Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bio-logy

I’ve got some super fun stuff in the works in blog land that I (almost) can’t wait to share with you. Except that I can wait…and should…at least a little bit…so I will.
But in the meantime, I’ve been working on updating my bios on my various social media accounts, which let me just say, is harder than one might think. Are you ready for some #bloggerproblems? See, different platforms have different bio requirements, partially related to character count limits. How do I convey my unique essence in 160 characters, I ask you?! I am a snowflake. A one of a kind creation with complex nuances that can’t be contained by numerical limits. 


OR…
...I’m just really wordy. 


Frankly…I struggle to do anything in 160 characters (Inclusive of writing my name…Courtney Stegmayer Bowden typically fills up alllllll the boxes on a scantron. And two lines on my driver's license). I managed to get my life summarized in 100 words. But it was a struggle. 


So I’m working on culling down my entire personality, likes, dislikes, societal roles, and quirks into a little bite sized chunks for the gnat-like attention span of social media. And I’ve found that telling my whole story in such a small format makes it feel trite. Yes, I’m a wife, mom, and marketer. But is that it? But if I just go with the quirky angle, do people know I’m more than just a cheese head? (And I do mean cheese both literally and figuratively. Man, I love that stuff.) How do you hit on all the pillars of my life, and still have room for the spunk? So it was a challenge for a Susie Talks-a-lot like me, but here’s what I landed on…for now:


wife & mama. worker bee & hustler. 
coke slushie connoisseur & #showyourreal founder.
life enthusiast.




A loud talking, big dreamer of a girl, Passionate about family, Jesus, and living an authentic life (oh..and Coke Zero). ‪#showyourreal


(I also updated the New Here? section of the blog itself. You know…if you’re into that sort of thing.)



Woof…How’s that for a peek behind the curtain on what it takes to be a professional (ha!) blogger? What do you think? Did I capture my own essence? Of if you don't know me enough to be sure...did I pique your interest enough to make you want to find out what I'm all about? 

And does anyone else struggle with writing your own bio? Or is succinct-ity your strong suit? (That should totally be a word, no? But I digress…)
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Bonus bio bits: just because I’m a weirdo, I’ll be tweeting my failed bio drafts, and sad runners-up. Join me for some pure silliness (my specialty).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lighten up it's just fashion

So yeah. I went to school for fashion design. 
And yes, I had five internships working as a designer, product developer, and merchant for various apparel companies. 
And yesssssssss, I worked in specialty retail in visual merchandising for the better part of a decade. (I'm rounding up slightly, but work in retail is like dog years...it all counts as extra).
And beyond that, I do love fashion in a myriad of forms...magazines, branding, street style, shopping, costumes...

But does that mean I'm a fashionista? A fashion plate? A model? A style icon? A fashion blogger?


Heck to the no

(Did I just blow your mind there? Really guys. I'm not a style icon. No matter what anyone has told you. I'll let that sink for a bit. I'm sure it's a shock. Here...I'll give you proof just to make sure we're clear. I call it: style snippets from basically every night of my life.)




Frankly, most days I'd settle for "mostly not frumpy". 
But even if I'm not the most gifted stylist and designer in the world (if for some crazy reason you even have a modicum of doubt, I can assure you, I am not) I technically do know what I'm doing when it comes to this whole fashion thing. I know how to dress myself- correction- I know how I should dress myself, I'm qualified to give style advice on at least a semi-professional level (which I actually did for a while in the form of Closet Crash Course), and I like keeping up with trends/style/general fashion stuff etc. etc.

It's just that my enthusiasm for all things fashion, doesn't exactly always translate into my actual style. As in- the things I buy with my money and spend time putting on in the morning. It's all very- the cobbler's kids don't have any shoes (or whatever the saying is for that strange phenomenon that causes people to neglect their profession when it comes to their personal lives.) I've actually already waxed (not-so) poetically on this already, when I started my foray into style consulting, talking about how I struggle with positioning myself seriously in the realm of fashion, when I am just so very lazy and simplistic with my own choices (Warning: I am unoriginal enough to use the same cobbler analogy, so pretty much any of my self-deprecating humor is well deserved...) I mean, there are a million fashion bloggers out there who are passionate about the whole thing....turning themselves out day after day- in trendy gear, and designer pieces- sharing their love, and talent, with well-lit selfies and perfect detail shots. Dressing well, (and if we're being honest- not being borderline unbearably cheap about clothes) comes naturally to some people...so it kinda makes sense to leave the fashion blogging to them. I may have the head knowledge, and the interest, but I certainly don't literally have the wardrobe to back it up. And my photo posing game? Could use some work


But.....but....


