Monday, November 20, 2017

Better vs. Safer

Being brave is something I've been thinking a lot about, lately. Ashley, be brave has essentially been an ongoing pep talk. Then, I got really sick and that impeded some of my plans, er, progress. Now that I'm starting to get better, be brave has started to creep back into my consciousness. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it sucks. Because if there is anything I've realized it's that I'm not very brave.

I just had a conversation within myself of, "Well, which option is better? If the harder one happened, would it be worth it...would it be better?" And my response to myself was, "Yes, it would be. But the other option is safer. And safer sounds better."

The question of "what's the worst that could happen" is actually not all that helpful for me. Because I come up with very logical, realistic options. And safety is one of of my biggest values that I hold, and it comes out in a lot of decisions. Sometimes I need people to just not let me choose safety. Other times, I need people to support me when I choose safety.

A silly example of this is with colored pants.
Friend 1: Why won't you wear colored pants? What's the worst that could happen?
Friend 2: I really want to hear this. Although, Ashley will probably have a very logical answer and it will make total sense as to why she doesn't.

Later, when I separately told them my answer, both of them said it made sense and they understood.

There's a facebook group called, Girl be brave and it's beautiful. It's mainly a lot of memes and encouraging quotes, and sometimes women post really kind words to each other.

Anyways. I often pretty much always choose the safe option. I'm good at that. I'm not good at being brave. Being vulnerable. Being real. Telling people how I feel. Wearing colored pants. Asking questions I don't know the answers to. Giving a response to questions I don't know the answer to. Having a conversation without ignoring people.

Some of my friends tell me I'm better at this than what I think I am and remind me to give myself a little more credit than what I do. Sometimes, I do try to choose the "better" option and sometimes I succeed. But I sure do like the comfort of my safety bubble.

God isn't a far away being who encourages safety. He desires intimacy. In another video he says, "God makes himself vulnerable to dwell with his people." This one reminds me that to love is to be vulnerable.

I found some notes I wrote from a conference during undergrad. Here are two questions/answers from it:

What's one thing you could experiment with this week that would allow others to really see you?
Start a conversation about myself

What's the benefit of you doing this?
Someone told me that I test people, but I make the test so hard it's impossible to pass

Those are from about seven years ago. I really have been trying hard to work on this, particularly the first one.

The second question cracks me up, but not in the good way. People have told me the same thing (making tests hard to pass), so I guess I haven't been as good at that one...However! The language has changed from "impossible" to "hard", so I think I have made tremendous
improvement. 

Safer isn't always better. But it sure feels like it is. 


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Runnin' Runnin' Runnin'


"Let's Get It Started" -Black Eyed Peas

I've (sort of) started running. What I think about every time I don't want to run is when I was working with my athletes in grad school. I loved working for the athletics department, even if only as a part time gig while in grad school--athletes are an incredible group of individuals, especially college athletes.

I don't think about them running or exercising...(their practice times are INSANE, by the way). I don't think "if they can do it, so can I" (because that's not really true...). But what I think about is when I would challenge them in the study room to do well in academics. We expect them to perform well in both academics and athletics. Academics comes fairly easy to me. It's not fair for me to push them in academics if I won't push myself in the area of athletics.

When I start to just get tired, I think about the late night study sessions when they wanted to just close the books and leave early and I had to use some motivational techniques to get them to stay and keep going. When I think, "This isn't worth it", I think about them studying for a big test or preparing to write a big paper. And they would do it. They stayed, they studied, they performed in the classroom and in their sport. When I start to get busy, I remind myself of their ridiculous travel schedules with the expectation that they would still go to pretty much every class and again, nonsense practice times and schedules.

They didn't inspire me because of how they performed in their sport. That's not what I think about. It's about if I expect them to do well academically and athletics, I gotta say, "me too".

So shout out to college athletes. They're the real MVPs. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Late 20s

I'm officially in my late 20s. Wasn't that long ago when I was just turning 20....about 7 years ago to be exact.

