Seven Pieces of Advice to be Thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends!

Last year, I wrote a post featuring 15 Reasons to be Thankful for the Little Things — still one of my favorite posts to date. While I am still very thankful for most of those things — I must say, a lot has changed in a year!  A year of GROWTH was no joke — and in the spirit of changes, growth, and moving forward — I thought it would be appropriate to highlight pieces of advice that I couldn’t be more thankful for.  These words of wisdom have really pulled me through in the past few months, brought me up when I was feeling pretty low, and made me remember when I thought I had forgotten.

1.  “You can’t start a new chapter in your life, if you keep rereading the old ones.”

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll probably say it again before the year is complete — but damn!  When I set out for this year to be my year of GROWTH, I had no idea I would be growing THIS much!  The situations that have put me into a whirlwind this year have truly turned my life upside-down, right side up, sideways, and every which way in between. I’ve found myself taking three steps forward and four steps back, time and time again, much to my frustration.  When I went on my soul searching trip to New York in September, I came to this conclusion.  How in the hell am I going to fully move forward, fully start my new chapter (life), if I keep going back to the beginning of the last chapter?  Keep rereading the same story, keep diving deeper into the words and pages — keep trying to make sense of things, searching each line for an answer as to why the chapter has ended.  Instead, I just need to close the chapter, turn the page, keep reading on in the book of life to see what new adventures, new opportunities and experiences lie ahead.  Which leads into my next favorite piece of advice from this year…..

2. “I still love you.” “So love me.”  “I miss you.” “So miss me. Send me love and light every time you think of me, and drop it.” 

Probably one of my favorite parts of the movie (granted, the book was better, but c’mon..) “Eat, Pray, Love.”  It just makes sense and speaks to my soul.  Love me.  Miss me.  Send me love and light every time you think of me.. and then let it go.  We are the creators of our own suffering — We can love LOVE with our whole hearts, we can long for and miss those we care for, but at the end of the day, you are only in control of you and your person.  I can’t make you want to stay.  I can’t make you want to leave.  All I can do is send you love, light, and happy thoughts.  I can remember who we were, where we started, and see where this all ends up.  I can only be here, be present. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst — and then… drop it.

 

3. “Every day is another opportunity to turn it all around.”

I’ve mentioned this before in my Ashley:Reinvented post — and it still pushes me through each day. It coincides with another piece of advice I really enjoy: “There are always options.”  Because, friends… there ARE. I think people make shit way more complicated than it needs to be.  If you don’t like how something is, or how something is going — change it.  Life is too dang short to be miserable all the time — and honestly, this world is too damn beautiful for us to stop searching for rainbows.  Some may say I’m crazy, some may say I’m naive or bright-eyed, bushy-tailed — immature, inexperienced, too optimistic — I’d rather be all of those things than a wet blanket who is too close-minded to see that every moment is a gift, an opportunity, an experience, a fork in the road of life that could lead to possibility.  Which path are you taking?  Are you happy? “Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I fail, but everyday is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity.”

4. “QTIP — Quit Taking It Personal.” 

This has always been one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given — and I’m so thankful for it, although I find it difficult to adhere to sometimes.  I’m a typical type-A person — I take things to heart because I give a shit, and I want to be as perfect as possible.  I want to be the best. I hold myself to a very high standard of expectations, and when I fall short, or if someone doesn’t like it — it can destroy me.  Its a constant practice for me — to quit taking things personal. To relinquish the false control. At the end of the day, you can only “do you,” and everything else is garbage.  Imagine how much time you would have if you stopped worrying about what others were thinking/saying or quit taking things personal?

5. “Go on a date.. with YOURSELF.”

When going through a tough time, many people will advise you to “take time for yourself” or to “figure out what makes YOU happy.”  This concept is very simple to me, however, when you have spent so much of your life with another person — the thought of being “alone” or being “by yourself” is a little daunting. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself saying that I’m unsure of who I am, what I like, or what I want to do. So, in the spirit of “finding yourself,” I decided I would take try to be more cognizant of my time — and be sure to MAKE time for me.  We get so wrapped up in our “roles:” mother, daughter, sister, wife/ex-wife/girlfriend, friend, business owner, writer, grown-up — that sometimes we forget who we actually are.  Who am I? Well, I’m Ashley.  A-s-h-l-e-y. I like fresh flowers, folky music with amazing lyrics, long runs, and red balloons.  I like picnics, Mango Black Tea Lemonade, handwritten notes, and feeling with my whole heart — even if it hurts sometimes.  One of the best days I’ve had lately was spent just sitting by a lake. No muss, no fuss. Just enjoying a moment with.. me. Just me. Me, myself, I. Getting to know ME a little bit better. Taking MYSELF out on a date. Finding the “dolce far niente.” If you can’t enjoy a moment or go on a date with YOURSELF, who the hell else would want to do it with you?  At the end of the day, you are all you have, so you might as well enjoy yourself.

