Monday, March 25, 2013


I want to talk about brokenness.
I want to talk about hurts.
I want to talk about shame and guilt.

I want to be vulnerable.
I want to be raw.
I want to be real.

But wanting to do this doesn't make it all that much easier to actually do.

I'd rather research shame and vulnerability than actually pursue it. I'd rather talk about doing it and how important it is than actually engage in it.

But when I look back at how I was six years ago, I know I've drastically improved. Each year I struggle, each year I improve, each year I share my life, each year I withhold myself.

I talked to a friend last night who brought shovels, a dump truck, and a bulldozer to our conversation. This friend endured through my non-responsiveness. They endured through my hurt, anger, and blame. They called me out in one of the kindest and gentlest ways and reminded me that they desperately loved me. They told me they weren't giving up on me. They gently addressed the ways in which I had been mean and offered alternatives.

I was exhausted after this conversation. And I was exhausted all day today. Probably partly to do with the weather, and I had a test, and I only had 4 hours of sleep, but I think it largely was due to experiencing something like a "vulnerability hangover" (coined by Dr. Brown). I allowed this friend to expose me and it sucked. Were they beyond kind and empathetic and loving? Absolutely. But it still sucked. I hate being called out, no matter how kind it is. I hate having someone know what I'm thinking. I also realized I hate not having control of a conversation (probably another conversation for another time).

What I love about this person was their willingness to trudge through things with me. To say, "I get it. And it's okay." To say, "I'm willing to sit and wait, even if it means a lot of awkward pauses." To say, "You're still my friend and that's not changing." To say, "You hurt me when you did this, let's talk about why you did that and what happened." To say, "I love you. All of you."

I told you, I have really awesome people in my life.

One of my favorite quotes:
"Come up with a game plan of how we're going to conquer this."

Also, check this link out:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Done at 30?

I have no idea where I got this thought from, but it is one of the most damaging thoughts I have ever had.

My entire life will be over by the age of 30.

Isn't that a weird idea?! Like seriously, where did it come from? I just recently told that to a friend of mine, and he was started laughing. Because it's weird. And it's damaging. And I have no idea how to deconstruct that thought and then reconstruct.

I don't think I'm young. I think I'm old. I think my time is almost up. I only have a few more years left and then my life is over.

I'm talking like, over. Like I just assume I'll be dead by 30. Some people may think it may be motivating, so I'll get on top of my crap and push to do a bunch of things before "the end of my life", but it's not. It's just..damaging. I don't allow myself to dream, because I don't have enough time. I don't allow myself to do a lot of things, because my time is almost up.

It's super weird. And it's not something I transfer to other people, necessarily. And obviously the average life span isn't 30, so it's not like there's any supporting evidence of this.

Not Enough

Not enough.

We live in a "not enough" culture.

Not thin enough.
Not smart enough.
Not strong enough.
Not tall enough.
Not short enough.
Not talented enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not fast enough.
Not brave enough.
Not courageous enough.
Not creative enough.

At the bottom.
Not worthy enough.
Simply, not enough.

That's the culture we live in, that's what we're surrounded by. There's all these self help books of how to gain what you don't have. How to become what you aren't yet. How to be better, because right now, you're not good enough.

Talk about wearing. I'm not saying we can't and shouldn't always be improving. We can and we should. Improve, grow, learn--all necessary and good things. But if the foundation is because you aren't enough as opposed to a foundation of you are enough, that foundation will make a radical difference in the way in which you improve, grow, and learn.

The other day I talked about needing irresponsible people in my life. What I really need are people who are willing to pull out their shovels when talking with me to dig deep. That's what I think we all need. We need shovels. We need dump trucks, to dump a whole bunch of stuff. We need bulldozers to clear through it. And shovels to dig deep.

Next time you meet a friend at a coffee shop, show up with those three things and bring enough to share with your friend.

And PS.
You are enough.
You are worthy enough. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Being Irresponsible

You know those days when you're just so frustrated and want to be super negative? I'm having one of those days. In fact, I've been having a lot of those days. And on days like these, I use the word "want" intentionally. I don't want to talk to someone who is going to be positive and help me look at a situation in a better way. I want to talk to someone who will jump on board and be mad with me. Who will let me be mad/hurt/frustrated/defeated and will be mad/hurt/frustrated/defeated right along with me.

The problem, is that I don't really have a lot of people like that in my life. Instead, I have people who like to make things better, be positive, be responsible, be kind all the dang time. Which is obviously awesome, it's just not always what I want...

I need irresponsible people in my life. I need someone to encourage me to play hooky. I need someone to say, "let's get in a car and take a random weekend away" and follow through with that. I don't need reckless people, but at least with slightly less responsibility.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

High School Flashback

Almost all of my friends from college are/were from Res Life world or teachers. I actually cannot think of one friend who isn't one of those at the moment... So, since so many of them are either currently student teaching or in their first year, I think about student teaching a lot.

And I keep thinking of one incident in particular. It was my senior year of high school in my American Government class. I don't even remember the student teacher's name or what she looked like or anything about her, I just remember this one incident. I don't even remember if she was first or second semester..I think second, but not really sure.

