a small note in the midst of a storm

Leave a comment: 12 comments

anxiety
pulls at the 
thread that 
holds you 
together you 
feel it unraveling
this painful 
separation 
from yourself 
this frightening
freedom of 
overwhelming thought
letting the light in where
it hasn't been before
blinding and burning it's 
awakening senses
that are better kept
sleeping it's 
grotesque in its
reality not hiding 
like the others just
baring boney 
teeth there's
nothing to hide
when
anxiety 
opens up the autopsy 
of what's really
inside

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

sometimes i sit and daydream about what it would be like to live a quiet life. to have a quiet mind, a heart that sleeps soundly at night. i am truly envious of those who are able to walk through life without soaking up the sorrow of it all. i absorb all around me. it's beauty and it's suffering and it's hard to find balance. 

depression isn't just feeling 'sad'. it's not always related to circumstances, it's not an equation to solve. someone once asked me if i knew what the root of my depression is. i told them i wish there was one. because if there were roots, i could pull them out of the ground and be free. instead it's a component of the soil, a natural element that i'm not sure i'll ever have the tools to remove. 

recognizing this is not a white flag of defeat. no, i'm shaking hands with it and agreeing to work with it. i'm agreeing to row against the rushing current because there are calm waters ahead. 

some days i'm fighting. some days i'm soaking in the sun. others i let the rain come down on me and i weep with the sky. it's a cycle just like everything is a cycle. we rotate together. 

what calms me is that i'm not in this alone. what calms me is that there are people who understand. what i'll never know is why some people don't try to understand. i'm jealous of the people who don't have to. 

in the meantime i look for speckled sunlight, rays floating through leafy branches, the rustling of life when the wind comes. i know that the earth suffers with me. we're aware of the weight and fragility of existence. 

as a feather on a bird's wing, we're here for a brief moment but we are involved in the movement. sometimes i sit and daydream about what it would be like to live a quiet life. i'll find my peace in soaring wings. 


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


if you've followed my blog for some time you'll know that writing is a catharsis for me during the bad days. i'm not always able to end on a hopeful note, but i always try. 

things are busy as ever with secret midnight press (launched summer boxes today !!) and i have big plans and goals for my personal writing. after finishing up my eight week self care series, i decided that i'm going to take some time to work on my new book, soak up the summer months. i will continue posting as often as i'm inspired to (which may very well be once a week), but i won't be on a set schedule.

please subscribe so that when i do post, you'll see it in your email and we can keep doing this thing together.

knowing you're out there, reading this, feeling it all with me, brings more comfort than you know.

i'm so thankful for this safe place, and have so many plans for us to come.

xo,

Ashley


Listening to:

(^this video is so wonderful)

self-care / part 8 : forgiving yourself

Leave a comment: 8 comments

self-care series
((part eight of eight))


i'm not sure how long the term 'self-care' has been around. some people might hear it and cringe because they believe it's something millennials came up with as an excuse to take long baths every night and prioritize laziness over responsibilities. some people might write it off as being overly sensitive and wasting valuable time. or maybe it just scares some because they've never taken the time to even think about what it would look like to take care of themselves. 

i think i can relate to the last example. this eight week journey has truly been an enlightening one. if you're just stopping by now, i'll give you the highlights. 

part one taking the time

some might argue that time is the most valuable currency. recognize that your contentment is worth an immeasurable amount. you deserve self-care.


each soul is as unique as a fingerprint. the better you know yourself, the better you can know your strengths and weaknesses, as well as gifts that you give in relationships, and what you need from others. knowing yourself is loving yourself.


pushing your limits and doing the things you are afraid of will build incredible strength and confidence. even if you fail, it is worth the wisdom gained from experience. 

part four accepting love

it can be difficult to take a compliment or really let someone into your heart. it's scary to be this vulnerable. but there are people that want to love you where you are, you just have to let them.


no one is perfect. we all have flaws, some we can change and some we cannot. recognizing the difference between the two is so important. once you determine the weaknesses you can strengthen on your own, set realistic goals to overcome these challenges. 

part six knowing your worth

you are more than a number. you are not your instagram followers, your grades, your weight, your age. you are a sparkling spirit that makes the world better. 

part sevenforgiving someone

if i haven't said it enough, we are all flawed. we hurt others out of our own brokenness. recognizing that your wounds were given by wounded people can be freeing. forgiveness (even if it's not asked for) is an incredible weight lifted off of you.


and now this brings us to the final part of our self-care season. personally, i saved the worst for last. or more accurately, the most difficult. so we've established that we're all flawed, broken, but incredibly special and wonderful at the same time. we've taken the time to bring light to our dark places and and realize that no one is free from insecurity and pain. we've maybe even taken small steps to let go of a hurt that we've been holding onto.

even through all of this, it may still be difficult to look in the mirror. maybe when you close your eyes at night there are painful visions of moments you wish you could change. maybe your grip isn't as tight as you wish it was. what i want you to know is that everyone experiences this. everyone falls and fails and cracks around the edges. 

