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Hi there.

I'm Kristen Bowles. I'm a 30-year corporate employee, a really good wife and dog mom (so I'm told), a Cubs fan, and a self-help aficionado. I love t-shirts, country music, words, summertime, my herb garden, good food, and handmade anything. I'm working a creative side hustle and on the road to my next act as a full-hustle artist, designer, writer and creative entrepreneur. 

Pondering Acres is my joint.

A place I call home.

Home is my favorite place in the world. It's a space  I share with my wonderful husband, Bob, and my sweet and neurotic dogs, Stella and Cash. Home is where I make art and relax and play and now, since the COVID 19 pandemic, it's where I work at my traditional job (not as an artist, exactly, but still good work). Home is where I ponder…what matters most, how to be better, and where to go next.

house continuous line drawing

A side hustle, for now.

Pondering Acres is a hobby business that gives me a creative outlet and a little walkin' around money. It's this spot of the digital universe where I write about art making and life making and the pursuit of better. It's where I sell handmade goods and self-led courses (coming soon!).  It's the lead up to my next act as a full hustle creative.

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A mindset, for always.

Days fueled by gratitude, curiosity, and intention. It's taken half my life and dozens of self-help books, but I've finally realized that you don't find joy in having all the things or knowing all the answers. The day-to-day habits,  actions, experiments, experiences, connections—that's the stuff that makes a good life.

light bulb creativity symbol continuous line drawing
Kristen Bowles, sitting, smiling, and looking to her left

How it started

Pondering Acres [Farm] was established in 2016. It was the year the Cubs won the World Series (yeah!!!), the year Americans elected Donald Trump as president (what!?!), and the year I turned 50 (%&*#!). I wouldn't call it a mid-life crisis, exactly, but a time for reflection—for pondering—about the regrets and the wins of the past, the day-to-day routines and challenges of the present, and the potential change and rewards of the future (c'mon retirement!).

Bob and I pondered how we might live a simpler, healthier, happier, and more rewarding life. After sifting through oodles of ideas, most of them impractical (buying a vineyard in Iowa or running a smoothie shack in Hawaii, to name two) and others just plain bad (starting a farm from scratch in the arid Utah hills, to name the worst of the worst), we decided to stay put, start small, and make the most of what we already had.

We turned our home the city into a tiny urban farm. Bob did his best to make spaces for growing in the specs of sunshine not blocked by decades-old maple trees scattered across our fifth of an acre. I planted, harvested, and dried bushels of herbs, learned about their health, healing, and cleaning benefits (the science and the folklore), and started concocting all-natural, herb- infused soap. I even gained a few fans by selling at local shops. This little hobby business scratched my creative itch. It also resulted in a lovely yard and garden, and gave us something to do that was fun and personally rewarding.

As I thought more about what I truly wanted to do with the rest of my life, I kept coming back to what matters most. Years ago (and many times since) I went through an exercise to name my core values and it came down to these four things: health, learning, creativity, and authenticity. It’s not that everything else falls to the wayside. Of course, I value family and friends and kindness and service and nature and a hundred other things. But good health, continuous learning, creative work, and being real always matter most. Health, because when it’s good, everything else in your life is better (and when it’s bad, everything else in your life is worse). Learning, because it’s the path that leads to better. Creativity, because it brings joy and solves problems. Authenticity, because I've never been any good at being something other than what I am. (Trust me, I tried.)

I also thought about the age-old question, “if I could be anything or do anything I wanted to make a living, what would it be?” The answer is, and always has been, an artist. Being an artist was never a realistic option, because you know, artists are starving and temperamental and don’t have a 401k and all that. Plus, only people born with natural talent can be artists, right? Not necessarily.

Kristen Bowles, sitting, smiling, looking straight at ya

How it's going

After years of consuming self-help advice—by researchers and business leaders and artists and others—the message is clear: I am an artist. I can make a life as a creative. All I need is a goal and a good plan. And then I need to consistently follow that plan. No. Big. Deal.

So here I am, vulnerable as hell, taking anyone who's interested along on this  journey... to Create every day, to live Life with intention, and to get a little Better.

Not only must we
be good, but
we must also be
good for something.

Henry David Thoreau

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