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“Good” and “Bad” are Incomplete Stories, So I Hear

“Good” and “Bad” are incomplete stories we tell ourselves…

I read that somewhere in my Feedly and it completely resonated with me in this particular space in my life. Someone on Facebook asked people to summarize their 2017 year in one word and mine was CONFLICT. But then that feels like a lie and a truth (all at the same time.) When I think of 2017, I struggle to associate positive feelings with it, though I know that there were plenty of amazing things sprinkled in throughout.

So maybe 2017 was a total beast in some ways. SO was the year before that and the year before that, honestly. Wait. When was the last good year I had???

My brain doesn’t do well at focusing on the good, but as I work on wrapping this year up,  I’m trying to create habit in being more reflective about my experiences.

I spent the bulk of this year heavily buried in running and building a women’s clothing business – an extension of the work that I did in 2016. There is so much positive and negative all rolled up into my feelings about my work from this year. Negative because at times it felt ALL-consuming. I struggled with establishing boundaries in various ways, work was so flexible that it felt like it was always bleeding into my personal life, and I was so consumed with being successful that the downward and upward swings that go with being an entrepreneur became really hard for my brain to endure.

I ultimately closed down my business this year, for a  myriad of reasons, most of them not actually related to everything from above, but I did accomplish some really amazingly POSITIVE things this year within that business.

I ran a legitimately successful business, y’all, and that just feels amazing to me. I may not have been a baller, but it gave me confidence and an understanding in myself that I can seriously do whatever the fuck I want, and as long as I put myself into it – I’ll see results. I explored the femme side of myself through fashion this year, and while I may never be so tapped into her again, it was fun while it lasted and I so enjoyed that more feminine side of my beauty. Plus, I spent more focused time on fundraising projects, made some awesome new friendships, built a community that will endure past the death of my business, and plenty more – like my newly acquired boss modeling skills. 😛

This was THE best year of friendships. Really. As awful as my experiences this fall were, the one beautiful thing that came out of it was having the neccessary need to lean IN to my friendships and feel completely loved, and I will never take that for granted. I know some really amazing fucking people.

Not to be outdone, it was an amazing year of friendships for the kiddos too. It’s been a positive experience, as their mother, to watch them grow into relationships with people, and learn how to navigate those. If there is one thing I’m doing well, it’s socializing those kids.

We moved into a new house. Notably one of the worst things to ever happen to me is all wrapped up into moving into this house. We packed up our home in 4 days under conditions of duress, put everything in storage and then lived temporarily with friends while we tried to secure a long-term place to live. How we ended up here doesn’t matter now though – we are home. This neighborhood and house make me happy.

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy having older children? The increased independence is changing our homeschool in good ways. 2017 was big push towards focusing on the basics at home and outsourcing for everything else, and it opened the door for the kids to step into some fabulous classes, workshops, extracurriculars and trips. I’m steering in new directions for 2018, and that’s what I love so much about this lifestyle of our’s. We do with it what we need to for each phase of our lives.

This year I’ve been courageous and terrified. I’ve been daring and I’ve been weak. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. Maybe a better word for this year would be VULNERABILITY. That is perhaps more accurate. Though there is pain, anxiety and discomfort in vulnerability, there is also this amazing beauty to having your layers peeled away and seeing yourself and letting others see it too.

I showed up this year, and it has made me realize in earnest that I’m not someone to fuck with, ok? Bring it 2018.

 

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The Emotional Baggage That Comes When Running From Narcissists

It’s heavily on my mind tonight, toxic relationships and all the emotional baggage that goes along with making the conscious choice to do better for yourself and your family. I’m only newly exploring life through this lens of healing and grief on the other side of making a huge, life-altering choice. Through this process I’m realizing some things that I seem to need to keep continually reminding myself.

Positive affirmations for myself that maybe will help offer clarity for others that are struggling with this too. There are so many of us. I’m realizing this as I have more personal and candid conversations with people about what we’ve been dealing with in our personal lives. It amazes me that even within my small pool of friendships that it appears to be a chronic problem – people suffering at the hands of narcissists.

People they love. People they feel intricately linked and indebted to – obligated in continuing their relationships. And it’s hard, y’all. So hard. Doesn’t it feel easier to just keep taking it, whatever that means in any given situation, because to stand up for yourself is so damn hard and it opens up a host of all new problems??

I hope that a few years from now, when I’m further away from my current situation, that I might be a fountain of inspiration and positivity for those trying to get out of unpleasant circumstances, but for now… I waffle daily. I feel the hardness of it all. I wonder if it was worth it to stand up for myself and my family. Should I have just kept taking it? Should I cave now and continue forward within our destructive cycle? Would that be easier?

