Ashley: reinvented.

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Life has a funny way of teaching you things you never knew you needed to learn.

At the beginning of 2016, I chose a one word theme for the year — something to help keep me motivated, something to drive me and my decisions, something BIGGER than resolutions that are notorious for being broken time and time again.  I chose growth.  Growth.

Growth –  noun.

  • the process of growing.

Growing – verb

  • to become better or improved in some way

I’ve always been the type of person who had expectations of how my life would go, or plans on how it would all work out in the end.  By choosing the word “growth” this year, my expectations were that I would gain insight into different aspects of my life to live a little happier. I was seeking that “passion” in my career that everyone talks about when they say “living the dream” or “love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”  I was seeking that “drive” when it came to living a healthier lifestyle, becoming “fit” mentally, physically, emotionally. I was looking to find more sunshine and rainbows, even in the mundane “everyday” routinized activities we “have” to do. Talk less, smile more. Become a better “me” so I can be better in every other role I fill.
I had no idea how much “growing” I would actually have to do this year.

How much work I needed to do, not just in the areas I wrote above — but in areas I didn’t even know needed help.

Or did I know but refused to believe it? Or did I know but just was too blind to actually see it?  Was my heart confusing my head, or was my head telling my heart different things to protect it from getting broken?

Will I ever know?

Does it even matter now, at this point?

I’m not sure I believe in the adage “Everything happens for a reason.”  I believe that everything happens the way it is supposed to, whether there is a reason or not. I’m still trying to wrap my head (and heart) around the “not needing to understand reasons or lack of reasons” part, but I’m working on it.

Someone wise once told me, “Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.” I believe that. We have one life, one chance, one moment, one breath, one body, one mind, one soul. Now is the time, the time is now.

Remember. Stop crying in the corner of the kitchen. Pick up your pieces.  Dust off your shoulders.  Breathe in, slowly let it out.

Remember. Smile from your liver. Stop, Cancel Cancel. Everyday is another opportunity it turn it all around.

Remember. 10 miles, barefoot. Stronger than you think. Move forward. Look back, but only to enjoy the memories and then let them go.

Remember. 26 breaths per minute. Take another one. One foot in front of the other. One more mile ran. One more sad song. “How does it feel?”

Remember. “I’m not in love with you anymore, I’m in love with someone else.” “Eat. Workout. Clean yourself up.” Supernova. Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.

Reme
mber. “Today is going to be a great day. The sun is shining, a few clouds in the sky. And today is going to be a great day.” “God, please help me.” Send me love and light, and drop it.

Remember. She’s looking to you. She deserves it. She is everything. She will learn from you how to get through the seemingly impossible. Find rainbows everyday.

Remember. “They will be lining up at your door.” Columbia. Afternoon movies and bookstores. Falling more in love with the city that never sleeps. Can’t start a new chapter when you keep rereading the old ones.

Remember. Prospect. Central. Try new things. Talk less, smile more. Move forward, with me. Everyday is another opportunity to turn it all around.

Remember. Just remember.

 

You’ve got this. Don’t you forget it.

Find rainbows everyday.  When you are living the best version of yourself, you inspire others to live the best versions of themselves. Love the person you’ve become because you fought to become her. Sometimes the negative things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the BEST things that will ever happen to us.

Growth.

Ashley: Reinvented.

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6 Grown-Up Lessons from a Toddler Playdate

Hi friends!

Yesterday was a beautiful day for our little household, as we held a playdate for Ella with her new friend Quinn.  This was very exciting for us (all three of us: Me, Raux, and Ella), as we haven’t really had too many “playdates” since Ella was born.  We don’t have many friends that have children yet, and since she isn’t in daycare, the only real interaction she gets with other kids her age is at our Stroller Strides class or the park.

So, when one of the Mommas from SS texted me asking if we wanted to get together to let the girls play, I was stoked and said YES right away. Little did I know, this playdate would teach me more about MYSELF than I’d realize, and that’s an added bonus for my year of GROWTH. 🙂

6 Grown-Up Lessons from a Toddler Playdate

Be Open. 

