Ashley and the Tale of Insomnia

Nights are always the most challenging.

It seems like lately I can’t sleep. Maybe it’s too much energy.. maybe it’s too many things on my mind.. maybe I need a therapist.

Maybe it’s the universe playing tricks on me because I used to get so upset that you never came to bed and would stay up all hours of the night.

And now, here I am.

I’m all out of sorts because I don’t quite know what to make of this new… habit? Is that even the right classification? My mind just starts spinning and circling around all the thoughts within my past, current, and future life. I fear that I’m so paranoid I’m going to miss out on something important that I’m failing to see it’s already happening in front of me. Yet, I cant. stop.

I’m so tired.

Or, am I?

I don’t even know anymore.

The dreamer and optimist in me wonders if there is someone else out there, pacing back and forth in their living room, aimlessly staring out their window at the stars peeking through the clouds, who also can’t seem to get any rest. Someone who feels lonely, someone who wants to do and be better, someone searching for someone else … just to talk to.

You’re not alone.

I’m [not] alone.

Ashley and the Tale of… Absence?

It’s been almost two months since I’ve written.  But honestly, July is the worst — and I really feel like moving forward, I’m going to hide in a box until July is over.  I’ll go in my sweet sunshine and rainbow filled box on June 30th, and won’t leave until its SAFE on August 1st.

I’ll most likely create an entire post going into more detail on why July is the worst month of the whole year.. but for now, I just want to update you that I’m alive.  I survived it. It was touch and go there for a while, but I’m here.  I’m sorry if I let you down.

I also want to give a huge shoutout to B who stood by my side through the craziness of last month, and well… let’s face it, every month.  I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.  Thank you.

Let’s get back to work.


Ashley and the Tale of The Scientist

“Nobody said it was easy.. no one ever said it would be this hard. Take me back to the start.”

The universe has a funny way of reminding you that you are still alive. I can’t speak for you, but I know that there are many days I just… exist.. and go through the motions of my day almost like a machine.  The day is routined and manufactured to operate very similar to the day prior — you find yourself not being fully present, and then when you come to, you can’t really remember what happened.

Have you ever been driving home from work — you take the same roads, you hit the same red lights, you make the same turns… you space out, keep driving, because your body and mind know where you are going because you’ve travelled this path often enough.  You become the machine.  And before you realize it, you’re already home — and yet, you don’t really remember the drive at all.

Moments just pass by — where were you?  Where’d you go? Are you here?

How did we get here?

It’s an abstract thought, and in most cases, pointless — but humor me. Retrace your steps. What would have you done differently?  

I’m a firm believer in everything happens the way its supposed to, whether we want it to or not.  I believe the motions of life teaching us lessons that we need and want to learn, whether we know it to be true now or later. I know and understand conceptually that life happens not to me, but for me. 


If you could go back to the start, would you?

My brain often wonders. What if?  What would it be like? Would it be better? Worse? Would it still end up the way it has, because there are lessons to be learned, and this is how I’m supposed to learn it? 

If I could go back to the start, would I have chosen differently?

Where does it actually begin?

Is it last year? To fight or to love and let go?  He said to let him go, so I did.

Is it Fall 2015? To stay in Jacksonville in a job I didn’t enjoy as much I could have or to move to Orlando, support his dream and mine, and spend more time with my daughter? I chose Orlando.

Is it early 2013? Deciding whether or not we were going to start trying to have a baby. I chose Ella, and I would choose her over and over and over again.

Is it 2009? To make a vow in front of all our family and friends to be together until death do us part, or to run away from everything I knew? I chose “I do.” 

Is it 2008? When he asked me in that busy restaurant on a May evening.. we were running late for our reservations.. What if we missed dinner? What if I left the table? I chose to stay and said yes.

Is it 2004/2005? Deciding whether to move on my own to Saint Augustine, or choose a different path, a different school, a different life? I chose Saint Augustine. 

Is it 2003? What if I chose to become an athlete rather than a mousey theatre kid with a heart full of song, but no courage? What if I stopped hiding behind the curtain? I think we all know what decision I made.

Or does it go further back?

