8.03.2020

A Full Moon & New Phases

In the last week I have felt a reawakening of my cells: they are doing a happy dance for the good things to come. Yeah, that's right, I said good things. We have to keep believing in the good things, because we are the very ones creating those things. Even in a pandemic, even when the world is seemingly crashing down, even when everyone's blood is boiling in an election year, there are still good things, even now. 

I see people bickering in the comment sections of [insert social media platform here] and I see frightened souls who just want to be heard, just want to be seen. I see a president who is dangerous and radical, and I actually see an incredibly insecure person who just wants to be loved. Sometimes, when I'm not angry at him, I feel bad for the guy. All of these people have not embarked on journeys of self healing and self love, yet. Maybe they never will.  

I am happy and grounded and loved, all because I choose to love myself. It's the most simple thing to wrap my head around, but also the most difficult thing to put into practice. It's taken 2 years of digging through the shit to get to this point, and the digging never stops--that's the lesson here. 

Yeah, I know I'm sounding new-agey here, but so what? It's bringing me some kind of peace, mannnnnn. *she says as she pops a peace sign* 

I still stay informed and involved in politics, but I am learning to not get too lost in it. I can make a difference all whilst not losing myself. 

There is a full moon tonight. It's a reminder that things happen in phases. They pass almost as soon as they come in. Tonight I am going to focus on the fullness of that moon: that I, too, can feel whole on my own. I'm sure to pass through more phases where I feel less than, but as with anything, this too shall pass. 

7.07.2020

It's Never Been More Apparent That All We Really Have is Now

Sometimes I catch myself reading one too many news articles on the virus, and my mind somersaults into the dark place. I ask myself: what if this goes on for a very long time? What if this is just our new normal for life? What if there is a huge second wave? What if I become an obsessive compulsive person from all this, akin to Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets? 

What if? What if? What if?

And then a divine reminder comes in: all we have, and all we've ever had is now. In the Before Times, we gave ourselves permission to hope about all the good days in the future, because there was nothing seemingly bad looming ahead. Now, we need to give ourselves permission to be, in addition to hope. I do still hope for good things: for this to pass, for us to be able to feel safe and free again. But the truth is, I simply can't handle worrying about tomorrow when today is enough to think about.

I'm not ignorant to the fact that it's difficult to be in the Now at this moment in time. Living in a state of emergency wears on the body. Every time I muster enough energy to do a yoga routine, I realize how tight and tense I am. It's evident that I'm holding in ALL the worry. And so, I'll keep on forcing myself to do yoga, to breathe in this one and only second I really truly possess. I'll keep doing all the things that bring me any ounce of joy: writing, watching good shows, good philosophical chats, dance parties, watering my plants, and nice glasses of red wine. I can be happy with this present moment if I remain focused on it.

Right now, the sun is reaching through the window to greet me hello. The little white dog I live with is chewing his bone. I'm living in a city I really love. It's warm and comforting in my home, and nothing--no monster, no virus, no hurricane--is currently threatening my life. If those things do come, I'll deal with them in those moments. But right now, everything is safe and happy and light. Right now is where I want to be. 

5.02.2020

Quarantine, Nowhere to Go but Within

Quarantine fucking sucks sometimes, can I get an amen?

I really hate that just got to my favorite city, work visa in hand, and was only granted 2 solid months to wander before we became locked up. I really hate that I had to cancel my trip to Costa Rica and Mexico City. HATE HATE HATE, GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRUMBLE.

But even though I hate all this, I also know it's doing something to me. Something poignant. Something life-changing...

I'm being forced to stay still.

I have not stayed still like this for 7 goddamn years. I love the thrill of leaving and arriving. I'm always scrolling for flight deals, and take a lot of pride in my ability to fly like a bird.

Well this bird might be going batshit crazy right now, but she's also starting to realize that staying still is bringing a lot of value. I'm forced to venture within my mind to the deepest, darkest, saddest places. I'm confronting childhood issues, yes...those issues. I'm exposing the limiting beliefs within myself that make me a commitment-phobe and afraid of love. I'm uncovering more layers than I ever have before, to the dusty, musty, hard to reach places within my subconscious.

