2016: the old year

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"And it has been one hell of a year. I have worn the seasons under my sleeves, on my thighs, running down my cheeks. This is what surviving looks like, my dear." - Michelle K.

2016 has been a wild year. so heartbreaking for so many. maybe the dark spots stand out when you think back on it. maybe you had a major life change this year and maybe have been struggling to adjust. 

new years' is always an exciting time. it’s a benchmark, a time to reflect and start over. we all need second chances.

2016 has had some high highs and low lows for me. some very exciting opportunities, goals achieved, making changes for the better. but there are also things that hurt now that also hurt in 2015. and will maybe still hurt in 2017. 

and the thing is, that’s okay.  

i’m not saying that i’ll just stay complacent and wallow in the pain, but i am saying that i’m not going to beat myself up or feel shame for the sadness. all this would do is make the suffering worse and i could let it swallow me. 

so instead i’m going to say thank you. thank you for being patient with me while i adjust, for accepting me as i am, for encouraging me every day. 

so many of you lovely readers and people in my life keep me going every day. and you guys make me want to be better. 

i want these wounds to heal. i want to love myself. it’s a daily challenge, but i wouldn’t be where i am today without you. 

it’s important, when reflecting on the past, to have grace on yourself. to be aware of your downfalls and be determined to let them make you stronger. to accept the wrong things done to you, and to use them as fuel to love others better. 

if you’ve been reading any of my blog posts, the one thing i hope i have expressed strongly enough is this: everyone suffers. everyone has insecurities and aches and sadness. some people more than others, yes, but i think that suffering is a gift. 

pain is like fire in a kiln that creates beautiful, useful art. suffering can give your life a purpose, but that purpose is up to you. 

my goal has always been to learn from the hurt. when someone breaks my heart, i work hard to never do that to someone else. to love with a fierceness that each human deserves. 

so if you’re feeling defeated at the end of a long, heavy year, take heart. this year could be the fuel that drives you into your purpose. this suffering could shape you into the person the world needs.

2017 will be a year of love. it has to be. we’ve all felt the weight of terrorism, hate, loss, and what we all need is a soft, gentle spirit to soothe the wounds. 

be that person, and those people will be drawn to you. change is possible. you’re not broken. we’re in this together.

love & courage,

Ashley


Listening to:

a day late

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i wish i was stronger. 

truth be told, i barely have the energy to post this. 

my wednesday-blog-post-day breezed by me yesterday. it was thoroughly filled with boxing up and shipping hundreds and hundreds of secret midnight press orders. 

it was absolutely incredible. i truly cannot describe it. 

the support jesse & i have received has blown us away. we're beyond grateful. 

while gratitude is the most overwhelming emotion, there are still so many more washing over me like a hurricane wave. 

i feel both full and empty at the same time. it's wild. 

'smoke signals' is full of words i've been writing over so many years. so many heartbreaks and losses. so many bright days where the sun warmed my skin. 

for most of my life, writing has been the only way i've known to drain the sickness. 

i write to relieve the burden and i do it for me. but what keeps me going is that it means something to you. 

so i keep going for you. 

i wish i was stronger. 

there are so many days when the grey clouds feel like bricks on my chest, like it's hard to inhale and i'm upset at myself that i can't breathe quite right. 

i feel empty and isolated and yet full and warm at the same time and it makes no sense. 

all i can tell you is that you must press on. please. push through the dark days, find the light within you to guide others through the dark. it's an incredible circle of creating and emptying and being filled again that we can only experience with one another. 

so thank you. for being here with me. you have no idea how much i need you. 

xo,
Ashley 

Listening to:



on love & loss

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"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." 
- CS Lewis, The Four Loves


many of us have heard the famous quote, "'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

i find this to be one hundred percent true. 

loss is a part of life. a dark, heavy, lonely part, but a part that we all experience in many forms. 

it could be losing your favorite sweater, or losing your best friend. 

this past week we lost our family dog, winston. he was a part of our family for thirteen years, comforting me as i struggled through my teen years, always there to listen. i would take him on walks to the park by our house, and his silent solace made my volcano heart quiet. 

we got winston as a puppy, and we guided him into his old age. 

life is like a crescent moon, circular, but ending. we travel around the sun with an inescapable end in sight. 

i had a couple of conversations regarding the passing of our precious pup, on whether or not loving him was worth the pain of losing him. i said 'yes, it is' without hesitation. 

to love at all is to be vulnerable.

in opening yourself up to someone or something, you run the risk of shattering. but you're also opening the door to the joy that could be. a joy only fulfilled through requited love. 