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Like I mentioned before, Ella hasn’t had a lot of interaction with other little ones. So, when Quinn and her Mommy came to our place for our playdate, I was a little nervous how Ella would act. Once Quinn walked in the door, Ella took right to her.  It was like they were old friends — they started playing right away without hesitation.  Here was my beautiful little girl being all social, and I realized.. the nervous one wasn’t Ella, it was me.  I was nervous not how Ella would act — she’s a kid — I was nervous about how I would act.  How would I be judged? What if I was awkward or too quiet or too loud or too weird?  I was already judging myself before anyone came over.  But, in the end, it doesn’t matter. I am who I am, and I really need to lighten up. Be more open to new experiences.  Meet new people.  Play right away, without hesitation.

 

Share.

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This one seems like a given, but is often forgotten.  Watching the girls play, there were many times when Ella would give up her toy to Quinn, and vice versa.  They only needed to be reminded a small number of times (which, c’mon.. they are two!).  But honestly, I think there are some adults that need to be reminded of this from time to time — myself included! While there are some key points in your life where you can (and should be) selfish, there are just as many (if not more) opportunities to share — physically, mentally, emotionally.  Sharing teaches compromise — if you give a little to others, you can get some of what you want as well.  Sharing teaches us to “take turns,” negotiate, and how to deal with the emotions of not getting what you want at the exact time you want it. As adults, sometimes we need to be reminded, too.

 

Paint With Your Fingers.

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We chose to do an Easter painting activity with the girls, where they used cookie cutters and plastic eggs to “stamp” on paper.  After about 3 minutes, the girls were done using the cutters, and resorted to using their fingers and paintbrushes.  This reminded me that it is absolutely okay to choose a different way to do something.  Even though the point of this activity was to “stamp” and create a cute Easter themed print, they still created a masterpiece by going their own way and choosing their own painting utensils.  Sometimes it turns out better by going against the “rules” or “guidelines” set upon you.  And, of course.. sometimes it’s best when you get messy.

 

Keep an empty shelf (or cabinet).

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After painting, the girls played in Ella’s room for a bit, then returned to kitchen to play in Ella’s “clubhouse” — aka an empty cabinet area in our kitchen.  When we lived in Jacksonville, our kitchen was TINY — we barely had room to cook in it, much less have items or appliances that needed to be stored away. When we were looking for our current house in Orlando, I had one requirement: it has to have a bigger kitchen.  We were super lucky to find our home equipped with a HUGE kitchen — complete opposite of what we were used to — and we honestly, just didn’t have enough “stuff” to fill all of the cabinets we now have. So, one cabinet area has been left empty (minus some rolls of paper towels) for Ella to play in.  Plus, having an empty shelf or cabinet is exhilarating for me — it shows that there is always a possibility of expansion, that I’m not crowded in by too much stuff.

 

Dress Up.

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Ella has a lot of dress up clothes and costumes that she loves to bring out and wear.  When the girls were in Ella’s room, Quinn found Ella’s stash of costumes, and wanted to be Elsa. So, of course, Ella was Anna.  They were ADORABLE — and it reminded me, it’s so much fun to dress up — and to use your imagination.  I think as we get older and become more “adult,” many people forget how to use their imagination.  We get too logical, too reasonable, too … accustomed to running like a “machine.”  Albert Einstein once said,”Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere.”  To that point as well, Carl Sagan said, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it, we go nowhere.”  Somedays, you should just pretend you are Anna or Elsa — and see where it takes you.

 

It’s okay to miss your friends.

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As our day ended, both girls were very tired — but didn’t want to stop playing.  Quinn kept trying to reason with her Mommy that she should take a nap at Ella’s house instead of going home. Ultimately, it was time to say “bye bye” for the day, and both girls cried as Quinn had to leave.  Ella stood by the window connected to our front door and watched as they drove away.  My heart was so sad about this, but it made me smile.  It made me think of my own friends — near and far — and how it’s okay to miss them.  Saying goodbye is never easy, but it’s necessary.  We are all living our own lives, doing our own things — but yet, when we get together, it’s like no time has passed since we last saw one another.  Sure, there are days when you wish they were here with you to play, or talk to, or to cry with — and you may get sad, and miss their company.  And that’s okay, completely normal — and just goes to show you, the friends that tug on your heartstrings are the ones you want to keep.

