6.12.2017

The World from Merlin's Point of View


The above shot is from my friend Solene's apartment in Versailles. Besides the glorious view, the thing I love the most about this picture is the little cat you can find at the bottom of it.

Little Merlin would climb up on this windowsill and watch the world go on beautifully around him. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the square below would get packed with midday markets, people eating and laughing over crepes, motorcycles whizzing by, and the lovely unfolding of Versailles daily life.

Merlin would look down on all of these happenings as if he were the mightiest little lion watching over his vast kingdom. Merlin taught me once again to stop, look around, and simply notice life.

I would stand behind Merlin the Mighty (his new name) to watch it all, and we would gaze together at the sunset, eager for what the next day might offer us. We never took this view for granted; moreover, I think this view will forever challenge me on days when I'm taking life for granted.

6.08.2017

The 10,000 Hour Rule


I've been reading a book called Outliers which touches on the idea of the 10,000 hour rule. This rule states to become an expert at something you must practice it 10,000 hours. Obviously, musical instruments and sports come to mind, but this can be applied to anything.

On my flight back to the States a few days ago, I talked about the book with a guy next to me and he asked "What have you done for 10,000 hours?"

I thought for a second and realized that the answer is writing. This blog has singlehandedly prompted me to write up a storm for a good 12 years. 12 YEARS I'VE HAD THIS BLOG. 

I've not written as much the last two years--the entire time I've been in New York City. Unfortunately, that shows me how New York City suppresses my creative energy. It's also the amount of years I've been full time at my job, so I've also just been BUSY.

I'm slowly inching my way back into the joy of writing as it's something that releases anxiety and brings clarity to my life--it's a form of meditation for me. I feel a tad rusty, but it's already feeling great hearing that 'tap tap tap' on the keyboard. It's a reminder to make time for the things you love, a.k.a., the things you are willing to practice for 10,000 hours. If all of a sudden you've stopped practicing something you've invested that much time in, things may be off balance, and it's time to take restock of how you spend your day.

As I've spent the last 2 months on the road, I now think it's time to write write write all the thoughts, experiences, and conclusions floating around in my head. Hello writing, it's me again, Ashley!

What have you practiced for 10,000 hours? 



Photo credit


5.15.2017

Catch Me If You Can (Current Travels and Future Goals)


Good day, bloggers.

I've been a busy, busy lady. I've been traveling up a storm! I started with a week in London, and now I'm currently sitting in Derbyshire, pictured above. Not a bad view, eh? It could be worse (wink).

I've not just been traveling, I have been work traveling. This is just as exhausting as it is exciting, but it's so worth it. Somedays I pinch myself to make sure it's all real. I remember when I used to sit in an office, day after day, bored out of my mind, wishing I could literally jump on any plane I saw flying overhead. Now I'm actually sitting on said planes. While I often miss the camaraderie found in the office environment, I wouldn't trade my jet-setting, train-hopping ways for anything.


I revel in the realization that the things you really want from life will come to you if you work hard enough and you believe it will actually happen.

The next chapter of my life will soon find me in Boston, where I finally feel open and ready to finding a true partner in travel (a.k.a. Ashley's ultimate love interest). I don't talk about love often on this blog, but I feel the stars aligning in a way that tells me I'm ready for a certain stage in my life. I think timing plays a huge role in a good love story, so I feel happy writing these words out loud: for the first time in my life, I feel completely open, ready, and willing to go for love. Meaning, like all good things, I'm ready to put in the work towards this goal, and I believe it exists. That's a lot to say for the latest of bloomers!

But you better believe, he's got to be just as much of a traveler as me :)

For now, you'll catch me in the Lake District, Wales, Amsterdam, and France, if you can even catch me at all.


3.25.2017

I'm Shipping Up to Boston!


If you are friends with me on social media, then you know I have announced I am moving...

TO BOSTON! 

I first fell in love with Boston about 2 years ago. It was a lovely June trip with perfect weather and a spontaneous Red Sox game thrown in the mix--I was sold.

