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. 


In My Feelings

I’m going through a rather intense transformation right now. It’s that kind of transformation where you pull all your insides out and search for the cancerous bits to cut away. I don’t remember the last time I’ve examined myself this closely, this ruthlessly. 

There's been many tears in the last month and they've been all good tears. I realize I'm putting the work in towards bettering myself, and that's a real painful process. Our society offers so many ways to numb ourselves, it's unreal. We, in turn, become unreal: some sort of doped up, Netflix addicted, feeling-avoidant cyborg who pretends to have it all together but is really falling apart inside. Good thing they have a pill for everything, right? 

When going through pain I've been learning (finally) to not avoid it, but to really feel it. Let it burn with the fire of 1,000 suns until it's shooting out of your fingertips. Let anxiety and sadness take their hold on you because, goddammit, you're human and this is what's it all about! Instead of ordering myself to (wo)man up, I've been paying homage to these feelings and figuring out what's caused them, and why I feel that way. I need less validation from situations/people that have hurt me; instead, I just need validation from myself to feel the feels. 


Okay, so it's not like I'm some guru who is so enlightened and never turns to red, red wine when emotional. But I think it's about not turning to red, red wine all the time. To leave some days for being brutally honest with yourself. I'm learning to do more of that, and I'm liking the woman I'm seeing emerge from it. I'm really, really liking her. 


Writing Makes It So I Don't Lose Myself

This morning I didn't allow myself to hop straight onto instagram. They make that little app as addictive as can be, goddammit, and sometimes I default to looking at it first thing. *

Instead, I let my mind do its own wandering. I immediately had a flashback to when I was 19.

I was enrolled in Creative Writing 101, the kind of class that makes you write cringe worthy poems and short stories (all of mine were TERRIBLE). However, one assignment stood out from the rest: create a blog and write every damn day to get some good practice in.

That's how this blog came to fruition. It was the first time I made myself write every day, and I fucking loved it. I'd wake up in my sorority house, and after grabbing coffee downstairs, I'd survey my surroundings to see that no one else was awake (hard to come by in a house of 22)--it was time to write. My fingers were BRIMMING with thoughts and stories I had to let out. There were days I would publish 2 or 3 posts because I couldn't contain myself!

Today, remembering 19-year-old Ashley furiously typing away on her desktop computer first thing in the morning put a MAJOR smile on my face. It reminded me of the natural creative flow that still resides in me, that still resides in all of us.

The question I pose to you and to myself is: how are you blocking that flow? What would you do first thing in the morning if nothing was distracting you? If you didn't have obligations and busy lives to fill up your day, so much so that you feel suffocated and thus retreat to easy outlets like instagram and podcasts? Yes, there is a place for both, but are you also leaving a place for yourself?

Writing makes it so I don't lose myself. I remembered that today.

*This is not the first time I've brought up instagram, and as you can see, I have a complicated relationship with that app. I'm aware of the addiction, and the way it both inspires me/cages me. I'm trying to make a place for my own thoughts again, without the sneaky advertising that social media apps implant in us, which is so very dangerous. 


I just can't let go of this blog

In the height of blogdom, maybe around 2009 (give or take a few years) we were living the life. The blog communities were vast and rich, and there was this real feeling of making something. Some of us were wannabe writers, or wannabe photographers, or even wannabe moguls. But we were really making something, even if just for each other.

Somewhere along the way instagram took over and was more, well, instant. It was easier to post in the palm of your hand, and blogs started to die.

Although I'm on instagram a lot (man, it was an addiction for awhile) it's hard to deny that there's just something missing when it comes to the insta life. Instagram started in pure place, but has mostly become about advertising. This is not to say that blogs didn't do the same thing, but they didn't do it so drastically.

All this to say, I still have this space, and I'm hardly on it anymore, but I also can't let it go.

There's a feeling I miss about blogging. Maybe it's the time taken to create and write and edit a post that gives me a sense of calm. Maybe it's the feeling of ownership. As my friend Linda (whom I met through blogging) told me, "instagram is rented space, but you own your blog."

And that's just it. This is my little corner of the internet, and it's been an honest, embarrassing, amazing catalog of my life, starting from the first post in 2005. It can't be stolen, and it doesn't need hashtags. Honestly, there's never been another social media to truly replace blogs. And so the littleturkishgirl remains, forever a part of me, and forever a part of the internet.


The Answer Could Be Yes

This past week I did a big thing in my professional life. While I can't spill the beans on what it is just yet, I can tell you it involved me asking my boss a question I had been wanting to ask for years.

It's funny, when you hold onto words for that long, those words become a part of your body somehow. As I mustered up the strength to ask my boss the big question, I started welling up with tears--my body was having an emotional reaction to these words being spoken out loud, as if I was going through an amputation. 

To my delight, and my years of wondering and worrying and waiting, my boss's answer to the question was "Yes."

Yes? Did she say yes? Did I hear that right?

The next day she brought my question to the CEO and he said "Yes."

Words have a lot a power, but I didn't know my words had so much power. In speaking my truth, my secret, my innermost desire, I was met with a yes from my boss and the universe.

