Person To Love Hard: Briana Hicks

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Briana Hicks is an amazing mama to 19-month-old Luca.  She is a fierce animal lover, a world traveler, a protective and loving wife, daughter, and sister, and a ridiculously stunning model and commercial actress.

She was my first friend in LA.

Intimidating?  You bet your ass.

But under that stunning exterior is the softest, kindest heart and most generous and compassionate soul.

She’s one of those people that’s so nice you can’t help but love them even though your initial instinct is to be so jealous that your brain explodes into a thousand little green envy monsters.

Read on… you’ll love her.

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admin-ajax (2)What do you love hard?

I love this planet really freaking hard.

I love my family really hard…that’s obvious.

I love nature so hard.

I love my kid really hard.

I love my husband really hard…well, sometimes soft…hah!

I love the people in my life really hard… because I don’t have a lot of people, so the people that I have, it’s a real relationship.

 

admin-ajax (2)Walk me through where you are in your life now, when you knew what you wanted to do, and what brought you to this point?  

I grew up traveling all over the US and overseas and being around different cultures.

That was so ingrained in me.  When I graduated high school I immediately felt like I needed to get out and see what’s happening in the world.  To see what’s going on with other people.

I just remember everyone was kind of doing the same thing, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I just knew that my path was somehow going to be different from the people around me.

I most certainly didn’t fantasize about being a model, or even know what a commercial audition was.

I just came out to California and saw how diverse everyone was, and how diverse the landscape was, and I felt really, really free.

When you’re 18 you don’t really know what you want to do.  I just knew that I was going to be paying for college and if it was going to be on me, on my dime,  I wanted to be there because I KNEW why I wanted to be there… and I just didn’t.

I happened to get thrown into this crazy job that allowed me to travel and to have freedom.

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I moved out here at 18 with no money and not knowing a soul.

I lived in a maid’s quarters.

Like, a maid’s quarters that had a padlock as a lock on the outside.  I had to walk through their laundry room to get to my room, and I had an air mattress and a cardboard box with a sheet over it that was my side table, and a tiny little fridge.

And I was the happiest I’d ever been.

None of that mattered.

I think it’s interesting how you get older and you complicate so many things.

I had a tiny carry on suitcase and no money and it was before debit cards so I would go and get cash out to get gas.

I still always think about that moment in time and how free I felt and how happy I felt with literally nothing…

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I remember having little goals.

I’d always wanted to travel, so maybe one day I’ll travel to a new place every year…

Or maybe one day I don’t have to lay on somebody’s couch and I can have my own apartment…

Maybe one day I could buy my own house…

It’s really cool to have seen that through.

Even though I’m still not sure what it is I’m totally meant to do, I feel super grateful that the path I’m on has led me to have so many different experiences, to try different things, and to have that kind of freedom.

 

admin-ajax (2) What life experiences have helped to shape you, and what’s had the biggest influence?

The trip that we took, when we went to Thailand and decided last minute.  

(In 2004, we walked by a travel agency, saw a photo for Thailand, walked in, bought tickets for the next week, flew a friend out from NYC to go with us, and left…not knowing where we were staying or what we were doing.)

I had traveled with my family growing up but I’d never gone by myself,  so that trip really changed me.

I remember coming back and thinking I don’t look at anything the same.  

That started my thirst to explore.

Whatever that means…whether it’s to another part of LA or another country.  Ever since then, I don’t ever NOT have the travel bug. That will never go away.  

It’s so funny because now I’m like “OK, we gotta figure out where we’re staying, we gotta know what we’re doing”.  The thought of us buying tickets two weeks before we left to go somewhere and not having any idea … being youthful in that way…there’s no way now.

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It’s hard.  You get older.  You go through things.  

When you go through tragedy or hard things in your life, a little bit of the child is sucked out of you and I constantly think about wanting to get it back.  

I don’t wish to be younger, ever again.  I don’t wish to be 21, but I do wish to have that sense of freedom.

Not freedom in the sense of no kids or no marriage, but freedom in my mind….that kind of passion and spontaneity.

I do love getting older, but I constantly check in with young Briana and think, how would she be in this situation?  

Who wants to totally grow up?  

No. No way.

 

admin-ajax (2)Where do you live now and where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

Oh man…that’s hard because it changes a lot.

I live in Los Angeles, CA which is a fantastic place to live because I was at the beach two weekends ago and I was in the snow this weekend.  We can do that here.

I fantasize all the time about living in an A-frame cabin or a tiny house in Astoria, Oregon.

I’ve never actually been to Oregon, it’s on my list, but I like the idea of a cold beach.  I know that everybody likes to go to the beach when it’s sunny, but I’m the opposite.  If I can get to a beach when it’s just rained and no one is there…nothing makes me happier.

If I could live on the beach, have a lot of greenery and a shit ton of animals, my kid running around and getting super dirty in a really simple, small home with only the things I love and cherish and not a bunch of other things….just simple, simple living, fresh air…that’s everything.

