Friday, January 19, 2018

7 Things 2017 Taught Me.

2017 was quite the Year. I think it's important to spend some time reflecting on the lessons we may have learned through out the year. I feel like by March of 2017 I was already hearing people say they were already over twenty-seventeen. I could have agreed but I knew I still had so much life to live and lessons to learn throughout the year. And so, I embraced the wave and took the ride fearlessly. 

I recently wrote down a rather long list of lessons I learned in 2017. But, to keep it short(er) and sweet I have narrowed it down to 7 Lessons that I feel stood out to me the most. Enjoy! 

1. It's Okay to Have a Bad Day.
The end of 2016 and Beginning of 2017 was a wave of an (old) friend telling me I needed to "Get over it," and continuously asked me if I was "Still Being Negative." and to be honest, the only thing that kept me pissed off what her stupid comments of telling me that I needed to throw my emotions to the side and act like my day was rainbows so that it made her feel better. And thus, I learned, It's totally OKAY to have a Bad Day. Because sometimes we just wake up feeling crummy and it follows us like a shadow. Frustration, Anger, Negativity, and bad moods are all basic human emotions and feelings. Feel them. Let them happen. Sit with them. and then put them to rest at the end of the day. But don't apologize for being in a bad mood because -ish happens.

2. You are allowed to say No! 
When it comes to 2017 this could go a few ways. You are allowed to say NO in a #METOO // Women Power kind of way. Because what a year for that it has been. I am sad to have seen the year of ME TOO but it's apart of my story as well and I am happy that stories have come alive because it's about damn time!! --- I've also learned that you are allowed to say No to invites out, conversations you don't agree with, people you don't vibe with, and much more. No is a word we all loved at children and I think it's necessary to use it as Adults, regardless of who it might affect. 

3. Boundaries are Important. Set Them!
Boundaries are meant to be set. We set them for kids, we set them for animals, and we should set them for ourselves and our relationships. It's vital to set boundaries for those around us as it lets them know where they can and cannot go. And trust me, I know quite a few boundary pushers who just love to push, push, push. But in 2017 I finally learned that if I set a boundary, It's set in stone. They can try to push, but that's when I will walk away from that person and situation. If they can't respect your boundaries, then they don't respect you. Those aren't the kinds of people you need to associate with. 

4. You don't need to show up to every argument you're invited too. 
This has been one I have been battling with for years but I finally understood it and applied it in 2017. Somethings aren't worth the scuffle and heartache. It goes back to boundaries, some people want to see just how far they can push you. But I've learned that you don't need to show up to every argument. Not everything deserves your breathe or your reply. Whether it's in person or some nobody who is testing you online (because come on, we all have atleast 1 person), you don't need to reply back to comments. My Dad always says "Let them talk, they'll hang themselves eventually." - and it's true. 

5. You don't need to explain yourself to anyone. 
This was a big year for this lesson. After I graduated Cosmetology School in March of 2017, I went straight into the Salon. Let me tell you, your 1st year at the salon is down right difficult. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a Liar. I'd get questioned if I "actually work," and other rude, demeaning comments. And at first I felt like I needed to explain myself to people. But then I remembered, I don't need to show up to that argument and I don't need to explain myself. It's nobodies business. I make my own schedule, I work my butt off, and I do my thing. My Family knows, My Husband appreciates my work ethic, and I know that I'm kicking life in the butt. Simple as that. I don't know why people feel so inclined to comment on how other people live their life, this goes beyond what someone does for a living. It's a in general problem that we as society have. We think it's our right to discuss other peoples lives or question their decisions. So, the best thing we can do when someone questions us is to just keep doing our thing. It's our lives to live, no one elses. 

6. Take Care of Yourself//Love Yourself.
I've been focusing on self-care & self-love a lot in the last year. This is something I talk about all the time. I know, you're all sick of hearing about it. But I think it's a great reminder to have on a daily basis. So wake up, stretch, meditate, go for a run, drink some water, take a how shower, read your favorite book, eat your veggies, and tell yourself how much of a badass you are. Most importantly: HAVE GRACE WITH YOURSELF! You are doing the best you can! 

