Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Typical Week a la 2016

Dear World,

My goodness! So much has been happening the past few months I have scarcely had time to sort out my own thoughts, let alone blog it all! However, I really want to take a few minutes to break down a week so that I can remember this time in my life. Things have been so crazy but wonderful this year!

Mondays - @ 9:30 I teach the Parent Toddler Workout at my home YMCA. I savor these mornings because I get to hang with moms and kids that I have grown to know and love over a couple of years now. I endured my terrible panic attack year with this class, and they were the thread that still connected me to the Y when I was working at the (ahem) god-awful studio... @ 10:35, I have been attending barre class! Maria kicks my butt... my gosh... my legs always feel like jelly after that class. I used to help out at the Heatherwood Preschool during this time, but I am letting that commitment go since I have... afternoon classes @ Mukilteo! I teach Creative Movement, Jazz 1, Ballet 1, and Hip Hop 1&2. All these classes have been going FABULOUSLY!! Mondays are the bomb :)

Tuesdays - Marysville... All day... sort of... I am a little erked about Tuesdays since they kinda feel like a waste of time. I have a Creative Movement class @9:45 with only a couple students. which totally changes the chemistry of that class in a negative way... The kids in that class are a little catty-bratty... Then I have Ballet/Tap @11:15. I LOVE these classes, just a couple special needs babies that make it a little challenging, but hey, that's part of the fun! Then I go home for a couple hours, and then head back to Marysville for another Ballet/Tap class @ 4:15. Then I teach a Jazz 1 and a Hip Hop 1 class. Both of those are going pretty well... I have a limited student in Jazz, which requires some patience, but I love it when she feels good about something she accomplished!

Wednesdays - @5:30 I depart for Seattle to cater a breakfast downtown at an online gambling casino office. Strange right? Its so amazing though because I've met Michael, a guy whose become like a god-uncle to me. He has cerebral-palsy that affects only his body, and we are working to put together a dance motion protocol for him to help regain some movement. We share a lot of food sensitivities and health limitations, so we are best buds! Then there's a homo-sexual with whom I am getting to slowly share Jesus' love and light, several health-seekers, a massage therapist, a woman who is on a weight loss journey, and so many more! I love them all! I feel like I've slowly been spreading the gospel of health, and I feel like over the years I'll be able to share the gospel of Jesus as well.

Thursdays - @ 9:30 I go to the Heatherwood Preschool to teach PE classes to my littles. Oh my gosh, I love those little stinkers!! I am usually soooo tired after these classes, but they are very worth it :)
In the evenings @6:30, I teach as a weight loss coach in the Lose to Win program @ my home YMCA. This has been such a rewarding and eye-opening experience. It definitely prods me to self-evaluate and eat more healthy! I love the people in my group, and I love how they support each other.

Fridays - Sometimes I sub in the mornings @ the Preschool. For the past couple months Wed-Fri afternoons have been spent @ Jackson High with the drama department. Oh my children! How I love each and every one of them! I have been SOOO blessed to have two siblings and a bunch of previously known students in the show we've put together... Plus it was a Japanese (one of my FAVORITE CULTURES) Jazz/Swing show! Did God write it for me or something? It has been so amazing to pour into these kids lives, teach them to entertain, and then be entertained by my own students as they put on a FABULOUS show... WOW!

Saturdays - @9:00 I start teaching the Baby Ballet @ my home branch YMCA, then Ballet 1, and Ballet 2. We will be adding 2 hip hop classes in Jan :D soooo excited!! After classes I will now be helping Michael from the casino with a dance motion protocol. Then, (if I have energy left) I go to a home group Bible study at the home of my long-time friend Felicia.

Sundays - I TRY TO DO NOTHING! But... sometimes I put on birthday parties @ my home branch YMCA or teach a swing class or two... I just can't stay away from work ;P

So, yeah, that's my life right now. Very busy, yet very fulfilling. I am trying to squeeze in food prep, more workouts, competitive dance, and writing in their somehow... it'll happen... yes it will.

Much love to all, hope everyone is doing well!

Monday, September 5, 2016


What is my reason for being this way?
What is it inside me that cannot behave?
I am hungry like a lion, dying to be full
But appeasing the craving never fills up the hole

I reach for another
I reach for more
As I have reached out
So many times before
My body is ever an open door

But I only regret the things I have done
I shudder to see myself in the sun
I want to run away from everyone
Feeling there are no more good things to come

I sit in the silence avoiding my head
Running away from things I have said
Avoiding the sleepless turning in bed
Evading the sadness of life and death

Perhaps one of the reasons I must stay full
Is that my senses can then become numb and dull
I cannot feel sorrow, I cannot feel pain
I cannot feel broken, I cannot feel shame
I cannot feel want or fear or neglect
I can only feel full, and feel out of breath

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Morning Sparkle...

I am sick from camps (and junk food), but I still have some things to do today, so I could use a little extra sparkle ;) 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

For My Mamma - The Strongest Woman I Know

After 15 years, the doctors have finally figured out what is wrong with my mom. She has an extremely rare bacteria called pseudomonas, an extremely hard to diagnose bacteria that wreaks havoc on those with compromised immune systems. Here is an article for more info. 

Because my mother suffers from auto-immune diseases (lupus, celiac) her immune system was compromised from the day she was born. Auto-immune disease is hereditary, which is why I have to be a health freak (otherwise, it would be pass the Reese's peanut butter cups and cookie dough ice cream, buddy!). Little was known about auto-immune disease during my mom's childhood, so many of her symptoms went diagnosed, leading to food-driven illnesses caused by allergies, further weakening her body. By the time this strain of bacteria reached her, she was too weak to fight it off.

