Reflections

Life has a funny way of slowly slinking past you until one day you look up and a month has gone by. Birthdays and Holidays flash past in a fast paced tango and before you know it half the year has gone by and you are sitting on your bed reading through your Facebook Memories about what you were doing on this exact day 6 years ago. Well, maybe thats just me but you get the point. Life has a way of swishing past you like a grandma doing her fast walk at the mall and sometimes it takes the big moments for you to actually stop and reflect.

Think about it, how many times as day do you just simply sit where you are and reflect? If you are like me you usually spend your days cramming information into your overfilled brain all the while wondering what to make for dinner and what you will be wearing the next day. It is so easy to get lost in the motion of things, the every day worries. The outfit, food, weight, exercise worries. Then when a holiday rolls around or some major life moment comes to life you are able to finally look back and see where you have been and hopefully where you are going.

Tomorrow is my bridal shower. In exactly 15 days almost to the hour I will be marrying the love of my life. These things finally hit me today. I know, I know its a little last minute but its just how I roll. Going from finals week to instantly rolling into the full time summer gig I have, the days just zoomed by. But taking some time to stop and reflect tonight, the night before the shower I am just now realizing how far I have come. I would like to say that I have come to this reflection  by myself but, like most of my peers I would have to give that credit to facebook. Scrolling through my facebook memories I saw that three years ago today I was posting high school graduation pics with short hair and old friends. Four years ago I was rocking an orange shirt and a red pimple at my step brothers graduation party with my siblings. Two years ago I was offering someone a million dollars to find those iced animal crackers, it was a weird time. Five years ago I was dancing and walking in relay for life  with black nails and a short jean skirt. Needless to say I have come a longggg way. Looking back on all these random things that happened in my life throughout the years on a random day in June gives me perspective and excitement for the future.  Long gone are the jean skirts and pimples. Instead white pencil skirts and a trusted face wash take their place. My siblings have all grown older, I have fallen in love, moved away from home, graduated with an associates and continued onto my dream school where I am currently working toward my dream career. So many things have happened and time is flying so fast. So, I have a little word of advice for you my friends where ever you may be out there. Take some time to review, reflect and enjoy your memories. Call up that old friend from graduation and reminisce about growing up. Visit that park you always went too as a kid. Dont get so caught up in the everyday worries and learn to focus on the bigger picture. Find the old photo album, search through your laptop or break out the facebook. Whatever you do, dont let the big moments and holidays be the only time you reflect and reminisce.

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The End of My First Journey.

As December swiftly runs past us and we begin to feel the weight of the year we are all about to leave, I have to say it packs more of a punch this year than it usually does. Today is my final day at my first college. Today is my final day at an awesome job that I have had for more than two years. Today is the tie up loose ends, say goodbye to everyone, and remembrance kind of day. When writing a couple of emails to a couple of people for a couple of things I have to clear up before I leave, I was written back almost immediately by one. And it read “Thanks for the update, Ashley. Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck on the next part of your journey!.” Which, made me realize that today I am completing the first part of my journey. And, isn’t that just terrifying and breathtaking and confusing and humbling. All this hard work and changing my mind and challenging myself actually accounted for something. I came to this school, got a new job, and once I graduate I wont be back. Today is the end of my first journey.

This part of the journey that is coming to a completion today, I believe, was about growing up, figuring myself out a little bit more, and learning to trust my instincts. Right before I got this job and began school I moved out on my own. I went from living with a rather large, loud and rambunctious family of seven to a small, quiet place with just me and my best friend. I also went from a soft little town with bright stars and limited dreams, to a booming downtown city where the dreams where massive and stars impossible to see. I also started college, got a new job and changed my major. Which, as one could only imagine lead to may tear filled nights, lost days and confusing choices. As you could also imagine, I had to pick up the run of the mill adult stuff like paying my bills on time, how expensive heat can be, how to not burn your apartment down, and how costly groceries are. But, I also learned the more meaningful value of being an adult. Things like learning to trust in yourself, having to make hard decisions, never letting fear stop me from attacking my dreams, and of course that you are never to old to call your mother crying asking for help.