7. You are allowed to cut ties & distance yourself.
I could knit a damn sweater with the ties I have cut over the years.  But I think it's a crucial part of growing up. I believe that every now and then we need to cut ties with the things and/or people that no longer serve purpose to the happiness and betterment of our lives. Ironically I was told that very statement by someone I cut ties with about 5 years ago. It really opened my eyes to the things and people in my life. SR and I have been doing a lot of cleaning lately and the amount of crap I threw away that I had been holding on to was insane. and that felt damn good. Have you ever done a Facebook/social media purge? Deleted people you don't even talk to off your accounts? I do this every couple of months and dang does it feel freeing. This is a practice I have been doing in my every day life. If something/someone is giving me anxiety, stress, heartache, etc. and does nothing for the betterment of my life - I'll distance myself. or a cut the ties completely. and it's been better this way.; it isn't always been easy, but it's been for the better.

Oh Life, how many things you can teach us in 365 short days. It's amazing to see how much change comes in just 1 year but somehow we get through it; the bad, the down right ugly, and the scary. We get through it. Pretty spectacular, Huh?

What are somethings you've learned in 2017? Life Lessons or Just random little lessons like Budgeting. (I learned that one too). 

Love without Expecting, Love without Fear, Love, Love, Love. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


There is not one thing you can tell me about myself that I don't already know or have already thought. I was born with a critical heart. No, not in the sense that my heart was in critical condition by medical standards. Okay, it totally was, but that's besides the point. I was born with a critical heart in the sense that I have birthed disapproving comments onto myself as far back as I can remember. Have I had help along the way by the conditioning of society? Absolutely. But I have learned that we have the power, not choice, the POWER, to change all of that piled up self-demeaning critics by one word: GRACE.

It has taken me nearly 28 years to understand this. I have read 1 Corinthians 15:10 many times in my life and I've tried to dissect it's words. "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."  Now if we dig into the old testament word, we will find that when the word grace is used, it means: Favour, Forgiveness, Repentance, and in some context, Salvation. We learn about God's Grace throughout the bible: Through Joseph's Story and his strength to persevere regardless of his brothers actions, Moses' stubborn ways turned to following the path God was leading him on, and well just about every time the Israelites turned away from God. He had Grace. He forgave them, he patiently allowed them redeem themselves, and he walked with them even when the sand shifted below their feet. If that isn't Grace, I don't know what is.

So how can we practice having Grace with ourselves? This is a question I have consistently had for myself. It made more sense once I was introduced to the book "Grace not Perfection" by Author Emily Ley. It's an amazing book written by a mother of 3 who is also a small business owner. She talks about how much pressure we as women we put on ourselves. Of course this is directed to everyone, but she speaks from a place as a working woman/mother. The book goes on to discuss the things like learning to be more kind to ourselves, making sure we are taking care of ourselves so we can take care of others, having a plan to reduce stress, allowing things to happen and let go of control. etc. -- She has some amazing tips and tricks to succeed if I don't say so myself. It's definitely helped me open my eyes more and allowed me to focus on having more grace for myself. 

I'm not sure who made up this rule that we had to have our lives figure out by a certain age. We've been told to have it all together by getting married, starting a family, having a full time job, buying a house, and constantly be doing something worthy enough to be seen as successful. This rule is outdated. This rule sets us up for failure and we all know that failing is the first step to feeling self defeat and the feeling that we ourselves are failures. This is where grace comes in handy. There are many times in my life where I have felt like a complete failure and because I'm human, I still have those days. But that's the thing with self doubt and ineptness, it doesn't ever leave. We just learn to overcome it. We learn to do better and think better. We have learn to have Grace and that is something we should constantly be working on. So how do we do that?

1. Be Kinder to Yourself. Whenever you find yourself preparing for battle against your thoughts, take a step back. Remember that saying, " a bad day doesn't mean it's a bad life," - I think of that as a way to remember to be kind to myself. Life Happens, I fall short, I make mistakes, but at the end of the day..I am Enough. And so are you. It's a hard lesson to learn, but you're doing your best allow yourself to remember that. You are in a constant state of learning, so be kind to yourself when you stumble.

2. Check in With Yourself. For whatever reason people are so robotic when they receive the question "How are you?" and the answer is always the same "Good." or "Fine." - But that's not actually how you are, is it? I wish people gave a real answer and I wish others didn't feel uncomfortable hearing a real answer. So why don't we check in with ourselves every now and then? Ask ourselves how we are doing. Truly. I'll be honest with you, sometimes this conversation with myself is really shitty. It's a hard conversation sometimes. I cringe and my anxiety begins to race. But I think it's important to ask myself "Hey Ashlee, How are You Doing? Like, really doing?" because atleast I will know how to navigate the rest of my day, or week. and with that I can better understand how to have Grace with myself. 