I still have hurdles to jump over before I reveal the big question, but my confidence is high that I can clear said hurdles. The purpose of this post is to simply say that the biggest hurdle was myself. Finally speaking those words gave me freedom. Even if the answer ended up being no, I still would have felt the same sweet freedom simply by speaking the truth.

So a lesson to you, dear reader: go for the big thing. Say the scary words. Free yourself from the weight of self-doubt, and keeping your inner most desires hidden. Free yourself from the fear of hearing a no. You might be so utterly wrong, because the answer could be yes.



Because You're F*cking Brave

Hey you. You're sitting there, often feeling so very tiny, but why?

It's time to remember who you are

YOU are the woman who takes the big chances even if you're scared shitless. You could be trembling in fear and you do the big thing anyway. 

You jump off the ledge. 
You pledge your feelings despite the sting of rejection. 
You venture into darkness because there might be an adventure somewhere in there. 
You switch cities even though it's terrifying
You live your heart's desires.  


And that’s it, my dear. The thing you haven’t said out loud to yourself. So congratulate yourself with it. Bathe in it. Adorn yourself with this word, because it is yours. Wear your many gold bracelets of bravery, standing tall as a goddamn warrior princess with your spear (it's a new vision of myself, and I'm feeling it). 

Keep on being so damn brave, for you know deep down your only real fear is regret.


Returning to the Simple Life in the South of France

I cannot tell you how nice it is to be soaking up the sun in the South of France after coming out of winter in Boston. I felt like this winter was one of the worst, and the corners of my mind were wintery indeed.

I'm shaking off the icicles here and letting the sun and wine heal me good.

Of course, it goes beyond sunbathing--between hopping on trains and catching new flights I have little time for anxiety because I'm too busy living.

What is it about the everyday grind that gets us down so low that we forget how to appreciate the small things?

Part of it is the extent that social media plays in our lives and the extent to which we compare ourselves to others. I've definitely been posting on social media while traveling, but I haven't been checking it constantly. It's more that I've been posting things as an after thought.

We're slowly dying in front of our smart phones and forgetting how great it is to just bite into a strawberry or drink a cappuccino for the joy of it, rather than to later post it to instagram to get the most likes. The sad part is I still participate in this circus sometimes, and if I get caught up in it too much, I'm just another freak show act like everyone else.

I miss the days of traveling and then blogging two weeks later, when blogs were in their golden age and the best form of social media--a place to share deep thoughts, full stories, and accompanying pictures. Bloggers will always be the best internet friends I have, and I'm glad we haven't let this art form die completely.

I'm hopping into a lot a topics here, but I think what I'm trying to get at is what we're all trying to get at: how to enjoy life more, how to stress less, and how to balance it all with these newfangled gadgets getting in the way.

I always remember how to live the simple life while I'm traveling, and then forget most of it again upon returning home. Of course, I'm exaggerating, as writers do.

What's not an exaggeration is the need to love life while we still have it.

(Thus concludes my South of France post in where I ponder the meaning of life amongst these colorful window shutters, amazing cheese, and even better wine). 


Still Learning How

Being a restless soul I need daily reminders to appreciate the little things and embrace life. Of course I'm on a high right now because I'm about to embark on a month long trip to the UK and France. Travel, my favorite drug. 

Learning how to travel in everyday life is something I really want to master. I haven't done it yet. 

I'm restless because I'm constantly and astutely aware of death, every minute of every day. Exhausting, right? I'm always thinking to myself, could this day have been better? Did I appreciate it enough? Did I present the best Ashley? Did I give enough? Was I grumpy and a pain in the ass to others? 

I'm 33 and I'm not sure I've figured much out since I was 19 and started this blog. I mean, I know I have figured out a little. But. 

I'm still learning how to do life. 

Saturday, travel will fill my veins again, and I'll be embracing every single second like it was my last. Now to carry that on in non-travel periods. That is the ultimate task for the extreme wanderluster. 


33, but not old yet

It cracks me up how our 30s are this weird zone in where somehow we're considered both young and old.

We're supposedly more mature than our 20s, but that doesn't mean we have it all together. Yeah, I bought myself a pretty rug and nicer dresser than the Swedish kind I used to buy, but I still have intense wanderlusty ways and think about catching a one way flight to Europe often.

I'll never really change or grow up in the way society wants me to, and I'm more at peace with that.

Incessant brainwashing since we were babies telling us where we should be at what stage still makes me feel behind sometimes--it's hard to shake. I have to remind myself that gypsies can't really be told what to do, which is what I am.

I'm not trying to be the rebel. I do a lot of things that helps me fit into society: I like gel manicures, I still listen to Justin Timberlake, and I certainly watch This is Us.

But I also adamantly stand by our right and freedom to declare our own path, without any interference from other people.

So maybe I will be that weird 30-something who wants to foolishly travel the world and live in different time zones. So then I'll be weird and foolish. But also content with my own choices.

P.S. I haven't posted here in AWHILE but that felt good, must not forget that writing is my cure to all that ails me. 

P.P.S. I turned 33 on 3/3, how do you like them apples?

Hi again,
Blog World!


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.