i recently had a conversation with a friend about how everyone is 'weird' in their own way, just some people hide it more than others. 'normal' is relative. normal can change on a daily basis, or it can change after a traumatic experience. it's okay to shift and adjust your normal. it's okay to take five steps forward and then two steps back. this is the dance with life that we are all learning and will never truly master. 

the point is that you're trying. and the fact that you're still reading this means that you care about your happiness. you care about your mental health and clarity. maybe it's buried beneath layers of shame and guilt and uncertainty, but hope is there.

self-care is not just repeating phrases about loving yourself and maybe getting an occasional massage or pedicure. self-care is a life-long journey. it is a practice. take your time with it. breathe it in and let it make a home in your heart. you'll fail because we all fail. you'll get hurt because you're human. 

self-care is fighting for your joy through the pain. it's finding peace and contentment in any situation. it's being patient with yourself while you grow.

please never forget that you deserve it.


xo,

Ashley


Listening to:


self-care / part 7: forgiving someone

Leave a comment: 4 comments

self-care series
((part seven of eight))



words can cut like the sharpest knife. abandonment hollows you. neglect and selfishness are a toxic poison we've all drank. we're all victims in some form. no one is spared from emotional abuse, it's the root of our humanity. survival of the fittest. save yourself.

i still remember harsh words spoken to me when i was a child. i remember being very young, and a girl in my neighborhood pointing and laughing at me with her friends. she was taunting me for my (pre-braces) crooked teeth. i was horrified, but also very aware of one thing... this girl's teeth were more crooked than mine. 

it was a lesson i learned early in life which shaped my worldview. the one that hurt you has been hurt before. bullies are the most broken. hatred is a weed that grows when love isn't there to pluck it out. 

so while there's no excuse for treating another person poorly, knowing that the cold heart is a broken heart can give us a powerful tool to carry throughout our entire lives. 

the first step is recognizing the darkness in the person that hurt us. we're all broken, we're all bleeding. but it's up to you to rise above the injustices of life. it's up to you to fight for your happiness. 

i've been told that holding a grudge is like drinking poison in an attempt to hurt someone else. we only hurt ourselves. somehow it's easier to hold onto the hurt. we can cling to it and control it. maybe we think that if we let it go it will grow. that holding it tight keeps it at bay. but this is simply not true. it is a shackle at our feet for which we have the key. 

forgive him for you. forgive her for you. only you can set yourself free from bitterness and the heavy weight of anger.

there is one thing i'd like to clarify. forgiveness does not mean approval. it doesn't mean that you're saying that what they did to you was okay. you're merely accepting it as a part of your story. a coal in the fire of the kiln that shapes you. you're making peace with the fact that the person that broke you is more broken than you. it's wishing healing and wholeness for them, despite what it seems they deserve. 

we are all on a journey. as humans we will hurt people, despite our best efforts not to. if you are holding tight to pain in your palm, releasing it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. it can be a process, take your time. you deserve to be free. 


xo,

Ashley


Listening to:


self-care / part 6: knowing your worth

Leave a comment: 10 comments


self-care series
((part six of eight))

- your worth is beyond numbers -

each night i lay in the dark, desperate for sleep and instead of counting sheep i count calories. as the tally racks up, i berate myself for being born as a living creature who needs food for survival. 

each morning i carry my corpse to the scale, barefoot on the cold glass i watch the numbers spin. it's gone up .2 and suddenly its harder to hold myself up, as though the weight is added to a bag on my back. 

i unlock my phone and open each social media app one by one. i've dropped a follower and my photo likes are nothing compared to hers.

subconsciously i add up these numbers and feel the punch of a stamp on my chest. the total number labels me and everyone can see it glowing in the dark. 

hi i'm 325, nice to meet you. 

i catch myself, repeat the number, trying to correct myself until i'm finally able to say my name. 

this is a problem that i believe plagues every person at some time in their life. from age to weight to net worth we're surrounded by numbers. it's easy to find your worth in them. 

this is something i've struggled with ever since i can remember. as i've been working to shift my focus from self-hatred to self-care, i've become increasingly aware of my daily struggle with self-esteem. i've let the voices of the media make themselves at home in my heart. they tell me that no one will like me if i'm not thin enough, if i'm not pretty enough, if i'm not wealthy enough. and the expectation is practically unmeetable. 

as i work to capture these negative thoughts as they happen, i am trying to replace them with positive ones. i must believe in my heart that i am worth loving. and it's not easy. 

i imagine that i'm not alone in this struggle. that i'm not the only person out there who has tried to find my self-worth in these temporary things. if you're with me in this, i hope you know how wonderful you are. i hope you know that your spirit is so strong and your life holds so much more meaning than the shapes and numbers that you hold onto. you can leave a legacy of love and acceptance, but this starts with you. 