3. Know Your TRUTH and don't hide behind it. When you know your truth, as in, who you are, what you're about, what inspires you, what direction you're heading in etc. you allow yourself to have the power of making your own self worth. (which is my next one) But when you know your truth, it ends up being difficult for others to define who they think you are. So own who you are and don't hide behind it. Who cares what others think. At the end of the day, you are the one that lives with you and you know your heart and your intentions. 

4. Know Your Worth. This is a pill that most of us cannot swallow due to social conditioning. Without even actually saying it, we've been told in different ways we aren't worthy, we aren't good enough. Maybe you've been flat out told "You are not enough." And in that case this step is crucial for you. Know Your Worth. I've learned that to have Grace with myself that I needed to dig deep into knowing my worth. This was a hole that I had to dig and claw my way out of, as I'm sure most of us have had to do. I was 14 the first time I was told I wasn't worthy. This is a story I have shared before. And it's been conditioned in my mind since and burned into my every day life each time I have heard it after. But I had to learn something important - I am Worthy. Wanna Know how I know that? Because I know who I am, I was Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. 

5. Declutter but Allow the Mess. Yes, I know it's counterproductive but it works. Sometimes I'm a mess, Sometimes my house is a mess and well, sometimes my life is a mess. But that's totally ok. I HATE clutter. Just ask my SR. I can't even stand when our dogs toys aren't laying neat by his bed. I can't stand when there is too much furniture and decor from wall to wall, and I can't stand when things are piled up. So this is a hard lesson for me to follow but it's all about Grace. I find my anxiety is less when I have decluttered my space and allowed room. So throw out the stuff you don't need, haven't used in longer than 3 months, and toss the junk you forgot you even had. We just did this to our garage, it was awesome. But also remember that you are human and life happens. Chances are you have kids, you are working and/or going to school, and constantly busy. So Mess will happen. Let it. You're doing your best here but you don't need to be superwoman/superman. 

6. Make time for yourself. I get that you have kids or in my instance  you have a crazy dog to care for. I understand you have no time for a social life between work, soccer practice, and laundry. But you need to pause and breathe for a moment. Schedule it in like you would piano lessons. Take a 5 minute extra shower, Take a bath once a week, get your hair done, or curl up and watch your shows that have been saved on your DVR for the last 2 months. Drink some Tea before bed & read a book. Do something! How can you take care of other people if you aren't taking care of yourself first? You can't fill someone else glass if your glass is half-empty...or something like that. You must take care of yourself first.

7. Stop trying to do it all! You can't be everything for everyone. Read Above! You can't do it all and you should't have too. The life people portray on Instagram is not their real life. That instagram mom with the neat, color coded, and tidy house, the housewife that is always cooking amazing meals for her husband and baking cupcakes for guests, that lady boss who is always in cute heels, a blazer, carrying a clutch and coffee with a smile on her face. It's not a thing. and I've had to learn that. That's a modified picture that took preparation. Chances are, that instagram model rolled out of bed late just like you, spilled that coffee on her 1st shirt of choice while running out the door and trying to put mascara on while backing out of her drive way so she could drop the screaming kids off at school and get to work on time.

Accept yourself for who you are, Honor where you are in life at that moment, Praise when you've got it right, and have compassion for when you've had it wrong. That's the beauty of having Grace with yourself...It's always accepting, compassionate, and forgiving. You don't need to have it all together  24/7, 365 days a week. You just need to remind yourself that tomorrow is only a day away (you're singing that song from annie aren't you? Same!), and with each new day comes a new wave of Grace from God, from your inner most being, and from each day following. Living your best life doesn't have to be a race. Finding your version of perfection doesn't need to happen over night. Rome wasn't built in a day. So go slow, breathe, and go easier on yourself. And if you can't, I'll be here to help you through it. 

Happy Wednesday My Lovelies. Have Grace. Love Yourself. 

Love without Expecting, Love without Fear..Love, Love, Love!


Friday, January 5, 2018

7 Lessons in 7 Years

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. " 1 Corinthians 3:4-8

I like to celebrate the small things. Just ask Speedracer and he will tell you I know the date to every little thing within our relationship, down to the day we first held hands. And I like to celebrate it. I was 20 when we first began to date. It was 1-1-11 when he officially asked me to be his girlfriend and although we now have a wedding date to celebrate each year, I like to get sentimental when the 1st of the year comes around and celebrate how long we have been together. 7 Years. That's what this year marks. And just like the good, young folk we are, we stayed up on the 31st until midnight watching Shameless and eating Ice cream. We barely made it. We crawled into bed at 11:55pm, patiently waited til midnight, said "Happy New Year! Happy Anniversary!" and then within 5 minutes we were both passed out. The amount of party animals we are is scary. Obvi.