Not only have I learned a lot about my somewhat new role of being an adult, I have learned a lot more about myself on a personal level. I learned that I am only responsible for myself and my actions, that happiness comes from within, and the true importance of being a good friend. I have learned to forgive even if someone has not apologized, learned to put faith in myself and the abilities I have and, that above all else my family is the most important thing in the world. I have learned that I love the bustling of a downtown area and plan on living in New York City one day. I have learned that I also require time outside where I can spend a moment figuring myself out. I have learned that yoga helps my clear my head, exercise keeps me from wanting to punch people, and eating healthy is a value that is important to me. I have learned that communication and trust are the most important things in a relationship and that learning to live with someone you love is a challenge but it is so worth it. I have learned that I love brunch on Sundays and sleeping in late on Saturdays and weekends filled with food, friends and laughter. I have learned the kind of movies I like to watch, the books I like to read, and the music I enjoy listening to. I have learned that while it is absolutely terrifying to go to school for something that you love, in the end, with hard work, determination, and never taking no for an answer it will all be worth it. I have learned so much about myself and the person I want to be. As the year is coming to a close and the curtain is abut to close I realize that today is the end of an era. The end of my very first journey. It has come with its fair share of hardships challenges and obstacles but, I have made some hilarious memories, wonderful new friends, and instilled an unshakable faith in myself. Soon I will be off to my last school with a new job and new sights in store.

Expiration date

As the chill in the outside air grew colder and everyone around me bundled up. As the colors of the leaves began their last marvelous show and everything became pumpkin flavored, I knew it was time. The date of expiration was nearing me. I remember the issue date, or to a 16 year old me, the best day on planet earth. Though I was sneezing and coughing and had the worst kind of flu, nothing could rain on my parade. After the nerves settled and I managed to park the car back in the lot, I knew that I finally earned my ticket to the freedom my 16 year old self so desperately desired. I ran inside, and with a nod of my head a mob of screaming, hugging, and excited family members surrounded me. I had the largest smile any human could have produced and that smile stared up at me until my 21st birthday this year. Something I also remember thinking about that day was the big, bold expiration date listed at the bottom of my pink ticket to freedom. I remember thinking of the year 2014 as if it was a land far far away, a time so distant and so unattainable I had no idea what the world had in store for me. Of course I had the bigger questions of things like, would my country still be in war, how would technological advances affect the children of the time and would we be able to cure cancer, but lets my honest here I was 16 so I mostly thought about me.  I remember spending hours upon hours attempting to imagine what exactly the world would be like for me in the intimidating, far off year of 2014. Right before I went to go exchange that picture of a doe eyed child for an adult woman, I was forced to reflect on the time spent between issue and expiration. At the ripe age of 16 I would not in a million years have pictured my life how it is today. I would not have seen any of it coming. The struggle of losing my grandfather with such speed in knocked us all off our feet. The way my mother and father can now be in the same establishment and even shake hands. The car I am driving, the place that I work and the nearing end of my college experience. I would not have foreseen the loss of some friendships and the making of new glorious ones. The meeting of the love of my life and my very best friend. That by the time the expiration date grew close I was planning a June wedding and looking forward to the challenges and adventures life has in store for a 21 year old me. At 16 I had the world at my feet, no fear in my eyes or dreams that were too big. And, while some realities of the world have set in as I am crossing over into my 21st year, I am proud that I still have  large dreams and an optimistic outlook on life. The things that I have accomplished in those years between those bold dates make me proud. The things I have in store for my future, the goals and dreams I am working toward achieving and the understanding that there is no way I can predict what my life will be like between issue and expiration makes be believe that in some distant universe where time is endlessly existing, I have made my 16 year old self very proud.