Life is made up of different choices, different decisions.. depending on what you choose, a different outcome may come into play. We are all living our own “Choose Your Own Adventure” story — we constantly come to forks in the road and have to ultimately choose which path to take. These decision can shape the rest of our lives — do you move forward? Do you retreat backward?  Do you breakdown and become stagnant?  Or, do you breakthrough?  Is it right? Left? Or, do you say fuck it, and create your own damn path because nothing else will suffice?

I read once, “There are moments that mark your life, moments that you realize nothing will ever be the same, and time is now divided into two parts: before this and after this.” Everything that has led to this moment has truly defined who you are and what you’ve become.

How will you become better?

No regrets.

I’m starting to breathe again.

The Story within the Song

I love music.  I don’t really know how someone couldn’t love music.  In fact, whenever I meet someone that isn’t into music, I question them as a person.

My love of music was instilled in me as a young girl — I have really fond memories of getting home from school and my dad would have our stereo system blaring with classic rock like CCR, Steve Miller, and Skynyrd.  My mom would always quiz us as kids, “Who sings this?”  “Name the artist!”  She told us it was good to know the artists behind the songs, which would make for great conversation starters as we got older.  And, she was right.  I couldn’t even count the number of times that I’ve used my random knowledge of musicians and song titles to network and build friendships. I usually start each morning with a song, and many nights, I end my day with a song.

It goes further than the music though — I’m a words person (are you surprised?), so lyrics and the stories behind the songs are really what draw me in.  And I use them to help me better explain my feelings — sometimes when I can’t find the words to really express how I feel, chances are, there’s a song that can help me get my message across.

Which is great, but the downside is the emotional attachment that can be placed upon that song. Good and bad.

The memories that linger even when the song has ended or the moment has passed.

That feeling you get when you haven’t heard a song in YEARS — you walk into a coffee shop, hear it playing, and it sends you right back and you want to rip your heart out of your chest and throw it in the garbage.

That warmth you get in your chest, and you can close your eyes and see your friends dancing around you, huge smiles, and you feel their energy.

That sharp stabbing pain you get in your stomach, when you hear certain words that basically describe your life now, as you know it.

That smile that creeps across your face, and you can close you eyes and see his looking right back at you, the same smile reflecting on his face.

The stories behind the songs, not just the song’s story, but your own personal story.  The song that would be playing in the background of that particular “scene” in the movie of your life, the overplaying music reflected in that cheesy 80s style montage moment, or the song that causes you to just sit back and stare pensively at a lake, or something.

And the relation piece.. god, sometimes there are certain lyrics that just pull on my heartstrings so hard that I feel like I’m going to fall over.

There’s the bittersweet past:

“How does it feel to know you’re everything I want? I’ve got a hard time saying this, so I’ll sing it in a song.” Still relevant.

“And, I wanna tell you everything, the words I never got to say the first time around. And, I remember everything, from when we were the children playing in this fairground. Wish I was there with you now.” Ah.

“So, please don’t let on, you don’t know me. Please don’t let on, I’m not here. Please don’t let on, you don’t love me, ’cause I know you do. I know you do…” Destroyed.


There’s the harsh reality:

“I’ve been afraid of changin’, ’cause I built my life around you.” Yep.

“Slow down, you’re doing fine. You can’t be everything you want to be before your time.” “You can see when you’re wrong, but you can’t always see when you’re right.” Preach.

“She’s imperfect, but she tries. She is good, but she lies. She is hard on herself. She is broken, and won’t ask for help. She is messy, but she’s kind. She is lonely, most of the time. She is all of this, mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie. She is gone, but she used to be mine.” God dammit, Sara. Why do you know my life?


And there’s the hopeful future:

“Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it takes and it takes and it takes. But we keep living anyway, we rise and we fall and we make our mistakes. And, if there’s a reason why I’m still alive when so many have died, then I’m willing to wait for it.” 100%.

“When you wake up, I’ll be the first thing you see. And when it gets dark, you can reach out to me. I’ll cherish your words, and I’ll finish your thoughts. I’ll be your compass, baby, for when you get lost.” Yes please.

“If you let go, I’ll float towards the sun. I’m stronger because you fill me up. When the fear comes and I drift towards the ground, I’m lucky that you’re around. I wanted to play tough, thought I could do all this on my own… your love lifts me up like helium.” Every word.

