Better

Life is hard. These days, everything feels heavy.
Our country, our world, is divided right now. I’m so tired of it. We are happier and healthier when we are full of joy and love and when we connect with those around us. We are stronger together.
This is not to say we should ignore the bad-no. We should be angry and fighting and working hard. But some days, we need to rest. We need to fill up our cups so we can be there for others. Put our own oxygen masks on first.
In an attempt to bring some light and love into our world I am starting a new series called Better. Each Friday you will find a post here with ten things that are making my world, our world, just a bit better.
Ten things making life better this week.
1. This Book. Scott Harrison is incredibly inspiring, 100% of the author’s net proceeds from Thirst will go to fund charity: water projects around the world.
2. This Podcast. Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig are hilarious, intelligent women just trying to make you laugh. This week? They talk about the time they got too high and watched Planet Earth II- just writing about it is making me smile.
3. This instagram. Thomas Middleditch is so hilarious I don’t know what to do about it. Scroll though his instagram for videos that are so weird they’re guaranteed to make you giggle.
4. These jeans. I’ve worn these jeans four times this week and they make me so happy. I have realized that skinny jeans are my worst night mare so I have let them go from my life. Hello “boyfriend” jeans- which is really just a term for jeans with real pockets that don’t squeeze all your lady parts and thighs to death.
5. This baby. LISTEN. My little chickens makes me so darn happy. Please feel free to stare at pictures of him, or of your kiddos or loved ones. Turn off the TV, close all the apps, look at your people. Look at pictures of them, pick up the phone to call them. It’s so tempting when we pick up our phones to open Instagram, Facebook or another app. Call someone you love instead. Stare at your little ones, your loved ones. If you don’t have someone you want to stare at or call? Do something today that will get you one step closer to finding your people.
6. These food pouches.  Sometimes, mama needs a break. Sometimes mama doesn’t want to steam more pears or sweet potatoes or beets. For those times, these wonderful pouches are full of the good stuff. Most store bought baby foods (even the organic ones) have hidden sugars. “Apple puree”? Yeah, that’s just another word for sugar. These pouches can be found in the dairy/refrigerated section of your local Kroger- or online. With different varieties for babies, toddlers, and kids. (Thank you Auntie Rochelle for finding them.)
7. This Ted Talk. Laughter connects us. In a time where I want to know more about what brings us together than what drives us apart? This is too wonderful.
8. This yogi. Anne Evers is 97, vegan, and a yogi. She’s still growing, learning and working to make our world better for the people coming after her. The world needs more Anne’s. Also, she inspired me to get my butt back on the mat.
9. This relationship podcast. Days are short. Life is full. Weekly reminders to love my partner are necessary. Rachel and Dave Hollis remember to love each other well. I bring all of their advice into my relationship because my husband is my very best friend and I want to invest in him and love him well. We can have exceptional relationships even when life is full.
10. This phone accessory. I fought the Popsocket for a long time y’all, but I have tiny hands and it’s so darn convenient. If you have a large phone these puppies are worth it. They also have a Popsocket stand so you can situate your phone in your car- “insert praise hands”.
That’s all for this week y’all.
My new company has a beautiful tradition of starting each morning with a thought of the day, today’s thought? “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.” Erik Erikson
More soon,
Bonnie Rae xx

