Friday, December 25, 2015

All I Want For Christmas Is What I Already Have

Dear World,

Merry Christmas once again! I know it doesn't seem like I should be happy this Christmas. I've lost my first boyfriend, my mom was talking about assisted suicide the other day because her illness causes her so much pain, my dad is lost to me, I don't trust the church anymore, and I barely make enough money to scrape by.

And yet, I am so happy. First of all, my panic attacks have become much fewer. Its amazing what you can accomplish when your own mind isn't against you. I am getting better sleep, and there is no price on being well-rested. My siblings and I have grown so much closer these past few months. At one point, I was so agoraphobic I thought I would never be able to have a normal conversation with anyone from my past ever again, but just last week, my sister Alexa and I had one of the most beautiful conversations we've had in our lives.

I am slowly but surely learning respectful boundaries towards myself and others, and have learned to be less defensive and just say "I was wrong!" when I do something out of line. At last, I have broken out of the spiritual/emotional matrix of religious control, and am finally learning what it means to be human and to embrace my human experience. I have also found that Jesus really is the rock, and that his Word does indeed bring stability and lasts forever.

My younger siblings have allowed me to be in their lives and hang out with their high school friends. I have enjoyed becoming something of that crazy Aunt I always wanted to be, spoiling kids, affirming them, but loving them enough to tell them the truth; being a safe place they can come to.

I've reconnected with two old and dear friends from my past. I saw my "brother" Stuwie who went into the army at the mall yesterday and got to hug him one more time. My cousin and I are both on pinterest and I enjoy seeing her ideas on health and wellness! My brother apologized to me the other day.

The jobs I've had recently have been amazing and fun and absolutely what I needed at that moment. I get to teach dance and move around, set up birthday parties, watch over little ones, and just this past weekend I got to housesit for someone. Life is a journey, let me tell you, and God knows exactly what I need right now.

So what if Christmas isn't super "Christmasy" this year? I have a family who loves me, friends that are amazing and supportive, and jobs that are fun. And anyway, as long as there's the music, the lights, the movies, and the cookies, you're pretty much set for the Holidays, don't you think?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Days as They are Now

Good morning world,

I hope you are having a productive, insightful day so far.

I just wanted to check in with you and let you know a few things, knowing that if I don't document them now they will be lost forever. Its funny how you think "Oh, for sure, I'll remember that! I can write it down later," only to discover when you try to put it down on paper that it is gone, and nothing can call back the memory.

I wake up when I wake up. Unless I have to go somewhere important. I have learned the hard way that sleep is essential. As much as I'm able, I try to get about eight hours per night. Without sleep, I am quite psychotic and unable to function.

Sometimes I shower in the morning, sometimes at night. My hair is short now, so when I leave my hair wet in the evening, it gets nice and fluffy the next day. I've never had any kind of body to my hair, so I find it rather enjoyable.

The girl in the mirror will change, but she will change gradually. I am not going to rush to lose weight. Rather, I want to make lifestyle changes that will fundamentally change the way I live, not just the way I look. I am working on eating balanced, clean meals, working out (not excessively) and not sabotaging my success by "rewarding" myself with junk food or eating late at night. I'm not perfect, I'm just trying. But I'm trying hard, and picking myself up when I fall. I won't quit on myself.

Pinterest is my best friend. Beautiful pictures, inspirational quotes. And the Bible. I don't follow anything religiously anymore, I just try to find things that are true, things that inspire me to get going and be better. Lately, I've been a little OCD on Michael Jackson. I'll cover that later, he was such an amazing person...

For breakfast, I try to fix a very light meal, usually fresh veggie/fruit juice with some Amazing Grass green drink. This week I've been really into boiled eggs and cucumbers. Very easy on the tummy. Before breakfast, I try to remember to take my pills. I have to take a lot of natural thyroid supplements, and brain stabilizers. I am extremely grateful for these, and for my mother who knew what I needed. I feel so deeply for those struggling with their mental health.

Just as with a physical illness, it is frustrating and discouraging to feel like you can't escape your own unwellness. Some days are better than others, but it is always a battle. Mental illness does, however, grant me a beautiful perspective on the world. I savor, so savor, the days when I feel at peace, when I feel in control of my mind, when I feel well.

When I can enjoy the closeness of other humans without feeling gross or agoraphobic, when I can walk into a store and not feel overstimulated to the point of debilitation, when I feel at home in my own body and can amble gently through my thoughts, its a good day, a really good day!

I usually go to work fairly early in the morning. I love my work. Whether its teaching a dance class, assisting in a daycare classroom, setting up a birthday party, or catering, I am always connecting with people. My life feels more meaningful somehow.

For so long, I lived under the illusion that I was only supposed to "sacrifice" myself, meaning that I was supposed to give up everything for others at the absolute expense of my own well-being. It was what my father expected, and it was the lifestyle my mom modeled.

How freeing it is to know that I am responsible for no one else in this life but ME! Not that I don't care for others. Instead, that naturally falls into the caring after my own heart. I want to make the most of my time, actually following Jesus in the business of creating magic moments and warming other people's hearts in genuine ways.

Freedom has become an increasingly important concept to me. I want to be free in all the best ways; free from human opinions, free from religion that shuts off the mind so the spirit it can bind, free from being dependant on other people, free from the world enforcing its systems on me, free from dependence on substances (food, movies, music, stuff), free from my own limited mind and its expectations. I want to carve my own path freely, to understand God as He wants me to on our own terms, to explore thought and emotion in order to better understand my brief human experience, to leave behind an impression, my dent in the world.