For a clearer picture on just how bad this illness is, let me put it into perspective:

-This illness typically effects the extremely ill (in hospitals/hospice care), or the elderly.
- People effected by this bacteria usually only live to 50, and that is if they are lucky. My mom is already at 50, so prayers she lasts to see at least one of her kids married off with grand-babies!
- The bacteria is strong that most people die very quickly after its onset. Because my mamma is a fighter (rugby player, boxed with her brothers, wanted to play football when she was a little girl... total tomboy) she literally would just NOT DIE. She did crazy amounts of research, and bought tons of supplements to help heal her body as naturally as possible, plus completely changed her diet to an anti-inflammatory one that helps keep the body alkaline. The doctors couldn't pin-point the bacteria because they literally thought she would be dead by now if that was what she had.

Finally getting this diagnosis was such a God-send... For years, I've been dealing in these murky medical ideas, not knowing what my mom had. Its such a relief to be able to say, "My mom has this," and just say it out-loud, and not feel like I'm going crazy.

This is for my Mamma, who really hates to be recognized in this manner. One day, I hope to write her memoirs because I find them deeply inspiring, and I hope to raise awareness about the complications that follow auto-immune disease in order to help those who, like my mother, suffered in silence for many years.

I love you Mamma, you're amazing :')

Just Because

Just because she can keep her chin up
Doesn't mean her neck isn't broken

Just because she can smile through pain
Doesn't mean it should never be spoken

Just because she is stronger than most
Doesn't mean she doesn't need help

Just because people abandon her need
Doesn't mean she's alright by herself

Just because she is quiet
Doesn't mean she has nothing to say

Just because she goes on
Doesn't mean she's perfectly ok

Ah Ha! I've Been Instagrammed! (Finally)

I'm house sitting for some people that I house/dog sat at last winter. I really like the place, its very cute, and its nice to have some space to myself for a change! Not that I mind sharing a twin bed with my sister the bed hog... not at all ;)

I'll be staying here for the next few days, so I can catch up on a little blogging in-between classes and planning for rehearsal/ school year stuff. Very excited for the run down this year... I've got:

- Dance classes at the Mill Creek, Mukilteo, and Marysville YMCA branches
- Personal Dance Training (my favorite!!) for ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, and now swing :)
- Lose to Win (Weight loss, healthy lifestyle coaching) @ Mill Creek Y
- Choreography for Jackson High School- Production: The Hot Mikado
- Birthday Party/Family events @ Mill Creek Y
- Still doing some article writing, I plan to up my game after the craziness of the fall show ;)
- Catering just on Wednesdays still. The people there have actually asked me to speak on health and wellness and do a couple dance classes for them for their health club because I'm always telling them how to eat in the morning and talking about dance... I can't help it, dance is everything!

I'll try to be better about pictures this year. Maybe I'm a bit of a snob, but I really like taking GOOD pictures, not little cheap ones... But since I finally have an ipod now (I know, don't laugh, I'm eons behind in the tech world... you should have seen my Zune that just recently died...) I can take decent pictures without lugging out the really big, and rather cumbersome, camera. For a long time, I took pictures of everything, then nothing good happened for a long time, so I stopped taking pictures altogether. Looking back, I realize I wish I had taken more pictures of just the everyday moments, even if they were bad, because all of life should be documented, not just the good parts.

Cheers! Sorry for the looong post m'dears, have a beautiful Tuesday :)

A photo posted by Ashley Anne (@thereisabookoutthere) on

A photo posted by Ashley Anne (@thereisabookoutthere) on

A photo posted by Ashley Anne (@thereisabookoutthere) on

A photo posted by Ashley Anne (@thereisabookoutthere) on

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Only Time You've Got

"But I don't have time!" 
This is something I often tell myself when it comes to lifestyle changes or goals that I want to achieve. And its true, sometimes I don't have the time. But I don't think any of us have the time! 
Does anybody out there (besides the shamelessly lazy) have extra time just lying around? Can anyone purchase extra hours, or fill up a piggy bank full of spare time? No! We all have the same amount of time each and every day (give or take the daylight hours). 

Unfortunately, I need more time! I HAVE to have the time to do certain things, otherwise, other things don't get done. For example... Food prep. I hate the amount of me it takes to prep my food. But if I don't prepare my healthy meals, and essentially TELL myself what I am going to eat beforehand, that week will be full of nothing but empty calories, extra chocolate, and quick protein bars. Not exactly nutritious...

By trying out different time management philosophies, I've discovered that time is pretty relative. Its all in the way you look at it. Remember when you were in school, how 2:00 pm felt like the end of the day? Well, 2:00 in the afternoon is now more the halfway point in my day. There is so much that can be done in those hours, but you have to think bigger than just clocking in and clocking out. 

You must be an active player to get more out of your time. The more you plan ahead for your day, the less stress you have surrounding an event, and the more brain power can be focused on being present at the event, meeting, vacation, etc. You will be surprised at how much more time you actually have when you begin managing. Just like pennies, seconds add up! 

Of course, as much as we plan, life has a way of throwing us curve balls. But in the end, God will look at our lives to see what we did with the resources he provided us with. Its not about fame and fortune, being noticed, or how much green paper you can collect. Its about what you created, what you gave away, and what you endured. Its about how you managed your resources. Learn to manage your time, is the only time you've got!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Wobbly Steps

 I am taking wobbly steps. 
        They are far from certain, 
They are far from steady.
But I am moving forward, 
In a somewhat linear direction. 
      It is these wobbly steps
That will someday carry me farther
     Than I have ever dreamed of walking. 
So I will continue on with wobbly steps, 
     Forgiving myself for the halts and the falls
With the knowledge that I will only ever fail
     Should I cease to plod on with
Wobbly steps. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Note of Encouragement

It light of my last post, I just wanted to give you a little encouragement... 