Here lies the root of Ashley's insecurities. Here lies the trauma. Here comes the tears. Here comes the writing. Page after page in my journal. Spilling out all of this muck. It's finally time to release it all. It's finally time to speak about it out loud.

My body is staying still, but my soul is making such crazy progress.

I'm going farther than I could ever go before. Onwards, to the next phase of my life: A life with even deeper connection and love. A life SO FUCKING FULL OF LOVE, maybe this bird won't need to fly all the time.

3.26.2020

And we will not take it for granted.

A couple months into my new UK life and the world is losing it's shit. But maybe, just maybe, we needed to lose it?

By now, you will have now heard about the Virus that Shall Not Be Named (because I am sooooo sick of hearing its name). Before said virus, I was already practicing gratitude throughout the week. However, I have NEVER been more aware than than right now about how fucking good we had it, and how much I was still taking that for granted.

I wildly miss the feeling and freedom of venturing out into the day, meeting new faces, having a pint in a crowded and happy pub, concerts, get togethers filled with wine and cheese, and just the SHEER beauty of everyday life. I miss it SO FUCKING MUCH I want to sob over how great we had it and how much we overlooked the beauty of it all.

When it returns (and it will return), will we take it for granted again?

Don't let this lesson slip you by. As much as I hate this, this is a return to noticing the beauty of life smacking us in the face on the daily, yelling "Notice me! You are constantly surrounded by so much loveliness!" I see you, beautiful world. Even in the darkest of night, I hold onto the hope that we will hug again, we will gather again, we will venture again, and we will not take it for granted. 

1.05.2020

Approved: I'm an Official Londoner. So, What's Next?



Well I'm sitting here, partially in shock, because my UK visa was finally approved. I NOW HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO LIVE AND WORK IN THE UK! This is a major accomplishment, and I accomplished the fuck out of it.

I am kvelling.

(a bit of yiddish I learned from my Jewish friend)

If I could tell you the amount of work and tears and sweat and heartache I put into this process, oh man! There were times I hit such major roadblocks along the way, I was told it might not be possible. In retrospect, this sounds like a normal path of adversity towards a huge goal. When living it, each roadblock feels devastating--you're simply not sure if this is the end of the road, and then what do you do with your life?

Somewhere along the way I made a vow to remain steadfast despite every roadblock, while also reminding myself that if it didn't work out, I would be okay. I soldiered on for a year and a half, waiting it out, always waiting waiting waiting with every delay, every set back. I said this prayer often: "I pray for the highest good of all to happen," while also writing down "Ashley's visa is going to be approved" on a little note I kept in my purse. Going for a big thing you've always wanted requires a mix of taking action, while also letting go at the same time. It's the most intricate dance.

I did it. I put in the work, and now it is done. 

***

Of course, with this kind of big accomplishment, and big move, comes fear from all angles:

  • questions from myself: "how long do I intend to stay in the UK? Forever?" 
  • questions from others: "do you know the UK has changed? it's more divided and dangerous now than it ever was, ARE YOU PREPARED?" (this from a friend who was sweetly trying to warn me) 
  • questions from parents: "you'll be far away, will it be like this always?" 

All I hear in these three questions is FEAR FEAR FEAR. After reading Eckhart Tolle extensively, who is probably my favorite author, I've realized that the ego wants to live in a continual state of fear. It'll give you a second to be happy about your accomplishment (feeding the ego!), but then jump to the next big thing, FEAR (which also feeds the ego!). The ego is a goddamn drama queen. 

While I still believe in planning for the future (and being aware of danger and the feelings of others), I refuse to let fear seep in so effectively that it robs me of my major accomplishment. As Eckhart has put it: 

"Are you worried? Do you have many 'what if' thoughts? You are identified with your mind, which is projecting itself into an imaginary future situation and creating fear. There is no way that you can cope with such a situation, because it doesn't exist. It's a mental phantom. You can stop this health- and life-corroding insanity simply by acknowledging the present moment...All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life -- as opposed to imaginary mind projections -- is this moment.

In this moment, I'm going to let myself linger in the thought that I DID IT. I WAS SUCCESSFUL. I ACCOMPLISHED A MAJOR THING. And then I am going to go for a hike by the ocean and become immersed in today. Tomorrow, as they say, will work itself out. 

