuck sake, I did it despite about a million obstacles telling me I should fail! I was a little girl dreaming BIG dreams and I did it! No one stopped me although they have tried, I pushed through and told the hatters that it would all happen for me one day. I cry and I laugh and I stress about life everyday, but in the end I know that I just need to keep pushing and dreaming because one day I will do big things. The universe has my back, and it has yours as well. Remember that when things are hard and you want to give up, that somewhere there is a little girl with BIG dreams and she is looking up at you wondering what your next move will be. She is watching you intently and soaking it all in. You've got this mama, you've got this shit.
Santana Brown, 33