I wanted to give you a deeper understanding of how I came to do the work of making these talismans and, more importantly, how I came to know that you are infinitely braver and stronger than you know. If you haven’t yet, and would like to, read from the beginning of my story, starting with Makers Gonna Make.
I was delicately strong
I have such a hard time revisiting this part of the story. It is easy to brush over the painful bits when you’ve finally climbed out and cleaned up and gotten on with the living. Looking back, I see this as a place where I was finding my voice, finding my authenticity, but I was still fragile. Not nearly as fragile as when i’d just come out of the hospital, but still… I was delicately strong. The concrete foundation that I was working so hard to stand on was still a little wet and unformed. I could feel the molecules starting to join hands and solidify, but it was still in process. Ok, let’s get on with the story (she types while taking a deep breath).
The best thing I learned from the Suburban Outlaw years was that by turning inward and asking ourselves, “what do WE want to wear?” “what do WE want to represent?” a unique creation came that carried our message in a really meaningful way.
We set up at Texas Antiques Week, in Round Top, Texas twice a year. Those two weeks each spring and fall became how I measured time. “How long has it been?” and “how long until I get back?” there were constant questions in my mind. That space, that place and the other people who gathered there were a big fucking deep breath of acceptance.
I was acceptance-dehydrated and Round Top was the oasis.
I wore what felt good, I ate what felt good, I laughed and talked with people about all sorts of things, I learned about history and myself through the junk and treasures. Most of the vendors were living life outside that white picket fence. They were carving their own path to happiness, were super passionate about what they were creating and held no judgement of themselves about it. Divinely sent role models for a gal like me.
Having two weeks, twice a year, where I felt real and unjudged made the other 48 weeks of the year feel heavy. But each time I came back from Texas, I brought more of my spirit back with me and each time I was less apologetic about it. My children deserved to know the real me. I was narrowing the gap between Outlaw Jen, as i was lovingly referred to in Texas, and Home Jen and was finally feeling that concrete set.
Within two years, we had amassed quite a following of brave, spirited humans. Our message was reaching people and sparking a fire within them. Our customers included Miranda Lambert, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw! I couldn’t believe it, we were building a name for ourselves.
Just when I thought we were about to crest the mountain, the bottom fell out, again...
A trip to the bank after a nasty fight with the other Outlaw showed me that all the money we’d made was gone. A look at PayPal showed the same thing. She took it all. She took the inventory and the money. My business and my nearly solid identity were gone.
Overnight, I went from owning a company that meant the whole world to me, to being heartbroken and so truly alone.
I had intertwined the success of the business so tightly with my self-worth and identity that both were shattered.
I shared my pain and the truth of this nightmare with my children because I now believe the best way to prepare them for their own trials in life is to let them see how to stand up after getting knocked on your ass. We sat together and talked and cried. I took odd jobs and kept food and hugs and warmth at the house. It was a big stumble back, but I was able to stand up more quickly because of the work I'd done unearthing my damn spine. We forged ahead.
They were so proud of the Suburban Outlaws. My oldest still talks about it from time to time, what we did, the new trails we forged. As young as they were, they knew I was trying to do it differently and cheered me on. That makes it feel worth it.
Life is not easy, folks. People are gonna disappoint you, deeply. You’re gonna disappoint yourself!
But you get up, dust off and keep on keepin’ on.
my story continues
I'm going to keep sharing my story with you. If you'd like to start from the beginning, read Makers Gonna Make (or hit Jenni's Story in the tag list on the right side of the main blog page) and come visit the blog to hear more of my story in the coming weeks.