Responsibility is also a waking concept. For so long, I was responsible for others, but my own self was lost, fallen between the cracks. And I was ok with that because I justified my laziness when it came to my own ambitions by saying, "I was helping someone else." I can't help other people until I've helped myself, until I've taken the medicine, until I've taken my own advice. I don't need other people to prop me up, and I refuse to prop up other people.

My soul is an athelete, and only I will determine how far I go. Only I will force myself to write, to eat healthy, to work out. A lack of self-control could ruin me, but the mastry of myself will carry me far. I am determined to change myself. In the process, maybe someone else will get inspired. But frankly, I don't care anymore. If someone is running the same marathon as I am, we will see eachother on the path. I'm in this for myself. If everyone was determined to take care of their own business, the world would run a lot smoother. Everyone has gifts. Use them. That is God's will for your life. Pretty simple right? How does life gets so horribly complicated?

Learning is essential. Turning on the brain is vital. I am trying desperately to read more, to paint, listen to Jazz. I have fallen in love with National Public Radio (the PBS of the airwaves) and documentaries. On the other side, I've realized that the gaining of much knowledge without human connection is the epitome of stupidity. What are we here for if not to love other people, to work hard so we can make each other smile? I am not here for any other purpose but to learn how to interact with other memebers of my species. Jesus gives me the power to not only leave off killing those who annoy me, but to grasp the ability to step into their shoes, to love them even when its not humanly possible. For that reason, Mr. Rogers and Michael Jackson have become my mentors and my heroes. They knew what was truly important.

The ability to be wrong, to accept it, and move on. It sounds so simple doesn't it? But its that very thing that causes most of the rifts in our relationships. I'm amazed at the swelling in my chest when I do something wrong, the rush to defend myself, no matter who I bulldoze in the process. Why its so painful to swallow my pride and admit when I'm wrong, I have no idea... I will spend the rest of my life trying to learn that simple, simple lesson.

After work, after thoughts, I come home to our tiny three bed-room apartment. After much upheaval and family turmoil, my dad agreed last week to be out of the apartment by seven in the morning and not return home until ten at night. Not having him here is such a relief. I know that sounds awful, but looking at him is like looking at a soul-sucking ghost, all the while reciting prayers and telling us of the life-giving glory of God. I've had to come to terms with how spiritually abusive he was to my family.

My mother and youngest sister sleep on the top bed of a twin trundle. My sister Rachel and I share the bottom half of the trundle. It makes for a cozy, if not always comfortable, night sleep. I have to take tons of magnesium and natural sleep aids to help me fall asleep. Sleep deprivation has been a major player in wrecking my mind and body, so I am willing to do whatever it takes to get a good night's rest.

My brother Michael has been greatly affected by my dad's absolute lack of anything substantial in life. My father never spoke to him about anything other than sports. My father's lack of discipline and learned-helplessness spilled over into my brothers life. He is a fighter though. I am very proud of him. My sister Alexa learned about Donny and Marie Osmand, a brother sister singing duo, and the two of them spend hours listening to and copying their songs and mannerisms. Michael went behind our backs and started dating a girl we told him not to. He says he's fifteen and he can do what he wants. He doesn't want to be like my dad. What he doesn't realize is that his hard rebellion is no different than my father's soft rebellion. At the root, they are the same, they just manifest in different forms. He sleeps in his own room. We love him, but don't quite trust him yet. He has so much potential... I just pray he gets a fire lit up in him so that he can tackle life.

Closing thought. Life is never easier. Its just different. Life is so much harder and more intricate than I ever imagined. Breaking out of the religious matrix with all its systems and pat answers was the scariest and most liberating thing I've ever done. There is so much to learn, so much to explore, so many ways to improve! I am just glad to be out of a stagnate pond and into the ocean. Yes, things are more scary out there, but its real life, and I am quite liking the adventure.

Love to all!
Ashley Anne

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chance Meeting By the Sea

If you want to meet interesting people, visit interesting places at interesting times. A few weeks ago, I had to chance to head down to the seaside at noon on a Tuesday. As I was walking around, enjoying the familiar drone of the ocean, I happened to literally cross paths with a middle-aged black man from South Africa.

We stood there silently watching the ocean for a minute or two when he finally broke the silence. "Its beautiful, isn't it?" He stated. I nodded. Of course it was beautiful. We exchanged pleasantries, and then began to talk about our lives a bit. He works at an airplane factory, and had recently injured his leg, making it difficult for him to return to work. A few months ago, I would have jumped all over the situation, asked if I could pray for him, laid hands on him for healing, and basically demanded that God give us a healing right then and there. But now, I just listened. Everybody has pain, some are physical, some emotional. That's life. Life without pain is heaven, and we're not there yet.

As I listened, I realized how much I love genuine human conversation. People who have really lived life are so interesting. I love their differing viewpoints, their different takes on life. Everyone lives our their life on this planet with a completely different lens. The ability to connect with others and see through their eyes is an amazing thing.

I was also reminded that no matter where we grow up, small town America, or big city South Africa, we are still human, and we still have shared experiences. I was a little surprised and rather sad to learn that the strange "spiritual awakening" of listening to false prophets and different doctrine is not something that is localized in America, but actually spreading throughout the world.