Always

Sometimes the words flow easy. A thought drifts causally across my mind and like a Polaroid, within moments I am able to compile my every thought and do so with drastic detail. I am able to showcase the exact way I am feeling at an exact moment. The way the sand felt on my sunburned feet that one perfect summer, the way the chill in the wind whipped through my hair bringing to attention the first glimpse of autumn. Sometimes I am able to capture a moment and a place and a feeling. Sometimes I can effortlessly be completely present in the moment. To laugh easily and cry with intention and dream without boundaries. Sometimes the days are so smooth they run into weeks and weeks into months and months into years. Sometimes the doors always seem to open and the path always seems to be one of little resistance. Sometimes there is always rainbows after rain and a silver lining and a friend to talk to. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is hard. The words don’t come easy and it is as if I am a wily child again spending hours upon hours upon hours with a shiny net running across grassy yards trying to capture a butterfly, getting rather close but never quite having the ability or agility to fully capture the creature I so long for. Sometimes I cant focus or perfectly recall an outstanding moment. Sometimes the school work adds up, the bills become mountains, the long hours at work begin to take its toll. Sometimes I cant describe how I feel, or what I want, or who I want to be. Sometimes the loss of a loved one comes back with a force unknown by any creature except humans. Sometimes I lose my way and the doors always seem to close and the path always seems to have the most resistance. Sometimes I questions the goals I have set for myself and the ability I have to achieve them. Sometimes it just rains and there aren’t anymore good friends left. But always I pick myself up and try again. Always I take the blow and the rainbow-less rain and get right back up. Always I take the punch in the gut and the confusion that follows and dust off my fabulous clothes and stand tall again. Always I find an open window or an open crack if all the doors are closing. Always I refocus my intentions and refocus my life. Always I continue to chase that sneaky, cunning butterfly. Always I try again.

The Midnight Burglar

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Screw Cancer. It’s like a burglar that comes at midnight. It comes in the middle of an unsuspecting night, while you lay fast asleep cozy in bed next to a loved one, or your favorite stuffed animal. Whether it tricks the lock or scales the windows and doors it somehow manages to slip through the smallest unexamined crack, and finds a way in to the place you always assumed would be safe. It defiles your home and leaves you feeling vulnerable and confused. It comes swift and bold and strong. It moves silently, slipping into every room without you having a chance. It ransacks your life, it goes through your belongings and it makes sure you don’t hear a damn thing while it carries out its selfish intentions. It works tirelessly, to gather all the things you hold dear so it can take it for itself.  And, by the time you wake up and roll out of the warm comfort of your bed, by the time you walk down the stairs, by the time you catch it, it has removed everything that holds any real value and leaves not a trace of evidence behind to have a culprit to blame. Screw Cancer. It takes your TV and your curtains and all the money you have ever saved. It takes your peace of mind and any idea of security you have ever had. It takes your favorite necklace and your favorite shoes and any favorite you have ever had. Just like the midnight burglar it is needy and silent and fast. It’s only motivation is to take all the things you love and leave you feeling helpless. It has no remorse and no conscience. It is quiet and cunning and destructive. Screw Cancer. If only we had a vague sketch artist drawing of you that we could pin down Criminal Minds style and lock you away for life. If only we had a leading witness to testify against you in trial. If only we had a face to blame. If only we had a way to get all the things back you stole. If only you weren’t the best thief there ever was.

Memories

“Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those sense weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.
Life has to end. “Love doesn’t.” 
Mitch Albom,

The Day I Forgot to Wear Makeup

If you made it through the title (a little lengthy l I know) then you will know what your lovely little eyes are about to read. I decided not to go with a moody, could be something but not sure title and stick right with the point. Trust me I took AP English in high school, I know what its like to spend hours having to decipher what the author possibly, probably meant by using that one word melodramatic title line. But, back to the point. This was one hell of a week may I add. Most people would simply blow through this title and mumble quietly to themselves “get some real problems lady”, but you didn’t, go you. While this problem may seem like something small in a world filled with violence and mass corruption lets remember, I am a Type A perfectionist and if you are unfortunately there with me then you get the heaviness of this problem. This problem also taught me an important lesson, funny how the world does that to you isn’t it? Lets start at the beginning shall we?