 

admin-ajax (2)I know you lived all over the world, if there a place you lived or visited that was particularly special or inspiring?

I lived in Germany for two years from ages 7-9.

I’m so grateful that I had the experience to live overseas and travel a lot, but as a kid, you don’t appreciate it at all… you hate it.  

Everyone wants to be that person who grows up with the same group of people and all go to high school together and I don’t know what that’s like.

Germany is one of my most vivid childhood memories.  Everything from the local ice cream truck and the kind of treats they have there to the beer lady who would sell kids beer on the side of the road…you could literally walk down and buy your mom or dad beer from the beer lady… to the different type of food.  

I experienced vast cultural differences growing up, from Augusta, Georgia to Germany, with all different types of people.

You’re forced to make new friends and be outgoing so I really feel like it made me well- rounded.   I’m pretty confident that I could be around any group or type of people and not necessarily fit in but at least be able to understand people.

 

admin-ajax (2)What gives you inspiration and when you feel low what do you do to reawaken it?

It’s 1000% nature.

 If I feel depleted in any sense- mentally, depressed, uninspired in life in general- I get away from people and out into nature and it’s incredible how much that fills me up.

I think it’s so easy to have a disconnect from this earth in our day to day lives being around technology all the time.

I never want to get tired….it sounds so cheesy and silly, but I never want to get tired of seeing an amazing sunset.  

I never get tired of seeing animals in the wild like they’re supposed to be.  

Nothing excites me more.

Whenever I think about where I want to move it’s always about what kind of nature I’m going to be surrounded by.

That’s the only thing I ever think about.

Oh, there are no jobs there?  Oh well! There’s a really awesome mountain range.

 

admin-ajax (2)What makes you feel like you can fly?

The support of my family.

Because I think that I can be pretty hard on myself and often times not believe in myself.  

Mike (my husband) always says “You believe in everyone else so hard, and you don’t give yourself that kind of support.” and I definitely am guilty of that.

I have such a wonderful husband and family that believe in me when I don’t.  

It sucks, I want to be able to have that kind of confidence come from within…but I’m so grateful that I get it from my people.

 

admin-ajax (2)How do you feel like your creativity manifests itself?

Always in the space I’m in.

I don’t sit down and think oh, I’m gonna paint a picture.  I can get crafty, but mostly it’s that I have an eye for things.  

I get inspired by other people’s creativity.  

And the way that it manifests is always in my home and in my space.  Decorating.  Finding new art or rethinking the way the setup of my home is, or traveling and taking photos seeing how that influences my home.  

I spend a lot of time at home so I want to feel inspired by the space that I live in.  

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Also taking pictures.  

Before we had these instant pictures with Iphones I always had a camera in my purse.  

Capturing a moment in a photo.  

I’m almost annoying to the point that I have to say OK put the camera down and be present in this moment because there are certain things that you really can’t capture in a camera.  

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The last couple years I’ve been on an editing mission with my life in so many ways.  

Not necessarily people….the circle is small and I love the people in it so much, but I only want to have things around me that I truly love.  

As you get older, the less and less time you have, and you just want everything around you to be valuable.

 

admin-ajax (2)Do you have any advice on how to stay to creative?

I think checking in with yourself.

This is something that I do.  

Being in LA can be really …this place is really inspiring, but usually after a couple months I feel a need to check out for a few days, pull back from the day to day routine, and explore.  Not always a three day trip, it could just be exploring a new neighborhood.  

I’m always looking up new places to go, new AirBNBs, or new road trips.  

Constantly exploring new things.

The research part of it gets me so excited even if I know I can’t go.  

 

admin-ajax (2)Are there any rituals or habits that you do to feed your soul?  And what’s the hardest part of self care?

Well, the hardest part is not feeling guilty.

Being a mother you give yourself constantly, all day…and whether it’s society or people around you, you’re kind of taught to put everything else first but you.  

And it’s obviously a simple concept but if you don’t take care of you, nobody’s gonna get the best version of you.  

I learned that very early on, especially after having a baby.  I remember after he was first born and I had family in town and I was like, I’m gonna go take a bath for an hour.   Removing myself and watching something on my Ipad in the bath by myself for an hour rejuvenated me and I could come back and be such a better person than I was an hour ago.  

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Also, yoga.  

It’s funny, I had resisted doing that for so long…for years!  

That’s something that, not only gave me my strength back physically after having a baby, but mentally.  

A solid hour where I don’t have to belong to anyone but myself.

And the feeling after coming back, that I can do everything I need to do so much better when I’ve taken care of myself.

 

admin-ajax (2)Do you ask for help? 

It’s very hard for me.

I don’t know why that is.  

I probably don’t do it as much as I should.  I think, I’m learning to be better at it especially with raising a child without having family around.  What do you have if you don’t have that village?  

I have grown and can put myself out there a little bit more and ask for a friend to come over for an hour.  

Most people are waiting for you to ask.

We sometimes have it in our head that we are this big burden, and know that we can do a lot so we constantly think well, what’s one more thing….I can take it on!  

And a person can only do so much before they completely wear out.  