“All we need is hope, and for that, we have each other.” Every day, my love. Every single day.


I could tell you a tale for every song. I could compose the ending for the lyrics that pain me.  I could breathe in the notes of each verse and exhale all the memories I cherish and did cherish for so long.

Maybe one day I’ll create a mixtape and share it with you, and we’ll smile, maybe laugh, probably cry… and the world will be just fine. It will be a changed world, but it will be just fine.




Ashley and the Tale of Contradictions

Note: I posted this article last night, and received a bit of push-back on it — which I appreciated, as it gave me the opportunity to take it down, take a breather, and look at it again with fresh eyes.  After taking the evening and morning to reread, read again, and read over and over — I still standby what I wrote.  Please know that this isn’t intended to be a venomous attack — actually very far from it.  This is called “Ashley and the Tale of Contradictions” — the contradictions being that I’m fighting conflicting feelings all the time.  I’m hurt, but I love. I’m sad, but I’m working on acceptance.  I’m a work in progress, just like the rest of us, and the point of this is to tell you that, although I might not say it best or act right the first time, I’m acknowledging and working on it. 

I’ve worked very hard this past year to rise up, to set the example and be the example.  A great friend told me that I had two options through this process: to be Ugly, or to not be Ugly.  I’ve chosen to not be ugly. I’m going through a lot of emotions, yes – but in the end, I’m attempting to go through this life-changing stage with as much grace as possible. I have to believe there are rainbows at the end of this storm — I have to believe that in the end, the lessons I will learn from this will make me a stronger woman. I have to be able to show Ella that no matter what, she can get through the toughest of times and come out of it smiling and with grace.

There isn’t venom.  There isn’t malice.  Sometimes it stings a little, but if you keep reading all the way through, I hope you will understand that the point is, I’m telling you, despite everything, it all works out the way it needs to. And, although I’m not 100% there yet, I’m working toward letting go of the contradictions and holding out a hand to say, Okay.. let’s do this. Together. 

So, read it if you want. Or don’t. That’s up to you.  I can’t read it for you.. but please know, that as you read it, there isn’t ill-will behind what I say.

xx, A.


In this new chapter of Ash From Scratch, Ashley finds herself constantly arguing with herself.  It’s good, its awful, it’s riveting, it’s boring. It’s original! It’s the exact same bullshit I’ve been writing for the past 11 months.


Are you even interested anymore?  Lord knows, I’m pretty tired of talking about it.

Anyway, I feel like I’m in a boxing ring with myself most days.  The roller-coaster of emotions is a bit exhausting. People keep telling me that it’s normal for someone going through what I’m going through, but I’m not sure if that’s comforting or not.  In all fairness, it’s not exactly comforting as much as it is sad.. sad to know that other good people are going through or have gone through the same ups and downs that come along with that dirty, repulsive “D” word. I’m sending love and light to each of you.. the struggle bus is super real.

At least some days.  Other days, it’s better.  Just some days when it’s not better, its like… really fucking tough.  All the tears. All the hurt.  All the… questions.  Will it get better for the long haul? When?

And then there’s you.  You.  You are the other person in this scenario who I haven’t talked about until now. With him, I question everything.  With him, I get angry, sad, ALL the emotions.  With him, I’m upset and can’t understand why he would do this… because he knew me. He knew US. Bonnie and Clyde. Us against the world… or at least until he found something else. Until you.

At least that’s how it makes me feel.

With you… you just leave me… confused. Conflicted. You cause me to be a whirlwind of contradictions, constantly making excuses, trying to understand, but then result in arguing with myself. You didn’t know me. You still don’t, and probably never will.  Part of me feels like it would be better that way. Or would it?  Maybe you should know everything.  Maybe then you will understand that even though you say you’re sorry, it doesn’t make it any better.

At least not yet.

There are so many things I want to say to you. And then so many things I know I shouldn’t.  It’s not worth it. Or is it?  What if you actually stick around and I have to somewhat interact with you on the regular?  Fuck.

Truth is, although most people like to stick their opinions into this, I don’t hate you.  I don’t blame you for what happened to my marriage.  You are a supporting character in the book of my life, a by-part of what was actually a bigger issue I failed to see or address.  It’s not YOUR fault he left, he’s a grown man who can make his own decisions. And he did. He chose you.