When I first moved east for my job (also about 2 years ago) I was allowed to pick what city I wanted to live in; however, Boston already had two advisors residing in it, so I knew I'd have to choose a different city to call my own. Having visited New York before, I went full force NYC.

It's been a crazy challenging two years in the biggest American city. I've been torn to pieces, a typical story for all that have come to live here. Tired, torn, challenged to the max, and ready to relax, I had a talk with my boss about moving to another city. I had Boston on the mind, but knew I needed to visit for a longer stay. I chose March for my visit, knowing the weather wouldn't be INSANELY cold, but also wouldn't be terribly comfortable. The week I stayed, I got hit with freezing temps, a blizzard, and crazy winds...

AND I STILL LOVED IT. 




I got in on a Friday, and announced I was moving to Boston by Tuesday. Not even a full week had passed and I knew it was my home.

I'll have a lot to write about Boston in coming months, but until then, I'll enjoy my time left in NYC. Actually, I don't have a lot of time left, as my travel schedule goes as follows:

April 1-4: Miami for a Bachelorette
April 4-13: NYC
April 13-16: New Orleans for a Wedding
April 16-26: San Diego to visit home :)
April 26-May 2: NYC
May 2-June 6: London, Northern England, Wales, Amsterdam, France (ooohhhhhh yeahhhhh)
June 6-August 15th: NYC

NYC, you and I have less than 3 months left. We'll make the most of it, you crazy sonofabitch! (I can never say that you're not fun).

Mostly, I'm looking forward to changes. I'm looking forward to a healthier lifestyle. I'm looking forward to a life unfolding the way I choose.




I wrote this blog post after I first visited 2 years ago: 

Boston,

You have joined the ranks of Cities I AdoreCities I Would Live In, and any other love list I can make for cities. You've got beauty, you've got style, you've got history, and you've got that sexy attitude. Clearly the full package, I can't help but wonder if I will indeed live in you one day. Like Rome, London, New York, and other cities I keep close to my heart, you are a new favorite I will dream of on the rough days, my beautiful muse...

Until We Meet Again,
Ashley xoxo

...

Looks like I'm shipping up to Boston.

1.19.2017

2016: A Good Traveling Year (and Looking to New Things in 2017)


My most prized accomplishment in life is travel, so of course I had to put together my favorite end of the year post (it's coming a little late).

In an effort to ignore the fact a crazed megalomanic is taking office, let's talk about escapism!

In 2016, I did a lot of US travel, with a sprinkle of international travel. I went to one new country, one new city, and lots of new little towns thanks to driving through Upstate New York and Western Mass.

Here's the breakdown month by month (in case you are REMOTELY interested):

Janaury: Came back from a trip from San Diego over the holidays. Stayed in NYC for most of cold, snowy, slushy January. I experienced my first blizzard this month!!



February - March: Work travel to Upstate/Western Massachusetts/New Jersey...lots of hopping on trains! Below is a view I've seen numerous times taking the train back and forth from Albany.


April: Back to San Diego for work (two week trip!).



May: I had to slip in an international trip, because if I didn't, WHO AM I? London and Berlin is where I took off to with two of my close NYC pals.









June: I was off to Turkey for my cousin's wedding. I have a lot to write about Turkey here on this blog, but the words are not quite coming to me just yet. What you do need to know is that Turkish people are still the loveliest people on the planet, and somehow, they are also the strongest. I think back to how great my visit was in June, and I know that someday I will have more trips to Turkey.







July: Stayed in NYC (in that SWELTERING city heat). Yes, I jump in fountains when it's too hot.



August: Short weekend trip to The Hamptons




September: Upstate New York, Virginia, and Washington DC (I'm really getting used to driving around the East Coast!).




October: BACK to San Diego/Orange County for work (3 week trip!)


November: Berkshires, Massachusetts for work (it's seriously gorgeous up there).



December: Back to San Diego for healing an almost broken ankle and overburdened heart. And what a healing month and a half it's been in California (not to mention a cheeky New Year's Eve trip to Vegas).




