To the Momma of young kids..

My boys are 8, 6 and 4 now and yes they are a little older so we are thankfully out of the diaper stage and having to pack the entire house when we do something, but we have entered a whole new complicated stage of life.

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Being a Single Momma is hard. You are doing all the things and running on no sleep all while having no one to bitch to about all the crazy. Not having anyone there to support you, help you make decisions or tell you that it is all going to be okay. You just have to hope that you are doing alright and pray for all the Grace on days when you know you fall short.

Here I am in this new phase of life where my kids are developing into their own little personalities and have BIG feelings about everything. While I love this stage and how they are finding their own it can be a tad overwhelming and embarrassing when we are out in public and it is 3 again me . I struggle with wanting to take them to do things and then just staying in because it can be so exhausting and draining at times.

 

Momma, Yes you! You are not alone!! It doesn’t matter if you are a single mom, working mom or stay at home mom. We all understand how hard it is and here is why I think you should push through and go take your kids to do the things even when it is hard!

 

It is so rewarding even when it is hard. You are teaching them how to act and react to things. They watch EVERYTHING you do. They pick up it all. How we treat other people, how we teach them to behave and respect others. How to smile and be happy through it all. Even when things don’t go as planned. You are making memories with them that will guide their childhood. Quality time and love are what are children crave. It may not always seem that way because they have no idea how to tell you what they need at this young age, but it’s in our makeup. We are made to need connection and community. We thrive on it and we grow from it.

 

Teaching our children how to express that and show that is only going to help us more as parents. Our kids will want to share and talk with us more. They come to you more when they feel safe, loved and respected. All things we teach them as we do more with them. Again, they are watching how we interact with others and learn from us.

 

If we don’t make it an effort to put our words into actions how will they ever truly learn how to act. The whole, “Do as I say not as I do!”, saying is bogus. You are teaching your children. If we can’t brave the crazy of real life situations with our kids how can we ever expect our kids to be brave and face things? It is hard. It is exhausting and it is SOOOOOO draining. It is also so worth it. For you and them. I promise the experience will bring you moments of stress but it will also bring you moments of pure happiness. Let those moments drive you and be what push you to brave the next event. Push through the impossible moments and the more you do the less and less they become. They slowly learn how to act, how to be and how to enjoy it all with you.

Always remember Momma, you aren’t alone. We are all here just trying to figure this out and make it. You got this and we will look back on this stage of life one day and wish we were here again. Sitting in the middle of the crazy. Time is fleeting so soak it all up!

 

Love and Light,

Ashley

Seasons Change

The older I get it still completely blows my mind how quickly the seems to slip past us. I swear Summer just got here and now it is almost gone. Let me tell you; I AM NOT READY! This Summer was one for the books with my crew and myself. We soaked up all the sunshine, water and even the killer heat was embraced laying in the river as much as we could. We adventured our little hearts out and this season has honestly been one of my all time favorites for my boys and me. We spent countless weekends in “The Wandering Poppy”, our new to us popup camper we got and have been working on all summer. Found some campgrounds we love and some we don’t. We have endured pain, hurt and sickness as well. I have personally went through so many changes this season.

 

Some were definitely harder than others and they all taught me some tough life lessons. As the seasons change, so do we. Y’all, I have grown so much! I have learned to freaking love myself again! I have learned I am okay being alone. I honestly have learned how to thrive alone; not just survive. I have went to work for myself and I am quickly growing a good business that will provide for myself and my kids like what I need to. I have rekindled an old love that I have always had with Nature and I have embraced that every chance I have had! I have become a mom who listens, slows down, loves hard and most importantly smiles and laughs with my babies again.

 

When you watch yourself go through tough season we tend to lose that smile and laugh. The first time I caught myself smiling for no reason I knew I was finally headed in the right direction. That direction was found all on my own with deep soul searching. Once you can find that on your own without depending on others you know you are finally healing from those bad seasons of life. As I sit here writing this reflecting back I truthfully have no idea how I did it some days when I was drowning in my depression. All I know is that each day I tried to push harder, do better and be present. Then one day I was there, smiling. With each passing day I just push back. Only I can control how I react to what life throws at me and I hope my boys learn resilience from me. I hope they know that even at my worst I was trying. I was trying for them in all my faults and failures.

As Fall quickly approaches and the leaves begin to change colors and fall from the trees that carried them so beautifully all season, I want to remember what this season meant for me.

This Summer and this season of life. How they have helped me grow in ways most will never recognize or realize and that is okay. I don’t need anyone else’s validation but I know in my heart how damn far I have come. How hard I have had to fight to get here and how hard I will have to fight to continue to grow. But I am worth it. My boys are definitely worth it and so is the future I will build for us.

