You know those people that come into your life and completely turn it upside down but in the best possible way? That’s what it was like meeting Laura Pena, a very talented film maker , speaker and the founder of She Is The Universe. An incredible docu series that’s led Laura to travel around the world interviewing 111 teenage girls. All about their dreams and how the world can better support young girls to achieve those dreams.
It was through She Is The Universe that I first got in contact with Laura, as a beautiful mutual friend of my Mum and Laura’s, Lori was kind enough to suggest me when Laura put up a post asking for Aussie teens she should interview for the series.
Even when I was simply suggested I was gushing to my Mum about what an amazing opportunity it would be, that was true but in so many ways than one. The plan ended up being that Laura would end her Australia trip by staying at my place for 4 days before continuing her travels. Those 4 days turned into 10 of the most fun days I’d had in ages!
Leading up to her staying with us I was really nervous, 2019 broke me both mentally and physically. I was still very unwell at the time. Which is a side of me I NEVER let anyone see but my Mum. I don’t eat around other people, I leave places before I start to feel too sick and I never ever let people see me when I’m in bad pain. I learnt a long time ago that not everyone is comfortable with chronic illness and many become super uncomfortable when faced with the reality of my illness or even speaking about it.
So majority of the time I hide it and I was about to have a complete stranger come into my home/safe space and not be in a position to hide my illness. Looking back I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Laura slotted into my crazy little fam and it was like she had always been here. Meeting Laura and being a part of She Is The Universe helped me to get back a piece of me that had been missing and my creativity that had been blocked for so long. I wanted to share with you some of my favourite memories of that time.
The first day Laura was visiting turned out to be the day I received my diagnosis. She decided to tag along to the appointment and capture some footage for the docu series. Instead she ended up capturing one of the biggest turning points in my life. It was a really special day full of spooky synchronicities, for example Laura wore a zebra dress that day, for those who don’t know zebras/zebra print is used to represent rare conditions. My illness Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is one of the rare disease it represents. It was really special having someone else apart from my Mum being there supporting me and celebrating finally getting answers. Its definitely a memory I will cherish!
NIGHT TIME SHENANIGANS
Some of my favourite memories were of us staying up till 2:00am working on projects, going for night time swims, baking choc chip cookies or making She Is The Universe T-shirts. Majority of the time we would be so delirious by the end of the night, so there was non-stop laughter. Whether over Laura thinking everything in my yard was a snake or me spending 30 minutes making a top to then realize the whole design was upside-down and back the front.
CREATING MY LOGO & VIDEO
You may have noticed recently that I have a new header for my blog and if you have been to my about page you would see an amazing intro video. In the first few days Laura was visiting my creativity started to come back, I started scribbling out a design idea for an official logo for JustSoElina. Laura saw it and helped me to take it from a little scribble to a whole branding setup that I LOVE. Each day I got to learn something new and I soaked it all up, I discovered a whole new passion I never realised I had. Laura is also the creator of my intro video, I asked if she could help me to create my own. And she ended up surprising me and creating a video that managed to incorporate everything in my life and what I do with my blog.
HELPING WITH AN INTERVIEW
I was lucky enough to get to help out Laura with another video featuring a teen in my local area. I got the opportunity to ask her questions for the interview, suggest B roll (the extra footage captured to enhance the video) and learn how Laura creates her videos. Getting to be there and hear the girls story reminded me how impactful EVERYONES story is and how much you can learn from one another.
GETTING TO WORK WITH LAURA
By far one of the best things that came from that time was the opportunity to get to work with Laura on She Is The Universe. I can’t work a normal ”high school job” because of my illness and for the first time I don’t care. I’ve got the best ever first job getting to work with the most incredible and fun boss. It doesn’t matter if Im sick one week and can’t do anything, I can just pick back up where I left off when I’m feeling better. One of the best bits is getting to see She Is The Universe grow and know I had even the tiniest part in that.
FILMING FOR THE SERIES
When we first called to see about me getting to be a part of the series, Laura asked me what my dream was. Man did i look like a deer in the headlights, before I got really sick I wanted to be a journalist and before my accident a horsemanship teacher. But I didn’t want that anymore, I didn’t have a dream job. Instead I had an aspect of people’s lives Fwanted to make a difference in. When I was asked that question again whilst filming I explained that I wanted to help youth facing situations no teen should have to face like illness, family troubles and other adverse situations. I didn’t know yet how I would do it yet, but I had small steps I was taking each day towards that goal. She told me that I had a lot more figured out than I thought. And reminded me that it’s ok not to have everything figured out right now. Seeing what Laura was doing with She Is The Universe and the journey that led her to become a filmmaker was really inspiring. I could see how everything in her life had led her to this moment in time. And it gave me a sense of faith that life would do the same for me.
HER IMPACT ON OTHERS
Recently Lara started doing weekly calls with girls around the world. She wanted to provide support and a safe space during all the craziness currently going on with the virus. Each week there is a co-host that speaks about a topic that the call is then centred around. We have had dealing with being in isolation and toxic versus positive nostalgia which I spoke about. We have had goal setting and gratitude and this week we focused on what you want to make a difference in. I’ve seen the calls continue to grow each week and an incredible community develop through it. This week all of us girls got together in a group chat and planned a surprise for Laura’s birthday. We made signs describing what we love most about Laura and held them up whilst singing Happy Birthday. I’ve never gotten to be a part of anything like that before, it was definitely a super special moment in time.
That is why I love She Is The Universe and Laura so much. Both are changing so many people‘s lives including my own.
If you want to become a part of the community you can register for the zoom calls here: http://www.sheistheuniverse.org/communitycalls
As well as check out the incredible docu series episodes currently up that started all of this: https://youtu.be/SmNi7yiY4Ws
Thank you Laura for being a shining light in the lives of everyone around you xx