***

2016 KICKED MY ASS. It was a year of tears, busy work schedules, discomfort, heartbreak...and yet, I am so thankful for it! It's not enjoyable going through one of the hardest years of your life, but what comes out of it is such intense clarity on where you want your life to go.



2017, I have some plans for you! I'll be in Miami and New Orleans for a second time (my friend's bachelorette and wedding). I'm also taking a long trip to the UK/France come May. I have some more travel up my sleeve, but I'm just plotting it out right now.

Most importantly, August is my NYC expiration date and I am planning my next move. I do have one city in mind above the rest, but I will announce my new city when it's official (don't want to go announcing things on the internet before they are set in stone).

YES, I AM A NOMAD/JETSETTER/WANDERLUSTER (or whatever you wanna call me) AND I AM PROUD OF IT.

Here's to life in all its forms. I welcome the sadness, I welcome the happiness, I welcome everything that makes me a strong, beautiful, fearless woman. I have not felt more independent than this moment, knowing that I can take it all and still stay standing. 

1.10.2017

Thanks for Loving Me the Way I Am



*Clinks Glasses*

Me: I think after New York, I'll live in X city or X city. I like both, but I'm not sure which one to really go for. UGH, I don't mean to be so indecisive...

Rachel: Yes you do! It's who you are and that's ok. You like living in different cities. 

Me (laughing at my own silliness): You're right, thanks for loving me the way I am. 


**Everyone should have a life long friend like Rachel** 

12.28.2016

Calm in California


I feel like my post title is reminiscent of "Sleepless in Seattle." ha.

Calm in California is pretty accurate, though. I've been feeling pretty good being in good ol' San Diego. If ever you want to go somewhere to unwind, drink a little beer, and move at the pace of a snail, Southern California is definitely the spot. The place that made me feel trapped about 2 years ago is now feeling pretty damn good with my bum ankle.

I've also taken the time to let my body rest. I've seen friends here and there, but I've stayed in more nights than going out. And "going out" has really just been lounging in a jacuzzi or watching a movie with my pals. I've cut down on the alcohol, and taken time to gaze at the sky and breathe my worries away.

I guess the point I'm getting at here is I wasn't taking care of myself in New York. I was becoming frazzled, drinking too much, and generally not being my happy self. I have a bit of time left in New York until my lease ends, but I'll be going back with a different mindset than when I left it. There are also a few factors that were bringing me down back in the city, but having time away from those factors sure brings clarity.

I know NYC is not the place for me (deep down in my soul, I've known this for awhile); however, I think I can enjoy the rest of my time there. And if it's still causing me too much stress, I'll find the escape hatch.

For now, I'll be in San Diego another 25 days or so--long enough to properly hit the reset button. 

11.30.2016

My Hurt Ankle is a Reminder to be Mindful

I'm sitting here this morning with my ankle wrapped in a soft cast (I missed the last stair and landed hard on my ankle), and my eye swollen from a bug bite. Also, things have been kind of shitty in New York of late, and I'm sort of like, "What else you got for me, universe?!"

It's easy to focus on the bad things, amirite? And then focusing on all the bad just sort of snowballs into feeling perpetually bad. Humans hate being uncomfortable, and man, am I uncomfortable right now.

The inconvenience of not being able to walk is just a reminder that I've been spreading myself too thin. I tripped down the last stair because in a stressful moment I was rushing and wasn't mindful of the fact that:

1. I should take my time. Why was I in a hurry?

2. I've been living in a tornado in my head, stressing myself out and barely taking any time for relaxation and meditation.

I've been going so hard and feeling so exhausted, I've barely given myself any rest. Well, I'm being forced to rest now.

With that, I'm taking a looooooong break in San Diego starting next week. How lucky am I that I can have a month-and-a-half stay wherever I want because I work remotely?

I'm gonna go rest SO HARD I hope to get bored (I haven't been bored in awhile). I'm going to make time to write, listen, and read. I'm going to return back to a place of mindfulness.

Ommmmmmmmmm (added for effect).






11.13.2016

Maybe You Can Help My Sister?

This week has been, uh, interesting. Not sure if I want to really post about/talk about the election ANY longer. I've sort of had enough.