Becoming

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It’s almost October. Here in Virginia the weather is getting crisp and rainy. Fall will always be my favorite time of year. The cold makes me feel like I can breathe. I can wrap myself in sweaters and jackets, they make me feel protected and less vulnerable. More prepared for what is to come that day. I feel simultaneously more awake and alive, and yet cozy and protected.
I am in the middle of a big transition, as sure as the change in season. Very soon, I will leave my current position in student affairs and step into a brand new role with a company that I can’t stop raving about. I’m leaving the known and stepping into a new challenge. A few months ago, if you told me I would be entering an entirely new career with excitement and challenge, a place with a fast paced environment, established culture and yearning for relentless excellence- I would have called you a liar.
That’s not who I saw myself as. I’m the quiet, happy, contented girl that wanted to work in the same place forever. I told myself over and over again that I was okay with complacency, that comfort was my most important value. I lied over and over again to myself repeating the phrase, “I’m not good enough for more, I don’t deserve it.” We all do it. We have roughly 70,000 thoughts a day that play on a loop- for many of us? Those repeated words are, “You’re not good enough.”
I’m here to tell you that you are. You are so much more than you think. You are a child of the universe and the stars. You are made of love and light. That imagined ideal self you have always wanted to be? You have everything you need to become her. If you live in a privileged enough country to have choice then you have everything you need.
I used to tell myself that I was not that “go-getter” type. I told myself that I hated blazers and that anyone who was constantly reaching for more was greedy, or came from money, or some other lie that excused my complacency.
I think slow living and simple living have been mixed up and confused with laziness or living a life that is quiet or less than. Slow living is about being present in every moment you can. Being mindful enough to stop and play with your little one, noticing the sun coming through the leaves on the gravel road, sitting for five minutes to really smell and love and enjoy your herbal tea.
Slow living is not an excuse to not live your life. You can live intentionally, environmentally and slowly while still being a total bad ass.
When I picture my ideal self, the Bonnie I want to become I see myself in great boot cut jeans, a comfy sweater and a Patagonia winter coat, vegan work boots- taking Miles and our two other children around our farm sanctuary. We’re greeting the animals and feeding and loving on them. The ideal Bonnie is effortless and kind, she does not judge others- she uplifts and sees the best in everyone. 
She is a warrior for Mother Earth, she is zero-waste and off-grid. She is hard working and sought after. People ask for her to speak at conventions about how you can save animals and the earth and be rich enough to travel, run the sanctuary, and care for friends and family. Money is awesome and supports my happiness and goals.
Ideal Bonnie puts her children and husband above all things- they are the great loves of my life. Ideal Bonnie hikes and camps every week. She’s outdoors more than she is in. I have a great team that cares for the sanctuary when we’re away.
I am on my way to becoming this Bonnie because I stopped telling myself I wasn’t good enough. I stopped repeating the lie that I am a quiet caretaker that exists solely as a support for other people. The world has told women for too damn long that we can’t strive for more. We can, and we are.
Take the time you spend tearing yourself apart and start telling yourself you are good enough. The universe is waiting for you. I promise if you believe in you, and you remind yourself every single day about the ideal, about the person you have always wanted to be- you will get there.
Change is scary and uncomfortable and your brain is going to work really hard to make you feel like you’re doing the wrong thing. At the first sign of challenge or failure we want to retreat back to where it’s safe, but safe doesn’t mean good. Comfort is not progress. Have the courage to try. 
Let go of other people’s expectations for your life. Don’t allow your fear to cloud out every thing you’re doing so right. You’re already doing better than you think.
More soon,
Bonnie Rae xx
More:
This Podcast
This Blog
This Book

Rising

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“First the breaking, then the rising.” Glennon Doyle
I used to tell myself a whole bunch of lies. I had this vision of who I was, an immovable personality structure that influenced everything. My partnerships, friendships, familial relationships, and how I moved through the world were in orbit around who I thought I was. I was fixed, learning and growing sure, but learning and growing as a particular person. A representative that was poised and polished and traditionally beautiful, and I would send her out into the world.
Who I was (my most secret, true, and honest self) was tucked away. Still there, always there, listening but not participating. My real self was too much for the world. Too emotional, loud, brave, wild, opinionated, sexual, passionate, angry, awake, happy and big- the world doesn’t like big and bold and passionate girls and women- so I continued to send my representative out into the world.
She smiled and waved, cared and loved, had good times and bad times. She lived well, but when she came home at the end of the day, in the quiet and truth, she was so tired. My true self would pat her on the head and thank her for getting us through another day in this world that doesn’t like brave, wild girls.
My representative isn’t here anymore. Slowly but surely over the past few years she has been unraveling. Each blow to my representative, to who I though I was, who I thought I should be, gave way to the real me hiding underneath. As I allowed pieces of the forward facing me to fall away, it would leave a spot for my truest, deepest self to step into the light. Graduate school, losing my dad, coming out, finding my life partner, having my beautiful baby, transitioning jobs, listening to podcasts, reading books, having conversations with amazing, real people- all separate moments, smaller parts of a greater whole.
The universe was speaking to me, asking the question, “Who are you when all else falls away?” That is, after all, who we really are. At the end of things, after this beautiful, brutal life- we’re all that’s left. The me that’s here now? Inside and out? I like her. I really like her. Love her even. I love who I have become, who I am becoming- I’m not done.
Small change over time becomes big change. What lies are you telling yourself? What is your representative telling the world about you that isn’t true deep in your heart, in your gut. Our representatives protect us, they keep us safe in times when we need them- I don’t need mine anymore.
I like it too much out here, in the light.
More soon,
Bonnie Rae
Some of the things that brought me here:
Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis
You Are a Badass at Making Money – Jen Sincero
Rise Together Podcast – Rachel & Dave Hollis
Love Warrior – Glennon Doyle
And to my people, you know who you are – Thank you.