the comfort that winston gave us all throughout the years made life more vibrant. his unwavering excitement when we would walk through the door and his constant companionship brought joy and light for thirteen years. losing him is hard, but not having him would have been harder. 

it's scary to open yourself up. but if you don't, you risk the chance of missing out on experiencing true beauty. 

i'll never forget a metaphor i heard once about suffering. it's like we are lumps of clay on the potter's wheel, and when we suffer, when we grieve it's like the potter is pushing into our clay, pushing, pushing and we can't understand why. but the deeper the potter pushes, the more room we have to be filled. to be filled with joy, light, love. 

so, in essence, the more we hurt, the more depth we're given to experience true joy. 

to love at all is to be vulnerable. 

life is so precious, and we must hold things in the open palms of our hands, so as not to crush them. so that they can leave when it's time. 

it's never easy to lose someone, to lose something that you love. but please take heart in knowing that i'm here with you. let yourself mourn for a time. be gentle with yourself as you heal. 

if you'd like, please feel free to leave in the comments the name of the person, place, or thing that you've lost. this can be a sign of acknowledging your pain, but also your gratitude for having them in your life while you did & know in your heart that you made their life better as well. 

healing takes time. but it is truly better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. 

take heart. the best is yet to come. 

xo, 
Ashley


Listening to:

this is for you

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maybe this is the first time you've found yourself at this emotional, moody, beauty-seeking side of the internet. or maybe you stop by once in awhile to see if something sticks, if some of the words i type out resonate enough to fill in some of the empty spaces within you. maybe you've read these post before and think, 'this is nice for someone, but not for me.' 

but if we're being truly honest, words are always for you. either you reject them or you accept them as truth in your own life, but either way, examining art shapes you like a whittler slowly shaves away at the wood to create the softest curves.

this precious message i received recently may resonate with how you may feel when someone opens up to you. like you can't quite relate, but maybe...there's a piece of you buried that needs to be dug up, to be dealt with, so it can fully heal. 

here is a lovely response i received to last week's post:

"I am about to graduate from college and I feel woefully unprepared for the real world and the vast waves of emotion and reality checks that come with it. And yet I must admit, when I first read your recent blog post it's weird, I actually told myself, 'I don't need to hear this. I'm not depressed. I'm not anxious.' And I know that sounds harsh, but it was my first reaction to reading your beautiful, vulnerable words. And I reacted that way because I, unlike you, am not a professional feeler. I am a professional un-feeler, if that exists. I struggle with emotions. I love people and I love life, and I love deeply; but it is very difficult sometimes for me to acknowledge and work through those feelings. It wasn't until the very end of your post upon reading the quote below that I realized God led me to your blog tonight. 

'Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.'
- Unknown

I've heard that quote before, but for some reason reading it in this context, in this moment, made it mean something different. When I first started college, I was in the middle of an unhealthy, emotionally abusive relationship that I thought was love. Once I finally had the courage to end it and set myself free, I thought I could move on with my life and start fresh, unscathed. But I was wrong. I had been hurt, but rather than acknowledge that I was hurting, I began to cover up that pain in my heart with a shield of apathy and hardness. I refused to allow myself to feel, even for my family and friends. I became closed off. I, like Alice as you mentioned, began spiraling out of control in my own twisted version of wonderland, all because I refused to deal with the incredibly painful emotions I was feeling. 

I actually called it a box. I am a creative writer as well, and during this time I began to write a lot of poetry. I wrote one poem entitled the box about the exact method I would use to emotionally detach myself from reality whenever things felt too painful to endure. During that time, I lost myself even more than I had when I was in the midst of that difficult relationship. And although things have gotten better since then, if I'm honest with myself, I still haven't really dealt with some of the deeply rooted pain that still rests in my heart. And I'd put it out of my mind until I found your blog tonight. 

So thank you, Ashley, for having the courage that I have lacked for so long to not only acknowledge your emotions, but also to embrace them and to share them vulnerably and unselfishly with others. I may still be broken from this past relationship, but your words reminded me that in time and in faith, those wounds will heal and become less of me than they are now. Your words also gave me hope for the real, honest, true love that I long to experience in a future relationship, whenever that comes along."

and this sweet soul went on to encourage me to stay strong, to dig deep into my spiritual self and that hope is always just on the other side of prayer.

so maybe you don't deal with a mental illness or maybe you don't consider yourself an artist. maybe you're not spiritual or maybe you go the long-way in attempts to escape emotion. you run, you hide from your past. but your past, my love, is you. it is a thread in the tapestry that is beautiful You.

so, dear one, this blog is for you. it's for you because it's a piece of me that i'm handing over with shaky hands; this fragile piece of me i'm trusting you to keep safe. it's for you because we're all mosaics of one another, small pieces of everyone we meet come together to make you whole. it's for you because i'm for you. and you're for me. 