I do question how you can wake up everyday knowing he did this to me, without questioning yourself if it would happen to you. How you can actually be “best friends” or “soulmates”.. or that you are the “Queen of Hearts”.. it’s just not true.

At least not yet.

Or maybe it is.. and I just don’t quite understand it yet.  But, there’s a bond that comes with 15 years that doesn’t just go away overnight, no matter how hard we try.

But, that’s the beauty in it.

I’ve been there, since the beginning.  I will know the stories of the past, better than anyone.. probably better than him, because let’s face it, love.. your memory isn’t the best. But, as heartbreaking as it is for me to write, that’s where I’ll stay.

In the past.

A faded memory of once upon a time, when we were young, happy, so in love, thicker than thieves. “How does it feel?” and “I’ve got a feelin'”, Chuck Taylors, 26 breaths per minute, 10:56 AM, red couches, coconut shampoo, car wash kisses, 10 miles barefoot, and saying we love each other through video messages. Back when daffodils were our favorite, we wore bowties before it was cool, and we knew the words to every Dashboard Confessional and ICP song (speaking of contradictions). I was there from the beginning — I remember the way his arms looked before all the tattoos, what his face looked like before the beard. I was there when he bought his first fedora, and we felt like rockstars walking the city streets, and missing opportunities to ride in a Bentley, but that’s okay, because we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  15 years, 9 months, 30 hours, and a beautiful little girl to show for it. She wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the both of us, and damnit, if she doesn’t have the big brown eyes and long eyelashes we dreamed about. And my sassiness.  That’s probably the only thing I can truly claim. “Over and over, the only truth, everything comes back to you.”


But you.. you get.. the future. You get to the opportunity to make new memories.  Pick up from where the story ended and make new chapters.  You get to see smiles and laughs that I’ll never know about.  You get to experience the unknown.

And that’s super exciting.

And, in all honesty, a little sad. Septembers will come and go, but he’ll always kinda stick out in my mind when it comes around.

And with Ella Grey, I’m not going to lie and say I’m cool with it.  I’m not.  I hope that one day I will be, and I’m getting there… s l o w l y. The contradictions hit heavy when she’s involved.  I don’t want to see you mother her — I’m her mother.  I don’t want to see her smile and laugh with you — I want her to be smiling and laughing with me.  I don’t want to hear how you are teaching her about makeup or Spanish words I’ll never know — she’s my daughter.

But that’s not fair.  

Nor is it true.

I’d much rather her have someone in her life that is kind and loving than the latter.  If you were awful to her, best believe, we’d have some serious problems. Just don’t try to replace me.  I’m here. I’m alive and well.  She is the ONLY thing I have, and she is my EVERYTHING. Please don’t try to take that away from me. It’s all fine that you love her and she means a lot to you — but you will never know what she feels like kicking in your belly.  Or the sleepless nights. Or the beautiful milestones we’ve seen together.

I’m not saying that you are doing this, nor am I saying that you will.  Its fear. Fear that one day my sweet baby will love you more than she loves me. It’s irrational, but it’s honest. I understand if you don’t understand it now, but one day, when you are holding your own little one in your arms, I think you’ll get it. There isn’t anything in the world more important.

I’m willing to work on this.  And I am working on it.  One day at a time. I hope you see that.


I mean what I say.

I meant it when I said if you weren’t happy with me, I’d want you to be happy with someone else.  You are just the one he’s chosen to go be happy with. So go. Be happy.

I just hope I can one day make someone as happy as you once made me.

I hope that one day I’ll stop thinking of myself as the 30+ year old divorced mom who’s trying to get her shit together, that’s never going to be enough, much less ever find someone who wants to love her.. without me fearing that I’ll be left again.

I hope that one day I’ll stop the questioning and accept that I’m worthy again — and that maybe, just maybe, I have a future to look forward to, too. Full of smiles. Full of laughter.  Full of unknown adventures and new memories. Life after TT.

Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around. This is me, saying to you, that I’m willing to give it a shot.