you must dig out the hurtful thoughts by the roots. don't let them back in. look in the mirror and say 'i love you.' tell yourself that you're worth is found in the lives you touch, the joy you bring to those around you, the warmth you give. these things can't be measured in numbers. tell yourself that there are galaxies within you, a unique beauty that only you can give.

it may not be easy. it may be something that we fight for every day, but i know that it'll be worth the fight.

we're in this together. 



  xo,

Ashley 


Listening to:

self-care / part 5: accepting your flaws & setting goals for change

Leave a comment: 4 comments


self-care series
((part five of eight))

i've always considered myself to be self-aware, which for me also includes being incredibly insecure. i have memories of being very young, looking in the mirror, and only seeing things i wished i could change. 

still not a day goes by that i don't think about the smallest details of me that i wish were different. but what good can come from just sitting around thinking these thoughts? really, i'm only slowly sipping at poison.

so while i'm working on taking care of myself, i thought about how i could grab onto these thoughts as though they're balloons, let some go, and take others and shape them into something beautiful. 

while these words are so often thrown around, they hold a life changing amount of truth: nobody's perfect. a human is a human, we all struggle and suffer and cry and wish we could change. 

so let's take that desire for change and let it fuel a fire of love and passion within us. let's find what we have the power to change and set realistic goals to change them. emphasis on realistic. 


if you wish had a different sleep schedule, that you could wake up earlier than noon on your days off, maybe don't set your alarm for 6am and expect a change overnight. or if you are wanting to cut back on sugar, it doesn't always work to eliminate it completely the next day. for some people the extreme change can be what they need. in my experience, i try and make these big changes and when i don't see results right away, i give up. most often, i think gradually easing into change can be the best thing. 

sometimes the first step is asking for help. it's hard to make changes alone. this can be as simple as going to a dermatologist for your acne, or as big as asking help for an addiction. accountability is so important. 

if you look in the mirror and wish your teeth were whiter, allow yourself to budget in whitestrips from the grocery store. you deserve it. it can be little things like this that we constantly think about being different, but don't take the step to change them, maybe because we don't feel that we deserve that extra care. i'm telling you now that you do. 

so we've identified some things that we have control over in our lives. what about the things that we don't? this is the bane of existence, but it's an eternal truth. we'll never have full control. there are some things about ourselves that, realistically, aren't in our control to change. these things are mostly appearance-related for me. 

so maybe there are things about the way you look that could be fixed by plastic surgery or extreme measures, but this isn't entirely realistic for you. i don't love my nose, but i don't plan to go under the knife any time soon, so instead of dwelling on it, the healthiest thing for me to do is accept that it's the face i was given, and focus on parts of it that i love. i do love my eyes, so when i start to think about what i don't like, switch gears in my mind to what i do. 

nobody's perfect. we all have things about ourselves that we wish were different. it can be easy to think that everyone is looking at you and only seeing flaws. maybe you do struggle with comparison and looking at people around you with a critical eye. i've found a practice that helps with this: if i'm in line at a grocery store or sitting in a busy mall, i'll look at each person near me and think about the lovely things about them. i notice the woman in front of me has beautiful hair, and the young girl walking by has a warm and lovely smile. this can be a way to train your brain to notice the beauty first. as you're doing that with others, you can start doing it with yourself. and if you get a chance, tell the person what you think is beautiful. compliments can truly make someone's day and possibly help with their own insecurities. 

know that your soul is so special and so valuable and so much more than the skin surrounding it. you are strong and have the power to make peoples' lives better, and what is more beautiful than that? 



xo,
Ashley


Listening to:

self-care / part 4: accepting love

Leave a comment: 4 comments




self-care series
((part four of eight))

hi, dearest one.

here we are together in this little space of the internet. it’s nice to feel like i’m not alone right now, that you’re reading this with me and we’re in this thing together. although i’m currently sitting in a crowded airport terminal, i can get so lost in my head that i feel lonely, isolated by the tornado of thoughts around me. writing here helps me. 

so we’re half-way through this series on self-care. each week i try to focus on the elements that i am writing about (typically as a note-to-self), and each week i feel more aware of how poorly i take care of myself. 

the common phrase and biblical principle ‘love others as you love yourself’ seems simple and straight-forward enough. but what we don’t often think about is that maybe we don’t really love ourselves. if we’re consumed with self-loathing, looking in the mirror and berating the reflection, how well can we really love another person?

this realization caught me off guard. as most people are, i am my worst critic. i dissect my reflection into sections and thoroughly examine all of the pieces of me that i don’t like. too many freckles, a tiny chip in my tooth, an unpleasant voice. and the list goes on. 

i make these lists every day. lists of things i wish i could change about myself, many of them that i never will be able to. many of them that no one else would wish to change about me. many of them that others find endearing and lovely. my brain distorts it and tells me that it’s unloveable. 