You may be powerless to change many things, but remember the things you can control: 

- Your attitude
How you choose feel about something can litterally change the situation. If you are negative, negativity will follow. Don't self-fufill negativity. Choose to rise above the situation, and make things better.

- Your style
Wear those pumps. Put on those cute pjs. Wear the wristband. Put on the extra eye makeup. Put the flower in your hair (or if your a guy, do all the manly versions of these things). Especially on the bad days. Choose to radiate beauty and joy.

- Your mouth
Smiling, even through tears, laughing amidst pain, it does make things better. "Smile, though your heart is aching, smile though your heart is breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by" - Michael Jackson

- Your inner life
Dwell on those positive ideas that will make things better, those small things that will make people smile, those baby steps in the right direction. Don't stop growing, just keep going. 

When Your Mind Begins To Bend

My mother has been chronically ill for almost 17 years. She is often covered in wounds and abrasions, and has so many things wrong with her insides, its a miracle she's still here. Even though I wish I didn't have to say it, I've grown used to it. Yet, no matter how acclimated you are to a situation, life will still throw something at your to make your head spin. You will suddenly experience something that is out of the ordinary, something that wrenches your thoughts and emotions from their usually fixed places, and cause them to morph and adapt in ways you didn't think were possible.

Last night was one of those nights. I received a text while teaching dance classes, and I quickly looked at my phone while my students began filing in for Jazz class. These words jumped out at me; "mamma, hospital." My stomach dropped for a moment, but didn't settle there. The hospital is a joke in my family. My mom's illness is so severe, the hospitals have turned her away. Then again, the hospital is where you go when all hope is lost... so what was going on? Was tonight the night? Was death knocking on our door? I wouldn't think about it. I taught class, and resumed my happy instructor face as normal.

As soon as classes were over, I called. Mom was ok. She didn't even want me to come to the hospital. The pain had been crippling a few hours before, but she was much better now. They almost called the ambulance, but things would be alright. They were giving her pain meds. It was manageable now.

This has always been the problem, the pendulum swinging back and forth between all sirens blazing to a relative calm. The instability is incredibly difficult to deal with. I may come home between jobs and enjoy a few minutes of conversation and a snack with my mom, or I might end up with my hands covered in blood from cleaning out my mom's wounds, listening to her moan and moan and moan. Its maddening.

Last night, after she came home, we attacked her wounds with all the effort of old fashion surgeons. I am there, with my mother, scraping and pulling on bio-tissue that has attached itself to her skin. She swears intermittently, and I curse myself inwardly for wishing this would all go away. I am tired from working all day, but this is my real job, helping my patient. My dad is out to lunch in other room, nursing his stupid cold, and I am with my mom. The hours tick by. Its 10:00 pm. At least I don't have to go anywhere tomorrow. Its 12:00 am. I can't believe this tissue is so stubborn!

Its 1:00 am. Finally, my mom tells me to go to sleep. I feel guilty for leaving her, but I am so exhausted. Why do I ever complain about getting sick? Oh my gosh, is this my life? How am I ever going to get out of this?? Who else suffers from this disease? What if we lived in a third world country where we didn't even have a roof over our head, and clean bandages, and ointment? I feel sick inside. I can't cut out the tissue that bothers her so much... I wish I were a doctor with endless resources. I wish I were a surgeon! I wish I had more energy and time to help! I wish she didn't have to suffer like this...

And my mind bends, and bends, and bends, until I can't recognize my thoughts anymore and I fall asleep. At least I know what love is, and I will take no substitution. I am lucky to see and experience so much pain, because I am really hurting, really living. I feel the purpose of life so keenly, and I will stop at nothing to make myself stronger and able to abate the pain.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Not?

Why not?
Why don't you just do it?
Why don't you just try?

I'm caught.
Like a fish in the net.
But... what if I die? 

What gives?
What's stopping you?
What's holding you back?

Faced with the truth.
I fear what I lack. 

Go for the gold!
Get creative!
Give yourself the freedom to chase success!

I will be bold.
Until I have made it I will not rest.

Monday, May 9, 2016

White Keds on Black Pavement

Life is white keds on black pavement
That fight to keep them clean
Among dust and debris
Keeping off the stains
and remains of the day
By wiping them clean
and putting them away.
One mark may be sufficient
to discourage their owner.
What's the use?
They say
The shoes will only
Get dirty again!
But the one who is dedicated,
Will have a clean sole,
Solely because of the way
They control
the mess,
daily erasing the grime
from the

Friday, May 6, 2016

Life Happens... Like Stalled Vehicles and Tow Trucks...

Life happens.

For example...
I was driving on a very hot Monday to afternoon dance classes. Things were going just swimmingly, until I came to a stop light, pushed on the gas pedal and found that my car would not move forward. My poor little car (Tasha is her name), had overheated and died in the middle of the road, quite literally the middle lane of the road.

A kind lady helped me push my car into the safety of the left hand turning lane. I've had my fair share of car troubles over the past few months, so I was hoping that my car trouble card had already been played for awhile. No such luck! Thankfully, this past year has given me a head for emergencies, and I was able to make all the necessary checklists:

1) Contact mom (who contacted father)
2) Contact work
3) Contact sister
4) Contact insurance company for roadside assistance

It was hot. REALLY hot. So, I'm half-in, half-out of the car, beginning to drip with sweat, and the insurance company says its going to take a couple hours just to get a tow truck out to my area. Well, there goes work for tonight...