xo,
Ashley


Listening to:

it's weird

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it's weird how sometimes you can feel yourself spiraling down a dark hole and you don't know if there's anything you can do to stop it. 

you're alice falling down the rabbit hole and the objects floating around you are just out of reach. 

it gets so dark sometimes and even writing doesn't seem to fully bleed out the infection. i journal often in an attempt to release the pressure on my chest, and it always helps - even if only a little bit. 

a past journal entry:

"i picked at a scab and now the wound is prone to infection. vulnerable against these harsh winds and i bare my naked skin despite my better judgement because all i want is to feel. feel the cold scream at my flesh like road rash, the icy burn lingers for days and i’m determined to dwell in it. i let the cold linger, it laps its frosted tongue at my soul like a dehydrated doberman, its intention to devour, to grow stronger at the draining of my spirit. i must pour out to make room to be refilled."


maybe these words make sense to you. or maybe they sound as crazy as i feel sometimes. like a rabid rambler, wild and weary but i keep spewing words like sewage out of my system.

it's weird how sometimes you feel like you're watching yourself like you do in dreams. you're watching yourself drown, the waves washing over you and you're screaming but only silence comes out. 

it's weird. 

each day that i walk through, sometimes struggling even to stand, i realize more and more that there's no such thing as 'normal.' if there is any normalcy you can count on, it's suffering. this is a tough pill to swallow, but once you do, you can start fighting against it. you can accept that everyone you meet is carrying a burden that you can't see. 

this realization is one that can truly change the world. knowing you're not alone, knowing that what binds us together is the beautiful burden of being alive. realize that you deserve peace, that you deserve to heal and grow and bless and the world will be a bit brighter. and when your world is a bit brighter, you can play a part in making someone else's world brighter. and this is the domino effect that i believe can change the world. 

i know it's weird. maybe for most of your life you've been told to hide your feelings, to be ashamed of sadness, to wear a mask and bury your fears. but i believe that it's okay to let yourself grieve once in awhile. to know that it's part of life, that you're not alone in these feelings. 

love yourself first. be patient, be gentle. we're in this together. 


"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."
- Unknown


xo,
Ashley


Listening to:

chills

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hello dearest one. 

as november wraps up, the air has a crisp chill, the birds and leaves are leaving, and the holiday season is spiraling around us like soft glow string lights. 

sometimes it feels like we wake up each morning, sit up, and set our feet down on the hour hand of a clock. life moves us forward whether we like it or not. 

change is scary. 

like diving off a cliff into dark water, there is a thrill, a rush, but the unknown eventually swallows us and we can sink or swim. 

life has thrown some curve balls over here lately. it feels like the riptide is growing and the shore seems so far. 

most of my life i've dealt with seasonal depression. i'm guessing you or a loved one have too. if you live in a place where cold, grey, snowy days fill the winter months, it can be hard to feel like yourself. 

not to mention the holidays - an emotional time for many. movies and television tell us that holidays equal warmth and glowing fireplaces, love filling the rooms of our families. but this is not the picture that many people see. 

 
as the sun sets sooner, the warmth grows weary and layers are needed, it's easy to hide out in the dark.

it's easy to let the cold whisper lies burying deep in your bones that you're not brave enough to handle it. 

but this season, let's not do what's easy. let's not listen to the winter wind that pushes us into a dark corner, completely alone. 

because the truth is i need you.

i often end up isolating myself in the colder months, convinced that i'm hollow and have nothing to offer. 

so when you're bundled up and braving the brisk winds, smile at a stranger. give spare change whenever you get a chance. look into the eyes of the person taking your dinner order and know that she feels things deep in her soul that you'll never know.  

change is scary.

but you're stronger than you know.



xo,
Ashley



Listening to:



Secret Midnight Press & My poetry book

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hello, little sparkle.

i want to start this week’s post by saying, ‘thank you.’

thank you for taking the time to read my words today, and if you’ve been around here for a bit, thank you for your encouragement and your presence. i can feel it, and it gives my little heart strength to keep going. 

a couple of days ago, a dear friend of mine (jesse cale) and i launched 

if you follow me on any form of social media, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me post quite a bit about it, but I’d love to let you in on some behind-the-scenes of how this all came to life. 

let’s start at the beginning.


i learned to read at a very young age and was obsessed with books as a toddler. i’ve been drawn to literature my entire life, and over the years i developed my love for writing. 

little kisses on the cheek stand out over the years - like winning a writing award in 5th grade, and then again just before graduating high school, and then once more just before graduating college. 