As our conversation drew to a close, this man asked me if I would like to have coffee or dinner sometime. I should have been flattered I suppose, but I think I find myself more bewildered or flustered now. I can't wait until heaven when I can speak to and hug anybody and everybody without the assumption that I am romantically inclined. I thanked him, but said that I was more interested in getting my life together at the moment, and going on adventures.

The taste of my last relationship is still sitting in my mouth, and I feel like I can do without for awhile, not because of bitterness, but because I really get more enjoyment out of other things besides sitting around, holding hands with someone and telling each other how awesome we are... Still, its nice to be asked in a connective sort of way. I like the fact that I am approachable, and not rude and mean like I used to be to guys (sorry, world!)

All in all, it was a strange, interesting, and enlightening conversation. Take time for those ones, they come more often when you look for them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Weigh In Wednesday #5

So, since I missed Motivational Monday, I promised myself I can't let myself miss Weigh In Wednesday!

I didn't do so hot with my goals today... Maybe it was the three protein bars, or the five squares of chocolate that did it, but I was sure thrown off!

Currently, I am holding a weight of 124lbs, and want to be down to 120 by next Monday. Monday and Tuesday of this week were great liquid flush days, so I just need to climb back on the horse tomorrow and start over =)

BTW, stay tuned for my vlog, the first video of which I hope to put out tomorrow! I'm quite excited about it. I've been avoiding this blog and my video channel for some time, but I'm ready now, failure of a person that I am, to face the world with my many quirks and document this crazy, mundane, and somehow interesting life of mine.

Love to all,

Monday, October 5, 2015

Today Is the Day

Stop procrastinating when it comes to follow through. 
You're only going to feel like changing yourself, 
or eating right, 
or working out, 
or thinking positively, 
or dwelling on God instead of this world
about 5% of the time. 
Today is the day. 
You'll be surprised how much ground you can cover
when you STOP looking at the horizon
and START moving your feet one step at a time. 
Its Monday everyone. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Don't Quit!

Remember this scene? At least you're not going to have to do the Death Crawl today ;)
Don't give up! Today is a new day. His mercies are new every morning. Do the best you can do today, and DON'T QUIT!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Weigh In Wednesday #4

Ah ha! Thought I was going to miss this week too didn't you! Well, here I am. All 129 lbs of me. 

So how's it been going? 

Terrible... The thought of not eating scares me. So I eat. COMPULSIVELY. But that's ok. I can jump back on this bandwagon. 

I have to lose 4 lbs by the end of the week to accomplish my goal. Doable. Done. 

Tomorrow is Thursday... Can't wait to share some thoughts from this interesting week!

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Does Success Look Like?

Take a moment to ponder this today... 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

You Do You

Wake up in the morning
and just do you
Just do what you
are supposed to do.

Live in your own space
and make it clean
Be the best you
that you can be

Don't pester or pick
at your sister and brother
just judge the mirror
and love all the others

If you will do you
and I maintain me
the world will draw closer
to the way things should be

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fall Fav: The Over-Sized Sweater

I don't know about you, but where I live, as soon as September 1st rolls around, its Fall. We've already had our first big rainstorm and the temperature has dropped into the crisp 50's. Guess its time to pull out those over-sized sweaters and sip on a cup of chai tea!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thoughts for Thursday: Christian Things

Lately, I've been pondering the meaning of what it actually means to be and to act like a Christian. I think that many of us who have been raised in the church have gotten so busy trying to tow the line all the time that we have forgotten Jesus in our struggle to be perfect. We have forgotten that Jesus is not interested in us doing things perfectly, he is simply interested in us doing things, and doing them from an honest heart.

Have you been doing things for people out of obligation, fear, or convenience? Are you kind to people because you know you have to be, and simply "put up" with people you consider to be "stupid" and not on the same level as your superior self? Do you lie and cover up your mistakes because you are afraid of people's opinions? Are you busy striving for all things "spiritual" while neglecting family, friends, and work? I only ask these questions because they are my personal struggles. 

For so long, I thought that spirituality was the apex of life. But then I realized (after I crashed and burned spiritually) that Jesus came not so that I could live like a monk and hole myself up with a Bible. Instead, he came to change my heart, and actually give me the love, courage, self-discipline, and honesty I do not have so that I would be able live my life. I don't have warmth in my heart. I don't have the discipline to have excellence. I don't have the patience to deal with my family. That's why I need Jesus. And I don't need to "feel" him. I simply need to ask him for the strength to go on. I need the motivation of being in the good fight and the race of my life with my eyes on the prize. I need to remember that one day I will see my Lord, and I will answer to him for the way I used my time, my mind, my talents, and how I dealt with his most special creations (the other people around me). 

I am not responsible for making the world perfect. I am not responsible for getting everyone saved. I am not responsible for being Jesus to people. More and more I am convinced that "Christian things" are not spiritual books, movies, or songs. They are not popular, shiny, and new. Instead, they are simple things. Christian things are cold cups of water given because you feel the thirst of someone else. Its a random hug to warm someone's heart. It's the conversations you have when you're not quitting on someone. Its playing Legos with your kid, and making them feel like the most important person in the world when you would rather be watching TV. Its putting away the dishes not so that mom sees, but to see her smile. Its getting up and going to work, doing your best, and bringing home a paycheck to your family. Its about looking at all the faults in yourself before pointing the fingers at anyone else. Its about sincerely caring for people, not drawing from our own shallow, dried up wells of love, but running to the Christ, and asking him to please give us his love for others. Its a beautiful desperation, not a fearful self-creation. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Weigh In Wednesday #3

Good morning world, its weigh in time! I am currently... 129lbs, which means I've kept my two pound per week goal. Now its two pounds for the next week! I think what has really helped this week has been admitting to myself that I am a cheat, and I no longer want to be a cheater. I want to excel and not cheat on anyone, especially myself. I am responsible for the girl in the mirror, and I am not going to let her down. I want to take control of my body and not let it be run over by bad bacteria and unwanted fat. I want to be clean, inside and out.

