And We’re Back!

And just like that we’re back with another session of A Look in the Mirror!

I am just extremely excited to be back in the presence of such wonderful young ladies, all ready to learn about self-esteem, their worth and so many other things. I had almost all my girls from last session sign up, which was an amazing feeling! Needless to say, I was ready for a new session!

This year I broke the ages down into three separate sessions: girls ages 10-12, 13-15 and 16-18. The girls were all so amazing! I can’t wait to see what the next several weeks bring!

So, a lot of my sign-ups had prior plans or did not show…and I got really discouraged. I wondered if I was supposed to be doing this, or if I was doing something wrong, but I introduced a new function to my classes this session and so far it has blessed me tremendously. The girls write how they feel at the start of class and at the end of class, so that I can keep track of their progress. I came home after a long day yesterday and decided to open my “mailbox” and got the note that confirmed it all for me:

Not only that, but today I saw a few of my parents and they just gave me such encouragement and THAT is what this is all about. I do this so my girls can be heard, understood and so that they can know how to handle what this world gives them. Life is rough, but my prayer is that they can build their foundational truth and rely on that when things get rough.

Girl, calm down. It’s only week one.

Shout out to all the perfectionist out there!

You know, the ones that want to get everything right and will NOT STOP until things are the way we want it.

The ones that are hardworkers and ready to do every task perfectly.

Yeah. That’s me too. But, guess what, no one is perfect. Chile, if that isn’t the hardest pill to swallow…

So, I started my new job this week and it was awesome! I love it so far and I’m working on celebrating all of the goodness of it without allowing my anxiety to get me (see previous post for this explanation). Anyways, in this midst of all this change and working on my own stuff, I came to a realization about my perfectionism.

I’ve been someone who has wanted to be well received. I touched on this last week, along with my need to do my work perfectly. This stems from not wanting anyone to find fault with me or in the things I work hard at, but this is such a hard task to live up to.

No one is perfect and my work and who I am is ENOUGH, I have to remind myself constantly to give myself a break, so here’s your lovely reminder too: GIRL GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE!

Fear lies in between our need to get everything right…and that’s not acceptable honestly. What are you so afraid of? Failure? Correction? I’m trying to live my life with way less fear and way more faith. I live in my head a lot, but I’m learning that every once in a while it’s okay to do something wrong or to make a mistake. No one’s gonna get everything right…your name isn’t Jesus, chile.

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Whew chile! What a year!

Whew chile, what a year!

So 2018 was magical and phenomenal and everything I could’ve imagined. 

It was also difficult, terrible and at times seemed unbearable.

At the end of last year I decided to relinquish all rights of my life over to God because I can mess up my own life, but allowing God to lead me allows me to get through the tough times because He’s by my side.  Having Him guide me has really put difficult times in perspective for me.  It’s also brought me much closer to God and in that I’ve learned several truths about Him (5 of which I live by and constantly remind myself of).  I’ll save the five truths for another time 😉 

The Good

So this year I was accepted as a board member of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence board, along with CEOs, lawyers and other big whigs 😬.  I also had so many doors open for me at church, which has been such an amazing journey.  The highlight of my year had to be starting A Look in the Mirror.  I got a chance to use my pain and help young girls learn a little more about self-confidence and how to love themselves.  You can find out more below:

A Look in the Mirror

The Bad

So, while my year was awesome it didn’t always have awesome moments. 

My husband lost one of his father figures, his Uncle Charles.  Uncle Charles gave me such a warm welcome into his family and he was such an amazing man to both his family and his community.  My husband took it rough and being his rock wasn’t always easy, but it surely brought us much closer together.

The very same weekend of his funeral, our house had terrible damage from one of them daggone hurricanes 🙄

It was stressful, but one of the truths I learned is that God never gives us anything more than we can bear.  *Amen* 

The Ugly

Okay…so here we go. 

With all of the amazing things that have happened for me this year, my work life became increasingly stressful.  I prayed about my next steps and a year ago God told me that I wasn’t meant to get promoted at my job.  I didn’t understand or accept this and was allll fast and applied for a promotion.  I got the job and thought it was enough to make me happy enough to stay, but it wasn’t. 

Since I was a young girl, I struggled with understanding why people would not enjoy my presence.  Honestly, I’m bomb. But anyways, I didn’t understand why people would talk negatively about me when I’ve done nothing that would warrant that type of behavior.  Needless to say during my time in my new position my anxiety got to a level that it hasn’t been in several years. 

I had my first panic attack in the 8th grade.  I didn’t understand what was happening, or how to control my breathing or how to stop my thoughts from racing.  Eighth grade was my first experience with backlash at a large degree.  I had several people who didn’t like me and talked badly about me.  I constantly felt like I was being talked about by the people around me and working at my job brought all of the 8th grade Ashley feelings back.  It was terrible.  I came home from work and had a panic attack, feeling the exact same way as I did in 8th grade, and in high school, and during all of the high anxiety years I experienced in college.  I didn’t want to go back to that time ever in life and here I was, post-therapy, body confident, self-loving Ashley having a panic attack because of her work.  Something had to change.