***
One last time, because I am proud of myself: I did it. I'm an official Londoner now. 

What is next? Living to the fullest, no matter where I roam. 

11.03.2019

What a DAMN DIFFERENCE a year can make!

A year ago I was not in a good place. I was having a couple panic attacks after a weird health scare, I was sad over a failed fling, I was feeling a little lost, getting ready to leave Boston, and unsure if my dream of actually moving to London was going to pan out.

Flash to the present, and I am the most healthy, optimistic, happy, and healed version of Ashley I have ever known. I think I'm starting to shine from the inside out. My visa to the UK is on it's way to getting applied for, and likely approved. I'm intrinsically happy.

How? Last year, I started to realize that I didn't like myself that much; moreover, I think I really hated myself. I painted myself as an independent woman, but was secretly craving love and validation from outside sources, which never worked. Once I had the realization that I didn't love myself at all, I had a major breakdown that involved sobbing (yes, sobbing!) everyday for about 2 months straight, journaling, and bringing myself to sign up for a energy and light healing session, which brought many revelations to me.

I decided to move to London for 6 months (the max amount an American can stay on a tourist visa) and happened to find a flatmate that was going through the same journey as I was. Funny how that works out.

I started to dive into the world of mindset, healing the inner child, EFT (tapping), and understanding what really made me tick. Not everyone is into the reiki/light healing stuff, but the bigger picture of all this is that I started to see myself with pure and utter love. And that self-love started to light me up. I noticed my bad thoughts throughout the day, and replaced them with loving thoughts when I could. I started focusing on breath work in a real way.

I started dating a guy that was a step above the other guys I used to cling to, and I learned so much from him. I walked away when we realized timing was off. I started to see that my new love for myself made it so I could walk away from things that weren't serving me, even when it was hard to do so.

I had found my strength in London, yet again, a place my soul repeatedly comes back to. I have started to become more in tune with my soul's desires, and not everyone else's expectations of me.

And so here we are, a year of self-healing has been underway, and I have never felt stronger. There are still bad days (there always will be), but how I react to bad days has changed completely. I have cut down on alcohol, I have started a successful morning practice rotating my arsenal of self healing techniques (I almost never skip this!), and I have become a lighter, more effervescent being in this vast universe.

All this to say, if you're having a bad year, a bad five years, a bad decade, start to look within and ask yourself: do I even love myself? And if the answer is no, look up ways that you can start doing so. Caution: this will likely lead to an emotional breakdown, but oh my god, is there so much beauty in that breakdown!

I cannot believe how far I've come, except, I have the year's worth of work to prove it. I'm so, so proud of myself. And I love myself so much now. I say to myslef, "Ashley...you're a badass! You chop down mountains with the side of your hand, you are reaching your higher self, and I fucking LOVE you."


10.26.2019

I Can See it Now

It's been a bit. Since I was last on here, I came back to the States, and I am on the verge of applying for my work visa to the UK. It is a P R O C E S S, let me tell you.

There is the paperwork, documents, and stamps of approval needed, of course, but beneath that is a tidal wave of energy and emotion I have tied to the outcome of my visa getting approved. This is 6 years worth of wanting this.

In 6 years I've gone from 'that's not possible. I won't be able to make that happen,' to 'yeah, I'm actually applying for this! I've just about made it happen!'

In 6 years...

I've struggled through the guilt that every expat faces: am I selfish for choosing me and moving away from family in the States? The answer is you must always choose your happiness, period. To combat the guilt my family has put on me (they're human, and I forgive them for this), I have used EFT, also known as tapping, to heal those shame and guilt ridden parts of me (it works wonders!).

I've also battled mixed emotions on going back: have my feelings changed over this place I've adored? The answer is no, I love it still, and I know this on a soul level. Fear gets in the way of what you know on a soul level, but that doesn't erase the fact that you know it. Thank God for instinct and intuition.

Lastly, I've worried over resources and how I'm going to get this accomplished. I went from seeing dead ends to visualizing what I wanted and making it happen. Through this, I've realized I am a master manifestor. I am able to achieve just about anything I freakin' set my mind to.

