2017: A Good Traveling Year

I can't move onto 2018 until I recap my 2017 year in TRAVEL!

It was a good year! I went to 3 new countries: Wales, the Netherlands, and a stop in Belgium, rounding out the number of countries I've visited to 20. 

I went to something like 10 new cities I had never seen before, including York, Newcastle, Cardiff, Amsterdam, and Cincinnati to name a few. I added a new state to my list: Ohiooooooo!

I rang in the New Year in Vegas. It was the second time I've spent a New Year's in Vegas.

Saw Yale for the first time (the prettiest Ivy League I've seen so far). 

Went to Boston in March (during a blizzard), decided I'd be moving here! 

Had an absolute blast in Miami for my dear friend's bachelorette. We then went to her wedding in April, in New Orleans (a city that never gets old). I also went on a swamp tour! 

Headed for a UK/Europe trip in May, and got to visit a lot of Northern UK for work. This included Chester, York, Newcastle, and the gorgeous Lake District: 

(the North is underrated) 

I also fell in love with Cardiff, Wales! 

Oh, and don't worry...I made a stop in London (always and forever): 

Then came the Europe part of the trip. First stop, Amsterdam! 

My good San Diego friend, Lainey, joined me. 

And then came Paris, always a favorite of mine (my third time going)...

After Paris, my good french friend, Solene, nicely drove me to Normandy: 

The Europe trip was something like 4 or 5 weeks, I think? Would I be Ashley without a long Europe trip because I can? I think not.

Next trip was a place that surprised me with how much I liked it: Cincinnati, Ohio. Who doesn't like good beer, nice people, and a decently built up downtown area? 

By the end of all this crazy travel, I was left with one more month in New York City. This was my view on one of my last days there: 

A beautiful goodbye, I think. 


Here's to another good year of travel in 2018! 


Onwards to 2018 and Finding Joy

I'm in San Diego for the winter, and in an attempt to defrost from Boston, I've made time to sit in the sun and soak up those soul-warming rays. Taking the time to cater to my endorphins and just BE in that moment--without a phone, without even speaking--got me thinking: Why don't I do this more often?

Here's the Ashley of 2017: a woman coming back to life, but not quite there yet. 

Well, 2018 is almost here and I really like the act of assigning a resolution/theme to the new year--so here we go: I want 2018 to be the year that I start to find joy again.

The past few years, post London, I feel like I've been chasing a really good dream I had. Boston is the closest I've come to loving a city again the way I loved London; however, I have developed some behaviors from my depressed years that I'm now hoping to shed. I am a deeeeeeep thinker by nature, a worry wart, and a lady who lives in her head most of the time (hello, I'm a pisces, nice to meet you).  All of these things got amplified during my times of sadness, and anxiety has become my unwelcome best friend. Anxiety, as we all know, is the stealer of joy.

Humans are the most interesting beings, in that we can live a whole life in our heads without actually living at all! Sometimes all I can see is the road I could take, rather than the road I am currently taking. All this obsession, all this worry has not served me well. So how can I change my behaviors? A few changes I will be implementing this year:

*In the morning when I first wake, resisting the urge to dive into social media. Instead, writing (setting an intention for the day or getting out my thoughts on paper), and/or doing yoga. When I commit myself to either one first thing in the morning, I notice a big difference in the day. 

*Planning group events and creating joy myself. Not waiting for joy to come to me, but being the creator of the good times.

*Continuing my love affair with taking pictures of the world, which turns my eye towards the beauty around me (I've always been good at this one). 

*Allowing myself to laugh, joke, be silly, and remembering the good in life. Letting go of the need to be right, and instead surrendering to the need to be loved. 

*Reading books that touch on reprogramming the brain, such as Daring Greatly (my current read). 

I've been putting this into practice already, and I feel tension releasing from my jaw. The political climate the past year has had us all in a tizzy. I'm placing down my arms and choosing to still find the goodness in life (this doesn't mean I'm apathetic. It just means I'm not going to be in battle mode all the goddamned time).

No matter where I roam, life is seriously beautiful. I choose to contribute to that beauty. Not only do I choose to find joy, I choose to be the creator of joy. Cheers to you, 2018! I come to you with an open heart, ready to be filled to the brim. 


2017 was about waking up

We're nearing the end of 2017 (how did that sneak up on us), and I'm happy the end is near.

Politically, this year was a catastrophe. Personally, I was on the mend from a brutal last year in NYC.

It's funny how long it takes for your body and mind and spirit to heal after a bout of depression. There is depression, and then there is after depression*. It's not like it's so easy to snap out of sadness when you've been comfortable sitting it for so long: it's lukewarm, and not that pleasant, but kind of comfortable enough that you stay in it.

I was fully depressed in 2016 (weren't we all?). I spent a lot of 2017 away from NYC, taking looooong trips to California and Europe. It was these trips that brought me into my after depression phase. A phase where a lot of good moments started to come my way, but I couldn't relish in them completely. I was learning how to live again and not reside in the darkness of my mind.

The move to Boston gave me a spark of life, but moving to a new place comes with its own set of complications. Being new is about learning who to hang out with, where to live, and how you fit into the city. It's been a good, strength-building process.

Every year around this time "New Year, New Me" posts come out. The New Year means new beginnings, it's true; but that doesn't mean it'll always be this HAPPY AMAZING FANTABULOUS year. Sometimes it'll be a crappy year. Or a year of growth. Or, maybe, our best year yet.

Still, we strive for that best year yet, and I can't be mad at us for trying. By us, I mean humans and our simple, lovely ideas of having an eternally happy life, however misguided that may be. While we strive, I'm happy knowing that 'losing our way' does not mean we are lost completely.

2017, thanks for waking me: emotionally and politically. My year of after depression and being in a sleepy haze is no more.