 

All in all, we had an amazing day with our new friend.  We painted, played hide and seek, rode a bike down a hill, ran around outside, dressed up, ate lunch, colored easter eggs, and cried as we had to say goodbye.  And, the last lesson learned: Plan to do it again. 🙂

Hope everyone has had a great week so far!

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The Year of GROWTH

Hi friends!

Wow, this year is already flying by! Can you believe February is almost OVER?! Holy cow!

Lately, I’ve been listening to A LOT of podcasts — I usually listen to one episode everyday during my evening walk with Ella.  One of the last episodes I was listening to spoke of New Years Resolutions, and how instead of making giant lists of action items, to fit your resolutions around a “one word theme” for the entire year.  This was so interesting — I’d never really thought of it that way, but after thinking about it, my resolutions do usually fall into a similar pattern.

Some are typical: get fit and healthy, save money, get out of debt.  But, this year — there’s something deeper I’m focusing on: me.  I mean, the real me — not just my outer body or some physical attribute that people can see right away.

It’s almost like, I feel the past few years I’ve consumed myself with distractions, work, and somewhere along the line, I’ve lost myself.  I work hard to be a great mother, wife, and friend — but at the end of the day, I need to work even harder to be a great .. me.  By being a better “me,” I will be even greater in the other roles I fill.

It seems so simple when you type it out or read it — but for some reason, this has been a very difficult thing for me to realize:  I’m worth more than what I’ve been giving myself credit for.  Sure, I’m my own worst critic and have really high standards, but you know, I need to put more faith and trust into my own ability to be great.. to be awesome.

So, I’ve chosen my word for the year: Growth.

Maslow said, “You will either step forward into growth, or step backward into safety.”  It’s time for me to focus on becoming my best self.  It’s time to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things.  Make new connections.  Now is the time to take challenges, for the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity for growth.

I once read somewhere that, in this world, “you are either growing or you are dying, so get in motion and GROW”   A ship is safe in its harbor, but that’s not what a ship was made for.  The same applies to us — and I’ll be damned if I let another year pass by wishing I would’ve pushed myself, grown a little more, and created new memories by leaving my “harbor.”

Just some random thoughts during nap time. 🙂  Hope everyone is having a great week so far!

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Like a Sack of Bricks…

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Ever have that feeling of having 48 hours of stuff to do, but there are only 24 hours in a day?  That’s been me lately.  I’ve been feeling a bit down, overwhelmed, and overtired.

And worse, I’ve been complaining about the little things that make my heart so happy.  I didn’t even realize it until this evening.

We usually eat dinner after we put Ella down for the night — around 8:30PM.  When T is home and not working, we really enjoy this time together — and tonight’s topic of conversation turned into my bitchfest.

I was talking about how I don’t really get much opportunity throughout the day to focus on “my things.”  My days begin around 7-7:30AM (which, I know, is way better than 5AM or 6AM — I know I’m lucky in this case) and are usually non-stop Mommy-time until 8:30PM when I put the girl down for the night.  Sometimes, I will get about 2 hours in the middle of the day when she naps — where I will try to squeeze in my workout and run, clean up the house from the morning’s playtime, start laundry, eat lunch, start prepping her lunch for when she wakes, and hopefully hop on the computer to start some of my work: writing, blogging, returning emails, etc. If I don’t get to squeeze my workout in during naptime, it’s the first thing I do when she goes down for the night — followed by eating dinner, cleaning up the house from the afternoon/evening’s play, finishing laundry, showering, and then — maybe — I’ll have a chance to write, read, return emails, etc.  By then, I really only have one hour or so to do all of this “work” before I need to go to bed, to ensure I won’t be a grumpy zombie in the morning when Ella wakes.  It’s truly amazing the amount of energy it takes to keep up with a 2 year old throughout the day — and trust me, I know I’m extremely lucky that I get the opportunity to be with her all day, everyday.  It’s my dream — and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“I’m just exhausted, and I feel I don’t really have anytime to do the things I need to do,” I said, pushing around the rest of my salad with my fork.

My husband tried to offer suggestions of new things to try to be more effective throughout the day, and I shot each one down with a smirk and chuckle. Then he said something that hit me like a sack of bricks.

