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


What to Do When He Doesn't Text Back

I sort of cringe at my title, because texting as the ultimate form of communication nowadays seems so lame, but it’s just the way we do things now. But I digress, onto my post...

I wrote in a previous post how I feel more open and ready for love than ever before. It's funny that when you remain open to just the idea of it, suitors will indeed come your way. You may not want to date every suitor, but they will start coming...did I just use the word suitor?  

Since I wrote the above mentioned post, 3 guys have come my way. Two of them I wasn't so keen on, but the third, I definitely liked: he was well travelled, good looking, and had a lot of ideas about life I agreed with. Plus, we met on the plane and WHO doesn't like that story?! 

There was texting back and forth--A LOT at first. And then there were a couple failed meet-up attempts. Finally, after one such failed attempt (because of his busy work schedule), I wrote a final text message that clearly stated how I felt and what I wanted. 

A lot of people will tell you not to do such a thing. They say it seems desperate, and that the woman is supposed to play hard to get, and that it scares some people off. Well, I do think it scares some people off--the wrong people

He never got back. 

In the past, I would have really fixated on this dude. I'd forgive his half-assed attempts of trying to get together, instead of asking for what I wanted. I'd let the texting continue (maybe he liked the attention?). I could be strung along for months. All of this because I liked a few traits about him and decided, in my mind, that he was special. This is an insane thing I used to do in my past. Why? Because subconsciously I was afraid of real intimacy with a man so I would choose to fixate, love, and fantasize about men that were unavailable to me. 

Well, this has been the year of breaking up my old habits. And so I had the BALLS to send a message  expressing the truth. 

I'm actually not mad at the guy, despite some bad manners, because he truly is a likable, fun person. However, I had to face the reality of the situation: although he was texting me for awhile, and although we got along swimmingly on the plane, he just wasn't coming through any longer. Maybe he lost interest. Maybe his work life is too demanding. Who cares? The point is you can't expect someone to meet you where you are if they are simply not in that place. It's like being in Albuquerque and becoming livid over a person who's hanging out over in Phoenix and physically can't meet you in Albuquerque. Why get mad? 

So what to do if you send a gutsy text to which he never replies? 

You move on. You brush it off and realize that everything is as it should be. You grab a bottle of wine with your gal pal and cook dinner together, and you laugh your ass off. You realize that although you liked him a lot, he's not the only cute, well-traveled guy out there. You start asking for what you want more often because you realize you're becoming a complete boss. 

You remain being open and ready for love, because what you're asking for will come to you. 


Picture credit


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.
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