What’s Next?

Thankfully, God gave me a new job that I start at the top of the year.  It gives me the freedom to use my gifts, to be creative and to have a manageable amount of stress.  I’m thankful to God for this new position, but I’ve got to learn to re-manage my anxiety. 

I’ve also been striving to learn how to balance faith with anxiety.  See, my faith tells me that God will never leave me or forsake me and that in my weakness He strengthens me.  My anxiety knows ALL of these things and trust that God knows what’s best, but at the same time prepares for if things doesn’t go the way Ashley wants them to.  It may seem harmless to some, but it has kept me from celebrating all of the amazingness of 2018.  I’ve only been preparing myself for when things fall apart.  My goal for 2019 is to celebrate ALL things, not just the bad.  

I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.  I’m trusting God ALWAYS and giving everything to Him FOREVER *Cardi B voice*. It’s only going to get better as my faith gets stronger.



Let’s Do It All Again…and Again…Forever.

Well, hello there!

After a much needed break and rest, I’m finally ready to talk about how amazing A Look in the Mirror turned out to be.  I’m still very much in awe of God’s faithfulness to me and how He has pushed me forward this year.  If you’re not aware, I relinquished all rights to my life this year and gave it over to God…and it’s been one of the best decisions ever.

For our last meeting, the girls were asked to say speech, written by them, describing how the program has helped and the difference it made in their lives.  Waterworks.  I cried like a baby because these girls have made such an impact on my life and all had such beautiful words to say.  I’m so proud of them because they faced their fears and did a little public speaking in front of their family and friends.

After we spilled out hearts (and eyes) we enjoyed each other for the last time and had some food and fellowship.  My wonderful friend, Mario Turner, captured both video and photos from the event!

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If you’re interested in bringing this program to your place of business you can do so using the link below:

A Look in the Mirror Contact Form

Tell Me Where Your Worth Lies: Weeks 3-4

So, hey y’all!

I know I was gone last week, but I’m feeling much better and ready to give you another recap of A Look in the Mirror, weeks 3 and 4.

Week Three

During Week 3, we talked about our emotions and reactions to the things that happen around us.  We played a little game of charades, where we examined what our emotions look like in action.  We talked about times that made us feel that way and discussed how to work through our emotions.

We also talked about perception vs. reality.  People will tell you that you are something that you’re not.  Ugly.  Fat.  Stupid.  But the beautiful thing about living life is that we make our own realities.  Who cares what people say about us?!  As long as we know who we are…we’ll be just fine.  The girls made affirmations that remind them of exactly who they are.

Week Four

This is most likely my favorite week so far.  We talked about self confidence and our worth.  I asked each girl to discuss their worth and how that relates to the people we choose to surround ourselves with.   All class we sat in a circle of positivity, so that we have can an honest discussion and so that we can see each other when we’re talking.

We talked about some tough stuff: school, bullying, confidence.  We also did the work.  We discussed what confidence means to us.  Each girl talked about what negative and positive impacts their friends have on them.  This allows us to really analyze who we’re surrounded by and how they affect our lives.

We ended class by sharing positive thoughts about each other.  Each girl stood in the middle of the circle and was given positive thoughts by the others who remained outside of the circle.  Admittedly, I had no plans on participating myself.  I felt like this was an activity for my girls, but they encouraged me to participate.  After a terrible work week and stressful home week (our home needs MAJOR repair after the hurricane) it was nice to hear such positive things from them.

This program has rejuvenated something in me that my regular work doesn’t allow: freedom to feel.  As adults we’re told to swallow our feelings, to keep it moving, to keep pushing and to keep making money, but following my dreams and having something to give to these girls has given me a joy that I cannot describe.

If you’re interested in bringing this program to your place of business you can do so using the link below:

A Look in the Mirror Contact

Tell Me Something Good: Week 2

Hey y’all!

I’m back again with A Look in the Mirror!  This week we focused on controlling the things that we can and accepting the things that we cannot.  The girls did some activity sheets that asked some of the harder questions: what makes you feel bad?  What makes you feel good?  What is something that you don’t enjoy about yourself?

The point of this exercise was to learn what things we can control about what effects us every day.  Can you control if someone is mean to you?  Of course not, but our response can be controlled.  We can accept that mean people exist, but we don’t have to go to their level and be mean back to them.  Kill ’em with kindness!

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If the girls can identify their triggers early in life, it’ll make their interactions with others a little easier.  They will be able to identify someone negatively affecting them and be able to remove them from their lives.  Next week we discuss more triggers to our emotions and our responses to them.

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If you’re interested in bringing this program to your place of business you can do so using the link below:

A Look in the Mirror Contact Form

She believed she could, so she figured she’d at least try: Week 1

Hey y’all!

So get this…ya girl went ahead and launched her self esteem program!

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I’ve been excited, stressed, nervous and just unbelievably happy!  I can’t believed I actually am doing something I’ve set out to do.  I’ve combated laziness and procrastination and this week I started my program with a group of nine beautiful young ladies.