I have also enlisted the help of an accountability buddy (thank you Felicia). Every day, I must report on what foods and what amounts I have eaten, plus report anything I cheated on. Its been helping, let me tell you! If you feel like you're not strong enough to do something, ask a friend to poke you in the ribs.

Had a marvelous Monday, and a terrible Tuesday, mainly because I didn't take as many meds on Tuesday as I should have. Medication is so important... Please, everyone who has a form of mental chemical imbalance, take your pills for the good of society. I was the lead teacher at my Summer Camp yesterday... I just get so nervous sometimes, that it doesn't matter how much I've planned or studied, I simply feel like my voice evaporates into the universe when I speak. I think its because I don't believe in myself as a teacher anymore, and that is something that kids really sense. If you are thinking "I don't know if you should listen to me," they will seize on that thought and run with it. Today will be a better day. I believe that I can be a good teacher, I will connect with my students, and we are going to have insane fun. I realized yesterday that sometimes I'm so determined to do things perfectly, that I start focusing on the agenda over the people that the agenda is intended for. Not good. God, help me fix it! 

Compulsive actions have been less this week. I've really been trying to face reality and live in the now, and to watch compulsive or obsessive thinking. I am still really hurt by friends from the past few months, but I know they can't help it right now, and that I greatly contributed to my own pain. I need wisdom on how to set things right with them.
I have been trying to throw myself into goals and work that are productive and creative to keep myself busy. I am excited for the school year to start! I decided not to take a math class right away since I might test out of it if I study hard, so I am going to block out time to really study math hard and then I will start class in the Winter!

How are you doing on your goals? Keep track of yourself and let me know how you're coming along! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Its Time to Go For Your Dream

Its another Motivational Monday! Put aside all complaining and start thinking about how you are gong to make today fabulous. Start dwelling on all the possibilities contained the next 24 hours. If you are not happy with who or where you are today, then pray, ask God for strength, and start making changes. Brighten other people's day, and be beautiful. Take the bull by the horns. 
Happen to life, don't let life happen to you. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

End of Summer

In case you haven't noticed, we only have a couple more days of summer... Then its back to school and work, big comfy (and maybe ugly) sweaters with a huge mug of tea. So soak up the last little bits of sun and throw on your favorite t-shirt and shorts outfit before we hunker down for winter!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Weigh In Wednesday #2

Alright, accountability time! Today I weigh... (runs to the bathroom to step on the scale) 131 lbs. Not what I was hoping for. I think that's honestly been my problem. I've been sort of mindless this week, just hoping that I would lose weight by Wednesday... not the way to achieve a goal. 

If I really want to lose this weight (and I do), I have to be purposeful. To be more focused, I am going to write and report my food allotment and workout success each day to a friend. If I cheat, even if its a tiny amount, I must confess... Nobody cheats like I do, ugh... 

I've been less faithful in my work outs too, so I am going to say I have to do a 30 min run each day (this was really helping), and 30 min of Tracy Anderson everyday. I will only take a break on Sunday. If I can do extra movement through dance/choreography, I will, but I am not going to commit to it because a 1 hour workout is an achievable goal, and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. 

Honestly, I think I've let myself go a little this week. I've stayed up later than I committed to (my wind down time is from 7:45 to 8:30, and I want to be in bed reading by 8:30). I have also allowed myself to be OCD on the computer late at night, and have been compulsively thinking about things from this past year, especially the friends I left behind (one guy in particular). In order to be healthy, I can't allow myself to slip into obsessive/over-emotional thinking because it will only push me into a manic mode. I am going to commit, no matter how hard to not be obsessive in my thinking and to frisk all my thoughts at the door of my mind. Instead of getting obsessive over destructive issues, I am going to put my energy/thinking towards creative/constructive activities such as: 

- Developing current relationships with family  
- Preparing for school 
- Creating more income
- Writing
- Cooking
- Choreographing 

These goals are listed in order of importance so that I won't become distracted by easier or "more fun" tasks throughout the week. 

Thank you to Jesus Christ who is able to make me sane, give me self-control, help me to do the impossible, and give me a new heart every day! I cannot do it without Him. 

How are you doing on your goals? Have you taken time to think about them this week? We can get stuff done, we really can! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Just How Much CAN You Juggle?

You've probably heard that its a good idea to write out goals because it helps you visualize them and begin to pursue them. This is absolutely true. However, when I write out my goals, I usually end up feeling even more overwhelmed at the amount of goals that I have. As I sat at my favorite coffee shoppe the other day, I scribbled down some goals in a bullet pointed list. I realized something magical. One goal wasn't enough; I can do more than that. Two, and I still wasn't satisfied. Three was fine. Four on the paper was just too much. Anxiety started to swell as I saw that fourth goal float onto the page. Then it dawned on me. My brain can manage three things at a time.

The picture I got was a juggler. One ball and your not juggling anything. Two, and your just passing back and forth. Three, and you're proficiently juggling. Four, and things are getting unnecessarily tough. I started consolidating my goals, journals, and emails using this magic rule of three, and I was amazed at what a rush of energy I got! I felt so confident, and sure of myself because I felt far more focused and less scattered.