6. Additionally, “Make a playdate with your own kid.” 

A few weeks back, my girlfriend Angelica and I had a girly date — where we drank wine, ate cheese, and create vision boards.  It was SO therapeutic, and I will most likely write an entire post on this experience and the different things I put on my board.  I’ve felt like a lost, chaotic mess lately — creating this vision board and looking at it every morning really helps me put things into perspective and get back on the right path.

Ugh… so, let’s get real..

One of the biggest pieces on my board is a headline Angelica cut from a magazine and gave to me.  It read, “Go on a playdate with your own kid.”  Even typing that out makes my heart sink and I feel like crumbling into a million pieces.  This couldn’t speak more true to my current state in life.  I’ve become so… busy.  I’m working full-time, am a single mom, and I own a company that focuses on creating a village of moms who go on playdates with each other and encourage moms to do workouts with their children in tow.  Except, I’m the owner — the instructor..  and my baby goes to school all day so I can have time to do these workouts and playdates, so I can then finish workouts with these moms and rush to work, where I watch other children.  I wake up my daughter at 6:30AM, she’s in school from 7AM-6:45PM, I take her home, we do dinner/bath/story, and then she goes to bed.  And, then on the weekends, she is with her dad, so again I can work or get errands done during the day that I can’t get done throughout the week.  I know I’m doing all these things for her and our life together, but man.. I just want to have a playdate with my OWN kid. I want to just enjoy moments with her that aren’t rushed from place to place.  She’s growing up so fast — the last thing in the world I want is to blink and realize all these days I spent worrying about doing this and that, being there for everyone else — they don’t matter, because what really matters is Ella Grey, and enjoying every single second with her, and making each moment count. She’ll be big before I know it — she already is.

 

7. “The days are long, but the years are short.”

100%, friends. Ever find yourself saying things like “Dang, it’s ONLY 3PM? Jeez..” only to then find yourself saying, “Holy crap, it’s already the end of November? Where has the year gone?!” I’m noticing it more and more the older I get.  I remember growing up wishing my life away, saying things like, “Man, I can’t wait until I’m 16 and can drive!” Now, I’m closing in on 30 and I’m seriously starting to wonder where the hell the past few years went.  Putting it even more into perspective, think of where you were this time last year.  How are you different?  How are you the same?  Are you still thankful for the same things?  Did you add or subtract from that list?  It might seem cliche, it might be an overused adage that many people roll their eyes at, but guys.. it’s true.  Now is the time, the time is now.  We don’t know if we will be here tomorrow.  When you find yourself complaining that the day is taking so long, remember.. the days are long, but the years.. they are SO short.  There are no do overs and some things just aren’t going to happen. It is a little sad but you just have to embrace what is — and make the steps to change it, modify it, accept it, live it, love it.

My favorite author, Gretchen Rubin, wrote in her book “Happier at Home” this quote.. and it speaks to my soul: “I am living my real life, this is it. Now is now, and if I waited to be happier, waited to have fun, waited to do the things that I know I ought to do, I might never get the chance.”

 

What are some of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received?  Anything that sticks out that has truly impacted your life, or made you look at things a little differently?  Drop me a comment below and let me know — I’d love to hear about it.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!  I am, and will be, forever grateful for you.

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IRON-inspired and the birth of #IRONMOM

At the end of October, I was lucky enough to join Brian on his first IRONMAN 70.3 race.  It has always been a future goal of mine to one day be “fit enough” to compete in an IRONMAN, ideally doing a full 140.6.  I remember years and years ago watching footage from one of the races in Hawaii and being glued to the TV, cheering on these incredible athletes from a distance — so you can imagine my excitement when I got the opportunity to drive to Miami to cheer on one of my own!

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We arrived in Miami on Saturday, the day before the race, so we could go through bike check-in and packet pick-up.  When we pulled into the city, parked, and started walking our way to the IRONMAN Village — you could just feel the energy.  There were bikes everywhere — really REALLY nice road bikes I’m sure cost thousands of dollars.  Most of the people I saw had a mixture of nerves, determination, and excitement on their faces.  There was this… buzz.. it’s hard to describe or explain, but I can say it was contagious.  After about 5 minutes of looking around, I leaned over to Brian and said, “Ok, so.. what are the chances of me being able to actually jump into this race with you?!”  I was more than half serious — but given the fact I had ZERO training time, no bike with me, no gear, and c’mon, let’s be real.. I’d probably drown in the bay during the swim — I knew it just wasn’t possible.  At that moment, I pushed away my inner competitive (amateur) athlete and decided I was going to be the BEST FREAKING CHEERLEADER EVER.  Whatever B needed, whatever I could do — I was going to be at every transition, I was going to be consistently updating social to let our family and friends know how he was doing.  Team BA, all the way!