Which brings me to today, sitting and doing a manifestation meditation exercise (yes, I'm into this stuff), and visualizing my visa getting approved. I then saw an image of me walking out of Heathrow with my approved visa, and feeling a sense of accomplishment, success, happiness, freedom and love all in one. It was a overflow of emotion, and I started sobbing while doing this meditation. I sobbed for all the years and energy I have put into this idea, and I cried out of pure joy at the thought of getting it. I felt the tension and worry release from my body, I felt a divine knowing that this was my path, and that this visual would be my reality.

And that is how I know this is right. I can see it now, and I have worked so damn hard for this. I can see it now, and it's nearly mine.

7.04.2019

I am learning how to know my damn worth (my greatest lesson)



It's been 3 1/2 months in London already, and holy freakin cow, how does time fly by so quickly?

In the span of 3 1/2 months I moved here, found a place to live, now live with a great flatmate and cute dog, started dating a cute Italian, called it off with Italian last week (mutual and mature break up), and am fully living life as best I can.

London is a different feel from when I last lived here 6 years ago. I was a grad student then. I could have adventurous late nights and my hangovers didn't kill me then. I'm in my mid-thirties now (eek!) and I don't desire super late nights, nor do I desire copious amounts of alcohol. One of my worries about moving back here was that my change in lifestyle might affect my view of the city. Happy to report that while things feel different in London this time, they still feel so, so good. This is a multi-faceted city with no shortage of places to roam and amazing things to do. I'm now fully getting in the swing of things, making this a home again.

Everything I've been going through the last 3 months is about knowing my worth. Maybe that's been the point of my entire life journey and I'm just now awakening to it. Here are the things I've demanded the best from, because I am so DAMN worth it:

My Home Life: I didn't settle for a quick living arrangement out of fear. I waited to find the best fit for me, and have a flatmate on a similar life journey to me (with the cutest dog in the world, who brings waggy tails and happiness to me daily).

My Dating Life: This is the first time in my life I've been so open romantically. I jumped into dating a month into living here, and I met a great guy by leaping into the deep end. I'm so proud of myself for giving my all to the Italian. I'm also so proud of calling it off (last week!) when we realized timing was mismatched for our respective paths.

I miss the guy, but part of growing up is knowing that missing someone doesn't mean you should run back to that person. I am learning the hard lesson: loving myself is more important than running back.

So we'll move on, parallel to each other, and maybe someday those paths will cross again if it's right. Now comes the work of opening myself up to love again, whilst simultaneously closing a chapter with someone. It's a tricky, messy business and I am allowing myself to cry over this person and the hopes of what it could have been. No matter how short the relationship, he left a mark on me. I love that everyone we meet, everyone we let into our lives become a beautiful lesson that strengthens the core of who we are, and brings us back to loving ourselves. I have no anger towards him, and that might be one of the worst kind of break ups--where you think that person is so damn lovely, you simply can't hate them, but you just don't fit together at this point in time, and so you say a tearful goodbye.

My Workout Life: This is something I am about to embark on. I have never invested in workout classes before, but here I go! This is about me taking care of my mid-thirties body, which no longer sheds pounds simply by walking (darn). This is about less Nutella, and more endorphins of the sweaty variety.

My Biggest Obstacle: The biggest hurdle looming over me is my work visa, which is underway right now. In September, I fly back to the States to apply for my visa and make this all official. This is scary for me for multiple reasons. I'm leaving all of this up to fate, and I'm not going to entertain all the possible outcomes in this blog post. I know what's meant to be is meant to be, and that's what I am rolling with.

I added this to the list because I am not going to let uncertainty make me question my worth and my path. There will always be things that make us an anxious mess, but I am learning to trust the process, and to remember how strong and capable I am to make great things happen.


And there you have it. All of these life changes, all of the things mentioned above are helping me truly love myself for the first fucking time in my life. I'm not kidding, man. It was sometime back in October/November I finally realized I didn't like myself much. I was settling for a lesser life. I may have been brave moving from city to city, but I often retreated into my shell because I wasn't believing in my worth. I'd dabble in dating, then decide to abstain for months on end because I feared putting myself out there in a vulnerable way.

Well here I am, life! I am open hearted, and I am sometimes a crying mess from being so open hearted. I am knowing my worth. I am believing in the goodness of life despite shortfalls.

I am living, guys. I'm really doing this thing. And I am so incredibly proud of myself. I'm so, so worth it.