i’ve had an overwhelming amount of encouragement through the years as well from friends, family, classmates, lovelies online, and the list goes on. 

with all of these kind words swirling around in my head, i finally had the courage to begin writing a book of poems nearly two years ago. i’ve been slowly adding and editing and knitting these words together to create something warm for you to hold during the cold nights.

these poems aren’t all rays of sunshine, in fact, most of them are not. but they’re real, they’re honest, and hopefully they’ll make you feel a little less alone. 

sometimes the weight of life feels too heavy, and when that happens i write. and the pain dims, even if just slightly. 


it has kept me alive through the darkest times.


our hope is that this website, this community of feelers, can do this for you as well. that it can help you feel strong, brave, and so worth fighting for. 

jesse and i have been friends since we were 12 years old. we bonded through music and art and feeling so many feelings. we were so convinced that no one could ever understand us. we were boiling over with angst, but we always had each other. 

we have stayed friends all these years, constantly encouraging and challenging each other to grow into our sensitive, colorful, lavender-scented, satin skin.

it's not always (rarely) easy to walk through life with the weight of wonder and curiosity and creativity, but knowing that you're not alone makes it possible. we share the weight, we get stronger together. 

our hope is that this grows into something like a life-raft for when you feel like you're drowning. 

we're deep-feelers and we're here for you. please join us.


my book 'smoke signals' is available for pre-order currently on secretmidnightpress.com. all pre-orders will be signed. 


also - please take a look at the new header links on the blog! we'll be touring next year and would love to meet you.

we will be live on facebook thursday, november 17th at 7pm EST reading our poems and chatting with you. 

follow along here:



xo,
Ashley

Listening to: 

this one is about love

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"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




**about 24 hours ago**


i write this as i watch the television in america on tuesday november 8th, 2016. 

once i post this, a decision will be made, the leader of the next four years of our country will have been decided. 

but right now, we are all waiting with bated breath, gripping onto ideologies like childhood stuffed animals like we can't make it a day without them like if they're taken from us we won't survive. 

and i am guilty of this. i am terrified of the outcome of this night for my country. 

but what calms my nerves right now is the faith i have in love. love will win. love has to win. 

here's what i know: every human longs to be seen, to be accepted, to be loved. this longing drives us and sometimes in the wrong direction. when we don't receive these things, we can become distorted versions of ourselves. 

what i believe is that all brokenness stems from a lack of support or acceptance in an area of life. 

so what can we do in this difficult time?

we can love. vague, i suppose. but a timeless virtue that has never failed. 

smile at a stranger. give spare change to those who ask. encouragement to acquaintances. hold hands with the hurting. 

we can rise above this, friends. 

we can come alongside humans that are different from us. different faces, different orientation, different preferences, we can look them in the eyes and say, "we are the same."

we are broken, we are beautiful, we are trying. 

as long as we have love, we will survive. we will continue on and we will grow.

we need each other, fellow humans of the world. let's hold each others' hearts like precious diamonds and never let go.

** today **

i've been fighting back tears all day long. my heart aches for this country, for this world. 

i write this as a straight white female. i can't begin to imagine what my fellow LGBTQ, black, hispanic, asian, immigrant, young, old, poverty-stricken, marginalized brothers and sisters are feeling right now. 

here is what i know: we can rise above this.


hope is a well within you. the rain fills it and you can dig in, you can quench your thirst, you can overflow.

love is the answer. we must love with boldness in this difficult time. 

you may not feel accepted, understood, loved. but i want you to know - 

please know - 

take this and hold it like a torch, bright and contagious -  

you are so valuable. you are so precious. despite what this election may mean for our country, love will drive out hate. 

there is still good. look for the good. be the good.

if your heart is breaking today, tomorrow, the next day, please speak out. there is still good in this world & we need you so desperately. we need your gentle spirit. stay.



"This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it. It is, it is worth it." - Hillary Clinton


xo,
Ashley

Listening to:



1-800-273-8255 is the US National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

i am here with you. i accept you. i love you.

seasons

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for as long as i can remember, depression and anxiety have been in my life like distant relatives.

sometimes we go years without seeing each other. and then all of a sudden they show up at my front door. somehow without even opening the door they're inside, ready to get to know me. they're in my life now like an infection, eating my food, breaking my things. and they always overstay their welcome.

but eventually, usually slowly, they're packing their bags, and leave in the night without saying goodbye.


i know they're gone, but their cigarette smell lingers in the house and i can't get all the stains out that they made. they've left an imprint and i know one day they'll be back. 

but i breathe deeply, knowing i'm free for now.

what i'm trying to say, friend, is that there are seasons. it can get very dark and cold sometimes. but the sun is always there behind the clouds, you've just got to hold on until they clear. 




