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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Thanksgiving Wrap-Up & Happy December!

Hi friends!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday weekend!  We certainly did!

Thanksgiving was awesome — we spent the holiday in our hometown with family.  Bellies were full of delicious food, and we had so much fun, I completely forgot to take any photos! Fear not — I made up for it over the weekend!

On Friday, Ella and I decided to brave the craziness of Black Friday shopping by making a quick trip to Target (let’s just say, I spent over $100 and I have no idea what I bought — how does Target always do that?!). I learned quickly that this wasn’t the greatest idea — crazy shoppers+two year old who wants to hold EVERYTHING=stressed Momma. After our trip, we headed home just in time for Uncle Myron to visit!  We spent the afternoon outside, enjoying the cool breeze and blowing bubbles.

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Saturday was very relaxing. After three full days of visiting with friends and family, we decided to stay in most of the day, except for a quick trip to Michaels so I could finish our entryway chalkboard display.

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Since my hubby was super busy all weekend with work, Sunday morning was a nice change of pace having him home.  We spent the entire morning running around in the backyard.  Ella LOVES being outside, so as you can imagine, she was in heaven!  It’s moments like this that really make my heart smile so big that I feel it is going to burst out of my chest!

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We also found out that Ella’s hair is now long enough to braid.  I can’t believe how big she is getting.

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We finished up the weekend today (hooray for long weekends!).  We made a few shopping trips, picking up a few Christmas presents, and ended the evening putting up and decorating our Christmas tree.  This is the first tree we’ve ever had that wasn’t 12″ tall and fit in the palm of my hand!  I fell in love with the tall/skinny tree displays at Target and Michaels that when I saw this tree was on sale, I splurged and bought it!  Picked up decorations here and there, and now I can officially say — we have a tree! Ella kept saying “Pretty! Pretty!” and loved helping put the decorations on. Now, if I can just keep her from taking them off or trying to knock the tree over for the next 25 days. 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  It’s so hard to believe it’s over and Christmas will be here before we know it!  Time is flying by!

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15 Reasons to Be Thankful for the “Little Things”

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

In honor of the season, it seemed only fitting to have a “reasons to be thankful” post.  I couldn’t ever put into words how thankful I am for my husband, my baby girl, my family, and my friends. They are my oxygen — my reason to breathe, my everything.

Tonight, as I was putting away Ella’s toys, I was thinking about this post, and couldn’t help but smile.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day, the “busy”-ness of our lives, that we forget and/or miss out on what is really important.  The little things.

Since it’s 2015, and let’s face it — who would want to read 2015 reasons to be thankful — here are 15 little things I’m thankful for, in no particular order.

 

1. Washable Crayons: Ella is two, and we can tell she is already an artist.  All you have to say is “Color?” and she heads straight for the cabinet that houses all of the construction paper, crayons, and art supplies.  I love watching her learn and express her creativity — and embrace coloring outside the lines.

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2. Breakfast: Definitely my favorite meal of the day.  Ella usually wakes up and instantly wants pancakes, yogurt, or “bacon!” Sometimes, she decides to bring a bunch of her toys to the table with her, babbling in her own language — telling us all about her dreams she had.  Most days, breakfast is the one meal we can all sit down as a family to enjoy.

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3. Furry Friends: Bagheera is amazing with Ella.  She really tests his patience sometimes — from pulling his tail to sitting on him like a horse — but he hasn’t hissed or tried to hurt her AT ALL! In fact, he is so sweet with her that it’s hard to remember what it was like before she came along. They are already best friends, and it’s so exciting to watch!

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4. Rocking Chairs: We are a rocking chair family — I’m not sure many things compare to sitting outside in the fall, rocking, listening to the wind in the trees.  When Ella was a baby, we used to take her outside and rock her to sleep in this same chair that she is now big enough to climb into. It’s so funny how time flies, and life comes full circle.