Here are the practical ways I am now using my Rule of Three

1) I have a three fold focus - At the moment, I write. I dance. I cook. Each of the goals contain expanded goals that I don't need to dwell on, but will be accomplished if I use the three fold focus. I can be writing for my blog/book/school. If I am dancing, I can teach dance/be fit/workout/stay healthy. If I cook I am taking care of my body/being creative/staying healthy/taking care of my family. If I were to write out all those goals, I would be easily overwhelmed, but with a three fold focus, I feel like I can accomplish my goals. If something else comes up, and it doesn't fit into one of these categories, I must drop something so that I am

2) Keep only three journals - Surprise, surprise, I have tried to keep more than three journals at a time. Right now, I have one big planner for all important dates, one for daily notes, verses, ideas, and one small one for to-do's and shopping. However you keep track of yourself, phone, notes, etc. keep the trackers limited or else you become scattered!

3) Simplify and Consolidate Yourself- Learning how to brand yourself with authenticity and humility is huge if you are going to add to your community, regardless of what you do. Know who you are; simplify yourself. Get rid of extra emails/blogs/social media/usernames/pictures that you don't need anymore. Create and sell yourself! What do you stand for, what do you want out of life, and how are you going to chase after it? Oh, there's the three-fold focus again!

Whether you use this rule of three, or come up with your own brilliant system for managing yourself, I would encourage you to really focus your life. Get rid of all the excess, and starting honing in on the few things you really love so that you begin to accomplish those goals that seem just beyond your grasp. You can do it, you really can!

For more productivity tips read this article! -
11 Differences Between Busy & Productive People

*Late Weigh-In Wednesday - Week 1

I am marking myself tardy as a blogger... Hence the annoying little asterisk in the title. Not gonna lie, thought about cheating a bit and just making the time marker read "Wednesday, August 19th" so that we could all read things chronologically, and be happy. But, that's cheating, and if I allow myself to cheat now, I am actually cheating myself out of a consequence which will help me be more on time later.

So, how am I doing with the weight? Well, I'm down to 131! That's two more pounds since my last weigh in. Progress! I will have to be more motivated to reach my goal of 110 by October 15th, but I can get there. I just have to average a little over 2 1bs per week.

I must confess, I failed at my rawsome challenge (eating only raw foods for 30 days), so I have to climb back up on the horse. I am doing a juice fast for 3 days (finished my 1st day yesterday!) and then going to eat only raw fruits and veggies for the next 3 days. Once I check in again, I will see how well I have progressed, and may try it again.

To be honest, one of the reasons I am even trying to lose weight is that I REALLY STRUGGLE with follow through. I come up with great ideas, strategies, and game plans, but my perseverance level is at an all time low. In order to become a better human being, I am pushing myself to do something that I have always wanted to do, and now feel is imperative. Its important to show ourselves that we CAN in fact achieve goals, especially with God at our side. My goal is to be the healthiest, most productive, and kindest person I can be. I also don't want to tell other people to do what I myself have not been able to. I have to march around my own Jericho before I can celebrate someone else's walls tumbling down.

I haven't done my official post on this yet, but I will mention it briefly here. Over the course of this year, I discovered in some very difficult ways that I struggle with mental illness, including BPD, and Manic-Depressive disorder. My heart goes out to all those who are wrestling with these issues as Christians because honestly, it can be very confusing. I plan on writing about the issues I have faced, and how I am overcoming the challenges, but for now, I am just checking in with this post am here to report that I have done pretty well this week! Managing my emotions went pretty well, I was fairly good at keeping a healthy sleep schedule, and I took my medications every day! This is a bit of a bomb to drop at the end of a post, I know, but its important for me to mention it as I am trying to be as real as I can, and to fully reconcile my life.

Very excited to make more progress!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Guide to Becoming a Better Writer

Whether you aspire to be a professional writer, a better blogger, or a better student, becoming a better writer is key to continual growth and development. To be the best writer you can be, you must practice, practice, practice. You must set aside time and be self-discipline enough to make yourself actually write out your ideas.

If you're anything like me, you have a thousand ideas, but getting them on paper (or on your computer) can be a seemingly insurmountable task. More than anything, I tend to freeze up. Even if I've had a good idea, it seems to fly out the window the minute I sit down. If I type furiously without proper planning, the text can go off on some ADD rabbit trail. By the end of a piece of writing, I sometimes become so frustrated with whatever piece I was working on that I throw my hands up and walk away defeated.

How do we overcome these obstacles? First, take a deep breath. You are not going to become the world's greatest author overnight. As a kid, I used to completely OCD on projects late into the evening, hoping that in the morning this amazing project would be finished by morning. The problem was, I seldom planned for success, and usually jumped feet first into whatever I was doing without any research.I'll never forget the first time I tried to sew my own clothes. I was raised on the Anne of Green Gables movies, and always loved those elegant 1800's skirts the ladies wore. As a naive eight year old, I thought "That doesn't look too hard to make." Without looking up a pattern or bothering to ask for help, I bought fabric, cut it up, and started sewing. Around midnight, the skirt was "finished." I held it up in the dim lamp light of my bedroom, and gasped. It was nothing like the skirt I wanted; I couldn't even get it on! If you feel that way about your writing, don't worry! Keep going and remember revision is key; WE SELDOM HIT THE SWEET SPOT THE FIRST TIME AROUND.