i don't always know what season i'm in. sometimes all i can do is get through the day ahead of me and brace myself for the night. sometimes i wake up to the soft glow of morning and feel the warm embrace of spring. 

these highs and lows are like paint colors on my life's canvas. they make life beautiful. they make life vibrant. 

maybe the paint brush doesn't seem to be in your hand, but i can promise you it's sweeping in a beautiful dance, each stroke a pendulum swinging with your heartbeat and when you step back, it's a more perfect masterpiece than you could possibly dream.

keep holding on. the sun will be out soon.




  xo,

Ashley



Listening to:

Zee Avi - Concrete Walls

a few small things about this small girl named ashley

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hello, moonbeam. 

i don't think i can say it often enough or in unique enough ways: thank you. i like you. i like sharing this space together. 

this is a blog post and i am sitting here right now writing it, but i don't know anything really about blogging. about what people really want to read or experience when they click a link or type in the letters that lead them to a person's blog. 

all i try to do here is be honest and a little bit vulnerable and hope deep down in my heart that it makes you feel safe and warm in the space you're in now.

so thank you for getting this far, for putting up with my ignorance and i guess my lack of research. 

i could follow hundreds of blogs and try to crack the code of 'How To Make Money As A Blogger' or 'How To Reach Existential Peace Through The Affirmation Of The Internet.'

well, maybe i'm a little guilty of that last one. aren't we all?


so thank you for getting this far.

this week i wanted to help you get to know me a little better. maybe you know by now that i write poetry. that i often do that in an attempt to battle depression and anxiety. that i write these things in an attempt help you feel loved and accepted and understood. but i thought this week maybe we could talk about some lighter aspects of my life. 

so, here we go. 

i live in columbus, ohio. i always have, actually. this may change someday, but for now it's safe and cozy. 

i have never broken a bone. knock-on-wood. 

i was vegetarian for ten years and about a year ago became vegan. i don't like talking about it that much because i hate to make people feel uncomfortable about their own diet. it's similar to politics & religion to me. if you ask, i'll gladly share my personal beliefs & i won't expect you to agree with every aspect of them. if you don't ask, i won't force it, and we can hold hands and skip off into the sunset.

i have two cats called charlie & india. they are so cuddly and bring me so much joy.


my husband andrew is my favorite person in the universe. he's stood by me for over eight years now and i'm a better person because of him. i truly hope everyone reading this has someone like andrew in their lives. his patience and love never run out and i am so thankful. 

many years and multiple tests later, i am still an ENFP. down to the last drop. this means i am terrified of people but i need them to survive so i'm almost always uncomfortable. 

i am always restless and i hope to travel regularly for as long as i can. 

andrew is a musician and craftsman and we manage some real-estate properties and you guys, we don't have a lot of money, but we have a lot of love and we always make it work. 

i am left-handed.

i played basketball and was in a few musicals in high school. i was friends with every type of person.



lastly, my loves, my book of poems will be out in december. my dear friend jesse cale and i are collaborating in some really cool ways and we hope to maybe have the opportunity to meet you sometime next year. this is going to be so much fun. 

and now. i would love to hear a fun fact about you. you guys are always blowing my mind with your giant hearts and your gifts and i love connecting with you. let's talk. we're in this together & i can't wait for what's to come. 

xo,
Ashley 



Listening to:

reaching out in the dark

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i'll be the first to admit that our vantage points may be wildly different. personally, i'm just a touch over 5'2 and concerts are spent on my tippy toes hoping the heads in front of me won't move together, closing the slim window of a view my money bought me. 

i wake up in the morning in a quiet little house on a quiet little street, in a rather quiet city (but hey, we know how to make it loud when the occasion calls for it). 

i had a wooden structure to surround me during my formative years and i (almost) never feared for my life. 

this vantage point could be incredibly different from your own. 

maybe you can always see perfectly in a crowd of strangers swaying to music. maybe your streets are filled with angry drivers and broken mufflers and maybe even worse - the house surrounding you wasn't a place of support at all. maybe it felt like the walls were slowly caving in or the floors were disintegrating beneath you and you had nowhere to run. 

but the truth is there's always somewhere to run. 

there are self-destructive places to run toward, or we could take a deep breath, gather our bags, and begin the march toward the light of freedom. 

this week i chose the latter.


in the spirit of 'radical honesty' (a term i mentioned in a previous post), i'll always be the first to admit that i need something/someone/a rope to pull me out of the ditch. 

so here i stand, shivering, blind, broken, at the bottom of this ditch and i've found a rope. 

