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

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2019 a year for Growth and Healing

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You know it is hard to sum up 2018 in my mind. I have tried figuring out the easiest way to do this and I am still at a loss. It was a year full of so much grief, hurt and pain for me. Yet it was also a year of so much self recognition and inner soul searching. I grew in my faith that had become dormant prior to this year. I made some wonderful new friends. I grew closer to family and friends. I worked harder to be a better mother to the three most precious men that God has placed in my life. I guess you could say that it was an emotional year. Full of many Ups and Downs.
The funny thing is. I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned more about myself and I am still learning more about myself. It has made me realize that no matter what we have planned. If it’s not God’s plan it won’t work. He has a big plan for me and though I am not sure just what that is yet I am trusting him and his process.
So here we are, “New Year, New me.” But not so much for me. I don’t want to be New I just want to keep growing myself. I decided a few years back to choose a word for the year. Last year was Embrace. Ironic right? I did try and embrace it all though. I felt it all strongly and processed it with strong will. I allowed myself to fall apart and I embraced how they felt too.
Now I am ready for more! I am ready for my “Growth and Healing”, it was to hard for me to just go with one word. New Year = Healing and growth for me. Inside and Out. Physically and Mentally. What exactly does this mean for me? Where in my mind will this lead me? What Goals will I build with these as my root words?
First of all if there was a tail-tale way for me to know what exactly was in store I would be soaring through this crazy life. 2018 clearly showed me I wasn’t boss in my life and I don’t always have control, but it did show me that I can choose how I react to the things that happen in life and grow from them.
Here we go though. Thinking about 2019 and all my main Goals for the year. Things I vow to work towards and push myself hard to obtain.
Weight loss. I don’t have a number for the scale. I just want to lose weight and become healthy again. My intention is to not have to take so many pills and to be a stronger and healthier version of myself.
Inner Healing. Continue seeking counseling and working with someone to get through my bad habits and past patterns.

Growth with God. This one is huge because I want to be able to truly trust him and build a strong relationship with him. Continuing my daily devotionals, prayers and getting to know more and more about the bible.

My Sobriety. Alcohol has always been how I dealt with anything hard in life. I don’t want this to be a cushion or way of life for me anymore. I am going to fully focus on cutting alcohol from my life 100 percent.

No dating or relationships. This is for me. I know in order for me to truly ever be able to open up or love someone ever again I need to heal completely. I want to find myself in the healthiest mental state then I have ever been before. I have so many things I need to work on within myself before I try to add anyone into that mix. (Disclaimer: God has proven I don’t always have control. If someone comes along it will be without a doubt a God thing!!)

Taking mini weekend retreats where I mediate, pray, write and read. This can be as much as focusing on these things at home the weekends the boys are with their dad.

Write my book. I believe God has given me writing as my talent to help other people. I hope that in finishing my book and getting it out there it can help someone. Even one person would make it worth it for me.

Take my boys on vacation. Somewhere fun and that we have never been.

Work on my finances and building my credit score back up.

Creating moments of happiness that enable me to grow and heal from the inside out.

Trust the process. Trust that what is put out in the Universe is what we get back and I am going to work to put out as much good as I can.

Read and Write as much as I can! These things heal my soul and help me so much. So this girl is going to do them as much as I can.

This never needs to be a Goal or a Resolution because it is simple a way of life for me but taking in every moment I get with my boys and helping them to learn to love the entire process. Raising them is such a gift and blessing for me and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us!!!
There it is y’all. My 2019 goals, all obtainable. All going to allow me to become a better version of myself for my boys and for me.
Grab a cup of coffee and join me as we begin this next journey of our lives. Your girl can’t wait!

Love and Light,
Ashley

Be the difference

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I have always struggled. To be happy, to rise above my anxiety, to push through the difficulties of life. I mean really, who hasn’t. Everyone “copes” differently though. From my perspective looking at other people I always wonder how everyone seems to do it so flawlessly when I am falling apart. I am sure this is farthest from the truth though. I am sure that others are completely falling apart on the inside even when they seem so well put together on the outside. I am also sure there is someone looking at me thinking I am strong and have my shit all together.