i was incredibly fortunate to grow up in a loving and supportive environment. my parents allowed me to express myself and told me daily how much they love me. but for years those words passed through me as though i were a ghost. these words were just words, i wouldn’t allow them to be a seed that would take root in me and grow into something wonderful.

this is a daily battle that i may very well fight the rest of my life. a battle against society’s standards of beauty, a battle against loud insecurities that ring in my ears without ceasing. 

but there are ways to make headway in this battle. to win the fight, even if just for a moment. it begins with loving yourself. 

when you look in the mirror and pick apart the reflection, comparing it to the invisible person next to you that you feel is better, take notice. catch your thoughts in the act of trying to make you feel small. catch them in your hands and transform them. 

make the choice to see the things you love about yourself. maybe only one comes to mind right now. my advice is to write it down. each positive thing about yourself that comes to you, keep it with you and use it as a weapon in the fight. hold tight to these things.

these are the thoughts that water the soil and prepare you to accept seeds of love that others plant in you. then when you hear words of encouragement, kindness, help, you’ll feel them fully and accept them as truth.

because you deserve this. whatever you do, don’t forget that. you deserve to feel the peace of unconditional love. 

it starts with you.

go in boldness, dear friend.

xo,
Ashley


Listening to:



self-care / part 3: wandering (facing fears)

Leave a comment: 6 comments

self-care series
((part three of eight))


23.

is this what living looks like?
like there's this gaping 
wound in my chest
like salt water
washed over it and 
breathing is more like
gasping and
this can't be what living looks like. 
like the night never ends
and the stars have been
eaten alive by 
the black sky and
I’ll never know 
why the sun never seems
to rise in the places my
eyes look upon through
broken glasses.
this won’t be what living looks like.
I will sew up my shattered
spirit with twine and 
I will
be my own light.
I will
be a spark to 
ignite the sun and
defeat the
cold dark of night.




this poem has been on my mind lately as i wrestle with some fears and insecurities that have been berating me lately and making daily activities a bit more difficult.

if you're on this journey of self-care with me, hopefully taking the time to get to know yourself (part 2) has helped you find out more about what you deeply desire out of your life, and what may be holding you back.

insecurity and anxiety have held me back from living my life too many times. i know that traveling is something that makes me feel alive and strong. there were times in my life when my anxiety was so bad that i couldn't get into a car for even a short road trip, much less get on an airplane to a new city. at times i've thought that i'll never get to enjoy traveling again. but this is simply a lie.

as i've mentioned to you, anxiety and depression come and go in waves in my life. as anxiety took a step back last year, i had enough strength to book a month long trip to europe. i made the plans, and as each day got closer to my trip, i kept thinking of ways to get out of it. i was so sure that i was going to be a complete mess and hate every second of it.

i talked to my doctor about this and he prescribed me an anxiety medication to take as-needed. (this is a personal choice, but one that i recommend if you feel that your mental health is taking joy away from your life). so i had this prescription in my pocket, and even just knowing that it was there was a huge relief to me. it allowed me the strength to step onto the plane, and that trip ended up being one of the best things i've ever done in my life.

wandering can start in your mind. let your thoughts wander to places that maybe make you a little bit uncomfortable. dreams that are so large, you're afraid people would laugh if you told them. don't worry about what those people think. honestly, i believe in you. i believe that you're capable to do such incredible things. you can change the world and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

dip your toes into the water of your dreams and ambitions. realize that the water is warm and welcoming. it starts with that step, with acknowledging your hopes and recognizing your fears. the more aware you are of these two things, the further you can separate them until your fears no longer have power over you.

talk to people that you trust about these things. you'd be surprised at how many people are in the same exact boat as you. know that you're stronger than you think you are.

maybe this week, do one small thing that scares you - starting a conversation with a stranger, complimenting someone that isn't very nice to you. remind people that you love them, because maybe in that moment their fear can shrink as well.

we need each other. we're in this together, and as i fight for my joy, know that i'm fighting for yours as well.

continue living boldly, dear friend. joy and light are just on the other side of what you're scared of.


xo,

Ashley


Listening to:

Sia - We Can Hurt Together


p.s.

i had mentioned that during this series i would be livestreaming on vertigo each week. the app is quite new and has been having some technical issues, so i'm going to wait until a new version is released and we can hang out on there without any glitches :)

self-care / part 2: getting to know the person living in your skin

Leave a comment: 8 comments


self-care series
((part two of eight))
hello stardust,

it's so nice being here with you. i've been feeling a bit off lately, like the wind is blowing harder than usual and i'm struggling to stay on this tightrope. being here with you and talking about these things feels like a branch to hold onto. so thank you for that.

this is the second part of my series on self-care. this week i wanted to talk about getting to know yourself. it's an interesting concept and something i think about often. am i more soul or body? are they separate? is my personality/wants/dreams separate from the reflection i see staring back at me? a bit off topic, but interesting to think about, i think. so if you're looking in the mirror you see a slightly distorted version of 'you'. it's not even a perfect representation of what people see when they look at you, and there's a much bigger part of what makes you who you are.