My sister, Rachel, kindly came to pick me up. I was nervous about leaving the car in the road, but there was nothing else to do. We went to get a snack (bought protein bars, bad choice...), came back, and waited for the tow truck across the road, my eyes watching nervously over my little car. Dad showed up (unnecessarily, as I told him the car was safe), then left. Rachel and I proceeded to wait on this hot, sunny Monday afternoon in the car in a gravel parking lot of, ironically, an obscure mechanic repair shop.

Finally, an officer came along. I ran up to the car, explained what happened, and the officer called a tow truck for me which was (also ironically) right across the street. The guy who came was very sweet, and a little boyish. I think its so funny how things never change from the playground all through life. I could tell that he was working deftly and showing off his expertise because there was a pretty girl in need of assistance, just the way little boys show off their scars and monkey bar skills. I do not look down upon this, I applaud this, I love this, but I am not caught up in it. Maybe there is too much philosopher in me. Instead of enjoying male attentions, I find myself too often observing them from the outside, wondering about them, marveling at them, intrigued with them, protective of them, but somehow floating on their surface, face down watching them. My sister just laughs when I tell her stuff like this...

The towing company gave me a discount on the tow, and hopefully I will be reimbursed by my insurance company. A rousing way to start the week wouldn't you say?

Note: In case you find yourself broken down in the middle of the road, here are a few safety tips:

0) TURN ON YOUR EMERGENCY FLASHERS (that is the red, triangle marked button usually in the middle of your radio area). This gives people the chance to know you're having car trouble, and to get around you safely.

1) Assess the situation to see if it is safe. If you can safely and easily move your car off the road, proceed to do so. If this is not possible, it is ok to leave your car, just be sure to lock it up and remove any visible valuables.

2) If you feel unsure about the safety of your call, call 911, and they will send officers to direct traffic around you. If you feel the car is fairly safe, it is ok not to notify police, especially if your car is off-road. If you choose to leave your car in the middle of the road or if it can not be moved, its best to notify police.

3) Call or contact your insurance company online for roadside assistance. Be sure to ask the following questions (they should provide you with this info, but just in case) -
- what am I responsible for paying for?
- how far will you tow me?
- how many tows are covered by my insurance? (as you may need to be towed to one place, and then to another)
- what can I be reimbursed for in regards to towing and repair?

4) Remain in the vicinity of (nearby) your vehicle if possible until the towing company arrives on the scene.

5) Remember to be safe when crossing roads! Be careful when crossing into traffic, and wait until things are clear enough or slow enough for you to pass through safely :)

So, there's another adventure to add to my file! If you have car trouble stories, or safety tips, by all means share them with me!

Be safe!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Having a Spoonie Day? - Spoon Theory Explained

These past couple weeks have been hard. I mean PHYSICALLY CHALLENGING! But, not the kind of physically challenging that I would appreciate. Not the kind where sweat is pouring down my face, my heart is beating out of my chest, and I feel utterly exhausted and from pushing myself and exhilarated from meeting a personal goal. That would be fantastic.

No. This was a spoonie two weeks.

Those who struggle with a chronic illness probably automatically know what I mean. But for the rest of my friends who are still healthy, wealthy, and wise, let me explain my latest demise...

Its pretty simple really, they call it the spoon theory. Lets say at the beginning of the day, I give you twelve spoons. For our intents and purposes, the spoons represent a measurement of energy output, twelve spoons being an approximate amount of energy for the average healthy person. For each thing you have to do today, you have to give me a spoon. You want to get out of bed? One spoon please. Take a shower and look presentable? That's a spoon. Go to work for eight hours, pay four spoons. You come home, and have six spoons left. Those are used for emails, a phone call, making dinner, talking to your family members, and getting ready for bed.

But lets say you wake up and I only give you six spoons. Once you get halfway through the day, no more spoons are left, you're already tired, and you can't get any spoons back. Unless you sleep. Maybe. If you try to run on fumes without any spoons, you are going to pay. You are in spoon debt. The next day, you will only have four spoons. The others have to be generated in sleep. But, your brain isn't working now because it its too tired to function properly. Your body hurts, and you can't go to sleep. You wake up with three spoons. Still tired? Oh, yeah, spoons are not guaranteed to roll over into the next day. Sorry. Slept for twelve hours and still feel tired? Try to write that email. Blank stare, huh? This is when your mind begins to melt, and taking a shower feels like kayaking Niagara falls. Just keeping your eyes open throughout the day is a success. And sleep? Oh, you crave it... You want to wake up rested so badly you can literally almost garner a sense of taste for sleep.

Imagine that you almost never have a twelve spoon day. Maybe you're lucky to have five or six. A bit depressing right? The good news is, I know a lot of health tips that help me along the way. I know I need a good thyroid medication, and the one I just got was clearly not sufficient judging by how much I needed to sleep these past couple weeks. I would literally come home from work at 7;30, crash on the couch, and wake up at 7:00 only to be just as tired at the night before. I also know that I pretty much can't eat anymore. If I do eat, it has to be superfood, clean organic eats, and green or mineral drinks. Man, I miss eating...

The other thing that really makes me down is that I can't run anymore, or work out as hard as I would like. My body is simply too weak. This, I DO NOT LIKE. I am one of those people who would probably (like Marathon) work out until I dropped dead. I love it that much. But no. I am confined in this body of mine. But that doesn't mean I can't work out. I just have to do little old lady work outs. Gosh, I almost want to cry. I wanted to be a professional ballerina or gymnast when I was little, and currently being a dance instructor, I want to push myself for my students. I will push myself though.

Maybe people will always think I am lame because of how incapable I seem. I can't put my leg over my head, I can't run miles, I can't lift weights, I can't do all the things I've always wanted to do, but I can keep moving, stay healthy, and encourage others to do so. And as for all the things I'm missing out on, sure I cry over them sometimes. I'll never just be able to eat out with young folks, or be that kickbutt instructor, or dance for hours on end. However, this life is so short, I'm just passing through. I'll collect hearts and set them free like stars, holding out in my soul for a clearer view.