sometimes this visual seems too simple. like it's not just so easy to find the rope while you're swallowed in the darkness. like it's not easy to hold onto it, not knowing where it will lead you. like it's not easy to leave the home you've made here underground, the blankets and the carved out portraits of a life you once knew. it's home now.

so how do you trust what's on the other side of the rope?

the first, & maybe most difficult step is vulnerability. you have to find your voice, practice if you need to, and speak out so someone can know where to find you.

it is important to find a safe person that you trust. (if this person is not in your life, there are still options - Suicide Prevention Lifeline - call 1-800-273-8255, operating 24 hours a day).

this week i made a phone call to a counselor (psychologist) i've seen before. this is an uncomfortable step, but i recognized that it was time. the appointment is set. there's hope ahead.



my main point here, friend, is to remind you that you are not alone. i'm right here with you. you don't have to live in the ditch. maybe deep down you know what asking for help looks like for you, and if something comes to mind as you're reading this - here is your sign. go toward it.

so many people want to help you, but sometimes you have to make the small effort to help yourself first. you're worth it.

there is no shame in needing others

there is no shame in suffering

there is no shame in mental illness

we'll get through this together.


until next week, friends.


xo,
Ashley



Listening to:



for the wandering heart

Leave a comment: 15 comments


hi, dearest one. 

i hope that at this moment that you've found yourself reading the words on this page, your heart feels light. 

at this moment in my existence, it is a sunny wednesday afternoon. i am sitting in a small, crowded terminal in NY La Guardia airport.

airports are funny places. for me, they're the places i am the most curious, the most introspective but also outwardly observant. as long as i happen to be early enough and not rushing to my flight, i am able to just sit and watch. in airports i see humans around me and i want so badly to know their stories.

is he going to visit his mother in his home town? is she traveling home from a business trip? are they heading to their honeymoon? i am so curious that sometimes i make up stories for them in my mind.



it's a nice break from the usual overwhelming, heavy thoughts of existence and purpose. i can step away from that for a moment and see the people around me as souls with stories, an ocean of pain and joy within them and i am not an island. 

this is the reason i love to travel. i am self-employed, and although i am in an industry of thinking of other people, i still end up alone with my thoughts more often than not. and more often than not, these thoughts swallow me up until i'm an empty shell of myself. 


while i am able to occasionally break free from these ominous thoughts, i don't want it to seem like it's something i've mastered. far from it, truth be told. self-doubt still keeps a steady beat in the background of my murky mind. it thumps away softly, as consistent as my heartbeat. i often don't even notice it. but when i do, i always have a choice. 

i can listen to its cruel voice telling me i have nothing to offer anyone, that my life is a waste

or

i can fight it. i fight it by doing the things my thoughts tells me i can't.  

there were years where i thought i couldn't travel. that the anxiety would surely be so unbearable, panic attacks clipping my wings. 

i let it win until i couldn't give in any longer. last summer i took on two of my fears: being alone & driving long distances. i took a seven hour solo road trip and i swear it was like shedding skin. i felt new. the sunset washed over me as i drove through the hills, playing healing music, and my fear vanished. 



you wanna know a sure-fire way to get me to try something? 

tell me i can't. 

i've always had a rebellious spirit, & now i try to use this in a positive way.

i know that this is much, much easier said than done. and depending on what the mountain is in front of you that you're afraid to climb, it can take many small steps before you get over the highest peak. all i know is, this can never be done alone. 

i truly believe that as humans, we were created for community. it is one of our greatest and most important purposes. for me, traveling helps me to feel connected to the world, to stretch my heart outside of the tiny bubble of my personal reality.

for years i felt so lost. & at times i still do. but i do know that when i travel, i feel a part of something bigger. like i belong. like i am one with the constant current of life in this moment and it's not about me. 

finding the place you belong in this life gives you a fullness to overflow to others and spread light like an electric river through the veins of humanity. 

& once you find your place, your heart can truly take flight.



this is only the beginning, friends. there are so many more things about tackling fears and finding you place that i want to work through with you.

maybe traveling isn't an option or an interest for you right now. i'd love to know what obstacles you're fighting to overcome so we can get through it together. we need each other.



