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

 

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

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