for the wandering heart

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


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:


  1. Thank you for these words Ashley! I love traveling so much, it makes you forget about your problems and reality for a bit. I'm probably the most stressed, and anxious I've ever been in my life, and its kinda frightening haha. I will graduate in December, and I'm praying that once these next few months are over I can work on healing my mental state. I've always wanted to go on a trip by myself as well, hopefully I'll have the courage like you!

  2. This is reminds me of how how I got into acting and doing plays.
    It started in 8th grade, when at my school, my friend was putting on a play of Cinderella and I auditioned because I thought it would help me get over my crippling anxiety I've had since.. forever.
    I ended up getting cast as the evil stepmother, which was because I was one if the oldest kids who tried out. It was terrifying to jump into that, and I literally almost quit. During tech it got really hard, and I had a huge panic attack. But.. I did it, and shocked all my friends and family.
    Since then, I've been in musicals, plays, and a musical theatre camp.. etc.

    Basically, everytime I audition or perform, I have a breakdown. It's terrifying. But I do this because I thought I never could. I do it because it's the most difficult thing I've ever done.
    And, after all the successes, and panic attacks- even one mid-audition, in which I just cried- I do think I have gotten better. And I'm doing what I thought was impossible. So I think that counts for something. I'm finally becoming myself.
    Right now I'm in rehearsal for my highschool's production of Alice in Wonderland. I'm playing the Queen of Hearts, and it meant a lot to me to be able to get that part. It has been painful, but so worth it.

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  4. Reading this has raised my hopes for the future. I hope one day I can also make time to do a solo road trip. I hope it will help me like they have helped you.☺

  5. Ashely, thank you for writing this. It's like my own thoughts out on paper. Last summer I drove 10 hours to Montana. Like you said "new skin" and my self-doubt has been eating me inside for awhile. But no more. This is the first of your writing that I've read and it really connected with me. So now you have gained a new friend, follower, fan. Can't wait to read more.

  6. Thank you so much for baring your soul to give us hope. Your words mean the world to me and your vulnerability inspires me to share my own art (something I never thought I could do). All the love. <3

  7. This post is really great, thank you. It's sucks to always be the person to bring yourself down. I'm always the one to tell myself I can't do something. And I've been feeling really pointless lately. It's something I really need to change but this s really encouraging. I love realizing it's Wednesday and reading your new blog, they always help. I'm super happy you started it and I can't wait for your poetry book! ❤

  8. Ashley,

    Thank you for your always uplifting words. Being in my 30's I struggle with self doubt and the feeling of being trapped daily. When I was younger, all I wanted was to have a career, significant other, and a family. I was in the Air Force for seven years, have an awesome career in ultrasound, have been married for 10 years, and have three children. I have accomplished quite a bit in my lifetime, but these accomplishments can feel like a weight pulling me under at times. I suffer from anxiety to the point where I have recently had to become medicated due to not being able to function. I should be able to be to see all the joy that I have in my life, but I struggle daily just trying to get out of bed to enjoy the life I have. I don't know what I feel like I'm missing or what I need to feel peace. Do you ever struggle with things like this?

  9. I'm a freshman in college and I'm stuggling with the whole, "what do I want to do with my life? Who am I? Who do I want to be? Did I make the right choice coming to this school or is there a better one that I just haven't discovered yet?" Basically every thought I have pertaining to myself ends with a question mark and I have no clue what to do or where to start. I hope to overcome these obstacles as they take up a lot of mind space and cripple me. Glad to know you're here holding my hand through this Ashley 💖

  10. I knew i needed something. Something to remind me of what im trying to achieve and bring me back to earth. This was it. The words flowing from this page leak into my thoughts and help me to feel and understand what i've been fighting to and i'm oh so grateful. I may be shedding a tear in english class reading this but it's so worth it, Wednesday's and mondays are becoming my favourite days with these posts. <3

  11. Ashley,

    I have just spent the day reading all of your poems and blog posts. I cannot tell you how much they have helped me to not feel alone, and to know that others are going through the same thing. I have truly been inspired in some way by each post.

    Right now, I am a sophomore in college and I am still unsure as to what I want to do with my life. I have to meet with my advisor soon and I know one of the questions I will be asked is if I know what I am planning on doing with my life. Today, after reading these posts, I feel more confident in pursuing writing. I still feel slightly unsteady, but thinking about my future has always made me nervous. I know that once I graduate from community college, I will have to transfer to a university and I will officially be on my own. This is another obstacle I am scared to face, but I hope I can overcome it.

    Thank you so much for these posts, for inspiring me, and for helping me know I am not alone and that we can get through this together. I will forever be looking forward to Wednesday's.

  12. I've been feeling especially uneasy tonight, but you seem to always know how to make me feel better. I can really relate to your words and you know how to say things so beautifully.
    One of my biggest dreams is to travel the world, but, unfortunately I am still in school right now. I had the opportunity to go to Kenya this past summer, and I've fallen in love. All I want to do is experience new cultures, but the voice in my head tells me it will be impossible. This post is so inspiring.Thank you for sharing your world with us. I always look forward to what you have to say <3

  13. I'm so glad you were able to conquer your fear. I'm so glad you took that anxiety by the shoulders and told it, "You know what? I'm not going to listen to you this time." I'm so glad you managed that initial drive.
    I think I am currently in the middle of one of those moments right now, just in a slightly different way. This year I had my eyes opened to a problem I didn't realise wasn't normal, and just last night that problem reached it's tipping point and I think I'm on the up scale.
    Ever since I was a child my self-worth and anxiety have been a problem. I didn't understand until about two months ago where those problems stemmed from, but when I did realise I decided to take all the time necessary for me to heal myself a little bit. And yesterday's events have brought me to a place where I can be truly and wholesomely myself. It's exciting and nerve-wracking.
    I'm glad I told the person who needed standing up to "No." I'm glad, in a sad way, that their response was to make me leave. I'm glad that I get to exist without the jusgement of others now. I'm hopeful that the small steps I was taking toward loving and respecting myself will now turn into leaps and bounds.
    Thank you for sharing your mind. Thank you for being and open and real. I hope you're smiling, wherever you are. x

  14. I never traveled much as a kid but when I graduated high school and took a group trip with some of my friends to Ohio I have never wanted to stop moving. Since then I have been on more solo trips without friends and have found them to be refreshing and almost like starting over. Traveling has become a sort of safe haven for me because often times I find myself feeling "stuck" where I am. I tend to get bored quickly whether it's because I have been at one job for too long and feel every day has become monotonous, or because sometimes I worry that what I'm going to school for is a mistake and not really what I should be doing with my life. Whenever I get worried about what to do next I always start looking to make time for another trip. Quite honestly that's the plan now. Figure out where I want to go next and just jump on a plane and go
    Thank you for always sharing your honest thoughts and feelings.