i think of it like my body is an apartment that i'm renting. it's my responsibility to take care of it while i'm here, to feel proud of it when i meet people. but it's not me. what is me is much deeper and more complex than skin and bones. my soul is what survives longer than my body. my soul is what people think of when they think of me; how they'll remember me when i'm gone.

it's easy to know and understand the temporary shell that surrounds your soul. you can touch it and memorize the colors and curves. it's not so easy to understand what's underneath. but it's much, much more important.

when you get to know that person, making life-choices becomes a cinch. this knowledge is nourishment for every area of your life. it's a way to water relationships in your life and watch them grow. a way to save time by avoiding doing things you know will ultimately make you unhappy or hurt you.

so if you think of yourself as a friend, you can begin this process. you care deeply for this person, but maybe don't know or understand fully who they are. so the first thing you would do with this friend would be to ask them questions.

maybe you don't know the questions to ask. some things that continually help me with these questions are personality tests.

i’ve always loved taking these kinds of tests. any silly thing that i scroll by saying, ‘what type of leaf are you?’ catches my eye and i have to find out. 

this may sound a bit shallow, or even narcissistic. but as these tests have brought me insight into myself that i couldn't have found otherwise, i realize how valuable they can be. these tests can help you learn the deep things about you that will then help others understand your needs. they can help you understand your gifts.

i tend to be a little bit superstitious. i love finding signs and deeper meanings. so when i take a test that tells me my spirit animal and it ends up touching a unique place in my heart, i'll hold onto it. 

for example, years ago i took a quiz to tell my what my 'spirit animal' is. i'm always curious, and sometimes the outcome doesn't seem quite right, but at the time it felt dead on. this quiz told me that my spirit animal is a swan, and over the years, i've seen swans on significant days of my life, and it seems like a sweet little blessing. here is the simple description this test gave about my spirit animal:

Swan: 

Powers: Foretelling future through dreams, dream-walking

Swans are idealistic, open-minded, and passionate. Your good nature often leads people to think they can take advantage of you, but they should be careful—beneath that serenity lies a fighting spirit. Your love is fierce and unconditional, fueled by the certainty that it should last forever.


i recently (years after the first time) re-took this quiz and got the hawk as my spirit animal. here's their description of this:

Hawk:

Powers: Communicate with the divine, discern powers in others, photographic memory

Hawks are the messengers of the Spirits. Adept with language, you might be a writer or a teacher. Your ability to assess situations impartially means that people often seek your guidance before making decisions. A brilliant visionary, you sometimes forget the mundane details of life like eating, sleeping, or paying bills.

so i try to take each test result with a grain of salt, not attaching it too deeply to my spirit, but acknowledging that i have gifts that i can share with others.



so as i've gotten to know myself, i've learned not only what gifts i have to give, but what gifts i desire to receive from others. these are often the same, but sometimes it's more complex than that. a good test to determine what you like to give and take in relationships is the love language test. there are a few of these out there, and they are typically geared toward romantic relationships, but i think it's good to know for any kind of relationship in your life. 

when you know what you need and can communicate that to the people in your life, your relationships can be so much stronger. or maybe this person is unable to give you what you need (or vice versa), and it's a good idea to distance yourselves.

a couple of other tests that i highly recommend are the Enneagram (more information here) and the Myers-Briggs (more information here).

these are both very well established tests which can give you thorough insight into your personality. i've taken the myers-briggs test multiple times in the last ten years or so, and have consistently gotten the same result. every time it tells me i am ENFP (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving). and the description that goes along with it describes me to a T.

this has been particularly helpful as i can often have introverted tendencies, but know deep down that after a difficult day, the best way thing for me is to be around a friend or two. my social anxiety will also often tell me that i should be alone, but in reality that only makes me feel worse.

that's just a personal example, but knowing myself can help me filter out lies that depression and anxiety often try and make me believe.



i truly believe that knowing yourself is a way to love yourself; to know what you need out of life, and not settling for less. you deserve all of the joy and fulfillment this life has to offer.

have you ever taken a personality test that has been an epiphany in your life? i'd love to hear any other ones you guys recommend!

just a reminder:

during this series i will be posting each week at 5pm Eastern Time and going live on the Vertigo music app at 8pm Eastern Time. 

see you then.

xo,

Ashley



Listening to:

listen with me to my playlist tonight (wednesday 4/12) at 8pm :) we can chat while i livestream and it'll be lovely.

you can download the free app for iphone herespotify premium or an apple music subscription are needed to listen along. if you don't have either, you can still hop in and chat with us and see what songs we're listening to.

if you're unable to make it tonight, i'll be posting my playlist on here tomorrow :)

self-care / part 1: taking the time

Leave a comment: 9 comments

self-care series
((part one of eight))

hello soft soul.

i hope this message finds you feeling warm and content.