So, I'm moving onto a way you can help someone, if you feel so inclined to do so.

My sister is trying to rebuild her life. Long story short, my nephew (her son) has been diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia. Because of (what my sister thinks) is a severe reaction to one of the medications he was put on, my nephew tried to attack and choke my sister to death (he's 17 and about 6'5'' to give you an idea). He was never violent before.

This happened a few months ago, and I didn't want to talk about it until now. Everest, my nephew, is currently in a facility, has charges pressed against him, and is awaiting his next move. It's a heartbreaking scenario. Even worse, he turns 18 in less than a month, which could mean the state will simply charge him as an adult and send him to prison (our system is truly messed up).

In the midst of fighting for my nephew, my sister has run into financial difficulties. She's been a stay-at-home mom for almost 18 years, and her husband has lost almost all his money (a story for another day). It's hard enough for a stay-at-home to reenter the work force; even harder when tragedy is further complicating the situation.

The light at the end of the tunnel: she has turned to art for therapy and a way to pay the bills. She's an uber talented artists, and has been an animator and designer in the past for such companies as Disney! She's trying to get back into the art world while also holding part time jobs. I truly think she has the ability to make a living off of her art. What she really needs is supplies to create more of that art. She has two other sons she's trying to hold it together for, so any help from the kindness of people would be much appreciated!

If you feel inclined to give $5 to her "Make Art" fund, please visit this link: https://www.gofundme.com/helpaprilmakeart

A couple pieces of her art:



10.15.2016

My Gratitude Post

Hey, I'm Ashley. 

Believe it or not, this is a recent pic. I just felt like buying a college sweatshirt. I'm the nostalgic type :) 

I grew up in San Diego and went to San Diego State for my undergrad. It's a pretty damn delightful place to grow up. Did you know it's actually dubbed "America's Finest City?"

I'm pretty grateful I grew up somewhere so pretty, friendly, and culturally diverse. I have two loving parents that raised me here. All of this set the foundation for who Ashley is.

***
One of my fave traveling photos! 
I caught the travel bug so very young. My first trip out of the country was to Turkey at 7 years old. Ever since then I had an intense hunger to travel as much as possible, which continues on today. I'm grateful I'm the "always hungry" kind of girl. I can say with confidence that will never change. I plan to be 55 and still traveling away. Just watch. (I've been to 17 countries and counting!).

***

That travel bug got me to move out of San Diego, twice. Once to London, and also to my current home, NYC. I'm grateful I have this awesome list of places I've lived: California, the UK, and the Big Apple.



Just looking at this on paper, I'm proud of myself.  I'm proud for making big moves despite fear. I'm grateful I have the opportunities to make said moves.

***

I worked hard to get a job that caters to my "always hungry" personality. It's the most challenging and rewarding job I have EVER had.



It also allows me to work remotely certain times of the year. This means I am working from San Diego right now, even though my home is technically NYC. I loathe going to the same office everyday, so this is honestly the PERFECT job for me! It's busy and hectic at times, but I'm doing something I BELIEVE IN. I would have it no other way.

***

Lastly, I'm so grateful for people. I have not only family, but friends that REALLY love me. We get into arguments and disagreements at times, because these are real relationships. I live far away from some of very best friends, yet we stay in touch. We forgive each other time and time again for being imperfect and stupid humans.




THIS IS LOVE, and I HAVE IT IN MY LIFE. I could not be more grateful for this!

***

I wanted to create this post because I feel like I look too often at what I don't have. That "always hungry" personality is a double-edged sword sometimes. Writing down all the things I DO HAVE truly brings a smile to my face and provides proof I have a kick ass life. I've accomplished a lot in 31 years, and there's much more to come.

How beautiful of a thought is it that you can choose to wake up any given day and build the life you want? You can move around cities, experiences, and jobs just like chess pieces. YOU have the power. 

I'm grateful for these things, people, and places that make me who I am. I'm grateful for this beating heart, these lungs, this brain that continues to function. I'm so, so, very thankful for life.


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