“Well, it won’t always be this way.  Soon, she won’t need all of your attention throughout the day, and you can get more things done.”

What I heard: “She won’t need you.”

“Soon.”

And he’s right.

Now, I know that I’m her Momma, and she will still “need” me, but it will never be the same as it is right now.  Soon, she won’t want me to sit with her as she colors every single page in her Doc McStuffins coloring book.  Soon, she won’t come running up to me to grab my hand, and lead me into the living room to show me that Mickey Mouse is on TV.  Soon, she won’t want to sit with me in her room playing tea party, and get upset with me if I “drink” my tea before we “Cheers!”  Soon, she will be too big to slide down her treehouse in the backyard.  Soon, she will be too big for the stroller I push when we go on our daily walks. Soon, I won’t need to be there to watch her play in the bathtub, as she sings songs and talks to all her bath toys.  Soon, she won’t want to snuggle before bedtime as we finish watching “Inside Out” for the 800th time, or when we “read” books, which is really her just flipping through the pages until she sees a lion, in which she will exclaim, “SIMBA!!” Soon, I won’t even need to put her to bed, she will just go lay down on her own, and I will just hope and pray that I get a “goodnight, I love you.”

Before I know it, she will be in school, be super involved in activities like theatre (a Mom-thespian can dream, right?), and have tons of friends that want to take up all of her free time.  Before I know it, she will fall in love, move away from home, get married, and have a little one of her own.  Before I know it, she will no longer be my little girl, but my beautiful grown-up daughter — and I’ll be thinking back to all the times we would hold hands, have tea parties, and color all day.

Life is short, my friends — and time flies.  Instead of focusing on the stress, the lack of sleep, and the things you didn’t get to cross off your to do list today, we have to cherish every single second of these moments we have.  Moments like these are fleeting, and I don’t know about you, but I would hate to miss out — and 10 years from now wish I would’ve done things a little different.

G’night. 🙂

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The Countdown to 29

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In less than 2 weeks, I will be 29.

In less than 2 weeks, I will be one year away from being 30.

30. Why is this such a scary age for people? What is it about 30 that makes us afraid, and in some cases, act irrationally, cry uncontrollably, and fear that we haven’t achieved all we were “supposed” to by this aged “deadline” — which is really just garbage we made up anyway?

30 does NOT mean we are dried up, shriveled old ladies, who need to be put away in a home for the elderly.  30 does NOT mean our lives are over, and it’s all downhill from here. 30 should NOT be a death sentence, but rather, an opportunity! Let’s take all the lessons from our twenties and put them to good use.  Let’s look back on the struggles and heartbreak with a smile, because honestly, the best is still yet to come.

I’m looking forward to 30.  But first, really, I’m looking forward to 29.

I recently enjoyed a visit with one of my best friends, who, I might add, is a month older than I am, about this upcoming “milestone.”  He seems apprehensive about turning 30, and thus wants to enjoy his 29th year doing things that “only make sense to do in your twenties,” not wanting to be the “creepy old guy that pretends he’s still a teenager.” While I personally feel age is just a number and what really matters is how you FEEL, this struck me as very interesting.

Are there certain activities or “things” that we can’t doing past a certain age, for fear society may look at us as “the creepy guy” who is trying too hard, or acting too young? And, what’s so bad about staying youthful anyway?  I mean, here we are in our late twenties, and coloring books are all the rage for the holiday season. I’m almost 30, but I could whip you in a battle of Super Mario.  And, yesterday — yeah, I played on the playground with my little girl. Slid down the slide, climbed on the jungle gym. So what?

More interestingly to me, however, is the idea of using your 29th year as a platform to do amazing things. Sure, we can (and do) amazing things all the time, and at any year, but I’m thinking of it almost like a bucket list.  A sort of “30 things to do before you are 30″/”29 awesome ideas for year 29” adventure.  It’s actually not a bad idea to consider for every year — a “new years resolution” but birthday to birthday, rather than waiting until January 1st.

I’m going to spend the next two weeks pondering my own list.  What are some goals, dreams, or tasks that I want to accomplish in this next year of my life? What are yours?

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