Well lets begin with the ‘forgetting to wear makeup’ thing. As a young women, who goes to school and holds down a job one would expect that you wear makeup on a regular basis as to not look ‘tired’ or I don’t know, like a 15 year old maybe. Forgetting to come into work wearing makeup is a mountain I had yet to climb, until last week that is. I came in to open work at 8 am and upon stepping across a mirror, realized that I had failed upon leaving the house to apply even a drop of makeup. Yep you heard me right, early morning on the job, sans makeup. Quite a scene that sets. I instantly went into a deep panic and when I say panic I mean I freaked out. I didn’t bring anything with me except lipstick and that wouldn’t help a sister at the moment. I immediately messaged by fiance and asked how on this precious earth had he forgotten to remind me that ‘hey you are leaving the house looking all sorts of crazy’? To which he simply replied that it wasn’t a big deal, that I was pretty and he hadn’t noticed. Which sounded like a lot of blah blah blah to a women who had just walked into her place of employment looking like a bag lady. Until I could run out and grab some drugstore eyeliner I knew I would be fresh faced and hiding my face. About a steady hour into hiding my unmascaraed face with my hair and computer, I started thinking. And, this is where the life lesson comes in. Why in the literal world was I so scared of not wearing makeup when this is how I look. And, no amount of makeup would ever change how I look when I take it off and lay my head down to sleep each night (quick side note to all my ladies, make sure you take that makeup off at night unless you want to wake up with those dreaded raccoon eyes or even worse…..a pimple).These beady blue/green eyes, transparent eyelids and naturally rosy cheeks belonged to me. I sound like a real knockout don’t I? But, this was the way I was made, this is the face I have been given and we must live in a pretty messed up society if I felt ashamed of it. If I literally spiraled into a mid morning panic thinking that GASP, someone would see my real face. That begs the question of what the heck is wrong with the world? Well there is too many things to really put down here in words but something that we can start to do is stop loosing our minds about looking done up and perfect. Because frankly we aren’t. We have pimples and bags under our eyes and scars with long stories. We have too curly hair, too straight hair, too wavy hair. But hey, that is what makes us ourselves, our unique uneven skin toned selves.Think about it, can you to leave the house without makeup and still think, I may not look like Americas next top model, but I am myself and that is a great thing to be? If you are a mother then don’t let makeup rule your idea of beauty, children will latch onto that. A day never really went by when I didn’t see my mother putting on at least eyeliner before we went anywhere and upon forgetting hear the ‘OMG I AM NOT WEARING ANY MAKEUP’ panic we all know and love. Unfortunately the society we live in pressures women of all ages to a obtain an unrealistic expectation of beauty. From young teens to women in their sixty’s, there is some sort of pressure. We all think to ourselves, well hey those celebrities are 14 but look 20. Or, those sixty year olds look 40.Which is not realistic. Those celebrities don’t even look like those celebrities. By the time makeup artists, Photoshop, fans and airbrushing gets done with them they become the poster child of an unrealistic and way out of control beauty system.Embrace that  no matter how many times you try your eyelashes will never curl properly and, no matter how much contouring you do, you in fact still have a round face. Embrace that you have freckles (if any of you want some, I have plenty to go around) and embrace the fact that you will never be able to tan. Embrace your big nose or your small nose or your long nose. Embrace the color of your eyes and the way that your skin is never perfect. I challenge everyone to take a step outside their comfort zone regarding appreciating your natural beauty. Whether that be not putting on makeup to go to the gym or taking a #nofilter, no makeup selfie, do something. You are beautiful and stunning and all the other adjectives your little heart can think of. Be proud of who you are, rosy cheeks and all.