When I turned 20, I thought about what I wanted this decade to be and when I turned 21 I had reflected and wrote:


On my 20th birthday, I decided that I wanted this decade to be one that I spent loving people and loving Jesus. I wanted to be excited and be surrounded with people that love and support me and I want other people to know that I love and support them. 


So, now that I'm in my late 20s, it is a time to check in on this....

Also, this was truly a great birthday--
  • I had a meeting at 8am and someone came by and brought me Starbucks coffee. 
  • I went to my office and it was decorated with streamers and balloons.
  • Every time I left my office and came up, something new was on my desk all from different people
    • Succulent plant (my first plant)
    • Candy (sour gummy worms) and chocolate
    • Mountain Dew
    • Multiple cards
    • Handwritten puns
    • A printed out pun taped to my door
    • A handwritten card from an 8 year old, quoting my favorite song from "Hamilton" and a "bath bling bomb"
    • A birthday hat that I wore most of the day 
    • A mini cake
  • Delicious dinner
  • Lots of awesome things from my parents

I want to spend my twenties simply loving Jesus in the most passionate and powerful ways.

I want people to feel joy, feel loved, feel cherished, feel excited. Excited for their life, for the year, for the decade. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Loneliness



I don't even know what to write about this...except something's gotta change. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Discipleship

"Becoming a disciple does not mean doing a few religious things once a week and leaving the rest of our life the same. Authentic discipleship transforms all aspects of life, every day, at work, at home, in all relationships." -Dallas Willard

Beautiful Exchange, Hillsong


I heard this song for this first time yesterday at church and I have essentially been listening to it on repeat ever since.

I've really been thinking about being a Christian and a disciple of Christ. Well, avoiding is maybe the more appropriate word. I've been avoiding thinking about it. And if there is one thing I'm good at, it's avoiding. Truly, if I am not able to avoid a conversation, I will then avoid answering questions. I will literally sit in silence for however long needed to avoid the conversation. It's a skill, really. Sometimes, quite helpful. Other times...quite harmful. I avoid with people, I avoid with myself, and I avoid with God. Last night, I realized sometimes I try to trick myself and play worship music and pretend I'm at least trying to connect to God. Oftentimes, it's genuine. Other times, not so much. And recently, not so much. The actual idea of just sitting and listening. Or sitting and praying. Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to.

I wrote out the lyrics of this song in my journal and then underlined the parts I loved the most...every line ended up being underlined. But here, I do want to highlight the beginning and what originally got me hooked:

You were near, though I was distant
Disillusioned I was lost and insecure
Still mercy fought for my attention
You were waiting at the door

So yesterday, that quote from Dallas Willard and that song happened. And the message was on Matthew 7:24-29, about the wise and foolish man building their houses on different foundations. My notes are basically as follows:

Essentially, everyone is building something (a life)--how are we building it and what are we building it on? We can tell based on our decisions, choices, reactions, relationships, and priorities. The storms will come, so it matters how I build.

What people often build on: career (me), family, health, money (sometimes me), accomplishments (me), hobbies. I need to choose. I can be an admirer from a distance (like basically what I've been since moving back) or follow Him in all decisions. I need to be a person who wrestles and chooses Jesus. Oftentimes, we believe from afar. In all areas, there is a challenge and I need to step out and do this. It all begins with a decision to base my life on Jesus. Will I follow and actively choose Him in all of my decisions. Jesus asks us to follow Him--not to be amazed by Him. He's not looking for me to be amazed by Him. He's looking for me to follow and obey Him and to be his disciple.

Today, I wrote this in my journal:
Be God honoring in all you do, Ashley. In the way you think, feel, act, interact. In the way in which you experience emotions and express them. It is about honoring, pursuing the God of this world. He needs to be your foundation, your base, your all. Your heart and what it longs after needs to be given attention and more important than your career, academics, relationships. Worship in all you do. Trust Jesus, Ashley. Trust that He's real. Trust that He's got you. Trust that He loves you. that He's worth more. Make an actual decision. Commit. Let Him in. Let other people in. Let people dig deep into you. And base your faith in Christ. 