Loves to all, and cheers to better weeks to come! If you are putting off doing something, do it now. Time is generous when you do not want him to be, and he never gives you back time he's already given away.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pushing Along: Don't give up! We all have crazy days!

I just love this video... I wouldn't push the product, but I love the premise. Our lives, are officially crazy!!

We all have good days. We all have bad days. Most of us have busy days, lots of busy days. I have been putting a LOT of effort into looking my best, hacking my way to better health, and consistently trying to improve in my daily living, but not too long ago, I was one of those young whipper-snappers who stayed up too late, arrived to work looking like I just rolled out of bed, and wasn't really on my game.

There were many reasons for my slap-dash mode of life, many of them health related which is why I have become so passionate about healthy living. As I have slowly improved over the past few months, I realize that I have become something of that girl whom I admired. You know, the one who always has a band aid on hand, a full tank of gas, an extra sweater, and makeup that actually holds up throughout the day. But I had to fight to get to where I am. When you come across people who seem to have it all together, don't take their "togetherness" for granted. Chances are, they push themselves behind the scenes far more than you will ever realize. Those people have crazy mornings, hectic afternoons, and moments when they just want to quit. The trick is, hacking yourself at the moment when you just want to say "What the heck!" 

I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I just want to be an encouragement to those who feel like they aren't going to make it, like they will never succeed. I used to look at people who had it all together and wonder, "How do they do that?" First of all, you have to be healthy and have energy. Second, understand that this robotic age demands far more of us than we will ever be able to output. And third, remember that you can always improve. This life is real, and noisy, and busy, but we are able to overcome its challenges one at a time. We can do it!! Don't give up!!

Pushing Ourselves Along

I used to look longingly at the girl over there, 
Wondering how she lives so well.
She smiles and laughs, 
And works tirelessly, 
While I seem to toil 
and spin my wheels in vain. 
But slowly I learned,
Crawling I inched 
Closer to the person 
I wished to become. 
And as I see others behind me now, 
I want them to know 
If they wonder how I live
That I am not perfect;
I'm often tired 
As I work and laugh
But I have achieved 
And so can they 
So can we all 
If we keep pushing 
Ourselves along

Friday, April 15, 2016

I Am Not Happy Unless My Hands are Dirty

Whenever I find myself getting discontented in life, it usually means my hands just aren't dirty enough.

In today's world, everything is supposed to shine, glisten, and glimmer. Everything ought to be made out of chromium, aluminum, and steel. But I guess I belong to an older earth, you know, the one made of stone, fire, earth, and water. 

Ever since I was a kid, nothing made me happier than putting my hands in the sand, making things out of mud, or letting water run through my fingers. I would be delighted if I was told today, "Go make a cabin in the woods. Go away from this place of hustle and bustle, this hum drum of city/suburban life, and eat what you grow." But, I feel that I would soon become bored with nothing and no one to talk to but the birds. Perhaps I am cursed by living in this oh so busy generation, or maybe I simply crave human contact. 

I wasn't always this way. I was a bookworm through and through, too busy writing, too interested in my own thoughts to be consumed with the everyday lives of people. But amidst all my reading and writing, through all my thoughts, I was led to a beautiful discovery. We are the dirt. We are the essence of earth. We are beautiful, and boring; waiting to be shaped, destined to be demolished. 

Just like dust, we can be viewed as a prize or a problem. Resting on the mantle or scattered on the floor, dust is but a nuisance. But that same dust and dirt mixed in barrels and loaded onto trucks is the yet unborn masterpiece of an architect. In working with children especially, I get to see first hand what happens when children are treated as pests, turning into problems. But in the right hands, those same children, their character worked on by purpose and design, will blossom into the greatest prizes. 

So many people nowadays are in a rush to run away from life's problems. Selfishly, we seek our own comfort, not understanding that are purpose (and greatest joy) is to comfort and empower others. We ignore divorce, we shove uncomfortable subjects in the closet, we sweep a lot of anguish under the rug, and we disregard basic human needs in exchange for a false reality. But I want real problems. Call me crazy, but I want the dirt, not for the thrill of getting dirty, but for the knowledge that it is the real thing.

Wake up my dear, you were made to grow things up from the dirt. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fly on the Wall

Sometimes, it seems as though all my hard work goes unseen. All my observations seem to vanish into the nevermore, though I try and try to write them down. But then, I remember I was made this way. I was made to go unseen, all the while gathering my treasure trove of human experience, characters, and stories. And I remember that those who have noticed me have usually wanted to consume me, just like a spider and a fly. The beauty of being a fly on the wall is its incognito nature. So I will not beg for attention. I will remember who I am, and watch, and listen...

I can fly
But I am small 
I am the fly upon the wall 

I have perspective 
But I am little 
Many voices make me quiver

I wash my hands 
to make them clean 
But the washing's never seen

I see things
Others cannot 
But my voice is soon forgot

I was made 
to be this way 
To always move and never stay 

I fight storms
Across the seas
But should nobody notice me

I will rejoice
And recall why; 
For only the spider takes note of the fly

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Year (so far) in Pictures

Hello everyone!

Hope you had a good weekend, and are ready for Monday. I spent some time planning and (my love of cleaning) organizing things this weekend, including photos. For some reason, my ears and throat are all infected, but I thought, "Hey, while I'm down, I might as well tackle a small art project," so here it is!