So these are the things I feel like I NEED to keep telling myself…

  1. This isn’t your fault. Well, it’s 100% my fault that I have completely removed the toxic relationships poisoning my life. But I mean this in the greater sense of the fact that I didn’t/don’t deserve everything that is happening to me just because I stopped playing by the rules that were established by the people trying to control my life.
  2. There is NOTHING wrong with standing up for yourself and making healthy choices. Even when society/friends/family don’t understand them. They don’t understand them because they’ve never been put in a position to even have to consider the possibility of the reality that you’re living.
  3. Things WILL get better. This is something I’m taking on good faith from talking with people that have been here and done that. Because I’m not at all to the point that I feel better. Things will be/are REALLY REALLY hard, but I try to keep it in perspective that I’m setting an example for my children now that they should never tolerate someone treating them horribly just because they’ve been made to feel like they are required to in the name of family or love or whatever other bullshit gets thrown at them. If I should grow up to be a manipulative, toxic person that is causing my children anxiety & pain – I don’t want them to even hesitate in kicking my ass to the curb.
  4. You are not responsible for the feelings of the person/people that have been mistreating you. Narcissists are chronic gaslighters and they will not waver in their attempts to ignite guilt in you for making the choice to defend/protect yourself or your family. They will continually shift blame and they don’t actually have the capacity to be introspective and acknowledge that they’ve done anything that would have contributed to you nipping this cycle in the bud.

I’ve been fairly quiet about what’s been happening in public forums, and only our closest friends and family know what’s happened. I’ve made excuse, after excuse, to myself about WHY it’s been necessary. I don’t want to seem petty. I don’t want to make things worse. I don’t want to ruin people’s reputations. I don’t want, I don’t want, I don’t want… There’s so much fear here. If I stand up stronger, then what will the blow back be? How will I suffer?

I really haven’t wanted – any of this shit. And yet it’s still following me. It doesn’t end. And in the midst of all my excuses I somehow lost the fact that what I’ve really been doing is protecting and enabling these people. People that are doing bad things, and in doing that I’m allowing them to control the narrative of my story.

That ends now.

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Happy Easter! – A Day Late ;)

We had a wonderful day of Easter fun yesterday. As usual, my mama fed my belly GOOD for lunch, and the kids got to hunt for eggs at her house. Then, once we got home, we cooked out on the grill and played the rest of our day away.

Isn’t he gorgeous??!! I can’t believe how grown up he is now; he looked so slick in his suit.

She was real serious about finding some eggs. 😉

I had to bribe the kids by setting the four-wheeler on the “fast” setting to get them to stop long enough to take our family Easter picture.

Some pre-bed-time silliness, courtesy of their Nana. Hilarious.

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Sell ALL the Things!

Spring is here! It has put me in a happy and productive place; a place where I am tearing through my house like a crazy woman trying to sell EVERYTHING I own. I keep taking things into my garage, pricing them, and organizing them into boxes. Everywhere I turn, I see something else. Don’t need this! I will sell it!

This is what happens when you read self-help books about simplifying your life, then add in amazing weather that has you opening the back door and all the windows. I’ve caught the Spring cleaning bug.You would think that my house would be starting to look less cluttered, yet it isn’t. Hopefully I won’t be able to say the same thing six weeks from now when I am having, what I declare will be, one HUGE ASS yard sale.

This weekend, other than exhausting myself by going all Tasmanian devil on my house, we took a family trip to the zoo. This was mostly a fun excursion, if you ignore: a grumpy ass husband, and Haden throwing himself on the ground, scrapping the crap out of his elbow, which he then cried about for  30 minutes.

The parakeet house is, by far, one of our favorites! The kids love feeding the birds.

AWWW!!! Sibling LOVE!

Looks like Cheeky is communicating telepathically with the sheep. Haden asked why they don’t cut the sheep’s hair. 🙂 I think he will be happy when we visit Oak Hill Farm next month to see sheep sheering, among other things.

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Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree!

We survived Christmas! It was fun but a little exhausting. Good times were had and the tears we kept to a minimum so I am calling it a Christmas success! For Christmas, Michael and I bought ourselves a much needed new camera &  consequently we ended up taking a ton of pictures, which I very loving put in a slideshow for you. 😉

The music is from She and Him – A Very She and Him Christmas. You just have to love Zooey Deschanel’s voice.

 

Bowden Family Christmas 2011 from Mike Bowden on Vimeo.