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

This Is Why You Need to Start Your Day With Intent and Purpose

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One of my main goals at the start of this year was to begin each day with intent and purpose. I am so glad that I stuck with it; it has allowed me to appreciate every day and helped me focus on what’s important. My year has been full of setbacks, triumphs, accomplished goals, and shattered dreams. Without it all, I wouldn’t have been able to see that I can focus on my purpose every day no matter what is going on.

In order to achieve my main goal of living with purpose, I must focus on being intentional with my time and energy. There are small and simple ways of doing so, and I think everyone could benefit from some of them.

The first thing starts right when you wake up: stay unplugged.

Resist the urge to look at your phone. The emails, texts, and notifications will still be there in an hour. Take a few minutes and set your goals for the day, and make positive mental notes for how you want the day to go. You control your mindset and that affects how the rest of your day will play out. Make it count from the time you first wake.

Second, create a morning routine that works for you.

It’s easy to let ourselves go when we are so often taking care of other people. Setting aside time for myself in the morning has been my key to overcoming this battle. I wake before everyone else does, even when I am exhausted and sleeping in sounds so much better. My mental health needs that time each morning.

I start by feeding my cats and letting my dog outside. That way everyone is content, and I can focus on me. I like the quiet when I first wake. No noise at all and Lord bless the person who tries to talk to me before I have my first sip of coffee, the juice that fuels my soul. It is my breathe of fresh air as soon as I wake. (For you, it may be water, tea, or juice—just find something that you look forward to after getting out of bed!) After I grab my mug, I sit outside and take 30 minutes devoted to something that feeds my soul: my devotional, prayer, reading some of the current book I am working on. I also enjoy listening to the birds, taking deep, deliberate breaths, and stretching. You might even want to do a short yoga flow. Just get your blood circulating. Say your affirmations while you do this, and set the tone for the kind of day you want to have!

Use these simple suggestions to make your day count from the first moment you wake!

 

After your mind is in the right place for the day, switch the tone.

This is what I like to call “Wild and Ready.” I turn on upbeat, fun music. Whatever I may be in the mood for that day. Pop, Christian, Rap, Best of the ’90s… Just make it fun, do a jig, laugh at your dance moves in the mirror! Then commence getting ready while you sing to your heart’s content. And sing, girl! Don’t hold anything back; you are building the stepping stones for your day. Once my mini debut for America’s next big star (home edition) is over and I am ready to walk out the door, I check my agenda for the day, gather my things, and head to the car.

Maximize your drive time.

My time in the car in the mornings is dedicated to personal care. Let’s also call it mental health, personal development, and growing my mind. This is when I tune into my favorite podcasts. My top three favorites are This Grit and Grace Life, The Dr. Zoe Show — Redefining Your Superwoman, and She Thrives (if you find cursing offensive, this one probably isn’t for you). These are just my top picks that resonate with me. Listening to them helps me get out of my head, learn something new, and receive encouragement from an outside source. You may not like any of these, and that is fine. There are so many options; find some you like and tune in. I promise you this will become a great time for self-reflection and mental growth.

Find simple ways to make an impact daily.

Once I get to work, I check my emails and see what I need to tackle. Before I do that, I take a quick five minutes and send a thoughtful, positive message to the first five people who come to mind. You never know whose day you might brighten. If they message back and I don’t have time to respond, I get back to them on my lunch break or the next time I have a quick moment.

Ladies, I think a lot of us get tied up in the go, go, go and forget to find the joy in everything. We can get so much more out of our day when our attitude is properly set. Whether you use my tips, tweak them, or discover your own—find a way to find the sweet moments and create a hopeful, optimistic mood for your day. Your life matters, so make your time count!

 

Article was originally written by Myself for, The Grit and Grace Project Online Magazine

Please Check out their amazing site at thegritandgraceproject.com to read some amazing and inspiring articles for women who are living this Grit and Grace Life!

 

Love and Light,

Ashley

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

 

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