Below are some of my favorites, but you can check out the full album here: CLICK

this is ethan. i teach him dance. he is bae.

beautiful reflections...

my sister rachel, current beauty school student, working her magic

found on the wall at work.

i am celebrating all holidays. this was valentines.

rachel at beauty school

red velvet cupcakes for my birthday...

alexa's amazing red hair. i literally just saw the light reflecting in it, and said, wait! we need a pic!!

ma nue runna's

steampunk major

dress, fifteen dollars, done.

great quote

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Joy of Personal Responsibility

Living is hard. If you think it's easy, you haven't lived long enough yet. The road is dark and trecherous, but also thrilling. That is, if you know that life is a game meant to be played, and which rules to follow.

My generation is plagued by doubts, fears, and irresponsibility. I'm not afraid to say it. Many of us have grown up in broken homes, have learned few life skills, and even fewer of us have learned how to take good risks and take ownership of our lives. Our future is uncertain at best, but then again...

When was the world ever a perfect place? What country has ever had the privilege of containing only perfectly intact families? What person ever had 100% perfect parents? Who has ever had the perfect job with no boring or hard days? The answer to all of these questions is simply NEVER. Nowhere in history did anyone ever have a perfect life.

There was, however, a perfect man, and he encouraged freedom from the various matrixs we live in, finacially, spiritually, and physically. This was not so we could sit about in trances, feeling our way to paradise, but so that we could recognize the game for what it truly is. It was never about money, power, friendship, or fame. It is about learning our strengths and conquering our weaknessness, feverishly working out our lives when we must, and trusting that God has our backs when things are beyond our power.

Our concept of perfection, born in Eden, has been lost in this dimension forever. We must stop our futile attempts to return to Paradise on earth, and instead recognize that it is slaying the daily dragons of our lives that will shape our souls into joyful beings, no matter our circumstances.

It is not what is handed to us, but rather what we create, nuture, and maintain that will make us who we truly ought to be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Top 10 Favorites This Month

Hello Everyone :)

I thought I'd take a few moments before I hit the hay tonight to share some of my top ten favorite things from this month.

1) Red Velvet Cake Birthday Cake. Yes, it was my birthday this month (on the 15th to be exact). I am now a whopping 23. For some reason, I was ready to be 24 this year. After many failed experiments with red velvet cake last year, I finally succeeded in making a red velvet cake that looks as good as it tastes! I'll be posting that recipe on Earthy Kitchen soon, so stay tuned!

2) Vintage movies. Can't get enough of 'em. My mom has been down for the count, so we just bundle up and watch movies on the weekends together. Been enjoying lots of Dick Tracy detective stories, and found a new Cary Grant movie called The Great Adventure. Super cute! And thought its not exactly "vintage," I've been enjoying the late 90's/early 2000's show "Early Edition." Gotta love Kyle Chandler.

3) Work. Yes! I actually enjoy my work! Working with children is so very rewarding, and I've been blessed enough to get to see "my kids" as I call them on a regular basis, both in the dance classroom and the daycare where I work. I've also been brought on to the catering company I work for on a weekly basis at my favorite venue on Wednesdays. I was ready to do just about anything, even giving up all my fun work and going to another steady desk job, and I just asked God to send me work, and I've been getting hired left and right. God knows what to give to the willing!

4) Beauty Treatments. I am totally digging my makeup regime. Its easy, about 20 min, and it lasts the whole day! I've also been much better about keeping up my skin by eating right and cleansing properly. I feel and look much better!

5) Style. Pinterest has changed my whole world, and my whole wardrobe. Really loving the Boho/Hippie style right now, along with the basic dancer look. Fashion is an extension of one's personality, and I like what is coming out of my heart and my closet right now.

6) Being a role model. When I see little eyes looking up at me, full of love and wonder, I am amazed and honored. Children are what life is all about. As an adult, you have the opportunity to make little people who are completely dependent on you feel safe, loved, and provide them with magical moments. Don't miss a single opportunity to make an impact!

7) Staying in the moment. When I speak to people, I really try to stay in the moment with them. This has become easier the more that I've practiced the skill. I want to make whoever I am speaking with feel valued, respected, and heard, no matter who they are, or how long I've known them. I want to do my best work right now. I want to be fully present in my heart, mind, and body. This is the moment, embrace it.

8) Being consistent. There is this phrase that is scribbled in a Switchfoot photo in the album "Hello Hurricaine." It goes "You was it once, could you be it again?" That phrase echoes my artistic and ethic sentiment. I always wonder, "If I make it once, can I keep going? Can I be the same, on the spot person all the time?" The truth is, I can't be perfect, but I can consistently try, consistently improve, and consistently refuse to give up on myself.

9) Silly Conversations. I love silly conversations, especially with my siblings! We laugh, we swap inside jokes, and we always have something to share in a way that makes the other person giggle.

10) Getting inspired. Pinterest, fellow bloggers, walks in the park, good music, and Michael Jackson... lots of Michael Jackson ;)

So, those are my top ten at the moment. What about you?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sometimes - A Poem of Grief

There is nothing to do
But cry

I stop and I just wonder

I sit wide awake
and I weep

All I can think to do
Is sleep

I scream so soft
No one hears me

Silence rings too loud
Too clearly

I think of you, just you
and smile

The pain is worth it
For awhile

I wish we could all
Be alone

I ache for the place we
Called home

Just sometimes...

            But then there are times...


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Simple and Free by B.B. Hatt

Simple things are often taken for granted, like the fact that we will lose the beauty of Pen and paper, the elemental and the wild. They say its all for progress, but I know their game, I know what they're after. They're after my humanity, and I will not surrender.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stop Waiting For the Big Moment

Stop waiting for the big moment.
It will never come.

You will never feel like getting out of bed and tackling the day on hundred percent of the time. Rise and seize the day regardless of your emotion.