She had us sit alphabetically by last name (seriously...high school seniors..), which meant I got to sit next to my awesome friend Sam, whom I refer to as Sammy. The student teacher (ST) gave us some assignment, where we had to read something or other on our laptops. I was always super responsible and never had any issues with my computer. Sammy was the opposite and always had issues with her computer. (By the way, we all had laptops instead of books.) Therefore, for this assignment, it made the most sense for Sammy to read with her neighbor (me) and I think the ST knew this was a terrible awesome idea.

Sammy and I liked to laugh and we liked to make things fun when we thought they were boring. So, we laughed when reading. We joked, we asked each other questions, we digested the reading together. We actually were completely on topic, but the ST thought we were being distracting and a nuisance. She came over no less than 7 times to tell us to knock it off. She told us that what she gave us wasn't interesting, so she didn't understand how we could be laughing. I don't know/remember if either of us were brave enough to say, "We know it's not interesting, that's why we're making it interesting, because you kind of suck at making this cool."

Needless to say, after the period was over, she called us up to "talk to her after class" and she told us how we were terrible students.

I'm almost positive that's the only time I've been told I'm a terrible student.

Below is a picture of Sammy Slamma Jamma and myself.
Both of us graduated high school. Both of us graduated from college. Both of us kicked butt. Both of us made things fun. Both of us value laughter. Both of us are actually really good students. And both of us are respectful.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lives with Dignity

Without the full story, there has (sort of) been talk that I am basically a BA (which is super exciting, I'm so stoked about that!) and that I am willing to confront people "who are of authority". I make it sound cooler than what it is, because I don't have a lot of opportunities where I like a cool person who is confrontational with the attitude of "screw you".

But, I have to explain and break it down, at least a little bit. I'm not disrespectful through confrontation, but I am willing to confront issues. It's an acquired skill, it's something I've been trained to do. It is not something that I am naturally good. Through being an RA and grad school, I've learned to stand up for myself. That I need to stand up for myself and how to appropriately do it. I've learned how to stand up for others too.

I've always been more willing to speak on another's behalf than for my own, but I wasn't ever good at it. I wasn't usually the girl to spread rumors about someone or to tear someone down, but I wasn't always the girl to openly stand up for someone and defend them either. I've learned though that people, all people, including myself, deserve lives with dignity. All people, including myself, are worthy.

So when a manager at work is disrespectful towards me or anyone else, I say something. I'm not disrespectful, I don't yell, I don't raise my voice, I don't swear. I also am not silent. I don't just do what I'm told (that'll probably be another post soon). I don't take it laying down.

My education doesn't make me better than someone.
Your position doesn't make you better than someone.
My experience doesn't make me better than someone.
Your authority doesn't make you better than someone.

The managers at work deserve lives with dignity.
The employees deserve lives with dignity.
I deserve a life with dignity.

So yes, when a manager criticizes me, talks over me, talks about me in front of me, is rude, is disrespectful, and/or (let's be real, it's usually "and") tells me to not question anything, I say something. I'm not nice, but I am kind. And there is a huge difference between the two. I tell them that it's not okay.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I work with homelessness. I'm not at a homeless shelter. I'm not out on the streets. Rather, I'm in a building with my own office and meet with about 10 clients per week, doing case management with them and figuring out what their barricades to housing are and how to get them housed.

I'm getting very scared for myself, though. I'm not necessarily "burnt out", but I do see this as "just a job". Just a thing I do. I lack empathy for those I meet. I don't get caught up in their stories. I don't get sad. I don't really feel invested in them.

I talked with my supervisor about that this week and shared those things with her. She was very kind and said, "Ash, what's important is that you recognize that. And because you see that, you can change that. You don't have to just accept it."

I told her that I was really scared because I felt like this came on really early and she reminded me I've been at this for several months and this starts to hit most people within the first few months.

Since that conversation, I've really engaged with people again. I care about them again. I ask them questions, I take an interest in the, and I invest in them. I don't want anyone leaving my office without feeling just a little more hopeful, a little more supported, and a little more cared for.

Because people deserve lives with dignity. 


A guy told me the other day, "Of course I watch porn, what guy doesn't?"

Last year in class, a girl said, "I don't know of any guys in my life who don't watch porn."

These statements fascinate me. Right now, I'm listening to a live stream about pornography . And then, I'm going to watch a TED talk about porn (click on them for links). This week, I gave a presentation about porn.

Porn is one of those super taboo subjects that we either don't talk about it or just accept it as is and don't care about it.

This isn't about judgment.
This isn't about shame.
This isn't about guilt.

It's about education.
It's about vulnerability.
It's about being real.

When we're being real, we realize that no, actually, not all guys watch porn. And no, it's not just a guy issue. When we become educated, we realize that porn seriously affects our sex lives. We see that porn is being used as the only real form of sex education. When we're vulnerable and transparent, we see that, actually, porn isn't as healthy as what it seems. And there are more negative and detrimental impacts than what it seems like.

I don't think we talk about porn because it's a shameful subject. But it's not about shame. This is about grace.