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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Ashley and the Tale of the Red Balloon

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I got my first tattoo when I was a freshman in college. It was small — a tiny little star with rainbow stardust, on the side of my right ankle.  I was about a week into school, on my own, 3 hours away from my parents.  My first attempt at being a rebel.

A rebel.. one who gets a tiny star with rainbow stardust tattoo.

My second tattoo was the one that would change my life. And, it was completely random. Unplanned. Ironically enough, that’s what made it so magical.

I went with a group of friends who were going to get tattoos.  We spent about an hour in the parlor, looking around. Going back and forth on whether they were going to do it or not.  Eventually, both friends decided against getting one.

“What!?” I exclaimed. “We literally spent all this time here, and no one is getting a tattoo?!”

They shuffled their feet and mumbled under their breath, obviously still debating, but ultimately deciding it was best to wait before permanently marking their bodies.

“Well, I mean.. we’re here. So, maybe I’ll just get one.” I said, trying to act way more confident than I actually was.

“What? What would you even get?” My taller friend was attempting to call my bluff.

“I don’t know.. maybe I’ll just get a red balloon or something.”

“Why a red balloon?” asked my other shorter friend.

“Why not?”

30 minutes later, I walked out of the tattoo parlor with a fresh red balloon tattooed on my left calf. It was simple, a red balloon with a black string. No muss, no fuss. It didn’t need any.

There were a few days afterward where I secretly questioned why I got it. A red balloon? Of all the things to get tattooed, I chose a red balloon?! So strange.. At that point I didn’t have the same affinity for balloons as I do now. It had no meaning, no significance. It was really just a spur of the moment decision that would eventually mean everything to me.

The randomness, the “spur of the moment” decision, the “giving no fucks” attitude, the impulsivity.. that wasn’t really my style.  I’m known to be very type-A: a planner, a to-do list maker, a thinker, a high-expectations-of-yourself-and-everyone-else overachiever. The split moment impulse to get a red balloon tattoo was one of the more spontaneous things I had done in my life to that point — and I did it without much thought or contemplation. As the days, months, years passed since getting it — of all the tattoos I have, that one gives me the most joy.  It gives me life.

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The red balloon is such a great reminder for myself of important life lessons.

  • Sometimes the best parts of life are unplanned and unpredictable. And that’s okay!!
  • It’s all about the little things.  Take time to appreciate the little things, for one day you will wake up and realize all the little things were actually the big things that make life so wonderful.
  • When life throws challenges your way, pick yourself up and rise like a balloon.
  • Smile. Just smile.
  • Every little thing is gonna be alright.
  • When everyone else is finding joy in bursting your balloons, don’t let them. You are stronger than you think.
  • Fear can be two things: Fear Everything And Run — or — Face Everything And Rise.  Choose to rise.
  • You will rise by lifting others. So lift up with your whole heart and let them go.
  • “If one wants to rise like a hot air balloon, one must cut the wires and let go of the weight that hold back the true potential.”

As I’ve grown older, the balloon has become such a happiness boost for me. A muse. A hope.  I eventually added in the word “Hope” into the string of the balloon — again.. a reminder. Don’t lose your hope, don’t let it break — it can be fragile, it can get twisted, knotted, cut-off. Cherish it, and keep them high.

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” — Winnie the Pooh.  Preach, Winnie. Preach.

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Friends, your life is like a balloon. If you never let yourself go, you will never know how high you can rise. Da Vinci said, “Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return.” You’ve seen my descent, now watch my rising.

Ain’t nobody gonna burst my balloons anymore. I am in control of how high I rise. And the sky is limitless.

Fuck the haters, love the lovers, and rise above.

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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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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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