I think it's fun! Fashion is fun. Blogging is fun. Fashion blogging is pretty fun! Sure, I feel like a complete doufus pausing to take a picture of my shoes on the brick street outside my office... And yes, it sometimes takes a full week for me to stumble into an outfit that I deem worthy of sharing.

But...but...


It's fun. 

So I'm going to drop the self doubt (or at least shove it way down deep in my non-designer bag), and just have some fun with you all. I'll try to ignore my cheesy awkward face, and my terrible awkward posing. And you'll have to ignore the fact that I wear a rotating set of a grand total of 3 pairs of shoes. It's just fashion. Sometimes it's cute. Sometimes it's comfy. Sometimes it's inspiring, and sometimes it's just fun to make some goofy gifs. So that's what I'll do.

I played around with the new uber-stylish, and ridiculously fun partypartyapp and took some shots of my outfits this past week. So while they're not all total winners, they're at least real. No dressing up for the sake of a photoshoot just to put on sweats five minutes later. It's more like- dressing kinda up for the sake of my (super fashion-flexible) job, take a quick pic (ignoring the confused stares from my neighbors), and then put on sweats.

Most of my stuff is fairly old and random, so I hesitate to flatter myself with the idea that you'll all be clamoring for purchasing details. But just in case, I'll list the general info here. 
 Vest: Old Navy, Shirt: Urban Outfitters. Ring: from Jamaica.
 Watch: Fossil, Jeans/Necklace/Bracelets: AE. Shoes/Purse: DSW. 

  Shirt/Bracelets/Shoes: AE, Necklace: J.Crew via Ebay, Dress: H&M. 


   Shirt/Belt/Jeans: AE, Shoes: DSW, Necklace: Tiffany & Co. 
Bracelet: my grandmother's from Mexico

   Shirt/Shoes: AE, Scarf: DSW, Dress: Target. Belt/Bracelets: Foever 21.


  Shoes/jeans: AE, Necklace: Tiffany & Co, Shirt: Forever 21.
Sunglasses: Old Navy, Bracelets: Forever21 + my grandmothers from Mexico. 

Check out more of my sartorial silliness in the archives, or on Instagram: #bowdenismstyle 
And please enjoy this bonus song to go with the post title. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bonus Day


Ever feel like there aren’t enough days in the week?

Ha. Dumb question. 

At my previous job we used to joke about adding “Octember” to the calendar in order to get everything done. (Though I’d really actually rather have a “Jugust” or an Augember”...if you have to add another month of work, it might as well be warm out!)

But really, sometimes I wish I could just insert a day into my week to help ease that crammed, rushing from one thing to the next, can never get it all done type feeling. The best part of this bonus day, would be that it would be free from the obligations currently crowding the existing days. (My game…my rules).  Monday-Friday are for working. Saturday is mullet day (you know: a stylish mix of serious errands and party times) and Sunday is the Lord’s. (Well…I at least give him an hour before rushing off to do whatever crucial me things I have on my never ending list.)

Bonus day could be anything. It’s a unicorn of a day- hooved in reality but with a bright sparkly horn of magical possibility. In the land of the bonus day, Outlook email shuts down and childcare is free. I’d tell you the streams flow with Coke Zero, but I don’t want to get carried away. (Unless it’s on a river of Coke Zero. Then I’d gladly use my free day to float merrily down my caffeine-powered way).  Wait…where was I? 

See, Bonus Day would be all the good snippets of your regular week, without all the hassle. I'm not saying it isn't bound by the laws of time and space (wait...maybe I am...) but instead of each day getting piled up with all the things, you could set aside time for a specific set of things, thus leaving regular days a bit more open as well. The tragedy of Monday becomes easier if is isn’t also laundry day, and meal prep day, and grocery shopping day…And Saturdays are more relaxing if you’re not trying to jam all your weekly fun into 12 hours of limited daylight.

Yes. I think the idea of a “Thriday” or maybe a  “Fraterday” (wait…that might be a thing at colleges already. I’m scared to google it) could be just the ticket to that elusive land of Life Balance. 

Some Bonus Days I could use in my world: 

Nap Day- Time to catch up on all the sleep that the regular week doesn’t allow. Mmmmmzzzzzzz.

Errand Day- I know, I know. I should probably dream bigger. But can you imagine the pure bliss of going into any store you want, for however long you want, to buy (and return) anything you want, without having to push a cart full of four little grabby hands in a cart fighting over the soft pretzel you threw in to keep them quiet? Or the ease of loading things into your car without removing a carseat, and/or stacking packages on top of the baby because Dang, that bulk box of diapers is gigantic, but it sho’ is cheap!? Or maybe just the simple pleasure of driving to Target listening to music by Not Raffi, followed by not having to field one billion “What that for? What those do? Why you gettin’ that? I hold it? Whhhhhhhyyyyy?” questions in the ummmm, Feminine Care aisle?