I know I haven't been an authentic disciple in a long time, because I can keep it all separate. And I don't want that. Because my relationship with Jesus should permeate in all areas of my life. In a way that is real, genuine, kind, forgiving, patient, joyful. The fruits of the spirit should be evident in what I do, say, think, and act. I absolutely need people in my life to hold me accountable to this. 

Three Wishes

It has taken me MONTHS (years?) to decide what I would wish for if I had three wishes. I know it's a typical icebreaker question, but I've legit been mulling over this for a long time. Because once I make a decision, I have to stick with it! Even if it's just an icebreaker type question and not real. Plus, I think of Aladdin a lot, when he makes a wish and the genie needs him to be very specific, so I get worried. Silly, I know.

Anyways, I THINK I finally have decided. But not officially. So genie, these aren't my official wishes just yet!

1. That I could dance really well to anything. Mainly hip hop. Especially hip hop.
2. That I could listen/speak/read/write/understand any/all languages.
3. That I could have amazing handwriting and could write beautifully. This includes calligraphy and normal handwriting.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Love Well


  • Love well. 
  • I want to be a person who interacts with others in a way that shows them they are valued, cared for, believed in, and loved. Get to know them. Approach people like they are wonderful, because they are. 
  • A good day is when we're able to connect to people heart to heart and invest in people and accomplish things
  • At some point, our opinions have to turn into decisions. 
  • How you see people will determine how you interact with them. 
  • No matter what kind of defeat you are going through, it's important to honor people along the way. 
  • If we prioritize harmony over everything, we aren't being challenged and we are trying to stay comfortable. 
  • Live everyday with intention. 
  • Be a person who offers grace, kindness, forgiveness, safety, regardless of what the other has done. 
  • When we believe in people, it will show in every interaction we have--our words, our writing, our behavior. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Beers and Tears

I just heard this song for the first time today. 

And I will rise
Stand redeemed

All I have wanted to do is drink and cry. I haven't really done either...Okay, I'm having one beer right now, but I've been sipping it for a few hours! People ask me how I am and I tell them that I'm fine. And when they ask again, I say, "I'm tired".

And that's the truth. I'm tired. I'm tired, so tired. I'm tired of working literally all the time. I'm tired of not being able to sleep. I'm tired of not trusting people. I'm especially tired of feeling cynical.

This past while, I've started to become cynical. That has never been a word I would use to describe myself as. Ever. I've always strongly believed in people, the world, and systems. I don't believe people are out to get me or only out to "make a buck". People have joked throughout my life that I go through life with rose colored glasses and they aren't wrong. I love living life that way. It makes it so much better, more fun, and opens me up for more joy.

But lately. Lately, I've been cynical. I've been doubting and questioning and arguing. The other day someone I highly respect basically told me I'm oppositional. What? Me? I tried to fight them on it...which they just raised their eyebrows and I realized...oh. Shoot.

I've been doubting the agency I have pledged myself to. I've been doubting the work I do and the country I live in. The worst has probably been the doubting of the people I've always trusted. I've become cynical and have started assuming the worst. Or at least, not the best.

And that is tiring. I need people to bring me back to....me. To remind me that people are awesome. That people are doing the best they can, with what they have. That the people who I put my trust in are strong, ethical, brilliant, beautiful people who I can still trust. I need people to hold me accountable and call me out and say, "Ash...keep believing in people. Don't give up hope." I need people to let me cry and be mad and hurt and then say, "Okay, now keep going. Keep believing." I need to believe again that people are trying to make the decisions they really do think are best. That insurance agencies aren't these evil corporations. That for profits are good. I had always believed those to be true, but when all I hear and am surrounded by is how terrible certain people are or certain policies or certain types of corporations, it gets really hard to fight.

And fighting is tiring. So a couple weeks ago, I gave up fighting. But sitting, getting beat up, and constantly bombarded still with how terrible people and policies are isn't working either. So I need to get back to what I think is the most right.

That in general, people are good. Especially the people I decided to trust. That corporations and agencies, nonprofit and for profit, believe in helping the world. I'm not a cynical person. And I don't want to be one any longer.

I want to drink my beer, cry, journal, worship Jesus, believe in people, and trust people.