Every Year we find ourselves asking each other "Seriously? Another Year already?" in shock with not only how time is flying by, but how how we been together yet another year. People keep telling us relationships are hard. They told us our 1st Year of Marriage would be the hardest and we laughed the day of and thought "That was Cake."...I'm starting to think people are over-thinking this whole Love thing because in our opinion, if it doesn't come easy, you're doing it wrong. So we must be doing something right. 7 Years. No "Breaks," We don't believe in using the "D" word when it comes to marriage (even as a joke), No taking a night off to think about things, No throwing things. That's one thing we told each other from the beginning, if it ever came to be over, it's over. No Breaks. No Time to Think. and it had to be over before we got married or we had to suck it up and learn how to communicate. I'm glad we've learned to communicate over the years...Cause, I kinda like my SR. A lot.

SR & I will with both agree, when it comes to relationships, we are both very difficult people to be in a relationship with. We are both hard headed and stubborn, we both have to have the last word, we both have to be right, we are super needy but also independent. But, we've learned a few things over the last 7 Years. So I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Don't Give Ultimatums. 
I feel like this should just be a common sense thing in a relationship, but to my surprise, a lot of breakups are because someone gave the other person an ultimatum they had to pick between. Question: Why are you giving your significant other an option? Your Vows were not an ultimatum. There was no "I will love you if you love me back." There is no IF in marriage. In my experience, ultimatums result in disappointment and statements you didn't mean to say. It will only cause resentment and end in disaster. They cause more of a fight, one that neither of you will win. So instead of giving your partner a "This or That" option, maybe try sitting down and writing out a list of compromises. This is something SR and I have had to learn over the years. Compromise, it's not always easy but it's better to work out together then giving one person all the power to make a potential life altering decision. 

2. Don't Walk Out, but if You do, Bring home a Milkshake.
Yup, I said it. Bring home a milkshake. Or a starbucks. So I used to suck at fights, at the beginning of our relationship. I used to slam doors, grab my car keys, and leave. Recommendation: Don't do that. It's best to hunker down, stay in the house, and let your Husband/Wife know that you are angry but you are committed to staying. I left the house maybe twice and SR left once. But each time we'd call the other within 5 minute time and ask each other what kind of milkshake the other wanted. And as soon as we walked back through the door the other was there to great us with a kiss and "I'm Sorry." - After some time we learned that leaving wasn't the best option and if we wanted our relationship to last we'd have to learn to stay hunkered down in the house and deal with it. Even if that means you are eating dinner in silence while watching Forensic Files. Just remember: Never go to Bed Angry & Always Kiss each other Good Night. 

3. Don't Bring a past argument into a recent one.
I'll be honest with you, sometimes I slip and I do this. But then I will see the look on SR's face and I'll realize what I just did. And I will feel horrible about it. But We have learned that the past is the past, and some things should just stay there. We can't move on and be happy if we are constantly bringing past flaws and mistakes into the present. It's Toxic. If it doesn't have anything to do with your current argument, don't bring it up. It's not important. If you buried it years ago, it should stay where you left it. 

4. Hug it Out. 
Remember growing up and being told to "Hug it Out" with your siblings after a fight? That was the worst for me. The last thing I wanted to do was hug my sister after we got in a fight, but surprisingly, hugging it out worked. So I think the same thing when it comes to marriage. There are some days where I'm just down and out, and when I am in a bad mood or when SR is in a bad mood, the other knows about it. I always tell SR to watch his attitude because of how he says things when he is moody. But when he gets home from work the first thing I do is want a hug. Hugs make everything better. Saying I LOVE YOU is nice, but actually feeling an intimate touch of your loved one makes everything better. 

5. Always Say "Thank You"
SR is probably to sick of me having manners by now. I am constantly telling him "Thank You," for all the things he does for me and for us. I think I say Thank You about as much as I say I Love You....Which I say "I Love You" every 30 seconds. I think it's important to tell your significant other "Thank You," so they know how much you appreciate them and what they do. It's nice to know you're appreciated. 