You will not always want to be wise with your money, your time, your body or your brain. Resist the urge to self-destruct.

There is never a perfect time to start a project. Start them anyway. Nothing that is finished will ever be perfect. Finish things without thought of their perfection.

Don't wait until the time is right to do things. Just be a person who always does things.

Accept life's challenges with grace, dignity, and faith. Don't wait for handouts or embrace entitlement.

Stop waiting for the moment when you will feel like an adult. It will never happen. If you feel ill-prepared, seek the knowledge of those who have gone before you. Get your hands beautifully dirty by living life. Don't settle for distant, dusty knowledge, get to know things up close, personally and practically.

Don't fear losing your life. Fear losing the game of life. For that is what life is, a game. The moment you were born, the difficulty level was set, your tools were handed to you, and the universe couldn't wait until you awakened to your consciousness and embraced the meaning of life.

And what is the meaning of life? It is not how much you can gather for yourself, or how much you can take, but rather how much you can create and give away. That is to reflect the image of God, to be like our father who pulled from the depths of himself at great personal cost to give us life and love. That is why creativity is so vitally important. The moment we stop creating, we start stealing and we lose the point of life. How many people have gaping wounds from stolen childhoods, stolen marriages, stolen kisses, stolen innocence. Be one who creates, who needs no one but God and their own soul to create something beautiful and then give it away.

Don't wait one more day to start living. Life never gets easier, just different. Face the challenges, prepare for them and surmount them. Don't forget that the idea that life will come crashing in with huge waves of importance is largely untrue. Life is the daily drip, the leaky roof, the little raindrops that eventually flood your existence. It is easy to see a wave coming. It's easy to ignore a drip.

Stop waiting for something to come to you. Go towards the thing itself. If you wait, it will never come.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Life Is a Movie. All I Need is a Rockin' Soundtrack

Spring is double-down time. It used to be get-all-my-homework-done-before-spring-break-time. Now its get-all-my-teacher-planning-and writing done-while cleaning and organizing the home time! For that, I need a soundtrack. One of those peppy, go-get'em-girl ones that make you want to use your hairbrush as a microphone in bathroom while you deep clean.

I've always been a fan of the 2007 Emma Roberts version of Nancy Drew. It has some great music, like Blue Monday by Flunk, and When Did Your Heart Go Missing? by Rooney. I also love the music from Ramona and Beezus with Selena Gomez, Princess Diaries 1&2, and the quirky, cute modern version of Pride and Prejudice with Orlando Seale.

Now I'm adding the soundtrack from Austenland to my collection, which is a hilarious movie with a near perfect blend of peppy, upbeat, pleasantly girly music. Lets rock this Spring everyone!!

ashley anne

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Found This In My Inbox This Morning, Possibly the Best Valentine I Will Ever Recieve...

Hello World,

Its me, only something has changed. Something has happened, something that I always dreamed would happen, worked to make happen, and knew would happen. Today, I became an author.

That's right, I am getting PAID to write something!! Oh, sure, its just a small gig writing a handful of articles on beauty and health, but it means so much to me...

I've been blogging for about just over five years now. Many of these blog posts have been nothing more than teenage rambles, going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But as the years have gone on, I have done so much more writing than what you see here. I have filled notebook after notebook with endless poems, entries, short stories, and chapters, knowing that someday my hard work would pay off.

I was a bad writer for a long time, not because I didn't have a way with words, but because I was too busy trying to fit my words around the world, the way a child tries to squeeze into their favorite old clothes. Slowly, I have learned that in order to be the best writer possible, I have to be willing to part with everything I know, to sacrifice every idea I hold dear in order to discover the truth. I must be ready to get rid of excess words, all words if necessary, to cut to the heart of something.

My goal was once to educate the world. Now my goal is to understand it. Things have changed, and they are only going to get different from here. So here's to new adventures, new failures, and new insights. There's a book out there... I just knew it!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Afraid to Say It

Everybody feels it,
The tension that walks in the room
Like another person,
an Entity, a Thing.
We all sense it,
But we are too afraid to say it.

We can't speak
Or we won't speak,
Either way, its just as bad.
Generations go by,
and old ideas are passed off
and repackaged,
the ones that are designated
"Safe to open" by our predecessors.

But I want to live dangerously,
even Defiantly.
I will not speak merely about 
what others have deemed "safe."
For what is safe anyway?
At any moment, the molecules of my body
might give way to some galactic infrastructure
Collapsing under the very weight of my existence

Don't you see? No one is safe.
So why should I pretend?

I have seen the way our faces light up,
the way they fade,
what makes them darken, harden,
I've seen what makes us bleed.
I've seen the things that make us laugh,
Smile, blush, even love,
and yet no one talks about them.

Its as though all the great secrets of the universe
are the ones we long to Discover,
and finally find in some dusty corner of the attics of our minds,
But having been told that we alone have found them,
we all waltz by them,
Barely lingering over the things of true Importance,
and Immersing ourselves
in the pretense of the day.

I protest.
You might as well lock me up,
For I am not Afraid to Say It.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Heart February
Via Pinterest
Hello World,

Happy February!

I love February, I really do. It may be the month of romance and rejection to some, but I really enjoy seeing all the cute stuff in the stores, the flowers, the hearts the chocolate, the whole shabang. While many believe that main point of Valentine's is to monopolize on people's romantic relationships, I truly enjoy the childhood classroom memories, the sweets, and the chance to give people a little something special just a little after Christmas and before their birthday.

I also "heart" February because its a gift of the second go around. If you feel like you've failed in January, you always have another go in February. How do you feel you did when it came to those new year's resolutions? I have been pretty proud of myself lately. Instead of shooting myself in the foot, sighing, and then saying "ah, heck with it!" and shooting the other one, I have actually slowly made progress.