“growth is painful. change is painful. but nothing is as painful as staying somewhere you don’t belong.” - mandy hale




Listening to:

inspiration: hide & seek / part 2

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let's get right to it - daily life can feel like it's burying you and the last thing you want to do is hike up that mental mountain to your creative place. 

you've had a long day, and the monotony of everyday dulls the colors around you. 

i've been here - many times. 

so how do you stay inspired when it feels like the paint on your paintbrush has dried up?

think of it like this - you've been running around all day and haven't thought about eating until you walk into a café and all of a sudden you're starving. the smells surround you and you find yourself breathing in deeply and you know what you want; what you need. 

when you're feeling uninspired, one of the best things you can do is dive into any art that is available to you. thankfully, if you have an internet connection, art is always available to you. and if you don't, well, looking up at the sky is even better. 


maybe that sounds too simple. 

because sometimes creating something is like an amputation and it isn't that easy. 

but i can tell you that with practice, it gets easier. 

when you step out of your comfort zone, you're building your creative muscle and with time, it hurts less and less. 

one thing that has worked wonders for me was setting specific goals. i had been writing maybe one poem a week, whenever i felt like it, which was a great start. then i told myself that i want to write one poem every day. for a year. 

i was very strict about this for months. even if it was a haiku or just a few lines, it was meaningful.

as i started working this new muscle it hurt. but i stretched and i didn't give up and now i can look at a blank page and words just come out. 

i take an emotion into my hands like a ball of clay and my warm hands mold it into something useful or maybe even beautiful. 


it's not overnight, but it will happen. 

practice your passions. 

follow and work with people that drive you. 

immerse yourself in a world that welcomes you, people and places that make you feel alive. 

be weird. be you. your purpose is waiting for you. 


xo,
Ashley 



Listening to:



>>
if you want to follow me into the creative corners of the internet, here are a couple of places i wander into when i need a little inspiration:

<<

inspiration: hide & seek / part 1

Leave a comment: 11 comments



i have to be honest with you guys.

this week has been a bit of a dark one for me. 

sometimes i wonder if i'm slowly melting into madness, wax from a burning candle dissolving into the air. 

yesterday i really thought i was going to snap from the weight of gravity. 

the night before, i dreamt that i was leaving. everyone was leaving. we were in a crowded train station walking when suddenly we were lifted off the ground. the lights slowly dimmed and i woke up in a new place as if after anesthesia. 

i didn't recognize anyone and i had nothing with me. i started walking and was lifted again, and again i landed someplace new. 

this kept happening and i knew it was happening to everyone simultaneously. i knew we were all starting over. like the sky reached down and plucked us out of our bad relationships and miserable jobs and said "here, let's try again."

it was freedom.

i woke up with a pit in my stomach, realizing that my reality roots me into the earth and maybe i don't like where i'm planted. and it feels like i have no say in this and that's when the fear blows cold on my neck and i'm chilled inside and out. and then it's a fever sweat and the thoughts are moving so quickly that i can't hold onto them and i swear i'm drowning.

i want to dig into the earth so deep that i can hide there; one with where i came from. 

but i don't.

i keep walking.

and unlike my dream, i don't lift off the ground, i'm not transplanted, but i'm moving. 

it's easy to feel like you're not in control. but then you lift your left leg, and then your right, and you realize that your feet aren't actually shackled to the ground. 

and this is only the beginning.

you take these realizations and you water them like a spring rose, breathing life into it, watching it slowly bloom in front of you and it becomes something that your hands built. 

sometimes it hurts to create, like you're giving a piece of yourself to the seed that you planted, and all you want is to smell the fresh rose. but what you don't see are the roots growing under the soil. 

it's easy to feel like you're not in control. like inspiration, or a desire for growth and change, is hiding around the corner and it's just out of reach. but then you take one step, and then another.

and this is only the beginning.

xo,
Ashley


listening to:

let's talk about talking about the things that hurt

Leave a comment: 12 comments


It can feel like morning and evening come around without the sun ever coming up. It can feel like the knot in your stomach is climbing up to your throat and clamping down. Like the words could never come tumbling out of your mouth as a healing waterfall, baptizing you with your confession. 

Maybe you don’t know why or how this dark cloud has swallowed you, but all you know is that it hurts. Everything hurts.

So we can start there. 


Maybe the grey clouds are relentless as the days and weeks drag by, both in slow motion, and spinning so fast it makes you dizzy. You feel like you’re losing grip. 

If this is you, say it aloud with me: “It hurts.”

Can you hear it? The echoes of voices around the world whispering this into the air with you. How the heat of our breath can warm your chilled bones. 

So we can continue from here.


Now that you know that this hurt is not yours alone to carry, you can find a trusted friend, a close family member, a safe person, and say it aloud to them. “It hurts.”

Remind them that it’s not their fault. Remind yourself that it’s not your fault. 

Know that depression affects nearly 7% of America’s adult population. Know deep down in your soul that you are not alone. Let that spill into your spirit like a sparkling summer brook. 

We all hurt in our own ways, and we all need each other’s help. There is so much joy left to be felt. So much more sunshine to kiss your skin, cool breezes to breathe life into you. 