Ashley and the Tale of 10,000 Questions

I think it’s safe to say once you go through a traumatic experience in your life, you tend to start questioning…. everything.  This is my life lately.

In the spirit of questioning, I’m sure some may question the validity of my saying “traumatic experience” — which is fine.  It’s subjective — and in my world, I would classify the events that happened in the beginning to middle 2016 as pretty traumatic. But to be fair, let’s provide a definition.

Traumatic: adjective — emotionally disturbing or distressing.  Synonyms: shocking. upsetting. heartbreaking. painful. stressful. damaging.

Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, and.. oh, yes. All of the above.

I’ve always tried to find the rainbows in every situation, no matter how difficult. But lately, I’ll admit.. it’s been tough.  I get sucked into the void of negativity, and even my attempts of being bright seem… lackluster. What’s the point? But then, there’s Ashley.. the automatic response of trying to see the sunshine and find precious gems in every question that resembles a “What’s the point?” cadence by following it up with a “C’mon.. there’s ALWAYS a point.. look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now?”

I’m arguing with myself.

Regardless… I can’t help but find myself question everything.  What’s that about? Why has one life change suddenly disrupted the way I see things the way I always have?  I used to be so… well, I don’t even know what I used to be anymore.

“Who am I.. anyway? Am I my resume..?” And my heart aches.

I get it.. I know that things happen the way they are supposed to. I know there are lessons to learn in everything that happens in life.  Where is the lesson?  When will I understand?  I feel like.. all I’ve been doing lately.. is trying to make up the reasons to give myself some sort of.. comfort?  Is that the right word?  Why won’t you just say it?

I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of questions, with no hope of finding any answers.  Or do I even need answers? Should it all be left a mystery? Will I ever find relief in not ever getting a straight answer about anything?

Why now? Why this? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?  Why did you let it get this far? Or, did I let it get this far? What did I miss? When did it start? Did it ever exist? Was it all a dream turned into a never ending nightmare? Were we just living the story that everyone else assumed we would live?  Were you ever happy in the first place?  When did that happiness fade, and where was I? Why wasn’t I enough?

Am I not strong enough? Am I not pretty enough? Am I too fat? Is it my smile? Did I not love you or anyone else enough? Did I work too much? Did I set the bar too low? Or too high? Is it relative? What else could I have done? How could I have been better? Was I really that blind? Did I not do all I could do?

And then bringing it forward.. will this happen again?  How can I trust anyone, when the person I trusted for so long and with everything in me, broke my trust? What can I do to be better than before?  What did I miss when I spent so many years striving for perfection, to only end in failure? How can I love him better?  How can I be better for him, when he tries to be the best for me?  When you say you love me, do you mean it? How will I know that 15 years from now, you won’t do the same?  What if you get bored? What if you meet someone new that satisfies something that I was lacking, even though I was unaware? What if you lose interest?  What if you decide leaving home is what you would rather be doing than being stuck with me?

Will you come home?

Will you talk to me about everything, even if you don’t have the words or even if you think it will hurt me?  How else can we make it work.. I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken. Will you make me smile when I’m sad? Will you hold me when I feel like running away?  Will you just stay… for.. a while?

What if I’m not enough?

Will I ever be enough for anyone?

Will I be able to show Ella she is enough and more, and she should never question anything about herself, because  Am I already failing her because somedays I just feel like I’m constantly coming up short?  Are my expectations of myself unreasonable?  Will she grow up to one day resent me for not trying hard enough?  Will she criticize the way I raised her, thinking and knowing that she could have done better?  Will she defy all odds and show us that despite everything, we can and will love because she came from both of us and she deserves better? Will she question everything like I do?  Will she receive the straight answers that I long for and know I’ll never get? Will she blame me for her father leaving because I wasn’t… enough?

I have to be and do better.

Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.

Breathe. Stop sinking. The questions are like seaweed latching onto my legs, trying to drag me down. Don’t be caught in the current. Head up. Breathe deep. Stop gasping.  You are going to be…



#TBT: Where have you been?

I was thinking of you earlier this morning — I realized it has been over 4 months since you heard from me.  I’m afraid you might not recognize me anymore.

You hear it over and over again as you grow up, said in many different ways, but always relating back to the same concept.

Time flies.