Take today for instance. Things were not going particularly well at all this morning (couldn't find my keys, found them, lost them again, felt tired and groggy, frog in my throat, got called in to sub while the house was a mess, got locked out of the house on the way home, phone died on the way back from teaching classes tonight...) but despite all that, I was able to keep my chin up.

I SO BADLY wanted to go and self-sabotage by buying a pre-packaged food (chocolate or delicious protein bar... food fantasies, sorry!) BUT!! I TALKED MYSELF OFF THE CLIFF!! Instead, I behaved like an adult. I told myself not to spend the money, rack up the empty calories, took supplements, and actually cleaned the kitchen in 30 min flat while listening to Mr. Rogers (I gotta be a kid in some way ;)

While driving to my class, I was able to call ahead because I was running later than normal, have them set up the room, and calm myself down (I was a bit stressed after the fast clean and jetting to work) while running through class material in the car. It was AWESOME!!

No, I haven't met all my goals yet, but I'm working towards them, and I'm being less self-destructive.

Whatever your goals are this year, you CAN achieve them! Its just one good decision followed by another one. You'll be a pro at this in no time! Keep going, its going to be worth it!

ashley anne  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Be The Hero. Be Brave.

Be brave. 
Give out the love when there is no return. 
Don't hold out for your fair share, 
because you don't want what you actually deserve.
Learn to be wise; learn when to walk away. 
Learn to be wise; learn to know when to stay. 
Instead of longing for hugs, give them. 
Instead of waiting for an encouraging word, 
brighten someone else's day from the bottom of your heart. 
Be genuine and caring in a cold and cruel world. 
Be the person you once looked up to. 
Love is a learned skill, pass it along. 
Be the hero. 
Be brave. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I Refuse to Break

Bullets are flying
I'm slowly dying
The things that I want so much
Are the things I can never touch

But I will never break
I've taken what I thought
I could not take
Every time you do me wrong
I just end up getting strong

I refuse to break
I simply refuse to break
Though my heart
Was made of glass
I'm pullin' pieces
From the trash
and I am melting them down
To a substance that astounds
I will amaze myself with what I take
Shoot at me, honey
I don't break

Keep on firing
My will is untiring
My blood is gushing out
Wounds made by your mouth

But I can't ever break
Because I promised that
I would plant my stake
I know you're in the wrong
But I'll be strong

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Catching Full Arch Rainbows

I was three years old when I saw my first, full-arch rainbow. One
of my parents (can't remember which), pulled me close to the van window where I could get a better view. I remember there were raindrops on the glass, and the sky was dark in some places and light in others. It took me a couple moments to figure out what all the hoopla was about, but when I did I thought it was beautiful.

Since then, I have witnessed only a few full-arch rainbows. They don't happen very often, and if you're not careful, you miss them. Today, I happened upon one as I was leaving work. The beautiful thing was, not only did I have time to enjoy the splendid sight of the full-arch bending across the sky, but I actually had my camera on me, and was able to capture the moment. I celebrated two things today, one was the spontaneous beauty of nature itself, and the other was my preparedness and therefore ability to capture an otherwise fleeting moment of existence.

To me, that is good artistry. Not only having an eye trained to see beauty, but to have the skill and discipline to capture it as well.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Productive Thinking

by Francesco Mugnai
Dear World,

Today, I've been thinking.

I've been thinking about thinking, and what I think about. As an author, and someone who spends an excessive amount of time up in her head, thoughts are extremely important to me. Coming out of a season of relentless panic attacks and intrusive thoughts, I am enjoying a clearer mind and feel that I'm regaining control of the theater of my mind's eye. My mental repose has left me wondering, "How much time have I wasted on non-productive thought?"

Honestly, I'd have to say a huge portion of my life has gone down the drain. Through my teen years, much of my thought life had to do with fantasies, either in book form, or my own. By fantasy, I mean an escape to another reality, often grandiose or magical in nature. I have always liked fantasy, but lately, I've found myself questioning its validity all together.

People who defend fantasy say that we can learn lessons from unrealistic situations and apply them practically to our everyday lives. However, if the volume of my time is spent yearning for other places, I am not learning how to live in my own world. After all, I live here, I interact with others here, I have problems here, I live, fight, love and die right here. Of course, there is a time for the fantastical and those stories that are larger than life which can help me gain perspective and insight. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that we need more stories we can relate to that don't just leave us fantasizing about what can never be (slaying dragons and what not), but instead striving for what can and what ought to be.

My personal experience with fantasy adventures mostly left me pining, longing for something I couldn't have, expecting things that would never be, and comparing others to standards that were impossible to attain. I'm sure I learned some valuable things along the way, but a vast portion of it was simply an emotional escape. I think everybody tries to escape. Its a way to cope. Some drown out the world in alcohol and drugs, others fill up or empty themselves of food. Lots of people use music to block out the noises they don't want to hear, or turn on the TV or bury themselves in a book to avoid looking at the real world around them. Others slap the bandaid of religion on the dying and feel superior for doing so.

But what if we, instead, looked at the real world and saw the pain, listened to the world and heard the crying, and then used our brains and our emotions to do something about those problems... Wouldn't things slowly but surely become better?

I don't think I'm trying to knock fantasy as a genre or as a thought form completely. I would simply ask you and I start thinking about how we think. What fills up our brains? How much time do you dedicate to solving problems instead of wallowing in or running away from them.

Don't misunderstand me, I love a good story, and I love movie night as much (maybe more) than the next guy. I just think that maybe our escapism would work out better if we could, in those moments of suspended reality, learn how to solve problems and bring those solutions home.

Photo by by Francesco Mugnai

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