4.29.2019

The Shedding of Old Ashleys


I'm in in the process of stripping away all the old Ashleys I no longer want to carry. London has been helping me with this. Maybe only London can help me with this.

By old Ashleys, I mean all the parts of me that no longer serve me. They brought me here, but they bring me no more value. There was deeply depressed and neurotic Ashley in New York City. And restricted and freezing Ashley in Boston. In all cities, there is the Ashley that constantly chases and obsesses over unavailable men. And my whole life, the Ashley that thinks she's perfectly happy being eternally single and independent, but secretly wants some real love in her life. This new Ashley is saying out loud how she wants deeper connection, and to be held, and to be valued.

I am confronting all the old ladies, and letting them know they can pack up their things now. Because here we are, back in the city that started my transformation. And here we are, back to continue that lovely, difficult, amazing transformation process.

It's funny that a place considered so stuffy and repressed is the one place that allows me to be free. I connect with London because I, too, was once stuffy and repressed. (Just to say, London is not that stuffy, it's just an introverted city, which is probably why I love it).

Being an expat pushes me in ways that no other experience is able to. It's pushing me towards the Ashley I want to be. The one who fully and openly acknowledges what she truly wants is deep, vulnerable, reciprocal community. She wants love of all sorts--romantic love, friend love, all love--she wants to be BRIMMING FULL of love.

Through crying, and healing practices, and inner child work, and taking the time everyday to make space for love (most of all, learning to love myself), new Ashley is starting to become a regular around here, and I'm pretty overjoyed about that.






4.01.2019

Becoming an Expat, Again (It's not as glamorous as you think)

Cherry blossoms in Kew Gardens. Should I make an obvious metaphor for my life right now? 


I've been back in London for 2 weeks, and there have already been ups and downs. I've been overwhelmed by a range of emotions coming back, and it's the usual cocktail of fear and anxiety: I am reminded that moving continents is never an easy jump, no matter how familiar you are with the place you're moving to.

The last time I moved to London was about 6 years(!) ago. A lot has happened in 6 years! I am back in the city where I feel most alive, most at peace, and most myself. Therefore, in moving back I am confronted with myself in a very harsh and heavy way, including the bad habits I picked up over my lost years. I am now in the thick of my healing process (which began in Boston). I feel naked and alone with my thoughts--the healing is being fast tracked now.

I suppose this post seems a little dark, but that's because the process of bettering yourself involves shedding a lot of facades, lies, heartache, and energy that does not serve you. I'm so proud of myself for doing this work, for moving back, and for acknowledging and admitting that this is hard. I'm rebuilding my life again, and it's going to be a bit clunky at first.

I could slap a filter on this experience and brag about how well I'm doing, how you should be jealous, and oh, look at me! I'm so worldly and amazing! I've got it all together!

Instead, I want you to look at me: a woman who is scared but brave. One who is not certain she is always making the right decisions, but is following her soul's instructions, anyway. One who misses her parents and feels guilt over leaving them in San Diego, but knows this path is true and right.

This is the start of my journey of being an expat, again. I am thrilled and scared. I am so alive. 

2.07.2019

Leaving Boston, Choosing Adventure

One thing I pride myself in is I always say yes to the adventure. There's no use sitting in that chair, staying safe and warm under that blanket if you're also bored out of your fucking mind.

Boston was a good city for me to unwind from New York, but also remind me that I need more, I crave more beyond this country and beyond these borders.

Adventures come in all shapes and forms, and are not only restricted to moving cities, but also include:

  • learning how to be completely vulnerable with other humans
  • unlearning the necessity to be cool, instead realizing that love and kindness are more important than status
  • really understanding how to love yourself completely and fully, so that you know your worth and are able to demand respect out of every relationship 
  • but also, moving cities when the wind whispers it in your ear

What has been whispered in my ear the past 5 years since the day I left? London. 

Sometimes you just know when a place is right for your soul. That place could be with a person, or a movement, or a spiritual practice. My place is an actual place, and it's been calling to me to come back. 

Well, I'm on my way. It's not all set in stone, but the pieces are coming together so beautifully that I believe it's going to work out. There are visa processes to follow, and crossing fingers, and hoping for everything to be approved. And you know what? I know it's going to work out. 

I choose adventure. I'm coming back to you London.