When I was a kid, I would’ve thought, “FOUR MONTHS?! THAT’S FOREVER!” and in some ways, it is! But, in others ways, it feels like the past four months since we spoke was like a blink of an eye — like, I didn’t even comprehend that 4 months had gone by, it felt THAT fast.  And SO much has happened. So let’s recap the big things.



This year was my golden year — I turned 30 on the 30th of December.  I had originally intended on doing a 30 for 30 project, doing something new and inspiring everyday for the 30 days leading up to my birthday, but that didn’t exactly work out as planned.  But, that’s okay (and life) — I’m actually thinking of incorporating the 30 for 30 in a different way during my 30th year.  Stay tuned.

As pumped as I was/am about being 30, I must admit that Birthday Fiesta Weekend was a roller coaster time for me.  I am so incredibly thankful for my brain trust, who travelled upwards of 4 hours just spend it with me.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.

We drank. We laughed. We ate breakfast. We went to a casino for the first time, and I won my first (and only) hand of blackjack with 21. We doubled our money. We exchanged looks.  We smiled. We held hands. We danced by the boardwalk. We froze. We waited for a beautiful sunset, doubting it would ever happen, and when it actually did, we watched in amazement. We ate buffalo chicken dip for the first time and our whole lives changed. We drank. We drove. We cried. We played games. We slept in. We cried again. We drank more. We escaped. We listened to old school rap. We danced. We rang in the new year by a fire. We laughed. We crashed. We cried. We had amazing conversations. We ate more. We contemplated. We experienced. We smiled. My heart was complete.


The New Year came and went — it was all a blur amongst “Birthday Fiesta Weekend.”  In fact, January/February/March were a blur — there were so many HUGE changes that happened, its kinda crazy to think back on.  I got a job in Tampa. I moved myself and Ella out of our house and into a small apartment close to the highway.  We moved to a completely new town about 45 minutes away from all of our friends.  Ella started a completely new school. I despised the upwards of 3 hours I spent commuting to my job in Tampa because of the god-awful traffic. I went to a conference, met some really cool people who worked for a tech company that is headquartered in the new town I moved to. I applied for an open position. I interviewed. I got it. I LOVE IT. No more commute.  Ella had to start ANOTHER new school, this time close to our new home in our new town, near my even newer job.

New chapter. Turn the page.

It was a lot of change, all at once. But in traditional Ashley fashion, I’ve made it work, so far. I have no choice. Its just me and Ella Grey now. She’s looking to me to be strong, to be awesome. She’s my driving force to be better today than I was yesterday. She’s depending on me to be .. the best. She deserves the best.  She. Is. Everything.


Lakes, Sunsets and Love. Love. LOVE. 

With all the change, I must admit there are many new loves of my life.

First, I freaking love our new town — it’s the first place I’ve lived where I can actually see myself raising Ella.  It’s big enough, to where there’s always something going on or something to do — especially family friendly — but small enough to where I don’t have to worry about being here on my own in a scary big city, raising a little girl. Plus, my aunt and uncle live in the town too, so it’s nice to have family nearby. It reminds me a lot of Jacksonville, in the fact that there are a lot of young professionals who are working together to make it “cool.”  New, chic business are popping up left and right, all locally owned and operated, and I LOVE IT. Coffee is great, cute antique shoppes, and a really cool place that makes beignets! Did I mention there are a ton of lakes?  It’s nice to be near water again, even if we are in the middle of the state. 🙂 It’s a very active place — bike-friendly and running paths through the whole town.  Plus, photo-ops galore — and since I have the cutest daughter in the universe, it makes for really cute pictures.  🙂

We are officially closer to the west coast, which lead me to recently watching the sunset for the first time ever in my life.  I’m hooked.  It’s the most magical thing — watching the sun close on another day, paving the way for night — it’s breathtaking.  I try to make it over to watch it as much as I can.  With my partner in crime, of course.

And then.. there’s you.  There aren’t enough words, and even if there were, I still wouldn’t be able to tell you enough. You have brought me back to life. You remind me what it is like to feel again, and I feel so much. “Look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” Thank you for the reminder.


So, now what?

I’m back. I’m here. I have 4 months worth of thoughts to share with you.


Let’s get to work.