Each week we have different objectives and lessons to focus on that bring us back to overarching goal of loving ourselves fully.  This week we did introductions and we got to know each other.  We played icebreakers that allowed the girls to forge a bond and learn to communicate with each other.

I can’t wait to spend the next  several weeks with these girls!  They’re a vibrant group filled with questions and such beautiful hearts.  I’ll be posting here every week to recap the sessions as they happen.

If you’re interested in bringing this program to your place of business you can do so using the link below:

A Look in the Mirror Contact Form

Fat Pocket Chocolate Goddess.

So, here we are with another work week in front of us (boooooo!). I’m just coming back from a wonderful best friendaversary trip with my beautiful best friend! We’re celebrating 10 wonderful years. 💕

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To celebrate, we decided to go on a five day cruise to the Bahamas and honey, it was beautiful and extremely hot, but so much fun! I don’t know if any of you have been on a cruise before, but people have way less inhibitions about the way they dress, which I can appreciate. As the body positive person I am, I thought why not celebrate my body for all that it is. Every roll, every lump, every bump and cellulite. I celebrate all of it because it’s all of me.

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Now, wearing a midriff top, or a bikini as a fat girl is not to be understood by many, but who cares! Fat people vacation too and if someone smaller than me can cool down by wearing her belly out, why can’t I? I choose to show my fat pockets because it’s my right to wear weather appropriate clothing YEAR ROUND.

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Of course I got some stares. I always do when I break the fat girl norm, but since my body belongs to me I wear what I want. I’m not going to lie, the first time I ever wore a bikini I tugged and tugged at it looking for more material to cover my stomach. Eventually I got more comfortable in who I am and in my skin and now I rock my clothes with no regrets. It was 90 degrees in the Bahamas and this fat girl was not about to roast in pants and long sleeves to make others feel comfortable. If you don’t like what you see, DON’T LOOK.

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If you’re reading this and you wonder how to get some of the black girl magic, chocolate goddess delight, fat pocket having confidence I will tell you that it takes lots of time to develop your confidence and a lot of hard work. Luckily, if you’re in the Charlotte area I provide all of the tips and tools that I use to boost myself up and remind myself of my worth in a series of workshops in my program called A Look in the Mirror. If you’re interested please sign an interest form below:

A Look in the Mirror Interest Form

 

Tuh…I Didn’t Ask For Your Two Cents.

There’s a new therapeutic method that I have been trying lately and it’s been life changing.  It’s not a new thing for me, but it’s highly recommend to you all.  It’s called Minding Your Own Business, or MYOB for short.

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I’m a huge advocate and you should be too!  Gone are the days of inquiring and asking about things that don’t concern you.  A short list of items that don’t concern you:

  1. Any woman’s uterus.  It’s rude to ask when someone’s having kids.  PERIOD.
  2. Any person’s bank account that does not belong to you.
  3. Business ventures that you have not invested money into.  Keep your opinion, b.
  4. Why someone is doing anything (if they ain’t yours, it’s ain’t your biz)
  5. Any adult’s outfit choice.  Mind yours, you didn’t buy it.

The list goes on and on, but you get the point: MIND YOURS.

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I know you’re saying “But, Ashley, I’m good at minding my business, but what do you do when someone is minding my business too?”

Short answer –> TEACH THEM.

Sometimes you gotta teach people how to mind their own business.  If they ask you something that does not pertain to them, it’s okay to kindly decline to share.  If you do this enough times the behavior can be learned.    People’s business spreads faster than anything, but if you’re not telling yours who would know?

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“But Ashley, I’m a fan of minding my business, but people tell me their’s because they want to unload”

I, too, am an active listener…but, the key to being a good listener is ONLY LISTENING.  If someone confides in you and tells you something, keep it with yourself.  It’s possible to keep your business and any other business someone has given you to your self.  It’s called being a confidant.

So please, people…if you’re not trying to help change someone’s situation, just don’t get in their business.  If you’re not offering helpful solutions to their problems or if they’re not confiding in you, just mind yours.  If you have poor intentions just mind your business.  Some things you just don’t need to know.

Protect your peace, honey!

Listen…life is nuts maintenant, but guess who is thankful to be working towards something!

So, I am really good at extending myself to things that do not serve me and I’m good at holding on to relationships for longer than I need to.  These are my confessions.

I am also a magnet for people who need a hug and a friend, but sometimes maintaining relationships with people who are in repair can be draining, and I don’t think that it’s selfish to put yourself first sometimes.  So, I’ve lived by the following rules for the past few months:

  1. Will the world end if I don’t attend?

  2. Is it going to cause me stress and a very large mess?

  3. Am I going to have to talk through my feelings afterwards?

Is it worth it to get the short end of the stick all the time or should you care for yourself?

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GIRL, IF YOU DON’T PUT YOURSELF FIRST!

Of course it’s easier said than done, but it’s so much easier done once said.  You’re more inclined to do the things you speak about.  No more putting everyone else’s feelings before yours.  Who’s going to take care of you?  Your needs come first because you wake up and lay down with yourself every day.  Put yourself first and protect your peace, honey!