Mind your business. Drink your slushie. 
Oh, some of you can imagine such a thing? And just call that a Saturday? Well then you my friend, must be childless. Please feel free to schedule your bonus as Nap Day. Or as you might call it “Every day”.  

Pool Day- I just wanna sun my buns. Is that so wrong? Ok, not buns really. That would be wrong. Specifically I want a waterproof book, a lazy river with a raft, and access to a slushie machine. Yes….now we’re talking. Picture how much easier Tues-Thurs would be if you knew Pool Day was coming! (P.s. I’d like to point out that I’m at least trying to keep Bonus Day somewhat realistic. Otherwise Pool Day would have been Massage From My Personal Cabana Boy Day.)
Piper is "hiding from the wind". Fin is...trying not to die. 
And I'm just relaxing in my suit. Just another calm day on the water.

Hangover Day- Friday night is fun and all, but it would be a whole lot more fun if it came with the promise of waking up to a greasy spoon breakfast around noon. 

Project Day- I’m not all drinks and naps…(Most. Not all.) I love the chance to be productive too. And imagine the thrill of an entire day for all those “someday” projects that seem to get pushed off in favor of “right now” chores. Bonus Day is someday- and it’s perfect for furniture refinishing, quilting, deck staining, photo editing, or whatever your little DIY heart desires. (I might actually call this Pinterest Day, and work through some of my boards that never seem to budge from the theoretical stage). 
 I think I've got it pretty well narrowed down...

Alright…I should stop before I come up with a whole new week to insert into my week. Maybe we should look into Jugust after all…

What about you? What type of Bonus Day are you craving? Chore Day? Junk Food Binge Day? Puppy Day (you know…a full day of puppy snuggles without the consequences of actually managing a dog throughout the week?) The (imaginary) world is your bonus oyster…

Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Story on a Napkin


Ahhh, Mondays.
Usually said in an Eeyore tone, in a "Somebody's got a case of the..." kind of context.

But I think Mondays should be fun! (Note: should be. Could be...even if a whole lotta them aren't.) So let's take a stab as something fun to start of the week, mmmm'kay?

 A few years ago (um. actually five years ago. Where is my LIFE GOING?!), I wrote about my Cocktail Napkin Life Story. It's kind of like an Elevator Pitch...where you try to sum up your story quickly. This specific challenge limits it to 100 words. 

So since it's been half a decade since I attempted to cull my life down to what can be scrawled on a 4"x4" piece of paper...and since I've done a lot of livin' since then, I thought it'd be fun to give it another shot.
just kidding...sort of... 

Here's what I came up with this time around: 
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Type-A from birth. Possible first words: “I have a better idea”. Learned to channel bossiness into more socially acceptable: ‘driven’. Worked, strived, achieved my way through design school. Met my way better half. Woo’ed him into lifetime commitment. Hustled my way into my dream job. Learned the ups and the downs of having a passionate personality. (hint: SO many, SO much of each). Had a baby.  AKA- Got my world rocked. Realized I didn’t know as much as I thought. Had another baby. Realized knowing you don’t know is half the battle.

Thankful for this adventure. A real-ly lovely adventure. 
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So that's my gist. What about you?
Wanna join the fun? Jot down your story...Literally on a napkin, or in the comments here, or maybe on your blog, or facebook....you get the idea. Just give it a shot. 

And if 100 words is too hard, make up your own rules. Do it in 5. Or 500 (still counts as a napkin story if you write teeeeeeeeny tiny!)

Tag it #lifestoryonanapkin if you want.
Because it's Monday. And Mondays should be a why not!? kind of day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The literal happiest of Fridays to you!

This made me laugh. Literally, out loud.


Found via @theyearofelan
Yes. I follow producers of The Bachelor on Instagram. And now maybe you do too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Show Your Real: Shannon

Patience is a virtue. A virtue I wasn't blessed with, and one I don't seem to be picking up quickly. (wait..I'm impatient to be patient?) But I'm learning. So when I asked Shannon to guest post for Show Your Real ummmm a year ago...I tried to be all zen when she didn't respond to my email. Or my next email. We've partnered a few times before, and always keep up with each other on Instagram (check out her adorable little men! If I believed in arranged marriages, I'd be submitting some applications on behalf of the Bowden ladies...) so I knew that if the timing wasn't right right now, that we'd work it out someday.

And you're in luck...because that day is today! It may have taken us a year or so to get together on this, but oh man is it worth the wait. (and that comes from someone who doesn't think much of anything is worth waiting for). I love what Shannon has to share today, so much so that I decided to post it the day after she sent it over...a week ahead of schedule. It's short, it's honest, it's beautiful.