this post is the first of an eight part series i will be doing over the next two months.

i've been finding myself busier than usual lately, which typically means that i'm putting my needs on the back-burner. and this becomes a domino effect of feeling unhealthy, beating myself up for it, and leaning into self-destructive behaviors because of this.

i typically notice this from a distance and let it run its course until my life eventually quiets down. but i recently decided that this is something i want to work on. i want to recognize the things that my body and soul need, and do everything in my power to give myself these things, in an attempt to battle the demons telling me that i don't deserve to feel healthy and strong.

the first and most difficult step is accepting that you deserve self-care.

you may not necessarily feel this acceptance deeply when you begin your self-care journey. and to be completely honest, this is where i find myself currently. this is a huge challenge for me right now. you know that depression & anxiety combo we've talked about here? that gets in the way of so many things in life. but starting now, i'm going to stand up against it. and even though i don't always feel like i even *want* to take care of myself, i have to believe that it'll be worth it. that i'll come out stronger and wiser.



one difficult thing about my life currently is that i have almost no structure whatsoever. i am self-employed (secret midnight press has my heart), so my schedule varies each day. this can lead to fluctuating emotions of feeling incredibly productive and proud of myself some days, and feel like a total failure other days.

having structure and schedules in life is a super healthy thing i think (even though it feels like a drag sometimes). it can helps you prioritize and appreciate the 'free' time you're allotted.

i'm definitely a to-do list person. i'm so scatter-brained so often that i can easily forget plans i've made or small things that need done. and it is so rewarding checking off items on a list.

so as you're planning out each day, my encouragement is to schedule in time for yourself. even if it's only ten minutes to start. give yourself time to take a bath, clean up your workspace to give you a clear mind, lay and do nothing (guilt-free), or whatever you feel would lift your spirit that day.

i'm beginning this practice by scheduling my posts each wednesday during this series:
i'll be posting each week at 5:00pm Eastern Time.
i'll be following this by going live on the Vertigo app at 8:00pm Eastern Time (information at the bottom of the page).

my hope is that taking this small step will give me a little bit more structure and mental clarity. along with this, i'll schedule in twenty minutes each day to unplug, breathe, and meditate. it's amazing how good it can feel to put your phone on airplane mode even if just for a little while.



will you do this thing with me? i'm nervous, quite honestly. i'm sure that i'll stumble occasionally, but if we're in this together, maybe it won't feel quite so daunting.

i'd love to hear ways that you have or plan to treat yourself to a little bit of love in the coming days and weeks.


xo,

Ashley


Listening to:

listen to my playlist with me tonight (wednesday 4/5) at 8pm Eastern Time on the Vertigo app :) we can chat while i livestream and it'll be lovely.

you can dowload the free app for iphone here. spotify premium or an apple music subscription are needed to listen along. if you don't have either, you can still hop in and chat with us and see what songs we're listening to.



*update*

as promised, if you weren't able to make the vertigo livestream, here was my playlist:

1. CHVRCHES - Lungs
2. Marina & the Diamonds - Numb
3. Vesperteen - Drinking from an Empty Glass
4. The Japanese House - Leon
5. Zella Day - Wonderwall
6. Lorde - Liability
7. Sylvan Esso - Coffee
8. The xx - Together
9. Vesperteen - Obsess Possess



talk to you soon

finally, spring

Leave a comment: 4 comments



it never fails that every spring for me feels like the first spring i've ever experienced. winters in the midwest can be so long and so brutal. the jagged tree limbs are sharp against the grey skies and it can be hard to feel hopeful some days. 

so when i look out of my window and see little white flower buds pushing through the sharp edges of the branches, i feel every part of me soften. like i've been holding my breath for months and now i can finally let it out, close my eyes, and welcome the sun. it's incredible.

these past few weeks have been consumed with secret midnight press projects. and i imagine the next hundred thousands weeks of my life will be as well, but it's such a source of joy in my life that it's fully worth it. jesse and i are always brainstorming (or heartstorming?) new ideas for the coming months and years and i'm beyond excited. 

we have finally gotten all of the products of our spring seasonal box. we announced subscription boxes recently, each season will bring new, creative, curated products to your door. seasonal themed products to gently inspire the deep-feeler inside of you. we have poured so much of ourselves into these things and i know with my whole heart that they will be sources of joy and peace. i can't wait to bring all of them to life.

that being said, this new spring box includes our newest book of poetry. we collaborated on this one, providing poems with the themes of life & love. these poems are raw and honest, drawing some from the dark depths, and some with the shiny edges around the dark clouds. 

this book is currently only available in the spring box. as the seasons go on, we will continue to add more products to buy on their own. but for now, it's home is in this season, along with other objects that inspire earthy newness.

so i will leave you with a couple of things:

starting next week i will be going back to post every wednesday. 

i feel as though i'm coming out of a soul-hibernation as the weather warms me. i'm inspired and excited to share with you, feel with you, grow with you every single week. 