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5. Morning Stretches:  Stretching and yoga have become a new gift to my life as of recently.  I’ve always been active, but even after running long distances, I wouldn’t ever give my body a good stretch to relax and unwind. Now, I make sure to do a little bit of stretching everyday, to loosen up, clear my mind, and relax.  I feel so much better when I make the time to do this,  and Ella thinks it’s fun, too!

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6. Grass: I love having a yard.  I know for many, this may be a weird, trivial thing — but coming from our tiny apartment to now having a yard, I don’t want to go back.  Going outside and running around with Ella in our backyard is, seriously, one of my favorite things.  The three of us have so much fun rolling around in the grass and really enjoying each other. (And this is one of my all-time favorite pictures!)

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7. Hair ties: I love that Ella’s hair is getting longer — it seems like just yesterday that she was born and her hair was so short. Now, we have to be creative in ways to get her to sit still long enough for us to put her hair up in a pony tail, to keep it out of her face. It’s just another reminder of how fast time is going by — I can’t believe it!

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8. Bubbles: I remember watching the movie “Knocked Up,” where Paul Rudd’s character talked about how his kids like bubbles, and how he wished he liked anything as much as they like bubbles. That part always sticks out to me when I see Ella react to something that seems so “small” to us — like, when she was a baby, she had a pair of toy keys.  If you shook the keys, they made a rattling noise that made her face light up with such joy. Nothing in her world was more exciting than those keys — or those bubbles.  I want to live my life everyday with that same joy and excitement. She helps me remember.

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9. Dress-up: My husband is amazing.  I really can’t say or express that enough.  He not only puts up with my crazy, but he embraces it — whenever I have any ideas that seem goofy, he is on board — and usually is giving me even more crazy ideas on how to make it even more awesome!  Not many girls can say their man wears matching holiday PJs or dresses up like Kristoff from “Frozen” to complete the look for their “Frozen Family” Halloween. He’s my hero, and I am so SO incredibly thankful.

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10. Giggles: They say the average child laughs hundreds of times a day, whereas an adult laughs significantly less, around 20 times or so. It’s time to raise our “laugh quota” friends!  What would happen if we started to laugh like a child again — what if the world start to smile and laugh more than complain, judge, or throw anger and hatred around? I heard someone say once, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.” I’m so grateful to have this little giggler around to remind me — and keep me young!

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11. Getting Lost: Have you ever visited a new city and just “got lost” for a little while?  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  It’s amazing what you can find, what new places you can discover, and new people you can meet when you put down the phone/GPS and just get lost for a while.  I think sometimes we forget how beautiful the world is because we are stuck behind a screen. It’s like the movie “Up” says — “Adventure is Out There!” Thank you for the adventure, little one. I can’t wait to see where else we go.

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12. Workout Buddy: I’m super lucky to have an incredible partner in crime,  who keeps me on my toes and holds me accountable.  Thank you for encouraging me and motivating me — I’m only growing and becoming my better self! Plus, Ella is become quite the “spotter.” Whenever we are busting out some push-ups or box jumps, she yells “Go! Go! Go!”  Our little cheerleader!

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13. Flowers: Ella loves flowers as much as her Momma does.  She is so cute —  she will say “flower,” put the flower to her nose and breathe in really deep, then exhale saying “ahhhhh…”

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14. Converse: This may be one of the only “materialistic” things on my list today, but the reason isn’t as material as it may seem.  The photo below is a shot of everyone in our wedding party — 7 years ago!  Every time I see people wearing Converse shoes, or I wear them myself, I remember how awesome and lucky we are to have such amazing friends and family. And now, little Ella wears them, too!

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15. “Wow!”: Two days ago, Ella and I were playing outside, and she looked up.  I’m not entirely sure what she was looking at — the clouds, the sky, the birds — but as she was looking up, she kept saying, “Wow!” Wow!  With such pure excitement and innocence.  She meant it.  Like “Wow! Isn’t the world so beautiful?”  Or “Wow! Can you believe we live here and can see this right now?” It’s amazing how a two year old can put life in perspective, without even knowing it.  Wow is right, baby. Wow. What an incredible life.

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I hope your Thanksgiving is magical! Let’s give thanks everyday! 🙂

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