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 Chat!

This week I got a chance to relax and reflect on life and all the joy and pain it brings.  I thought about all that led up to my life today, and I felt compelled to share.  I’m not too shy about sharing my journey to a better Ashley, but I often hear a lot of the same things when I share.  So, I decided to make a video and talk about my journey and to shed some light on self-esteem, self-worth and self-love.

 

LOSER!

My name is Ashley, and I am a loser.  You’re probably a loser too.  The definition of a loser is a person that has lost something or that loses. By definition, I am indeed a loser. I’ve lost family members. I’ve lost job opportunities. I’ve lost a countless number of other things that I have no idea about. Losing has been part of my identity for a while. Since the day I realized what it meant to lose, I’ve been a loser because I’ve experienced lost. I remember the first time I actually realized and felt how much of a loser I am. It was right after I graduated from school. My grandma had recently passed, I had to move back in with my mom and finding a job was a struggle. I went to job training all the way in South Carolina for a week just to not get the job. I drove all the way to the other side of my city for job training just to not get that job. I came home crying so much and I told my mom that I was a loser. But all my losing wasn’t bad. I’ve lost out on opportunities that may have been more harmful than good for me. I’ve lost out on guys who may have ended up mistreating me. I’ve lost out on job opportunities with places I would not be happy at. So, yes, I am a loser, but I’m a proud one.

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The way I see it, there are two types of losers: A Losing McLose Pants and a Winnie Winning Loser.  A Losing McLose Pants loser decides to live in the land of rejection.  I completely understand because I’ve lived there before.  It’s easier to accept defeat!  Accepting defeat means you’ll never win.  Never winning means you’ll never move forward and lots of people are okay staying where they are.  A Winnie Winning Loser takes their losses and learns from them.  They find some solace in knowing that every loss brings you closer to a win.  Even if the victory is small, you’re one step closer because you’ve taken your loss and gain something from it.

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Losing fostered resilience in me. That did not happen overnight.  Some things that I’ve lost were my own fault.  I would never try because I didn’t want to fail.  I didn’t want to feel like a loser because feeling like a loser made me feel worthless.  When I separated loss from self-worth, it became clearer that losing is not always such a bad thing.  Now, I lose…a lot, then I get back up and try again…a lot.   I lose, but my faith isn’t shaken and I handle the loss with stride.

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 I’m humbled by my losing. Nothing will keep you more grounded than getting denial after denial, but don’t stay in that place of feeling like you’re worthless because you’re always losing. I’m so humbled by my losses because everyone doesn’t get the opportunity to lose. Some people are given things that they later regret. I’d rather gladly lose than unhappily win. Now when I look back, I realized that the jobs I wanted then have absolutely nothing to do with what I want to do now and they may have been more harmful than anything.  There’s always a purpose and a plan to life’s ups and downs.  You’re probably reading this and thinking that you’re a loser too.  Yes, you are indeed a loser because everyone experiences loss, but don’t give up. Get back up. Let this loss teach you what it means to be a loser. Be a loser with pride. I am a big loser, but I’ve gained so much in my losing.  I am proud to be such a wonderful loser.

Mrs. Do It For Me Too.

I’ve been pretty transparent about my self esteem.  In the past I hit a hard spot and got through it with the help of God, my squad and therapy.  So, every once in a while I get into a phase where I become a little envious of others (I CRINGE).  I start to reflect on where I currently am in life and zone in on the negative.  Then, I start comparing myself to others around me who are thriving and succeeding and wonder why I’m not there.  Why isn’t it going that way for me?  How come am not seeing my success?  I know I’m good enough, so why haven’t experienced such joy and triumph?

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When those feelings arise it turns into an ugly alter being and I call her Mrs. Do It For Me Too.  Do it that way for me.  Do it just like you did it for them, for me.  Do it the exact same way for me in the same time you did it for them.  Life doesn’t work that way though.  God has us in certain places for a reason and I’ve learned that while I’m trying to find the reason, I’ve got to fix some things in my life.

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In order for you to survive your rough times while you wait for transition you have to shift the way you do things.  I’m currently at a quandary with my job and in order for me to get through my work day I have to shift a few things.  I read a devotion before I start my work day.  I listen to music to block out the negativity around.  I actually take my breaks and do something non-work related.  The point is that you need to feel comfortable while you wait for your transition.  It’s necessary to find something that makes you feel okay.

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 Once I learned how to be comfy enough where I currently am while I wait for a shift, things that seemed hard became easier to manage.  Be thankful for where you are and for who you are at this moment.  I’ve taken more time to appreciate who I am at the moment and that boosts my self esteem.  Be your own hype person! 

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Sometimes it’s hard to understand why things happen in life or why you haven’t had this monumental move, but remember when Mrs. or Mr. Do It For Me Too pops up its ugly head, just remember that someone could be saying the same exact things about you.  God blesses people in His time.

Chile, Don’t Believe THAT Hype.

So, I was reading a very interesting blog piece when I performed a Google search a few years ago.  The Google search I conducted was “How to get a boyfriend when you’re fat” and the article focused on exuding confidence, while trying to get as skinny as possible so that the boy you’re interested in will like you.  Pause.  What?  That was the most terrible thing I had read in a long time, yet I was trying hard to follow that advice…

You see, Old Ash wasn’t as confident as Current Ash is.  She thought she was fat and ugly and not enough to be considered by any man…ever.  Drastic, I know, but very true…at least that’s what I thought.  I would look at body confident warriors on the internet and wish my parts were as beautiful as theirs and wish I could have the confidence they had so that a man can find me attractive. Chile, I was in such a dark place.

Nadia...my most favorite body warrior.

Nadia…my most favorite body warrior.

Lots of things contributed to the way I felt about myself, but the most notable was the affections of my “high school sweetheart” who didn’t want to claim me in public and who had affections for me, but only secretly and who was worried about being with me because I was plus sized.  These are things he told me verbally…romantic, huh? Eventually my self-esteem hit a dark place and it took the love and care of my best friend, Rutha to help me see that I probably needed to talk to someone about how I feel.  I started therapy sessions and they were the BEST.  Apart from marrying my heart, therapy was the best decision I ever made.  After my sessions I tattooed a reminder to myself on my body so that I’ll always remember that EVERY part of me is beautiful.  From my head all the way down to my feet.

Reminder...

Reminder…

When I started to be pursued by Marques I let it be known that I love me and that the only person changing this body was me. He fell in love with every single part of me and I love him even more for that.  If anyone ever told you that you needed to be a certain size to be pursued by a decent enough man, don’t believe them.  You can be whatever size you wanna be and whomever you are with will love you anyway, if they mean it.  If someone truly loves you, something like weight, which can change any time, would not hold them back.

Body. For Days.

Body. For Days.

I’ve become my own body warrior.  I think I’m great and I can do and wear anything I want and I don’t care what anyone says.  Most importantly: I love me.  Don’t ever let anyone make you think you’re not worth anything because of how you look.  Anyone can buy body parts, but no one can buy personality, compassion or individuality.

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You’re beautiful and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.  Don’t believe THAT hype.