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The return...

Hi.

It’s me.


If you’ve been around for a while you know I disappear from social media (if I ever show up) a LOT.


If you’ve been here for longer than a minute…you know it’s partially because I really love LIVING life 110% in the moment.


Not going through the motions in an attempt to share later online.


Or even better, having a lifetime of photos no one will ever see. Precious memories for myself alone and the ones I care about the most, ready to fill up photo albums and scrapbooks to look back on one day. Remembering the feeling of that experience. The people, places, emotions, the beauty or pain involved—not the number of likes or comments it might or might not have incurred. 


Sometimes this disappearing act I do is a “good thing” and sometimes (like when you own a business!) it can be considered “bad” or “not being present” for the industry and empire you might have built. 


But I am here to tell you, life is soo much more beautiful and fulfilling when you’re truly living it. Social media isn’t everything, and the best and most important things in life have a habit of becoming magnified when you focus on them, rather than this virtual world. It doesn’t mean everything posted is created to sell, scheme or shame others who might be watching, but sometimes it feels like a lot of the “humanity” escapes human connection through social media. 


It doesn’t mean I don’t cherish the positive side of these apps or the amazing connections I’ve made and lasting friendships. It just means, sometimes…it’s okay to step away and quiet “the noise” we have become so used to in this modern age. 


Okay, so it’s been a while.


It sort of feels like I’ve been saying that a lot over these last two years! But it’s true. 


Unlike most of the world, with each passing day I want to be online and “present” on social media less and less. If you ask my family, it’s always been a little like pulling teeth to get me on here, but I’ve felt it even more so while attending grad school.


There’s something really beautiful about privacy.

Less.

The word “no.” 


Choosing what fills your cup instead of emptying it because the world says that will bring joy. 


I tried the “women’s magazine” method of happiness once upon a time. And for me—like I discuss in my book—it only served to steal joy. It didn’t fill me up or unlock the “secret” to happiness. It turns out joy is found in the simple things. At least it is for me. And that’s a lesson I’m grateful for having learned early on.


The difficulty in finding true balance between my “lane” as a musician, creator, student, business owner, cowboy girl and just being a human constantly amazes me…and that exploration has never been conducted perfectly.


However, as I find my footing in my final year as a graduate student, I find myself increasingly more confident in sharing the reality of how I live and what life is like on this side of the mississippi. With one boot in the cowboy world and one firmly in academia.


Truthfully, life has always felt like this. A delightful and delicate balance between worlds.


I am not wholly one thing or another. Never able to be contained within the confines of a box—and that both frustrates and frightens others while simultaneously delighting and disgusting me. It was a little terrifying to realize honestly. 


Because so often it appears others have it “all figured out.” They know just who, and what they are. It seems to come easily from the outside looking in. 


For those of us who have wrestled with these questions, we know it’s not that simple. Straddling worlds and new ways and means to achieve an end only God knows the whole picture of. 

The melding of my worlds didn’t come easily. At first, I sought to obliterate the old to make way for what I thought was the new. 


Instead, as time passed I learned the age old lesson that only experience can provide.


It is always better to simply be as you are.

Imperfectly, and bravely.


Embodying the many facets of your reality with honesty and conviction—even if your voice shakes a little and you are shaking in your custom boots.


It is in that place between fear and truth we make our stand, and there we find ourselves. 


I know I am not alone in the continuing discovery of myself—but it feels like it might be time to share those experiences and stories in a different way. 


For years, I have harnessed the written word, poetry and music to tell the story of the west. Cowboys, cowgirls, weather, livestock, reality and pain. Violence, fear, hope and celebration. 


The beauty of being a cowboy girl is that you are simply unlimited by the world’s shallow perception of who you are when you don a pair of boots.


As a little girl and young woman, I wrote and sang songs like Red Lipped Bronc Stomper, Boots and Pearls and Hands. 

The songs described a young woman’s experiences as someone who has always walked multiple roads and straddled worlds.


In a way, it feels like the experiences here at Georgetown have given me this beautiful gift I never expected.  A way of finding myself walking a path between both roads to give voice to a different kind of song. 


Music, cowboy’in, Dear Cowgirl, Make America Cowboy Again, Georgetown. 


They all twist and wind their way into a life that has no clearly defined lines or boxes, but finally feels like the comfortable melding of old friends. Something that has been waiting for me to slow down long enough to say “there you are, we’ve been waiting.” 


Maybe it comes with experience, age, pain and healing, bravery and fear—or maybe it’s just the quiet accumulation of all into this wild and beautiful ride we call life. 


No matter the reason, the feeling of peace among all the pieces feels is a gift. 


And I hope maybe, just maybe it will remind all the cowboy girls out there of this one beautiful and terrifying fact. It’s something that I have always tried to remind you of—but maybe I didn’t even fully understand it myself until now. 


You do not have to be one thing.

Dear Cowgirl, you are not limited and there is no box too small or challenge too great for you to overcome. 


You are able to be both cowboy girl and mother, academic and artist, scholar and dancer, boss and provided for, feminine and capable, vulnerable yet daring. 


You do not have to be one thing, defined by timelines, cliques or the majority.


You simply must be wholly and completely, you.


You must simply allow yourself to encompass all the beautiful, unique pieces of yourself you may have been too scared to show to the world.  


And to show them boldly. With Grit. With grace. With gusto. 


Maybe you’ve already been living it. Maybe you’ve been waiting for a sign. Either way darling friend, it’s time. 


I hope you go for the big dreams, silence the noise of the modern world now and then, and look for joy in the simple things.


It’s good to be back. I missed you.


xoxo


AB





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