2018, here I am, fully awake. Lovely to see you. I have big plans.


*after depression is not a real term, but it should be. 


Niagara Falls, My Ultimate Retreat

Have you ever been to a place that instantly quiets all your fears, doubts, and anxieties so that they become white noise, and a rush of beauty and happiness hits your body so forcibly, your cells have no option but to dance in delight?

Yeah, that's Niagara Falls for me. 

I don't know what I was expecting when I decided to drive toward the falls to check yet another site off my list, but this ended up being much more than a checkmark. The water was SUCH a force that all I could do was stand in awe of it, mouth agape. It moved me. I heard the earth whisper in my ear, "it's going to be alright, Ash. Everything in your life is going to be alright." 

It's a reminder to surrender to nature more often. After all, it's where we come from, and it's where we  must retreat to. 

It's all going to be alright. 


My Guided Meditation

My friend Andres challenged me to write a guided meditation plan. I struggle with meditation, so this wasn't too easy for me. However, what I've come to realize is that writing is truly my mediation.

So here it is:

Preferably you are on your rooftop, because it’s a total zen spot for you. Take a deep breath. Breathe in life and let it sit in your lungs. You are alive, and that is miraculous. Take a few breaths and meditate on this thought. Really let it sink in that today is for living, and you are an amazing living being made of stars and cosmic dust. Breathe out any stress or frivolous thoughts that are weighing on your mind.

Now get out your pen, because this is how you truly meditate. Write about what’s on your mind until you figure out the way to go. Writing always leads you to an answer, and you’ve always known that.

After you write out your thoughts, take a few minutes more to relish in the fact that you are a beautiful thing. Close your eyes. Connect to the universe and be glad you are a part of it. Let happiness and warmth take over your body. Let love pour into your heart while you continue breathing in life, breathing out stress.

Open your eyes and start your day, for you have connected to life before diving into everyday stresses.

**alternative quick route: Blast I’m Every Woman, the Whitney version, and dance your ass off to it knowing it’s ALL true. Go about your day.


Beginnings in Boston

Boston has been pretty good to me so far. I've been able to relax more and get out of the extreme city mode that is NYC. I still live in a rather city-esque part of Boston called the North End:

It's a cute little Italian area that is sometimes overrun by annoying tourists (says the girl who moved here a month ago). I love all the cafes, pizza places, and delicious delis around me (note to self: do not get fat).

By far, my favorite thing about my new place is the best rooftop view in the city:

I'll sit up here, sometimes for hours, and take in this scene. I have to before winter kicks in! (gulp).

Boston is the 3rd new city I've moved to, so I feel like I've done this before. I understand my emotions a lot more this time around. At the month mark, I always get a tad mopey. It's always the mark where there is a realization of "oh! I'm living here. It's not a vacation, it's life." Then, I always get over it and carry on.

We're now at the happy carrying on phase, and I think I'm doing more than carrying on--I'm creating a pretty great life here.

This is my beginning in Boston.


Enter the Scary Caves

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." 

Moving to a new city brings up a lot of fears, doubts, and feelings I pushed way deep down into my body. They are now bubbling up as I start a new life in a new place. Those fears include trusting people again, becoming open hearted once more, and shedding the baggage of the past. 

I didn't talk about all my sad days in New York on here because I hate being that depressing broken record. As you know, I stopped writing. I spent many months feeling very small. I had lost my muchness--the thing that makes Ashley, Ashley. 

I'm giving myself permission to be big again and let my energy grow, expand, and take over the damn place. In doing so I must enter the scary caves. This entails: 
  • Not being reclusive despite feeling betrayed and hurt by people in NYC. Trusting the goodness of people again.
  • Deciding to not ruminate on the past.
  • Writing more often to clear my mind and unveil my darkest and scariest thoughts, a very spiritual practice for me. 
  • Letting myself explore, smile, create. Letting myself live again. 

Boston, you're letting me hit the "reset" button and I thank you for that. Now, it's time for me put on my hard hat, tie that rope around my waist, and descend into the abyss (time to go all in). 


Boston: Where Revolutions Come to Fruition, Including My Own

In 11 days, I'll be hauling all my stuff out of my Brooklyn apartment and heading north to Boston. Like so many adventure seekers and settlers before me, I see Boston as a symbol of freedom and coming into my own. Boston is a land where revolutions come to fruition, and I see that happening within myself.

I've been envisioning and writing down the good things I expect to happen in Boston. They include:

  • Letting romantic love come into my life after running away from it for so long. 
  • Learning to trust people again after a harsh year with an aggressive roommate.
  • Regaining confidence after experiencing a long bout of unrequited love, which no doubt magnified my insecurities.
  • Loving life once more.

I do not expect this move to be a fantasy land, but a space where I can start over with the best mindset I've had in years. I have survived the jungle of New York and come out incredibly strong. I know what I want, and I know the steps I am going to take to get it.

NYC, you fine-tuned me in a way that no other city could. I am better for it, but I am exhausted.

Boston, I am so ready to take refuge in you, like so many settlers before me, with all the same dreams of true independence, with all the same dreams of a revolution.


Favorite Thing Thursday

Lately, these have a been a few of my favorite things...

1. Paramore's New Album

This band has gotten surprisingly mature and clever as they've gotten older. I'm digging the new sound. Goodbye to that angsty Twilight-esque music!

2. A talk on Stoicism, which might be my favorite new philosophy.

3. Natural Deodorant 

There have been some studies coming out linking antiperspirant to breast cancer. I've known 3 young women who have all recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, and it's making me take a look at the products I am using, what I'm eating, etc. This natural deodorant actually works (I find it wears off a little toward the end of the day, so you may want to keep it in your bag). Truly better to be safe than sorry! You can find it at Sephora
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