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Hi, I am Shannon, wife to Mark, momma to Behr (3.5) and Hudson (15 months) and you can find us over on The Scribble Pad. A year ago I transitioned into a dream role and this past Spring I sobbed to the women in my church's moms group about how nothing is how I imagined it would be. Here is a snippet of the story.

If you know the secret to family pictures, please enlighten me!

When Courtney first asked me to participate in Show Your Real (over a year ago!) shortly after my second son was born, I immediately thought, I am not ready, I need to get my act together! And then promptly ignored her email for well, about 12 months.

Are you kidding me? That is the exact reason we write these posts and share these stories. Courtney and I, you and your neighbor and the mom across from you at the park? We are moms on the pendulum swing of work-dinner-kids-husband-dishes-cooking-laundry-kids-lunch-did-we-feed-them-breakfast-work-kids-wait-did-I-forget-about-my-husband?  Life is constantly in motion, the things that are in motion with us might not always look the same, but the motion continues. It doesn't necessarily get easier, just different.

After two and a half years of working outside the home, I transitioned to a totally different role, running an intern housing building, after my second son was born. I am now a work from home mom. Silly me, I thought working from home would mean more time, as if I would magically get extra hours in the day. Without even knowing it, I was looking for easy. Let me tell you, I did not get easy. I relearn this lesson every day. Every day, I am reminding myself there is not an easy out, no easy button. Darn you, Staples commercials.

Instead I got a 20-30 hour a week job with not nearly that much babysitting in my budget. I work with Hudson on my lap jamming his fingers into my calculator. I work with Behr standing on the chair behind me, hanging around my shoulders. I spill whatever I am drinking on everything and my beautiful modern dining table turned desk from ikea is covered in stickers. I work while my kids watch TV, sometimes on beautifully sunny days when we should all be outside, sometimes for so long they fall asleep and then fall off the couch with a thud.

I'm sure I just finished telling them not to poke each other anymore.

There are days we race matchbox cars, I even duct taped a track on my carpet once. We build block towers to knock over and lego towers taller than our heads. We walk to museums in DC, pick up our farm share, and play at splash parks. But for every exciting adventure I share on instagram, there is just as much behind the scenes work going on. But do you really want to see my computer every day?

Motherhood is not about looking for the easy, it is about walking through the difficult and knowing that Christ has called you to this life, and his calling means he has enabled you. Read that again. Christ's calling in your life means he has enabled you. Do you understand what that means? I don't. Well, at least I forget it often. I throw up my hands in exasperation, feeling defeat instead of the gentle tug of growth.

I want to feel the tug of growth and stop letting my own self-wallowing get in the way. Maybe someday I will get there. For now, pass me some legos. I have a tower to build.

To be honest, this is not at all what I was going to write about...but this is what has been on my heart as I think about our week, which already feels impossibly long. I am not sure what is on your heart today, but I hope you are able to be encouraged. I really hope to meet you over social media. Please stop by and say hello!

Blog
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

Can you resist those smiles? I sure can't.
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Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often suface-cy interactions of social media. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me (cjsbowden at gmail dot com).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finley Faces: The Grand Finale

Well....It happened. Again. I had a baby. I blinked. And somehow, that baby was one.

How? Why?!

The truth is, the year both flew by, and dragged on. Should I trot out the old "the days are long, but the years are short" cliche one more time? But seriously. 

I think back to a year ago, and somehow it seems like it was yesterday. Of course I remember every detail of her arrival, and I can still recall the sweet sweaty aroma of her newborn days. There are days from her first few months that I can remember every minute- whether it was a meal on the deck as a family of four, my first time at New Moms Coffee, or the time I thought it would be a good idea to take both kids to the park on my own. (90 degree heat with a newborn and a not-yet-two year old? File under: No, Dummy.)

But other parts are hazy, and feel every bit a year in the past. I look at pictures of Fin from the early days and can hardly believe how little she was, how short her hair was, or how surprised she looked. Now that she's a jabbering, walking, smiling little force of a human, it's hard to fully recall all the earlier versions of her.

She changed drastically, but gradually, so one year is just as easily a minute as it is a lifetime.

So I don't quite know when I fell madly, sweetly and obsessively in love with my sweet baby Fin...It could have been the day she was born, when she smiled for the first time, when she fell asleep on my shoulder for the hundredth time, or any of the infinite moments in between. But it was also most assuredly just yesterday. And this morning. And I'll probably do it again tomorrow.



Because my baby is one. But she's still my baby. And she's a full year of awesome.

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Take a walk down memory lane:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.