I don’t though. This point and place in my life has me feeling like I am constantly trying to keep my head above the waves that relentlessly pushes in over and over again. My heart is a constant dull ache and I have never felt more alone. I tell myself daily that I can do this. I am stronger then this. When in reality I am lost. How would life look if we were all more honest about how we feel? Would we be there for each other more? Would we check in on each other more? Truthfully I don’t know if speaking it out loud would help. In our society and society’s standards I think it would push people away. We don’t know how to help others that aren’t “Okay”. Think about it.

You ask your co-worker ” How are you today?”

They respond, ” Honestly, not great.”

How do you respond. How do you handle this? In my own reality most people ignore that you didn’t give them a positive answer in the first place or they respond with a half concerned, “It will get better.” “Keep your chin up.” or ” This to shall pass.”

These to me all undermine that the person could really be going through something and need  someone to really confide in. We live in a society with staggering suicide rates, the annual age adjusted suicide rate is 13.26 per 100,000 individuals per year in the U.S. it is the second leading cause of death in young people ages 15 to 24! How are we okay with that and how do we change this?

First, I think we need to stop telling people to get over it and show them we actually care. You may not see it but what they are going through could really be hard for them.

Just because you may not understand their situation doesn’t make it any less real for them. Everyone copes and deals with things differently. It is real, and hard and painful for them. You may not have to understand it, but you can be there for them and be supportive.

 

If each one of us took a moment to be kind when we are in a hurry instead of rushing through life you never know who you could touch and make a difference for them. I don’t say all this to say I don’t have people here for me. I do and they are wonderful and I love them so much for their support and love. I say this because not everyone has that same support system. I say this because maybe just maybe we all as a whole can stop and try and see what someone else is going through. View it from their perspective so we can be there for them more in a way that will make a difference in their life.

 

Maybe, just maybe we could make a difference in someone’s life who really needs it. Lift up those who are drowning and be a light for those who feel like they are in constant darkness. Sometimes all it takes is just giving a smile, a hug or listening when no one else does. Those tiny acts of kindness could make a big change for someone.

 

Today I Will

 

img_9467I have spent the past few months wondering. Why? What did I do? How do I fix this? Where did I go wrong? Who am I? What do I do now? The thing is I could dwell on these questions for the rest of my life. And I would get absolutely no where. Today I choose not to question. I choose happiness and promises of a new day. I choose to put self doubt to the side.

Today I choose Psalms 139:14

“I Praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works: my soul knows it very well.”

 

So today I arose to your word and my devotion.

I choose to meditate and pray instead of worry.

I worked out and set my steps in your word and promises.

I fed myself a healthy meal.

I watched the sunrise in your promise for a new day.

 

I will set my sights on you. I will trust the process and allow the pain, hurt and healing that will come with it. Today I will to forgive. Today I will lean on you when I feel weak. I know I make mistakes and fall short. But today I choose to lean on your promise, Lord.

 

Thank you for your blessings even when they are hard to see.

Today I will push forward.

 

Light and 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

Quick beauty tips you can do on a budget

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Let me just start by saying I am not a professional here. I also, didn’t really start taking skin care into consideration until this year! *GASP* I know, I know. This is something I am proud of and considering the amount I tanned in high school and college I needed to start this a long, long time ago. But here I am in my 30’s realizing how important it is and on a SUPER tight budget. Let me just tell you I have noticed a huge difference since I started and someone said I look 27 the other day! I mean it’s not 21 but it took a few years off so I will take it. This person also definitely got a hug and lots of high fives, because I am cool like that. This person may or not have been a terrified looking stranger who will probably never compliment another person in their life. Oops.

Without making you wait any longer here are my go to skin care routines. That I make or buy at the drug store. I wash my face every night and morning. IN COLD WATER. It minimizes your pores and makes your face smoother for when you apply your makeup.

