Self-Care for the Soul with Rawlogy Founder Marek Bowers
Kula community: Marek Bowers, founder of Rawlogy, reached out to me earlier this year through e-mail after discovering Kula at 2 Foot Adventures. We became e-mail friends, and quickly realized that we would both be travelling to Outdoor Retailer (a HUGE trade show for outdoor brands) in the summer. We hatched plans to meet in real life, and a few months later, we found ourselves face to face, surrounded by the 'big brands'... me, with my Kulas in a backpack, and Marek with his balls in a backpack (that literally has a patch on it that says 'Ask Me About My Balls'). There we were: two dreamers in a vast, infinite sea of gear that screams part-intimidation, part-my-company-is-so-small, and part-everything-is-possible all at the same time. Over dinner later that evening, we shared our hopes for the future - our vulnerabilities and fears around this crazy journey of entrepreneurship.
We left that event as friends - a friendship that will no doubt continue for the rest of our lives. Marek is a special kind of person that we should all be so lucky to know - somebody who has truly become the best version of themselves, even when that wasn't necessarily the easy or the most comfortable trail to follow. I'm so proud to consider Marek a friend and I'm looking forward to watching his ball empire of self care continue to spread positivity and intentional care throughout a planet that is definitely in need of a lot of love. I hope that you are just as inspired and touched by Marek's vulnerable story as I was when I read this. - Anastasia Allison, Kula Cloth Founder
Self-Care for the Soul with Rawlogy Founder Marek Bowers
A few weeks ago, I sent Kula Cloth Founder Anastasia Allison an email about writing a guest post for Kula’s blog. My pitch was “Self Care for the Trail,” which felt like a pretty good fit, since our companies share a similar space in the outdoor industry. Rawlogy’s business is balls—specifically lightweight, sustainable, eco-conscious cork balls for self-massage on the trail. Anastasia and I have talked at-length about our niche in the industry, and we both agree that our companies’ products (1) help people care for their bodies; (2) responsibly promote a positive environmental impact; and (3) are really fun to talk about because you can never have enough potty humor and ball jokes.
As I was thinking through all suggestions I had for rolling-out with a massage ball on a hike, it occurred to me that I don’t really want to write about products today (potential consequence: this might be the first and last post Anastasia ever lets me write for Kula). What I really want to write about is how self-care starts with the soul. I believe that the mind and body are connected, and that self-care is a holistic experience: one where physical pain is also felt emotionally, and emotional pain can manifest in physical ways.
You see, I founded Rawlogy because I’m an expert in pain—not the kind of expert who has an MD, MPT, MSPT, DPT, PhD, etc. after his name—but the kind of expert who knows how much it hurts to be human. The kind of expert who has tried to avoid pain his entire life by either ignoring it or by finding distractions so he doesn’t have to suffer. Much like Anastasia described in this blog post, I too moved through life making decisions based on whether or not they were “responsible” and “stable.” I also kept score and constantly thought about “leveling up.”
My “success” checklist looked something like this:
✓ Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from top-tier school
✓ Big corporate job(s) with steady paycheck, 401K and health insurance
✓ 11 year relationship with another successful human
✓ 2 beautiful kids
✓ Nice house in Southern California
Me in 2004: Proud on the Outside, Messy on the Inside
Life looked great on the outside! In fact, my partner and I were known as the “lesbian power couple” of our friend circle. But, I was crumbling on the inside, and I didn’t know why. I had the life that everyone admired. Everyone, but me, that is. I felt so much pain on the inside, and yet, I had no idea what was causing it. I didn’t know how to “fix it,” so I didn’t try. I just ignored it, numbed myself, and found distractions.
This is when I learned my very first self-care lesson. Let me preface this by saying I’m not a religious person, but I do consider myself spiritual in the sense that I believe everyone has a soul (if you don’t believe in souls, please consider reading Broken Open). My very first soul self-care lesson was this:
The soul knows what it needs and will cry out for it. However, the brain will try its damndest to outthink and silence the cries of the soul.
As I mentioned previously, I was ½ of a “lesbian power couple.” I had lived my life in a female body since birth, but I had known from the age of 5 that my soul was male. I fought so hard to be ok with my female body, but it got to a point where I could not fight what I knew to ultimately be my truth: I was transgender.
Christmas 2001 with My Sisters (That’s Me in the Middle)
Transitioning from female to male was my very first act of self-care. It required strength I never knew I had; yet, it was also the hardest and most spiritually rewarding thing I had ever done, and silenced the cries of the soul temporarily. Around this point in my life, I started backpacking. I didn’t know why at the time, but backpacking felt like true freedom. I felt free to explore a big, vast, natural world with endless beauty and possibilities. The pain was quieted during these trips, but ultimately resurfaced when I returned from them.
And so, even after transitioning, I still had not found the source of my soul-pain. That soul-pain took me through a divorce, several job changes, and the traumatic ending of another long-term relationship. This brings me to my second soul self-care lesson:
There is no amount of money, no job, no vacation, no relocation, no hobby, no relationship, no “other person” who can heal your soul-pain. The journey is your own, as it is an exploration of your depths. With that being said, you can choose to surround yourself with people and experiences who will shine a light for you in your darkness.
Little did I know that the founding of this cottage company called Rawlogy would be MY light. Even though my inspiration for founding Rawlogy was born out of physical pain, it was the concept of self-care for the soul that has brought me closer to the person I was destined to be in this life (yes, I believe in destiny too; sometimes coincidences are a little too coincidental). I have learned how to listen to my pain. How to understand it. How to surrender to it. This surrender has allowed to me let go of control, and to trust that the path before me will unfold in a harmonious way if I follow the whispers of my soul.
And as a true testimonial to this, surrendering myself to my pain has miraculously placed me in the orbits of Kula Cloth, Garage Grown Gear, Unlikely Hikers, Curvy Kili Crew, Nikki Smith, and many other breathtakingly incredible individuals in the last 9 months alone. I have also found solace and compassion in the thru hiker community. My heart wants to explode when I think about the love I have received from hikers who share their PCT, AT and CDT self-care stories with me.
So, this brings me to my third, and last, soul self-care lesson (at least for this post):
The pain in your heart is a trustworthy guide. It is your soul’s way of saying, “this isn’t you.”
It is not a leap to say that your physical pain is also a guide. In Rawlogy roll-out workshops, this is a concept I teach often. It would be amazing to meet each and every one of you at a Rawlogy workshop someday, or even better—on the trail. Until then, I would love to hear from you all and learn about how soul self-care has come up in your own lives. Please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message on Instagram (@rawlogy).
Thank you for making it this far. And I don’t just mean the end of this post. Thank you for making it this far in life and for shining your light on me. We might not know each other, but just the realization that my story might be a tiny part of your story makes my heart sing.
Founder and Chief of Service, Rawlogy