The season approaching is already so busy and filled with promises. Things that I can’t wait to see fall into place. Growth that will be amazing to watch unfold. More healing and I am sure heartache. That is the beauty of this chaotic life though isn’t it. For everything that is taken away something gorgeous will come to pass.

 

It may be hard but it will be worth it! Hang on tight doll, the best is yet to come.

Shine Bright,

Ashley

7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

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Winter is so hard for me. I grew up in Florida. Where our Freezing normally stayed above or close to actually freezing and it didn’t generally stay that way long at all? Life happened and now I am in Missouri where winter is normally beyond freezing, grey and yucky. I struggle with it and honestly it has been something I dread every year. Eight winters here and I am slowly learning how to make it through the bitter months that seem to drag on forever.
So if you also get the Winter Blues like I do then maybe some of these things will work for you as well. I am not saying it will make it all go away but these help it seem a little less brutal.
• Make a winter cleaning list. pick things to tackle during the winter that you maybe didn’t have time for during the summer months. Deep clean one room at a time. Organized all those closets that you hate digging through. It always helps me when I am organizing to make a keep, trash and donate pile. The purging of the old things and deep cleaning helps me feel like I am tackling winter in a productive way.
• Surround yourself with light. Warm lights, open curtains, lamps and when the sun is out bundle up and get some rays. Soak it up when you can!
• Get some house plants. Plants make you feel like you are bringing some of the outside in. They will give you a sense of spring. Not to mention they brighten any room and add filtration to the air in your home.
• Re-decorate or give rooms in your home a face lift. Who has time to have the winter blues if you are giving a room a fresh coat of paint. Moving furniture around or evening giving pictures and art work a new place to hang in your home.
• Make a winter book list and start reading. When you catch yourself feeling low or unmotivated pick up a book and get lost in it.
• Start a workout plan. You can do this at home, a gym, yoga studio or put on some warm clothes and hit the road. Hiking, running and walking can all be fun to do even during the winter. Exercising is going to help you feel better and get those happy endorphins flowing. Even if it as little as following a daily stretching or short yoga routine. There are so many free workout apps, Pinterest workouts or trainers out there that would love to get you on the right track. Trust me once you get started you won’t regret it.
• Find a new hobby! Contact your local art association and see if there are any classes. Start doodling, re-finishing furniture, knitting or sewing. Pick something you think would be fun and start taking steps to learn a new trade. This doesn’t have to be expensive and hey you may even make enough or be good enough to sell some of it and make some extra cash.

I know how difficult it can be to push through these cold and dreary months that seem to drag on forever. However, finding something to keep you busy is key. Not only could you be learning new things you will be starting spring out with a clean house, in better shape and ready to get outside and enjoy all that sunshine and warmer air when it gets here. So this winter instead of allowing yourself to get down in the dumps. Choose to get motivated. Make the best of your time inside and get caught up on all those things that we don’t get done when we are outside soaking in the sun during the spring and summer! Let me know if you have any other ideas. I would love to hear what pulls you through the winter!!

Much Love,
Ashley

In the wilderness

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11 years ago I had my first big loss. I lost my Grandma, my momma’s mom. It was awful. Losing her was bad enough but the way it happened was very traumatic. After her loss I dug deep into drinking, partying and pills. A few months after that we discovered that my Step-Daddy, the man who raised me had Stage 4 Esophageal cancer. I lived away at college and would go home every few months to visit and find him getting worse each time. I never dealt with the grief or pain like my mom and sister did living it with him day in and day out. I just drank more. I worked two jobs, went to school full-time and when my head wasn’t completely in that; I would drink more. Take a few more pills. Party with my friends and keep a huge smile on my face. I was Strong, I was going places.

My Daddy was diagnosed in June of 2007. He weighed 250 pounds and was a happy, healthy and amazing man. He passed away June 8, 2008 weighing 98 pounds. He was still amazing but cancer took the rest from him. The next few years looking back are still a blur. I hated God for taking him from us, I pushed everyone away and either ruined or almost ruined every relationship I had with anyone. Family, friends, my fiancé. I drank constantly. I would drink before work, sometime while on my lunch break and every evening. I didn’t need a special holiday, time of day or reason. I drank so I wouldn’t feel.

I am not telling you any of that for sympathy. I am telling you this to tell you a different side of my story. Isn’t it crazy that a human being can accomplish soooo damn much but can also be some of the weakest beings there are. I never worked through any of that grief. I never walked through the steps and slowly began to heal. 10 years later and I am just now taking the steps to try and walk through those losses.