6. Laugh Together.
This is one thing our marriage has never been short of - Laughter. You gotta laugh and have a humor together. Like last night, SR and I were chasing our pup around the house before bed and we couldn't stop laughing. It was so small and so silly but we found it hilarious. Laughing with my SR is my favorite thing to do. There is nothing like his little boyish laugh to make me smile. 

7. Be Best Friends. 
SR and I were friends for a little while before our relationship. And one of my favorite things about it was our ability to sit and talk for hours, most night it was until the sun came up. Over time I realized how much fun we had together and how he was my Best Friend. The first person I went to when I had something cool to share and the first person I wanted to call when something bad had happened. I think the key to a successful, long lasting marriage is to always be Best Friends first. Go do things together, talk about everything as you would to your buddies, laugh, make memories, make traditions, find things to do that remind you how much you love spending time with that person. I always say, "Husband and Wife, Best Friends For Life." 

Here is to Us, My SR, I can't wait to spend another 7 Years buying you milkshakes and chasing the dog around the house until one of us laughs ourselves into a coughing fit. I Love You Speedracer!!




Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Year of Focus

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." - Colossians 3:2

Fearless. Authentic  Focused.

The New Year crept in slowly at first and then suddenly, without knowing it, it was 2018. Usually I am prepared - I'm always prepared months in advance, but not this year. I've been fearless, I've been Authentic..and then..What did I want to work on in the New Year? I thought I had an idea for my word of the year but it kept changing. So I sat on it, and then a few days after Christmas it came to me. I was in Idaho, nestled in my sisters home watching the snow fall outside as I watched my nephew playing with his new toys. That's when I remembered the verse "Set Your Hearts on things above, not earthly things." and it was as if I was having a coffee date with God himself as he told me "This! Focus on this moment and the importance of the Blessings I have laid before you. Nothing else matters." 

Focus. I believe that it's important to re-adjust your focus from time to time. We tend to get so wrapped up on the small things, we over think, we ignore signs, and we focus on the things that ultimately don't matter. And then we end up anxious, irritated, and jumbled. We lose sight of the path we are supposed to be on. When we focus on the things that aren't important we tend to lose out on the moments and on the good things in our lives. We miss out on the opportunities to create greatness, We miss out on the opportunities for change, and we miss out on the opportunities to Grow. 

I've been thinking of what I would want to FOCUS on in Twenty-Eighteen and there are quite a few things. From experience, if I try to focus on too many things at one time I just set myself up for failure. We have 12 months in a Year. That's 3 Months to focus on 4 different things. Now, I'm not saying that once the 3 months are up that we forget about it completely and move onto the next thing, but  that gives us 90 Days to Focus on ONE thing at a time and form a habit of Focus and Discipline. Eventually I can slowly weave my 4 areas together and create a new lifestyle which sounds like a great plan. The best way to achieve change is to start. So why not start now?

My 4 Areas of Focus:

1. January - March: Building my Business, Clientele, & Portfolio!
 I am working on ways to continue to build my Clientele & Portfolio. March will be 1 year of being a Licensed Cosmetologist and I really want to expand in Year 2. I have big plans, goals, and new things I'd like to learn for Twenty-Eighteen. CHEERS TO BIGGER & BETTER.

2. April - June: Healthy Diet, New Workout Plan, & Yoga!
I'm of course not going to wait until April to focus on my Health & New healthy lifestyle. This has been a work in progress for months now. But I definitely want to spend sometime and try something new, get out of my comfort zone with certain workouts, and spend 3 months dedicated to changing my lifestyle completely. NO GRIT, NO PEARL!

3. July - September: Pickup a New Hobby/Learn a New Skill!
My SR has 2 hobbies he loves to do and I've realized I don't. I turned my hobbies into my passion and then into my career. So It's time to learn a new skill and have a hobby. I have a few things in mind but stay tuned, I'll figure it out as the year goes along. But I'm excited.

4. October - December: Learn 5 new recipes!
So I'm not a fan of cooking...Give me something to bake and I'm all for it, I know that's one thing I am good at. But I didn't get my Grandma and Mom's Cooking Genes like my sister did. I love being in the kitchen and around people who are cooking but me myself, nope. So I'm hoping this year I can get more comfortable and confident cooking. 

I also have some other things I'd like to FOCUS on in 2018 - but they are personal goals that I want to weave into my every day life. I want to DO LESS with MORE FOCUS. and I want to spend my time focusing on the things that matter, like: God, My Marriage, Our Family, and Our Friends. That is what will truly make this year a great one. Don't you think?


So Let's do this Twenty-Eighteen. Let's Buckle Up & Focus!