That’s been a big lesson for me.  

I’ve always been the person to be there for others and not ask for help…motherhood has definitely forced me to rethink the way I view that.

 

admin-ajax (2)How do you think motherhood changed you?

Do we have an hour?  

It’s changed me in so many ways.  I don’t remember my life before my kid.

I don’t.  I really, really don’t.  

It’s taught me I’m not in control of a lot of things, I’m just not.  Which has been a hard one to learn because I like to try to control everything in my life.  

It’s pushed me to be the best version of myself which….we don’t always do that everyday.  

We’re not always the best.  

But if you don’t want to show up for yourself…you look at that little person…and you have to show up for them.   

He forces me to really be there and be present.  

He’s just changed everything.  

I see everything through a kid’s eyes…which is the coolest.  I get more excited about his little miniature kitchen and pots and pans that he does because I think about how much I wanted that as a kid and that I get to play with him and give him the things that I didn’t have as a kid.  It’s just the best thing.  

It really is just the best thing…and the hardest thing.

He’s everything.  

Every little thing I do, I think of him.  

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It’s interesting having a kid a little older.  We’re 30, and we’ve only had to think about ourselves and our spouses.  

We’ve been able to live sort of selfishly, and it has been hard because you think that when you have the kid that would immediately turn off.  

It doesn’t.  

You still have desires, and that’s OK it, it’s just…what’s more important is different.

 

admin-ajax (2)I’m scared that, once he’s here, I’m not going to have any identity again, ever…Do you feel like that?  

(I was very. very. very. pregnant at the time of this interview.)

YEAH.

I’ve always been afraid of losing my identity.  

Even just in a marriage.  

You still have to have your own things, your own desires, your own time and I didn’t know how it would be having a kid.  

It goes back to checking in with yourself.  As women, we multi-task, we do so much.  You give your all to your husband, you give your all to your kid…you give a lot away and at times that can leave you feeling empty.

Work has never been  a major part of my identity but I’ve always been super independent.  

Sitting around was really really hard for me even though I know I’m taking care of a human.

I always felt like I should have been doing more.  

And it’s probably a great thing that I was sitting down.  As you know from bedrest, it’s really freaking hard to not get out and do things, but it forces you to really be in the moment or explore other things you love to do.  

Having an hour to have a bath and zone out, reading a book, going to yoga…if that’s the most I can get to separate myself from kid-land for a bit and check in with myself, then I’m grateful for that because it really does make me feel normal.  

Whatever normal is.  

Because once you’re mom…you’re mom.  

There’s no going back from that.  And it’s fantastic…but that’s the crazy thing, you’re someone’s mom FOREVER.

 

admin-ajax (2)How do you give back?  Charity/volunteering/friends/family?

Before my son, I volunteered with Earth Angels and that became a huge part of my life.

This year having a child has been my everything so I’m really looking forward to getting back into it.  

There’s nothing I look forward to more than having him involved in that from such a young age.  

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I feel like you get older and your relationships change.  

Not for the worse, but everyone has their own lives and things they’re doing.

I always try to be the friend that checks in.  

Maybe I can’t give in other ways by being present physically, but I always try to check in with people.  A little text or phone call…something.

I don’t always need to only talk about my kid.  I want people to know that I care very much about whats going on in their life and those things are important to me.

It doesn’t seem like that much, shooting over a text, but if there’s nothing else I can do but let someone know that I’m thinking about them, then it is a way I feel like I give and stay present in my relationships.

 

admin-ajax (2)What is love and friendship to you…how do you feel love and how to do you show it?

Love and friendship…it’s everything to me.

I love people really hard.  

My family…we’ve always been so close because it was always just us and we were always in close contact.  

For my mom to check in with me, we sometimes talk everyday, that means so much to me.  

Not so much what someone can do for me or if they show up.  I’ve never got hurt feelings if someone can’t make it to something, I’ve always been really understanding in that way.

But when you get a message from someone out of nowhere that they’re thinking of you or something reminded them of you… just those little things that to me, mean so much. It’s a natural thing for me to do that to others.  

It’s crazy how some simple things can really mean a whole lot of love.

 

admin-ajax (2)Is there anything you want to add?

I’m so proud of you for doing this blog.

On top of everything else that you have going on.  It’s so fantastic and I’m so excited and we are going to have so many other conversations about weird body shit and I’m so glad that I’ve been, hopefully, a touch stone in this whole process for you and I can continue to be.

I remember being pregnant and feeling so alone and isolated and super emotional.  And I remember feeling like – I can’t wait to be there for somebody in this way because it’s huge. It’s the biggest moment in your life and to have support and friends is just, everything.

It’s everything.



It is everything.

(And extra poignant for me on that particular day, in that moment… since I had just gone into labor without realizing it.)

And you’re still that person, Bri.  So unbelievably supportive and empathetic…I don’t know what I would have done without your friendship and advice this past year and a half!

Here’s to raising wild, kind, compassionate and curious boys.

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For more Briana, follow her in Instagram at briana_hicks

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