I still battle alcoholism. And I have only ever said those actual words to a few people in my life. I thought I had a hold on it until I didn’t.

Today,  I am walking through a different kind of grief and loss. I am going through divorce. The difference is that the man I am losing isn’t dying. Just our marriage is. So here I am trying to figure this grief thing out still and now I have to grieve a situation that I still have to deal with everyday. And trying to do it sober has been a challenge. While out of town for work I relapsed into “Just having  good time.” Until it wasn’t. What is scary is I have no idea where I was, how I got there or what happened. The last memory I do have was taking shots and laughing at a bar. It is terrifying and opened my eyes to a lot. Including the fact that when the drunk wore off and the shame kicked in. The pain I was feeling hit me even harder.

Grief is a crazy thing and so is pain. I am so far from figuring it out I won’t even begin to try. All I can say is that I know I am going to have to walk through it this time. I can’t depend on anyone else to help me or do that for me. No substance, person or thing can get me through this.

What I do know is that as I take on this wild trail through the wilderness God will be there for me. With open arms and a whole lot of Grace to lead me down this bumpy path. I think that is just what he intended. For us humans to make the mistakes, feel the pain and trek through the unknown. Then and only then do we realize just how much we need him and truly lean on him in all our needs.

This will take time. More time then I want I am sure, but God does have a sense of humor. He knows I am not a patient person. I also believe he has something amazing for me waiting. In his time, I can’t wait to see what that is.

 

Journal Entry 1 of an unknown crazy amount.

Ashley

You can divorce with Grace

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“I’m goin’ through the Big D and don’t mean Dallas.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were as catchy as this 1990’s Country Song? Well, let me tell you it’s not. I am sure that if you have been through this you will also agree. I am struggling in so many different ways that I didn’t even know were possible. The hurt, pain, guilt, failures… absolutely every single one from my entire life are going through my mind. Not just what pertains to my divorce process. ALL OF IT. Where I first went wrong in life. What made me the way I am. I should have done this differently when I was 13 with that one “boyfriend”.

Isn’t it crazy how we use our minds against ourselves? It’s insane to me the stuff that has come back to me and that I am having to sort through on top of everything else. But, in away it is also freeing. I am working through things I never did. I am recognizing what truly means the most to me, who I am and what I need out of this crazy life.

“I never got married thinking it would ever end.” Something I also keep going back to and I am sure anyone who has went through divorce has said that in some form or another. I mean who wants to see what use to be the love of their life come to an end. To have that story end and not end Happily Ever After? Y’all life isn’t a fairy tale. It’s so damn hard. We go through so many hurts, trials, painful situations and the thing is everyone handles them so differently. I think that is where the difference begins.

In how we handle the situations we are given. If we pull closer to the ones we love the most in those times or if we push them away. It’s always a slow process. The distance grows between you and before you know it your are in different mindsets, places of life and become complete strangers. What I am learning in this process isn’t how we got here but how to handle it all now.

After all I could always sort through the past, the what ifs and I should have done this. The past is the past though. His faults and my faults no longer need to be brought up and thrown in the others face. Now it’s how we handle the moment. Showing our children that even in hard times you should always treat other people with love and respect.

I want to greet each and everyday with Grace. Grace for myself, Grace for my children’s father, Grace for the pain I feel and will continue to have to work through. So from this point on I will remind myself.

I am enough.

I am worthy.

I deserve to get back just as much as I give.

I am not broken.

I do not need to keep apologizing.

I will forgive myself.

My boys are my reason for life and I am and will always put them first. I want them to grow up knowing how to treat people, how to deal with life’s hiccups and that they deserve nothing but the best. They will never be used as leverage. They are the center of their fathers and my life.

If you too find yourself in a similar situation then remember to approach it with grace, love and kindness. After all we should always treat others that way no matter what the situation.

If this is you then my heart and love are with you. I know how it feels. We will build ourselves back up together. One brick at a time. Never forget to…

“Always trust that still small voice in your head that says this is my limit.” -Dr. Zoe Shaw Sometimes that voice knows better then our heart.

 

Love and Light,

Ashley

Making it through the unknown.

Life has so many unknown possibilities. So many different choice we can take and directions we can go. We can wake one day and our entire world can be turned upside down. What we thought was, no longer is. What we dreamed to be is quickly brought to a halt. The thing is somethings are out of our control. Somethings are consequences of our actions and somethings; well those things God brings to be or not to be. I don’t want to get all philosophical with this post, but I do want to share a little of what I am going through.

I am going through a phase of the unknown. A lot is “Up in the air.” There is nothing that I can truly do aside from leave it in someone more powerful than myself hands.