Bodies

Disclaimer: This post is very personal, I hope it will be honored and respected. Trigger warning for references to sexual assault.
“Women are enculturated to be uncomfortable most of the time. And to ignore their discomfort.”
I consider this post to be a part II to my Me Too post, if you haven’t read that one yet it will give my current thoughts and writings more context.
In the past few weeks I have read Like a Mother by Angela Garbes, listened to the Podcast episode of Bodies called “Sex Hurts”, read “The Female Price of Male Pleasure” and talked with countless women through Instagram message, text and phone about how comfortable the world is with women being uncomfortable.
We, as a culture, do not consider women’s bodies. We do not think about, study, understand or consider biological realities of women. To exemplify and personalize this reality, here’s my story.
I grew up with a strong mama. A mama that taught me self love, waiting for sex until I was old enough to understand it, and honoring myself and other women always.
What my mama was unable to teach me about was pleasure. Taking time to discover what is pleasurable, what feels good and right physically, is not granted to women. My mama was not taught. She like all the other women before her was taught that sex is shameful, and then when you’re in a marriage it’s not shameful because you’re giving something to your partner. We’re always giving of ourselves aren’t we?
This isn’t what the world tells little boys. Boys are encouraged to explore their pleasure. Male masturbation is a part of our culture. It’s normal, it’s exemplified, it’s in every movie or TV show I’ve ever seen. Women’s masturbation? Oh no no we don’t talk about that, how could we?
Back to my story. Even though my mama wasn’t taught about healthy sex or women’s pleasure (because so few women are) she did a wonderful job teaching me about my body and to love it. But my mama’s words and love couldn’t overtake the patriarchy. Our world, our taboos, our gender “norms”- they were too strong. High school and boys and friends told me I was nothing if I didn’t have a boyfriend. How could I be worth anything if I didn’t have a crush or wasn’t attached to a man?
And so I made them up. I pretended I had attractions to various boys in my school. I “dated” the same boy from kindergarten to about 6th grade and I hated it. Nothing tied me to him except the pressure to like someone, to have a boyfriend. Boyfriends kept you safe. They legitimized you and made you popular. I have a visceral memory of everyday after school when my then boyfriend would expect a kiss before I went home. We would stand there for almost an hour with me moving away from him and trying to get out of it but I wasn’t allowed. I was his girlfriend after all, he was owed this.
I felt sick after. I didn’t want to kiss boys. I wanted to read and write and be the weird, awkward 13 year old I was at home, where I was safe. I fantasized  about a different life out in some distant countryside where I wouldn’t have to wear makeup or bras or talk to anyone. I could live an Emily Dickinson style life where I wore white floaty dresses and didn’t have to pretend. I could just write and read and breathe and live, but that was not an option for me. The world didn’t like that. 
Eventually, puberty hit and I did have some interest in boys. I also had the biggest crush on a girl a year ahead of me. I didn’t know it was a crush at the time, I wasn’t comfortable with my bisexuality. I was interested in boys too so how could I like girls? Sexuality wasn’t seen as fluid then, it was one or the other and I picked the more socially acceptable one.
Then started the succession of boys not listening to me. Boys that weren’t okay with just kissing. Boys that demanded more and if I gave less they took it anyway. My pleasure was derived from being desired.  I did not consider what I wanted, I only thought about how much pleasure I could give them. And they accepted this because the world told us both that this was the only way. I thought it was okay to always put myself second, and so did they.
This pattern repeated itself through high school, through college, through grad school. Then I met my now husband. Before we were intimate together for the first time he asked a simple, “Are we doing this?” He asked for my consent. I had never been asked before, I nodded vigorously and proceeded to have the first mutually pleasurable sexual experience of my life.
As our relationship continued and the honeymoon phase of our relationship passed, I became angry. My partner no longer desired me every waking moment, so what did he want? How could he want me for anything other than my body? If I wasn’t physically desirable then what was I?
I was a self-proclaimed feminist and strong willed woman, but the patriarchy was louder than I was. I listened to the world when it told me I was an object. Thankfully, Chase combated this notion at every turn. It almost broke us. Daily he had to remind me that I wasn’t just a body to him, I was so much more. I was funny, and weird, intelligent, and kind- I was everything he ever wanted.
I finally listened, and then I fell pregnant with Miles. My body went and did something so big and beautiful and wonderful that I could no longer deny it’s beauty, it’s worth, it’s biological needs and wants. It took an amazing, patient, loving partner and the most beautiful little boy to teach me that my body was mine. That I am not supposed to ignore my thoughts, my feelings. My wants and my discomforts. 
“I wish we lived in a world that encouraged women to attend to their bodies’ pain signals instead of powering through like endurance champs. It would be grand if women (and men) were taught to consider a woman’s pain abnormal; better still if we understood a woman’s discomfort to be reason enough to cut a man’s pleasure short.”
“Talking details is hard, and it’s good we’re finally starting to. But next time we’re inclined to wonder why a woman didn’t immediately register and fix her own discomfort, we might wonder why we spent the preceding decades instructing her to override the signals we now blame her for not recognizing.”
And don’t even get me started on what our society does to mothers, I’ll save that for next time.
More soon,
Bonnie Rae
The Podcast “Bodies”
The Book “Like a Mother”
The Article “The Female Price of Male Pleasure”