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

 

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

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

How to Own Your Life

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It’s crazy that life doesn’t always work out the way we think it is going to.  That sometimes it is in that blank sheet staring back at you, that still needs to be written that we find who we really are.

 

The thing is we may not always have control over every situation, but we do have control over how we handle it,  grow from it and if we become stronger from it or cower and lose sight of the lesson. The grace you show in every situation proves your power to prevail. Proves your capability. Life can deal us some shitty hands there is so doubt about that. We all have our struggles and trails. You may be the single mom, the person dealing with loss of a love one, you could have lost your job, you may have a sick child, or spouse or loved one. You may be in debt up to your ears and have no idea how you will ever get caught up. You may not know where you next meal will come from. Or if anyone will ever truly love you. You may have been abandoned in your time of need. You may feel so lost and alone that the thought of going through another day seems impossible.

Maybe more than one of these applies to you or it could be something else completely that you are going through. It isn’t the trial that we go through that matters its how we deal with it. How we get through it. What builds you up during this time is what adds to who you are and makes you a better person.

The hurt and pain may seems like it is too much. I HAVE BEEN THERE! I can bet that every person reading this has been. So excuse me if this next little bit of advice seems insensitive, but I am going to share with you how I get through these times.

First off, I wake up each morning and decide to Put on my damn big girl panties! This day is going to happen regardless of how I decide to handle it. BUT, if I wake up with the mindset that No matter what I am going to conquer this day and make it a productive one. Then it will be!

I start my day out positively. I start my coffee, check my planner, list at least 10 things I am grateful for, read my morning devotional and take a few moments to meditate on the positive. Then I go about my crazy routine. Which starts with waking the kids and hitting the ground running. Because lets face it; they aren’t going to slow down and it is up to me to give them a supportive, loving, attentive role model.

As I take on my day I try to remind myself that when negative situations arise, I can control how this makes me feel and how I go about the rest of my day. Sure I still get upset when cruddy things happen. I even get mad, hurt and discouraged. This is when I decide that it won’t effect the rest of my day. I let myself feels these emotions and then I get back on track. Things that help me are taking a moment to breathe, getting away from the situation for a few minutes and thinking about things that make me happen or that I am looking forward to that are coming up.

Most importantly, make a life you want to live! Find your inner peace and whatever it takes you to get that. Believe in something. It may not be for you, but if it wasn’t for my prayer life, the bible and Jesus there is no telling where I would be. (I am far from perfect) But I know when I need him God is always here to “Help a Sista out.”

Follow your heart! This one is tricky because clearly you need to also follow logic, reason and be rational. Weigh the risk and look at how your decision will effect everyone around you that you love and care about, but your heart will almost always steer you in the right direction.

And never for one second stop loving yourself and being your biggest supporter. Write your story page by page with dignity, love, pride and happiness. Never doubt yourself. Push yourself harder and harder to make your dreams come true. Climb that mountain in front of you with such vest that your obstacles don’t have an option but to get out of your way. Even the biggest obstacles and problems can be overcome if you face them one step at time.

You have to start somewhere and this moment seems like the best time for us to begin!

Strength and Love,

Ashley

 

Fear < Dreams

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You know those daunting dreams that we fabricate at a young age when we are full of spunk, energy and a zest for life. The ones we usually let slide to the sideline when real life gets in the way and adult responsibilities take over.

Those dreams right there are what I finally decided I was going to chase. I think as we get older sometimes we being to settle and think those dreams are too far gone. We get married, have kids, buy the house… (Not always in that order) and we put those dreams on the sidelines so we can just make it through in this busy crazy life. Don’t worry I am not pointing fingers at anyone but myself!

I am first and always will be a Momma to my 3 very active and busy boys! They keep me going from before the sun comes up until well after it goes down. I also work full-time in long term healthcare. I have a side hustle to help bring in extra money here and there making invitations. I also, recently decided to go after one of my biggest dreams! I have always had a deep love for reading and writing. I do it for fun or just to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper.

Well,  I decided that I should give it a go and try my hand at one of my dreams. I pushed my fear of rejection aside and just went for it. I wrote an article and sent it in to one of my favorite websites! Being a freelance writer is something I have always only dreamed of. That and writing a book. The book will come with time and I am sure 1,150 re-edits, but I will get it there one day if I have to self publish and sell them on the streets for $1.00 each just to get all the copies out of my house.

I waited and waited for what seemed like a small lifetime but I will never forget the day I got an email back about my submission. They liked it. They wanted to set up a time to call and talk to me about possible writing for them regularly.

“Wait, you liked it?” No critiques or Buts.

Nope. They just wanted me to write more!

I squealed out loud as I read that message and I have felt a huge weight lift off me ever since. It’s not a paying gig, it’s not the biggest site out there, but their message is something I believe in and love and I couldn’t be happier to be a contributor for their site. Seriously y ‘all, on cloud nine feeling so blessed! I am so thankful I didn’t let my fear of being denied keep me from submitting that article.

When we let fear get in our way we miss out on what God really has in store for us. We miss all the blessing he has meant for us because we get in our own heads and say “I can’t do that.” If you never try then you will never know. It won’t always be easy and sometimes you will have to fight through opposition. That is the crazy thing about dreams though. They are worth the fight and no one can fight for your dreams but you! So Fight! Dream Big, Work hard and Make your biggest dreams come true. Put in the hard work and see what comes from it. I can tell you this. The happiness alone that comes from chasing your dreams make it worth it!

If you want to see what is going on at The Grit and Grace project, then go check out my article there and I have more launching this month!

Dream Big,

Ashley