Of course, if you take the time to plan, your first try at any project will have a greater chance of succeeding than if you go in flying blind... which is unfortunately how I do most things. Don't let my seemingly calm and calculated demeanor fool you! I am one of the worst when it comes to planning. I actually feel like I've gotten worse over the years! This slapdash attitude of mine has carried over into my adult life, especially into my writing. Most of the time, I just sit and write what comes to me instead of planning and cultivating direction in my pieces. I AM LEARNING TO STEP BACK, THINK ABOUT WHAT I WANT TO SAY, AND WHY I WANT TO SAY IT SO THAT MY WRITING HAS A CLEARER FOCUS.

In short:
Don't expect perfection right out of the chute, just keep writing.
Plan ahead! What do you want to write? Think about it. Map it out. Then take it to the drawing table.

- ashley

For more tips on how to cultivate good writing habits, read this article

A Guide to Becoming a Better Writer: 15 Practical Tips

Monday, August 17, 2015

Prepare Your Day

As I type this out, I am running behind. So take it from me, I am using this as a motivational note to myself!

People who are successful in business, writing, relationships, family, and life in general are always a few steps ahead of the game. I find that, typically, I am THREE STEPS BEHIND. Meaning, I have to do at least three things before I go somewhere just to be on time, prepared, and ready to go.

Instead of running around in the morning, preparing lunch, gathering my clothes, and writing up my list of to do's for the day, I want to try to be three steps ahead. This leaves time for more productivity and less stress. Its so much nicer to wake up and get a wave of relief because you treated yourself to a stress free morning by preparing the night before.

My game plan? Well, first, not to put off preparing (I am the queen of procrastinating). Second, to prepare meals, clothes, and to-do's the night before. Also, since I have just moved back in with my family, communicating goals and checking to see if they need to have things done the next day so that I can put our goals together instead of working against them.

Have an inspiring Monday!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Upcoming Fall 2015 Schedule

In light of some recent discoveries about blogging, I am going to try and step up things on this here blog for good. I've kept it struggling along for almost five years now, and I think that TABOT deserves a real makeover. So, for the upcoming Fall, my focus is going to be on "Better Thyself." We are going to tackle some deep, personal issues, cut the fat off, make this blog (and my brain) less spammy and more focused. Here is the upcoming schedule:

Motivational Monday - Just a little something to get the week started
Typist Tuesday - A writing focused article of mine or another writer
Weigh in Wednesday - Keeping track of calories and lifestyle habits
Thoughts for Thursday - Meaningful musings on life
Fashion Friday - A simple snapshot of some great fashion/decorating tip

Super excited! Here's to keeping TABOT going strong and better than ever before! 

- ashley 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Be a Safe Place

The light in your eyes was my refuge
Now its dark and I find
That no one's safe
The fire in your heart was my warmth
Now its cold and I find
There's a chill and rain

Oh what is love?
I think I've had enough
of what
the world calls romance
cause it don't give second chances
I just want to be kind
Find people who are nice
A place for when I'm tired out and worn
A place where we know we are not alone

The light in my eyes was your desire
Now I'm gone and you think
That no one's safe
The dance we danced, it kept your warm
Now I'm gone and you think
That I'm solely to blame.

Oh what is love?
I hope you've had enough
of what
the world calls romance
cause it don't give second chances
Just be the sweet and steady guy
And be with people who are kind
God hears you when you're tired out and worn
Build a home where no one is alone

Nobody's perfect
No one's good
No one lives it like they should
Nobody's good
Nobody's kind
But Jesus gives us strength to be alright

I've tripped upon my feet a hundred times
I'm fighting just to turn back on the lights
Sometimes I reach out in the dark
And pray to God to reach your silent heart

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015


This life will end
We will lose things
Even Ourselves
There is a time to laugh 
and a time to grieve
Because some things in life
we can't get back
Words once spoken
can never be retrieved
all lead to regret
and when they are gone
things are simply gone
No memory can be strong enough 
to pull them back 
So embrace every moment
Embrace every dawn
Embrace the people around you 
Before they are simply 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Holding Hands

Its when I stop to wonder
Its when I stop to think 
How it makes realize
When I'm on the brink 
That all of us will suffer
That all of us will die
But holding hands we're stronger
So hold fast till daylight

The sunrise it is coming
Revives me through and through
But I know dawn does not last
The night will find me soon
And all of us will blunder
And all of us go blind
But holding hands we're stronger 
So hold fast till daylight

I held so tight to this world
Full of sighs and woes
But then you turned the tables 
And told me to let go
Of all the things I'd gathered 
and thought I understood
You gave me your hands, Savior
Nailed to a cross of wood

So place within these fingers
the hands that they should hold
place family and dear people
the young ones and the old
don't let me follow my heart
its wicked, dark, and blind
but holding hands we're stronger
so lead me to daylight

I'm a Recovering Fundamentalist

Thursday, July 30, 2015

When Suddenly the World Seems Small

The world seems huge
Like a cosmos that never ends
Because it never does
With everything
and everyone
Out of control
I can't speak
or think
And when I see things
Its like they are drifting farther
and farther away...
and I have no power to bring them back

the world seems small
like there isn't enough space for me
because there isn't
all my atoms feel alive
and i want to break out
of my skin
everything is closing
pushing up around me
my thoughts
my emotions
the whole world is trying
to fit inside my head
and i can barely breathe
as the things i feel and think
subdivide and subdivide
into smaller and smaller pieces
the universe itself expanding in my brain

Its at these times
that its comforting to know
I am not God
I am only man
and I will never ever understand
and I was not made to
and though my mind may run wild
I only have today
and I am always a child

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Self Challenge #1 - Lose 25 lbs by Oct 15th

This to me refers to me everyday taking steps closer to graduating highschool

Dear self, 

I challenge you to a duel. 