It’s never easy to ask for help. But once you do, there is freedom ahead. 

So we can heal from here.


Begin this process by educating yourself on what you may be experiencing. This can put words to the misfit puzzle pieces you’re feeling inside of you. It can give you tools to express yourself when you’re reaching out to a loved one. 

There is an abundance of information you can find here: https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression

There are communities out there that were created by hurting people, for hurting people: https://twloha.com/

Remember that it’s not your fault.

Remember that there is healing waiting for you, all you have to do is reach out your hand. 



I do have so much more that I'd like to talk about with you here. I realize how difficult it is, and this subject deserves a lot of conversations. Just hang in there with me. We'll conquer this thing together.

xo,

Ashley


Listening to:


catching a sparkle

Leave a comment: 16 comments

hello, loved one.

i decided to make a cute little post for your monday (or i suppose whichever day your fingers lead you to this page.)  

you lovely creatures let me know some things you wanted to talk about in this space of the internet, this precise moment in time while our feet are still rooted into the earth as it spins wildly through the galaxy as a tiny speck in the universe. 

okay, that was a little much, but i just write the weird things that come into my weird brain. 

one of the things you all mentioned more than once was talking about the little things that make us happy; small things throughout a bad day that turn it toward the light, making it a little better. 

i love this because these little things often breeze by us unnoticed, and the weight of the difficult things ends up crushing them. but if we're more aware of these little things, we can let them into our hearts to fight off negativity & darkness. 


so  here are a few of my favorite things:

> when the clouds part in the perfect way so that sun rays wisp out in straight lines, almost as if they're reaching out to you. there's something so magical about the golden beams fighting through the heavy clouds, and it reminds me of the vastness of the universe and i am grateful. 

> the perfect cup of coffee. cliche maybe, but as of late i've cut way back on my coffee drinking, so when i do, i want it to warm me from head to toe. this often occurs when i make it to starbucks and order a sugar-free vanilla latte with soy milk. it's a spiritual experience. 



> this song: The 1975 - Robbers
so maybe you have your own song. and i honestly don't know what it is about this one, but it just eases so gently into me, whether i'm driving with the windows down or dancing alone at my house. it just makes me feel all of the things i want to feel and my spirit is aligned. 

> a text from an old friend. i say text because honestly, phone calls overwhelm me and i typically send them to voicemail until i'm ready to call them back. but a little text saying they're thinking of me is such a special gift and makes my existence feel, for a moment, validated. be that old friend. send out a text. you never know what kind of day they're having and how you could turn it around. 

> animals. any kind, any place. a silly photo of a friend's dog or passing a deer on a drive. there used to be a family down the street from me that had pet chickens and goats. whenever i was feeling down, i would walk over there and feed them grass and bask in their innocence. animals bring me so much joy. 


these are just a few of the things that, for me, briefly lighten the burden of living. 

all of the photos on this post are older ones, but they make me feel good about myself, and that is a rare & precious feeling. 

sometimes it's a fight to make it through the day. but when we catch a sparkle in the water, the sun reflecting off it and dancing like glitter, it can feel like a kiss on the cheek. 

i would love to hear some of the little things that make you feel this way. let's talk about it in the comments? 

xo,
Ashley 

Listening to:


(this is another one that makes me feel the good feelings)

a voice in the night

Leave a comment: 7 comments


It’s been just over a month since I starting posting on this blog. Maybe you’ve followed along since then or maybe you’re here visiting for the first time. 

Either way, thank you. 

It feels like there’s been this empty space that we’re all slowly filling with flowers and light and it’s transforming. 

The process of this metamorphosis is not an easy one. 

The truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never been crazy about the idea of starting a blog, but over time, it was almost as though I didn’t have a choice. 



The empty space I mentioned was slowly breaking my heart, the darkness inviting me in and it began to consume me. I felt suffocated, silenced, and I knew there were words I needed to say, people that I needed to speak for & with. 

I want to call out into these empty spaces and keep the quiet from killing you. 

I want to do this together. 



I’ve asked this before, but as time goes on, I’m wondering if the answers have changed:

What kinds of things do you want to talk about? What interests you?

What kind of posts make you feel warm on the cold nights? I want this to be a safe place to talk about hard things & lovely little things where we keep each other sharp and inspired. I welcome conversations in the comments. Encouraging words and virtual kisses on the forehead saying that you’re going to be just fine. 

It’s so easy to lose focus, even the slightest shift in your gaze can delay your dreams from becoming a reality. I want this to be a place that you can come to and realign. 

Find your vision and don’t ever stop running toward it. 

Let’s do this together.



xo,
Ashley



Listening to:

 

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