and lastly, i'd like to share with you a poem of mine from Live Poems Love Poems


KNOW

you were born from the universe
close your eyes and see the galaxy
open them and watch the stardust dance
milky moons wash over you
moss makes up your insides and
you bleed lava
feel the burn of change on your flesh
groan with the ancient trees and
know, if only,
this:
your spirit is spectacular




talk to you soon.



xo,

Ashley



Listening to:


Balmorhea - Divisadero


questions answered

Leave a comment: 8 comments




hello, sweet friend of mine.

i mentioned yesterday that i would answer 12 questions you send me. thank you so much for all of your incredible, thoughtful questions. i will be doing this periodically, so if you missed this one, you'll get another chance :)

here are just a few of the amazing questions you all sent:


1.   "Is it hard for you to be vulnerable and put yourself out there in both your poetry book and your blog? I struggle with sharing my feelings, thoughts, and struggles sometimes and I'd like to get better at that."


to be honest, it depends on the day. it's something that i've worked on for many years. i've always been an external processor, so from a young age i've wanted to talk through my problems. i am blessed to have parents that are understanding and accepting, so i felt comfortable talking about some of the feelings i was dealing with. i was always worried about what people thought about me, so it wasn't until late in my senior year of high school that i started to really open up. 

a big moment for me was when one of the girls in my class, a cheerleader, always bubbly and laughing and fun, opened up that she had tried to commit suicide. she had done this months before, and decided to share it with a class. i found this so incredibly moving, brave, and powerful. there wasn't a dry eye in the room listening to her share, and everyone responded with love. now, this was an intimate group, and i wouldn't recommend shouting it from the rooftops, but i do think that starting with a person/people you trust and working your way out is a good way to go. 

her sharing her story helped me realize that just because someone is smiling and cheerful on the outside, doesn't mean that's the whole story. and over the years, realizing that everyone hurts in different ways, has empowered me to open up in hopes that others will feel the relief that i felt knowing they're not alone. 


2. "When did you realize that creating was something you had to do? What happened (or didn't happen) that made you realize this?" 

this realization came and went over the years. in high school i was incredibly in touch with my creative side. after  graduation i went to college, undecided on a major, and started exploring more 'practical' options. i was working in healthcare at the time and for awhile pursued a degree in that field. i was nearly failing the math and science classes and feeling incredibly stifled creatively. i wasn't writing, but i felt that this career would be a safe bet after my dad lost his job during the recession. then as the months passed by and he wasn't able to find a job in business (the field he was in for 25 years), he decided to start a new career in something he loved. 


this was incredibly inspiring to me. my dad, a husband and father of four, took the risk to pursue a career that he would truly love. this was a huge factor in me deciding to choose a path with writing. i ended up receiving my bachelor's degree in english and knew in my heart that i would always be writing.

3. "please use a color, a smell and a sound/song to describe the way you feel right now." - cocoi (@bluecocoi)

ooh i love this. i'm going to say grey/blue (misty morning), smell of the forest after a summer rain, & the song at the bottom of this post (i can't stop listening to it). i'm feeling introspective and melancholy, but alive and calm.


4. "Do you have any advice on how to deal with a friend who's always putting you down and being negative towards you? I feel like there's no way out because we've been friends for a year, so thank you for reading this if you see it." - Kailee

to be honest, i've been through quite a few friendships like this. i tend to be a people-pleaser and let people walk all over me until i can't take it anymore. here's what i've learned:

confront them. it's not easy, but this is the only way to have a hope of saving the friendship. be completely honest, but gentle, about how you're feeling. saying things like, "it hurts my feelings when..." instead of directly attacking them. no one will respond well to attack. so if you're gentle and honest, hopefully your friend will listen and make changes. if they do, be patient with them. keep communicating your needs and ask what they need from you. openness is key.

if you have given them a chance to make it right and they continue to treat you poorly, it's perfectly fine to distance yourself. i know the feeling that "there's no way out," but that's simply not true. i can't stress enough that communication is the most important thing. if you feel that you've expressed your needs as clearly as possible, and they are choosing to ignore them, it is best to walk away. you may find yourself in each others' lives again after some time (it's happened to me), but a friendship should be an equal give and take. you deserve to have friends who love you unconditionally.



5. "When you're going through a writers block, and you can't find inspiration though anything, how do you find your voice again?" - Meredith

this has happened to me many times over the years. the difficult thing is, it can be quite different for every person. for some people it helps to just push through and continue writing every single day, and one day it'll just click. for others, a small break can be extremely helpful. but you can't know what you need until you try. so i would say go the trial-and-error route.

an easy way to start is by journaling. this doesn't have to be pen and paper, you can have a private account where you write in online, even if it's just a sentence or two about how you're feeling. or go on to describe in length your entire day as if to a close friend. journaling often helps to connect your mind to your emotions and the words will come more naturally.

that has always helped me. i started there, and eventually went on to write a poem a day for about 6 months. this was three years ago and i haven't had writers' block since.