Lets see who survives

The body

Or my will. 

I am very excited about this. I am not going to try to lose a TON of weight ALL AT ONCE like I used to. Here are my simple goals towards weight loss.

1) Take my supplements everyday. I will share these with you later
2) Do a Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis workout everyday along with 30 min of cardio (dance/run)
3) Consume fewer calories than I burn. Goaled at 800 calories per day. 
4) Make sure to treat myself on weekends
5) Lose 2 lbs per week to attain my goal!

Start weight as of 7.22.15 (last Wednesday) 135
Weigh in today (Wednesday): 133

On my way there! =) 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Those Life Lessons People Tried to Tell Me Before I Learned Them the Hard Way #1

Only when you are ready to die for something are you ready to live for it. Only when you commit to living are you ready to die.

Playing it safe, making sure you don't ever feel pain, that leads to shallowness and hollowness of character. Embrace pain.

Anyone can be a hero, honestly. There are lots of heroic things to do. They are just really small and don't get noticed and might feel mundane.

Life isn't a roller coaster, its a train ride, with stops, and the occasional wreck.

If you really care for someone, you won't be petty. If you're selfish, all you'll think about is how the whole world is hurting you.

If you make a mistake, and can't go straight to the people you've hurt and apologize, you will spend your life either alone or hopping from place to place, trying to find a marshmallow haven for your emotions that doesn't exist.

Embrace failure as a friend, and it will teach you all it knows.

Stop acting like what cereal you'll have for breakfast is at the top of God's agenda. Someone just died today because they love Jesus.

Take care of yourself and your family like God asked you to; you won't know what to do every second of the moment, but do your best and let God put the strength in your heart when you don't want to get out of bed to go to work in the morning. Remember, He's entrusted you with a small amount of people. Have their backs and don't let anyone hurt them, especially you!

Sometimes, putting the dishes away and kissing your mom is "God's will" for your life.

Stop living like you have to "hurry up and be important." EVERYTHING is important. Rome wasn't built in a day, it was built one brick at a time.

Measure your time like gold.

If you feel unimportant, ask God for two things, 1) send someone along who has it worse of than you so that you can get your head screwed on straight, 2) ask him to send you someone who needs to have a smile put on their face

What makes you think you're ready to start a family when you're running from the one you already have?

Don't beat yourself down or puff yourself up.  The Devil does a good job without your help.

If all you can think about is yourself or the weight of the world, take your meds, laugh at yourself, help somebody else, take a breath, remember Jesus loves you and you're not going to Hell, and today will be a good day.

Don't ever hate someone, even if they hate you. Also, don't hate yourself if someone else hates you. Forgive them and forgive yourself. Hatred only spawns more hatred.

Draw excellent boundaries. Become a safe haven for the people who are worth it, not because they are perfect people who have never done anything wrong, but because they are screw ups who know it, and are doing their best with Jesus helping them along.

Pick someone who is limping along with Jesus supporting them over someone who is appears strong and pulling a chain and ball.

Jesus was not a guru. Look it up.

Stop trying to be Jesus to the world. God didn't send you into the world as his only son. If he did, we'd be in a heck a lot of trouble. Let Jesus be Jesus, and you just be your little old messed up self, and all you get to do is point to him like a little kid pointing at Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

If Satan had his way, we'd be locked away 24/7 either in a building, in our homes, or in the prisons of our minds. Don't let him have his way!

Life is just life. Its ups and downs and ins and outs, and its family and work and sweat and tears and laughter and being outside, and watching movies, and going on adventures and taking time to listen, trying to stay healthy, pleasure, admitting what a screw up you are, asking God to please help you get out of bed, asking God to please help you get over yourself, enjoying the moments when you are just breathing. Its learning how to say no to yourself, stop living for what feels good all of the time, putting smiles on other people's faces anonymously, being misunderstood, getting kicked in the teeth by the people that mean the most to you and never giving up. Its learning when to say no, and when to say yes. Its learning how to actually help people, not cripple or enable them. Its about laughing, and realizing you're not in control and you never will be. Life is life.

Stop trying to fast forward your life. If you miss out on the now, you'll miss all the good stuff.

Stop living for thrills of any kind. If you live for thrills, be they emotional, relational, physical, or spiritual, you are living for a high and avoiding a low. There are lots of drugs that don't come in powders and syringes.

When you say "I love you," but you have something in it planned for you, even a good feeling, you don't love.

Admit that you are incapable of loving anyone or anything. Only then will you begin to be capable.

Only when you have hit rock bottom can you say you've landed on solid ground.

Don't succumb to the Great Big Fear of Everything.