How I am getting through each day. How I am coping with the change and process. That I do have control over.

Here are some things you can also try to use if you to are going through a phase in your life of uncertainty.

  1. Organize and clean your entire house. Leave no pillow unturned and no closet corner ignored. This has been so therapeutic for me. Plus I have purged or donated so many things we don’t use in the process.
  2. Find other ways to use things in your home. I wanted to get my paints back out and start painting. I didn’t have a table or anything that would work for the small area I have so I used the benches from my dining table. I have a lot of random chairs (I have a problem with pillows and chairs), so those chairs are now around my table!
  3. Pick back up hobbies you haven’t done in a longtime or start a new hobby! I got my paints out again. I have been filling spare time with working out, writing, journaling, painting and digging into my bible. Really anything that keeps my mind busy and focusing on the positive.
  4. Surround yourself with those who mean the most to you! My boys are my light and my world. When I am with them they are my main focus and we have so much fun!! Family and true friends are always going to be there when you need them. Take them up on their offer to get dinner, coffee or just sit and talk. It is so good for your soul.
  5. Something else I am super excited about is that I love to read and have some like minded gals that do too, so we are going to start a Book Club. I hope this becomes a safe and fun place for us all to hangout, read and get in much need girl time in the middle of our crazy busy life’s.
  6. I have also decided to reach out to someone to talk to. Someone who doesn’t know me but from a professional stand point and can give me the guidance to get through my current situation in a healthy way. A way so that I can heal and not use substances, the wrong people or fall back into old patterns.

 

Y’all life can be so damn hard. I know we are all out here just trying to do our best and make it through things “One Day at a Time.” I know right now I am thanking sweet baby Jesus on the daily for my Dry Shampoo, Messy bun, Concealer and Coffee! Maybe channeling some of your troubles or energy into an outlet similar to some of these will help you. The main thing to remember is we will make it through this.

We are strong Woman, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters. Friends. With a little support when we need it we will get through whatever phase of life you are currently in. Just know when to ask when you need help. That’s what we are all here for.

 

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” – Maya Angelou

 

Love and Light,

Ashley

A letter to my first born son

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7/8/2018

Clayton,

First of all, I hope you had a wonderful birthday today! We tried to make it special but also simple and sweet. An adventure will await us soon. It still seems absolutely impossible that you are now SEVEN! It is like we took a few nights sleep and you grew up before my eyes. You know I have often heard that there is just something special between a mama and her first born. Well baby boy that is so true. Let mama explain. See you are the very first one who made me a mom. You came into this world clinging to me and changed my life forever. In such a better way! You trusted me and our bond has always been unbreakable. Momma could always make it better. I won’t lie this still amazes me. I had NO idea what I was doing when we first laid eyes on each other. Heck, some days I still don’t. The great thing though is that we get to learn together. You taught me how to unconditionally love someone and man do you show me Grace Every. Single. Day. Clayton Eli, you are the kindest person I know. Your uncanny ability to love and except everyone makes my heart nearly explode. (In the best way possible) You are already turning into such an amazing little man. You are a care giver, love, gentle, responsible and always willing to help me out with anything I am doing. The way you care for your brothers now is building the strongest bond that will always hold strong between y’all. If there are just a few things I want to remind you today on your birthday is.

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One, Never ever forget how much I love you and how special you are to me. Our bond and connection mean the world to me. The world that you and your brothers create is my everything and our bond sweet boy; OUR BOND is what started this adventure we are on.

Second,  Never let anyone let you believe anything but how wonderful you are. I don’t know a single person in this big huge world that is kinder than you my Gentle Giant and I hope you know God gave you that special gift for a reason so always remember to use it.

Lastly, Always remember to give yourself the same Grace that you show others. On bad days, on days you make bad choices (I WILL FIND OUT ABOUT EVERYTHING, so never lie to me) and on days that you don’t particular like yourself. We all have those days, they pass! Give yourself grace though baby boy because you deserve ever ounce of that!!

I still can’t look at your baby pictures without crying and each year when I go through all of the ones I have I will cry as the years go by. Heck, I am sobbing while I write this. Because no your not my “favorite” your brothers and you all have things that make you all my favorite, but you are different. What we have is different. You were the first to call me momma, hold my finger with all five of yours, nurse endless nights while I just stared at you. You help build me, help me grow and began molding me into the mom I am today before your brothers where ever a thought. Thank you for always being my biggest fan and you will  be my Superhero!

I love you to our Moon and Back with a Hug around the neck.

Happy Birthday Big Man

Love your momma