Rewilding Since 1969
I was born in January of 1969, the year the first Concorde test flight was conducted in France, a time when car lovers were introduced to the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, the first man landed on the moon and Woodstock shook the world on a 600 acre dairy farm. It was a wild, bold and daring time to enter life. The bar for exploring was set high and the spirit of that time is a part of who I am.
I was raised in a small Quonset hut in rural Oklahoma, a place where all the old bicycles and mobile homes go to die. My curved-on-top, blocked-on-the-bottom home had one bedroom with a miniature bath and the rest was open concept — another word for simple. There were seven of us huddled in there at one point. We were tiny house dwellers in the 70’s.
Quonset huts were produced by the military during World War ll and surplus was sold to the public. When the Oklahoma dream was to live in a three bedroom, brick, tornado-proof ranch, my funky little home was constructed out of war leftovers. My father and grandfather built and assembled what contained us. Our tiny space was cinder block with a traditional Quonset roof. To this day, anytime I see one...it lights me up inside. I can picture myself, sitting crisscrossed, digging in our front yard with a fork. I slipped and drove the tines halfway into my foot. Afraid I’d get in trouble, I yanked it out and continued to unearth; I was going hard at something!
I still feel everything from this time. Life was not easy, but the whole of my memories feel tender and sweet. As a little girl, I felt brave. As far as I figure, fear is a "fit-in disorder." It grows out of not belonging. Do I belong here? You can apply this to being chased by tigers or being with people who don't honor or respect you. I lived fearless in that home. I was a little girl who dwelled deep within my own skin. I belonged to myself in our metal war structure.
It was under our round-topped roof that I learned to endure pain, witness loss and keep dreaming. I lost a baby brother to crib death, and my big brother moved away when I was six and he never returned. Sadness became a permanent resident. By the time I was seven, my father already had children with four different women. I have all kinds of strange memories that are wildly true. I remember what it felt like to love deeply and loose boldly in our open-concept dwelling.
My mother, my grandmother and a stepmom formed my views of women in the walls of that structure. It was here that my mom slipped away and never returned. She was deeply tired and had an ingenious appetite for being unconventional. I can see her having tea with Jesus and transfiguring into a donkey on our kitchen table. She knew how to make us laugh. She was a funny creature with a wild imagination not meant for this world. I watched her disappear and fade in-and-out from time to time, like a ghost.
“She has Muscular Dystrophy of the mind.” My father said this a million times. It was always both the beginning and the end of conversations about her. It was a made up condition and dad felt it covered the whole of everything when it comes to explanations. So the story goes, my grandfather had trouble walking because of the disease and Mom inherited trouble thinking straight. Growing up with a sick mother is a strange feeling. Something deep inside of me wasn't afraid. It's what I knew. As a mother of two sons, I can’t imagine that kind of life for my boys. I now see how it’s also built them — they’ve inherited their own special kind of magic from my lived journey.
My childhood gave me freedom. Everyone was distracted; I watched over myself. There were no schedules or approaches to anyone teaching me systems. I didn't know then what a miraculous gift my childhood was. I ate wild grapes from the vine, climbed trees, raised chickens and rabbits and learned to disappear into the woods to seek silence. It was in the fields and under trees that I learned to dream my life into reality. Like so many I loved, I knew I would leave here and travel far away someday. I knew it deep in my bones. I did all kinds of exploring as I tore out the only door attached to our little house. I was always going on solo adventures. Somewhere between Jesus, donkey's and so many wives, I understood that rules were made up in the mind of the beholder. It’s one of those…let’s host a music festival at a dairy farm kind-of-reality. There were many parts of my childhood that were damn good and deliciously sweet. There were no chains or parameters. Unbound and free to roam, I can still hear the metal screen door slam shut.
I remember wild Oklahoma storms, the smell of rain and how our dirt road looked on our kitchen floor. Our street and my life brewed a special potion for my imagination. It also dealt a healthy dose of laughter in my college years. When friends play the game, “What’s your stripper name?” I always get the best laughs. If you could win Stripper Name, I'd take it. Our street was my grandmother’s nick name. My grandfather bought the land and named it after her. I was raised on Pole Cat Ave. My lady Polecat was a woman who invested in me. She taught me that I was somebody and I believed her. She always showed up when my mother disappeared. Every little girl needs the memory of importance. Every child needs a Polecat.
I’m amazed by these beautiful and dark feelings and how they render sweetness in my life. Soulful remembrance asks us to forego editing. I try to hold fast to how I arrived where I am now. It's odd how the darkness yields an opening to the light that is needed most.
I believe it is no coincidence that my BADSISTER Studio is a cinder block building with a singular, round-top entrance. One of the first items I purchased after moving into this space was an old, gigantic, metal mailbox. I found it with the number 55 attached to both sides. It’s been a life number. It follows me everywhere. Double five was the first number assigned to me on a team. I’ve always loved it. My flea market find looks exactly like our Pole Cat Ave mailbox from the seventies. My little studio and sacred space is 1,689 miles from my childhood home. I mapped it. If I drove straight through, it would take me one day and 55 minutes. The curve of that old roof is still visible from Google satellite images. You can see the woods, fields and ponds that grew me.
Inside the old mail box is a package addressed to my younger self. It was a daring adventure to be raised in a Quonset hut on Pole Cat Ave. Every time I mail out a BADSISTER product, you will find my logo: an apple, a dove and the number 13. The apple represents wisdom; we are here to learn. The dove represents peace and freedom for a life each of us has been uniquely called to live. The number 13 is a symbol which stands for a very powerful truth; no one defines what we should be afraid of in this lifetime. Sometimes, a story that appears dark and deeply bad, yields genuine beauty. Our logo is a reminder to live wise, fearless and free. It's a formula for creating your own luck. A BADSISTER makes up wild, imaginative rules. She listens to herself.
My passionate little company grew out of remembering where I came from. It’s our goal and mission at BADSISTER to encourage girls and women to wander to discover, worship truth and trust their intuition. Know what’s bred-in-the-bone and trust what’s deep in your guts. Let others misunderstand you and be ok with every ounce of their confusion. Sometimes, with the need to fit in, we work hard at rewriting our story. We push truth out. We edit away what has made us. In the words of Brene Brown, “You can’t selectively numb.” You vanish the magic when you separate out the darkness. You diminish the gift of the light you need most. There is always sweetness in your truth. Follow the path meant for you. Look for clues.
Now, when you read our mission statement and order something from this wild little company, you’ll know my stripper name, a little about what’s important to me and why I walk with a slight limp. Be brave. Take a journey. Travel far. Let your wounds be remembered and your healing run deep. Live an unedited truth. Let them call you BAD.
Kimberly Kyle Gilligan
~BAD Since 1969