6. "I would absolutely love to know any history and emotions that you would be willing to share about poem 17." (from Smoke Signals)


here is the poem:


17.


your voice is like
honey
dripping down
my throat
but your words like
daggers make me
bleed
so stop
calling my name
in your sleep
because
each cut is curing my
disease of you
draining the illness
of needing you
despite the condition of my
cardiac muscle
every time you
tell me that you
love me because
lord knows
these letters are
lies and
lord knows
I need more
than vows from vowels so please
forgive me and
forget me
while we
sway to the dance of the
devil
while we
weep with each breath
whispering
goodbye


i always feel the need to apologize when i give anyone my book. the poems are mostly dark & sad, a glimpse into the arena where i wrestle my demons.

as i sort of mentioned previously, i've spent most of my life as a self-hating people-pleaser, so this drew me to the manipulative type. as long as i felt needed i would be okay. i found my worth in people appreciating me, 'needing' me, being 'changed' by me. this came in the forms of friendships and dating relationships and all of them rolled together fill a huge, dark, messy place in my heart. although some of the hurt was many years ago, i can still recall it as though it were yesterday. and it rears its head once in awhile, so i dig into the grime and hold it in my hands, roll it around and mold it into a hopeful resemblance of art.

& that's what this is.





7. "What has been the hardest part of your process of dealing with mental illness and how did you get through it/what is your advice for others to get through it?" - Hailey


i think of mental illness more like rain clouds, it comes and goes and i don't have an incredible amount of control over it. maybe that sounds like bad news, but it's honestly been a relief to come to terms with. i think the lack of control has been the most difficult part. but realizing that it's an illness, a chemical, biological issue - something that happened to me and that i didn't do to myself - makes it much more manageable. when the rain clouds come i ask for help. that's the first and best thing you can do. i find someone i trust and we talk about it and maybe cry together. if the rain clouds stick around for awhile, i talk to a doctor and a counselor - someone who is trained to help me work through to the sunny days. it's an ongoing process, but i believe that i continue to get stronger, and the joys of life are worth fighting for.

8. "What's your way of showing love?"

honestly, for the longest time, i thought that i showed/wanted to be shown love one way, but was completely wrong. taking well-established personality tests such as the meyers-briggs test and the 5 love languages test has helped me learn a lot about myself, and in turn, given me healthier relationships. i actually plan to do a post on this in the near future. that being said, my love language is 'acts of service.' i love being there for people when they need me. i love for people to know that i'll drop anything at any time if they need help, and i'm always here to listen with a nonjudgemental heart.


9.   "Any tips for thrift shopping? i'm starting to get more into it but find it hard to find things that are my style!"

i would say go often! over the years it's become a hobby of mine (and fortunately an inexpensive one). i've found a handful of thrift shops in my city that i can usually find some incredible gems. you have to look very thoroughly, find the aisles that you like, and pick through each piece of clothing one-by-one. i'm a fairly visual person, so i love looking through pinterest and tumblr. i save fashion ideas that inspire me and try and recreate them with clothes i find at the thrift shop. it usually helps to have an idea of some things you're looking for, like a vintage denim jacket, or a short red dress, etc. that way it'll stand out to you more easily :) it's such a fun adventure, and so rewarding when you find amazing deals.


10. "Do you believe you're born with, I guess, a gift, to write? Or can anyone do it?"

personally, i believe it's a little bit of both - nature & nurture. i think that some people are born with certain tendencies and giftings, some of them having to do with the side of your brain that's stronger. some people naturally gravitate toward numbers and formulas, while others love colors and shapes. so maybe the numbers person isn't drawn to paint, but i believe with time and practice, this person could be an amazing painter. i think that it's never too late to start, and you'll be so glad you did.


11. What inspires you to create?" - Vanessa

this is probably the question i am asked most often. and unfortunately, i don't have the perfect answer. or maybe there just isn't one. i think inspiration is found within each person, that it takes a trained eye to look at the tapestry of your life and find the threads that stick out and shine in the sunlight. i think it's been years of feeling things very deeply and letting them wash over me, reaching out and touching them, accepting them as parts of my story. the more i run my fingers through them, the more closely i understand them and can describe their intricacies. but i am also just so incredibly aware of them, that if i don't reach in, they fill me up until i can't breathe. so creating is a way that i take these feelings that flood me and put them in fish bowls and wells and frog-hopped puddles. it's a necessary release. 

12. Do you have a PO Box (I believe that's what it's called) so we can send things? I'd love to send you gifts for being an amazing human"

you're the sweetest. yes! jesse & i share one and absolutely love hearing from friends :)

PO Box 14831
Columbus OH 43214




i'd love to hear an interesting fact about you! :)

xoxo,

Ashley



Listening to:

Lorde - Liability

 

ashley dun © All rights reserved · Theme by Blog Milk · Blogger