Friday, July 24, 2015

On Echo by Mree

Love this song... so sad but pretty sounding; a perfect earful of bittersweet. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Coming of Age

Everybody has that moment. The moment when you grow up. Or you break down. Maybe they happen simultaneously. You know, the milestone moments when the world seems to stop and look at you, and say "Hey kid, your'e not in Kansas anymore." Love the 70's reminiscent style of this video. Great job Foster the People. Props to my sister for always finding awesome music.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

One or the Other

It was me dear sister
It was me oh brother
My feet were separated
from one another

One placed on the land
One placed within water
My thoughts were torn
between one and the other

With a foot on the shore
And a foot in the ocean
I stood there divided
My soul in commotion

The earth called too sweetly
The earth called familiar
But the sea rang out wildly
and my heart was bewildered

The shore was my safety
The shore seemed secure
But the ocean tumultuous
Cried out "I'm the cure!"

Ever same stood the earth
Yet the ever shifting sand
Gave me great excitement
But I stayed in command

With or without me
The ocean was all change
Haunted by its summons
My mind was enraged

A call to engage
And surrender my soul
To the real thing of glory
Without my control

Slowly I inched
Away from the sand
Surrendered both my feet
To the ocean's command

Tidal waves bore me up
And tore down my walls
I saw my many failures
I drowned in my flaws

As my body drifted
And sank in the waters
I closed my eyes
My heart on the alter

What game had I played?
What thing had I done?
For as pain gripped my heart
I let go of everyone

And at last as my heart
Came undone at the seams
I let the ocean cleanse away
My stubborn, stubborn streak

Death came about
Encasing my lungs
One breath, heavy sigh
And the thing was all done

The worst was over
The pain had passed through
But the light wasn't waning
Instead it came anew

It passed through my mind
Like some bittersweet song
And the peace beyond knowledge
Invested deep and long

It wasn't surreal
or full of suspense
but it was deep and real
and made the most sense

Now forever I'll surrender
To the call of the ocean
and let it wash away
All my deathly emotion

For I am the grave
and I am the death
So to turn from myself
I swallow the sea in every breath

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Caverns of My Chest

I can't breath
I can't speak
The caverns of my chest
Are caving in.

I can't grieve
I can't sleep
The caverns of my chest
Are breaking in.

I can't see
I can't scream
The caverns of my chest
Are raging in.

Under my skin
are restless waves
Inside my chest
are endless caves
Within the caves
are breathless storms
Which hold a sigh
I can't let go.
For to let it go
Causes silent screams
that rend my soul
at its desperate seams
And should the pain pass
and then subside
I'd soon roll over
and rest to die.
But they say to die
is to begin
But I can't let it out
So I can't let it in.
But the twist
that wrests and tears my soul
Is at my command to release its hold
For as soon as I let the pain
loose its sorrow
And turn over in my grave
Like a dead thing hollow
Allowing pain to sear my very heart
And the storm to shred my every part
And don't let the callous of bitterness grow
And then surrender my sorry and wounded soul
To the King who kindly extends His hand
and leads me through the shadow land
He will catch my tears alone
and take them to His very throne
He'll have me all
My every part
and not let me run wild and restless at heart
So as he breaks my very bones
I cannot fight or stay alone.
How I wish to slam the door in his face!
How I wish to find comfort in some other place!
Why must loneliness be my lot?
How I hate romance!
How I hate God!
And then I relent with wilted remorse
and raise my glass, present my toast
To pain, to pain, and drink it down
As acidic tears splash upon the ground
Don't let the sorrow leave a bitter taste
Let the pain rain down and leave its trace.
Let the knife carve hard and let it carve deep
Don't pass out, run away, or fall asleep.
Stay under the scalpel
Stay under the knife
It will make you a better servant, daughter, wife.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I'm Not There Yet, But I'll Get There

This is growth. 
To not beat myself up when I fall. 
To not make excuses for why I can't do things. 
To realize that life is a walk, not a sprint. 
To say with determination, "I'm not there yet, but I'll get there soon," not because of my own weak will, but because of the power of the Man behind me.
 It is He who will enable me day by day to look at myself in the mirror and graciously admit that I need help, and receive it. 
He will be the one who gets all the glory, because at the end of the day, when we cross the finish line, it will be His strength that supplied me with the energy to just put one foot in front of the other on those days when I wanted nothing more than to quit, give up, or die. 
He gives me the hope and the assurance that one day, I will be more than fine. 
But for now, I must keep my eyes on the prize, and by his Spirit, keep moving forward, making slow progress one day at a time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Very Good Productive Day

The fear of failure. That is what holds me back. So no more fear. No more fear that I will repeat my ancestors mistakes. No more fear that I will join the dark side. No more fear in Jesus name. No fear. 
I'm going to live this year, really live. And yes, I'll make mistakes. But I'd rather take risks, make mistakes and live than be safe and never live at all. 

Today I, 

- Ate cinnamon rolls I prepared last night, along with some beet juice
- Spent an hour stretching and relaxing
- Contacted someone about private dance lessons
- Started my application process to a University
- Purchased a new phone
- Made a new desktop background
- Wrote a letter 
- Was just ok with who I am

Friday, January 2, 2015

Things I Resolve to Actually Do

This year, I WILL

- Go to California for the annual Bro-Am with my sister, Rachel
- Get up to a level 2 in tap, and work on strengthening my feet for pointe
- Be a better dance teacher, be exciting, be prepared
- Do everything I can to get back into college
- Lose those last few pesky pounds
- Self-publish something, and send something off to a publisher
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Be a better blogger
- Change the molecular structure of my body with good eating habits
- Fall asleep reading instead of watching tv

- When I fail, get right back up on the horse

Growth doesn't happen overnight, so stop expecting that. Learn to live with the daily stretching, the little by little going and growing.. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to say happy new year everyone! I'll tell you all my resolutions later 

Popular Posts