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After we checked in, parked the bike in the lot, browsed through some of the booths in the Village, we made our way back to the hotel, went for a swim, and then decided to head to South Beach for a “carbo-load” dinner — PASTA!  I’m sure I was an annoying little girl talking about her schoolyard crush when it came to that evening, everything was IRONMAN, IRONMAN, IRONMAN. Little did I know, my schoolyard crush was going to grow into a full blown “love at first sight” the next morning. But first, REST — and by rest, I mean Brian rested — I made use of the hotel gym and ran a good 5 miles on the treadmill and did some strength training.  Too much energy — and 5AM would hurt me if I didn’t get some training in to wear myself out.

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Oh, and 5AM — there you were!  It was early, but like a kid on Christmas morning, we were both PUMPED (although I think my cheerleader spirit kicked in a little too early.. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement). The “buzz” and energy we felt the day before was x100000000 that morning — everyone was in their swim gear, ready to jump in the water and swim 1.2 miles, then bike 56 miles, and finally run 13.1 miles.  As the announcers prepared everyone for the start, B and I sat by the water and watched the sunrise.

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And then, before we knew it..  B was off and in the water.

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img_0983I wanted to time it out perfectly — Brian and I are very analytical and time-oriented people.  We both discussed that in training, he was completing the swim in roughly 48 minutes or so, give or take.  I knew that around the 45 minute mark, I wanted to be near the transition area to catch him running by as he made his way out of thewater and running toward getting his bike. And I made it, able to cheer him on as he ran.  Cheerleader – 1. I knew it would pretty much take him 3-5 minutes to get all of his gear on and out the gate to start on the ride, so I ran (yes, RAN) all the way around the blocked area, climbed over and scaled some walls (kinda), and caught him just as he was clipping in.  Cheerleader – 2.  The bike was going to take longer than the swim (naturally), so I figured I had a good 4 hours to kill — so I jumped into the Village, shook some hands and kissed some babies — and had the birth of a brilliant idea, which I will get into a little later.

img_0993After about 4 hours I made my way down to the transition area where most people start their 13.1 mile run.  Running is my favorite, so watching these incredible people who just SWAM 1.2 miles and RODE 56 miles begin a half marathon — whoa. Talk about chills and goosebumps!  Talk about #FITSPIRATION.  And then, there he was.  Smiling. My heart fluttered. Cheerleader – 3. He said he got two flat tires on the ride, and ended up riding the last 5 miles on a flat.  Brutal!  But, he was feeling great and that smile… pretty phenomenal.  TOTALLY #IRONinspired.

Brian had huge goals for this race, but the biggest one was to finish in under 8 hours to have a qualifying time. I was anxiously waiting at the finish line for him, as I watched to clock tick closer and closer to 8 hours.  I started to worry a little — was he okay? Is he hurt? How will I know if he’s okay?  I was watching loved ones around me cheering their athletes on, and it was so amazing.  All of these people, all doing the same intense physical challenge — all of these cheerleaders, just like me, cheering them on.  So much pride, so much unity, so much energy.. it was infectious.  People were cheering, crying, hugging, loving, and were just so… happy.

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And then, there he was.

He swam, he cycled, he got two flat tires, he ran his little tail off, and somehow, someway — he finished in 7 hours 57 minutes.  I was so proud of him, like seriously brought tears to my eyes.  I couldn’t stop smiling. I just kept saying to him, “Whoa, dude! You just FINISHED 70.3 MILES, consecutively, of a freaking super intense challenge!!”  You are a rockstar.  You are an inspiration.  You.. are.. you are just incredible. I hope you know that. 🙂

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7 hours, 57 minutes — and this pretty freaking sweet medal.  He was tired, but not too tired to take me out to a burger place that evening (and for the record, I totally failed and got a vegetarian burger at a burger place.. what was I thinking? It wasn’t terrible, but damn — I should’ve decided to be a normal omnivore that night).  What’s even more sweet? The next morning, before driving home — B took me to a soulCYCLE class — because he knows how much I love it.  Cheerleaders get treats, too!

 

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I chatted with SO many people about IRONMAN while Brian was biking.  I was learning more and more — and started to have questions I never thought of before — why do you need a special bike for racing?  How many IRONMAN competitions are there? There are different levels of racing — even a kids race?!  If you were to travel to a race that isn’t in driving distance, is there a way to properly ship your bike?  WHOA, THEY MAKE SPECIAL CASES?!  How do you find out all of this stuff if you are just starting out?!

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I am no extreme athlete — I am competitive, but I compete not for placement but for fun.  Running is my favorite but I could be stronger, biking is super fun but I could be faster, and swimming — whoa, I need some serious help!  What I do know I am is… real.  And, I’m a work in progress, starting and made from scratch.  What if, I start to document my own journey as I become and IRON(wo)MAN and become an inspiration to those people who are sitting there doubting whether or not they could actually do this.  Be the example.  Set the example.  It’s what I preach everyday to my clients — and in the process continue to remind myself.

And so, #IRONMOM has been born.  I will be documenting my tri-training journey from the ground up.  Covering everything from proper gear to training days, from picking the right race to purchasing the right bike — I want you guys to be there with me from the start!  So, stay tuned, friends!  IRONMAN Fall 2017 will be here before we know it!

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