I use Neutrogena Face soap bar! Yep just a bar of soap. Talk about taking it back to the 90’s. I have had less problems with my face since I started using this and I love it.

Then Grab you a toner! I recently switched to Burt’s Bees Brightening refining tonic, it is gentle on my face but really helps with making my pores smaller and my face smoother.

Then I move onto exfoliating my lips. I make this gem instead of buying one though. Brown sugar and honey. Mix in a little bowl, apply to a soft tooth brush, brush your lips and wash! This is especially important if you like to wear lipstick as some of them can dry your lips out. I follow that up with Burt’s Bees Lip Balm.

My daytime routine always calls for a face primer with SPF in it. Maybelline’s Master Primer . Sets my face well for my makeup and helps my makeup stay on longer without coming off.

At night I use an under eye brightening cream and a gel face moisturizer. Y’all, these two items are a little more but they last forever. You literally only need a little and the difference is night and day.

Once a week I do a face scrub that I make with Coconut oil, brown sugar and a little honey. Talk about baby smooth skin.

For a face mask I make my own as well and this works great for oily skin or brightening. Start with Greek Yogurt, add juice from half a lemon, Tbsp. of Honey and Tsp. of Cinnamon. All natural and wonderful benefits. I mix this up as I use it and apply with a flat makeup brush. Let set for about 15 minutes and then wash off.

Lastly, I started dermaplaning once a week. It helps your makeup go on smoothly and gets rid of dry skin and peach fuzz. I get these facial razors off amazon and that work really well for me.

These things don’t take a lot of time and most of them I do while I am multi- tasking something else. Going through school folders, helping with homework, bathing kids. lol They have however made a huge difference in my skin and I save a ton of money. These products may not be top of the line but they work better then not using anything at all. If you don’t have a routine then try some of them out. It is never too late to start taking care of yourself. Oh, and I ALWAYS use sunblock now. Having a family history of multiple cancers is no joke and I would rather be safe.

If you have any questions shoot them my way. Let me know if you try any of these or if you have some awesome tips as well! I love hearing what works for everyone.

*Guys I am also not getting paid for any of these links or products. Just sharing what I like.*

 

Love and Laughter,

Ashley

Yes, You can say NO.

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Isn’t it crazy how busy everyone’s schedule is? Our society is so fast paced and we take so much on. Somethings we even take on because we don’t want to look bad. Or don’t want to feel like we aren’t enough. We want to be excepted and fit in. Or in some cases you just feel obligated because everyone else is doing it.

I just had an instance where I had to choose Yes or No. With school starting and all of the beginning of the year paper work I had to choose if I wanted to sign up for “Class Mom” to help throw parties, volunteer and such. As much as I wish I had the time to do that, with work, the kids other activities in general there is just NO WAY I can. I mean I could have said Yes, but here is why I chose No.

 

I could always add something else into my schedule. Stress over how I would be able to do it. Struggle to do a good job and be the best “Class Mom” there is. The thing is, I know I can’t do it right now. I am already at my wits end with all I have on my plate. I may not fit in with others because of it. And I hate I will be missing  more time I could get with my boys. They know Momma works hard and when I am home with them it’s all us! Sometimes saying No is what is best for you.

YES, I said it sometimes we just need to say no. Lets all practice how!!

No, I can’t.

That is all. No explanations needed. No feelings of guilt. No reason to second guess yourself. Now when you should say No.

When it won’t bring you joy. When it will bring you more stress than happiness. When you don’t have the extra time. Or when you just don’t want to.

Look how easy that is?! We all go through seasons of life where somethings bring us joy and some season where they don’t. Never feel guilty for looking out for yourself, your health and your well being.

For those who care about you won’t mind and those who mind aren’t worth a second minute of your time anyways!

It is okay to say No just remember that and; if you need to practice saying it in the mirror for strength then go for it. lol Lets admit it, we all do that from time to time.

 

Positive Vibes and Light,

Ashley